This episode of Law & Order “Skate or Die” kept it relatively simple and as a result, the case was interesting and very enjoyable. But here we are again with another case where Cutter had to try underhanded trickery to advance his case. In this instance, he gets a man who he knows is psychotic into a rage that causes Cutter to get injured. Sure, Cutter gets what he wants when the man must be drugged in order to calm him, making him rational so he could testify. But the ends don’t always justify the means. Personally, if I found out that a prosecutor or lawyer provoked someone I cared for into a rage in order to force a scenario where they would be medicated, I would call that abuse and try to have them disbarred. I think what Cutter did was very wrong and McCoy should have gone a lot harder on Cutter. I find myself wondering, though, are we being set up for Linus Roache to not return next season? Are they making Cutter out to be someone who would win at any cost so we would not like him and therefore not miss him if Jack had to fire him?
Everyone had a piece in making this a great episode. Lupo and Bernard actually having to run after a suspect – finally, some action! – gave it a spark. Sisto and Anderson have much better chemistry than when they first began working together. The McCoy-Cutter-Rubirosa team also seems very comfortable and as a result their dialog comes across as very real and natural. The ending dialog where McCoy and Rubirosa seem to have differing opinions on whose name would go first if they decided to “go private” was classic, and the fact that they commented about leaving Cutter out made me think that many times, there is truth in humor.
Since Jack was having his last campaign fundraiser, I wonder if this means we will find out his status at the close of the season? I suspect that since Law & Order has been renewed for its 20th season they may not be in a hurry to tell us.
It looks like we will get to see something rare in next week's episode. Based on the tease they showed, Jack McCoy may actually be - gasp - speechless!
Here is the recap:
A man is dancing on skates in the city street. Two men come up and taunt him. He asks them if they know who he is, and they say no man, just a guy on skates. They walk off and she continues to skate and dance. Later, Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) arrive in an area under a bridge where 3 bodies are laying, a pair of skates with the Olympics rings on them nearby. A piece of rebar with cement on the end is also there. Bernard notice a symbol painted on the wall and wonders what it means. Lupo tells him it means don’t sleep here if you don’t want to get your head bashed in.
At the ME’s, Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) puts the time of death at 2 AM. The guy with the backpack took two minutes to go, the other two we instantaneous. There were markings carved into two of the bodies postmortem – it looks like 377. The blade used to make the marks was sharp. There was no marking on the third body, Bernard concludes that person was not the target, he may have happened on the scene. With the markings on the body, they wonder if a serial killer did this.
At the 2-7, Lt. Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) says the FBI calls the killer the “Boxcar Basher.” He rides the rails, hope off when he gets the itch, and always kills where there is a freight line. He has already killed 9 people. He targets the homeless one or two at a time, they have no prints or DNA. The 377 is the year emperor Gratian declared heretics as enemies of the Roman Catholic Church. Lupo says Mickey Flynn from Tulsa is the ID of the guy in the sleeping bag; the other two are still John Does. They decide to hear over to a nearby homeless shelter.
At St. Aiden’s Shelter on Ward’s Island, a man who works there identifies one of the men as Chip Hudson. He and his girlfriend were staying there. He saw Mary at breakfast alone that morning. He tells them where Mary hangs out and says she doesn’t like cops.
At a diner, they buy Mary (Annie Giobbe) a meal and she asks if it is a bribe. She said she and Chip were supposed to go to the movies. They got back to the shelter after it closed so they went to the camp. They saw a man leaning over two bodies drawing something on them. They thought he was stealing so they went over to stop him. She says the man’s hand glowed and lit his face, he had something in his hand which made him glow, a blue light. The man hit Chip and Chip told her to run. Bernard shows her his phone and asked her if the thing in his hand looked like this. She didn’t know, but he covers the phone partway with his coat, and she says yes.
Back at the 2-7, they suspect the killer was using a picture on his cell phone to get the drawing right. The killer may be a copycat. Lupo adds that the carvings are out of order on the wrong body parts as what the serial killer had been marking. Van Buren says this reminds her of a song “Dem Bones” which talks about how the bones of the body are connected, and it is based on the bible passage Ezekiel 37 verse 7. The copycat was not aware of that so he carved the wrong places. Mickey just arrived there last night, and Chip arrived on the scene when the killings were dead so they would have no motive for the killing. This leaves the body with the skates as being the target, and he had no prints in the system and not enough face to recognize. But the skates with the Olympic rings may help.
At City Skates, they show a worker a picture of the skates. He says the skates run about $500 and most people can’t afford them. They wonder how the man could have afforded them, and decide to check out the story about the person who was buying scotch and steaks at Moran’s. At Moran’s they find that the guy was a regular and he was called the “bipolar roller”. They set up a table in the storeroom for him. He had money from somewhere but chose to live on the street. He skated at 72nd and Broadway.
A man at the newsstands confirms the man is the “bipolar roller” and says he is there every day. The detective tells the man the “bipolar roller” is dead, and as some music gets louder, the newsstand man says, “pretty lively corpse” as the “bipolar roller” skates over and begins his routine.
At the 2-7, they have the “bipolar roller” (Brian Gant) in the interrogation room. His name is Jonah Applebaum, he had a bottle of expired Haldol on him that he said he didn’t need anymore. He doesn’t want to be called the “bipolar roller” anymore because it’s trademarked. They show him pictures of the skates and he says he now has new ones. He says someone in the picture is Paco, who had his old skates. He gave his skates to him on Monday for his birthday. The roller stayed in Manhattan last night and didn’t go to the camp. They wonder if someone was trying to really kill the roller and the bipolar roller thinks it was Vladimir Putin from the KGB. They ask him where he gets his money, and he says from his clothing line.
Later, at Bipolar Roller Designs, and Grant (Jamie Harrold) and Bob Carpenter (Joseph Parks), who run the place tell the detectives that Jonah is harmless. They said they saw Jonah had a following and they came up with the clothing line. Jonah gets 6% of the gross, and he is the brand. His heir is his cousin Jen. The detectives head over and speak with Jen (Kelly Hutchinson) who says she is the only family Jonah has or who cares about him. He has a brother in California who he hasn’t seen in years. Jonah used to stay with her until her boyfriend moved in. When Jonah was 23 he was training as a pole-vaulter for the Olympics and he still holds a record. One day when he was self-medicating he got into a car accident and broke his left arm and his career was over, He was convinced the Russians slipped him bad drugs. Jen’s boyfriend Cal (Will Janowitz) enters with a few 6 packs of beer and she tells him someone tried to kill Jonah. They ask him if he has any theories and he said maybe Jonah skated over someone’s foot again. When Cal walks off, Jen said that Jonah came by yesterday asking for some of his money – she holds it for him – and he was upset because Paco had stolen his skates and he had to buy new ones.
Back at the 2-7 with Jonah, and they are calling him on his lie. He says he was afraid they would think he killed them. He said somebody was following him – the Russians. Paco said he would take his skates for one night so they wouldn’t know where Jonah was at but then Paco would not give them back. Lt. Van Buren enters with Grant Carpenter, who says he is Jonah’s attorney, and he tells Jonah to stop talking and says they are leaving. They decide to check out his stuff at the warehouse to see if Jonah had a cell phone.
At the warehouse with a search warrant, they find a knife with dried blood in Jonah’s things. As the go to arrest him, Jonah flees on his skates, much to Bernard’s dismay. They both chase after him, with Bernard urging Lupo to get him. Bur it’s Bernard who tackles him, and they arrest him.
At arraignment, Jonah says he wants to plead not guilty but his lawyer asks for a 730 exam. Jonah says he is not guilty because he is crazy, he is not guilty because he didn’t do it. ADA Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) requests remand as Jonah has no fixed address and is possibly schizophrenic. The judge remands him to Rikers where he can be evaluated. Outside the courtroom, Grant and Bob Carpenter stop Rubirosa and tell her this is a mistake. They tell Rubirosa that the stuff in the boxes, up until a few weeks ago, had been in his cousin Jen’s place. The morning after the murder, Jen’s boyfriend Cal brought the boxes over and he doesn’t like Jonah.
At EADA Cutter’s (Linus Roache) office, Jen tells him and Rubirosa that Cal had takes some of Jonah’s things over to make room for a drum set. She doesn’t know if the knife was in the box. She then admits it is Jonah’s but she says Jonah would not do it. They indicate that someone who had access to those boxes could have killed those people, like Cal. She is not sure if Cal knows she would inherit Jonah’s royalties. She asks them what they want her to do.
Back in Jen’s apartment, the detectives are searching and Cal seems rattled. He admits he took boxes over to the warehouses after the murders because there was more room there. He says Jonah was there, he was waiting for Grant and Bob for a big photo shoot but his partners and the photographers never showed up. Bernard pulls out something and asks Cal what it is, and Cal says it is a knife sheath, and the pile is junk. It’s ripped. Jen said Jonah left it and she was meaning to throw the whole pile out.
At DA Jack McCoy’s (Sam Waterston) office, he is on the phone complaining that why someone didn’t run something by him and it is something he should know about. He hands up the phone and say his final campaign fundraiser is at Barona’s, which the organizers just discovered is owned by a man who did 20 years for racketeering. He asks about their psychotic roller skater. As Cutter begins to describe the case, and who had access to the knife used to mutilate the bodies, McCoy’s phone rings and he tells them to hold on, and he answers it. He asks, “Aren’t half the restaurants in town going out of business? Just check.” He hangs up. Cutter asks if maybe they should come back after the election, but McCoy shows he was listening when he tells Cutter that he left out the partners, that the knife was found in their warehouse. Rubirosa says they were the ones that pointed them in the direction of the cousin, and the cousin’s boyfriend told them about the partners showing up late for a photo shoot. McCoy says maybe they didn’t bother getting out of bed because they thought they had killed him. McCoy’s phone rings again. He answers is and says “What…Yes. (smiling) Chinese food is fine.” He hangs up.
Later, Rubirosa and Cutter talk about the case and Rubirosa says that two days before the photo shoot the partners tried to shut down a China shipment of Bipolar Roller clothing but it was already on the boat. It was their big expansion, so why would the partner have wanted out of the Jonah Applebaum business? They decide to talk with Jonah. At Rikers with Jonah and his lawyer, they ask about Jonah’s partners, and if they had access to his storage area in the warehouse. They ask if he knew they tried to shut down the entire clothing business a few days before the murder. Jonah says they wouldn’t do that, they need it but won’t say why, saying that it is “operational” implying there is some secret government thing going on and they are not “cleared.” Cutter comments to Jonah that Grant and Bob Carpenter work for Jonah’s part of the government so they have clearance, and know his storage locker combination and where he sleeps at night.
Back at the Carpenter warehouse while Lupo and Bernard search. Grant is complaining about harassment. Rubirosa tells him Jonah was surprised they were trying to cancel the business and Bob says they found another supplier in Cambodia. When Rubirosa asks him where in Cambodia, he says “South Cambodia.” Bernard says he forgot to call his wife and asks to borrow Bob’s cell phone, and Bob hands it to him. He asks him if he can get the Internet on it and Bob says yes. Bernard finds a link to a serial killer fan site and finds the page on the Boxcar Basher. Bob asks for a lawyer – a real lawyer.
Back at the DA’s office walking to Cutter’s office, Rubirosa and Cutter tell McCoy that the homeless woman with Chip picked out Bob from a photo array. McCoy reminds them she is the insane girlfriend who was 50 feet away in the dark. Grant Carpenter used the GPS in his car to get to Randall’s Island, which was the murder site a half hour before the murders. They figure that once they realized that had not killed Jonah they framed him for the murder. Maybe one of them changed his mind when they pointed the detectives to Jen’s boyfriend. Grant pointed them to Cal, and Rubirosa says Bob is dumb, citing the “South Cambodia” comment. They dropped their opposition to bail for Jonah and his brother in California is posting bond. Someone handed McCoy a document, which he says is from forensics for Cutter. McCoy asks that the skater posted bond and he’s out? Rubirosa nods yes, and Cutter says a couple of house ago – why? McCoy says the old knife sheath that the police found, it had no connection to the current murders but it had DNA inside that matches five of the serial killer’s previous victims. Cutter leaps form his seat and grabs the paper. McCoy tells them they just put an insane serial killer back on the street. But Rubirosa reminds him that Jonah does not know they know that and they cam still pick him up. McCoy says this could be Willie Horton all over again. Cutter says, “Willie Horton? You’re not worried about the election, are you?" McCoy responds, ‘I’m worried about everything. About him killing someone else. About the way this office is run. A serial killer, in our hands and then released. Am I being too picky?” and he walks off.
Later, Lupo is on the street with other police, waiting for Jonah to show up. He arrives and puts down his boom box as he sees Lupo. Another officer tells them to move in. They make chase as Jonah takes off. Again, Bernard cuts him off and tackles Jonah, saying, ‘That’s the last time I wanna do that.”
Back in court, Rubirosa says they want to dismiss the charges against Jonah for the murders there but have other murders in Buffalo in 2006 and he is also the suspect in 8 other murders. The judge dismisses the one charge but keeps him in a mental health unit. Next up for arraignment are Grant and Bob Carpenter for the original three murders, saying the defendants copied Jonah’s pattern from the other murders and Jonah will be their witness. The judge looks at Rubirosa and says, “Good luck, lady.”
At the Rikers Island examination room, Dr. Olivet (Carolyn McCormick) talks with Jonah. She talks about the fact that he thinks the KGB tried to kill him and they did not want him in the Olympics. She reads back a bible passage to him, which talks about bones being put back together. He says it is not about his arm, it’s about putting the country back together. She asks if Bob and Grant knew about his missions, and he says of course, they were his handlers, he thought they were.
In McCoy’s office, Dr. Olivet tells McCoy, Cutter, and Rubirosa that Jonah is a paranoid schizophrenic and he has incorporated Bob and Grant into his delusions of killing Russian spies to protect the country. Every time he killed he carved in the biblical verse number so they know who did it. She says Grant and Bob approached him about the clothing business, which he thought was ridiculous. McCoy quips, “So he’s not completely crazy.” Olivet goes on to say that Jonah believed Bob and Grant were a cover originally to protect him but now Jonah thinks they want to kill him. McCoy says the jury won’t buy any of this if he starts ranting about the KGB. Jonah refuses to take anti-psychotic drugs, but Cutter says they need him to take the stand. McCoy asks, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” to which Cutter responds, “No.”
At trial, Jonah is on the stand, Jonah says Bob and Grant tricked him and they thought they were on his side. Cutter asks if his missions involved killing people, and he said yes, enemies of this country. He thought Grant and Bob tried to help him, he told them about his missions., They pretended to be surprised and upset and he thought they were just playing the cover but now realize they wanted him to stop but he couldn’t. He says Grant and Bob followed him to the campsite and he realizes they were getting ready to kill him. The defense questions Jonah about him being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 25, but Jonah says it was a lie. He said they had a Russian doctor there. When the defense asks why Bob and Grant would want to stop his missions, Cutter objects, saying that Jonah’s theories are not relevant, only what he saw and heard. But the judge overrules him. Jonah says they are agents of the KGB. Jonah faces the jury and rants about them being trained in a secret town, and he begins to go off the deep end. When the judge says they are done for the day, Cutter says he wants to redirect, but the judge says he can do it on Monday morning. Jonah stands up and yells out that they are finished and that he knew about them and they are dead men.
Outside the courtroom, Rubirosa says the only way to rehabilitate Jonah is to get some anti-psychotics into him but they can’t do that unless he is a threat to himself and others. Cutter says, “Ok” and walks on, Rubirosa looking perplexed.
At the psych hospital, Olivet asks Cutter and Rubirosa if Jonah’s attorney should be present, and Cutter says they won’t be using anything he says against him. Olivet asks what they want her to ask him, and Cutter says nothing, just watch. They enter a cell where Jonah is being held. Cutter tells him that it was their plan for Jonah to tell all so they could neutralize him and the rest of their enemies. Cutter begins to play on Jonah’s delusions, implying that Cutter is part of the KGB, saying they met in that “secret town.” Olivet tells Cutter to stop but Cutter does not, saying the trial was a show and they are way smarter than he was. He says it was way too easy to break his arm, they should have broken his neck. Cutter leans over and whispers something Russian in Jonah’ ear. Jonah head butts Cutter, knocking him on to the floor. Guards come in and restrain Jonah while he says he will kill Cutter. As Cutter holds a handkerchief to the cut on his eye, he tells Olivet Jonah is a danger to himself and to others as he and Rubirosa leave.
At Cutter’s office, McCoy stands in his doorway and says Dr. Olivet called and she wants Cutter suspended or charged with assault. Cutter asks if she gave him the drugs, and McCoy said she had to, he was trying to break out of his cell with his bare hands but she doesn’t want to send him back to court. We get this exchange:
Cutter: Well, it’s not up to her.
McCoy: No, it’s up to me.
Cutter: Because of what I did, a sick man is getting medication he needs.
McCoy: But that’s not why you did it. You did it for your case.
Cutter: Win-win ( and with his coat on, he leaves his office)
Back at trial, Jonah is on the stand again. He seems more calm, and says that Bob and Grant are not Russian spies Now he remembers things, really terrible things. He killed 9 people because he thought they caused his accident and it wasn’t true. He was so sorry. He did not murder Paco and the other. When Cutter asks why they should believe him, he said Paco was his friend and he never thought Paco was a Russian. He never went to the campsite because he thought they were spying on him there – Grant and Bob. They said they were protecting him but they weren’t. After he told them about his missions and killing people he said they were afraid to be around him. He then heard Grant telling Bob this would ruin the business and they would have to find a way out. He saw them take something out of his locker that looked like his knife as they had his combination – 37, 7. He tells Grant and Bob he wished they would have just killed him for what he had done. He can feel the thoughts coming back already, but it is hard to explain. He wishes someone could help him because he does not know what to do.
Later, in McCoy’s office, Cutter tells him that Grant and Bob Carpenter are asking for a deal. McCoy asked how Applebaum is doing and Rubirosa says fine as long as he stays on the drugs but they make him too lethargic to roller skate. McCoy’s phone rings and he answers it, saying yes he is on his way. He says, “Final fundraiser. Chinese seafood restaurant, with a kosher section. Mock shrimp.” Rubirosa says, “You don’t win Jack I’m outta here, into private practice.” He responds, ‘I’ll join you. McCoy and Rubirosa. No client too guilty.” She corrects him, “Rubirosa and McCoy.” Cutter asks, “Can I come too?” McCoy shakes his head, and says, “Someone has to watch the store” and walks out. Rubirosa looks at Cutter and shrugs her shoulders, giggles, and walks out, leaving him standing there by himself looking at McCoy’s messy desk as we fade to black.
All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com unless otherwise noted