Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Liberties” Recap & Review

All photos from NBC

Law & Order SVU “Liberties” certainly had many twists and turns. What started out as a case of rape turned into a hunt for a body hidden by a serial killer. Apparently the writers did not think a “SVU trifecta” would be enough to build one episode. Still, the case did take an interesting turn, and showed us the ugly side of Elliot Stabler, who in this episode seemed to be talking a cue from Jack Bauer from “24.” I wonder why, when any prisoner is questioned, that someone isn’t watching just to make sure something like what Stabler did would not happen. I would think that anyone who abuses another human being to further his or her own agenda is a crime and Stabler should be charged with something.

While I thought this episode was very well done, I have to admit I laughed when the judge actually said out loud to imagine the astronomical odds of this whole scenario happening. Yes judge, I did do just that as the story was playing out. I suppose that in the world of SVU, it takes the astronomical to get a good story.

I do have a question about the hair sample that the judge kept all along. I always thought that one had to have the follicle on the hair in order to get proper DNA results. It looks like what the judge had was a lock of cut hair, which would have no follicles. Maybe even in this astronomical story they could get DNA from cut hair?

Still, this was a decent story that kept me interested the entire time. I really hope that Stephanie March stays on for next season because she really is the best ADA that SVU has had - maybe in the entire L&O franchise too. A shame that the original victim’s case was just thrown out the window, though. Will the kidnapping of Marshall and his eventual abuse by the man who abducted him get him off the hook? I surely feel bad for the rape victim if that is a case. I think that in itself would have been a story with exploring.

NOTE: A preview clip is available for the Law & Order SVU “Zebras” Season Finale at this link. Can you guess who is dead and who is the killer? I have my ideas

Here is the recap:

A woman – Pam Galliano (Sprague Grayden) - calls 911, telling them a man broke into her apartment and raped her, but he is the one who needs an ambulance. Later in Pam’s’ apartment, Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), tells Pam that they need to get her to the hospital. Pam looks up at the skylight where it is being dusted for prints and says that every rain, she would tell her landlord it wasn’t safe. Benson said the seal was broken and he slipped the pane out, he then dropped to the fridge and then onto the counter. Pam says she guesses the self defense call at the Y finally paid off.

In a hospital bed, Owen Walters (Silas Weir Mitchell) says tells Detective Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) that it feels like someone put his balls in a wood chipper. He asks Stabler what happened. Stabler tells him that defenseless lady he targeted was not so defenseless. Flash to Pam, who says she was terrified and when she woke up with him on top of her, all she could do was scream and Benson says that is good, a lot of times it is enough to scare them away. But she says not him. Back to Walters, who says he doesn’t understand, and Stabler quips that in five to ten, he will figure it out. He asks if he is under arrest, and Stabler says let me guess, you have no memory of raping Pam Galliano. Walters says he remembers that. Back to Pam, who said he slapped his hand over her mouth and said “not so loud Pammy, want someone to call the police?” She remembered her instructor saying that a guy’s throat and testicles are always in reach and to bite, kick, scratch, whatever it takes. But back to Walters, who wants Pam arrested for assault. Stabler asks, “Are you kidding me?” Walters asks what he calls what did to him, and he says for a rapist, an occupational hazard. But Walters says she wanted him to. Back to Pam, who says when he knocked over a lamp he said, “Yeah, fight me bitch, that’s so hot.” Benson said he needed her to resist to become aroused. Pam adds he grabbed her ankle and pulled her down, she saw the dumbbell under the bed. Benson said she heard Pam gave him a concussion, and Pam adds she also gave him a few extra kicks between the legs and asks if that was OK. Benson says yes.

Back with Walters, Stabler states that he broke into her apartment and forced her to have sex and asks how do you not call that rape. But Walters say no, he tells Stabler to look in his pants in the pocket, he met her on a fantasy rape site. She sent him detailed instructions – when, where, exactly what she wanted her to do to her. She wanted him to rape her.

Back at her apartment, Pam says she knows nothing about the fantasy rape site and Wham Bam Pam is not her screen name. Benson says they are getting a warrant for Owen’s computer. But Stabler finds something on her computer – sexually explicit pictures including of kids and videos. Someone downloaded the pictures and videos.

Back at the SVU squad, Detective Fin (Ice-T) and Detective Munch (Richard Belzer) and Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) that both Pam Galliano and Owen Walters claim the other set them up. Owen frequently trolls fantasy rape web sites. Pam has explicit photos on her computer. But a computer tech woman enters and tells them that someone downloaded the porn remotely. There may be another person involved. Cragen still says they can get Own for rape but Munch tells him in the fantasy lexicon, no means yes. Cragen says in sex crimes, no means felony rape. Cragen wonders who set whom up.

Later, while Pam is looking to get a dog, she tells Benson and Stabler she suspects it was her ex, Tyler Brunson, who is a computer consultant, they broke up two years ago. She tells them that he stalked her for a year and a half. She moved here 6 months ago from Rhode Island and thinks he tracked her down. She thinks because he knows the details of
Her apartment he must have been in there.

Back at the squad, Benson says orchestrating a rape, disseminating child porn and stalking that the guy is an SVU trifecta. Stabler says if it was Tyler who did this, if he did if from Rhode Island the case belongs to the Feds, Benson counters “Unless he followed her here.” Munch says, “You are correct, oh wise one.” He adds that Tyler still has a valid license in Rhode Island where he is registered to vote, but why commute when you can stalk up close and personal? He called Con Edison and found Tyler had the electricity turned on in his new apartment in Manhattan last month. It appears he moved in right across the street from Pam. Benson tells Stabler to get Cabot on a warrant and she goes to Pam’s to give her a heads up.

At Pam’s, she freaks when Benson gives her the news. She says Tyler had too many issues, but he never hurt her. Every time he broke the retraining order he’d convince the judge that it was coincidence he showed up in the same places as she. No one can stop him and he will never leave her alone until one of them is dead. Benson asks her about the restraining order from Rhode Island, and Pam tells her she does know if it is in effect. She was supposed to give them her address if she ever moved so he knew where to stay away from. Benson says the will get her another restraining order, here.

At the courthouse, ADA Cabot (Stephanie March) speaks with Judge Koehler (Alan Dale), and she tells him she has two applications. He says he needs a guest speaker for a civics class at a juvenile detention center, and Ales agrees. She gives him the warrant, but he says he can’t help her with it. He says in 30 years he has never let his son’s murder sway his actions. But she explains the existing restraining order, and he grants only a temporary order of protection, which he has the right to appeal.

At the home of Tyler Brunson (Jon Patrick Walker), Stabler and Fin are talking with Tyler who acts surprised Pam lives there, and said that he dumped her. He says she thinks he lied to make him look like a stalker. He followed the work there as jobs dried up back home. Stabler says they need to look at his computer, but one of them is classified for his work and they will need clearance to get it. Stabler tells him to get counseling and move on and don’t bother Pam again.

Back at the squad, Munch argues with someone on the phone and hangs up. He gives them the bad news, Tyler’s D.O.D. job is legit and he has a lap top that does not leave the department and they won’t release it because of matters of national security. Benson gets a call from someone, asks what is the name of the hospital and that she is on her way.

At Tribeca Emergency Animal Hospital, Pam is there and said she ran into Tyler and he tried to hug her but grabbed her throat. She tried to scream but he was squeezing so tight nothing came out. Her dog kept barking, and was riding Tyler’s pant leg and would not let go despite the fact Tyler kept kicking him. He let go only after Tyler stopped.

At the SVU interrogation, the detectives are questioning Tyler. He says they just bumped into each other and the dog attacked him. He says he should be in a hospital being checked for rabies, and Benson quips she doubts he gave the dog rabies. He insists he was defending himself. He says he does no lose control. But Benson brings out information from a past employer wasn’t planning on renewing his contract so he had a slip and fall and won a fat worker’s comp claim. She says he has an obsessive need for payback to anyone who rejects him. They accuse him of photoshopping the photo as Pam recognized the bedroom in the picture and they sent it to Providence PD to verify, and the information will be back any minute. Benson adds with a sly smile, “The anticipation is killing me.” Meanwhile, Cabot, who is looking on from behind the glass, tells Cragen he didn’t tell her they got anything off the enhancement, and Cragen says they didn’t. Stabler continues to press Tyler and tells him if he comes clean before the photo gets back they will talk to the DA. Cabot does not think he will fall for it. Tyler says Pam conned him into believing she loved him and he was going to marry her, but this time he is done. He says they are even now. Cabot says, “Not by a long shot, buddy” and Cragen says, “I love the dumb ones.”

In the chambers of Judge Koehler, he defense attorney Mr. Horowitz (Joe Grifasi) argues that the detectives did not tell Brunson of his right to remain silent. But Cabot argues against this saying they are allowed to deceive a suspect. Horowitz says statements were coerced, which is not allowed. saying the promised Brunson leniency. Cabot says no promises were made, she was there and the defendant incorrectly inferred it. But the judge grants the defenses request for a Huntley hearing to clear up the matter.

At the Huntley hearing, Stabler is on the stand, and is question about Tyler’s complaints about needing treatment for the “wound.” Brunson never even saw the doctor afterwards, and when the judge asks him about it, Brunson says he won’t participate in this “travesty.” The judge seems rather annoyed at Brunson. Stabler continues testify, and Brunson gets up to leave, telling him he is not going to sit there and be insulted. As Brunson moves to leave, the judge orders the court officer to restrain him but he runs out of the court room. As Stabler moves to leave, the judge tells him no one dismissed him from the stand.

In the main area of the courthouse, Benson calls out to Brunson as he runs off and says he is not getting past him. The police catch up to him and restrain him, and Benson taunts him, saying it’s not much fun to be hunted down.

Back in the courtroom, Cabot requests Branson be remanded until trial. The defense attorney argues that he was overwrought. The judge rules that his bail is revoked and his bail is remanded. Brunson is angered and calls the judge a corrupt piece of garbage. The judge tells him while he is incarcerated he needs to think how his conduct will appear to a jury. But Brunson tells the judge to consider his own, he is a tyrant who will always find a pretext for his tyranny. The judge asks, “ What did you say to me?” Brunson continues to hurl accusations at the judge as he is taken away.

Back at the squad, Munch wants to leave early for a long weekend so he can get a jump on traffic. But Cragen tells him no, that Benson and Stabler are still on call for court. While Stabler gets a call, Munch asks Benson if there is any chance for an 11th hour plea deal. She says no and agues that a trial is the only way these stalking issues get attention. After Stabler tells the caller he will be right over, he wonders out loud, “What did I do now?” Judge Koehler apparently asked Stabler to stop by.

Stabler is at the judge’s chambers, the judge telling him that he pulled is jacket and says he has crossed the lines in the past. But Stabler says those were situations where he had to make decision and he made them. He tells Stabler he wants to hire him. He tells Stabler that 30 years ago they took their three year old Marshall on a picnic. While he was reading legal briefs, Marshall ran off to play with other children and was never seen again. The killer was Roy Lee Dotson was caught 7 years later, disposing of his 12th victim, his son was his fourth. This was before they had DNA and no one had made out the patter. Roy was a trucker and when they caught him, he spared no details except the victims’ locations. Every few years, one lucky couple is led to their child’s remain in exchange for a few :creature comforts.” The judge is still waiting, and he is the last one to hear. It seems Roy has a prejudice against judges. Stabler says he will get it out of him, but the judge tells him he is not asking him to break the rule of law. Roy is at Ossining, dying of emphysema. The judge says he can’t go to his grave without burying his son, and Stabler says he understands.

In court, Judge Koehler is hearing the case of Tyler Brunson. The judge lays out some change and rearranges it. Horowitz asks for a sidebar, and he is concerned about Brunson’s health, he hasn’t eaten since remand and is on a hunger strike in protest. Cabot objects, but the judge says the defendant must be fit to participate in his own defense, and he will speak to Brunson on the lunch break. But before the opening arguments can start, the judge checks his cell phone and asks for a brief recess.

As the judge leaves, he makes a call and asks the person on the other end if he has spoke to him yet. It’s Stabler, and he says he is in the middle of something right now and he will call him as soon as he has something. Roy says, “Nice try, that was Marshall’s daddy, wasn’t it?” He makes comments about what he would say to Koehler if Stabler let him talk to him, about his boy, describing him as a “big. Squishy squeaky toy.” He calls Stabler a tough cookie as those comments got no rise from him. Stabler reminds Ron that he is dying and he should make it right. But Roy won’t say anything, he says he is not afraid of hell – all those unchristened babies. Stabler reminds him that is limbo. But Stabler continues to press.

Back in court, the judge seems distracted while Walters is on the stand and reminds Walters he is not on trial. The judge continues to look at Brunson. Cabot asks Walters to read back the information from the fantasy rape line as the judge continues to look at his cell phone. Meanwhile, back at prison, Stabler is still talking with Stabler, who reminds him how isolated Roy is in prison. While Stabler talks to him, he squeezes and crimps the air line from Roy’s oxygen tank. Roy asks him to let go as Stabler asks where Roy dumped the boy’s body. But he reminds Stabler he can’t tell him if he’s dead, and Stabler doesn’t care, continuing to shut off Roy’s oxygen supply. AS Roy struggles for air, he tells Stabler he can’t breathe, and finally says he will tell Stabler. Stabler opens the line, and Roy says he was about to tell him before he cut his air off, but now Stabler will have to wait until he catches his breath. Stabler says he doesn’t think so, and closes off the oxygen supply again.

Back at trial, the judge looks at Brunson and is deep in thought, the sounds of the trial fading away. Meanwhile, leaving the prison, Stabler calls Benson and tells her he needs her to call Warner and meet him at the pool outside the Bedford Rec Center. We see a new message from Stabler on the judge’s cell phone. The judge apologizes, saying on of his biggest pet peeves is a cell phone in court. But Cabot notices the judge is clearly distracted. The text message from Stabler says , “HE TALKED.” Cabot objects to something Horowitz has said, and looks at the judge. He says, What?” and then overrules. He then stops the testimony.

The judge arrives at the Bedford Recreation Center, Benson greets him and says Roy lied, Marshall is not there. The judge says one should always be wary of information obtained by force. She says they did find something. ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) tells the judge that Marshall may have left the body there for a few months, the moved him before the pool opened that summer. She adds that post mortem body fats break down. and when combined with an acidic based cleanser it leaves a distinctive white stain. The judge looks over and sees a white “shadow’ of what he thinks is his sons body, saying it looks like an angel.

Back at the SVU squad, Pam Galliano has arrived, and tells Benson something is wrong. She says Cabot called and says they may not get to her today. She thinks Brunson is pulling a trick. Benson goes with Cabot to find out what is the holdup, and Cabot tells her Koehler has not shown up yet which is very unlike him. No one has talked to him on Friday, and Benson thinks she knows where he is. Fin is back at the squad with Benson on the phone, and tells her that there is no record of the judge at Sing-Sing but the last person on the log to visit Roy was Elliott. Benson asks Cabot about Branson, who tells her he was safely locked up over the weekend. He is still in holding. Brunson says that the judge met with him ex parte of the weekend, and Cabot knows this is odd behavior for the judge. Horowitz asked him if the judge asked him about the case, and Brunson says no, he wanted to hear his life story. The judge refused to leave until he ate something. Cabot says this does not make sense, why would he jeopardize the case? Cabot also says she knew something was wrong, the judge was distracted the whole trial. Benson calls Fin and asks him to check Koehler’s residence. Fin and Munch break in and call out, and the judge comes out, his shirt all bloody. He says he was not attacked, but his is not OK. He tells them to get in there, and a man is there, restrained, beaten and unconscious. Fin calls for a bus. Munch asks the judge who the man is, and he says he is the scourge of the earth. Fin finds that the man’s name is Gregory Brunson, the same last name as the man the judge currently has on trial.

Back at jail, Benson asks Tyler Brunson what he told hi about his father Gregory. He hadn’t talked to him since he was 16. He prefers not to talk about his father. Benson asked if her father abused him, and she says that is what the judge kept asking him. He said he told the judge that his father had, his entire childhood. He doesn’t know what Koehler got so emotional about, he was the one that got abused, not the judge.

At the ME’s office, Warner says the body found by the pool was not that of his son, it belong to a different victim. Roy told the real victim’s parents where he buried the body, not where he stored it first. She told the judge this on Saturday, and when they asked why she did not tell them, she said besides a tour bus massacre, she was uncomfortable with what the judge asked her to do. He asked if Tyler Brunson’s DNA was taken at the time of his arrest, and asked gave her a short lock of hair.

Later, Stabler asks the judge why he gave Warner a lock of his hair. He said he wanted to confirm it was his. But Benson says Tyler doesn’t recall giving him the sample. The judge says it’s because it was taken when he was so young, it is from Marshall’s baby book. The detectives look stunned. Benson says, “Tyler is Marshall. Tyler’s your son.” The judge says he will have to recuse himself from the trial, but Stabler wonders why Roy let Marshall live. The judge says it had nothing to do with Roy, he got decade of pleasure tormenting him. It was Gregory Brunson is who took his son and destroyed his little boy. He thinks Tyler would not have been the man he is now had the Koehlers raised him. He said he should have saved him. He says Marshall was a bright kid, he used to count out the change in the judge’s pocket when he was only three; two quarters, three dimes, one nickel, two pennies. He kept ht exact amount as they day he went missing, hoping he would come home to count it. He couldn’t imagine functioning without having that change in his pocket. He suspected something when Tyler ranted a line to him at his bail hearing, “A tyrant will always find a pretext for his tyranny.” It is a moral from an Aesop fable he used to read to him, the wolf and the lamb – Marshall remembered. This is when he had him check out Roy to make sure there was a body. The judge is amazed at the astronomical odds of this. He said when Alex first was trying to get another judge for the case, and had he not walked by at that exact time, and if Marshall had not remembered that fable….fate brought the together. He adds, “Well almost.” Stabler thinks that the judge may be able to claim temporary insanity of get jury nullification, but the judge shakes his head. H says there won’t be a trail, he betrayed everything he stood for and will take his punishment. Benson tells him to let the legal system work for him. But the judge stands firm. He found the truth and he is free. He has one request.

Back at the SVU squad, Tyler Branson is being let in, wearing his prison clothes, asking what is going on. Benson tells him there is someone he needs to see, and Stabler tells him to just hear the man out. When Brunson asks who, we see the judge sitting in the SVU jail cell. Brunson walks up to the judge and says, “Well how do you like that? Turnabout being fair play.” The judge asks him how he was holding up, and says he was doing OK until the judge caused a mistrial. Thanks to him, he has to live through the nightmare all over again. The judge apologizes for what “than man” did to him and what he turned him into, it’s not who he is. Brunson questions this, asking the judge what about you and why did he attack his father? Koehler repeats the “tyrant” line, and asks him where he was when he first heard that. He said he looked it up a few years ago, it was a moral to a story he guesses his father read to him as a kid. Koehler says that is right, but Brunson said it wasn’t like his father, he can’t recall him doing anything nice for him. Koehler asks him to try to remember the voice, and as Brunson turns the words over in his head, he gets a look of realization and turns to look at Koehler. He shakes is head and says, “No it’s…it’s not possible.” He realizes it was Koehler, and Koehler reaches out and touches Brunson’s face as Brunson cries, as we fade to black.

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Shelly said...

I thought this episode jumped around a lot... like they were trying to outdo themselves in EACH scene, from the previous scenes. It would be nice to have a followup at some point to find out what happens to Marshall, but knowing L&O, they probably won't...

Re the Zebras finale. I'm thinking it's annoying CSU tech (sorry, can't remember their names) who kills his boss and then attacks the others? It sounds like his voice. Is that what you're thinking too?

Melanie Atkins said...

You can get mitochondrial DNA from cut hair. Just FYI.

All Things Law and Order said...

Shelly,it did look to me like something did happen to one of the CSU techs, maybe O'Halloran, as I think that may be who is laying on the floor. But, Stabler also looks like he is carrying Elzabeth Donnelly. Something may happen to both of them, maybe only one of them dies. The voice at the end does sound a lot like annoying CSU tech Dale Stuckey, so I am wondering if he has something to do with it.

Melanie, I thought mitochondrial DNA could only provide information about the mother, not the father. But maybe if that is the case, they assumed the judge was the father if they were able to confirm the mother?

Rose said...

I love O'Halloran and Donnelly, I hate that one of them will probably die! Although I am hoping someone kills Stuckey and he's the cast member that dies, while Donnelly and O'Halloran survive. But that's probably not going to happen, unfortunately.

Glenn said...

He wanted to compare the DNA from the hair with the sample taken when Tyler was arrested.

The voice in the preview sounds like Stuckey, but it could also be Nick Stahl.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a Damn good episode! Very powerful.

Jumping Jack Flash said...

From what I read, it would be very difficult, but not impossible, to get mitochondrial DNA (m-DNA) from hair without the follicle.

I don't exactly agree with Judge Koehler hiring detective Stabler to beat up Roy Lee Dotson, who supposedly murdered his son 30 years prior, to get the truth out of him about where the body was buried. Let alone the method to which he obtained the information. However, I've never done interrogations, and I've never been present at any, so I don't consider myself an authority on that.

Judge Koehler definitely became distracted during this time, paying way too much attention to his cell phone to find out. The judge certainly messed up when he beat up Tyler Brunson's supposed father, Gregory Brunson. This goes against the very meticulous nature of the judge, who appears to be a very level-headed individual who takes his job as a judge seriously to keep the balance. However, we all do have our breaking points. No one can ever imagine or predict when a person will snap. I can only imagine it's a subconscious reaction to a particular event or phrase that brings back bad memories or a terrible prior event.

Despite the comment about the "astronomical" odds, it's still a most interesting coincidence Tyler recites the very phrase he was read as a really young boy by the judge. I'm sure that, if we think hard enough, we can remember a very specific event, phrase, tone of voice, etc., that reminds us of someone as a very young child.

Though there is a good amount of Hollywood involved, Law and Order still provides enough realism to continue to be one my absolute favorite series of all time.

Anonymous said...

Well, there was a case about a mother who found her daughter years after she was stolen from her home as a baby. It was at a birthday party and she noticed it was her daugher immediately, when she wasn't a baby.

So, it's kind of like truth is stranger than fiction.