Monday, June 22, 2009

Law & Order Criminal Intent “Family Values” Recap & Review

All photos from USA Network

Sunday’s episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent “Family Values” was a very intense, dark episode with a very creepy criminal. If I got the spelling right, the killer’s name was Paul Devildis – clearly someone with the “devil’ in him. Pathetically, Devildis kills thinking he is doing it for God when really is he answering to evil by killing those that he loves or those that he thinks need to be saved from themselves.

I have to admit that during the first 10 minutes or so I did not clearly understand who was killed and what their involvement was. In a way that was annoying, but on the flip side, this is really the way most crimes are investigated – the detectives have to find out the connections in order to get the killer. So while we saw the killer up front, it kept the suspense there as we learned along with the detectives who the first victims were and how they were connected to later murders.

While Paul seemed to have planned the initial murders, I found it laughable that he was only wearing latex gloves to protect himself. I wonder what he did with all his blood-spattered clothes? I was also a little confused as to why this was a major case. Was it because it was a double murder? Other shows in the franchise have covered multiple murders as well so what made this one special enough for Major Case eluded me. Sometimes, the criterion for a major case is still a mystery to me.

Another question I had was once it was determined that Paul’s mother could be the next victim, why they didn’t have the place staked out to watch for Paul immediately? Why did they seemingly wait until Ross got a call with a possible tip off that Paul might be coming?

Clearly, this episode belonged to Vincent D’Onofrio, who seemed back in his game while he questioned Paul. It was a skilled interrogation that chipped away very neatly at Paul’s delusions of killing in the name of God. In fact, this was the best that Goren/D’Onofrio has been all season, with D’Onofrio actually looking a little healthier. He even seemed to be moving much easier, allowing him to appear more powerful in the scene where he grabs Paul and then forces him to sit down. It is annoying, however, that this whole season has been shown out of order. In the last Goren/Eames episode we saw a very large, lumbering Goren, but in this episode, he looked like he dropped quite a few pounds and he seemed to be moving much more normally. It’s not just D’Onofrio’s back and forth appearance changes over the last episodes, but it is also the inconsistency in Goren’s apparent state of mind and even his mental dexterity and energy levels that seemed to go up and down with each episode. I hope they have all the older episodes long out of the way so we can finally see a more consistent Bobby Goren.

Here is the recap:

A young girl, Kathy Devildis (Britt Robertson) enters the stage in the play “Cyrano.” She is dressed in a low cut, period costume. Her parents, Paul (David Harbour) and Mary Devildis (Susie Misner) and grandmother (Marilyn Chris) look on from the audience. Her father’s eyes focus on the large gold cross around his daughter’s neck, and her exposed cleavage. He looks agitated. He gets his coat and leaves the play, to the confusion of his wife and mother. Later, as he sits in his car outside someone’s apartment, he hears the lines of the play playing back in his head. He starts speaking about Revelations from the Bible. He says he will save them, he will save them all.

As his daughter and play’s director, Velma (Karen Ziemba) , receive applause at the play, Afterwards, Kathy asks the director for something modern next time, maybe Tennessee Williams. Her mother tells her ‘one step at a time”. Velma asks if Mr. Devildis didn’t enjoy the pay, and Mary makes an excuse that he had to leave the play because he was called away. Kathy asks if her father left before the end of the play, and her grandmother says he left when she was in the garden. Kathy is unhappy because she left that was her best scene.

Elsewhere, Joe arrives home, but Paul Devildis is waiting inside, drinking coffee and wearing latex gloves. Joe walks in and calls to his wife Millie, asking to guess who is the luckiest couple in the world. But his wife is on the floor, dead in a pool of blood. Joe enters the kitchen with a handful of money, and Devildis hits him with a hammer, says he is sorry, there is nothing more he can do for him, and hits him again, killing him. He picks up his coffee cup.

Detectives Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Alex Eames (Kathryn Erbe) are at the scene of the double murder. Goren notes the single coffee cup and sauce and coffee pot has been washed, but the coffee grounds are still moist. If the wife expected the husband was coming home, he asks why not have the coffee waiting for him? Eames asks if he thinks the killer washed up, and Goren says he thinks he was comfortable there and the wife sat there talking and listening when he struck her – she trusted him. Erbe wonders about not envying who has to contact the next of kin and says they should get the address books and computer, and Goren adds they should get all the papers stuck on the refrigerator.

Goren speculates that if she was killed first - Eames jumps in and says that they neighbors said she often worked late - Goren says he thinks the killer knew that too, he probably sat there and waited until he heard her husband arrive. When he came in, the killer struck him on his left side, and he fell into the refrigerator, ME Rodgers adding he had a left temporal fracture. She goes on to say he also has a fracture in the occipital crown – there were two selective blows, enough to kill him, but not more. Eames says it lacks disorganization of someone out of control. Goren thinks the killer was in total control, that he knew the place, planned this, and he showed up with a small, heavy weapon. Rodgers guesses it was a hammer. Eames picks up some of the money next to the man’s body and states that the killer didn’t want it. She also adds that it doesn’t have a look of a sexual assault, and Goren agrees. Goren notes the towel across the wife’s chest, and Eames wonders if she was holding it when she fell. But Goren notes that her right hand was under her hip, and her left was at the top of her head, and it would take two hands to arrange the towels to cover her exposed breasts. Eames says, ‘Our killer is concerned about modesty?”

At the Major Case Squad, they review the case with Captain Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian). He asks about the money, which Goren tells him was $1,000 is 20s. Ross asks about drug deals or sexual components but they have no evidence of that. Ross says the covering of the exposed breast should not discount something weird. Ross wonders about this being a jealousy killing, but Goren says why would she sit drinking coffee with him if her husband were expected home? Ross’s phone rings, and he tells them her sister and brother in law have come to identify the body.

Mary and Paul Devildis - the latter who we know is the killer – identify the body, Paul says he last saw them about a month ago. and Mary says she was hoping they would have come to their daughter’s school play last night. Millie and Joe had no enemies. Money was tight for them but they knew she and Paul were there to help them. Paul says he knows of no problems in the workplace.

At Joe’s job as a crane operator, the foreman tells Goren and Eames there were no problems with Joe. The money he had was from winning the basketball pool, he spent some of it on beers for the group but took the rest home for Millie. Joe had a kid on the way, work was not as steady as it had been. Joe needed money and asked for overtime as he had a balloon payment on his mortgage that he hoped his brother in law, who was a banker, could fix.

Back at home, Mary tells Paul she spoke to everyone but his mother, and he said he called the home and they were going to keep her away from the news until he could tell her. He is working on the computer, and tells Mary it is something for the bank, and says it helps keep his mind off things. She tells him they have no idea what they lost in him.. Kathy enters and says she knows it’s a bad time but she has big scene and she promised June she’d stay over and run the lines. Paul asks about the play, and Kathy says it is “Sweet Bird of Youth” by Tennessee Williams. Paul comments that Williams was a homosexual, and Kathy objects, saying he was a brilliant writer and he wrote great role for women. Mary is supportive of her daughter and Paul says OK.

Later, as Paul waits outside the “Queens of Drama Academy”, the play director, Velma, arrives and Paul apologizes for having to leave the play early. He says he was in the area and his wife told him to stop by. His says Kathy is enthusiastic about drama but she says she knows he is not 100% approving. He says it is not something he is used to. She asks if seeing the play turned him around, and he said it had a strong impact on him. When he asks to talk about the matter, she invites him in for coffee. Later, we seem Paul walking down the dark alley, throwing a bloody ball peen hammer in the trash.

The next day, Goren and Eames are at The Queens of Drama Academy, now a murder scene. They were called there because of the similarities with the earlier double murder. Velma lay dead on the floor in a pool of blood, struck with a similar blunt instrument. They note she also had coffee and was likely sitting with the killer. Goren sees the flier from the Cyrano play, and they find she directed plays at a Christian high school. Her body was found by the woman she lived with, Doreen Howell. Eames notes that Velma taught drama and Millie Stegman taught special ed – they were both teachers. Goren wonders what else connects them.

In the ambulance, they talk with Doreen (Carol Halstead), who tells them that she called Velma from her mothers and talked about the other murders she doesn’t think she knew anything. The plays were just for kids. Goren asks how they can find who got the flyers, and Doreen says she has a list of names they got from the parents.

Back at Major Case, Goren and Eames review the case with Ross, who says they tabloids have already labeled it as serial killings. He tells them to share the information with the FBI, but Goren says there is not much. Eames add that Paul and Mary Devildis sent Joe and Mille a flier because Paul and Mary’s daughter was in the play, Goren says there may be a family connection and they will look more closely at them. Goren does not expect much from VICAP, there were no hits on prints from either crime scene. He thinks they are dealing with a first offender. Ross says there are no robbery and no sexual components, and people have been killed over school events before, maybe this originated from the drama class?

At the high school, they question the school principal, and she tells them that Velma was well liked. She referred to the school as conservative Christian, and Goren asks if there was any opposition to the kids being on stage. She indicates most parents did not have a problem, but Goren notes that “most” is not everyone. She tells them that letters are required from the parents to give permission to participate in drama, and Eames asks to see the letters, and when the principal balks, Eames reminds her the severity of the issue. The principal says she was about the lead the group in a prayer session, and Goren indicates they will wait for the letters.

Back at home, Paul is calling Ray Balger (Tim Bohn), president of Chautauqua Savings. Paul is building a pipe bomb. He tells Ray he has a restructuring plan he wants to drop by, and asks if he would review it, and says since he is no longer at the bank, could it for his eyes only? Ray agrees, and after hanging up, says, “poor guy.”

Back at home, Paul, Mary, and Kathy are there, they talk about the murders. Kathy is worried. Paul tells them they trust in the shield of their faith. Mary says he can trust all he wants but if she is there alone, she is not answering the door.

Back at Major Case, Eames tells Goren she spoke with the bank that holds the mortgage for Joe and Millie, and found their monthly payments had doubled, and the bank holding the loan was the same bank where Paul Devildis worked – and Paul was fired 5 months ago. Goren says Paul was feeling pressure from more than one place, and shows Eames the consent letter for his daughter drama class. Eames says they will have to pay them a visit.

At the Devildis home, Goren and Eames catch Devildis as he is putting a small box into his car. Kathy arrives with her dog. Goren asks about the drama class and tells him that only Mary signed the consent form. He says he did have trouble with it because she is daddy’s little girl. He admits he saw her at Cyrano, and asks Kathy how many curtain calls. She looks at him, perplexed, and says three. Goren seems to pick up on her the issue. When Kathy leaves, Goren asks Paul about Joe and Millie’s hardship with the house, and he asks since he doesn’t have his job at the bank how was he going to help them? He says they are family, he would find a way. As Goren and Eames leave, Goren comments he knows he lied about the play and no father forgets the number of his daughter’s curtain calls, and that he lied about offering Joe and Millie help, something he could not fulfill.

As Paul is delivery a eulogy at the services for Joe and Millie and their unborn child, his package is delivered to the bank, and Ray opens it, causing it to explode.

At the scene of the bank explosion, Goren found a flier for the play on Ray’s desk. The bomb exploded after closing. Ray, the bank president, was killed, and another bank worker with him, Greg Phillips, was severely injured and is at the hospital. At the hospital, Greg tells them that Paul Devildis called the bank ahead of time and said he was delivering a “restructuring plan” and they felt bad for him so they said they would look at it. Greg got the package and gave it to Ray and Greg went for coffee. They felt sorry for Ray and accepted the package because he was their manager and was corporate’s scapegoat for the banks sub prime loan problems.

Later, at the Devildis home, the police arrive en masse and break down the door. Paul is not there, and a candle is lit on the counter with religious music playing on the CD player. The dog is dead on the floor, Eames saying that is a bad sign. Goren and Eames find Mary dead in her bed, shot. They also find Kathy is not at home.

Back a Major Case, Ross talks about this “family annihilator” and hoping he would make it through his career without this particular nightmare. Goren says all the markers are there, Paul is controlling and devoutly religious. When Ross comments that two of the victims were not family, Goren points out one was a gay drama teacher who challenged his authority and was corrupting his daughter, and the banker who was throwing people out of there homes. Goren reads back some religious notations on Paul’s computer, and Ross comments that Paul is killing to send them to heaven. Ross asks that assuming his daughter is dead, who is next, and Goren thinks it is Paul’s mother. He may want to spare her the agony. Eames enters and says that a woman watching the news said Kathy spend the night there for sleepover with her daughter and Kathy’s father came to pick her up in the morning. Goren thinks he wants to spend some special moments with her, and he may have another place. Eames says they will ask any other family members where that could be, and Ross tells them to find every piece of property for the family within a 200 mile radius.

In the car, Paul is driving with Kathy. She asks about her mom, and Paul says she had to run some errands. She says she feels safe with him, and suddenly he begins to speed. Kathy becomes worried and he finally slows down. He says he is sorry, he was just daydreaming.

At a cabin, Paul is trying to jump start a red truck. He tells Kathy to give it a rest while he works on the car, and she turns on the radio and hears of her mother’s murder on new news. Kathy exits the car, and when Paul realizes the radio is on, he sees Kathy running and chases her. He catches up with her and tackles her, and she calls him a murderer. He says it is because he loves her. She says he killed mom and Millie and Joe and Velma, and he says they are going to God’s kingdom, and this is the best thing for everyone. It’s about their salvation. She looks at him with disbelief, and he said he saw her on stage and that a harlot can’t enter the kingdom. He says they will all be together and he resists him. She realizes that he is trying to start the truck because they are looking for the car, and he says he needs to save grandma. She tries to talk him into waiting until he can bring her grandmother there, she says he understands and wants to go with him, she won’t be afraid, she trusts him. He says OK but she is seriously creeped out as he kisses her.

Back at Major Case, Eames says Paul has a farm inherited from his grandfather. Goren has a picture of a house from last August so they assume the place has not been sold. Ross says someone just called the retirement home about Paul’s mother claiming to be her brother and wants her taken to a local bus station so she can be picked up so they can break the news to her in a family setting. But Eames says Paul’s mother only had one brother and he is dead.

At the Hills of Zion, Paul arrives in the red truck. Goren and Eames, along with undercover FBI, have the place staked out. He is arrested as Goren and Eames look on.

Now on the farm, the police and Goren, Eames, and Ross know that Kathy is not there. There is no blood, so Kathy was not killed there. Goren sees plastic ties, and thinks that Kathy was restrained and left trench marks with her feet while she was dragged. She also made a mark on a ground with a square and a cross on it, and another marking. They assume she means a cemetery and they send out a search team to check every cemetery within a 50-mile radius but so far nothing. They also find a marking she made with a stone on another stone but they can’t read what she meant. Ross worries that the cold will kill her if she is left outside too long.

Goren takes Paul into the house to question him. Paul is upset he is being prevented from taking his own life and seems to want to fall back on scripture, but Goren says he knows of no scripture that endorses suicide. Goren cites Abraham having moments of doubt, and said God saw Abraham’s agony and stopped him, but nothing stopped Paul. Paul says God’s will was clear, but Goren says God showed mercy with Abraham’s son but showed no mercy in Paul’s case. Paul says he doesn’t question the voice of God. Goren asks why Kathy is still alive when all the others were sacrificed? Paul quickly says, “You don’t know that she’s alive” and Goren, reading Paul, says, “Now I do.” Paul says it obvious what Goren is doing and he won’t have any more of it. But Goren continues to press on about Abraham, saying the one Paul loves most is still alive. When Paul tells Goren he can’t trick him, Goren tells him he has already been tricked – and deceived. Goren moves in closer to Paul’s space. Goren mentions Kathy’s sweetness, the glow in her eyes, her “soft, young flesh, that warmth that you feel when you hold her tight” and asks if that voice who spoke those words also told her to spare her life. Paul gets very uncomfortable and stands up, saying he won’t hear it. But Goren presses on, telling him that voice is not God’s voice it is from the “trickster” and the “tempter,” the master of all deception, and Paul knows what is name is. He tells Paul he doesn’t serve God, he serves him and tells Paul to say his name. Paul says he is the shepherd who leads them, but Goren says he delivers death and serves the deceiver. Paul says no, he saw her on the stage and he commanded him, but Goren says “the deceiver sees your desire, he commands you.” Paul tells him not to say such filth. Goren harps on about the gay drama teacher and asks if she ever touched his daughter or wanted to touch her. Paul coldly says she is dead, he ended all of them. Goren asks why is that – is that because when he saw her on stage he felt aroused and that vileness inside him. He was aroused by his daughter so everyone must have been aroused. The “tempter” saw that in him and seized on his weakness. Goren says, “Just say his name. Say his name Paul. SAY IT! SAY HIS NAME!” as he grabs Paul by the shirt collar, shaking him. He shoves him back down onto the chair, and says, ‘Come here. Whose servant are you? {Goren screams at him} If there is a God…” and Paul says that there is a God and he acted on his will alone. But Goren yells, ‘If you are God’ servant than how can you kill the people that you love?” Paul says his faith passed along from generations will not be undone by Goren. Goren retorts, “Your FAITH? “ and as he calms down, continues and looks at the pictures of Paul’s’ ancestors and a rubbing of one of the gravestones that Kathy made which is on the wall. Goren says Kathy told him about it, and tells Paul about the markings that Kathy made, how she made the marks in the dirt of the coffin and the cross, meaning a cemetery, and the mark on the stone, to indicate a stone rubbing. Goren says she was calling out to them and God wants her to love. But Paul says she wants to be with him. Goren counters that she can’t be with him, because she serves God, and is he still blind to God’s will? Goren says it is just like with Abraham, God stopped Abraham form killing his son, and it is God’s hand stopping him now. Kathy prayed to God and God answered. He asks Paul to tell him where Kathy is while there is still time and to help God answer Kathy’s prayers. Paul says he sees it, he has served evil. Goren tells him to put his God above all else, and tell him where the cemetery is. Paul caves and tells him.

At the cemetery, they find Kathy tied to a tree. She is alive. She looks at Goren and he gazes back. As they cover her and take her away, Eames, Ross and Goren look on as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

Great review!

For future reference, the NYPD created the Major Case Squad as a permanent task force that investigates bank robberies, sometimes as an adjunct to the FBI when both the city and the feds have concurrent jurisdiction. I don't understand why Goren and Eames waste so many episodes doing someone else's job, but I don't mind so much since the stories are at least interesting.

momandilovebobby said...

best.episode.ever. (or close to it)

Sara said...

As always, another great recap. Seeing Vince D'Nofrio back at the top of his game was delightful. I didn't care for the casting choice for the Paul Devilis character however.

Looking forward to next week's double-header!

Chuckjones said...

This was a gripping episode, and I enjoyed it if that's the right word to use, but there was an major inconsistency. Two actually. First, how do you use logic with a crazy person? To kill his family, and be so convinced it was God's will, it's hard to imagine that he didn't actually have visions or hear voices. If he did, in no way could Goren have convinced him that it was God's will to kill his daughter. Second, the killer was supposedly Christian, yet Goren used only Old Testament arguments, i.e. Abraham and Issac. He could have merely pointed to the case of Jesus saving the woman caught in adultery from being stoned to death. Didn't that woman do more than just appear in a play? And, if this guy was a fundamentalist Christian (apparently non-Catholic, judging by the school), Goren could have argued that his daughter was saved, having been born again, and that she could not lose her salvation by sin. As Paul said in Romans, "all fall short of the glory of God." No one is without sin. So, we aren't condemned by sin. We are saved by faith in Jesus. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. So, as the killer considered himself a Christian, it would have made sense to reason with him drawing from the New Testament. Maybe that would have come across as promoting Christianity as a faith of forgiveness and love. So, they opted to drag out the Abraham and Issac story from Genesis.

Chuckjones said...

Oops, I meant "God's will to NOT kill his daughter."

BASRIC said...

Wonderful synopsis. The only thing I would mention is the fantastic music used to close the graveyard scene, making the entire scene chilling.

GOREN is back. Let's hope he stays.

Tyson said...

Surely they DID have his mother staked out? The phone call was merely notifictaion that someone had been in contact and so an arrest was imminent.

As to the Christian angle, most so called "Bible Killers" are fundamentalists who use the Old Testament as an anchor. You could argue that Goren, knowing this, applied it to his interrogation technique. Only very few are criminally insane and actually hear voices.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone identify the haunting music at the end? Kind of Enya/Celtic Woman type song?

All Things Law and Order said...

The song sounds like the old Chritian hymn, "Nearer My God To thee" but I have not been able to find anything on the artist who performed it here.

Anonymous said...

It could be possible that the major case was called because of all the money that was found with the dead bodies.

Celeste Sutton said...

I can't find the season number and episode number for this recap/review. Is it just me, is it on here somewhere? It doesn't make sense to me to post all these detailed recaps on shows if users can't even find them on their viewing device using the season/episode #. I mean, that is pretty standard information. And if you're directed to this page from a search engine, you can't hit the "back" button to go back on this website to the main page where all the season #s and episodes are listed. It has to be on this main page as well. That's just my opinion.

Renatelisabeth said...

Great episode, in spite of the inconsistencies.
One error wasn't mentioned before, I think.
Mr Devildis has Dutch ancestors and his name does sound Dutch, only the name we hear pronounced is "De Wilde". The spelling that is used is in no way traceable to any Dutch last name. In my (Dutch) eyes it looks more like an last name from India.