There were quite a few things in this episode that just didn’t seem quite right to me.
The final connection that Goren makes to Josh in this case – Josh’s number 1864 and Goren finding its cube root, 124, which matched Kip’s address - seemed like a major stretch to me. Another odd thing was when Goren took the picture of Angela off the wall in Lou’s bar and he indicated they could enhance the photo to get the plates, they seemed rather clear to me. I also wondered how well Josh’s confession would hold up, seeing that Goren had a gun to him. It made me think back to a Law & Order episode years ago when Mike Logan got into trouble by using a gun to extract a confession. Sure, Goren’s gun wasn’t loaded, but Josh did not know that. I was a little surprised that Goren would use a tactic that could possibly get the confession thrown out.
I was amused when Josh commented about Goren’s movements and referred to them as the “same old tells.” It was interesting that despite the fact that Josh wanted Goren to think he had Goren pegged, that Goren ultimately caught him off guard and managed to trick Josh into thinking the gun was really loaded.
I am not quite sure where this show is getting their ADAs from, but this is the second one they have had this season that who has left me somewhat cold. It wasn’t just the bad acting; it was the stereotypical “I’m an ADA who just wants to win my case” persona. I have to admit I think Goren wanted to smack her when she told him to “learn to live with it.”
But there was one other thing a little off with this episode, and I think it was bad editing or bad transitions from scene to scene. It just didn’t seem very smooth to me. It almost gave the episode a “thrown together” feel. While this was a decent episode, I don’t think it is one of their best this season.
Here is the recap:
A poker game is in progress. Josh Snow (Aaron Stanford) tries to bluff his way into winning a hand, but loses $30,000 to another guy. When Josh gives the bad news to Lou Cardinal (Boris McGiver), who is at his sports bar with Angela (Aleksa Palladino), he tries to explain he’s just had a bad run of luck, and Angela tries to defend him. But Lou tells Josh to make up for his losses, now at $80,000 by working for him as a debt collector, and says Angela will bring him around to collect and make sure everything Josh collects ends up with him.
Meanwhile, Kip McGonagle (Robert Leeshock) is refereeing a basketball game, and is on the phone, saying the game ran late. A player stops him in the hall and yells at Kip for his bad calls. Someone intervenes with the player to break it up, but says he should have let him clean his clock because they were lousy calls.
Back at Lou’s place, he isn’t happy that Josh didn’t collect the full amount from one person. Josh has been beat up and this was all he could get. Angela tells him that when Lou collects he doesn’t go light, and Lou gives josh a gun and a box of blank bullets, saying the gun comes home every night.
Josh goes to Frankie Martin (Harry O’Reilly) to collect, and when he balks, Josh shoots at him with the blanks. The next thing we know, Josh is running back to the car, a white Escalade, with Angela waiting, with all the money. Angela says the gun shoots nothing but blanks. They head to collect from Kip McGonagle, who is walking in the street. Josh threatens him with the gun, and shoots at Kip. Kip falls to the ground, bleeding. Angela races up with the car and tells Josh to get in.
Later, a car arrives at a hospital entrance, horn beeping. A man pulls Kip out of the car and leaves him at the entrance and speeds off.
Watching a video of the hospital security footage, Detectives Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) watch as the man in a Crown Victoria drops off Kip and speeds off. The video is enhanced to show the license number DQF 8053. They are old the victim is Kip McGonagle, 42, a teacher, and he died within an hour of his arrival. Eames gets a message saying that the owner of the Crown Vic has a default warrant for marijuana possession.
Later, at Major Case , they have the owner of the Crown Vic in interrogation. He tells them he didn’t know Kip or shoot him, and only left because he did not want to get picked up on the warrant and he didn’t want them to find out at work. He tells Goren and Eames where he picked up Kip – Chinatown at Market Street.
Meanwhile, Josh is pissed that Kip is dead and Josh is trying to explain to Lou that he does not know how this happened. Angela says it was a weird accident, and Lou tells her to wait in the back. He chews out Josh, and asks for his gun back. But Josh won’t return it.
Goren and Eames head to this location, now a crime scene. Goren and Eames walk through what they think happened/ The blood trail goes into the street, and Goren wonders why Kip didn’t head into a different direction where there was more people in order to get help. Eames wonders if Kip thought there would be more help in the building across the street, so they get a canvas of the buildings. Meanwhile, Josh and Angela watch the detectives from afar in the Escalade, and Kip tells her the caught a break, he knows the detectives as they put away the guy that killed his father.
Eames has found where Kip leased space in the building, and he described himself on the lease form as a single man, and she can guess what that place was for. But, when they enter they find that Kip seemed to have been running a gambling operation. Goren finds some flash paper which burns quickly, saying this would help them get rid of the evidence quick if raided. Goren suspects Kip moved up from betting to running his own operation, and Eames said he would have become someone’s competition.
The detectives speak to Kip’s wife, who seemed clueless to what Kip had been doing, thinking he just worked other jobs – tutoring kids and a ref for basketball games - to get all the nice things they had. But, she admits that sometimes he came home very late when he refereed basketball games, and he would unwind at a sports bar. Goren asks to see all his financial records, and she says keeping records wasn’t one of this strong suits.
Back at Major Case, Goren and Eames watch a video of the last game that Kip refereed, and they notice many questionable calls, calling repeated calls on the home team and none on the visitors. Captain Ross (Eric Bogosian) suspects Kip had an agenda. Later, Goren is pouring over some of Kip’s records and he compared Kip’s points spread to the Vegas spread, and finds that Kip beat the Vegas spread 85% of the time. Eames says Kip was shaving points and that’s how he supported his lifestyle. Goren says his bookie must have gotten wise and wouldn’t take his bets. Eames says they found him making bad calls the day of his death, and Goren thinks he found another way of betting. Eames says she can’t imagine his old booking liking that.
Elsewhere, Josh still has the gun, and Angela is saying it is all over the news, that Kip was a do-gooder and they will stop at nothing to get the killer. Kip is looking at the blank, saying there is no way it could have killed somebody, unless Lou rigged it. He thinks they are getting framed, and when Angela is surprised he said “we” he reminds her she was driving the car. She tells them they have to get out in front of this, and Josh says. “without Lou finding out, you mean.” She says that is exactly what she means and she takes his hand and moves it to her body.
Back at Major Case, Ross asks the detectives if anyone sees people come and go from Kip’s “pad.” Goren says nobody sees anything. When Kip won on the games he fixed, he bet on others and didn’t do as well. He maxed out his cards and made weekly ATM withdrawals from a cash machine near a sports bar he frequented, and he also made numerous phone calls to the same bar but the stopped a few months back. The bar is owned by Lou Cardinal. Ross says he is not just any bookie, and owing Lou would have risks.
At Lou’s bar, Angela is playing pool and Lou is on the phone with this wife, saying he found the car that she wants. As Goren and Eames walk in, Lou tells Angela – calling her “Sweets” – to take the car over to show his wife. Eames tells Lou they have questions about one his regulars, Kip. Lou says that was terrible what happened to him. Goren notices the rifles on the wall, and asks if they are real Hawkins rifles, and Lou says they are authentic, any one of them could have belonged to Daniel Boone. Eames asked when she last saw Kip, and he says he hasn’t been around in a while but he bartender would know, and he tells Eames his name and says he will get him number. Eames comments that Lou seems to have all the answers, and asks what kind of action he was taking from Kip. When Lou fakes being offended at the question, Eames comments about his bookmaking charges but Lou reminds her there have been no convictions, and all his assault charges were dismissed. Goren sees a picture on the wall of Josh Snow, and Lou says he comes in there, surprised that Goren follows tournament poker. Goren says he likes the suspense, the bluffing. Lou says that is the best part of any game.
Outside, Eames comments that Lou is smooth, and Goren says juries usually see bookmaking as a victimless crime. Eames comments that it was not victimless for Josh Snow’s father, who was murdered over a gambling debt, and now Josh is in the same world. Goren says Josh placed high in poker tournaments but then fell off the map. Eames comments that he is still close to some game, they never lose the itch.
Later, Goren in playing poker with a group of men. He notices one guy – the same man that had beaten Josh a while back and whose name I do not know – at the table and sweating a lot. When someone comments to this man that the game is boring him, he says a little, and Goren mentions there is no Josh Snow there. The guys says - who is Josh Snow?
In the men’s room, the guy is spraying deodorant under his armpits. Goren walks in, saying that they guy is clever, commenting he must be using some cocktail of speed or over the counter meds to keep him drenched in sweat to make him look more nervous, making it easier to bluff. When the guy turns his back to Goren, Goren taps his shield on the sink and holds it up, much to the guy’s dismay. When he thinks Goren is going to arrest him, he admits to Goren that he beat Josh, maybe took advantage, the thing with Josh’s wife gave Josh a bad run. Josh’s wife died of cancer and it killed his game and now Josh is running collections for Lou. When Goren dumps the guys pills into the sink, the guy asks him if he knows Frankie Martin, and Goren asks him to remind him, while he is forgetting about arresting him. He says he is a degenerate who bets college games and lost a lot of money to Lou a few months back, and said Josh looked real big with a 38 in his hand.
Goren and Eames head to Frankie Martin, who recognizes Josh’s picture. He admits that Josh collected money from him, and that he was persuasive. He said he was afraid Lou would find out he gave Kip some action, and he thought if that what this is about he could be dead. He says Josh shot at him, but missed. He tells them Josh jumped in to an Escalade, but he did not see the driver.
Meanwhile, Kip is driving the Escalade, with Angela kissing him as he drives. She puts on a cap but he takes it, saying it is for “her son.” When Angela asks how long it has been since his wife died, he doesn’t want to talk about it. When she tries to push him on it, he snaps and says to drop it. As they approach his place, they see police waiting there and Josh drives off, telling Angela to take the car, whatever is happening there she should not be a part of it.
He gets to his apartment where the police are searching. He sees Goren and Eames, and says they parted on good terms and wonders what happened. Eames tells him they are looking for the 38 he used to kill Kip. He says he doesn’t know who that is. Goren says he was collecting for Lou, and Josh says Lou backed him in a couple games, end of story. Eames tells him he was ID’d by someone who he shot at, and when he sees their reaction, he comments that is the tell that indicates he can relax. Goren notices that Josh has been handicapping the horses, saying when they investigated his father’s death, there would be no games of chance. Kip implies he is just trying to keep his math skills sharp. The search nets a box of blanks for a 38, and Eames says they are getting warm. He say she used them for the 4th of July. Goren says he is sorry about his wife, and Josh asks what his is hoping to find, and he flashes a 10 of hearts, which he switches quickly to a Jack of spades. Josh says he didn’t kill that guy, but Goren says, “Don’t play me, Josh.”
Later, Josh meets with Angela by the river, who tells her they have nothing. He says that he might need her as a witness, that he would say he didn’t mean to kill the guy and they were blanks and she saw him load them. She says she aimed at him, and he says maybe they would get him on reckless endangerment, and if they play it right, she could get immunity and maybe he would only get a deuce. Angela says if they connect it to Lou, she worries that he would kill them, but Josh said not if Lou was jammed up. He asks her if she is hoping Lou would leave his wife, and she says no. Josh says it is a game and he is holding a solid hand, and he is going to talk to the DA.
Back at Major Case, ADA Emma Niles (Brenda Wither) is telling Ross and the detectives that she has impaneled a grand jury and Josh will be a witness. Goren and Eames express their concern, since there is no murder weapon, and that if she is going after Lou, he will hide behind lawyers once she indicts. The ADA thinks once they indict Josh he will give them Lou. When Goren asks if she spoke with Josh, he tells her that any conversations she had with him were off the record, and she leaves. Goren wonders why, if Kip owed Lou money, why would Lou want him killed? Eames wonders if it wasn’t about the debt.
Later, Eames has the medical history for Josh’s wife, she died of multiple brain tumors, and it only was a year between diagnosis and death. Eames says with a loss of a spouse you a numb and in a daze, you question your judgment, and you’re angry. Goren says in poker, nothing will kill your game like anger.
Elsewhere, Goren has caught up with Josh, who is watching a kid’s soccer game in the rain. His wife’s son Tommy is there. Goren makes talk about his wife’s death. Josh asks Goren is his feelings were hurt that he went to the DA, but Josh tells him not to take it wrong, he told his lawyer Goren would be harder to play. Goren says if it is the truth, what’s to play? Josh says something is always in play, the game is endless. Goren says since Josh is not going to be their main target, could he fill in some blanks? Goren mentions that Frank Martin said an Escalade waited while collected from him, and asks who was waiting for him in it? Josh asks if he is kidding him. Josh says Goren is faking sincere by tilting his head to the left and breaking off eye contact to put him at ease – same old tells. But Goren sits down, and tells Josh he has some tells, too. It’s the way he looks at Tommy. Josh says tells of the heart can’t be hidden, but the places Goren wants him to go – he’s smarter than that.
Back at Major Case, the ADA says her office has signed off on charges against Josh, and Ross says he will be arrested. Goren guesses he will be indicted for third degree manslaughter, maybe reckless endangerment, but not murder. When Eames asks if she is recommending a suspended sentence, the ADA says the important think is he will be indicted. Eames says it will prevent Lou from guessing Josh gave them a murder case against him. Goren says then Josh will be safe until Lou is gone. The ADA says that was a consideration. Goren tells her he thinks she is being played, and when she asks by who, “not Josh Snow” and says they have probably cause to search Lou’s house and bar and she wants Major Case to execute it. She hands Ross the warrant, who turns it over to Goren.
At Lou’s bar, Goren is holding Lou’s rifles and Eames tells him they are legal and Lou has a license. Goren says he fired a Kentucky squirrel rifle once and it is quite an art having to load it. Goren pulls up a picture and shows Eames a picture of Angela, who they remember from when they were there the last time. In the picture, she is standing away from Lou and near another man not to arouse Lou’s wife’s suspicions. There is a white Escalade in the picture, and Goren thinks they can enhance the pictures to get the plates. Eames wonders if they just found the drive Josh would not give up. Goren wonders if there is a love triangle, and wonders if she is the wild card. Eames wonders if she is an accessory to murder, how can she do Josh any good? Goren says it depends on how he plays her.
Elsewhere, Angela is waiting in a restaurant, and the ADA arrives. Angela’s attorney is late, and the ADA seems reluctant to proceed. Angela says she wants full immunity, and says when she gets that deal, she will have a murder conviction on Lou Cardinal. She gives the ADA the gun that was used to kill Kip, and tells her it is registered to Lou. The ADA takes the gun.
Later, the detectives have Lou in interrogation and show him the gun. Lou says it is legal. Lou swears he gave them blanks to scare people and told Josh to stand back when he uses it because it leaves powder burns. When Eames states that Kip was competing with him, Lou says there is always someone trying to compete but they are never around long. He also says he sent them to Kip’s home, not where he had his crib where he was “banging” Angela. When Eames indicates that maybe this gave Lou a more personal reason, Lou says not Angela. He got Angela the Escalade because she is a “dynamite lay” but he has a wife and three kids who mean everything to him. Kip was just one of many, if he started killing over Angela there would be a large body count.
Later. the ADA and the detectives talk with Angela. The ask her about her work with Lou. She says Lou may have wanted Kip dead because of her, But Goren says Lou says she wasn’t worth killing for. She swears she never thought Kip would end up dead.
After the questioning, Ross tells the ADA that they think the immunity was a mistake, they thing Angela is lying and the story conveniently hangs everything on Lou. But the ADA isn’t budging, saying Angela witnessed the crime and will testify that the gun, ammo. and the order to shoot came from Lou. Goren comments this would put Josh in a place to cut a deal, and the ADA says, “Quid pro quo is an accepted part of criminal law. Learn to live with it, detective.”
Later, Goren is looking over some of the items from the search of Josh’s apartment. He sees Josh’s betting numbers, saying it’s odd for a guy who does not believe in luck. Goren says real gamblers pick numbers for providence to help them in their effort, and Josh had the number 1864 all over the margins of his papers, all dated two week before Kip’s death. He thinks Josh would have wanted something mathematically challenging, so Goren picks out the cube root of 1864, which comes to 124, which is Kip’s apartment number, where Angela was seeing Kip. Goren thinks this was not jealousy, he was just building a hand against Lou, that he found out he was cheating. When the cops would investigate the crime, they would think Lou has the motive.
Later, when they tell Ross, he says it is not without a certain brilliance, and asks if this relates to Josh’s past. Goren says his father used him as a poker prodigy and then the man who killed his father took him in for the same purpose, Josh having mixed emotions when they sent his mentor to prison. Ross asks if Lou backed him and took over the mentor role, that doesn’t explain why Josh is sandbagging him. Goren wonders if Josh is trying to break away from controlling father figures and reclaim his life and his game. Ross reminds them there is a piece missing, how did a gun with blanks kill Kip? Goren doesn’t know, but thinks Josh would play that card. Ross adds, “Maybe that card won’t hold up. I think it’s time to force his hand.”
The detectives are at Josh’s, and Angela is also there. Josh thinks Lou must have fixed it up by breaking the lead off a live round and poke it down into the barrel of the 38, like the guns in his bar. If he leaded a blank over it, it would make it deadly. Josh says it will be something he will regret the rest of his life, and Goren asks if he means killing Kip or getting played. When Josh seems surprised at Goren saying he got played, Goren says his game had gone bad and he needed to turn himself around. Josh says he is wrong, but Goren says if Lou goes down, the rest of the empire would go to Angela, and since Angela was cheating on Lou set everything in motion. When Angela seems confused over this, Josh says they are fishing. Eames presses her, and says if Josh got her to lie in her proffer, her immunity is gone. Meanwhile, Goren has the gun in his hand, and he stands up and walks to Josh. He loads the gun as Josh watches, and says that Josh could palm a live round. Goren then asks them, “Did I just load this?” Josh said yes as did Angela. Josh tells him to be careful with it, but Goren asks again if it is loaded or empty. Josh says he knows what he saw. Goren kicks over a table, and asks, “Oh yeah? You wanna bet? You wanna bet that I don’t have the rage to take a life like you did?” Josh denies he has no rage, but Goren continues to press, the gun still in his hand. Goren says Josh’s rage let his wife die, because he missed signs of her illness. As Goren has the gun right at Josh, he tells Josh he missed her tells. But Josh tells about all the problems his wife had as she got ill, and says Lou pressured him to be at the tables and that all wives complained. Josh says he wanted to be with his wife and Lou took that away from him. Goren pushes Josh against the wall, waving the gun, and says Lou played him like Goren is playing him now. But Josh says that he played Lou, he is jail right now because he put him there for her. Goren asks Josh if he killed Kip, and he says “you’re damn right I did,” adding it was part of the game and that nobody plays him. Goren puts the gun to his head and pulls the trigger, and nothing happens. He tells Josh he was wrong, it’s an old magician’s trick, you put beeswax on the thumb and use it to pull the bullet back out of the gun. He tells him to call his lawyer and tell him to meet him downtown, and we fade to black.
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