Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Sugar” Recap & Review

Don’t let the title of the episode of Law & order SVU titled “Sugar" mislead you. There is nothing sweet about it. A body is found stuffed in a suitcase in a train tunnel, and the case leads the to the owner of a dating web site. Things get a little predictable after the suspect is too anxious to confess.

The good part of the episode was ADA Sonya Paxton (Christine Lahti) who adds the right amount of tension to the show. She pushed everyone’s buttons at SVU, especially Stabler’s. She seems to have a cup of coffee glued to her hand, and she also tried to light up a cigarette in the SVU squad room, the latter she didn’t get away with. She’s wound tight, and for a reason – we learned last week she was sent there by DA Jack McCoy to clean up the “he said – she said” unit. She is trying her best to get Benson and Stabler to do their jobs in the right way in order to help get the right person for the crime and get an accurate conviction. When she tries to get the detectives to stop an interrogation until his defense attorney shows up, the fur flies between her and Stabler. She is also an interesting interrogator, with a demeaning style (the use of “hon” and also her comments about Lysette’s “boobs”) that throws people off kilter. Paxton is a tough cookie, but Stabler came off as being a hothead who doesn’t like authority. It’s a shame that Stabler can’t shake his “loose cannon” persona. Bottom line is that I like Paxton and think that she is a great addition to the show. I think Elliot still has some issues.

The worst part of the episode was the end, when the SVU people show that they still haven’t learned how to properly do their jobs. I can’t imagine what they could have been thinking when they let two suspects for a murder talk together with no handcuffs on in a squad room that is full of potential weapons, like scissors, pens, and who can imagine what else? The minute Vance asked to see his daughter, though, I knew what was coming. After watching that scene, I grumbled to myself, “dumb, dumb, dumb detectives.” Why wouldn’t they have brought Chantelle in to see Vance while he was in lockup rather than in the squad room where there are too many distractions and potential harmful objects?

One nagging question, just how heavy was Emily’s body inside that suitcase? Could Chantelle really have been able to lob it out a window? I also have a bit of a problem with the position of the suitcase as it flew out. It looked like the person was right up at the front of the train. Are the sleeping cars right up in front? The whole scenario seems completely unbelievable to me.

The whole “Master Baiter” shtick is old and seems to have been put in there to appeal to the juvenile viewer or the lowest common denominator. I suppose if the network wants to appeal to the 18-49 year old demographic, they seem to be skewing it to the lower end of that age bracket. If it were Munch and Fin delivering this scene, though, it would have been tolerable. By the way, where is Munch? This is the second week of the new season and still no Munch. His absence is glaring. But the “Master Baiter” thing? Please, this show is not NCIS.

Eric McCormack actually did better than I expected in this episode, and his daughter, played by Melissa Farman, was very believable as the somewhat unbalanced and clearly enraged daughter. I have to admit, though, that I was getting whiplash at the end with the constant back and forth cuts to Vance and Chantelle. It seemed a bit much. But all in all, I thought this was an average episode that would have been even less had it not been for Sonya Paxton stirring the pot.

How did the killer manage to lift that suitcase with a body in out out of the front area of the train?

Here is the recap:

A guy climbs into a tunnel and is confronted by another man, who tells him to get out, the treasure is his. They race to be the “FTF” (first to find). But what they think is a treasure is the dead body of a young girl.

Later, with the police on the scene, Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) are told that there is no ID on the girl, who was stuffed in a Samsonite, and she was nude. ME Warner is not there, she is working on someone who jumped off the Chrysler building. It looks like she was strangled and they wonder how they got her there. The officer on the scene says the two guys who found her got through using maintenance access. The two geocachers are arguing between themselves as the detectives approach. When asked who found her, they both continue to argue, and Benson calls them “girls” when she asks the to stop. But they continue to go at it, and the detectives break it up and take them down to the station.

In SVU interrogation, they continue to talk over each other after Benson asked why they were in the tunnel. They explain they are geocachers, “ a high tech scavenger hunt.” They seem uninterested in the dead girl, wondering if the “treasure” they are looking for is still out there. Benson pulls out an object marked “GC” that was found behind a switcher box, and both guys claim it is there. Benson says it is nobody’s until they decide if it is evidence. Benson wants to know how a bunch of pins and a yo-yo are treasure. They explain geocaching is not about money, it’s the buzz you get being the first to find. They didn’t see anyone else down there. They say there is no way the guy who planted that stuff did it because geocachers don’t kill people. When Stabler asks for the name of the guy who left the stuff, they are told he is a legend, and he is called the “Master Baiter.” The laugh over the name and Benson and Stabler walk out.

In the media area, they look at the web site for “Techno Treasure Hunt, the world’s best geocaching courtesy of the Master Baiter.” It appears he hides his treasure in crazy places. He kicked off the train tunnel treasure hunt with a video announcement, telling them they will have to “dig deep” for this one. His IP address continues to bounce to a new address every time, but he is using wifi on Staten Island, last traced to the Garb Barn.

Benson and Stabler head to the Garb Barn, where a manager tells them that the employees primarily use the wifi. When he asks them if they have a name, the detectives tell the manger they only have a nickname. The manager won’t pull the employees of the floor to quiz them about a nickname. Stabler grabs the microphone to the PA system and Benson looks on with a slight smirk. Stabler says: “Attention employees! Will The Master Baiter please report to register one! (store clerks look around) Master Baiter, register one!” The store employees look around with puzzled looks on their faces, and when one nerdy guy moves to approach register one, Benson takes the microphone: “ Not ”A” masturbator, THE Master Baiter. “ Some giggling ensues, but one store clerk starts to run and I think it is a girl. They follow her into the back room, and she says there was no suitcase in the tunnel.. No people there, except for take one of her video when a train came around the corner and ruined the shot. Stabler asks for the footage. They look at it and can see that someone threw the suitcase right off the train. She says she never saw it, once she got her good take, she ran.

Back at the squad, Fin (Ice-T) says the train is the 173, express to Florida. He cross referenced the tickets and found the Jane Doe. Her name is Emily Keefe, 20, who lived in Stamford, and she had a sleeping car with a one way to Tampa. But, the train left 45 minutes late due to engine problems. Benson and Stabler suspect that the perp found her alone in the compartment, kills her, stuffs her body into the suitcase and shoved her off once the train got rolling. Fin wonders who rides a train in a private room and Benson says there is only one way to find out.

At the Keefe residence in Stamford, they notify Emily's parents Emily’s father Don asks if they found Tank, which is her dog, saying that she would not go anywhere without Tank. As he is overcome with grief, Emily’s stepmother takes the detectives aside. She says Emily was pretty wild by the time she married Don, drinking and sneaking out and dating the wrong types. Benson says some girls like bad boys. Don was happy when she met Owen Cassidy, an upscale kid, who used to go sailing, but he lost his job on Wall Street and didn’t care, he called it “funemployment.” They don’t know how he supported himself and spent all his time partying and sailing. Emily lived with him on his sailboat at the 79th Street boat basin.

Stabler and Fin head to the boat and they see smoke rising from it. Stabler calls out Owen Cassidy’s ( Matt Burns) name. He is there, he flicks whatever he was smoking into the water, and he says he is busy. When Cassidy says they need his permission to board the boat, Stabler says he already has it, and Cassidy throws one of the masts at Stabler and Fin, and he runs. They chase Cassidy and he makes his way to a small motorboat and he takes off. Cassidy points a gun at Stabler, who shoots back, and hits the inflatable boat, tearing a hole in it. He tells Cassidy to get over there, the next bullet will deflate his head.

At the SVU squad interrogation room, Cassidy tells them it was just a flare gun. When they tell him Emily was killed he seems surprised and claims he knows nothing about it, and nothing about Florida He ran because he was smoking a joint when they arrived at his boat. Benson enters and asks him to explain his boat slip in Tampa, with cell phone calls made there every other week. He says he doesn’t want to talk any more, but Benson nags on him while Stabler answers his ringing cell phone. It’s Fin, and Stabler asks what he has. Fin is at the boat, and says he called because they found a dozen kilos of uncut coke stashed below desk. Nothing of Emily’s was on board, no clothes or dog. Just a tube of lipstick, which Fin says looked more like Cassidy’s shade. Stabler tells them about the coke and no trace of Emily, and Benson calls Cassidy a heartless son of a bitch, and that he already scrubbed her out of his life. Stabler asks if he hears gurgling, and says it is the sound of Cassidy drowning. Cassidy caves and says he was dealing but he didn’t kill her. He wasn’t even there, he was sailing back from Tampa that day with the coke. He asks them to ask the yacht club. He doesn’t know why Emily was headed to Florida as they broke up months ago. She only lived with him for a week, but she hated it because she got seasick. He thinks she already met someone else. Stabler asks for her address.

At Emily’s apartment on West 39th Street, Stabler finds what he thinks is blood, but it is strawberry jam. A dog barks and runs over, Stabler guesses it is Tank. It looks like the dog had been rifling through garbage because it was hungry. Benson sees boxes from Tiffanys all around. She also sees a $1,000 vase on a yard sale table. Stabler finds payroll stubs and it looks like she last worked in January at a nail salon. Benson wonders if her new boyfriend is paying the bills, and Stabler gets on her computer, and wonders if he found where she met him. It is a web site called “Tasty Sugar” and a section by her profile says “Kiss me here for a personal message.” A video plays of Emily, saying they could send an email to her at

The detectives arrive at Ad-Vance United, the office for Tasty Sugar, and an assistant , Lysette (Raushanah Simmons), tells them that it is one of a dozen ventures owned by Ad-Vance United. When Benson says it is a dating service, Lysette tells her they prefer to call it social networking with a romantic twist. All their companies are web based. Benson looks at all the high tech and says she wishes the precinct was like this, and when Stabler sees someone going by on a scooter, he says, “With Munch on a scooter? I’ll pass.” Lysette tells them their founder Vance Shepard wants the workplace to be fun. She also says they have great benefits, and highlights her breast implants. They hear Vance’s loud voice, and Lysette calls Vance over. Stabler flashes his badge, and Vance (Eric McCormack) says he doesn’t like the look of that. Stabler asks if police makes him nervous, and Vance says, no, ties, saying AVU is strictly a no tie zone. He introduces himself, and Stabler wants to ask a few questions about Tasty Sugar. When Vance asks if he owns it, the woman says he acquired it three months ago. Benson tells him about the murder of Emily Keefe, and Stabler asks for the details of her dating history, any emails or chats. Vance says that’s not gonna happen, and Benson asks if the fun just suddenly stopped. He says it is nothing personal, he just wants to draw the line between his private company and government intrusion. Stabler says they can get a warrant, and Vance says great, that’s what he’s saying, do it legal and he will throw the door wide open.

Back at the SVU media area, a tech woman tells Benson and Stabler she could not find Emily on Tasty Sugar, and the detectives think since she was on their earlier that the web site took it down as if they were trying to hide something. The tech woman says it is not gone forever, and asks if they ever heard of the wayback machine and Benson says only the one that Sherman and Mr. Peabody used. The woman says this is no cartoon. It takes digit snapshots of the web to compile archives. She manages to find the site, and Benson says they can get Emily’s measurements from the morgue, she wants to know whom Emily was dating and decides to call ADA Paxton. But Stabler notices there is a note on the web page that says “Shy? I also double date with my BFF Pamela.” He tells the tech woman to click on Pamela’s name. Pamela’s video says she is looking for rich experiences. Stabler thinks Pamela can give them answers faster than they can get a warrant.

At Vertex, Pamela (Eloise Mumford) is having dinner with Stabler, who is posing as a dating client. Pamela says he has expensive tastes, and he says he has a weakness for beautiful women. She said $5,000 is her minimum “allowance” per month and when she travels she likes to go first class. When Stabler says she makes it sound like a business, she laughs and asks if this is his first date, saying her last “daddy” was a virgin too. Stabler says, “Daddy?” and Pamela says “Sugar daddy. And I’m gonna be your sugar baby,” He adds she will need a charge card at Barneys and she can do getaways on the weekend except the last weekend of the month. That’s when her boyfriend’s band plays and she never misses a show. She tells him he is more like a fiancĂ©. When Stabler asks if he knows she is doing this, she says of course but “don’t worry daddy, you spoil me and I’ll spoil you all night long.” When Stabler asks if he wants to introduce another person, such as her “BFF Emily”, Pamela says he is dirty too, and that will cost him an AmEx and it will have to be another BFF because Emily is an idiot. She says that Emily fell in love, they used to party and then she met this guy and they used to double date. He doesn’t remember his name but she took a ton of pictures and he was hot. She shows him a photo and it is Vance Shepard.

Back at the SVU interrogation room, Stabler leads Vance in, thanking him for coming. He has no lawyers with him because he has nothing to hide. He says he was having dinner with his assistant, Lizette, and she would never lie for him. He admits he fudged the truth a little because he is the face of the company and he also has a 17-year-old daughter, Chantelle. His ex wife Joyce had anger issues. He joined Tasty Sugar because he has a hectic schedule and it saves time. Benson asks if that is how it went down with Emily, zero to bed in six figures? He said he did help her financially but was more than her Sugar Daddy, he loved her. He took her to museums and tried to broaden her horizons. Stabler asks Benson how any times they have heard that song. Benson says, “The Ballad of the loving john – at least once a week.” Vance asks if they think he can’t get woman, but Emily was different than the other women a Tasty Sugar, and he was different with her. Maybe he tried to help her to make up for how he screwed things up with Chantelle – long hours, gone every weekend. He wasn’t exactly the world’s greatest dad. But he loved Emily with all his heart, which is why he broke up with her. He didn’t want to but he had to know if he loved her for more than his bank account. He broke up with her Wednesday afternoon. Emily cried and pleaded and got pissed, and she packed up and stormed out and said she was going to hookup with an old boyfriend. Benson sees the fact that Emily was later found dead as too coincidental. Vance says they can’t possibly think he killed her, and insists that he is telling the truth. Emily came to his place at 3:00 PM and she was gone by 3:45. When Stabler asks if he wants to revise those numbers, Vance says it is time to talk to his lawyer. Benson says they will call his secretary and get a copy of his hectic schedule and find out where he was every minute of the day Emily was murdered.

The detectives go through all the people on Vance’s schedule and so far everything matches. He had his daughter’s soccer game at 4:00 PM, so they speak to Chantelle (Melissa Farman) at her mother’s home. She said he was at her game. But her mother Joyce (Leann Hunley) comes in and says her father was not there, and that Chantelle was upset about it. Chantelle admits he wasn’t there but he has important things to do. Joyce says the only important thing he has to do is be a prick. He got her hopes up and shatters them and she has to pick up the pieces. But Chantelle gets angry with her mother, saying sarcastically that is because Joyce is never a bitch. Chantelle storms off. Stabler asks Joyce for her insight on Vance. She says he is a child, he is immature, he craves attention, and he texts more than Chantelle. When he doesn’t get his way he throws big fits. He came close to physically abuse but was mentally abusive every day of their marriage, He filed divorce papers on her two days after he had a double mastectomy.

Back at SVU interrogation, Vance says Joyce had a mastectomy because she is a freak, a total hypochondriac. She never had breast cancer, and never had the breast cancer gene or a family history. He thinks she wanted to be sick to save the marriage but it was long over. Stabler tells him his problems are just starting and tells him that he never showed up at his daughter’s soccer game after he said Emily left his apartment. Vance says he was still upset about the breakup. Stabler asks if he was sure he wasn’t upset about having just strangled his mistress? He said Emily ran out and he stayed home and had a drink. He was there maybe about 90 minutes before he went and had dinner with his assistance. Stabler tells him to admit it, he will feel better. Stabler tells Vance he wanted everyone t think Emily was on her way to see her boyfriend. But Vance’s lawyer Dwight Stannich (Robert Klein) enters and says the dead girl looked alive when he left his client’s building, and he holds up a DVD.

Later, the watch the security camera video, and see that Emily arrived at 3:02 PM and left at 3:47, just like his client said. Stabler says Vance followed her and killed her at Grand Central, but the lawyer tells him to watch the tape. Vance didn’t leave the building for another 90 minutes and Vance says again that he had dinner with Lizette. His lawyer says now he is having dinner with him, and he moved to leave with Vance, saying the detectives have a job to do to fid the real killer.

ADA Paxton enters, coffee in hand, angry that they let Vance walk out. Stabler says they had nothing to hold him on, but Paxton scoffs, saying nothing other than killing Emily. Benson says Shepard was alibied all day long, Fin saying Vance was in the same home his mistress walked out of. But Paxton says they should bust his ass on prostitution, and asks if she has to hand hold them. Stabler says vice handles prostitution, but Paxton tells him not to pass the buck. Fin questions who said their arrangement was prostitution anyway? Paxton says it is the world’s oldest profession, she got what was in his wallet and he got what was between her legs. Stabler says unless he got something more, since the 70s a woman got paid for something more than sex it is not prostitution. Paxton angrily says that if it is a back alley hand job for $5 she’s a hooker, but if it’s 5Gs a month and all the shoes that she can buy she is an entrepreneur. Benson says times changed, or has she not been on Craig’s List lately? Benson begins to say that some women believe…and Paxton cuts her off, saying she can’t believe Benson is arguing this. Benson asks why, because all women have to have the same opinion on everything? Paxton says is this obvious – yeah. Stabler says they will get Shepard, just keep the pressure on him and they will find a crack. Paxton asked if they spoke with the secretary, and they tell her Lizette knows nothing and asks Paxton if she can do a better job, She says, “Watch me.”

Back at Ad-Vance United, Paxton, with Benson and Stabler present, asks a reluctant Lysette to go through her story again. When Lysette looked to Stabler, he tells her Paxton is running the show now. Paxton turns Lysette’s chair away from Stabler and on to her. She says Vance stopped by at 5:30 so they could share a cab to dinner. His mood was fine, and at dinner he was the same as he always is. She says she would never lie to him, and Paxton asks even after Vance bought her that “very impressive rack.” Lysette is stunned. Paxton says a pair that nice has to make a girl pretty grateful. Lysette says that is none of her business. Paxton tells her to sit down. She says, “Hon, everything’s my business. Your boss, your boobs, you belligerent little attitude. You need to start telling me the truth or I’ll throw you in lockup. With that cute little body of yours will get you all the attention you can handle.” Benson warns Paxton, “Incoming” as Vance rushes in, asking what they are doing. He is upset that she is harassing his employee, and Paxton says that is after he murdered one of them, and then feigns an apology, saying he called Emily his girlfriend. When he asks if she is another cop, she says he will get to know her at trial, which she says is coming up soon because his double D alibi is getting shaky. She add that is why the detectives are heading to Grand Central Station, where they are going to scoop up every single security tape and guess what, they will find him on the platform following the girl onto the train and hopping off the train down the line, wiping blood from his hands. He orders her out of his office, and she says, “See ya soon, wonder boy.” Stabler asks if they are leaving, he thought she was going to break the secretary. Paxton says she rattled the boss, “mission accomplished.”

Back at SVU, Benson dumps a box of security video on her desk, and Stabler also has a large box. Lysette comes in and says he can’t lie for Vance any more. He told her to lie for Wednesday night, but she doesn’t want to go to jail. They did go to dinner but he got there later than she expected. He was disheveled and freaked out and they barely made it to their reservation. He said he got bumped by a cab, knocked down in a crosswalk. He gave her a shirt to be dry cleaned, and there is blood on it and told her not to tell anyone. She think Vance killed Emily.

Back at the office, Vance is telling the employees if he makes a nerf basketball shot, the blue team will go home for the day and the red team stays to finish the broadband proposal. Before he makes the shot, Stabler calls out for him to drop the ball and put his hands behind his back. Benson arrests him for Emily’s murder, saying they have the bloody shirt and a witness (Lysette). They take him off in cuffs as Benson reads him his rights.

At the SVU interrogation he says he didn’t mean to do it, he was in love with her. He said she broke up with him, but he says as it turns out, he was too old for her. He tried to like her music and movies, he gave her so much and she betrayed him. Meanwhile, Paxton rushed in to the observation room and asks Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) what is going on. Cragen says wonder boy is done and Shepard said he didn’t need his lawyer. But Paxton is not happy with this, and bursts in to interrogation and tells Vance to stop talking. Stabler asks, “Do you mind?” Paxton says Vance is not saying another word until she can get Dwight Stannich in there. Benson said Vance waived counsel twice and now Paxton is calling his lawyer? When Vance stands up and says he doesn’t want lawyer, she yells at him and say “Don’t talk!” And then, this:

Paxton (annoyed): “Your suspect is clearly distraught which is exactly what Stannich will argue and out goes any confession. Do I have to make it any clearer for you?”

Stabler, moving in close and getting in Paxton’s face, and taking her arm to move her to the door, mumbling: “Why don’t we stand out…c’mon..”

Paxton, talking over Stabler and pulling her arm away: “Get your hands off me.”

Stabler, continuing to mover her out of the room: “… let’s go outside.” Stabler moves her out the interrogation room and into the observation room where Cragen is waiting. Benson follows.

Vance: “Where…where are you going? Where are you going? I haven’t finished yet.”

Stabler, his dander up: “What’s your problem? First you tell us to nail him now you want us to back off.”

Paxton, agitated: “My problem is I want to win this case Stabler. The right way.”

Stabler: “ And us rubes don’t know how to do that.”

Paxton: “Would I be here if you did?”

Stabler: “You are such a sanctimonious bitch you know that? (We hear Cragen’s voice saying “Detective Stabler that’s enough!” and see Paxton looking stunned, her mouth gaping open. Stabler yells) No I’m not finished! School’s in session and you’ve got a lot to learn, HON.”

Paxton: “Oh hon, if I’m gonna learn anything I promise you it won’t be from an adolescent a-hole like you.” (Stabler gives her a condescending grin.)

Vance, standing at the glass, banging on it, and yelling through the intercom: “Hey! I’m trying to confess here! Will someone listen?” They all stop and stare at him. “’I did it! I did it. I killed Emily Keefe!”

Later, at arrangement court, Vance is arraigned for murder in the second degree. Vance pleads guilty, but Stannich tells the judge he pleads not guilty. Paxton asks for $5 million bail, and Stannich says it is preposterous and asks for $100K. But Vance says he doesn’t want bail, he killed her. Stannich silences him, and says they will plead an affirmative defense, his reversal in his business and the unwanted breakup of Emily Keefe was too much and he snapped. But Paxton says the only thinks that snapped were Emily’s legs as she stuffed her into a suitcase. She says he is a calculating killer. The judge meets her partway and sets bail at $1 million. AS Stannich moves Vance away, he walks toward his wife and daughter who are in the courtroom gallery. Joyce asks if he is happy now, tossing them aside for some young girl. He walks away without saying anything.

Paxton walks over to a waiting Benson and Stabler and says she needs their help, they have to go through those tapes after all. If Stannich is arguing EED, then everything rests with Shepard’s state of mind before and after the murder. Benson said a shot of him smiling getting on or off the train blows his defense out of the water.

Back at SVU, Benson says she has seen three dozen shots of Emily boarding the train but not one of Vance getting on or off. Stabler thinks they could be chasing their tails. Paxton lights up a cigarette, and Benson asks her that she does know there is no smoking in the building. Paxton says, “What are you gonna do, bust me?” She laughs it off, but Benson and Stabler glare at her. She caves in and puts the cigarette out in a cup, asking if she can at least get a good cup coffee? Stabler says swill is the only blend they serve. Paxton says Shepard is pissing her off, but they need facts to nail him, facts don’t lie and they can’t be fudged. Benson sees something on the video and says they aren't finding Vance Shepard at Grand Central Station because he was never there. Nor was Emily. She points out the first picture where she actually was able to see her face, but Emily isn’t Emily.

At jail, Stabler is waiting while they bring in Vance. Vance asks why Stabler is here, and Stabler says to ask him the same thing. He says Stabler knows why, he’s guilty. Stabler says not for the murder of Emily, maybe as an accessory, but it wasn’t him. Stabler says he may not be the worlds greatest dad, but doing this is not going to stop her from seeing justice. Vance asks, “Her?”

We cut to Chantelle, who asks if Benson thinks she killed Emily, and Benson says it must have bothered Chantelle that Emily was close to her age and looked like her. Chantelle denies it, but Benson continues to press it, saying she dragged her body there to Grand Central Station masquerading as her. The worst part is, she almost got away with it. She shows Chantelle the picture of herself dressed as Emily. We then see Stabler also showing the pictures to Vance, who says he loved that girl. Stabler says he loved his daughter more, and that’s why he didn’t call the police. Back with Benson, Chantelle says he wasn’t when she got there, so she went in and waited. Someone put a key into the lock and she ran to the door, and then “this chick” walked in. She said her father blew her off because she was screwing “that bitch.” She couldn’t believe she was barely older than she, and she smiled at her as if they were going to be best friends. That’s when it all went blurry. She grabbed her by the neck and it felt so good. We cut to Vance, who is telling Stabler that he walked in and saw her lying there, here eyes were open and she was so cold. That is when Chantelle stepped out and said – and we hear and see both Chantelle and her father say in unison, “I did something real bad. “ Then Chantelle says that he didn’t see her standing there and he spun around for a second he though she was going to kill him too. Vance says the look in here eye was a dead as Emily’s. And he made her that way, he has been such a selfish bastard for so long, and that’s when he realized God was giving him one last chance. Chantelle then said her father took off Emily’s clothes and jammed her in the suitcase. He way crying, and he never once cried over him. Vance said he told her to put on Emily’s dress, take the suitcase all the way down to Florida, and Chantelle said so her old boyfriend would be blamed. But Chantelle said then the train wouldn’t go. Vance said finally the train started moving, and Chantelle couldn’t take it any more, and Chantelle says that’s when she pushed that whore out the window. Vance says that’s when it all started coming apart. When he heard they were going to watch the tapes, he told Lysette to give them the bloody shirt. Chantelle says, smiling, that he took the blame and said he killed her, and that proves her daddy loves her. But Benson says that is not the way a father is supposed to prove his love. She asks Benson, “How do you know? Maybe your father never loved you.” Benson, calmly says, “You know what, he didn’t, but I still know that this is wrong.” Chantelle says no, what he is doing is right. Back at the jail, Vance says he is helping his daughter, but Stabler does not agree. Vance says he can see it in his eyes, Stabler would do the same for his kids. He begs Stabler to leave it aloe, but Stabler tell him it is over. Vance asks him to do him one favor, he wants to see his daughter one more time to say goodbye.

That's going to leave a mark!

Later, they bring Vance out into the main area and Paxton signals Benson to get Chantelle. She walks out an moves to her father, and she looks panicked, saying “Daddy, you said it would work.’ He tells them that they figured it out. She gets a little freaked out and says he promised. He moves to touch her face but she moves away and turns to face a desk and cries. Vance asks to have the cuffs removed for a second, and Paxton says to make it quick. Vance walks over to her and from behind, strokes her hair and says he is sorry. She turns around to him and he hugs her, saying he is sorry for everything. He kisses her, and she says “I’m sorry too, daddy.” He says he knows, but the look on her face changes, and she adds, “even for this!” and stabs him in the neck with a pair of scissors. Shock hits the group, and Benson pulls Chantelle away and tells someone to call for a bus. Vance, pulls out the scissors that are sticking out of his neck, and collapses as Stabler attempts to aid him. Paxton is stunned, and Chantelle says angrily, “You’ll never break another promise to me.” As Vance bleeds out on the floor, Stabler still tries to aid him. Paxton is rocked hard by these events and looks on the verge of tears. As Vance dies, Chantelle stares at him as the rest of the group looks on in shock. Stabler looks up with a strange, almost helpless look on his face, as we fade to black.

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TV Guide At L&O 20 Year Celebration (Video)

TV Guide, the force behind the special Law & Order Collectors Issue, was also in attendance at the 20th anniversary celebration for the cast and Dick Wolf. Here is a video from the event from TV Guide, featuring some of the fan's favorites: Sam Waterston, Jill Hennessy, Jeremy Sisto, and Alana De La Garza. Enjoy!

If for some reason the video won't play, you can find it on teh TV Guide web site:
Law & Order 20th Anniversary

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

New Law & Order, SVU Episodes, Week of September 27, 2009

"Law & Order SVU: Sugar" Photo NBC

Just a reminder, we have new episodes of Law & Order and Law & Order SVU airing this week on their new day and time. Here is the information, along with previews (where available) of “Sugar” and “Just a Girl In The World.”

Law & Order SVU “Sugar” Air Date September 30, 2009 9 PM ET/8C

A young woman's body is found stuffed inside a suitcase, and police believe that Mindy Keefe, the victim, was a train passenger on her way to Tampa when she was murdered. Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) turn to Keefe's financier boyfriend, Owen Cassidy's (Guest Star Matt C. Burns) yacht to investigate. However, Cassidy claims he was on his boat during the time of the murder. After further searching, the detectives discover Keefe belonged to an online dating website. But when the CEO of the dating website, Vance Shepard (Guest Star Eric McCormack), refuses to comment on the case, the detectives turn to ADA Sonya Paxton (Christine Lahti) for help. Also starring: Richard Belzer (Detective John Munch), Dann Florek (Captain Donald Cragen), Ice-T (Detective Odafin Tutuola), Tamara Tunie (Dr. Melinda Warner), and B.D. Wong (Dr. George Huang).

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU "Sugar" can be found here.

Preview Clips, Law & Order SVU ‘Sugar”

Law & Order “Just A Girl In The World” Air Date October 2, 2009 8 PM ET/7C

After CSU investigator, Daisy Chao, is found murdered in her apartment, Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) suspect her fiancé Jim Anderson may not be telling the whole truth about his involvement with the murder. When young journalist, Emma Kim (Guest Star Camille Chen), is attacked by a cab driver, DNA found at both crime scenes seems to implicate the same man for the attacks. The investigators become personally involved with the case as Detective Lupo gets close with Emma, and ethical questions arise. Also starring: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy), Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa), and Linus Roache (Michael Cutter).

My recap and review of Law & Order " Just a Girl In The World’ " can be found here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Law & Order “Memo From The Dark Side” Recap & Review

All Photos from NBC
Law & Order’s 20th season started with a whopper of a case – the District Attorney vs. the Federal government and a weasel of a law professor. While the case allowed the story to become a little preachy at times, the message was an important one – do we as a nation want to condone torture? Are there any cases where torture should be allowed? It seems that Jack McCoy says there should be none, but we find Michael Cuter is on the other side of the fence, saying there are times when it is critical. It was interesting to see that despite Cutter’s feelings on the issue, he still found the right words to defend his position and make a convincing argument. Of course, we won’t find out what the jury thought, since they were stopped at the last minute in giving their verdict. I was impressed with how Cutter handled the case. Especially enjoyable is that they continue to make Jack McCoy an interesting character and it’s great to see that he hasn’t lost his desire to push everyone’s buttons all at once, regardless of any personal cost to him. The look on his face when a previous colleague David seem to accuse Jack of helping the enemy was classic. OK, admit it: How many of you said "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!" when Cutter made the reference? Monty Python fans know what I mean. A possible glaring error in the episode was when Cutter said he recalled standing in Adam Schiff's office on 9/11. Since Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest) took over for Schiff in the first episode of season 11 which aired on October 18, 2000, it wasn’t technically Schiff's office. I was amused that despite the fact that Law & Order SVU got all kinds of new high tech equipment in their media area this season, Lupo and Bernard have to use plain old white board and sticky notes to map out their case. The still get the job done. For some reason, I find this old way more realistic. S. Epatha Merkerson looks like she has lost weight, and for a moment I wondered if she truly was ill. But, I then thought that her announcement that Anita had cancer could have been done to explain Epatha's slim down. It is bothersome to hear a long time character get such a horrible illness, and I was glad to hear her condition was classified as manageable. Let’s hope it stays that way. I also enjoyed the slight change of venue and attire, as when Jack was walking up the stairs (for exercise), and seeing a casual Michael Cutter in his comfy T-shirt. Little things like that seem to make the characters seem more like normal people. A nice start to the season. I certainly hope the fans came out for the show’s new night and time. I have to be honest with you, getting up on Saturday morning to do a recap – the only day that maybe I can sleep in until 5 AM – is brutal. And this one was longer than most, being full of complex details. I apologize in advance for any typos I missed, my eyes are crossing! Here is the recap: Greg Tanner (Creighton James) and his sister Megan argue about her leaving. She says she can’t stay; she won’t make her next tuition installment. They enter a building. Later, as they leave, she hails a cab and Greg says he will get her the money, he has something big lined up. But she says not to worry about her, just take care of himself. What looks like a homeless man in military garb approaches Greg and begs for money, and Greg yells for him to beat it. Megan stops and tells Greg everything is going to be alright, and tells him she loves him. She tells him to call her and then gets in the cab and leaves. Greg asks the beggar still standing there if he is a marine, and when he says yes, Greg hands him all his cash. The man thanks him, and says god bless. Elsewhere, a police officer and Detective Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) walk into the faculty parking garage where a body is laying. The officer tells Bernard that the victim took two bullets in the chest and a student biking in the alley heard the shots at about 21.10 and the patrol arrived quick. It’s the guy who gave the marine all his money. Detective Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) is already there, and says there is no wallet or ID but there is a dormitory keycard. Bernard pulls out a wad of money and comments that it looks like the victim was a business major, and Lupo holds up a bag of weed and comments that the victim minored in herbology. When Lupo says the victim looks like the campus dope dealer, Bernard says to “mark his report card a D – for deceased.” Later, still at the parking garage, a security guy is working to get the identity of the man off the parking garage access card. Lupo asks him for the security video but there is only one camera Bernard and it covers the exit but the rains over the summer knocked it out of commission. Bernard asks for the list of all the faculty who park in the garage, and that is available. The security guy scans the card, and the identity on the card belongs to a Hayley Koslow. At Hayley’s place, she tells Lupo and Bernard that the man who was using her card was Greg Tanner and he was crashing at her place. She met Greg at the cafeteria, he is not a student, he said he had a sister there. She said he was mature and nice. Lupo notices that Greg’s duffel bag was military issue and asked if Greg was in the service. Hayley said he was, and he had nightmares from it but wouldn’t talk much about it. She knew nothing about the dope. She tells them that last Saturday she did see him outside getting into it with a Hispanic guy but Greg said it was nothing,
Back at the 2-7, Lupo pulls off a photo from the printer and comments that they have a winner, and brings the picture to Bernard. Bernard tells Lupo the ME confirmed there are no stippling or powder burns on Tanner and he was shot from at least three feet away. Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) enters and tells them that a young woman from Pittsburgh is downstairs and is very upset, and Lupo tells her she is the sister of Greg Tanner. He tells Van Buren that their witness picked out a guy as someone who Tanner was having a beef with - Manny Lopez, who works for the drug crew on 125th. Van Buren wonders if this is a turf dispute. Bernard says that the slugs came back to a .22 but they were fragmented. Even if they do find a weapon, matching ballistics will be “iffy.” They go to talk to Miss Tanner. Van Buren speaks to Megan Tanner and she is upset. She tells Van Buren that she saw Greg just two days ago, her financial aid didn’t come through and he told her not to leave, that he would help her. She said he lived on campus because of her; after he got out of the service he had nowhere else to go. Their mom has Parkinson’s and lives in Pittsburgh and their dad died when she was 10. Greg joined the marines to be like his dad. They were never told where they sent him, but she and her mother would get emails and a call at Christmas. He showed up at his dorm one day after being discharged, but he didn’t come back the same guy. He was anxious a lot and he needed help but was having problems getting his Army benefits. He was auditing classes on campus, but she hadn’t seen him until the last few weeks. When Bernard says they thought he was dealing drugs. She says he met this girl and she wanted to give him space, and says she lost him. Van Buren seems to be bothered by this and excuses herself from the room, Lupo looking at her, perplexed. Megan says her brother said he would get her money for school, and he was working on something big. As the detectives watch Van Buren in her office, Bernard says she has seen it all, but now there is one tale of woe and she suddenly goes soft? Lupo says if she hears him talking like that he can be eating through a straw. Bernard says that is the lieutenant he knows. He comments that something big the sister mentioned could have been a drug score and could be how Tanner got himself into a beef with the competition. Lupo adds then they ambushed him in the faculty garage, and Bernard wonders that maybe they followed him there; it could be he was meeting a client, “Professor Pothead.” Bernard picks out a law professor, Kevin Franklin. He is in the garage every day at 1:00 and out by 9:15 – except the day that Tanner is killed. Franklin broke his pattern, left his car in the garage overnight and drives his car out the next day at noon. At the office of Kevin Franklin (David Alan Basche), at Hudson Law School, he tells the detectives that Tanner looks vaguely familiar and he may have seen him around campus. He says he wasn’t in the garage on Wednesday. He moves to excuse himself to get to his class of law students. When Lupo stops him and says they have a few more questions, Franklin says they will have to call him later. Bernard stops him, telling him not so fast, and asks him about the pot. Franklin thinks they are kidding and says he says he used to work for the Department of Justice. Lupo says they don’t care if he likes the occasional joint, but Franklin says he doesn’t, and if he saw something he knows his obligations. – he wasn’t in the garage. He left his car there because he finished his class at 9 and went to Wordplay on Amsterdam to buy a book, John Rawls “Theory of Justice.” He didn’t buy it, there was a line at cashier so he walked back to the garage but the police had already sealed it off. Just after 9:30. He got a cab to Grand Central and caught the last metro north to Hastings. At the Wordplay bookstore, Lupo is told that the new Rawls edition came in last week and that the bookstore is dead after dinner. Bernard tells him he ran Franklin through the system and he was arrested in Hastings last year on a CPW. Elsewhere, an office looks at a file and comments that Franklin got into a fender Bender with Max Epstein, and Epstein claimed Franklin flashed a weapon. Franklin was carrying a piece in his hip holster. Franklin said he had a carry permit but he couldn’t produce it so the officer took him in. But it turns out Franklin did have a permit. A full carry for Westchester and a special permit for New York City, and the charge was dropped. He was carrying a .22 caliber Smith & Wesson. Bernard looks at Lupo and says “Sweeter and sweeter.” Back at the 2-7, Lupo tells ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) says Franklin’s alibi doesn’t hold up and he got his timeline wrong. Bernard notes that the garage was sealed off but the first unit wasn’t on the scene until 9:45. Rubirosa asks them to tell her why Franklin killed Greg Tanner. Lupo says money; Tanner told his system he was working on something big and their guess is he tried his hand at blackmail. Franklin is a tenured-track assistant professor of law, if it comes out he was buying pot, he has got a lot to lose – academic post, law license. But Rubirosa says none of this adds up to probable cause for a warrant for his gun. Lupo says they “can always say pretty please with a cherry on top” and grins. Rubirosa tells him to call her when they have some PC. Van Buren tells them they need to tie Franklin to Tanner – calls, meetings, evidence of bad blood. Her phone rings, and she says she has to take it, and she walks away. She turns back and says, “Look, this case won’t clear itself with you guys sitting on your ass.” She walks off and Lupo throws up his hands, seemingly wondering what is up with Van Buren. Back at Hayley’s, she said she never heard Greg mention Franklin. They find law books there and they belong to Greg. She also points out a folder that is not hers. She leaves for a spin class and leaves them there to continue, Lupo telling her to have fun spinning. Bernard finds a course syllabus for Franklin’s law classes, plus a recorder. Bernard hits the playback, and they hear Tanner asking Franklin that he needs his help with the V.A., and if he would just go on record, and he can’t do it without him. Franklin tells him to get that thing out of his face, and the recording ends. They assume the bad blood has to do with the Veterans Administration, since Tanner’s sister said he was having trouble getting benefits. At the Linden V.A. Hospital, they are told that Sergeant Tanner received counseling for 30 days, and was discharged and his temporary benefits lapsed. The doctor can’t get into the reasons for his counseling. But Lupo asks for the type of discharge as that is not classified. She tells them he received a 513 discharge – separation from service due to a pre-existing personality disorder. Lupo says that means the military is not on the hook for his long term care. Bernard says the guy “humps it for his country” for 8 years and comes home and then Uncle Sam kicks him to the curb, and Lupo asks if that seems fair. The doctor says no, not for a soldier who acquired post traumatic stress disorder from doing guard duty at Abu Ghraib and that Tanner said what he saw kept him up nights. Back at the 2-7 while they look over Tanner’s papers, they suspect he was preparing a lawsuit to have his benefits reinstated and he wanted Franklin to represent him. They hear Van Buren calling out for everyone’s attention, and she says: “Listen, last week I was diagnosed with cancer. It’s manageable but I have to start treatment immediately. I’m telling you this because I’ll be coming and going more than usual and I don’t want any tongues wagging. Oh and before I forget, the Chief of Ds is coming down hard on the fives, or should I say the lack of them. You’re all big boys and girls so get them done on time.” She turns and walks off, but Lupo calls out to her. They tell her it looks like Tanner was after Franklin to sue the government over his veteran’s benefits, except Franklin is a constitutional scholar and not a benefits expert. She tells them to talk to some of Franklin’s colleagues and see what they know. She turns to walk off, and Bernard, calls her back, and says “Sorry.” She says, “Yeah” and walks into her office. At the classroom of Michael Gendel, he says Franklin never mention Tanner and he doubts that he would have anything to do with a drug dealer as he’s wound tighter than a Swiss watch. He is very competitive and they are both up for tenure but he doesn’t have Franklin’s fancy government pedigree and he is very well connected. He carries a handgun because of the work he did for the DOJ, and all he can tell them is that a number of Bush administration documents have recently be declassified, including a few memos Franklin wrote – but they didn’t hear that from him. In the library, the detectives go through piles of declassified documents. Lupo notes they are all about handling terror suspects. Lupo points one out that says the President can send the Army into American neighborhoods to make arrests. Bernard picks up one the Franklin wrote, covering the “legal standards governing the detention and interrogation of unlawful enemy combatants;” the entire playbook for Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. Lupo says it’s the playbook that set the working conditions for guards like Tanner – the conditions that caused his post traumatic stress. Bernard thinks Tanner might have seen it that way. Lupo thinks he blamed Franklin. He said Franklin owed him, maybe this was the payday Tanner was talking about – money from Franklin for his pain and suffering. They think this is the bad blood, and gives them the probable cause for a search. Lupo and Bernard head to the DA’s office for the warrant but when the arrive Rubirosa tells them that Franklin is already there. ADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) tells them to come in, that Franklin has confessed to the shooting of Greg Tanner. .. and he even brought he gun. Franklin was there with his attorney James Granick (Ned Eisenberg) who tells them Franklin was being stalked by a lunatic and was accosted in a stairwell. He will be arguing self defense and Tanner adds for himself and his country. Franklin’s lawyer Granick is surprised they are expecting him to take a plea and says they are there as a courtesy to give them a chance to drop the charge before they publicly embarrass themselves. Rubirosa is incredulous, saying Franklin shot an unarmed war veteran from 3 feet away and they are supposed to be embarrassed? Granick says he shot a trained killer who blamed him for his mental problems, demanded money, and threatened him when he said no. Rubirosa says this is a perfect case of self defense, except for the running away, the lying. Cutter adds all of which evinces a consciousness of guilt. Cutter says he can plead to manslaughter one or tomorrow a grand jury will hear all about his deceptions. But Franklin came prepared, and hands them a writ of prohibition to exclude all the statements Franklin made to the police on the grounds that their interview with him was custodial and he should have been mirandized. Later, in McCoy’s office while DA Jack Mc Coy (Sam Waterston) looks at the paperwork, Rubirosa says the judge threw it all out – the phony alibi, his claims of not knowing Tanner. Cutter says he can count on the fingers of one hand the times he’s seen a writ used to keep evidence out of the grand jury. McCoy says not just any writ, one that that Franklin dashed off during plea conference, complete with citations. He asks Cutter if they have anything other than reasons of self defense, and Cutter says nothing, the only one who would know is Tanner, “and, well, he’s not talking.” Someone brings a document in to Rubirosa; it’s a motion from Franklin, who is asserting his right to address the grand jury. Cutter says “Sure! First get rid of as many inconvenient facts as possible, and then spin what’s left into a self serving tale.” Rubirosa says it is the law abiding professor against the deranged drug dealer. McCoy tells them to “spin it the other way. Make Greg Tanner as cuddly as a week-old puppy.” In the grand jury, Megan Tanner testified saying Greg was smart and people liked him. She says that when he was in the war, something in him broke and he suffered from PTSD. He saw horrible things. He had nightmares and could not keep a job. Franklin testifies that Tanner wanted help to sue over having his benefits reinstated and thought since Franklin worked for the Bush administration he had some expertise. Franklin said he wrote advisory memos governing the manner in which the terrorists were held. Because Tanner guarded those detainees, Tanner thought he had insight in to the conditions that caused PTSD, but he told him he needed someone who specialize in health care. He claims Tanner confronted him a week later and demanded money, and he said he was responsible for his mental problems and Tanner would not let him leave. When Cutter asked if Tanner actually threatened to kill him, and Franklin says he was in fear for his life, Tanner kept saying “you’re not leaving” and he shot him when Tanner moved in. Franklin says he wishes he had the presence of mind to stay calm but he was in shock. When Cutter mentions it took Franklin 4 days to calm himself and turn himself in to the police, Franklin says he was in contact with the police before the formality of his surrender. Cutter asks him to describe the contacts, but Franklin says he is barred from doing so because of a judicial writ preventing him from doing so because of the misbehavior of the detectives. Outside the grand jury room, Cutter, pacing, says Franklin cooperated from the get-go, it was the police who misbehaved. Cutter thinks he let himself get bushwhacked. Rubirosa says they got bushwhacked twice. Tanner’s sister told the police that he never talked to her about his service in Iraq, but she testified that he witnessed interrogations. Cutter said she might have gotten that from news reports. But Rubirosa said she said he saw people hanged in a shower room and that wasn't in the news. Meanwhile, the grand jury verdict is handed to Cutter and it is a no bill. Rubirosa says their next stop is Megan Tanner. Megan says Greg never said anything to her about the shower room incident, but that he made a video diary and she saw in on the computer after he died. Later, in McCoy’s office, they play this video back where Greg outlines how badly they treated a detainees, and one ended up dead. He said the rules were wrong, they had to live by them and they messed them up. He say he has to get right with this, he didn’t join the service to murder people. Mc Coy asks if they can confirm the story, and Rubirosa said there was a death in 2003 at Abu Ghraib that fit the description. Cutter said he talked about other interrogations at other places, and Rubirosa wonders if Franklin shot Tanner to protect that information and that Tanner was going to implicate him in a death by torture. Cutter says Franklin was bucking for tenure and could have shot Tanner in a panic. But McCoy tells him to forget it, he had his bite at the grand jury. This upsets Cutter, who says Franklin is getting away with killing Tanner. McCoy comments about the memo Franklin wrote for the DOJ that laid out the legal architecture permitting the abuse of prisoners, which led directly to that death in Iraq. He thinks Cutter could argue that the memo is an element in a conspiracy to commit assault and depraved indifference murder. Cutter replies that someone could argue it if they had jurisdiction. McCoy asks Cutter if he looked at the time stamp on a document, and hands it to Cutter. Cutter reads back the date, April 10, 2003, and the address of 1 St. Andrews Plaza. Rubirosa questions that Franklin was working at the US attorney’s office downtown when he wrote it? McCoy comments it was right under their noses, and it is a jurisdictional nexus and they need to prosecute him. He adds the already have the testimony of one of their co-conspirators. But Cutter is incredulous, asking McCoy if he wants to prosecute a member of the Bush administration for assaulting suspected terrorists? But McCoy says the word is “torturing, and yes it’s about time somebody did.” He tells Rubirosa to draw up a bill of indictment against Franklin, and she says, “Gladly. ” She races out as Cutter looks on in disbelief. He stares back at McCoy, and McCoy glares right back at him. Later, they meet with a judge who tells Granick that the people have met the jurisdictional requirement and she denies the mortion. He argues that a conspiracy charge requires agreement between conspirators and there was no agreement between Tanner and Franklin. Cutter argues it was relayed by intermediaries. Franklin pipes up and said they haven’t connected the dots and says those intermediaries should be named in the indictment as co-conspirators or the charge is legally insufficient. Back in McCoy’s’ office, Cutter says Franklin is daring them to indict the entire chain of command. McCoy asks him if he read Franklin’s memo, and Cutter says not cover to cover. McCoy tells him to read Franklins’ advice to anyone charged with torture, and it seems clear that he is telling the interrogators how to circumvent the law. McCoy says, “Just remember kids, if you’re going to torture, read a book first. They want co-conspirators, I’ll give them co conspirators.” He writes feverishly. Later, the judge reads the paperwork to indict Franklin which connects the joint chiefs of staff, the secretary of defense, Vice President Cheney, and adds “In for a penny, in for a pound, Mr. Cutter.’ Cutter says the indictments are being served as they speak and Franklin can “consider the dots connected.” Franklin and Granick are not happy, saying that McCoy is politicizing the prosecution. Cutter says if he is afraid the trial may embarrass his former colleague he can take a plea. The judge says she will see them all at trial. Rubirosa thinks this is good, but Cutter warns that the real hailstorm will come when the indictments land on the co-conspirator’s desks. In the DA’s office interview room a government attorney Stron (?), with a group of attorneys accompanying her, says her clients sent her there in hopes they could talk some sense into McCoy. She says he is going to spark a constitutional crisis and is that the validation that he wants for his career? He tells her to let him worry about his career. He adds, “And now, unless you are all here to talk about a plea, there’s the door” and he points to it and stands up. She says, “A plea? You actually believe that you, a county DA, can prosecute a former Vice President, cabinet members, for their conduct of a war on foreign soil?” Jack replies that he prosecuted a Chilean colonel for the murder of a US citizen in Santiago, so government officials who torture prisoners on American military bases, “…sure, why not.” She tells him this is why not, and she and the other men with her begin to stack huge books on the table – a lot of them. McCoy sits back in his chair. She says this is just the beginning and they will keep churning them out until his office is drowning in motions, and she gets up to leave. Later, Cutter goes through some of the books and complains about the volume of detail to get through. McCoy says that Stron doesn’t represent everybody, and they should severe the trials and go for Franklin first. If they convict him, then they can move up the chain of command, He tells Rubirosa to assemble a team to get them working on Stron’s motions. When she leaves, Cutter tells McCoy that they may have bit off more that the could chew and is not convinced of their legal standing. McCoy knows, he says Cutter values legalities over ethics, but sometimes doing what’s ethical is more important Cutter gets a little miffed and says that McCoy can insult him all he wants but he thinks the ethical thing to do here is to save American lives. He gets passionate and says we are at war with people who want to kill us for who we are and sees no problem using force to extract the information we need to protect ourselves, then maybe this is the right thing to do. McCoy says quietly, “I see. Maybe I should find somebody else to prosecute Franklin.” Cutter replies, “Oh no, you can count on my obsession with legalities. If there is a way to prove that Franklin broke the law, I’m your man.” In Supreme Court, an expert is on the stand tanking about the techniques sanctioned by Franklin’s memo – stress positions, waterboarding. Cutter asks who besides the military has used this, he says the Spanish Inquisition and after the Second World War, the Americans convicted Japanese officers of war crimes for waterboarding our POWs. He terrifies that these techniques do not work and that they work against us, saying it is hypocritical to defend our values with torture Under cross, Granick gives him a hypothetical situation, but he continues to insist that torture does not work, saying a man in severe pain and mental anguish will say anything to make it stop. Granick says he is not advocating torture, they are talking hard techniques. He tells Granick that he knows what he is talking about and he doesn’t need a memo to tell him what torture is. This response makes Cutter happy. In the court hall, someone calls out McCoy’s name and races up to him. McCoy recognizes him, calling him David (Jordan Gelber). While they walk to the stairs McCoy says he needs the exercise, and says to an overweight David, “So do you, kid.” They ascend the stairway and it seems David works for the Attorney General. They sent him to talk to McCoy about the Franklin case and to call it off, but McCoy says the jury is already impaneled and jeopardy is attached. But David says they don’t care. McCoy doesn’t get it as the new administration doesn’t have a dog in this fight. But David says they can’t let state prosecutors try to hold Federal officials accountable for a war, it sets bad precedent. The AG is naming a special prosecutor to investigate torture claims, but McCoy says they are going after the small fry, and asks what about the policy makers and the “deciders.” McCoy says they get a free pass because if they go after the previous administration’s dirty laundry the next will go after yours, that’s the precedent they don’t want to set. When David tells him it is just politics, McCoy says, “I don’t know what you’re learning over there David but you’ve forgotten everything you’ve learned here. Tell the Attorney General no deal!” Back at Supreme Court, Franklin is back on the stand. He says their success is based on their ability to extract information. He was asked by the government for his input and he gave them his findings. Under cross by Cutter, who says that Franklin's position is that anything goes as long as the president sanctions it. Franklin says the president can’t break the law, but Cutter says there doesn't seem to be a low that binds the president on the war on terror. Franklin says the Geneva and the Haig Conventions are not applicable because terrorist detainees are illegal combatants. He also says the Fifth Amendment is also not applicable to alien combatants held abroad. The 8th amendment based on cruel and usual punishment is not applicable as harsh interrogations are not punishment. Cutter reiterates that in war, the president is bound by no laws and Franklin says yes, in war. Cutter says this means that according to Franklin there is no law to stop the president from any method of torture, and Franklin responds that it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that. Cutter says his memo justifies the actions because the detainees are not regular soldiers in a national army as we understand it, and Franklin says that is correct, enemy combatants are not entitled to the usual protections. Cutter asks if they should be protected by our own sense of decency? Franklin says that was not the task he was given, his memo addressed legal not ethical standards. When Cutter brings out a section in his memo where Franklin cited historical precedent, Franklin moves to give an answer but Cutter cuts him off, and shows him photos of past historical tortures caught on film, and challenged Franklin on it. He gets Franklin to admit that Franklin would have defended harsh action by the British to American solders during the Revolutionary war. Franklin says from a legal standpoint, yes, which gets a passionate reply from Cutter, “What is it about this country that you don’t get?” He immediately withdraws the question. Jack walks into Cutter’s office. Cutter, in a T-shirt. Comments that a state senator called for the removal of McCoy as DA. McCoy shrugs his shoulders, indifferent. Cutter brings up 9/11 and says that 8 years ago they could see the towers burn from Adam’s window, and part of him doesn’t care what they do to the detainees, he doesn’t want to know – just protect us. McCoy says the problem is now they do know, and Cutter says he is not sure that makes a difference. They hear a knock on the door – McCoy says they are wanted in Federal Court tomorrow. In Federal Court, David is arguing his case that the AG wants to issue an order to stay the prosecution of Franklin and the other defendants. McCoy says they can’t just stop the trial. David says under the supremacy clause of the constitution, actions taken by Federal officials in pursuits of foreign policy are not grist for state prosecution. McCoy argues that if those actions are illegal, as torture clearly is, there is no overriding federal interest in shielding those who enabled such actions. The judge stops the arguments, and tells them she will take the motion under advisement and issue her ruling by the end of the day; meanwhile the trial can go on. As the attorneys move to leave, McCoy glares at David and then walks to him, saying McCoy: I never expected this of you David: You’re way off the reservation Jack McCoy: Damn it David, I’m trying to SAVE the reservation. David: We’re looking forward, not backward. We’re not looking to give aid and comfort to the enemy. McCoy, angry: What are you accusing me of? (David gives him a sheepish look and walks off, and Cutter and Rubirosa look on in disbelief.) Back in Supreme Court, the prosecution closes, saying his client never tortured anyone, all he did was provide a legal opinion, He says in this country you have to actually commit a crime to be convicted of obe. But Cutter counters that Franklin’s document is no simple legal opinion, it is an instruction on how to commit a crime. It creates a special class of prisoners who are fair game for any suffering we want to subject them to. He calls it the “legal grease” that enabled the conspirators to commit acts that are immoral and illegal. He says Franklins’ says was just following orders, but Cutter says he was employed as the last defense to injustice. He adds Franklin used it as a sword to injure them. He says that 5 says after 9/11 Cuter says that VP Cheney said we would have to work the dark side to fight terrorists, but no one imagined that meant to concede control to our own dark side. Cutter says Franklin’s tactics draw from the worst of our nature. Cutter assures them that it is not disloyal to hold our officials to the highest standard of conduct and they should decide what they want done in their name. Later, back in Supreme Court, the verdict arrives, and as they are readying to read it, a federal marshal arrives with an order from the district court. The judge reads it, and says that the federal court from the southern district has issued an order preempting the prosecution. She says the trial is over, and when Cutter tells he the jury had a verdict, she says there is no verdict until it is entered into the record, and that it is over. As everyone clears out, Rubirosa says she will start checking the case law. But McCoy says she won’t find anything, there is no recourse. He grins. Cutter says the people want McCoy out, and they will use this to hammer him. McCoy says, smiling, that at the end of the day, he hopes to give them more reason for them to be mad at him. He and Cutter leave the courtroom as we fade to black. All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here. Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Law & Order CI Vincent D’Onofrio Update

EW’s Michael Ausiello has provided additional information on Vincent D’Onofrio leaving Law & order Criminal Intent.

Apparently USA told Michael that Vincent will leave the show in the two-part season 9 premiere, and afterwards Jeff Goldblum will take the helm. Michael says that Kathryn Erbe should also return for that episode but details are being worked out.

A statement from Vincent also said:

“I have always been, and have always viewed myself, as a character actor, and the great opportunity that Dick [Wolf] presented to me to develop the Goren character on Criminal Intent was successful beyond my wildest expectations,” D’Onofrio said in a statement. “After eight seasons, and with the addition of Jeff Goldblum, now is the perfect time for me to explore other acting opportunities and I leave the show knowing it is in great hands with Jeff. For all my loyal CI fans, I wouldn’t be surprised if Goren pops up from time to time.”

I am sure fans will still debate whether Vincent wanted out or he was asked him to leave. For me, I felt that they have not provided a high quality level of writing and storylines for Vincent and Kathryn last season, so it would not surprise me if he felt the character had run its course and he decided to move on. Regardless of the reasons for his exit, Vincent is a fine actor, as are Kathryn and Eric, and they will all be sorely missed, and I want to thank them for the many years of entertainment that they brought to millions of viewers. The question now is, can the show survive? Based on the fan feedback that I am getting and what I’ve read on many message boards and forums, I think USA Network may have just killed the show and driven away the core viewership. And that, my friends, is a crime and a MAJOR CASE if I ever saw one.

Read EW’s Michael Ausiello’s report on Vincent D’Onofrio leaving Law & order Criminal Intent at this link.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

More Photos Law & Order 20 Year Celebration

Here are a few more candid shots from the September 23rd cast party celebrating Law & Order’s 20 years. The mayor also gave Dick Wolf a proclamation making the date Law & order day which you can see in 2 of the photos.

(Steve Zirnkilton, the voice of the Law & Order franchise)

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Law & Order SVU “Sugar” Previews, Interviews, Behind The Scenes

NBC has made available a few preview clips from next week’s episode of Law & Order SVU, “Sugar”. There are two videos below, one which includes the previews of the episode, and another that features a behind the scenes look at the episode, plus interviews with Mariska Hargitay, Chris Meloni, and episode guest star Eric McCormack. Enjoy! Note: These videos will be removed within a week of when the episode first airs!

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU "Sugar" can be found here.

Preview Clips

Behind the Scenes and Cast Interviews

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Law & Order Criminal Intent: D’Onofrio, Erbe, Bogosian Out

There is a disturbance in the Law & Order Criminal Intent force. The Hollywood Reporter says that Vincent D’Onofrio, the linchpin of Criminal Intent, will be exiting sometime during the ninth season. Kathryn Erbe, his work partner and conscience, and Eric Bogosian, the oftentimes-deadpan captain, will also both be phased out. As reported earlier, Julianne Nicholson will not be returning, leaving Jeff Goldblum at the helm, and THR says that Saffron Burrows will replace her.

The full story is available here:
The Hollywood Reporter: Vincent D'Onofrio exiting 'Criminal Intent'

Personally, they may have just dealt a deathblow to the series. I believe that the Vincent D’Onofrio following is what has kept this show in the ratings, especially when it made the transition from NBC to USA Network. Goldblum did pick up steam as the season progressed, but many loyal “VDO” fans never completely warmed up to him. Since D’Onofrio and Erbe have been in their roles as Robert “Bobby” Goren and Alex Eames for so long, their absence will leave a huge gaping hole. Not to minimize Bogosian departure, but his role was never critical to the series. Still, while I wasn’t thrilled with his performances when he first started on the show, I’ve warmed up to him, as they seemed to give him more meaningful dialog this past season.

While we do not know the details behind this change, usually when a shakeup of this magnitude occurs, the actors themselves are not driving it. However, Vincent and Kathryn have been at the helm for a long time, and I have to entertain the possibility that one or both of them wanted out. Hopefully the real reasons behind this change will be made public, if not to at least help fans to move on.

Sad news for all fans of Law & Order Criminal Intent, who seem to be left with a shell of a show. It's criminal, I tell you.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Law & Order “Reality Bites”, SVU “Hardwired” Episode Information

Episode information has been released for two new episodes in the franchise. Law & Order “Reality Bites” and SVU “Hardwired.” If you recall, ”Reality Bites" stars a lot of comics but isn’t a comedy, and ”Hardwired” stars Garret Dillahunt and Rosie Perez.

Here is the information for both episodes from NBC:

Law & Order “Reality Bites” Air Date 10/16/2009 (8 PM ET/7C Friday)

When Larry Johnson (Guest Star Jim Gaffigan) drives home from picking up his adopted, physically disabled children from school, he discovers his wife’s dead body on the floor of their home. Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) question Vaughn, who explains that he and his wife had adopted a child with special needs and felt it was their calling, so they adopted nine more children. While the detectives question the children for suspects and a motive, they uncover an affair and an offer for the Vaughn family to appear in a reality show causing tension in the household and with another family. Also starring: S. Epatha Merkerson (Lieutenant Anita Van Buren), Sam Waterston (District Attorney Jack McCoy), Alana De La Garza (Connie Rubirosa), and Linus Roache (Michael Cutter).

My recap and review of Law & Order "Reality Bites" can be found here.

Law & Order SVU “Hardwired” Air Date 10/21/2009 (9 PM ET/ 8C Wednesday)

After Eva Banks (guest star Rosie Perez) makes a shocking discovery about her son, Cory's (guest star Cruz Santiago) behavior at school, she takes him to the doctor, only to find out that he has been the victim of sexual abuse. Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) come onto the scene and question the victim and his family. From the boy’s frightened reaction when his stepfather, Thomas Banks (guest star Jim True-Frost), silences the investigation, it is clear to everyone in the room who the real perpetrator is. Detective Benson and Stabler are about to arrest the suspect when Thomas agrees to give up the leader of the largest pro child-adult relationship civil rights group in exchange for amnesty.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU "Hardwired" can be found here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Unstable” Recap & Review

This season premiere of Law & Order SVU “Unstable” certainly lived up to the hype. While Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) was conspicuously absent, the guest appearance of Wentworth Miller as Nate Kendal certainly more than made up for it. Wentworth’s breathy delivery seemed to only make him appear more steely and headstrong, and his behavior certainly made him appear on the edge. We learn he had a daughter and a wife who were killed in a meth lab explosion, so he has got some baggage. I would love to see Wentworth as a regular on any one of the shows in the Law & Order franchise.

A new addition to the team is Executive ADA Sonya Paxton, played by the very talented Christine Lahti. Some of the comments I’ve received from readers who have seen the preview clips seem to classify Paxton as quite the bitch. I think it is the contrary. She’s been sent there by District Attorney Jack McCoy to clean up the “he said – she said” division because there have been far too many overturned convictions. She has a job to do and she is going to do it, and she has the backing of higher powers to get it done. I think this show has needed more tension between the main characters and Paxton may be the person to help spice up the show. There has been talk that the tension between her and Stabler is sexual tension that is OK with me. (Sorry Benson/Stabler shippers!) Paxton seems to not be able to go anywhere without her cup of what I assume is coffee, from which she constantly sips. I guess and EADA needs an extra jolt to keep things going. Maybe that isn't sexual tension we see, it's too much caffeine.

Strangely enjoyable was the face slap that Benson got early on in the episode. I don’t know why I enjoyed it, maybe because it was very unexpected. I have to admit, though, that Benson's "calm down" approach was a little grating to me for some reason.

Toward the end when Foster asked to go to the bathroom, I knew there was going to be trouble ahead. But the big question is, did Foster jump or did he get pushed by Kendal? The somewhat dazed look on Kendal’s face in the restroom made me think that Foster took a leap, but Benson seemed certain that Kendal pushed him out. It is a question that won’t get answered anytime soon I suspect. Stabler gets tied in a knot big time after he makes a flippant comment indicating he could care less that Foster is dead, until he finds out that it totally screws up Victor Tate’s ability to get out of jail. I wish Paxton would have been able to come up with some creative ideas to help, but the law moves in mysterious and sometimes unfair ways.

This episode may have proved that the “he said – she said” squad does need to do a better job in making sure they have the right person the first time. I never thought they did a bad job, but if Jack McCoy and other higher ups had concerns, there must be something to it. I suspect that Paxton’s mission will cause her to butt with more heads during her tenure with the show.

The only fault I saw in this episode was my usual pet peeve – the detective announce themselves when they are too far away from the suspect, or not yet in a position where they could prevent a suspect from fleeing. They really need to get closer before they tip their hand.

All in all, an excellent episode and a great start to the season!

Here is the recap. (Please note that since there were so many clips available so far in advance, some sections of the recap contain detailed dialog, which I don’t usually include to this extent)

The episode opens with Nate Kendal, in the back seat of a car with someone who appears to be under arrest.

Nate Kendal (Wentworth Miller): “You are not the type to off yourself. Don’t know why, since you’re just a waste of skin. (We see him pointing a gun at someone.) A lousy puss sack, so you know it’s coming. What I can’t figure is why the hell you’re crying about it. (We see Kendal has the gun in the “lousy puss sack’s” mouth)

The man, grimacing, makes a slight noise and we hear a knock on the door and someone says, “You got fives waiting so quit playing with this douche.” Kendal pulls the gun out of his mouth and the man is relieved but wincing.

Later, outside the police car, the police sergeant asks “What’s that smell?” and Kendal answers, “Suspect vacated his bowels, Sarge. Couldn’t be helped.” As Kendal walks off, ME Warner walks up and Kendal asks, “What’s it look like? “

ME Warner (Tamara Tunie): “COD is blunt force trauma.”

Kendal: “It’s what happens when a methhead mistakes his three month old for a basketball.”

Warner: “ The girlfriend claims it wasn’t her fault.”

Kendal: “Soon as I get a warrant for blood I’ll be charging her ass too.” He sees a woman with a sheet wrapped around her body running across the street. To Warner: “Call a bus.“ He runs after her and catches up with her.

Woman, screaming, “Let me go leave me alone!”

Kendal: “Nate Kendal, I’m a cop.” (shows his badge)

Woman: “He raped me. He raped me!”

Kendal: “Alright, let’s get you some help.”

Woman: “ No no please help me please help me don’t leave me, please (etc.)” (She grabs on to him and sobs.)

Later, at a hospital, an elevator door is opening and Benson and Stabler step out.

Kendal “You SVU?”

Stabler: “Stabler, Benson.”

Kendal: “Nate Kendal the 2-4. Your victim ran into my crime scene. “

Stabler(Chris Meloni): “You get any info from her?

Kendal: “Rena West, 35, raped in her apartment. Superficial knife wounds and wrist restraints, doc says no semen but evidence of tearing, everything was bagged, tagged, and sent to forensics.”

Benson (Mariska Hargitay) : “ Great. We’ll take it from here.”

Benson and Stabler walk in to her room. Stabler: “Miss West?”

West (Jennifer Ferrin): “Don’t come near me. Get out.”

Stabler: “We’re sex crimes detectives (shows his badge). We just wanna hear what happened..”

West, rattled: “I can’t. No no not again, where’s Nate? He was there. I already told him. No I can’t do this!”

Benson: “Try and calm down. Listen to me, we’re here to help you. (West runs to the window and grabs at the blinds). “Rena, Rena, Rena you’re safe now, okay? (moves to her) Try and take a deep breath…”
West: slapping Benson: “NO! Don’t touch me! Never touch me! (Benson reels away, holding her cheek.)

West, sobbing “Ohhh, where’s Nate? (slides to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably) Nate! Where are you?” (Benson and Stabler look on)

Back at the SVU squad Stabler asks Fin (Ice-T) what they got from CSU for Rena's apartment. He says there was no forced entry, no foreign prints, no semen, just bloody sheets and green fibers. Fin thinks this is not the perp’s first party, so Benson asks him to check the database for open rapes.

Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) asks if the detectives got a description from Rena, but they haven’t had a chance to talk to her yet as she had to be sedated. When Cragen asks why they aren't waiting back at the hospital for her to come to, Stabler admits they set her off and she bonded with Nate Kendal. Benson adds that Rena sees Kendal as her hero because she saved her, and she told them to get lost. When Cragen asks where Kendal is now, Benson says they left messages on his cell phone and at the precinct and he could be out in the field. Cragen picks up his phone and calls Paul at the 2-4 saying that they need to talk to Kendal, and Cragen is told Nate is on loan to street narcotics pinching small time dealers.

On the roof of a building, Kendal is doing some surveillance with binoculars, and after he communicates information to law enforcement on the ground, he watches them move in to apprehend their target. He turns away and sees Benson and Stabler moving toward him, and mutters, “What the hell.” Benson asks if he remembers them, and he admits he got their messages but doesn’t have time. Stabler says they will be fine without him but Rena West won’t. Kendal says it is not his problem, but Stabler and Benson continue to push. Kendal admits he doesn’t like victims because “they cling.” But Benson says not after they bag the trash that assaulted them. Kendal sighs, and says the vic's hands were loaded with groceries, and the doer offered help and told not to be afraid of the black guy, only truth be told s when he said he didn’t want her purse. When Stabler asks if she remembers what he looked like, Kendal says “average black guy.” Stabler comments that Kendal doesn’t believe her, and Kendal says the focus was probably on the knife at her throat; the perp got her inside and checked he mail and closets. He bound her wrists and raped her with his clothes on and flushed the wrapper. When Kendal turns and walks off, Stabler asks how Rena got away, and Kendal stops walking and turns back and looks at the detectives, thinking about that comment.

Back at the SVU squad in an interview room, Rena tells Benson that the man went to cut more cords from the blinds, and she assumed since her hands were already tied he was going to kill her. When he went in the other room she just ran out and ran for blocks. Kendal pipes up and said that was the first smart thing she did, but Benson reminds Rena it was not her fault. Kendal says, “The hell it’s not” and goes on to say her gut was churning the second he approached her on the street. Stabler quickly stands up from his chair and tells Kendal he is in the way and to leave, but Rena says no, Nate is right, they guy was wearing a nice suit and was polite. Kendal says she told herself only a racist is afraid of a black guy, and he read her. Benson reminds Rena she survived and that is the only thing that matters. Stabler asks for a description. She can’t give one, and says she only want to talk to Nate. But Kendal says he doesn’t catch rapists, Benson and Stabler do. She says it’s him or no one, but Benson indicates that is not how it works, she will have to repeat her story to lawyers, a jury, a judge. Rena balks, and Stabler says that the guy that raped her will rape again and again. But Rena says she does not care, that she is alive and Benson said that was all that matters so they should just take her home. But Kendal says, “You aren’t going anywhere. The bastard who did you is out hunting his next mark. You gonna let her get screwed because you’re fragile?“ He tells her to “park it” and she sits back down. She says she can’t do this, but he says there is only one way to find out, and asks Benson and Stabler to give him and Rena a minute. They don’t look thrilled, but they step out.

In the observation area, Stabler moans to Cragen that is it a mistake, but Cragen disagrees, saying it isn’t if it helps catch the rapist. But Benson wonders then what – Kendal won’t hold her hand through the trial. Cragen reminds them that Kendal has the victim talking, but Stabler thinks Kendal is not experienced enough in dealing with sexual assault victims, and Benson says if he works the case, they will have to watch him every second.

Capt. Cragen : “We’re out of options. Either work with him, or I’ll find somebody who will.” (He walks over and opens his office door. Kendal enters.)
Kendal: “Average height, weight, and build. Round up the usual suspects.”
Stabler, looking annoyed: “If you knew how to talk to victims you’d get more facts.”
Kendal: “Here’s one: victims make lousy witnesses. Hope you catch your man (he moves to walk out the door).
Cragen: “You’re not done yet, detective. I need you to stay with Ms. West.”
Kendal: “I am not a babysitter.”
Cragen: “You talk like you have a choice.”
Kendal: “Sounds like you already boned me with my captain.”
Cragen: “You’re mine until I don’t need you anymore.”
Kendal: “ So what next? “

Stabler says they know their guy is not opportunistic, prepared, or controlled, and didn’t stalk her, he picked her up off the street. Benson adds that he could have picked her up at the local market, which was her last stop. They move to leave.

At Domingo Deli and Grocery, they speak to a woman who recognizes the sketch of the suspect and the woman thinks the face is familiar but doesn’t know who it is. The security camera she has at the store is just “for show” and she tells them to talk to Spencer, the neighborhood spy who is always watching. She points across the street, and the detectives see an apartment window with three security cameras aimed around the area.

The detectives head over to the location where the cameras are located, and a man by the name of Tommy introduces them to his brother Spencer, who is standing in a darkened room looking at many monitors. Spencer sounds like he may have some sort of mental impairment. He recognizes Benson and Stabler from the store, but says he saw them there two years ago. Tommy says Spencer never forgets a face, and also says Spencer is autistic and that loud noises and human contact unnerve him and this is his way of being social. He brings up a screen capture of Benson, in a low cut dress, walking away from the store from April 12, 2007 at 5:28 AM. Stabler asks, dryly, “late night?” Benson shows him the sketch, and Spencer says it was 7:54 PM, he was pretending to read the paper. Spencer proceeds to bring up the screen capture of the man in question.

Later, the show Rena a photo array, she looks to Kendal and says she wants to be sure. She picks out the same man Spencer showed in his video. Kendal asks if she is sure, and she says yes.

Outside in the snazzy new media area, Fin tells them that facial recognition got a hit, the man is Mark Foster (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), 32, who liked beating up his ex-wife. He did time for aggravates assault and when he got out, she filed a restraining order. But he has no record of rape. He was evicted from his midtown condo after he lost his job as s trader and his recent W-2 shows him working in the meatpacking district, quite the comedown. Stabler says they should go pick up the “butcher” and when Kendal says he is riding with them, Stabler says they got it, and blows him off.

Benson and Stabler arrive at London Meats, and when they spot Foster carrying what looks like a huge hunk of beef, Stabler calls out “Mark Foster, police” from several feet away. Of course, Foster drops the beef and runs. They both run after him, but Foster gets hit by a car as he runs through the lot. It’s Kendal behind the wheel, and Stabler asks, “What the hell was that?” as he catches up to Foster. As he cuffs Foster, he asks Kendal if he was trying to kill him. Kendal says, “I hate to run” with a devious grin on his face.

At the SVU squad, as they bring Foster in, Kendal is waiting there and Benson and Stabler approach him, both agitated. Benson comments that was excessive force with a car, and asks if he is out of his mind. Kendal say they ID’d themselves and he ran, period. Stabler thinks Kendal’s stunt has damaged their case, but Kendal says they have no case, citing that it took Rena 15 minutes to pick Foster out of the photo array and memory recall is immediate. He thinks Rena just wants it to be over, and Benson can’t believe that she wants it so badly that she picked out the wrong perp. Kendal says cross racial identification isn’t reliable. Fin comes up and seems to defend Kendal’s comment. Kendal wonders if she was focused on the weapon and not his face, and when Stabler says it was his face, Kendal wonders how he can be so sure. Stabler says because she told them and he isn’t going to put her through any more than he has to. When they walk to interrogation, Kendal makes a move to come along, and Benson slaps the file on him, saying, “Oh no, four’s a crowd.” .and she walks away.

Stabler steps into interrogation and Foster asks if they make a habit out of hitting people with their cars, but Stabler asks why Foster ran. Foster says they can ask that question when his lawyer gets there. He denies raping anyone and says he knows a white woman was raped and every brother within 20 block is waiting to get hauled in. Benson asks him where he was two days ago, and he says he was working and then went on job interviews. He used to live in the area of the market where the victim shopped, when he had a real job and his ex still lives in the area. When Benson asks if this is the ex that had to file a restraining order against him, and comments that he has a short fuse. Foster laughs and says his fuse is plenty long, and she should see it. Benson snarks back, “What for? Couldn’t keep your wife happy with it. Is that why you beat her up?” Stabler brings up the point that because Foster now has a record, he can’t trade stocks, and it cost him his home, job, and freedom. Benson says he took it out on Rena, but he denies it. Benson asks for an alibi, and he says that he violated his RO when he went to see “that bitch” he was married to. Benson tells him that is smart, that he confessed to a misdemeanor to get out of a felony. He counters that she has custody of their kid and she is a crackhead. We then hear a voice come over the intercom that says “93 seconds.”

A woman enters the room and tells Stabler that the suspect asked for a lawyer, and he kept questioning him for 93 seconds, which is a violation of his right to counsel. Benson stands up, saying she will leave her to her client. But the woman is not his lawyer, she says she may be wearing couture but she doesn’t represent scumbags. She represents the people, she’s Sonya Paxton the new ADA.

Cragen walks into his office with Benson, Stabler, and Paxton behind him. Benson asks where Cabot is, and Paxton says she is training in Albany and when she is finished she will take Paxton’s spot n appeals. Stabler says they he means no disrespect, but they do things a little differently down in New York City. Paxton, her arms crossed, says. “Oh really. I was trying homicides when you were fresh out of the academy, walking a beat and trying not to piss yourself. “ Cragen jumps in and tells Stabler that “Executive” ADA Paxton got the first capital conviction when Governor Pataki brought back the death penalty. She acknowledges that and says when she says to quit playing fast and loose with defendant’s rights, that’s what they will do, or they won’t be working there. She grabs her coffee and takes a sip. But Cragen says that is the commissioner’s decision, not hers. But she tells Cragen he is wrong, that there have been far too many overturned convictions, especially in the “he said - she said” unit. She adds that Jack McCoy sent her here to clean house. She adds that One PP thinks it’s a really swell idea so why don’t they walk her through it. She takes another sip of coffee.

In the media room area, Stabler tells Paxton that the victim ID’d Foster from a photo array. When she asks if it was sequential, Stabler tells Paxton that's not procedure, but the photo array is by the book. Paxton says their book is :out of date” and argues that showing the photos one at a time is more accurate and studies show the traumatized victims can’t take in too much detail all at once. She adds that 75% of wrongful convictions are from witness mis-identification, and Benson pipes up, saying they are supposed to be victim’s advocates. Paxton reminds them that putting innocent people in jail costs the taxpayers money and leaves the real perps on the street. She asks if there are forensics evidence, and takes another sip of coffee. Benson says there were a few green fibers that CSU says are mass-produced carpeting from vans discontinued in the late 80s. When Paxton asks if foster owns such a van, Stabler says no, but he could have borrowed one or stolen one.. Benson says he was careful – he kept his clothes on, he wore gloves, a condom, he wasn’t stupid enough to show up at the crime scene with his own car. Stabler says they are saying he is not a first timer and has his rape routine down pat. But Paxton challenges Stabler on this statement, saying she thought there were no open rape cases that matched this current case. Stabler says there aren’t, maybe the victims didn’t report it, and his gut is telling him that he’s done it before. Paxton says maybe it’s his acid reflux, as she sips more coffee. Stabler smirks, and Cragen says they will widen the search and find his priors. Paxton tells them to call her when they get them, and walks off. Cragen tells them to break Foster’s alibi and go talk to his ex.

The detectives are at the residence of Layla Foster. They hear a baby cry, breaking glass, a slap, and a man yelling. The race in to find Nate Kendal grabbing Layla, yelling at her to pull herself together. Stabler pulls Kendal away, who tells Stabler to get off him, but Stabler tells him to calm down. Benson sees a young child sitting on the floor against the wall. Stabler asks Foster if she is hurt, and she says real bad, she needs her medicine. Benson moves to console the child. When Stabler asks what Kendal is doing there, he says he can’t make out Foster’s alibi, and that the “stupid bitch is worthless.” She was sucking on a crack pipe when he got there and the kid is filthy, and there is no food in the fridge. But Stabler says that doesn’t give him the right to rough her up. Kendal thinks she is lucky that he didn’t shoot her. Benson tells Kendal if he needs something to do, to take the little girl to social services, NOW. When Kendal approaches the girl, he says his little girl likes cheeseburgers, and asks “how about you?”

Benson and Stabler attempt to question Layla Foster, but she is out of it and says she needs some rock. A phone rings, and Benson answers it. Benson tells Stabler than Fin is on the phone, and they have another problem.

Back at the SVU squad, Fin tells them NCIC pinged a rape that matched the MO right down to the green fibers. It is a ten year old case that got someone 25 years. It was a case of Stabler’s, and Stabler looks stunned.

Later, Stabler tells the group that in ‘98 he collared Victor Tate for the rape of Katie Harris who threatened her with a knife and then tried to raped her but couldn’t perform so he beat her. Paxton adds he left the same green fibers at the crime scene that were found on Rena West, but Benson argues vans were the perps’ vehicle of choice and many have the same carpet. Kendal pipes up that maybe they got the wrong guy, and Benson glares at him, asking if that is his professional opinion. Cragen tells them to test the old fibers against the new to check for a match, but Stabler says the lab used up the whole sample ten years ago. When Paxton asks if there is no way to forensically link the cases, Stabler argues that they are not connected and Tate’s M.O. does not match. Kendal argues that guys adapt and he had a decade to improve his technique. Stabler counters that Tate gave a false alibi and the victim ID’d him. Paxton pushes back and says that 10 years later, someone is attacking women with remarkable similarity. Cragen reminds them they are basing Tate’s innocence on green fibers they don’t have, but Paxton says she is telling them to take a second look. She reminds them that 53 convictions have been overturned in the state, and that even one is too many. Benson says those men were exonerated by DNA and there is a difference. Paxton says they were falsely imprisoned for decades because, “oh yeah, detectives didn’t do their jobs in the first place.” Stabler tersely comments that isn’t the case here, and Tate is guilty. Paxton says with sarcasm, “Really? Oh! Well that’s great then! You don’t mind calling me after you re-interview Katie Harris and show her a sequential photo array.” Cragen tells Stabler to take Fin with him.

At the residence of Katie Harris (Geneva Carr), she doesn’t understand why she has to do this, so they take her through a sequential photo array. She points or Victor Tate, and wonders why they are making her do this again. Stabler tells her there is a slim possibility they caught the wrong guy. He husband is upset over this, and when Fin says a recent case may mean that Tate is innocent, Katie gets very upset. She doesn’t understand why they are doing this to her. Stabler says he would not be there if he had a choice. She asks if she thinks he is innocent, and when Stabler stays he is not sure, she tells him not to come back until he is sure.

As they leave, Fin asks Stabler if he is alright. Stabler says he has been going over the case in his head. Tate’s alibi checked out for the weekend before, Tate has always said it, it was his questioning that mixed him up and that’s why he got the dates wrong. But Fin tells him not to beat himself up. But Stabler wonders if Tate is innocent. Fin says the man had a fair trial and if he isn’t the rapist then the whole system failed him, not just Stabler. Stabler’s phone rings, and tells the caller they are coming in. He tells Fin they found two more victims.

At the squad, Benson says 12 years ago two women reported being raped at knifepoint and there were more green fibers on the scene. The cases never hit their desk because both of the victims are prostitutes and they gave phony names. When no one believed them they took a powder. But when they wonder how they can find victims from 12 years ago when they used aliases, Kendal says if you want to find a whore, ask a pimp.

Kendal and Benson approach a man, Willy, who is talking to a woman. Kendal comes up to him and tells the girl she will be in Lycra and plastic heels before she knows it. He grabs the man and says he was a baller back in the day and probably knows every skirt in the city. He shows him a picture of the victims from 12 years ago. He says the woman is dead, strangled by a trick.. The other girl wasn’t hooking long before she got the beat down, and she disappeared after that. Benson presses for a name, and Willy says he has to make a call. Kendal tells him to make it fast. When Willy walks off, Benson grabs Kendal and says “Hey, you don’t get to knock heads even when it’s about a kid.” Kendal says, “It’s no surprise we don’t see eye to eye. “ But Olivia responds that “It’s more than that. You slapped a mother over a six year old and you’re threatening him over a girl recruit. What’s the matter with you?” Kendal says she reminded him of his daughter, Kelly, who is 10. He gets two see her two weeks out of the year, his ex ran to Seattle to get away, and his kid ends up dead because he wasn’t there. Benson looks taken aback, and says she is sorry. He adds that his ex got herself involved with a meth dealer who blew them up cooking it. Willy comes back, saying he got him a name.

Benson is on the courthouse steps, holding the picture of the victim, and stops a woman, asking her if she is Beverly Neal (Cherise Boothe). Beverly asked where they got the picture and who are they? Benson identifies herself, and says they are investigating another case that matched her case file. She says there is no case, didn’t she hear, she made up the whole thing. As Beverly walks off, Benson and Kendal follow, and Benson tells her about the new case. Beverly says she is a court reporter now and she has seen what goes on in rape trials. Benson reminds her there are laws to shield the victims, but Beverly says there are tactics to get around them. Kendal jabs back that Beverly just doesn’t want them to know about her past. She stops dead in her tracks, telling Kendal he has balls and that she dropped that baggage long ago and now he expects her to pick it back up? Benson said the way she was treated was wrong. Beverly says that because Benson says so, she is supposed to just bend over, adding that is how primps talk. Kendal says women are being raped, and threatens to subpoena her. She says “fat chance” to which Kendal replies ”You don’t know cops if you think that’s an empty threat.” She says she is not a whore or a victim and she sure as hell won’t let him treat her like one. She storms off.

Back to the SVU squad, Benson tells the group that one victim is dead and the other victim won’t cooperate. Kendal says he is going to call Paxton, but Cragen tersely tells him that one doesn’t call the ADA without clearing it with him. Kendal and Benson argue about the value of Beverly Neal, and Kendal wants to twist her arm. Stabler says why trust her and not Rena West? Fin says it is black on black crime, and if Neal picks foster they can’t claim a cross race ID. Cragen says it doesn’t matter now, Foster is in the tombs and there has been another rape, a vacant lot in midtown and the victim is a minor. Cragen sends them all out to the scene.

At the scene, EADA Paxton is there, and Stabler asks if she is checking up on them. She says there is a standing order at central dispatch that says she gets called when they do. The victim is Lynn Rivers, 16, her parents are out of town. Warner says the preliminary COD is exsanguination, with several slashes to her throat, chest, and her carotid was severed. Fin says she was not killed there as there is not enough blood. He also finds a cell phone. The victim’s cell phone shows 14 missed calls from an Angelina Lupino. There are also more green fibers on the scene and she is practically covered in them. Paxton tells them that Foster isn’t in the tombs any more, he made bail. When the group is shocked to hear this, Paxton said they did not have enough evidence to argue remand without bail. The judge set bail at $50K, and Benson says he throws five grand at a bondsman and he is free to murder. Paxton tells her to blame the constitution, and if she wants to be a prosecutor to go to law school. She adds, “Or better yet, just do your jobs guys. Find me something I can use to put him away. ” Paxton storms off.

At the morgue, ME Warner is reviewing this latest victim. She tells them them to look for a blade that is long an tapered. There was vaginal tearing and she is missing both areola, which were removed post mortem. The comment that Foster never took trophies before, but this is his first kill and they stressed him and he is decompensating. The girl’s tox screen came back positive for with THC and alcohol. The decide to check with Angelina Lupino.

The detectives speak with Angelina who said it was more like a make out session and they were having fun. It was at Tommy Porter’s house, in Rena West’s neighborhood. She was elected to get more beer because she had a fake ID. She never came back.

At the squad, Kendal says that the store manager turned Lynn Rivers away. There are no hits on the canvas - no one saw Foster in the area. When Cragen asked if they know where Foster is, Stabler says if they knew when he was going to be released they could have tailed him. Paxton takes offense to this statement, and tells Stabler if he wants to play the blame game, then if Foster is their guy, he put an innocent man in prison for 10 years. Stabler is aware of that, and Paxton reminds him he has brought her nothing to put Foster in chains. When Stabler refers to Foster as a predator, Paxton asks how he does it without a car. Fin pipes up and says he borrows it from his old man. His ailing father lives in the Bronx and let the registration lapse on his late 1980s van. Cragen asks, “You satisfied counselor?”

At the residence of Malcolm Foster (Helmar Augustus Cooper), they are searching his home, and tell Malcolm they are looking for his son. He sees knives are on the warrant, and he doesn’t seem surprised. Benson sees a bag of many knives hanging on a hutch and opens to find many knives and wants them tested for blood. Malcolm says he was a butcher for 40 years. Benson says the murder weapon was not there. When asked about his van, he says no one drives it, it is in his neighbor’s garage next door. When Kendal sees smoke outside, Benson and Stabler run out, and see a parked van with smoke coming out of it, and Benson thinks Foster is destroying evidence. The make their way over, guns drawn, and announce themselves and ask to see Foster’s hands. But he throws a pail of gasoline on them instead and holds out a lighter. Kendal approaches from the other side, his gun drawn and tells Benson and Stabler to pull back, but they will not. Benson reminds him they need Foster alive. While Kendal and Foster face off, Benson tells him not to do it. Foster turns his back on Kendal and he knocks him down, then pulls out the gas soaked rag from the gas tank. Foster says Kendal should have taken his shot, and Kendal says there is always tomorrow.

In interrogation, Foster’s lawyer asks what they are offering, and Paxton says life without parole. Benson shows them the murder weapon that they found in the van. Paxton says leniency depends on what he tells them about his crimes. He tells them to “stick a fork in me” and Paxton says he is so lucky it is not a needle. Foster admits there were two whores, and choked one of them, and one of them ran scared. She was lucky; he had plans to gut her. He admitted to forcing Katie Harris upstairs with a knife and cutting her. Katie Harris is watching from the observation room and is shaken by this news, and asks about Victor Tate. Stabler says they have to get him out. Foster says he did not feel the urge for a long time until he lost his job. He then admits to raping Rena, and Rena sees Foster in the lineup. He also admits to killing Lynn Rivers, saying she wanted him to buy her beer, and he called her the easiest mark he ever saw. Foster comments that the cops like to brag when they pinch the bad guy, and do they ever wonder how many times they get it wrong?

Meanwhile, Stabler is at the jail where Victor Tate is brought in to see him. Tate is clearly bitter. Stabler tells him he made a mistake and he wanted to tell him himself that they arrested Katie Harris’s rapist. Tate says he never thought he would hear those words coming from Stabler, and Stabler says “That makes two of us.” He says another man confessed. Katie also heard him describe the attack in detail and there is no doubt. Tate becomes upset and yells that no one believed him 10 years ago. His life just stopped and he lost his woman, his friends. Stabler says they will fix that, he owes him a debt and he can’t pay it, and he wants to get him out of here as soon as he can. He holds out his hand, and says he promises. Tate does not shake his hand, and instead asks if this is really happening. Stabler tells him to believe it. He reaches out his hand to Stabler and they shake.

Meanwhile, Foster is in holding, laughing over the whole thing. He says, “Sloppy work Elliot” adding that he is surprised they let him hold a badge. Kendal tells Stabler to take a break and he will take Foster to the tombs, but Foster tells them to take him to the can first. Kendal tells him to hold it, he can go later. Foster says he will do it in his car, and asks again to take a leak. Stabler walks as Kendal leaves with Foster. Rena walks in and asks Benson if Nate is there, and Benson tells her Kendal does not work in this precinct. When Rena gets insistent, Benson tells her Nate can’t prop her up forever, and says she needs counseling, giving her a card of someone to call. Rena takes it and leaves. We then hear a crash of glass, and Benson and Stabler rush out. They race to the mens room, where they see Kendal standing at a window, looking down. They look out and see Foster lying several stories down on the ground in a splatter of blood. When they ask Kendal what happened, Kendal says Foster just took a header out the window. Benson loudly asked if he jumped or if he tossed him. Kendal stands there looking a little confused and does not answer. Benson and Stabler look out of the window again as the camera zooms onto the body lying on the pavement.

On the scene, ME Warner comments that Foster’s neck was broken. Paxton asks if it was before or after he grew wings. Warner says there is no way to tell. Benson approaches Kendal and he comments that she thinks he killed him. Benson says she would not put I past him. He said he didn’t touch “the hump”, and he will wait upstairs for IAB. As he walks off Benson says, “He did it.” Stabler says, “Who gives a damn? At least Foster won’t be able to rape again.” As Stabler walks off Paxton calls him back and tells him that Foster can’t testify in court now, which leaves Victor Tate stuck in prison. Stabler is shocked, and she tells him that all they have is hearsay, and that a dead man’s confession does not meet the rules of evidence or allow cross in front of a jury. It is inadmissible. Benson asks about early parole and they would testify for him, but Paxton says an inmate had to admit guilt before a parole board will let him go. Stabler says he just told an innocent man he would be released, and Paxton tells him he jumped the gun. Stabler says he is getting him out of there if he has to hire a lawyer himself. Paxton says he can do that but it won’t change anything, he will still serve the whole time, which Benson says is another 15 years. Paxton says she does not know what to say, and she is sorry. She walks off, and Stabler pulls her back. He asks her to tell him what to do. She says that there is not a single thing he can do. She walks off, leaving Stabler there looking stunned, as we fade to black.

NBC Two Minute Replay: "Unstable"

All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order, here.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.