Saturday, October 10, 2009
Law & Order “Great Satan” Recap & Review
This episode involved a terrorist plot that seemed to have come to life with the unwitting help of New York City law enforcement, coupled with a little help from the FBI. I was actually surprised when McCoy and Van Buren wanted this case, as I felt that potential terrorist activities like the one in this episode are best being investigated by the Feds. My point seemed to be proven when the detectives actually end up being the enablers to another terrorist plot.
Making the episode worse was the character of Sameer and what appeared to be valiant attempts to make viewers feel sorry for him. His speech on the witness stand about taking an oath to protect and defend America from threats foreign and domestic rang hollow to me. After all, this is a guy who was more than willing to help terrorize families by faking kidnappings for ransom, just so he can get money for his electronics store. Rubbing salt in the wound was when Connie gives Cutter information on a previous case that may help Sameer stay in the United States and at the end, Cutter actually seems to be considering it. I think Cutter’s first instincts were right to want to kick Sameer back from where he came. In fact, I would have like to help Cutter to do it. The attempts to portray Sameer as a sympathetic character were laughable.
On the plus side, the first half of the episode had such promise, and I was impressed with the very believable scenes where they brought in police and/or the Feds to help catch the suspects. I also liked the camera work and thought they did a great job with the scene as they catch up to the terror group at the synagogue, in addition to the scenes showing the view of the New York City skyline.
While the first half had plenty of action, including that little surprise for the police when another synagogue was blown up, the second half – to use a phrase they have been using a lot on this show – went complexly off the reservation. “Great Satan” was a great disappointment.
Here is the recap:
A man walks down the street with a guitar and his man-bag. He rifles through a trash bin outside a store and picks out a book. The store owner yells at him to stay out of the garbage, and he threatens to call the cops. But the man says go ahead and call them. He walks down the street, and the shop owner watches as he rifles though another trash bin.
Later, police are on the scene, the man who has just been looking through the trash is now being carried to the ambulance. Detectives Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) and Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) are on the scene, and Lupo asks if the guy will make it. The paramedic says not if they stand there and chat about it, he has a bullet in his chest and he is bleeding out. Another officer tells them the man’s ID says he is James Caruso (Gene Gallerano), 23. She points out the shop owner who called it in. The detectives speak with the man who tells them that the kid was in front of his store 5 minutes earlier. He was a “curb shopper” – he goes through garbage looking for treasures. He was going through another bin when a guy came up, he was tall with gray hair, with suit, pants, and white shirt. The kid was reaching for something in the cam and the guy ran out to him and pulled a gun. As the detectives move over to the trash can, the man goes on to say that they guy started yelling and the kid freaked and pushed him, and the guy just shot him. He just stood there like he was surprised that the gun even went off. He saw the shop owner looking and he just took off. Lupo, with gloves on, picks through the trash, while Bernard asks if he heard what the man was yelling about. He says no, he was too far away. Lupo opens up a fast food bag and pulls out a stack of crisp, $100 bills, and also find a credit card receipt with today’s date for three cheeseburgers. Bernard adds, “And extra lettuce.”
The detectives chase down Randall, whose name is on the credit card receipt found in the fast food bag. He knows nothing about the money, and says he threw the bag away in the nearby park. The detectives decide to check out the nearest bank to see if any cash withdrawals were made – in crisp $100 bills.
They trace the money back to Don and Darlene Sorenson, and when they arrive at their home, they are agitated and Darlene tells Don he should just tell the police. But Don (John Bolger) is distressed. Darlene tells the detectives that Don shot someone, and Lupo moves to cuff him and Bernard goes to get the gun used in the shooting. Don says he just wanted to know where his daughter Jill was - they got a call that she was kidnapped and they were instructed to leave the money in a fast food bag in the trash can. He waited to see who picked it up and only wanted to know about his daughter. But when Jill (Portia Reiners) walks in the door, clearly not kidnapped or harmed, they realize they have been scammed. She also has lost her cell phone.
At the2-7, Jill tells Lupo she was with a friend and they went to see a movie. Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) tells Bernard and ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) that she assumes that someone stole her cell phone and then called her parents, with someone crying in the background, saying she had been kidnapped. Rubirosa calls it a “virtual kidnapping” as no one is really kidnapped. James Caruso was an innocent bystander and the guy who was supposed to get the money was probably close by and took off when the shooting occurred. Since Caruso is going to live and Sorenson is paying all his hospital bills, Sorensen will likely only be charged with assault 1. Lupo has Jill’s cell phone records and they zero in on a call made to Yemen for 35 minutes. Van Buren tells them she will be out for a while and things break to let her know.
Later, at Westside Cancer Center, Van Buren is receiving chemotherapy, with her son sitting by her side. She tells him he didn’t have to come, but he says he wanted to be there. A girl in a bed next to Van Buren says she was scared her first time too – she has already lost all of her hair. Van Buren says she hopes she can be as brave as the girl. Van Buren phone rings, but her son grabs it and won’t let he answer, saying she is off duty. She tells him she is glad he is there.
The detectives are with a phone tech guy who tells them the guys who called the cell phone called a land line in Sa’Dah, Yemen. When Lupo asks if any calls from the US were made from that number, tech guy asks if he wants him to find out officially or unofficially. Lupo says officially.
Later, the detectives talk to Rubirosa and tell her what they found out about the cell phone calls and calls made by that land line. The land line regularly calls one person in New York, Sameer Ahmed (Ben Youcef), 23, born in Syria and moved to NY when he was a child and became a US citizen 6 months ago. He has a brother in Yemen who is studying to be an engineer. Rubirosa tells them it is not enough to arrest him for the virtual kidnapping, but Lupo suggests a wiretap so they can try to catch him doing it again. Rubirosa adds that if they catch him talking about a terror plot...Bernard finishes that this would be OK too.
The detectives have a wiretap and have set up surveillance across the street from Sameer’s place. He’s talking about selling stereo equipment. But, when he gets a call about another fake kidnapping set up where Sameer is supposed to pick up the money in less than an hour, they race off to get there.
We then see a man drop a bag into the trash and run off. When Sameer moves to pick up the cash, the detectives move in. When Bernard asks Sameer what is in the bag he turns to run but Lupo is there, with pull police backup. Sameer is quickly surrounded. Lupo grabs the bag and pulls out the money, and Sameer is arrested. As Bernard read him his rights, Sameer insists he is not a terrorist and that he loves this country. As they move him to the car, he says his friends are going to do something to hurt America. He says he can help them. When Lupo asks Sameer how he can help, Sameer asks him to call him Sam. He says the guys are waiting for him and if he doesn’t get back in one half hour they will know something is wrong.
Later, we see Sameer entering a diner and he meets up with his friends. He shows them the money and says everything went smooth. When one of the men - Cole - tells him to enjoy his cut and moves off, Sameer tells him to wait, he wants in. He’s heard them talking, saying that the stuff the country has been doing is wrong and they have to pay. He knows electronics and that can help. The guy tells Sameer to come to his place tomorrow and they will talk.
Later, in the interrogation room, they listen to the recording Sameer made of the meeting. He says the guys have been talking about justice, jihad, blowing things up – in New York. Lupo shows him photos and Sameer identifies Cole, who converted in prison; the other two are Ali Hassam and Joe Darwish, they are Egyptian but Joe was born in Brooklyn. He says these are scary guys and they said Cole killed somebody. But Sameer says he loves this country.
Later, at a meeting at the DA’s office with Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache), Rubirosa, Van Buren, Bernard, and Lupo, they discuss the situation with a man from the FBI. McCoy suggests probation on extortion for the virtual kidnapping in exchange for Sameer’s cooperation, which Cutter and Rubirosa will monitor. But the FBI guy argues that this is more for the area of the FBI or the joint task force, and when Van Buren says it is there case, he asks her if her people have any experience in this area. She tells him Lupo spend four years overseas with NYPD intel, and when FBI guy asks “doing what?” Lupo tells the man he is not cleared. Van Buren says they can detach Lupo and Bernard to JTTF, and McCoy says, “That was easy.” When FBI guy says there are guidelines, Bernard says they have developed a rapport with Sameer, and McCoy says “It stays with us and we’ll keep you in the loop.” When FBI guy says the US Attorney may feel different, McCoy tells him he has his number. As the group breaks up and leaves the room, McCoy stops Van Buren and he makes small talk then asks how she is doing. She gives him a surprised look and says fine, turns away and walks out of his office, leaving him standing there with a somewhat troubled look on his face.
At a restaurant, the detectives, with Bernard filling out a form, question Sameer about his past activities. Sameer seems flip about it but Lupo reminds him that this is not a get out of jail free card, he only can do what they instruct him and If he gets into trouble he must call them. When Bernard calls him Sameer, he corrects himself, calling him Sam, saying he forgot he was a Yankee doodle dandy. Sameer says Bernard was born here, he doesn’t appreciate it.
Much later, it’s dark and the detectives are waiting for Sameer, who gets in the back seat of the car. He plays back a recording he made, which is of the other guys talking about a terrorist plot. Cole talks about a synagogue in Washington Heights that is going to be their target for w bombing. Sameer is heard telling the guys he can get explosives, and when Bernard asks who he knows, he says it’s them.
At Sheyna’s Grits Grill, Sameer brings Cole (Michael Kenneth Williams) into the back room. Bernard is there, undercover, to sell Cole some C-4. Bernard shows him the large brick of C-4, and when Cole wonders if it’s not just silly putty. Using a lighter, Bernard lights some of it, much to their shock. He tells them C-4 burns but won’t explode until properly detonated, and shows them a handful of detonators. He gives him one and tells him to test it if he likes, just don’t hold it in his hand, if he wants to keep his hand.
Elsewhere, Lupo, Bernard, Cutter, and another FBI guy are looking at a video feed of a storage locker the group rented with the money from the sting. Bernard asks if they did get the $8.000 they paid him for the silly putty. They see the men lay out the supplies and FBI guy notices there are only four detonators, not five like they gave them. Bernard tells him Cole went into the wood to test one. Other FBI guy comments that they are also missing a terrorist, and Lupo says it is Darwish, who tends to be late. They watch Sameer show them how to set up the explosive. Lupo says that the guys will load the bomb into the trunk of a car, drive it to the synagogue, another car will pull up, and they all get in and drive a block away and use a remote to detonate it.
Later, 2 cars arrive at the synagogue, and they all get into one car and move to drive off, leaving the other car with the explosives. As they drive off, they are cut off on all side by police. As they yell for them to get out of the car and show their hands, Cole tells them to blow it. But one of the other guys says they are too close. Cole says they will be martyrs, but not all agree, and they get out of the car. Cole sees Bernard, who tells Cole he sold him a dud. But then an explosion is heard in the distance, and they turn to see another building exploding.
Back at the DA’s office, McCoy is upset to hear about this other explosion that occurred four blocks away from the gang they rounded up. He wonders what they missed and wonder if Sameer acting as informant to the terrorist group while making it seem he was helping the detectives. He says it was their dumb luck nobody was injured. Cutter reminds him that the plot they stopped was not non-existent and these people fully intended to blow up a synagogue, McCoy snaps back that he intends to walk on the moon and all he needs is a nice policeman to give him a rocket ship. McCoy wonders if Sameer played them all for fools.
Elsewhere with the detectives, Sameer says he knew nothing about this other explosion. He says there are more than three angry Muslims, he is not the king of jihad and he brought him the guys he knew. He tells him Cole converted in prison and some of those guys are the worst.
At Rikers Island, Cutter and Rubirosa are meeting with Cole and his lawyer. When Cutter says they recorded him talking about the plot and assembling the bomb, the lawyer reminds him it wasn’t actually a bomb. He asks what if Cole could give him the information on the ringleader of the other bombing, Cutter says if it pans out, Cole will get attempted arson., 12 years. When Cole questions the 12 years, saying nothing happened, they call give him a look, including his own lawyer. Cole tells them he knew a man from Attica who said he had a plan that would wake the country up, and told Cole he could do odd jobs, as if Cole was he errand boy. The man was planning a bomb and Cole said if he wanted people to really hear it to do it in Washington Heights. Cole told him where and when he would set off his own bomb so the man would know that it came from Cole. It seems that the man used Cole to set off his own bomb at the same time.
Back at the DA’s office, the man Cole had been talking to was Arthur Jackson, and the police have picked him up, with two associates. They found C-4 residue and maps of the synagogue. They had plans to shoot down military planes with stinger missiles. The only people left (besides Cole) in the original case are Ali Hassam and Joe Darwish, and neither said much on the tapes. McCoy tells them to nail them down, he wants them all to go away.
The detectives and Cutter and Rubirosa arrive at the apartment of Joe Darwish to a mess and awful smells. The people working the scene are wearing protective clothing and masks. Lupo and Bernard give Cutter and Rubirosa the high points: they found expired depression medication, a raw duck, and huge bottles of urine. They also found speed in the bedroom, with a handwritten note from Sameer telling Darwish that he hopes it helps and to be strong,
Sameer is back in interrogation, and he said Darwish needed help to get out of bed. When Bernard says they said no illegal activity, Sameer said he did not sell him the meth, he just gave it to him. He said when he said jihad the detectives started to drool. Rubirosa tells him he drugged someone to join a conspiracy. He said they wanted him and he delivered.
Later, Rubirosa tells Cutter and McCoy that Darwish had been diagnosed last year with uni-polar depression had he could go for mental incapacity. Cutter ads that he was also drugged by their informant. Hassam is a dishwasher just along for the ride, and the defense may claim they were entrapped. McCoy says with tempered sarcasm, “Just because we gave them the bomb, the detonators, the power supply, the remote control and motivational drugs?“ Rubirosa says they may want to drop the charges against Hassam and Darwish, but McCoy says no. They went to that synagogue with a bomb that hosts a shelter for non-denominational women who were sleeping there at the time. He thinks the city would be safer if those two are locked away. Cutter tells them it would be a tough case with the other bomb case on people’s minds, and McCoy says to combine them and charge a single conspiracy. Rubirosa says they are only barely connected, all they know is Cole had a conversation with the leader of the other group, and McCoy says that’s all they need.
At the Supreme Court motion hearing, the defendants’ attorney (Joanna P. Adler) says this is an abuse of prosecutorial power, and his original case is weak and embarrassing so he is trying to combine it with a stronger one. Cutter says it is no coincidence that both bombs were set to explode on the same night. The defense lawyer says that Hassam and Darwish had no knowledge of that. Cutter says they were conspiring with Mr. Cole who was conspiring with the other bomber. The defense lawyer calls it a daisy chain saying he will connect her clients to Kevin Bacon. The judge rules in the prosecution’s favor.
Cutter has Cole on the stand. He knows Arthur Jackson and says he talked to Jackson about his own plans to set off a bomb, giving them the date and place in case he wanted to coordinate. But under cross, he admits he never told this to Hassam or Darwish. She begins to cut at the connections, saying that Jackson didn’t need Cole for his own bombing and didn’t even tell him what he was doing. But Cole admits that he gave Jackson a detonator, and Cutter and Rubirosa are stunned to hear this, since he got the detonator from the police. He was supposed to test it but never got around to it. It seems the bomb that destroyed congregation Beth Sinai was set off using a detonator that came from the New York City police, not from the defendants. Cutter and Rubirosa do not look like happy campers.
Back in the 2-7 interrogation room, Sameer insists Cole told him he tested the detonator and while he told them he saw it happen he didn’t, he just believed Cole. Sameer says he was trying to do a good job, but Bernard yells that he was trying to save his own neck. Sameer says no, he hates those people. Lupo implies that Sameer may have been in on it, but he asks, “Don’t you know me?” but Bernard wonders if they do. Sameer corrects him that it is “Sam.”
Lupo and Bernard exit the interrogation room to a waiting Cutter and Rubirosa. Cutter is very upset about how this whole thing looks – they supplied the real detonator for the real bomb. He says the defense will argue the whole case was manufactured by the police. He would save his case by indicting Sameer and Lupo and Bernard as co-conspirators and they supplied more material support for the actual bombing that they two loses he is prosecuting. He tells them to get ready to testify.
Back in Supreme Court, Lupo is on the stand. They are playing back the recordings that Sameer had made. He testifies that it was a regular topic of conversation with the defendants. But the defense attorney says that it was Cole doing all of the talking about the details of the bombing. She said Cole is a cooperating witness now, but not at the time of the recording, but that Sameer was. She has them listen to more of the recording, and points out that it seems Sameer encouraging the others about the plan.
On the stand, Sameer testifies for Cutter, saying he didn’t have to talk anybody into anything, they are always talking about ways to hurt America and he did not like it, saying this is the best country in the world. He needed money from them and worked an illegal schemer to get money for a business venture but it had nothing to do with bombs. He only helped them get stuff they wanted. But the defense attorney says that the guys were just talking until Sameer got involved. She also said that he helped push things along to stay out of jail on his other “kidnapping” charges. She brings out that he gave Darwish drugs. She asks how long that Sameer has known Darwish and when she mentions Christmas of 2007, Sameer starts to waffle in his story. He later caves and says Darwish wasn’t anti-American, and says he was exaggerating about him, and said they played no role in the conspiracy, he made it happen because he did not want to go to jail. He told the police what they wanted to hear. Again, Cutter and Rubirosa at not happy campers.
Outside in the hallway, Cutter asks Rubirosa what just happened, and Rubirosa said Sameer flipped when Christmas of 2007 was mentioned. Bernard and Lupo catch up, Lupo saying that the defense attorney blackmailed him in open court. But with what?
Elsewhere, Sameer is looking out at the Statue of Liberty when Bernard approaches. He tells him Cutter wants to call him for re-direct tomorrow. Sameer says not to bother and asks how long he will go to jail for the fake kidnappings, but rather than answer, Bernard tells him about a robbery of an electronics store in December of 2007 in Flatbush and the thieves never caught. It appeared Sameer was involved and lied about not committing a crime for which he was not arrested on his application for citizenship, and Sameer knows if this were to come out his citizenship would be revoked and he would be deported. But any crime committed after he was a citizen would not include deportation. Bernard says Darwish knew about this and told his lawyer. Bernard, calling him Sam, tells him he is in a tight spot. Sameer says that this is paradise, Bernard points out the World Trade Center, reminding him that when he mom brought him there as a kid, it was still standing there.
Back in Supreme Court, Cutter redirects and this time, Sameer tells the truth and admits why he changed his story. He admits to his crime and lied because he wanted to stay here. He says when he became a citizen he took an oath to support and defend the United States of America to defend all enemies, foreign and domestic and that is what he is doing now, even if it means he will stop being a citizen and be sent away and America will go on without him.
Back in the DA’s office as McCoy turns out his office light to leave for the day. Rubirosa and Cutter approach, telling him that the defendants were found guilty – al of them, He also says that Sameer is locked up waiting to be deported. When McCoy asks if he wants to help him, Cutter says he would like to kick his ass back to Syria himself. McCoy says he may have to go with him, and mentions some scathing editorials, and he walks off. But Rubirosa hands him some information about a previous case Gorbach V Reno that limits the authority of the INS to revoke citizenship based on certain technicalities. He takes the information with a sigh and walks into his office with it, throwing it on a pile. He stands there and stares at it, then picks it up off the pile to look at it as we fade to black.
All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com 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.