Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Hammered” Recap & Review

All Photos from NBC

Law & Order SVU “Hammered” seems to bring out the best in the SVU team, and the worst in ADA Sonya Paxton. Clearly DA Jack McCoy isn’t going to be too happy to hear the news that Paxton’s drinking problem tanked an important case, especially after he assigned her the task of cleaning up the “he said – she said” unit. Of course, Jack shouldn’t be one to cast any stones about anyone else’s drinking – but that’s another matter.

This is a case of a woman who was murdered by a man with a hammer who was highly intoxicated at the time. It brought out the best in the detectives, and the episode had a feel of the SVU episodes of long ago, making use of the whole team. Dann Florek got a few laughs from me when he told Munch to “zip it”, and called out Benson and Stabler for their “mutual stroke fest.” He got my sympathy when he opened up to Paxton about he own experience with quitting alcohol, and she seemed to blow it off as something that was easy for him to do.

But this episode was a great one for both the Paxton lovers and the Paxton haters. I am sure than the Paxton haters were thrilled when she got her comeuppance, and in such a public and self-destructive way. Stabler was also smart to get out of bar with the speed of light as he did, but he left Olivia holding the bag with Paxton who looked primed for a night of drinking. Olivia may have been somewhat satisfied to be present at Paxton’s ultimate downfall in court, but then again, since it made her think of her mother’s own problems with alcohol, maybe later she was grateful to obtain some understanding of her mother’s battle with the bottle.

Christine Lahti’s presence on Law & Order SVU added quite a bit of excitement to the episodes, but also a lot of controversy. She was a polarizing character; some fans didn’t like her antagonistic style, while others felt that it brought some needed personal conflict between characters. I liked the spark that she added. When watching an episode, I knew Sonya Paxton was going to stir up the pot in each episode, and it was always a surprise in how she did it. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences should just hand Christine Lahti her Emmy right now, and save her the wait and the potential for another ill-timed bathroom break as when she won a Golden Globe in 1998.

Her drinking problem being exposed in the courtroom seemed off when the defendant yelled out that Paxton was drunk, and then Paxton looses it right away by making that weird comment to his lawyer that he was a “tiny little man.” When people go off the deep end on SVU, they really go off. I am sure there is some code of conduct for attorneys in a courtroom which gives the judge the right to order a Breathalyzer, but I found myself wondering what would have happened if Paxton refused to take the test? Either way, she was in deep trouble.

Elliot makes yet again another mistake when he leaves a suspect unattended in order to take a call. Munch was right, Dalton technically was not under arrest, but still, Stabler was careless to walk away to get better cell phone reception. It seemed like a rookie mistake and I was glad that Cragen ripped him on it. But later Cragen missteps when he brought up Olivia’s mother’s problem in such an open forum, especially with Paxton present.

Scott Foley did a great job in the role of Dalton Rindell, the clueless murdering drunk. Ironic that Paxton went after him and the stress of the case became her own downfall with drinking. I wondered how many times she was cradling a cup of coffee that it only had coffee in it? Or, was she just one of those drinkers who only do it when they are off the clock? I think she descended too quickly from a being a possibly functioning drunk to a non-functioning drunk. Having experienced both types via work colleagues and family members with alcohol problems, usually it is not so suddenly and dramatically switched on to non-functioning side as it was with Paxton. There are clues and warning signs, one just has to care enought to look for them. In the case of Paxton, maybe no one cared. Personally, I would like Paxton to come back from rehab and return to working the SVU cases, but maybe next time with a smaller chip on her shoulder.

Here is the recap:

Dalton Rindell (Scott Foley) wakes up on the floor. He doesn’t seem to realize that he has blood on his hands as he splashes water on his face He looks up to his mirror and sees it is shattered, with blood on it. He touches his head where it seems he has been banged up. He looks around his apartment and sees bloody hand prints and blood everywhere. He wraps a towel around himself and walks through his apartment and sees blood on the ceiling. He sees the body of a woman on the floor and says, “,” collapses, and throws up.

Later, the police and ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) are on the scene, along with Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Rindell is with the paramedics because of the gash on his head. There were fluids on the victim’s thigh indicate sexual activity. She had been bludgeoned by someone in a rage with what was likely a hammer. Stabler mentions the 911 call came in at 7:34 AM and asks if Warner can give a time of death. Warner can give the exact minute – the victim tried to shield her head with her hands, and her watch was broken – Benson sees it was 12: 57. Stabler comments that this means Rindell was out cold for 6-1/2 hours. Benson looks at the watch closely and says this may explain the rage, the watch was engraved “Audrey, with eternal love, Michael.“ Benson wonders if Rindell was having an affair with Audrey and Michael caught them in the act so he attacked Dalton and kills his cheating lover. Stabler states “so the sex was consensual.”

Meanwhile, Rindell is being looked after by a paramedic as the detectives approach, and Stabler asks if he can tell them what happened. He says he is hoping they could tell him; he doesn’t remember anything and his head is splitting. Benson asks if his injury could affect his memory, and the paramedic says he checked out fine. Stabler asks what his relationship was with Audrey, and he has no idea who that is. He says until he found her this morning, he had never seen her in his life.

While Warner is loading up the body, Stabler stops her. He thinks Dalton’s story stinks. There is no sign of forced entry, but and the victim’s purse is not there. Stabler thinks Dalton is covering for someone. Stabler wants to know if the person she had sex with was with Dalton so he wants Warner to get a DNA swab from Dalton.

At the SVU squad, Benson and Munch are getting Dalton’s fingerprints. They ask him to sign a release so they can search his apartment and not have to “pester a judge for a warrant.” When Munch tells him they have to keep it legal, he signs it, but wonders why the killer picked him. When Munch begins to say if he had a nickel for every dead prostitute he ever woke up with, Dalton quickly denies ever using prostitutes. When Munch says that “without gallows humor to cope with what we see every day I’d go stark raving mad.” Fin quips, “What do you mean, go?” Warner enters and asks for a DNA swab, and Dalton asks, “routine procedure?” Warner says it is with his permission, and he agrees. Benson comes in with a toolbox and says that Dalton’s hammer is not in there. When Dalton asks if that is what the killer used, he says he feels sick, and Stabler suggests they take him to the hospital to be checked out. As Dalton leaves, Benson thinks that Dalton knows the perp, and Fin says if he is hiding something they will find it.

At Mercy General Hospital, Dr. Manning (Amir Arison) finds a sliver of glass in his head but his CT looks fine. The doctor decides to start an IV as Dalton may be dehydrated. He tells the detectives he did not party last night, he was working, and he doesn’t do drugs or drink, and wonders if someone drugged him.

Back at Dalton’s apartment, Munch and Fin check out the bathroom, there are bloody prints and damp towels. They check the shower and find a hammer, washed clean.

Back at the hospital, Dalton, upon hearing this news, seems confused over what happened and has no answers. The detectives continue to question him. He doesn’t remember coming home. He is a developer, his partner Bill and he met with buyers of co-op units that they presold and about 75 people showed up at their headquarters. Everyone was unhappy because they ran into a construction problem and they threw the party to put their minds at ease. When Benson challenges him that he said he was partying last night, Dalton tells her it was no party.

At R-T Developers, Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) talks to Dalton’s business partner Bill Tattinger (Chris Bauer). When Cragen thinks they are flim-flamming, Tattinger tells him that this will be a landmark building and they were trying to get new financing, otherwise they will have to file bankruptcy. He tells Cragen the people are already in for $200-400K each. Cragen sees this as motive to murder or set them up for one. Tattinger calls Dalton a coward as he left early. Cragen asks for a list of his ‘victims, I mean buyers” and Tattinger refuses.

On the roof of the building next door, the police on the scene show Munch a Fin a bad that seems to have been tossed from Dalton’s apartment right. They find ladies clothes, shoes, and a purse. The ID of the victim is inside, it’s Audrey Hale, a doctor at Westside Women’s clinic, where they do abortions.

Elsewhere, Benson and Stabler are talking to Audrey’s ex husband (Chris McKinney). He says he never stopped loving her. They argued about her job at the clinic, and he was afraid for their daughter Clarissa. They received a few threats, hang up phone calls and letters. He didn’t keep them as he didn’t want them finding the letters. He petitioned the court for sole custody and lost. He told Audrey this would happen. He had no connection with R-T Developers, or with Dalton.

In SVU interrogation, Munch is in Dalton’s face:

Munch: You say the first thing that pops into your head. Roe V. Wade.
Suspect: Two ways to cross a creek.
Fin, yelling: You consider Dr. Hale’s murder a joke?

He says no, it was horrific and he didn’t do it. He thinks he is being set up. Munch goes on:

Munch: Guy puts a chunk down on a 3 million dollar condo that’s never gonna be built and he’s not gonna get any of his money back.
Fin: I can see that making a guy a little nutty.
Munch: Right, so he starts obsessing about the ills of the world and kills two birds with one hammer (bends over and stares the suspect, who is seated, in the face.)

Fin says they will need the investors list to prove it, and Dalton says they are hanging by a thread and asks them to be discreet. Fin says no problem., but asks Dalton if he is pro-choice or no choice? Dalton says it is not on his priority list. Munch says abortion is a subject everyone has a strong opinion about.

At the Westside Women’s Clinic, Benson and Stabler arrive to someone handing out flyers saying abortion is murder. The woman is with Operation Save and Deliver. They question her about what would happen if the woman’s life was in danger or if she was raped, and the woman holds her views in favor of the baby. Benson tells her she has no idea on the toll this takes on a woman. The woman does not condone Hale’s killing but says it is a blessing there is one less mass murder out there.

Inside the clinic, they speak to Dr. Kittle (Tibor Feldman) who says they added bulletproof glass after a shooting years ago. He cites stats from violence against clinics. When he moves to show them the files of hate mail that clinic has received, a loud bang against the window is heard. Stabler pulls away the shade and it looks like an egg was thrown against the window. Stabler runs out to the woman who was handing out flyers and asks if she did it, and she says it was a couple of kids and they took off. As she wipes egg off her face, she sarcastically thanks them for his concern for the chicken fetuses. Benson has the boxes of letters, and tells Stabler that the doctor said Audrey was supposed to meet a female friend for dinner last night, and they will go see if she made it.

At the home of Linda Peters, she tells them she and Audrey had dinner and they left after dinner, they shared a taxi. She suggested they have a nightcap, and says there was a guy there, he was white, 30s and good looking. The name of the bar was West Falls Lounge. Audrey and they guy hit it off, and Linda left her there with him. She thinks his name was the name of a bookstore, and when Stabler mentions Dalton, she says yes.

Later, Benson and Stabler are driving Dalton home and stop at the West Falls Lounge. He doesn’t know the place, and says he hasn’t been to a bar in over a year. Benson parks the car and says she will be back in a second. Stabler asks him if he was sure he wasn’t there last night. He says no, he has been in the program for one year, three months, and eight days sober, handing Stabler his one-year chip. Stabler suggests that Dalton had a headache, he was throwing up and dehydrated. And when Dalton says he was hit in the head, Stabler suggests he had a hangover. Dalton insists he does not drink, and saying he needs to use the rest room, gets out of the car. Stabler calls out for him to come back, and when Dalton walks in the bar, the bartender identifies him as the person he saw with Audrey. Dalton asks where is the men’s room, and the bartender asks if he doesn’t remember from last night, saying to a confused Dalton he was knocking them back. The bartender told the detectives that Dalton bought Audrey a few rounds and they left together, he knows a hook up when he sees one. Dalton gets upset, grabbing the bartender, saying he is lying. They pull Dalton off, and he says he is going to be sick again and runs to the bathroom. Stabler tries to follow him in to the bathroom but Dalton shuts the door. Stabler’s phone rings, and he moves away from the door to get better reception. The caller tells him the bloody print in the bathroom is Dalton’s and Dalton’s DNA matches the rape kit. But when Stabler gets back to the restroom, Dalton is not there. They see he is running but by the time they get outside, he’s long gone.

Back at the SVU squad, Cragen is having a cow that Benson and Stabler took Dalton on a “field trip.” When Munch begins to tell him Dalton wasn’t technically under arrest, Cragen snaps, “Zip it, John. They are perfectly capable of making their own half assed excuses.” Benson and Stabler both accept the blame, but Cragen says, “Spare me the mutual stroke fest” and asks what they are doing to fix it. Stabler says they sat on his apartment all night and he didn’t come home. Benson got subpoenas for his cell phone records and somebody is watching his garage where he keeps his car. Fin got the word out to the airport, train, and bus terminals. Munch says the bank has an alert on his bank and credits cards, no action yet. Cragen thinks someone is harboring him. It seems like Dalton’s family has had a host of problems of their own. ADA Sonja Paxton (Christine Lahti) enters, and Stabler says, “Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse.” Paxton is looking for her “missing defendant.” Stabler says, “We could try and find him, unless you want to waste our time busting my balls.” Paxton says, “Oh, I never kick a fellow when he’s down. I’m sure you feel like a grade A moron as it is. Course I’m the one that has to slog through a Wade hearing because you tainted the bartender’s ID, but…” She takes a swig from her huge coffee cup. She tells them that she is assuming they will retrieve Dalton so she is proceeding with her trial prep, she just stopped by to catch a movie and she asks Cragen if he want to join her.

Paxton and Cragen are looking at a recreation of the crime scene, done using a Leica Scan Station. The tech walks through how it appears the crime happened. The victim was in bed, Dalton hits her with the hammer in bed, and Audrey stumbled out of the bed, tangled in the sheets. Dalton has her trapped on the floor and continues to beat her there. But Paxton comments that Audrey was raped first. Cragen said it looks like the sex was consensual because they hooked up in a bar and were both drinking heavily. Paxton scoffs at that, saying half the rapists she’s put away were drunk or high, it is called “Dutch courage” and it doesn’t excuse “jack.” She throws away her coffee cup. Paxton suggests that stopping her from crying rape is a motive to killer her. The Tech person continues to go on with the simulation, indicating Audrey’s watch was broken during one of the hammer strikes. With the violence of the blows, Paxton comments that Dalton should have been covered in blood. But they have no bloody clothes and the tech assumes Dalton was naked. Cragen thinks she cleaned up and then banged his head against the medicine chest mirror when he realized what he had done. But Paxton thinks he was staging the scene to make it appear he was attacked. A folder is delivered to Cragen, and while he looks at it, Paxton tells the tech to “raise the production values” and “spare no expense.” Cragen tells Paxton they just got Dalton’s cell phone records and he made dozens of calls to his partner, all unanswered, but he had a nice long chat with his ex.

Munch and Fin track down Dalton’s ex wife, who says she doesn’t know where he is. Munch brings up the cell phone call, and she said he just told her his insane story and swears he has being set up. She says they can go to her place, once her open house is over. Fin reminds her as a rental agent there are plenty of places she could stash Dalton. She adds that after what he did to her, there is no way she would help him, describing their marriage as “very Days of Wine and Roses.” She quit drinking and Dalton couldn’t. When he drinks he turns into a monster and she walked when he hurt her. She says his business partner and old drinking buddy Bill Tattinger may help him.

Benson and Stabler get to R-T Developers to find Dalton fighting with Bill Tattinger. They try to break them up. As Stabler cuffs Dalton who is now on the floor, he tells them he ran from them to prove his innocence, and he tells Tattinger to admit what he did. Tattinger says Dalton is out of his mind. When Stabler says he is under arrest, Dalton says it does not matter, he figured out who is responsible for this. He yells for Tattinger to tell them. Tattinger paused, then says they were dying there, and he thought a little liquid courage would help Dalton. But Dalton says there is no way one drink would have done that to him and accused Tattinger of putting something in it. Tattinger says he didn’t do anything illegal, and Benson gets in his face, saying “not by frat-boy standards. You wanna have your way with him, get him nice and drunk.” As Benson storms out, Tattinger swears he only gave him one, and what harm could one do?

Back in the interrogation room, Dalton tells Benson and Stabler that he is on a prescription benzo for anxiety, and Benson says you are not supposed to mix that with alcohol.. He says Bill kept telling him one wouldn’t hurt, he must have made the drink stronger. But they remind him after he left he had many more drinks, and he said he didn’t even know he was doing it and doesn’t even remember leaving the office. He thinks the combination of the meds and alcohol disoriented him. He said that Bill pressured him into the first drink and he quit drinking because once he has one, he can’t stop.

Paxton, looking on the other side of the window in the observation room, says, “What a load of crap.” When she says he just didn’t want to stop, Cragen says it is not that cut and dry. When he says alcohol is a recognized addiction, she reminds him millions of people have been able to overcome it. He admits he has been sober over 20 years but he struggles with it every day and it’s not something you overcome. She points her finger at him, and says, “But you’re not drinking, are ya? Proving my point, alcohol is just a crutch, for weak willed and pathetic losers.” He asks her how many coffees and cigarettes she’s had today, and she scoffs, laughs, and says she can quit anytime she wants. She adds that if she committed a felony, she would never use the Twinkie defense and intoxication is never an excuse for rape and murder. Cragen tells her she will have at Dalton for the murder but won’t get him on the rape. But Munch, hearing Cragen's comment, says someone is there that he needs to talk to.

In Cragen’s office, with Paxton present, Glenna says she used to be an assistant at R-T Developers. A little over a year ago, after the Dalton’s separated, he was working late and had been drinking all day. He exposed himself and she tried to leave but he covered her. He grabbed her breast and forced his hand down her pants. Paxton leans over and whispers to Cragen that she told him he was a rapist.

Benson and Stabler are in interrogation with Dalton, who said he took responsibility for assaulting his old assistant. But Benson says paying her off so she wouldn’t file charges is not taking responsibility. He tells them to ask Glenna when that happened, it was the day he admitted he finally had a problem and he quit cold turkey. He said he never touched another drop until Bill poured it down his throat, but Paxton enters and tells him to cut the crap. She says she wants him to admit he killed Audrey and got tired of watching Benson and Stabler playing patty cake. But Dalton says he can’t admit to something he doesn’t remember and he has a history of blackouts. Paxton taunts him, saying “The liquor made me do it. My partner made me do it.” She says his partner is not the one who slipped Dalton a mickey or killed Audrey. She accused him of finding out what Audrey did for a living and then killed her in a drunken rage. But Dalton says he is not anti-abortion. Paxton says that her profession was just a fluke, so why did he kill her? Dalton says he does not know and swears he has no memory. She pushes a computer towards him and tell him that maybe this will jog his memory, and she looks at Benson and Stabler. She is playing the recreation video, and they have his face superimposed over the computer simulation’s face of the killer. He says that is him, and states “You can’t show that to a jury, can you?” She says she can’t show it to them with his likeness, but she can show everything else. She said she made this one “just for you.” He slams the computer shut and says he want to talk to a lawyer. Stabler sarcastically thanks her for her help.

At the Supreme Court in a Frye hearing, a Dr. Sofer (Linda Emond) is on the stand talking about alcoholics and about a study she conducted. But Paxton objects to the hearing, calling Sofer’s information voodoo science. She adds that intoxication has been banned as an excuse for rape and murder, but before she can finish, defense attorney Roger Kressler (Ned Eisenberg) say that the people did not meet their burden for rape and that charged was dropped. She corrects her statement and says murder only, and finished that it has been banned since the 19th century. Kressler asks Judge Moredock (John Cullum) to remind Paxton that the point of a Frye hearing is to consider the admissibility of new science. But Moredock says he has other matters to consider, and the objection is overruled. Dr. Sofer goes on to say that addiction is a neurobiological disease, a brain disease. She says images of addicted individuals shows physical changes in the brain critical to judgment, memory, and behavioral control. So while Dalton took a drink on his own, the disease made him incapable of controlling further urges to keep drinking, and Kressler adds “which led him to kill.”

Paxton cross-examines Dr. Sofer, asking if all addicts commit murder. She says of course not. She admits that her findings do have detractors. She ask if she believes if she had an inoperable tumor if she could just will it away. The doctor says no. Paxton adds that is because a tumor is a disease, not a behavior, and the doctor agrees. Looking at Dalton, Paxton comments that alcoholics stop drinking by sheer willpower alone. He says they can do this because alcoholism is not a disease.

Later, Paxton, coffee cup in hand, enters the SVU squad and announced the good news that Moredock is not allowing Dalton’s “alcoholism is a disease” defense. But Cragen says that he is familiar with Dr. Sofer’s work and the point of it is not to excuse criminal behavior, it is to find a cure. Paxton says, “Yeah, well, good luck with that.” Stabler says if they could, crime would be down 50% and Munch pipes up that it could be more than that for sexual assaults and some of them may be out of a job. But Benson says people do bad thinks because they are bad people and getting drunk is just an excuse. Paxton tells Benson, “Olivia, finally, we agree on something.” But Cragen tells Benson if there was a cure a decade ago, he mother might still be alive. Benson looks stunned at Cragen’s comment, and Paxton says, insensitively, “What, mommy liked her cocktail?” Benson says, “My mother was a falling down drunk. She died going down a flight of stairs.” Benson walks away, leaving Paxton and Cragen standing there silent. But Munch tells Paxton that Benson’s mother started drinking after she was raped – to cope. But Benson adds that he mother never quite managed to do that with her there. Paxton tells Benson that – no offense to her mother – you can’t hide behind a bottle. Dalton is claiming temporary insanity for alcohol psychosis. Cragen says to take it from one who has been there, odds are there will be a sympathetic drinker on the jury who has had a blackout themselves. But Paxton says they won’t after they see the 3-D recreation of the murder.

Back in Supreme Court, Paxton shows them the 3-D recreation. But this version shows Dalton’s face on the computer image, and the defense objects. Paxton has that “oh shit” look on her face, and it is clear she made an error. Paxton says she has no idea how that happened, and Moredock yells for them to go to his chambers.

Later, Paxton is in a bar, drink in hand, when Stabler and Benson enter and Benson asks what happened. Paxton says Moredock sent the jury home, and there will be a hearing on her royal screw up. She says, “Payback’s a bitch” and motions for them to let her have it. Stabler says everyone makes mistakes, but she says not her, she must be losing it. Benson asks what happened at the hearing, and she tells them that Kressler said that he knew she was losing and purposely played the wrong disk to force a mistrial. The judge is not convinced it was an accident so he is polling the jury to see if they can disregard the video. If they can’t, he will have to release Dalton, and even with the alternate jurors, if the pool dips below 12 he will have no choice but to declare a mistrial. He can’t get him on retrial if the judge rules there was prosecutorial misconduct. In that case, double jeopardy attaches and there is no retrial. The detectives are unhappy that Dalton could get a walk. Paxton calls out and asks if anyone works there as her friends need drinks, and as she calls out she is rubbing Stabler’s shoulder. Benson looks oddly at Stabler who returns the uncomfortable gaze. Stabler says he has to go home, but Paxton says he needs to go over his testimony with her, and it becoming clear she’s had a few too many. She tries to get him to stay, but Benson tells Paxton maybe Paxton should cut herself off, asking what time she has to be at the hearing. She says 9 AM, and tells Benson they have a lot of work to do. She says she will probably be up all night strategizing and suggests they get started Stabler tells then good luck as he walks out, leaving Paxton there with Benson.

Back at the Supreme Court, they are all waiting on Paxton, who runs in, 45 minutes late. She apologizes, saying she was in a fender bender along the way. She says she is fine, she looks frazzled and drops her purse on the floor. The judge says she does not look all right to him, She said she may have hit her head but she can play hurt and she is ready to proceed. Moredock says she needs to be looked at, but Dalton is staring at her with a look of recognition, and says:

Dalton: She’s drunk.
Paxton: Wha…Excuse me?
Dalton: She’s drunk
Paxton; Excuse me Dalton, did you say something to me?
Dalton: Trust me, I would know
Kressler: Uh, your honor this is outrageous
Paxton: Oh, what’s your problem you tiny little man. Hey Dalton…
Moredock: Miss Paxton
Paxton: huh?
Moredock: Have you been drinking?
Paxton: No! N-n-n-n-n-no not at all. I was just up all night preparing
Dalton: What, drinks?
Paxton: No, I was going over detective Benson’s testimony with her. Ask her.
Moredock: Bailiff, get detective Benson over here. And have her bring a Breathalyzer

Benson enters the courtroom, and Paxton looks silently frantic. Benson asks the judge if he wants the test administered at the defense table, and Dalton says guess again. Moredock points her to the prosecution. Benson looks toward Paxton and says, “No, you can’t be serious.” But Paxton tells her to help clear this up, saying they are trying to ruin her reputation. But the judge says this is not so, and asks Benson if she was drinking with Paxton last night, Benson said she was not drinking, but that Paxton consumed two drinks. Moredock says that Paxton did lie to him, and asks how many drinks Paxton had after Benson left. But Paxton objects to the questioning, and he says, “Then blow.” When Benson moves the Breathalyzer toward Paxton, she says no, she can attest as an officer of the court that she is not intoxicated. But Benson say Paxton’s eyes are bloodshot and watery, her speech is slurred and she stinks of booze. She adds. “Now blow.” When Paxton tells Benson she thought she was her friend, Benson says forcefully, “Just do it.” When Paxton asks her not to do this to her, Benson says she did it to herself, and again says, “Now blow.” Paxton does, and the judge asks to see the Breathalyzer. Paxton says she saw it, it is .07 and is legally sober. But Moredock says he was hoping for a zero. Benson calls out that it is still climbing, and Moredock says for the record, her blood level count is .082. Paxton said it is residual from last night, and insists she is till fine. Moredock says she has a problem and orders her to be removed from the courtroom, giving Benson the honor. When Benson tells her “let’s go” and Paxton is slow to move, Benson takes her arm but Paxton pulls away, saying she’s got it. Dalton looks on with a strange glare.

The same day, on the courthouse steps. TV reporters are on the steps talking about the developments in Dalton’s case, mentioning the mistrial. Benson stops to talk to Dalton, saying he is the luckiest man alive. But Dalton says no matter what he does, it will follow him and be in his obituary. Benson says it is still all about him. He says he has destroyed so many lives, and Benson asks if he finally is owning up to is, adding he won’t serve any time, no mater what he tells her, so why doesn’t he get it off his chest. He says after seeing the evidence and seeing Paxton falling down drunk and ruining her career, it was like looking in the mirror. He begins to break down and says he realized he did it, he killed her. She asks why, and he swears he does not know. He had no reason to hurt her, and his doctor told him in an alcohol blackout he may have known what he was doing, but the memory never formed, and it never will. Maybe the stress from his business going under made him snap and he took it out on her, and he asks how is he supposed to live with that? Benson shaker he head at him, says she doesn’t know, and walks off. He stands and stares as reporters start to flock around him.

Back at the SVU squad, Munch says at least he walked because of the video mix up, and not Paxton’s drinking, saying you don’t have to mention the irony of that. Cragen said SVU was too much for her and the pressure may have triggered her drinking. Stabler says it explains why she was such a control freak, a white knuckled drunk hanging by a thread. Benson says, “What a hypocrite.” Cragen says she was a good lawyer with a bad problem. Benson said she saw a lot of her mother in her. Stabler says Paxton's career is over and there is no way she is coming back from this, and says she is a walking cluster…but cuts off his word when he sees Paxton standing there. She tells him she could not have said it better, although she would not have censored herself. She says it has been an honor working with them, and she is on her way to court ordered rehab. She knows there is no way they will ever be able to forgive her, but she intends to make amends to each and every one of them. Choked up, she says she is sorry. They say nothing as she turns away and walks off.

We then see the gravestone of “beloved mother” Serena Benson, Olivia’s mother, and Benson is there with a sympathetic smile and a bouquet of roses, which she leaves on the top of the gravestone. She stands there as the camera pulls up and away, as we fade to black.

Law & Order SVU "Hammered" Two Minute Replay

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John K. said...

Good recap, as always.

I need only two transcripts: 1, where Stabler and Benson interview the ex-husband, and 2. The opening shot with the reporters reciting about the case (right before Benson confronted Dalton on the steps). Take your time, as I got plenty to do. Thank you.

More to say later, to be sure.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to miss CL on the show. She definitely brought an edge to the show that wasn't over the top hysteronics.

The story was ok for me. Oh how I long for the days of efficient policing. Benson/Stabler are in serious need of retraining.


Anonymous said...

SVU has really cranked up the melodrama this year...ADA Paxton's drunken courthouse scene was really over the top. Still, the writers did a decent job of getting the audience to suspend disbelief, and it made for gripping television. Note, however, that 'gripping' is an entirely different thing from 'great' or even 'very good' TV, but it wasn't bad. Not by a long shot. And Christine Lahti really sold her part...

I agree with ATL&O that the best parts of this episode were that the plot made use of the entire squad, and that we saw some actual character development - pretty rare for SVU nowadays. Munch and Fin's interaction and Munch's comment about 'gallows humor' was very good, as it came back at the end when Det. Stabler dismissed Paxton as 'not being able to handle SVU'; the characters' little oddities and neuroses are the reasons why they do - and sometimes are the only ones who can do - their jobs, and the writers need to bring it out more.

The best scene in my mind was Det. Benson's interaction with the protester outside the women's clinic, which was well-written and very telling. Benson's comment about pregnancies caused by rape and 'the toll it takes on a woman' show that she still has a little bit of uncertainty, ambiguity toward her late mother, and even some self-loathing hidden under the 'tough cop' attitude. It goes a long way in making the character seem more real.

Rachel said...

I will miss Christine Lahti. She brought a bit of fire that SVU needed to make the story pop, and another person for Elliot to fight with (and we all love seeing Elliot angry at someone other than Olivia, though we may not admit it). She was the one you love to hate, and begrudgingly respect after everything is over and the dust has settled. She played an abrasive character who seemed to have her foot in her mouth more than not. Paxton also served as a reminder that not all ADAs are young and pretty.

I really liked seeing Olivia have so much spotlight, which I don't think I've seen since PTSD. The episode was very good, and the season is starting out stronger than I thought it would. The abortion clinic scene was one of the best, along with the one where Paxton finds out that Olivia's mother was not only a drunk, but Olivia is a product of rape. Brilliant acting on both their parts. After Undercover we have seen more of a focus on that, and I think it is good to take the focus away from it a little as time progresses, though I'm sure there will be many episodes that come back to it.

Overall a good episode. I look forward to next week's.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a pretty contrived ending. An ADA with a drinking problem that surfaces while prosecuting a blackout drunk who is using alcoholism as his defense? All the actors were good though, especially Felicity dude.

Jojo said...

Thanks for the recap, as always.

Christine Lahti has been great, and in these last 2 episodes I've grown to like Paxton. As for the rather quick fall from being a functioning drunk to a nonfunctioning drunk, I'm inclined to think that normally she abstains altogether and then, like Dalton, has one and can't stop.

I also liked the team effort for this one - everyone in SVU was there and did their part. Far from their best but it was enjoyable.

rdlynch said...

I want to see more epesodes with Munch and Fin taking the lead. Those two are funny together!

daniel said...

This was another great episode! I agree all of the svu squad did an excellent job in this episode. Honestly before svu i did not know who christine lahti was but after seeing her in svu she really is great actress and i look forward to seeing her later on in the season! Her character was interesting and amusing- especially when she taunts the charaters.

thanks for the recap!

Anonymous said...

What was the name of the woman who played Glenna. She's new to me, and really good.

Anonymous said...

I feel that SVU is off to a wonderful start this season. I enjoyed CL's acting. I think we were supposed to not like her and she did an admirable job of being too bossy and annoying.
I didn't quite buy her being totally off the rails in latter court scene but if you have a drinking problem, people do many things that they would not normally do. It was shown that she had somewhat of an addictive personality in the beginning with the smoking and coffee clutch (or was it a mixture?).
I like when the whole team works together as the spotlight being just on Benson and Stabler. I enjoy both actor's but it makes for a more interesting and typically amusing scenario when Munch and Fin are involved. I was also surprised when Cragen brought up Olivia's mother in a public forum. Paxton's dismissive of alcohol not being a disease was proof she was not able to realize only does she have the disease but also millions of other people.
I thought Scott Foley did a good job in his role.

Anonymous said...

I think it was clear that something was off about CL in all the episodes. I knew it wasn't that she had been raped that was the problem. It always seemed that she was wounded. And then it hit me, in the second episode: SHE WAS A DRUNK!

If you look back you may realize that she has been playing the part of a (not so functioning) drunk the whole season. It's not just a ball busting, sarcastic aggressiveness. There was the type of dry, depressive, cynical, humorous but not funny, attitude, that you can only get from the bottle.

They even portrayed this with her appearance.She often had blotchy reddish skin and her eyes were reddish alot. There was always a something-is-not-quite-right-because-you-are-too-disheveled-for-your-profession-and-it-can't-be-that-your-love-life-sucks-or-your-kid-is-acting-up type of aura.


Anonymous said...

lol, girst time i seen this one tonite. Actually thought it was new. I was going to post that if they didnt get rid of this bitch DA I would quit watching.. lol... glad to see shes long gone already.