Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Law & Order SVU “Solitary” Recap & Review

What, no kiss?
(Photo NBC)

Law & Order SVU “Solitary” may have been the best outing for SVU so far this season. Despite a choppy storyline, the fireworks between Stabler (Chris Meloni) and ADA Paxton (Christine Lahti) more than made up for it. I’m glad to see that they finally have a character on SVU that is stirring things up with the SVU team, and adding some much needed tension – and believable drama - between the characters. There are some fans that absolutely abhor Paxton, calling her character every negative name in the book. I see Christine Lahti’s portrayal of this character as a huge plus for the show, as she is making fans feel as annoyed and angered with her as are the detectives. It's just like being there.

Fans will certainly enjoy the last 15 minutes or so of the show as it features a shirtless Stabler who is in solitary confinement in prison. Don’t expect anything on par with Meloni’s legendary scenes on “OZ”; remember, SVU airs at 9 PM on network TV. But, it was nice that they threw Meloni fans a bone in this episode, and there is no double meaning in that statement.

Let the fanfare begin: not only did we get to see Munch (Richard Belzer), he actually tried to provide the perspective that everyone may have needed to understand Callum Donovan’s (Stephen Rea) state of mind. We can always count on Munch to provide the contrarian view. Speaking of Stephen Rea, it is hard to believe that even though the movie ”The Crying Game’ was released over 15 years ago, I will always associate Rea with that one momentous scene in the movie, and every time he appeared on screen I heard that song "The Crying Game “ in my head. In "Solitary," Rea played the troubled ex-con who suffered from being isolated in prison for years on end, and very successfully relayed his character’s inner turmoil. But the non-surprise in this episode – I call it a non-surprise because it was in the teaser promo – was when Donovan pushes Stabler off the roof of his building. What is hard to determine is exactly how far Stabler fell. Although it is clear he didn’t fall to the sidewalk below, which was several stories down, he appears to have fallen to a lower level roof or overhang, in what looked like a drop of story or more. Yet Stabler is up and around like normal the next day, with just some white tape on his arm by his elbow. I would have thought a fall like that would have broken or fractured bones or left him bruised. I’ve known people who have fallen far shorter distances - and on soft ground -that have had more severe breaks. It is hard to believe he would have fallen squarely on his back and still not suffer a break or fracture, or at least have some difficulty moving the next day.

Likewise, Stabler folded like it was laundry day when he decided to spend some time in solitary confinement in an attempt to understand Donovan’s state of mind. Unlike Vincent D’Onofrio’s stint in jail in “Untethered” where he was tied to a table and put in a hot room and denied water, Stabler only had to spend three days in isolation, where he was given food and his movements were not restricted within the cell. It seems Stabler went a little off the deep end a little to fast. All that aside, it was a great scene for Meloni and he did a great job in conveying the fear, paranoia, and isolation from the absence of human contact.

I enjoyed the scene where Paxton and Stabler duke it out in the interrogation room, and found myself cheering when she slapped Stabler, as inappropriate as it was. Still, Stabler is right that Paxton has issues of her own, and she did show that her tough exterior can crack just as easily as Stabler’s can erupt. But she gets the upper hand with Stabler twice before the episode is over. When Stabler threatens to report her for her assaulting him, she scores one when she calls his bluff, telling him that he’s lost his balls but she still has hers. Later when Stabler finds out that she had interceded with the warden to keep Donovan out of solitary and move him into the general population, she made her second point. I am sure that Stabler’s words had an effect on her, but she wasn’t willing to let him know it.

This may seem like a trivial matter, and I know I have mentioned this in other recaps for SVU, but do they always take their victims to the same hospital and doctor every time? I swear there is only one doctor in New York City in the SVU world, since we see Dr. Beresford (Stephen Gregory) more often than we see B.D. Wong or Tamara Tunie, and they are in the title credits.

I was also a little confused when the victim (who turned out not to be a victim) said she was following what her boyfriend was posting on the Internet. I assume she was reading his “tweets”, but if he just set up the account “Where’s Lily” after he thought she was kidnapped, how did she even know it existed? Was he tweeting also from another account that she was already following? Maybe I missed something here.

And because I am in a nitpicky mood, here’s one more. When Donovan’s lawyer comes to talk to him in private, Stabler exits the room and Paxton turns off the volume on the intercom. Yet moments later, the lawyer is knocking on the window and you can hear her voice through the intercom – but I never saw anyone turn the volume up.

A little lost in the shuffle was the guest appearance of Jessica Walter, who didn’t have loads of screen time but did a good job with it. She’s another guest star that I will always associate with another film – “Play Misty For Me.” It’s wonderful that SVU is able to attract such great guest stars.

I am sometimes disappointed that Stabler seems to be going back to his “on the edge and slightly unhinged mode” but Meloni is best when Stabler is in this state of mind. And Meloni did a great job with his role on “Solitary” and I suspect it will be a good candidate for his Emmy reel. If he includes the shirtless scene, that gold statue will be his.

Here is the recap:
Parker Hubbard (Bobby Campo) comes home and enters his apartment with a bouquet of flowers. He is on the phone, arguing with his office. He tells the caller that he promised Lily he would celebrate their 7-month anniversary together. He hears music playing, and, when he sees clothes all over the floor, he thinks it’s an invitation and he begins to remove his clothes. But he is shocked to see the room in disarray, a mirror broken, blood, and a window open. He calls out to Lily but there is no answer, so he calls 911.

Later, Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) are on the scene, and are told by the police that Lily Milton lives in the apartment with Parker Hubbard. They have matched the bloody print to those from Lily’s personal effects. There is no sign of forced entry but it appears she put up a fight. Her hairs are on the bloody broken mirror, and blood trails on the fire escape. When Parker hears Stabler mention the fire escape, the thinks that the “perv” that has been peeping in there for the last month is behind it. He said Lily called the police but they did nothing. Benson says they are probably tying to identify him, but Parker asks how hard could it be, the creep lives downstairs.

The detectives head to the apartment downstairs, and when Stabler starts to identify Benson and himself, the man who opens the door already knows Stabler’s name, adding “And they say lightning never strikes twice.” When Stabler asks, “Do I know you?” the man said the last time he met Stabler he put him in jail for 19 years.

In SVU interrogation observation room, Stabler says in 1989 he was in uniform walking a foot post. Callum Donovan (Stephen Rea) - who was the man in the apartment who is now in interrogation - robbed a bank, along with some accomplices. On his way out, Donovan literally ran into Stabler. The bust changed Stabler life, and he got promoted on the Christmas list. Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) comments that Stabler made his bones on Donovan’s back, and then asks if Donovan has any sex crimes on his rap sheet. His bank arrest is the only thing on him. Benson thinks he still could be the perp, after being in jail for 2 decades he could have come out with a new appetite. She adds that forensics can’t put him in Lily’s apartment, but his prints are all over the fire escape, and the blood trail goes down to the street and stops at the curb. Cragen suspects he put her into a car. Stabler tells him there is no car registered in his name, but one could have been borrowed, stolen, or rented. Benson adds that Munch and Fin are calling cab companies, gypsy cabs. His apartment is clean. Cragen tells Stabler that since he and Donovan have a history, he should use it to sweat him to find out where he stashed the girl – and Stabler adds, “Or buried her.”

Stabler enters the interrogation room, and asks Donovan where is she, and Donovan doesn’t know. He thinks Stabler is fitting him for a frame. He insists the only time he saw her was in the stairwell. When Stabler mentions the fire escape, Donovan says that is how he gets up to the roof. He says the fire escape is right outside his window and he likes to be outdoors where he can breathe, so he sits on the roof. Stabler accused him of watching Lily on the way up, and when Stabler outlines a few scenarios that Donovan may have watched, Donovan asks him who the pervert is now. Stabler continues to press him, but Donovan insists he never did any of that. Stabler asks why Lily would lie

Benson is questioning Parker, He tells her they paid $3,500 a month in rent, and for that kind of money they shouldn’t be assaulted by their neighbors – meaning assaulted by cigarette smoke that comes up through the vents. Lily is allergic. Benson says it is a landlord/tenant issue, not a crime. But they called the landlord, who also would like Donovan out because he is on rent control, he only pays $800.

With Stabler, Donovan said they moved into the apartment fresh off the boat when he was 10, and now someone tells him he can’t light up at home. He tried to be neighborly by smoking on the roof. He says she is a nut.

Parker says she is a saint. She taught art to underprivileged kids and reads books on tape for the blind, she was in med school and that bastard killed her. Benson says they don’t know that. Parker stands up and said Donovan said he would, he threatened her with a knife and said he would cut her throat unless she stopped running her mouth.

Donovan tells Stabler the knife was on his belt, not in his hand, he had just come from work. He says Stabler can twist it all he wants, it won’t change his story. But when Stabler asks if Donovan is just an ex-con living a law abiding life, Donovan says that he lost his mother when he was in prison, and 20 years passed him by while he sat in that cage. So he goes to work every day, visits his parole officer once a week and will piss in a cup when he asks him to. He is not giving any one any excuse to put him back inside. He says he did not touch the girl. As he is telling Stabler that Lily was a pain in the ass, a woman enters and says, “And so are you Cal. What happened? Freedom get boring?” Donavan mentions her name is Petra and asks why she is there. She says he didn’t show up for her "date", and Veronique called and told her and she made some calls. She introduces herself to Stabler as Petra Gilmartin (Jessica Walter), and asks to speak to her client alone.

Stabler walks out. ADA Sonya Paxton (Christine Lahti) is waiting, beverage in hand, asking Stabler if he likes Donovan for this. Stabler says he has a history with the victim including voyeurism and threats. Paxton comments that he has a history with Donovan, and he replies that he hasn’t given Donovan a though since the day he collared him. She asks if they bothered to rule out the boyfriend, and Cragen said that Munch and Fin did. Lily was last seen at school at 5 and Parker Hubbard was at work until 10, and was still on the phone with a colleague when he walked in on the crime scene. Stabler says that for now, Donovan is their guy. Paxton says, “Humor me with some proof.” Cragen says Donovan has been watching Lily from the fire escape, and the boyfriend never saw him out there but Lily told him about it. Paxton says that is hearsay. She says until they find admissible evidence they can’t hold him. Stabler says if they cut him loose it will just give him time to clean up after himself and it will make it harder to get evidence. Gilmartin knocks on the interrogation room window, and says through the intercom “Charge him or come say goodbye.”

As they walk out to leave, Gilmartin says the next time they want to talk to her client to call her first. Stabler tells her she better clear her schedule, and he’ll see her soon. Donovan says if he is not home he will be at work at Pier 19 in Bayonne. But Parker yells out and races to Donovan, asking where is Lily. Donovan falls to his knees and says he is not resisting, but Parker kicks him. Benson and Stabler pull Parker away, and he threatens to kill Donovan. Gilmartin moves to check on Donovan, then asks if that was the boyfriend. Stabler says yes. She says she will give them a free pass under the circumstances but if he touches her client again he’s doing time.

Later, at Pier 19 in Bayonne, Stabler and Benson are watching Donovan work, Stabler comments that Donovan is cool as a cucumber. Benson says to give him time, he’ll crack. A foreman approaches the detectives and said he pulled Donovan’s time card as they asked, and Benson sees Donovan clocked out at 5 and that is plenty of time to go home and pay Lily a visit. But the foreman says he didn’t go home, it was payday and he and the boys went over to a bar and had a few. The foreman left at about 7 and Donovan was still drinking when he left. The foreman says he knew about Donovan’s past when he hired him, and that people change. But Benson says not all of them for the better. Stabler says he is going to have Munch and Fin sit on Donovan, he’s not going to stand out there in the hot sun, and suggests they get a cold one.

At the bar where the Foreman said he and the guys had been drinking, the detectives question a female bartender who works there. She says Donovan left around 8. When the woman seems to be interested in what is going on with Donovan, Stabler asks if she always takes this much interest with her customers’ personal lives. She calls over for someone to take over so she can speak more privately. She says she has known Donovan since she was a kid and he broke her heart when they broke up. He comes in 20 years later and orders a drink, and says “hey Betty Jean” just like he saw her yesterday. She says they got back together. She said he had a load on, but when they got to her place he couldn’t “cut the mustard.” She says it was the drink and it happens to a lot of guys. She said he called her a whore, broke a lamp and stormed out.

Outside the bar, Stabler thinks Donovan came home and got pissed off, he goes up the fire escape for a smoke, sees Lily, the yuppie bitch who is making his life miserable, she was home alone and it was the perfect storm. Benson 'sphone is ringing; it’s Cragen, and Benson tell him they are on their way. She tells Stabler that a crew on a dredger spotted a girl’s body floating in the water right off Staten Island, and the description matches Lily’s.

When they get to the scene, the are told there is no body – the girl is alive, but barely. They open the ambulance and it seems Lily (Deborah Ann Woll) is, in fact, alive.

As the paramedics rush Lily into the hospital, Benson and Stabler are told that Lily had cardiac arrest en route but they got her back. Doctor Beresford (Stephen Gregory) races to save her, saying she is not dead until she is warm and dead.

Parker arrives at the hospital and asks about Lily. Benson tells him they are warming her blood as she was in the water a long time. Parker says he has to Tweet this as her followers need to know. He says he started a Twitter account last night. Where’s Lily, and they already have over 2,300 friends. Stabler comments that they now have on-line lookey-loos. The doctor comes out and says Lily’s temp is up and she in conscious, but she is showing signs of posttraumatic retrograde amnesia, meaning she has some memory loss. The detectives go to talk to her, and Parker tags along.

Parker shows his concern to Lily, and tells her the cops need to talk to her. Lily looks concerned, and doesn’t remember how she got in the Hudson River. She remembers coming home from school, it was 7 and she was hot so she took a shower. She heard someone in the apartment, and when Parker tries to ask her a question m Stabler pulls him away. She thinks it was the creep from downstairs but she is not sure. She remembers glass breaking and stuff falling, and her head hurt and she passed out. When she came to she was in a car and then a dark room. It was freeing cold and the door was locked, and he put a bag over her head and she could not breathe. She was falling. The doctor tells them that is enough and tells them to leave.

Cragen is waiting for them and Benson says Lily did not make a solid ID, saying maybe it was the creep downstairs and that she also she has traumatic amnesia, adding Donovan’s lawyer will make mincemeat out of her. The river washed her clean of trace evidence. Stabler says the timeline works, and runs through it with Cragen and Parker stands nearby, listening. They think the perp was on to them and decide to throw her in the river. Cragen says Munch and Fin has been on Donovan all day and he has been at work Stabler reminds Cragen that Donovan works on the docks. Benson adds that Lily says she was freezing but it has been in the 90s all week, maybe she was in a refrigerated storage unit. Cragen tells Benson to sat with Lily and sends Stabler to the docks.

At the docks, the foreman complains about how long Stabler is keeping them from their work. A forensics guy tells Stabler they find nothing. Stabler asks the rest of the works if they have seen Lily, showing her picture around. Donovan tells Stabler to put on the cuffs, but Stabler says not now, soon. Stabler goes over to the car where Munch (Richard Belzer) and Fin (Ice-T) are waiting, and Fin tells him he has been following Parker’s Tweet fest, adding that most of the posts are from strangers saying they spotted Lily before they found her. Munch adds there were people with crazy theories like she was abducted by aliens or white slavers, at least they didn’t tie up the tip line. One person named Tracy said she saw Lily around midnight arguing outside her store with and angry dude. Munch said they ruled it out as Donovan was with Stabler at midnight. Stabler wonders if Tracy got the time wrong.

At Copyqwik, Stabler speaks with Tracy confirms the time was midnight. It was Lily, but it wasn’t Donovan, the person was Asian and “ugly-cute” and much younger. She says it was Lily, she has a receipt. She gives her a copy of Lily's Hudson University ID, saying she was in there at 11:23 PM and used terminal 5 for 46 minutes. Her boss has them copy IDs in case terrorist use their computers. Stabler calls to get a tech down there,

Back at the hospital, Stabler bursts in to Lily’s room and asks who is Billy Chang, she says he did not kidnap her. Stabler says is a former med student who also has a rap sheet for selling crystal meth. She knows nothing about that, but Stabler asks her to explain the emails she sent to him. She says that is not her email, but when Stabler presses her on it she caves and says they are hers, upset that they hacked into her computer as she is a victim. But Stabler says she is not a victim. He says she was not assaulted or kidnapped or tossed into the river, she was in the Copyqwik scoring drugs. She says they do not understand. Benson tells her to make them understand. Lily says that she had a crappy day at school. At an anatomy class they gave her an ugly old woman cadaver and it creeped her out just to touch her. When she got home her skin was crawling, so she took off her clothes and took a shower because she did not want to smell like dead old lady for her special night with Parker. She got ready and then he didn't show up. She got pissed and emailed Billy but he didn’t answer. She thought she had a stash in the house but couldn’t find it, so she trashed her apartment looking for it and when she saw there was blood everywhere, she freaked out. Parker does not know about her habit. She ran down the fire escape and went to where Billy hangs out. He wasn’t there so she went to Copyqwik to send another email to Billy, and waited for his answer. When she saw what Parker had been posting saying she was a victim, she didn’t know what to say or do. It was just easier to go along with it so she jumped into the river and didn’t know it would take them so long to rescue her. Stabler gets angry with her and asks if she wants pity from them, she was willing to send an innocent man to prison to cover her ass? She says no, and she begins to say she is sorry, but Benson says sorry doesn’t cut it, as she cuffs her to the bed. Stabler goes off to apologize to Donovan.

At Donovan’s residence, Stabler sees him on the roof, smoking. Stabler says he thought he would find him up there, and without answering, Donovan pushes Stabler over the edge. Donovan’s eyes roll in his head as he looks over the edge. Stabler is lying father down on some sort of lower roof or overhang, unconscious.

Later, Stabler comes to, and hearing his police radio, he reaches for it and calls for help. Later, in the hospital, Paxton asks if he does this often and Benson asks, “Almost die in the line of duty?” Paxton quips, “take a nap halfway through his tour.” Stabler says he is still alive and he can hear them. Benson tells him half the department is still looking for Donovan, and Cragen says the other half are drowning in their sorrows. Stabler moves to get up but Cragen says he is not going anywhere. He says he is fine. Cragen says he can’t go until the docs run every test and the mayor comes to shake his hand. Paxton says she will leave before the parade of brass starts. She tells Benson not to touch a hair on his head, otherwise she has problems.

Fin enters and says there is still no sign of Donovan. He dumped his phones, his most frequent caller is Veronique St. John, and Stabler knows the name. That is the lady who sent Donovan’s lawyer in when they picked him up. Fin thinks they must be “knocking boots” if she has his attorney on speed dial.

Benson and Fin are at the residence of Veronique St. John, and she tells them she last saw Donovan last night. When Fin asks if he told her they were looking for her, she says she doesn’t ask her clients questions. Fin asks if she is a hooker, and she says the hell she is. She tells them it is a private group home and Donovan’s mother is there. When Benson said Donovan mentioned he lost his mother, Veronique says she is lost, to Alzheimer’s. She thinks her son is her first love, Tommy, and that Donovan visits her every night. They enter his mother’s room, and Donovan is there by her bedside. Benson tells him it is over, and he says he will come quietly, just not to wake her. When Fin doesn’t comply and pulls Donovan off, his other grabs his hand and called him Tommy. He tells “Fiona” that he has to go and she is shipping out.” She asks for one last kiss for his best girl, and he kisses her on the check, and she says she loves him. He says he loves her too and to be a good girl and go back to sleep. As Fin leads him past Benson, Donovan says, “Thank you” and she tells him she didn’t do it for him.

Outside the home, Donovan tries to run away from Fin., but Benson pulls her gun and Fin tackles him to the ground. He taunts Olivia to shoot him, saying he killed her partner. She tells him he is not dead, and Donovan head butts Fin. He says he wants to be taken off the streets. She tells him Lily lied and Stabler was coming to apologize. If he waited a moment longer he would be a free man. Fin grabs him and pulls him off to the car. ‘

At the SVU squad, Stabler looks at Donovan through the observation window. Paxton asks who is Donovan’s lawyer, and Stabler says he is meeting him at arraignments. She said good, just make sure no one talks to him, including him. Stabler turns back and closes the blinds, and says, “Lady, I’ve had one hell of a bad day, I’m in no mood to be told what to do. “ She calls out to him as he slams the door in his face. He enters the interrogation room and tells Donovan to get up, and when he doesn’t he forces him to stand up. Cragen and Paxton rush in and Paxton tells him to get his hands off him. Cragen takes Donovan out and Paxton glares at him. The verbal sparring begins:

Stabler: I don’t work for you.
Paxton: I’m not gonna watch you brutalize a prisoner in custody….
Stabler: I’m not gonna lay a finger on him
Paxton: Oh really? Coulda fooled me!
Stabler: I was transferring him to central booking/
Paxton: Well under the circumstances that’s not appropriate
Stabler, shouting: It’s my CASE!
Paxton, shouting back: No you’re not the case detective, you’re the victim. (Stabler gets quiet) Ohhh (Paxton covers her mouth in fake horror) Oh oh oh I’m sorry, does that word offend you? Ah! Big, strong Elliott Stabler? Can’t be anyone’s victim, right?
Stabler, shaking his head: You don’t know me.
Paxton: Oh, trust me, I read your file. (She moves to leave but Stabler blocks her)
Stabler: You know something? You’ve had a hard on for me since the day you walked in to this squad.
Paxton, chuckling: No hon, not at all. I got problems with anybody who doesn’t play by the rules.
Stabler: No, your rules! You act like the law’s holy scripture! You don’t give a damn about the law. You want control. You don’t know me. You know me? I know you. I see perps like you walk in here every day of the week that gotta have control or the whole world falls apart. But inside they’re scared. Weak. Damaged. (Paxton slaps him. I cheer)

Stabler chuckles and grins, but Paxton looks like she is ready to cry. Stabler turns and walks off, leaving Paxton there looking devastated and worried.

At arraignment court, Donovan is being arraigned for one count of attempted murder in the first degree and he pleads not guilty. Paxton wants him remanded because he threw a cop off a roof. But Gilmartin says he felt he was going to be arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Paxton reminds her Donovan is there for the crime he DID commit, but Gilmartin says he is not responsible for it. She serves notice that they will be pursing a psychiatric defense. Paxton questions it, saying there is no history of mental illness in his prison records, but Gilmartin says the corrections department is not known for documenting their own crimes. She adds that Donovan spent the majority of his sentences in solitary confinement, completely isolated with no human contact and it made him psychotic. Paxton argues that he has been out of jail for over a year and he has held a job, cares for his mother, had a girlfriend – he is completely functional. Gilmartin says he regressed under the threat of incarceration. Judge Petrovsky (Joanna Merlin) says these are issues to be argued in front of a jury at trial and she is remanding the defendant. Donovan begs not to be put back in, and his lawyer asks to have him placed in the general population. But Petrovsky says she has no control over the DOC and use of solitary confinement is up to the prison warden. Donovan gets on all of them for passing the buck, pointing at Stabler saying he puts people in jail and then walks away, saying they don’t give a damn about torture. Paxton asks if he was beaten or waterboarded, and he says what they did to him was just as bad. Petrovsky blows it off and calls for the next case. Stabler leaves with smug look, and Paxton looks at him with concern.

Outside the courthouse, Paxton yells to Stabler, saying she has to talk to him. She says Donovan’s defense is bogus, and she is not sure the jury will see it. She wants him to stare Donovan down when he is on the stand and make him look him in the eye when he moans to the jury that it wasn't his fault that he threw him off the roof. She wants to make him squirm. Stabler says, “I really gotta hand it to you Sonya, you know how to get under people’s skin.” She knows what he means, and asks if they can call a truce about what happened in the interview room. She extends her hand to Stabler, He agrees, but does not shake her hand. He walks off, leaving her standing on the courthouse steps.

Back at the SVU squad, Munch says he is happy about someone airing the prison systems’ dirty laundry. He adds that humans are social creatures and prolonged isolation warps out humanity. Fin asks, “Is that what happened to you, Munch?” But Stabler says Donovan is a hard man and doesn’t buy it. Munch said they stopped using it due to the findings of a study, but Stabler says you have to control the prisoners. Fin says he buys that if you stop treating convicts like animals they act like men, but it doesn’t mean solitary is torture. But Munch continues to argue, asking why did they use it for the hostages in Iran, the POWs of Vietnam, and at Abu Ghraib. He says we are not wired to be alone. Benson said when she was in prison undercover, the worst part was no private time and no quiet time, even on the toilet, and she would have killed to do a stint in the hole. Munch says we buy free-range chickens because we believe they are healthier, we care more about poultry than people. Stabler is annoyed at Munch’s stance, and Benson said it is a smokescreen that he tried to kill a cop. Fin says the blue wall should remind him.

At Supreme Court, Donovan is on the stand and talks about his solitary confinement. He shivved a white racist when he refused to join them and then they jumped him in the showers. The warden put him in solitary from 1993 to 2007. He said it was supposed he be 6 months but when the guards came to get him he though they were there to kill him so he fought them off and they tacked on more time. The same thing kept happening and in the end the left him there. It was like death, except still breathing. All you hear is you breath for days, months, years. At first he would sleep for 12-14 hours at a time, but then you can’t sleep anymore. He started watching his shadow until it turned into someone else. It started talking to him. He knew the voice was in his head but he could not shut it out. It was there, whispering, telling him to swallow his tongue, pluck his eyes out, chew off his hands. Even now when he is alone he heard the voice. He works and walks for hours to cope. He is afraid to sleep and sits on the roof all night and listens to the city, and sound to block out the voice. When Stabler came on the roof he heard the shadow laughing at him and pulling him into the hole. He looks to Stabler in the gallery and says Stabler will never know what it is like to be truly alone and that he can’t imagine it unless he winds up there himself.

In Sing Sing Prison in isolation, the guard tells Stabler they should not be letting him in there but tells him this settles the debt. He shows him Donovan’s cell and tells someone to open 66.. Stabler enters, and the guard tells him not to do anything stupid. Stabler is there, alone for a while, at first exercising and then sleeping. They bring in food, and when he asks what time is it they don’t answer and shut the trap door. Stabler goes through his routine again, and starts hearing whispers. He tries to sleep. He hears a noise and more whispers, and goes though his routine again and again, shouting. The food tray is delivered again, and he yells to the person delivering it, who shuts the trap door again. He hears more whispers and draws further into himself. He seems to befriend a cockroach. He becomes increasing agitated. While laying in bed he hears a noise and is startled. He can’t relax. When he finally hears the door open, it is his guard friend, and he leaps out at him, calling him a son of a bitch, saying that he said three days, not a week. The guard says it was three days, he said it is Sunday night, when Stabler told him to let him out. Stabler relaxes his grip on the guard.

He arrives at Paxton’s office – who is smoking by the way - and when she asks where he has been, he tells her he has been in the hole. He tells her he wants to drop the charges and she tells him he is a wuss. She comments that he took a bad trip in his own head, and now he feels sorry for Donovan. She says that is his problem, and hers is convicting a would-be cop killer. He says if Donovan walks it is open season for any perp who did time in the whole. But Stabler doesn’t want to set a precedent, he just wants her to cut a deal. Buy Paxton doesn’t want to take a chance that he will get out in few years and then do something else to another cop. Stabler stands up and says he wants to report her for assault and says the DA will suspend her. She calls his bluff and tells him to go ahead. She says he may have lost his balls in lockup but she still has hers. He looks on, silent.

The jury is in and the verdict is guilty, and the gallery cheers. Donovan looks dejected and bends down and places his head on the table, banging it repeatedly. Stabler and Paxton look sullen. Donovan says they don’t know where he is going – back to that box! He gets agitated and runs toward the judge, pulling up his sleeve and asks for the needle. He says they do it for a sick dog, why not him? As Petrovsky orders the guards to remove him, he pleads for her not to do this. Stabler sits in the gallery with a look of silent anguish.

Later, at a bar, Stabler is having a drink and Paxton comes in. She tells him she will get the next round. She tells him Olivia said she would find him here. She sits down next to him, and she toasts to a good day for the people. But Stabler disagrees. She asks him doesn’t he think she feels sorry for Donovan? He said” You feel sorry for him, good for you. You had a shot to do the right thing and you didn’t. Thanks for the drink.” He walks off and leaves her sitting there.

Later, Stabler returns to the prison, the guard slides open a small window to a cell where Donovan is laying. The guard says they gave him Haldol, calling it better living through chemistry. His face is beaten and the guard says he did it to himself, he smacked his head against the wall until the doc gave him the drugs. The are transferring him to the medical unit and once he is stable, he will be in gen pop. Donovan says thanks to Stabler, but Stabler says it wasn’t him. When Stabler asks if the warden saw the light, the guard says it wasn’t until the DA shined it the warden’s eyes and she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Stabler looks stunned, and the guard tells Donovan to say goodbye to the hole. Donovan gives Stabler a long hard look, and then the guard pulls him to move on, Stabler is left standing there, watching Donovan walk off, as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

My take on the character - ADA Paxton - is probably what the studio/directors/actress all wish me to "feel"- utter contempt at a brutally overthetop head strong ball buster bitch- So now is the question ...? Do I "try" to allow some feelings ofhumanity to be entertained ? Do I "try" to have an ounce of compassion for the attorney nut cracker blood sucking soul-less frump ?
Or do I wait to see how they dispose of this pile of rubbish which is a cancer on the entire law enforcement community of NYC (fictionally speaking) ???
Do i count my popcorn until she gets her just reward ? Hopefully in a very drawn out & painful manner... Stabler was correct he see's perps like her every day ...I must credit L&O SVU writers for producing a believeable performance wrapped up in one desperately evil loathsome Government pencil pusher - very well portrayed by Lahti- but I still can't stand the wicked nasty despot of a hag-

John K. said...

Other than the final 15 minutes, which was more "TORCHA is bad" nonsense which the series can't let go for some reason, it was rather enjoyable.

And the blogmistress hit all the high notes, so I don't have to bother.

No transcript concerns, either, although, I'll likely need them in "Great Satan." So, it's a nice break all around. Great recap.

daniel said...

Thanks for the recap/review. This episode was great but honestly that time with eliot in solitary drained it.

Anonymous said...

I think viewers are supposed to hate Paxton. They are making her annoying on purpose for dramatic effect. It's odd that Stabler can be such a pushy SOB but when a woman pushes back, everybody gets all rattled about it. Stabler needs to be put in his place and so do some of the others in SVU. They have acted all along that they are perfect, but it's clear that with so many convictions being overturned that McCoy sent her in there for a reason. I think it will work itself out. I think there is something going on underneath with her and Stabler, just my opinion.

But really, why do people get so rattled when a headstrong woman comes in to the mix. Benson used to be like this until they made her too soft. This is why Mariska got no Emmy - Benson's edge is gone!

John K. said...

It's funny, as the franchise used to be great in writing likeable-yet-authortative women, Carmichael, Ross, Kibre, Cabot. Things change, apparently. It's a shame, really.

Although, you raise a good point in Benson lacking edge, which is ironic, as she's becoming another Elliot with each passing day.

Anonymous said...

I liked how the boyfriend was initially set up as kind of a red herring. It was really subtle (his almost Stuckey-like over-enthusiasm, the way that camera would ominously zoom in on him when the other characters were speaking to something else) and I admit I thought that SVU was going to go the cliched route and have him set up the neighbor as the fall guy to cover up for his own crime. It's a great example of how well a simple camera angle can help tell a story.

Joe S. Walker said...

I thought the whole Stabler-in-the-cell scene was ludicrous. It went on and on, and in the first place came out of nowhere dramatically. All the scenes of conflict between him and Paxton so far have felt forced. Her attitude is that everything goes wrong because someone else screwed up; why is Benson taking that lying down? It makes Olivia seem weak, not to mention the rest of SVU. That said, I like Christine Lahti.

Jojo said...

This episode was the most that I've ever liked Paxton. It's good that she's stirring it up, but I've hated her attitude and her need to blame everyone else so far. In this episode, I liked that you can see the cracks and it humanizes her - it gives motive to her commanding ways: she needs control. I found myself really enjoying her. It was great that she had her issues when Stabler called her out and almost made her cry...but maintained her spunk when dealing with Stabler later on.

The blogmistress is right in that this unhinged Stabler brings out the best of Meloni. I really prefer the more stable Stabler though.

I also want to agree with the previous commenters that Benson needs her edge back. They've made Stabler too fired up but they've also toned down Benson too much.

Good episode, though. I'm really liking Paxton right now, here's hoping it stays that way.

Anonymous said...

Im sorry I cant taje it any more- the writers are taking the piss because if they can't see that every case for the last year has seen B&S fit the evidence to their suspect, then they are living in a different universe. What makes it worse is that they constantly go for the obvious guy DESPITE the detectives, not because of them. Paxton at least questions their thinking but im sorry the writing has gone from bad to worse in that it makes the detectives completely judgemental rather than alow them to detect

Anonymous said...

I was excited at first with a new ADA, but with the nets pointing out it was a four epesode ark some of her actions are intersting.

IN this epesode when Paxton slaps Stabler that is an action that at least where I used to work would get your ass chewed out by the DA and probably fired, but at least suspended.

I notice Paxton acts different at the station house than in the court/DA offices. Maybe she has way more to hide than we think.

Anonymous said...

Show's what kind of lying hypocritical scumbags the SVU are

Anonymous said...

But then, it conforms to real life in that NYC cops are total pieces of shit in real life.

Mike said...

Nowhere in the show was there any resistance to how Stabler and Benson zeroed in on Donovan immediately, discarding any clues that didn't fit, needling him, and trashing him to his boss and co-workers. By not giving this unstable person the least benefit of a doubt, Stabler contributed to Donovan's overreaction, nearly got himself killed, and ruined this guy's life along the way. No, Donovan wasn't right, but neither were Stabler and Benson.

I'd like to see some exploration of this disturbing police approach of "just collect what you need to convict whoever is nearby". I fear this is the approach more often than is the ideal "quest for truth" portrayed in most cop shows.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Stabler was a dick this episode, and he deserved what he got. I lost a lot of respect for the SVU cops in this episode, but we all knew how crooked they were after Darius exposed them.