Saturday, November 7, 2009
Law & Order “Boy Gone Astray” Recap & Review
Law & Order "Boy Gone Astray” seemed like one of the classic Law & Order episodes where the crime, and the case, was relatively clear cut. Bernard surprise his colleagues when he seems to know more about expensive things than what people see on the surface – it seems not only is he an expert on expensive sports cars, but he also knows art. Otherwise, it was plain old detective work for them. They got a little action when they raided the house where the kids were hanging out, lucky for Bernard that he saw that gun sticking out of the seat cushions of the sofa. But it must be Mexican drug cartel month for the franchise, as SVU just did an episode about the same subject a few weeks ago, but I think Law & Order did a much better job with their story.
Jonathan Cake – who fans may recognize as Law& Order Criminal Intent’s Julianne Nicholson's real life husband and also her fictional bad boy fiancé on the same show – did a fine job as the somewhat smarmy defense lawyer who used to work in the DA’s office. I wonder what makes a person go from the DA’s office to representing Mexican drug cartels? Maybe be wasn't so squeaky clean when he worked in teh DA's office.
Despite the fact that Connie used to be offended when she was “pimped out” by Cutter under the guise of doing it for a case, she has learned that she too can use herself when it suits her. In this case, she decides to get some help from a high school boyfriend, and needless to say, Cutter’s reactions to the boyfriend’s comments about Connie were priceless.
I had mentioned in my recap of Law & Order SVU “Users” that I was hoping they would cover marijuana use regarding Anita’s cancer, and they did it in this episode. This is one of those episodes where I don’t mind their obvious preaching on the issue, and anyone who has had family or friends waste away from cancer may likely feel the same way. I am 100% in favor of using marijuana for medicinal purposes – not just for cancer, mind you, it can be used to treat other illnesses – but I also believed that it should be highly controlled. I am so glad that Anita decided to make use of it, but a little surprised that she didn’t realize that the smell lingers. We were taught that in high school in the 1970s; of course, then it was a warning to us that smoking pot could be very obvious to people like your parents! I was glad when the chief gave her some helpful tips and was very understanding, but also cautioned her to be smart about it.
I also am convinced that sometimes people can be idiots. Why Nina, the murder victim, would open her door to someone she did not know is a mystery to me, even if they were kids. This is even more stupid when considering the line of work she was in. Likewise, Connie, knowing that she is a possible target of a cartel and under a protective detail, walks out her front door without her security detail despite being told not to do that. Speaking of Connie, we find out that she is a descendant of Juan Cortina, who is a Mexican folk hero. She is just full of surprises.
I liked the ending, as we are left with the impression that Raphael did not testify and the murder case against Blanco had to be dropped. I also wonder if that leaves Connie off the hook with the cartel or they still plan to retaliate?
A special note: the recap for the second episode of Law & Order aired last night, “ Doped.” won’t be available until Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.
Here is the recap:
Lucas chases after Nina Wilshire and asks her for a chance, but she tells him he had his chance and they are done. A soccer ball stops at her feet and she kicks it back to some kid playing nearby. As she heads into her apartment building he tells he she can’t do this to him, but she says that yes, she can, and tells him goodbye as she storms into the building.
Later, as Nina lay dead on her apartment floor, Detectives Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) and Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) arrive on the scene. A lady next door heard shots and called it in to police, and a moment later the fire alarm from the fire exit went off, probably the shooter getting away. There is evidence of a lot of gunfire. Bernard notices some expensive paintings in the closet, saying it is $2 million worth of artwork. Lupo thinks that based on the gunshots to her body, the victim may have been shot as she opened the door.
The detectives head to Nina’s mother’ s home, and she says her death makes no sense. When asked about the artwork in Nina’ apartment, she tells them that Nina had a very successful interior design business. She said she had no involvement in drugs or gambling. She wants to show the detectives some photographs so they can see how special her daughter was. The detectives look reluctant by stay put.
Back at the 2-7, they complain to Lieutenant Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) about having to sit there for 2 hours looking at photos. They didn’t see anything that would help them to identity the killers. When Van Buren questions the use of the plural killers, they tell her that ballistics said two guns were used, both 9mm. As they watch the apartment security camera video, they see Nina approach the front door and seems to be fighting with another man. The man pounds on the glass door after Nina enters, and Van Buren suggests they go see if that left a print.
At the offices of Dr. Lucas Nevra, a chiropractor to whom the prints belonged, he tells them than Nina was going to redecorate his office. He adds that he gave her $5,000 for a retainer and then she blew him off for three appointments. He said he just wanted to be sure she wanted the job, and she said she would send him some preliminary plans, it was no big deal. When Bernard says it looks like a big deal on the video, he says $5 grand was not going to break him, then he excuses himself to take care of patients.
Back at the 2-7, Bernard tells Van Buren that Nina did not like keeping her money in a bank and had one account with $10 thousand in it where no money went in or was taken out. While Lupo continues to talk about Nina’s financials, he is eating something and Van Buren puts a handkerchief up to her face, and then asks them to put their food away because of the smell. They comply. They tell her that Nina had $3-4 million in art, she tells them that is a lot of art for an unknown interior designer, and suggest they talk to the gallery where it came from, maybe Nina was laundering money through the art.
At home, Van Buren, her son, and her boyfriend Frank (Ernie Hudson) are eating dinner, and Van Buren pushed her plate away with her food untouched. Her son is worried that she has not been eating since she started the chemo, and he brings out a pack of some medical marijuana that he got from a nurse in a cancer ward. He says it is legal in Vermont but she is upset because it is still a crime in New York. He tells her to toss it, he has a train that leaves in an hour and he has to pack, so he gets up and leaves. Frank comes to console her, and she says she can’t believe it. Frank says her son cares, and she questions that he knew about this. She asks him what he was thinking, she is a sworn police officer. But he says, “You’re a sick woman who can’t keep her food down, spends half the day doubled over in the bathroom. This is a medicine with proven benefits. I haven’t fallen in love with a stupid woman.” He gets up from the table and leaves her there to stare at the packet.
The next day, Lupo and Bernard go to the Jarvis Montague Gallery, and when the question a woman who works there, they find that Nina had another apartment in the same building that she thinks Nina used for storage. Later, with police searching this second apartment, the detectives find it filled with artwork, and also with suitcases full of cash and marijuana. They think it puts the argument with the chiropractor in a new light, and think she seems to be a dope dealer she must be on someone’s radar.
At the DEA wire room, they find they have had a wire on Nerva’s phone, he’s a small time dealer and they were trying to ID his supplier. The detectives tell the agent it may be Nina. They have some tapped calls on record that occurred just before she was shot. They play one of them back, and it is Lucas. He says he wants to meet for coffee and says he will have the ten grand for her. But they hear a knock on the door with some kid saying that he lost his keys, and call he call his mom and she tells Lucas she will get back to him as there is a kid at the door.
Back at the 2-7 , they listen to the recording of that call with Van Buren and tell her a minute after this, the lady next door heard the shots. They think the killers use the kids to get at Nina. They look back at the building’s security video and see the kids arrive, they originally thought they were returning from school, but now can see one is packing a gun. They realize the killers were the kids.
Outside the building, a man operating a fruit stand says he remembers the kids, they were outside playing with a soccer ball. He did not see them get into any car, the only car he saw as double parked in a loading zone, it was a livery limo with a chauffer who was there all afternoon, it was from Riverdale Limo.
Back at the 2-7, they tell Van Buren that they found the limo driver who was waiting on a fare for three hours. He saw nothing, but his dash cam got a perfect shot of the kids. They see the kids run off into another car, it is a Maserati, which causes Bernard to go into a very detailed description of the car’s make and model and features. When they look at him with surprise of his knowledge of the car, he tells them in Compton you were either a banger or someone who watched bangers in their tricked out vehicle, and he watched. Van Buren says there can’t be too many Maseratis in the area, and tells them to try to run it down. They hear a knock at the door, and the chief enters and tells the detectives to give them a minute. He then tells Van Buren someone smelled marijuana on her and asks if she is out of her mind. She thinks she is in for trouble and tries to explain. He tells her to save it, and he hands her some mints, saying they will take bark off a tree and will cover her breath. He tells her to shower and change he clothes after she smokes, and gives her the name of a guy who sells medicinal dope and he is careful and discreet. She is shocked at his acceptance of this and when she begins to ask about it, he tells her he had “ball” cancer 3 years ago and “that stuff got me through it.” He tells her to keep it square and not go to pieces on him, and he leaves.
At Eminence Motors, they get the information on who owned the car. The car salesman said he sold it to “Joe” and asked to register the car to Southwestern Supply in White Plains, and which turns out to be a PO Box. They paid in cash and the sale was legal. He says he saw what looked like a valid driver’s license, and Bernard asks the guy to help them with a sketch. He heard from the guy a few weeks ago, one of this cars wouldn’t star, the car was in the driveway of his house in Scarsdale at he sent a mechanic to it.
At that address, which they find is leased by that same ghost company, the detectives watch as another car pulls up to that house with “party girls.” Lupo assumes the girl is not a good driver and checks to see if there is anything outstanding on her.
Later at the 2-7, they have the driver in interrogation, Miss Vasquez, and she is upset they brought her in for a simple traffic violation. But Lupo reminds her of her suspended license, and tries to pressure her with other charges about possession of a joint and money that was in her purse. She won’t talk, and asks for a lawyer.
When Lupo exits, Van Buren is on the other side of the glass telling ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) that the other girl wouldn’t talk either. Bernard tells her that the lab analyzed the $100 bills in her purse and they were all positive for cocaine residue. Van Buren wonders if she provided sexual services for the occupant of the house. Rubirosa says the occupant of the house gave her money contaminated with cocaine and this gives them probable cause that there is cocaine in that house.
Later, police raid the house and round up all the kids that are in there. Bernard sees a gun in the couch where he cuffed one of the kids. He then asks where is Joe but they don’t know any Joe. They say they live by themselves and it is their house. Lupo tells them it is their house, so those are their guns.
In court, the kids – Raphael (Mario Quinonez, Jr.), Samuel , and Carlos - are being arraigned for murder in the second degree Their female lawyer, from legal aid, says he has been assigned to all three and Rubirosa says at this time she has no objection to the joint representation. But a male voice pipes up and says “Good”, saying he has been retained by the families of the three children. He identifies himself as Marcus Woll (Jonathan Cake) and says his clients plead not guilty and asks for ROR. But Rubirosa objects, saying they know Marcus from the DA’s office and she knows the kids come from modest backgrounds and Marcus is not there pro bono, she wants to inquire about the source of his retainer. He says that that is not relevant, but what is relevant is that they have three juveniles without records. Rubirosa says each of them will be tried as an adult for their role in a brutal execution. She says two of the defendants are from Texas and don’t have families to be released to. Woll says the guardians are on route. The judge remands them all. Marcus tells Rubirosa to enjoy it while it lasts, there is a motion to suppress all evidence found in the home.
In Cutter’s office, Rubirosa tells EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) and DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) that guns in the house can be tied to murders of drug dealers in Philly and Newark The DEA suspects they were targeted by the Vella cartel from Mexico. When McCoy is shocked that the cartel is using kids to carry out these killings, Cutter says these kids are trained assassins. The police found pictures of the kids in what looks like a training camp. They think the cartel parked the kids in the house to use them as needed. They wonder why Nina was killed as she was not a major player, but Cutter thinks they might get the answer when the find Joe, and he holds up the sketch. Cutter thinks if they lean on the kids hard enough one of them might roll on him. McCoy wonders if they will survive the motion to throw out the evidence. He remembers Marcus from his work in the DA’s office, he was a formidable attorney and there is not reason to think he slacked off.
At the Supreme Court motion hearing, they argue that as Miss Vasquez is a convicted prostitute and it was reasonable she got the money from the occupants of the house for sex. There was cocaine on the money they found so it was reasonable to suspect that cocaine was in the house also. But Marcus produces a study that shows that 90% of all banknotes in circulation have traces of cocaine on them. Judge Bradley (Peter McRobbie) agrees with Marcus and suppresses everything seized in the house. Marcus moves to dismiss all charges, and when Cutter objects as they have Alvarez and Molina at the crime scene on video, the judge sustains Cutter’s objection on those two, but dismisses all charges against Cavessas. As everyone leaves, Rubirosa said they lost the driver of the getaway car but they still have the shooters. But Cutter says without the murder weapons they don’t have much leverage, and suggests they talk to Alvarez’s parents, who are sitting the in courtroom.
At the Alvarez residence, they tell them their son was taken to Mexico to be trained as a killer. But Mrs. Alvarez is reluctant to talk. When she goes into the kitchen, Rubirosa asks her if she is making birria, saying it smells delicious and asks if she uses pork or beef. She answers pork. Rubirosa says they can help her son, but Mrs. Alvarez said when they went to see him yesterday he laughed about that girl and he started to sing a song that talked about having no fear. Mr. Alvarez seems to want to cooperate but Mrs. Alvarez is worried for her other children. When both Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez step away from the table, Cutter comments about their son signing about this issue, and Rubirosa wonders that since the stereo was shot up in Nina’s apartment, maybe there was more to the song that just boasting.
In the Cutter’s office, Rubirosa, Cutter, Lupo, Bernard and McCoy are listening to the Mexican song that was on Nina’s iPod and also in the Scarsdale house. The song is about a Mexican drug family and that the family is so bad they have “hot Yankee blondes” selling their dope for them. Rubirosa says it is a drug ballad which are very popular in Mexico and the Latin communities in the US and says these guys are folk heroes. She adds that Manditos fought the power, like her ancestor, Juan Cortina, and that people revered them. McCoy says, “Your ancestor. Maybe I should keep a closer eye on you.” McCoy comments that the Vella cartel killed Nina because she was in a song that extolled the virtues of a rival cartel. The song doesn’t mention the name of Nina’s cartel, but Rubirosa thinks an old high school boyfriend may be able to help.
They play the song back for Rubirosa's old high school boyfriend, who says the song is by Los Vagabondas, who are affiliated with the Ramon family. He says he can’t get over how respectable she looks, but she reminds him that Cutter, who is standing there looking sheepish, is her boss. He plays another song that they did, and it says that the Ramon family are cowards and they let a woman do a man’s work, and now she is dead and isn’t so pretty any more. The song was done by the house band Los Guereros, for the Vellas. Rubirosa hears that that song mentions Nina took 4 bullets to the face, information that was not released to the press. The song was put on the Internet on the 15th, the Tuesday Nina was shot. He tells them that the band’s next gig is tonight in New Jersey.
At the El Vaquero nightclub, Rubirosa arrives with Lupo and Bernard and find a crime scene. It seems the Los Guereros were shot as they arrived for their gig. Bernard thinks it is payback from Nina’s people for the song. She tells the detectives she wants to know who told them about the bullets to Nina’s face.
Later, Rubirosa tells Cutter that the lyrics about Nina were in a knapsack in the van, and he notices the handwriting is different that the other lyrics for the song. They are hoping for fingerprints on that page. Bernard comes in with the info on the prints, they are from Eddie Blanco, a reported lieutenant for the Vella cartel. Bernard thinks he bought the cars for the kids. The picture matches that of the mysterious “Joe.” Cutter tells them to pick him up. The detectives arrive with Cutter and Rubirosa and they arrest Eddie. He asks for Marcus as his lawyer, and Rubirosa comments that now Marcus will represent Blanco and the kids they want to get to roll on Blanco. But Cutter says Alvarez is a minor and his parents have final say on who represents them.
Back at the DA’s office, they talk to the parents about Blanco, but they said their son won’t listen and Marcus is already there. Cutter tells them that Marcus cares only for the big bosses, not their son. But Mrs. Alvarez is worried they will kill their son and their other kids. When she moves to leave, Mr. Alvarez says he will protect his family and asks what they need him to do.
Back in the courtroom, Marcus is annoyed that Cutter is interfering and says Alvarez is emancipated from his parent’s Cutter argues he was taken to Mexico and trained and brainwashed. Raphael says he does not want anyone else Cutter says that there is a conflict with Marcus representing all of the defendants in the same case. The judge rules for Cutter and orders a court appointed lawyer be assigned. Cutter thinks now they have a fighting chance.
With Alvarez in his lawyer, Cutter and Rubirosa, with Raphael and his parents and attorney, try to discuss the situation, but he says he wants to go. He leaves. Rubirosa apologizes to his parents, saying they will keep trying. Rubirosa wonders if they can find someone to deprogram him.
At the office of Theresa Burkhart, she tells Rubirosa what can be done to help Raphael, in a method to reintroduce them to their past life, but Rubirosa doesn’t have a lot of time. Burkhart says breakthrough s can be triggered by small things, to shoot for something that taps into the boy who loves his family.
At a meeting in the interview room at the DA’s office, Cutter and Rubirosa, along with Dr. Burkhart, talk with Raphael and his lawyer and while talking, Rubirosa says they will be working through lunch if Raphael wants to order something. She brings out her food, and it is birria, that Raphael’s mom sent over. He watches her prepare a plate, and when she offers it to her, he takes it, and after pausing for a second, begins to eat, and then he begins to cry.
In the Supreme Court grand jury, Raphael is now on the stand, testifying about being trained to kill in Mexico and how they brought him back. Cutter mentions Raphael had just finished two weeks of therapy. Raphael said at first it was like being in a video game but it stopped being exciting. They gave him cocaine which made him throw up and was scary. They also sent girls over. He said that Eddie Blanco gave them their missions to kill someone, and Blanco told him to kill Nina. He told them how to get into Nina’s place and admits he killed her, he said he never thought about the killing. They came back and had a pizza and tequila and watch movies.
Back in McCoy’s office, Cutter returns with Rubirosa and tells McCoy that the grand jury came back with an indictment for Blanco. But McCoy says there has been a development, and Van Buren tells them that the detectives found a song on the Internet that seems to threaten Rubirosa. McCoy wants her off the case but she wants to continue. Van Buren tells her they will give her and Cutter a protective detail that she will hand pick.
Back at Supreme Court, Lupo is on the stand and identifies the two boys that entered Nina's building and that Nina was shot 3 minutes earlier. Marcus has no questions, so Cutter brings in Raphael Alvarez as his next witness. Marcus asks for sidebar and tried to exclude Raphael as a witness because he is a minor and was in a coercive environment for the last two weeks and subject to psychological manipulation. Cutter says he was getting routine counseling, and the judge says that Marcus’ allegation is serious and he is obliged to hear the motion. Marcus wants 48 hours, but the judge only gives him 24 hours. The judge adjourns until the next day, and Cutter looks to a worried Raphael and tells him that it will be over soon. Blanco looks at Raphael and Raphael looks very nervous. Cutter says to Rubirosa that the defense is stalling and he wants security doubled where Raphael is being kept. As Blanco is being led away, she hears s singing as he walks past Rubirosa.
The next day, leaving her place. Rubirosa , on the phone with Cutter, walks outside and her detail is not there. Two men walk towards her and she gets very nervous, and tried to get in the car but it is locked. She moves to walk back in to her place and drops her keys, and when she bends over to pick them up, one of the men bounces a basketball right next to her, startling her. Her security detail guy walks up, and says he got there early and went to get her coffee and she is supposed to wait inside. She composes herself and says things are good and they can go. But her phone rings, and she gets a message to go to the Bronxville juvenile facility.
At the facility, Rubirosa and Cutter are told that Sammy was brushing his teeth in the bathroom and his throat was slashed, he bled out before he was found.
Back in the DA’s office, Cutter tries to convince Raphael that what happened to Sammy will not happen to him. Rubirosa tells him his family has been moved to a secure location and they are safe. Cutter tells him after the motion, he can testify and then begin his new life. But Raphael is unconvinced, and yelling, asks if they think he is stupid. He knows they will come after him. He says he cannot be protected. He refuses to testify, and he storms out. His lawyer says they need a little time. McCoy walks up and Cutter tells him that Raphael shut down. McCoy suggest they now do what any good lawyer does – bluff.
In a meeting with Blanco and Marcus, Cutter and Rubirosa try to get him to cut a deal but Marcus isn’t buying it. He says regardless of wining or losing the motion, his client wants his day in court.
Back in Supreme Court, the judge denies Marcus’ motion and say Raphael can be called to the stand. But Cutter asks for a continuance since Sammy was murdered. But Marcus says his murder should not change Cutter’s theory of the murder and the judge agrees. Cutter says there is another issue and that Raphael is a 14 year old who is distressed by Sammy’s death and says it is a humanitarian question. He and Marcus argue the issue and the judge says no delay is warranted and says Cutter has two hours to produce his witness or he is kicking this.
Cutter and Rubirosa go to see Raphael in the cell and he is bouncing a ball against the wall. No matter what they say, he blankly bounces his ball against the wall and does not speak. The move to leave, and Rubirosa wants to try one more time, saying they have to reach him. Bt Cutter says he has already been reached. As the cell door closes behind them, Rubirosa goes back and looks through the window, and then walks away. As Raphael continues to silently bounce the ball against the wall, we fade to black.
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