Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Law & Order “Brazil” Recap & Review

All Photos from NBC

Law & Order “Brazil” was one of those stories that featured a bunch of ripped from the headlines stories, but was able to weave an interesting story all of its own from them. In this episode, it was an attempted murder that gets the attention of the detectives, and what seems like the motives have to do with global warming deniers and blackmail turned out to be about an ugly child custody battle. During this custody battle, we learn that EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) has daddy issues, Cutter being the product of a broken home and an absent dad. (I think it is a prerequisite for any Law & Order character to have a major issue with one or both of their parents.) Cutter‘s anger towards his dad left Cutter with some major issues that carry over in this case, primariy because the defense attorney used his divorced parents and his absent father against him. It’s likely that these issues are more complex that what was revealed in this episode, and I suspect they will come out again at a time when Cutter least expects.

Law & Order has been very interesting this season because they have been covering some interesting legal issues. I admit that I have always been a little more interested in the legal aspects of the show, which is likely why I like Law & Order the best of the franchise, since SVU and Criminal Intent don’t deal as much with the prosecutors. In this episode, we get to see Cutter out of his comfort zone, ending up in family court as part of his case against Shoemaker for his attempted murder of Silva. Michael Cutter is getting to be a very interesting character and each week we seem to be getting another view of what makes him tick. Hopefully they will also give more attention to Connie Rubirosa, who is another character that deserves a deeper look into her personal life. Law & Order hands out personal tidbits on a limited basis, which is a lot more fun than being beat over the head with them. That said, it may be time to give Michael Cutter’s psyche a rest.

All in all, this was an interesting story that I thought would have a predicable outcome, but it provided a nice twist. I did wonder why, since Dr. Silva had collapsed and was not dead, that detectives were called to the scene? Since the person already on the scene had assumed Silva got the bloody nose from his collapsing from a stroke, what made her think detectives needed to be called when she had no inkling of foul play? Maybe I missed something here, but it sure seemed the detectives were called prematurely. (OK, I found out that I DID miss something, the Brazilian consulate wanted detectives called in.) I also wondered how Shoemaker was lucky enough to get his hands on an ID from someone who just happened to be a no show at the symposium. How would he have gotten to Silva had he not had that way in?

Here is the recap:
Dr. Oscar Silva (Elliot Villar) , global warming denier, is on the phone with his wife, and she demands he returns home. Later, he is speaking at a global warming symposium, and, after Dr. Everett Brown seems to speak partly in support of cap and trade, Silva collapses at the podium. Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) arrive at the scene and see a video that shows that Silva had a nosebleed right before he collapsed. ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) finds that Silva had a stimulant in his system.

Later, when the detectives question a man from the hotel, he said Silva was worried that someone would hack into his computer while he was at the hotel. Lupo and Bernard check out the hotel room, and find email documents on Silva’s computer that indicate one of the scientists at the symposium was fudging global warming data. They question Dr Everett Brown, who didn’t know Silva had the documents, and he gets upset, making comments about global warming deniers. He says he never Silva him at breakfast

Back at the 2-7 with Lt Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) they watch the video of Brown supporting Silva on cap & trade and on buying carbon credits. Van Buren wonders if the stock market noticed that as well, and Lupo finds the stock market dropped. She wonder if Silva liked to play the carbon market tells them to talk to his wife.

The detectives speak to Mrs. Dana Silva (Tammy Blanchard) and ask if she knew her husband bought stock options in a carbon emissions trading company last week. They wonder if Silva pressured Brown to support him as he made a lot of money on those short call options when up after Brown’s comments. She says Oscar is no crook and is a decent and honest man.

Back at 2-7, they question Brown who admits that Silva blackmailed him with the emails unless he came out in support of cap and trade. He adds that he overheard Silva making a call, speaking in Portuguese, and his tone was vicious. He says he did not poison him.

The detectives tell Van Buren they verified Brown left the breakfast before Silva arrived. They also find that the vicious call Brown overheard Silva made was to his wife. When the detectives get to the hospital, they find Silva’s wife is going to medi-vac him to Sao Paulo. But they stop her and when she is reluctant to answer their questions they take her down to the 2-7 for questioning. While being questioned with her attorney present, she makes the usual denials. Watching from the observation room, Van Buren and ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) wonder if someone at the Brazilian consulate may have been assisting her in the effort to poison her husband. Rubirosa will get her phone records and wants Mrs. Silva’s passport held.

The detectives tell Van Buren that one man asked for a refund for the conference as they did not attend a single event. Van Buren wonders if they were just creating an alibi. Lupo and Bernard later question the man who is a geeky weather guy who tells them he was in Montana and that the symposium claimed they had a photo of him at the event but it wasn’t even him. It was Phillip Shoemaker (Tony Hale), wearing the other man’s name tag.

The detectives question Shoemaker, who admits he used the ID but did not meet Silva. When he goes on about the beauty of some of the area of Brazil and that he spends few weeks a year there, they ask him if he knows Dana Silva and the claims he does not but seems uncomfortable.

Back at the 2-7, the detectives, with Van Buren, find many phone calls to the Silva home from the main number at Shoemaker’s college and many trips by Shoemaker to Brazil. They wonder if they were having an affair. But when they find files marked “Shoemaker vs. Shoemaker”, Van Buren sees something and immediately places a call to Rubirosa.

At Silva’s hospital bed, EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) is arresting Dana Silva for an outstanding contempt citation as she was once married to Shoemaker and fled the country with their daughter in violation of a shared custody order in so she could marry Silva in Brazil. The judge issued an arrest warrant and granted full custody to Shoemaker. She says that the divorce was ugly and Silva was angry and it cost a lot to for legal fees and that is why Silva needed the money. The argument on the phone with her husband was that she wanted him to come home before Shoemaker found out he was there and have him detained. Lupo wonders that if something happened to her husband in Brazil she would have no ties there and she would come home to the US. But they don’t have enough evidence arrest Shoemaker. They ask if she knows anything that could have made Silva vulnerable, and Dana says that Shoemaker knew that Silva had fainting spells from his high blood pressure.

The detectives are searching Shoemaker’s home, and find a receipt from a PO Box in Hogansburg, New York on the Canadian border and he says it is for maple syrup. Lupo tells Bernard in his intel days, he knew Hogansburg as a staging ground for smuggling. Later, at the home of Vernon Clayton, Vernon admits it is his PO Box and at first denies sending anything harmful, but under pressure he admits he shipped the methyl-p.

When the detectives bring Shoemaker into the 2-7, he and Dana begin a shouting match and Shoemaker has to be restrained and Van Buren closes her office door, keeping Dana inside.

At arraignment, Shoemaker pleads not guilty and his lawyer requests ROR. His attorney Miss Marks outlines the problem with Dana and the child custody issue. The judge sets bail at $500K. Kate Oriss approachs Rubirosa and introduces herself as Dana’s custody lawyer and they are moving to have her custodial rights reinstated.

Back at the DA’s office, Rubirosa tells Cutter and DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) that Dana is moving to have her custody rights reinstated because of what Shoemaker has done. Cutter also finds that Shoemaker has just subpoenaed him in the custody case. McCoy tells them they’d better get the subpoena quashed as it could give Shoemaker a free preview of the case.

In family court, Cutter fights the subpoena. The judge says in this court, her only worry is the best interest of the child. She denies Cutter’s motion and he has to take the stand. Cutter testifies to what he knew about the case, but then is asked if he is the product of a broken home, saying it goes to bias and says his upbringing tainted his bias of Shoemaker. He says his parents divorced when he was 10, it was initiated by his father as he left his mother. His parents were granted shared custody, but his father’s job as a turnaround specialist sent him all over the country and he did not see him much. The attorney brings a declaration from Dana’s former attorney that says Cutter strong armed Dana as he needed an affidavit to search Shoemaker’s apartment. Cutter calls that a slanderous accusation. He said it was his job to get probable cause to search Shoemaker’s home, and when the attorney pressure him that his animosity towards his own father affected his prosecutorial judgment, the judge has her back off and tells Cutter he can step down. Cutter angrily shoves the chair back and storms away from the stand. The judge says it is clear that neither party deserves custody, and she grants temporary custody of Nicole to Dana’ parents, Sharon and Nelson Lehman, pending permanent resolution of the custody order and of the charges against Shoemaker. She orders Dana to make arrangements for Nicole’s immediate return. After this is over, Shoemaker’s attorney serves Cutter and Rubirosa with a motion to throw out their search on t he grounds of Cutter’s bias.

Back in McCoy’s office, Cutter complains about the whole matter, and says if the search is out they can’t make the drug link to Shoemaker. Rubirosa comes in with lab results saying the amount of methyl-p wasn’t enough to give him a stroke. Apparently Silva had a pre-existing aneurism and the methyl-p just blew it out McCoy tells Cutter if he can establish Shoemaker knew about the aneurysm, that would be probably cause for a search of his apartment, Rubirosa adding it would be inevitable discovery and the evidence would stay in. McCoy adds to Cutter, “And your bias stays out.”

At Riker’s Island, Dana tells Cutter and Rubirosa doesn’t remember telling Shoemaker about the aneurism. Her attorney says if they want her help with their case, they should help with her release, saying a voice in her favor may tip the scales. She tells them last summer Shoemaker sued for custody in Brazilian court and he argued that Dana and Oscar were unfit parents and he had to give the attorney his medical records and if there is something in it for her client she can get her co-counsel to dig it up.

Cutter approach the family court judge while he is at a restaurant and tells her what is going on, but she says children are resilient. Cutter tells her that some wounds don’t heal, and leaves her to think about that comment.

Back in family court, the judge says she has decided, for humanitarian reasons, to conditionally release Dana to the custody of her parents, with an ankle monitor. The defense attorney is upset, but the judge is unmoved. Nicole comes in the courtroom and calls for her mommy, but seems to recoil at the sight of Shoemaker, which crushes him. When Dana’s lawyer hands Cutter the file, Rubirosa asks if he feels good about this. Cutter answers, “I haven’t felt good since this case landed on my desk.”

In Cutter’s office, they go over the new evidence with Shoemaker and his attorney. But Shoemaker is angered by this and storms out of the office. Cutter’s phone rings, and then he rushes to turn on the TV where he sees a news story saying Nicole is missing from her grandparents’ house, and also missing is an inflatable boat that was at the house. Dana is shown there with her parents. There is worried that the raft was taken out to sea.

Later, with Cutter and Rubirosa at Dana’s parents’ home, they are both upset, and nelson tells her that Dana was doing yoga when he found Nicole’s doll on the docks and the boat missing. The news blares that the raft has been found, but Nicole is not in there, the boat is empty. A police officer comes in with Nicole, saying he found her asleep in the storage shed behind the boathouse. Dana’s parents take the child away from Dana, telling her to go finish her yoga. As everyone in the room stares at her, Dana is upset, saying she didn’t do anything wrong.

Back at Rubirosa's office, she tells Cutter the Lehmans are moving for sole custody of Nicole and Dana declared an unfit parent and have kicked Dana out of the house. They also claim Oscar Silva is an unfit guardian because of his health, and they attached the Brazilian medical records about Oscar’s aneurism. Cutter notices that the medical records were faxed from New Jersey, Rubirosa tracking it back to a fax number at Shoemaker’s college and suspect Shoemaker is sharing information with them.

Later, McCoy assumes neither party wants to have to visit Nicole in Brazil. But Rubirosa sees that the records were faxed to the Lehmans three months ago. They wonder if they have been working together on poisoning Silva. Cutter also wonders about the whole story with Nicole and the boat.

Cutter and Rubirosa are back at the Lehman home speaking with Sharon Lehman. She seems to get worried when Cutter mentions the chance Nicole will go back to Brazil. Cutter then tells her they can get a subpoena to do a drug test on Nicole to make her sleep, and Rubirosa adds that child services will question her. Sharon admits they didn’t want to lose her again and gave her lemonade with allergy meds in it, and Nelson took her out to the shed to sleep and then set the boat out. They love her so much, and Shoemaker knew nothing about this ruse.

Down at the 2-7, the Lupo and Bernard, along with Cutter and Rubirosa, have Nelson Lehman in interrogation. It seems Nelson bought the methyl-p, but he denies it, until they pressure him with charging his wife he admits that he poisoned Silva, and said Shoemaker had nothing to do with it. He says he shipped the methyl-p to Shoemaker so he would not involve his wife. He refuses to implicate anyone else.

Back in Cutter’s office, Cutter complains to McCoy that Lehman is taking the fall. McCoy tells him to take the plea and maybe later Lehman will want to deal.

At the allocution hearing, Nelson Lehman says what he did and why. Cutter decides to ask about the shipping of the poison, and he calls Shoemaker to the stand to corroborate the statement. Shoemaker gets on the stand and seems to corroborate Nelson’s story . Cutter tries to cut holes in his story, but Shoemaker says that after three years, he has no attachment to his daughter and she is dead to him and he is moved on. Cutter asks him what his daughter will think when she reads the transcripts when she gets older, that he just publicly disowned his daughter, and Shoemaker begins to waffle, admitting he loves his daughter. Cutter says, “I can tell you from experience Mr. Shoemaker that kids don’t forget, and they don’t forgive.” Shoemaker says that Cutter tricked him and he would do anything for Nicole, even poison Oscar Silva. He then goes on to say, pointing at the Silvas, how they stole her from him. He breaks down crying.

Back in McCoy’s office, McCoy tells Cutter, “Two guilty pleas. You look like someone ran over your dog." Cutter says he won, but Nicole lost. Rubirosa says this is why she never went into family law, because of the heartbreak. McCoy tells her “Heartbreak is everywhere in this job…as you both know. Take consolation in getting the right result. It’s a good day’s work.” Cutter say, “Yeah, but not a good day.”

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Anonymous said...

the CSU women said the brazilian government had requested detectives on the scene or something like that. GREAT EPISODE!

Anonymous said...

I hate to complain about any Cutter episode, and I love finding out more on his life, but this episode bugged as I don't see a) a judge letting Cutter's past come in like that (they could easily let Cutter be overzealous and Connie figure it out and b) the father at the end now suddenly declares his daughter dead to him? Dumb.

I also agree, it's Connie's turn about her past.

All Things Law and Order said...

Anonymous - thanks, I went back and listened to it again and caught it. Now it made me wonder, why didn't the Major Case squad get the case? OK...nevermmind, I know I am overthinking it!

Tripp3235, yeah, that was a little weird too. I wonder if family court issues the judges are a little looser with those kinds of things?

Shelly said...

While I liked this ep, I didn't love it. I thought they threw just a bit too much at it. I liked the basic premise but when they went down the "balloon boy" road with the part about the girl missing, I rolled my eyes. I think I would have liked it better had they come up with another way to show that the girl's mother wasn't attentive, and to show the strain between the mother and her parents.

I think this was the show's weakest show since they came back after the Olympics. But they have set the bar high because the previous eps have been really outstanding.

Btw, All Things, I don't know if you're responsible for the change in appearance of your blog, or if the blog site did it, but I really like it. Your blogs are easier on the eyes, easier to follow, etc. And thanks as always for your review.

All Things Law and Order said...

Shelly, Blogger made some new template styles available which allowed me to make the columns a lot wider and I think it also helped make the fonts bigger. It also allows videos to show up a little large too. I think they allowed for some of these changes because so many of tne newer PCs have big HD screens and there is so much more space to work with. The minute they gave me the ability to make those changes I re-did all the formats on all my blogs. I am glad it helped!

Anonymous said...

Now it made me wonder, why didn't the Major Case squad get the case?

It might have been considered inappropriate. What happened to Oscar Silva wasn't a commercial theft or a kidnapping case.

Anonymous said...

Law & Order may be even better now than it ever has been.

Azertynin said...

Thank you for the recap/review !
Can someone post full transcript on the conversation between Cutter and defense attorney when he is speaking of his childhood ?
I'm not English and I didn't understand everything. Thank you in advance. :)

Lee Gibson said...

After a string of good episodes this season, this one was a dud. The look into Cutter's character was interesting, but the storyline was too improbable even for TV. But everyone strikes out sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Yes, now that I've had time to digest it, I really do hate to keep complaining on any episode that gives us character background, especially where it can give us driving factors to a character's motivation but this was all done in an shoe horned way.

Maybe it's just that this should have preceded Innocence, which was so wonderfully done. I still don't get why it was needed to put Cutter up on the stand, it couldn't match the suspense and pain of Lupo's testimony weeks earlier. The audience knew nothing of Mike's past, we saw no evidence of Mike being overzealous in anyway and even though it was revealed early on, nothing really came out of it.

Anonymous said...

Who was Nelson Lehman? Can't find him credited?

Tåm¥ said...

Please what season and episode is this? I'm trying to find it, but I can't...

All Things Law and Order said...

Season 20 episode 18, aired on March 29, 2010