The season 9 premiere of Law & Order Criminal Intent opened with part 1 of “Loyalty”, a very intense episode which signaled a big change for the show. News was out long before the episode aired that one of the three main characters – Goren, Eames, Ross – would not be alive when the episode ended. In an act that will have mixed feelings for fans – Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian) exits the episode in a body bag. While this event is troublesome as no one likes to see a main character die on the show, this means that Goren and Eames will live on after Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe exit the show after Part 2 of “Loyalty”. This also means their characters may live to see another day somewhere in the Law & Order Universe (one can hope!).
This was a somewhat complicated episode but it was required in order to set up Danny Ross’ undercover work for the FBI which led to his murder. Goren is worried that their continued snooping around after Ross told them to back off may have contributed to his killing, and maybe Goren and Eames should have known better that when Ross didn’t give them the usual “nod and a wink” that they should have tread very carefully. All the actors were at the top of their game in this episode, with the segment at the scene of Ross’ murder showing D’Onofrio and Erbe pulling out all the emotional stops to relay their shock and grief. It was hard not to get choked up. The differences in acting style was evident – maybe even a little jarring – when Jeff Goldblum made his appearance as Zach Nichols. It still made sense to pull him into this case as Zach worked for Ross and also had a history with him, but it is clear that Nichols is wired differently than Goren and Eames. Goren and Eames are also likely at different places in their heads with Major Case, working there as long as they have, so maybe they are showing more wear and tear. I think this is by design, as we will see their exits in next week’s episode. While I was not a huge fan of Bogosian when he first came to Law & Order Criminal Intent, I think that they eventually gave his character more purpose and I became very comfortable with him in this role. One thing is for sure; his exit will surely be remembered by fans.
Here is the recap:
In the Indian Ocean, a pleasure yacht sees another ship approach and yells that they are pirates. They arm themselves and shoot at what seem like defenseless occupants, eventually blowing up the ship. They take a piece of cloth floating in the water from the ship and wave it like a flag and applaud their success. Later, at a party, a group watches the video of the shooting and the host tells them to enjoy. Afterward, the host tells another mystery man that he’s taken some of the people from that ship and he can make a profit off them. The mystery man says he found someone clean – a New York City police captain who is struggling to recover from a nasty divorce. Meanwhile, in New York City a couple talks about the people killed on the ship. The man killed was a sheik, and the woman tells him the man’s death means the fun is over for him – Hassan – and it is time for him to seek guidance.
Elsewhere, mystery man (David Pittu) is talking with Captain Danny Ross at a restaurant about creating a law enforcement area for northern Somalia for an area called “Puntland” whose current government borders on anarchy. When Ross expresses concern about pirates, mystery man says Ross can turn that around with the latest technology.
The man from the yacht is in New York City, going out with a woman, getting into the back seat of a car. Later, we see the car pull up to the water’s edge, and the back door opens, and we see them both dead. Someone takes the cloth that was taken from the blown up “pirate” ship and ties it around the neck of the dead woman.
The next day, Detectives Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe), along with ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) inspect the body of a woman washed up on the bank of the East River. She appears to have expensive tastes in attire, jewelry, and in her appearance. Eames notices she is wearing one article of clothing, cheap sari cloth, that is cheap and is a “glitch” in her fashion statement, and Goren wonders if it is even hers. While at that scene, Goren gets a call telling him that another body has been located off Governor’s Island; it is a man with a single shot to the head, who also is wearing a very expensive watch. Goren thinks the killer wants them to know it is not about money.
In Captain Danny Ross’ office, he comments that John and Jane Doe were both shot execution style and dumped in the East River. They are trying to identify the bodies, and Goren adds he checked on the watch, which is a Sky Moon Tourbillon and you can only buy those in person from Patek Phillippe in Geneva. Ross hopes the limited client list will help, Goren saying the watch costs over a million dollars. Ross says whatever this man did, he did it far better than he has done. Eames gets a call and tells them that Rodgers is ready. They head to the morgue and ME Rodgers says both victims were shot with a .22 hollow point, and Ross hopes that they can get info of the bullet. She also says they were killed around 11 PM and after a very lavish meal and he drank more wine. She opens the bottle of his stomach contents and holds it to Ross, who reluctantly sniffs it. He says it is too yeasty and he will go with champagne. The caviar dish they ate is likely served in a limited number of restaurants, but Goren asks about the breast implants, and Rodgers says she knows, they have serial numbers.
The detectives are at the office of Dr. Malcome Laventhal, and they find the implants belong to Marya Onegin, 29 years old. She had a fiance who was an older man, who seemed rich, and he identifies the other body as that man; he said he heard they were heading to Africa for big game.
Elsewhere, another man asks Hassan (Ato Essandoh) what he knows about his grandfather, and Hassan comments that he was known as the Mad Mullah. The man gives him poems so he will know of his heritage. The man utters a phrase in another language and tells Hassan not to worry, he will help him. Hassan later runs to a car where a blond woman – Jill (Jicky Schnee) – waits – and she asks about the memorial services. He tells her he can’t invite her and she understands.
Elsewhere, Eames is trying to catch Captain Ross but holds up when she sees him talking with a woman at her car.
Back at the Major Case Squad, Eames tells Goren they have an ID for the male victim – Taras Broidy. The files are redacted as there is a pending federal indictment for possible illegal weapons trading. The FBI copied Ross on the indictment so he knew about it before they did, and Goren wonders why he didn’t tell them. Eames thinks Ross has other things on his mind and tells Goren about seeing Ross with a woman, and they both seem happy about it.
Elsewhere, Ross is meeting with the mystery man in an out of the way location for privacy, referencing exploring employment opportunities. He says he is on board, pending a certain detail – money. The man offers 2 million for a 2 year contract, and Ross wants travel and expenses, the man throws in use of the corporate jet. They talk about payment and the man mentions Cook Islands Trust, saying they know all the tricks. Ross agrees to the deal. Later, we see Ross talking to his mystery woman, looking out on the river, telling her he thinks he sold his soul. But someone is watching– and taking pictures.
The detectives inspect Broidy’s apartment, and Goren notices photos of war criminals on his wall. They find lots of photos of travels, plus all his meds. His daughter Jolie arrives, asking about her father, she tells them she was in Scotland visiting her mom. She has animosity towards her father’s girlfriend as she thinks he was “working” him. The name of her father’s security company was Damocles Security and he always had bodyguards, she tells them to check with his partner.
At Damocles Security, they speak with his partner Van Dekker (John Sharian) and he says he will be happy to provide an alibi. He also tells the detectives there are no “silent partners” in the company.
Back at the Major Case Squad, Goren and Eames update Ross, and he asks them if they noticed the FBI file for Broidy was redacted, and tells them they were redacted for a reason, and they want a moratorium on this and he is honoring the FBI’s request. The detectives question why, and he says he is not contesting jurisdiction and there will be no more warrants and no interviews. When Eames asks if they have a name of who is in charge, Ross shuts them down completely and tells them to organize their files and put them on his desk and he will see that they get it, and he walks out of his office. Eames asks Goren if he was waiting for what she was waiting for, and Goren comments about not getting the wink and the nod that tells them to proceed with the case.
Back at their desks, Eames shows Goren some emails she found on Broidy’s computer, and it is an email from Roy Lofton to Broidy which says “2mil for 2yrs. Ross approved.” Eames says they will ask him about it. Eames says the FBI looked at Lofton as a weapons transport person and he has air space at Patterson airport.
At the airport, Goren begins to take photos of an airplane and says he wanted to see a special airplane, pretending to be an airplane geek. He tries to take a picture of Lofton and asks if he is a cop and asks what department he is in. Goren asks why that would matter, and Lofton says he will go over his head. Goren asks who he will go to, and Lofton makes a call saying they have an unauthorized person in the hangar
Elsewhere, Jill is hanging pictures on a wall and Hassan approaches her, and they kiss. But Kadra walks in and interrupts them. When Jill walks out, Kadra tells Hassan that Jill can no longer be a part of things. His phone rings, and Jill enters and asks Kadra for a hand. Hassan tells the caller they will have to take action.
Back at Major Case, Ross is looking at Lofton’s file and puts it in a drawer when Goren walks in, telling him it looks like they made a decent start. He also tells Goren he can read the look, it’s hard being pulled off a case. Goren says he understands, but says there are a lot of questions. Ross says he is sure there are, but he can’t give him any assurances. They stare at each other and Ross asks if there is anything else and Goren says no, nothing.
Ross, walking outside, gets into the back seat of a car, and a man tell him that is for him. Ross opens an envelope and sees a photo of him with the woman, and he turns and the man shoots him point blank, killing him. (Viewers - pause to weep!)
Later, Eames get a shocking phone call.
ME Rodgers is on the scene as Goren and Eames arrive, and Rodgers is beside herself. She says it was a small caliber weapon. When Goren moves to get to the crime scene, she yells to him they won’t let him in there as they have their own people, and they attempt to restrain Goren as he tries to move in closer. Meanwhile, Ross’ mystery woman is there, she identifies herself as Agent Stahl and says Ross was killed working a federal assignment and they know the law. Eames says she saw Stahl with Ross, and she admits Ross was undercover and she was his contact. Goren is angry, saying they lost him on the FBI’s RICO case. Eames says this is not about politics, he was their friend. Stahl tells him that Ross was contacted by Lofton for a job offer to set up a police force in northern Somalia, and they told him to go along with it and the FBI told him to go along with it as a cover. When Stahl says nobody regrets it more than we do, Goren gets upset and say, “ Aww c’mon with the regrets! You can’t keep us from there! We do what our boss tells us, you’re not our boss, our boss is over there! You’re not stopping us!” The detectives pass the agents and move to the scene where Ross is being placed in the body bag. Eames fights back tears and an equally anguished Goren consoles her. As they walk off, Goren says he thinks their investigation got Ross killed, admitting he ambushed Lofton who took him for a cop. Eames says they don’t have time to torture themselves, they have to beat the FBI to his files.
Back at Major Case, they look through the files, and as they do so, Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) comes in and cautions them about them trying to take the hard drive from the computer., saying it is theft. He says he just spent the last hour trying to console Danny’s sister and Ross was his former partner. Goren asks if he has as screwdriver, and Nichols gives him a flash drive to download the information.
Elsewhere in a parking garage Lofton speaks with “Russell” who expresses concerns over the death of a NY City police captain, but Lofton says he has deniability. Russell says this is an outrage, and Lofton says his side was not involved. Russell tells him without the captain they can’t legally ship the weapons. Lofton says they have a plan B, it was not a matter of choice, and Russell says that Lofton said the same thing about Broidy and the woman and it is all coming from the other side. Russell tell him to move things along and don’t contact him.
Back at Major Case, Nichols enters the office where Goren is working and brings them article about a sheik who was lost at sea between Djibouti and Somalia. Goren finds photos that seem to be taken from the same area from Broidy’s yacht. Eames notices the cloth the sheik’s wife was wearing in the photo looks like the cloth that Broidy’s girlfriend was wearing when her body was found. They see s stranger enter and he comes to the office where they are working. It is Lt. Stanley Maas (David Zayas) and the Chief of D’s sent him there to maintain order, he says he knows they searched and asked what they find. They tell him very little and he tells them until he gets a memo saying the case is not theirs that it still belongs to Major Case and to pull warrants and do whatever it takes.
At an industrial warehouse, Hassan is there with Lofton and Van Dekker looking at weapons. They go outside to test the weapon and Hassan fires a missile that hones in on a small fire and it hits it and explodes.
Later, Goren serves Van Dekker with a warrant and he and Nichols begin a search of his office. Nichols tells Van Dekker that there is a law on the books since George Washington that allows them to prosecute pirates wherever they are apprehended. An officer finds a hidden gun in the outer office when Eames show it to them, Nichols arrests Van Dekker. Meanwhile, the man that shot Ross looks on from another area in the office.
Back at Major Case, Nichols, Eames and Goren look over the case files, Maas enters and tells them he gave the gun to FBI labs to be tested, saying their lab is the last place they will look.
Elsewhere, FBI Agent Stahl is talking with another agent who says headquarters says they can have the federal attorney and six marshals there within the hour. Stahl asks if all the paperwork will be done, with the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed, as she wants loaded dice for these pricks.
At Major Case, Nichols has Van Dekker in interrogation about the contradictions in his behavior, and Van Dekker blows some of it off as professional risk. Meanwhile, the man from Van Dekker's office who killed Ross has caught Lofton unaware and shoots him. As Nichols continues to question Van Dekker, Van Dekker gets flip and asks for lunch.
Hassan, elsewhere, has received a call and tells Kadra that they will have transport but she says it is too easy and she hope the Americans won’t interfere. He wonders if the Americans arranged this plane as part of their plan. She says in Somalia he can dismantle the GPS, and Hassan says – or not. She says she was once worried her brother was not ruthless enough to rule.
Back at Major Case while Nichols is in interrogation, Goren and Eames are watching and Maas comes in, saying he got the ballistics – and something else. They walk out of the observation room and Goren and Eames walk into interrogation as Maas heads off the FBI entourage that has entered Major Case.
Van Dekker is going on in interrogation and Goren shows him a photo that shows Lofton is dead. The FBI serves Maas with papers and says he has to look it over, and they tell him to read fast. He closes the office door on them. Back in interrogation while Van Dekker eats lunch, they show him the car that was on the scene where Lofton was shot belongs to Damocles Security, and the gun found in his office matched the gun that shot Captain Ross. Van Dekker says it was planted, and Nichols wonders if he could be right. With detectives planting concerns that Van Dekker may be next on the hit list, he tells them that killing the captain was stupid and was not part of it. He wants a deal and he wants the DA there in order to discuss it first. But the FBI enters and Maas says they have to stop as the FBI has the paperwork and Van Dekker must go into their custody. As they exit interrogation, Goren complains about this and is worried Van Dekker will jump bail and leave the country, or get killed. Stahl says they have bigger priorities and Goren is upset, saying that their captain is dead and that is a big priority. He makes a move for Van Dekker but Maas stops him. Eames tells him when he clears federal arraignment they can arrest him on a different charge, Nichols adding if Van Dekker is still alive. When Nichols asks who is running the show, Goren says they are a long way from knowing that, and he walks off as we fade to black.
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