Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Law & Order SVU “Bedtime” Recap & Review
Law & Order “Bedtime” is not an episode that will put you to sleep, although it does seem like the guest stars came from executive producer Neal Baer’s dreams or fantasies. The episode featured stars from decades past: Ann-Margret, Morgan Fairchild, Susan Anton, and Jaclyn Smith. Ann-Margret was downright creepy in her role (I mean that in a complementary way). Her gaping mouth (when asked if she’d give a DNA swab) almost sent me screaming from the room. She was almost too convincingly nutty in her scenes with the SVU detectives. The episode was also a study in what can happen when too many cosmetic procedures ruin a nice face (but I don't have Ann-Margret in this group since she has never looked the same after her fall from a stage in 1971). OK, Morgan Fairchild looked fabulous.
Maybe I am watching too many crime shows, but I knew exactly how this was going to end the minute that Susan Delzio opened her door and wouldn’t let the detectives into her home. In fact, at one point, I found myself yelling out to Benson and Stabler “Hey! Check to see if Delzio had been a blonde!” and “Hey! Have you noticed that Delzio is a common thread in the Cutler murder!” etc. etc. It was a shame that they let the “Bedtime Butcher” story get resolved too early as it was very interesting, and afterwards the show spiraled into an almost humorous, "campy" tone after the Butcher was nabbed. I also believe that airing SVU at 10 PM now means they can show scenes like the Benson “boob grab, ” which may have offended delicate eyes at 9 PM. (I am wondering if they got a stand-in breast for that scene.) It was nice to see Mariska acting in an undercover scene where her undercover disguise was not an evening gown or slinky dress (she did a nice job in that scene, by the way).
Since I watched this episode immediately after watching the season opener of Law & Order Criminal Intent, it was almost impossible for me to take “Bedtime” seriously. But "campy" can still be enjoyable!
Here is the recap:
Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) are called to the scene of the murder of Jane Whitmore, who was found dead in her bed. ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) puts the time of death between 9-11 PM. Whitmore was raped, and also is marked with an “X” cut into her cheek. She appears to be a journalist, and her computer seems to be missing.
The detectives speak with her boss who has nothing but good things to say about Jane, and she loved to go undercover for dangerous assignments. Jane pitched her a story about Morris Austibau, a hedge fund manager who bilked millions from investors. She had not talked to Jane in a while, but Jane emailed her saying she was going to meet up with Austibau.
At Eternal Peace Mortuary, Morris is working a pet cremation service, and he says he turned his life around through pet therapy. He called Jane a bitch, saying she lied and took advantage of him, she threw himself at him and when she found he was on the up and up, she dumped him. She just called him one more time and asked him for the address of Harmony Home where he was assigned after prison , which he says is a “pit.” The detectives wonder if she was trying to check them out.
At Harmony House, the detectives talk with the manager who says Jane was a resident for 10 days and says she was a nut job, getting into people’s faces. She would bring in her groceries but he never saw her eat.
Benson and Stabler check out her cupboard and while doing so another woman comes in an yells at them. Stabler shows her his badge and she says it is a fake. She says the food hers and Jane’s. Her name is Francine. They tell her Jane is dead, and Francine says people did not trust Jane as she did not fit in there. She mentions a problem with a grabby jerk who works there and what you need to do with him to get what you want or need, and the last time she saw Jane she was off to see him.
Back at the SVU precinct, Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek ) is looking over the file of Ned Bogden (William Atherton) who is the senior benefits administrator for public assistance. There are no complaints in his file and has many commendations. Cragen worries if they take a swing at Bogden and miss it will be their asses on a plate. Benson says, “So we won’t miss.”
At the Welfare Benefits Bureau, Benson is there undercover talking with Bogden as a person with troubles who has nowhere to go. He says she is lucky she found him. He has her fill out some forms and gets up from his chair and goes to his door, closing the blinds. He moves right behind her and moves in close to her. When she worries about everything going through OK, he tells her to do everything he says and he will guarantee it. He touches her shoulders and rubs her, moving down her arm. When she asks about filling in her employer he tells her to jot down her last job, and as she says the words “Special….Victims…” his hand moves to grab her breast and she finished the sentence, “Unit.. Did I not mention that?” as she pulls his arm off her, pulls it behind him and cuffs him. He says, “You’re a cop” and Benson replies, “And you…are a creep!”
With Bogden in interrogation with Stabler and Benson , Cragen and Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) watch from the observation room. He tries to explain that women are coming on to him. Benson mentions his hand on her breast and he says she moved the wrong way. They show her photos of Jane’s body and he seems appalled. They tell him they think that Jane was going to expose him to the world, and he says that is fiction. Meanwhile, Cragen asks Huang if the M.O. sounds familiar, and Huang says he’s not the first to disfigure a victim. But Cragen seems to remember something, saying Bogden is the first in 30 years to carve an X into a woman’s cheek, and he goes off to check out something. While Cragen is checking, Benson and Stabler continue question Bogden, but Cragen says to himself, “I know who you are, you son of a bitch.”
Later, Cragen has Benson Stabler and Huang together and tells them about the "Bedtime Butcher” who was responsible for 5 murders in the mid-1970s with the same MO. Cragen’s buddy Albert Cayman worked day and night on the case and never nailed him. While Cayman is now dead, he left a ton of evidence and files.
Benson and Stabler go through the old files which show that the Bedtime Butcher killed first in 1973 and his last was in 1976, and Cragen says Bogden got hired at his current job in 1976, 3 months after the last woman was murdered. They wonder if he got his thrill from women at his job. There was no DNA from the old files but they will get whatever they have to Warner. Huang thinks that Bogden would confess if tricked into it; he thinks each one of his victims were not picked randomly and they had set him off. If they find the connection to each victim, Bogden may crack.
Later, Benson and Stabler go over the old victims of the Bedtime Butcher with Bogden: Gloria Kelly, who he worked for tending bar in 1973 and she fired him; Elizabeth Giles, where he was a substitute teacher for her daughter in 1974; Anne Witherspoon, murdered in 1975, who won a post doc that Bogden applied for; Emily Cutler, murdered in 1976, who lived in a luxury building nearby; Catherine Price, also in 1976 where they both ran in a road running club together. Bogden gets irate and says their whole case falls apart if one link snaps, and he says he does not know Emily Cutler as in April 1976 he was in Cheyenne Wyoming at a men’s retreat and he can prove it. But ME Warner enters, asking if he can prove he didn’t leave dandruff all over Jane’s body. Stabler lunges for Bogden’s jacket and grabs it, and when Bogden objects, Stabler tells him he is in his custody and he can do whatever he wants. Warner takes a sample from the jacket and leaves the room. Benson says, “You’re cooked. See you in Sing-Sing.” As she walks out, Bogden yells that he had sex with her but he didn’t kill her and didn’t kill any of them.
In the lab, Warner shows that the Bogden’s DNA matches what was found on Jane’s body. She also found flakes on the other victim’s clothing. When Stabler says "case closed," Warner says “Almost” and asks if they checked his alibi for Emily Cutler yet. She thinks he WAS in Cheyenne, as there was no dandruff from Bogden on Emily’s clothes. She adds there is no way he could have killed her, as Emily was a redhead and she found one blonde hair on her nightgown that is degraded but she can tell that it is female, meaning Emily was killed by a woman.
Later, in the squad room, Benson gets a call saying the Bogden is being arraigned as the Bedtime Butcher and is going down hard – with the exception of the murder of Emily Cutler. Benson says she never would have pegged a woman for the killing, and Stabler quips, “Try missing an anniversary.” Cragen comes in with information on women in Emily’s life, all connected by her husband Cal Cutler who owned Cal’s Corral, the “Mattress Maestro”. As they watch his corny commercials, they go over the files which speak to problems with the Cutler marriage. When they decide to speak with Cutler, Cragen tells them to take a shovel, Cal died in a drunken driving accident soon after his wife’s murder. But Benson sees the name Susan Delzio in the file, the patrol cop who responded to every one of the calls to the Cutler household.
At Susan Delzio’s (Jaclyn Smith) apartment, she steps out into the hall as she has painters working inside converting a bedroom into a studio. They asked her about Cutler, who she said was a jerk that had strange girlfriends, some who threatened Emily. He told the officers to just get the girls out and not to file charges. She doesn’t have her memo books anymore with their names but said each time she showed up it was a new girl, each girl was blonde and always built – except for the last call. It came in from the TV studio, one of the blondes came in and slapped Mrs. Cutler. Besides Emily, there was another woman at the shoot – older, bossy, knew who everyone was – it was Cal Cutler’s agent, Maude Monahan.
At Maude’s, she says Cal as her client and she says she liked Emily but this was business, the customers wanted to see blondes and she could supply them. She doesn’t recall who attacked Emily. She picked out three of the nuttiest blondes, Jenny Coswold, Claire Lockton, and Rita Wills.
At SVU, Delzio says Jenny put the flowerpot through the Cutler’s front window. We then see the detectives speak with Jenny (Susan Anton) who is at a kid’s birthday party, who says she was young and stupid. Cal promised he would leave his wife and then he dumped her. Delzio goes on to Claire, who said Cal begged her not to arrest her; she dropped a firebomb down the Cutler mail slot. We then see the detectives speak with Claire (Morgan Fairchild) was works at a law firm. She says she hated Emily and Cal said Emily made her write a letter dumping her so she put something down his mail slot that she knew he wouldn’t forget. Delzio then speaks about Rita Wills, who barged into the studio and slapped Mrs. Cutler. The detectives then speak with Rita Wills, who says the bitch was keeping them apart, so she went over there, and had a few “pops” beforehand. She said he loved sweet talk. As the scenes jump between all these ladies, some have regrets, some, like Rita, says those commercials were her big break. They all agree to a DNA swab.
Back at the SVU precinct, Delzio says that Jenny spit at her, Claire was in tears, and Rita slapped her after she slapped Mrs. Cutler. Huang says they were all physically volatile and emotionally immature – a scary combination, and obsessive love lead to rejection can lead to explosive consequences. But Cragen says none of these woman has committed a crime since. Stabler says he’s vote is for Rita as she is “cuckoo for cocoa puffs” and Benson wonders about Jenny, who is obsessed, and Huang agrees. Delzio thinks it is Rita. Warner comes in and says that she analyzed a swatch from the mattress and came up with a different blood type, and the DNA is a perfect match to….(she doesn’t finish).
The next we see, Stabler and Benson are at Rita’s door, and she is clearly had a few too many to drink. She steps outside, and they accuse her of killing Emily Cutler. When she turns and says the conversation is over, Stabler moves to arrest her and Rita breaks the martini glass she is holding and shoves it toward Stabler as she screams. She suddenly gets calm an apologizes as they take her away.
In SVU interrogation with a cup of coffee, Rita continues to apologize. She says when she has a few drinks she can get crazy. She denies killing Emily, and then she reaches for her flask and pours some liquor into her coffee. She says Cal loved her and he was trying to figure out a way to stash some money and marry her. They tell her a woman killed Emily and DNA says it was her as her DNA was at the crime scene. She says she can explain the blood on the bed. Cal was desperate to find a way to let her go, and said he needed her help and if she did it they could be together. They started drinking and gave in… and she made love to him in their bed. Cal wanted Emily to come in on them, but then her “friend” came early – her period – and she bled all over the sheets and soaked into the mattress and Emily never came home. Rita says Cal wanted to throw the sheets away but she saved the sheet because she loved them, and tells them to check her apartment.
Benson and Stabler get to Rita’s apartment, and they find what looks like a shrine to Cal with everything she kept on Cal. Stabler sees a picture with Die Bitch Die written by Emily, and Benson finds a diary making comments about Emily going away. Stabler finds the bloody sheets. Benson finds a note where she says she killed for Cal and she should burn for him, it was just before Cal was burned in the car crash.
Benson and Stabler tell Cragen what they found, and Cragen wants them to get a full confession. They bring in the diary and question Rita and Stabler reads part of it back to her. She says it is not what they think. She denies killing Emily, she says she killed her baby, she found out she was pregnant two weeks after Emily was killed and could not wait to tell Cal. But he was not thrilled at the news and told her to get rid of IT. She didn’t want to have an abortion but she got an infection in her uterus and found she could never have another child. The Cal said it was God’s plan and then he said it was over. She wanted him to suffer like she suffered, and she admits that she killed Cal. She said she wanted to meet him one last time and he met her in a crummy bar and got him drunk, they were both smashed and then she tried to get him to change his mind about them and he got in his car and left, she never saw him again. She said she killed him because he got so drunk she should have taken his keys. She says she loved him so much.
Later, ME Warner tells Benson and Stabler that Rita is telling the truth, Warner shows her findings agree with the original 1976 autopsy that “the deceased” was killed while in the car crash and then burned in the ensuing fire. When Stabler says they disturbed Cal for nothing, Warner says they didn’t disturb Cal at all, because this body is not Cal. This man was no taller than 5’8” and Cal was 6’2”. The man in the coffin was James Rogers, a prison transient. It seems Cutler faked his own death. Warner suggests they talk to the person who was the last one to release Rogers on that day.
Back at SVU, Delzio is walking with Benson, commenting they seem intent to get her back on the force. Benson says they have a few more questions on the Emily Cutler case- like why she killed her and why she faked Cal’s death. But Delzio asks if this is a joke and says Benson is making a serious mistake. The next we see of Delzio she is in interrogation, rattling off her accomplishments. But Benson says she was a rookie 35 years ago, and reminds her that she said when she met Cal she had stars in her eyes. She denies being involved with him, and Benson shows her a younger picture of Delzio when she had blonde hair. But Benson continues to press her, saying she tried to make everyone think Emily was killed by the Bedtime Butcher, and then made Cal believe he was going down for the murder and convinced him he was a suspect and the only way out was to fake his own death. Benson tells her that James Rogers was killed in the car crash. She asks Benson where is Cal, calling her a dumb bitch. Stabler comes into the room, saying that Cal is in her apartment, the one she would not let them into because painters were inside. Stabler lets Cal into the room and Delzio runs toward him. He looks badly burned, Stabler saying that the car didn’t burn up as planned and Cal went down there to drench it in gasoline. Benson says life together became a life sentence. Benson asks why Cal would stay, when Delzio murdered his wife. Delzio says Cal really was going to leave Emily, Delzio went to get his things and she wasn’t supposed to be there and she flew into a rage and it just happened, and she breaks down into Cal’s arms, adding that he forgave her and she loves him since the day she met him and they just wanted to get together forever. Benson says forever just ended, and begins to pull them apart as Delzio says “no…no.” Benson reads Delzio her rights and takes her away, and Stabler stands in the interrogation room with Cal as they watch, as we fade to black.
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