Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Law & Order SVU “Conned” Recap & Review

All photos from NBC

I think they called this episode of Law & Order SVU “Conned” as you may have been conned into thinking that you’d see a good episode. On the contrary, this episode was one of those unusual episodes that I classify as a “dog.” Benson and Stabler fans, don’t blink or you will miss the few scenes with Mariska Hargitay and/or Chris Meloni. The episode was heavy on the clichéd psychobabble from Dr. Huang, and I find that if Huang has too much screen time or too many things to say, I find my eyes glazing over and my ears tuning out. (It was the same feeling I used to get watching Star Trek The Next Generation when empath Deanna Troi use to go on about “sensing” things which were usually things that were obvious to anyone with a brain. But I digress.)

I didn’t particularity care for the victim – I am not sure if it was the actor or the awful lines they gave him. I find that if I can’t feel any sympathy for the victim, the whole episode leaves me with nothing. Certainly the crime committed against him was awful, but they may have spent too much time on Fin and his son, which detracted from the victim’s story. It also seemed a little too much of a coincidence that Ken would have such a direct connection to the victim.

It never ceases to amaze me at how trusting people in New York City are – at least in the eyes of the SVU writers. That old lady gave Fin the mail she was holding for Ken, and as far as I can tell, he never showed her his police ID, much less have any proof that Ken was really his son. While I am on the subject of Ken, it seemed somewhat ludicrous that while Ken recites a litany of places that Andrew may have gone to crash, he and Fin only appear to check one hospital and one hotel until they land on The Met, where luckily Andrew happens to be. I can understand why they would only show them checking one place each, but really, in the New York City area, how many hotel conference rooms would Fin and Ken have to check, since the city is filled with hotels? Why didn’t they start with the one place there was only ONE of – The Met?

Here is the recap:

Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni), along with ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) are at the scene of a murder, the victim found in the storage room of a hotel where a wedding reception was being held. Warner found fluids. They speak with the couple who found the body, and he said he saw the guy at the reception, and she said the bride was auguring with the guy and her father had him thrown out. They speak to the bride and groom and the bride’s father, and find the father threw him out. Fin (Ice-T) sees this on the security videotape, sees him with a cell phone (that was not on his body) and then in the lobby, and thinks someone from the reception let him back in the back door. They also see him getting into an elevator with another man who was at the reception, and see the two guys kiss. Fin questions the other man and finds out he is the bride’s godfather. He says the men’s name is Jack and he charged him $200. He also said Jack stole his Rolex.

Later, Stabler tells Fin the victim is 16 years old and his name is Andrew Hingham, and he must have used a fake name when he picked up the other guy. When Fin asks where he found the wallet, Munch (Richard Belzer) walks in wearing dumpster diving attire and says he found it in the trash. Since the kitchen staff are the only people who have access to the area, they question them and hone in on one guy and they find he is wearing the watch. He admits when they heard the body was there and others went to get security, he took the watch and the wallet but there was no money in the wallet.

Back in the SVU precinct, the kitchen guy and the godfather are locked up in the cells but Cragen et al don’t really suspect either of them. Meanwhile, Benson and Stabler are notifying Andrew’s parents. Captain Don Cragen ) Dann Florek) comments that considering the condition of Andrew’s face to spare the parents the trauma of identifying their con.

At the home of Joyce Hingham (Kristin Griffith), she is distraught over the news. She raised him alone and he suffered from depression. She wants to see her son but they do not think she should. She said Andrew ran away 7 months ago and they talk every week on Skype and she is waiting for his call. Suddenly she hears the Skype ringtone and races to the computer because she doesn’t Skype with anyone but Andrew. It is Andrew (John Magaro) and he is alive, but looking beaten and acting shaken, and Benson gets on the line and says she needs him to come home. He is alarmed that they are cops and tells his mother not to tell them anything, and he cuts the connection.

Later, Joyce Hingham walks into Cragen’s office and he is apologetic. When he tells her that the victim was a homosexual prostitute, she gets upset at Cragen’s implication that her son knew him. She insists he is not gay, saying last summer he was accused of raping a girl, but a deal was brokered where it was agreed Andrew belonged in a hospital and not a jail because of his mental illness. He was diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia and was hospitalized for a few months and he escaped with a bunch of patients.

Afterwards, Cragen discussed the matter with Fin and Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) who says most schizophrenics aren’t a danger to themselves or others. He also says the earlier the schizophrenia hits, the harder it is to treat. Munch enters and tells them that the photographer sent him the photos from the reception and the victim wasn’t the only party crasher. They see Andrew Hingham in the photo and it sees Andrew and Jack were together and wonder if Andrew got jealous when he saw Jack go off with the other guy. Cragen tells Munch and Fin to release Andrew’s picture to the press to try to get him off the street, and tells Huang to check with his colleagues at Bellevue to find out a ward of patients in lockdown managed to fly the cuckoo’s nest. Huang said he will try to start with Dr. Stanton, who was treating Andrew.

At Bellevue in the psychiatric ward, Dr. Stanton (Ally Walker) says she was treating Andrew with electro convulsive therapy (ECT). They had only just started the course. Huang watches someone get the treatment and comments that is maybe why Andrew fled. But Stanton disagrees, saying a con artist scammed his way in and Andrew fell under his spell but they were not lovers, but he did manage to get Andrew out of his shell. The guy scammed keys off an orderly and also robbed the pharmacy of meds. His name was Jack Robinson.

Later with ME Warner, she says Jack’s prints are on file for getting nabbed for identity theft. He had a lot of alcohol and drugs in his system. Prints on the weapon match to prints from Andrews brush. The semen was Provo’s. They wonder if Andrew and Jack were lovers, and Warner says maybe his father can tell them, she called him to ID the body.

His father wonders if Jack conned the wrong person as Jack ran get rich quick schemes. His son had a 150 IQ. He shows them some video postcards he got from Jack, and he says things are better than ever and says he has a great investment for them as tells them to send him a cashier’s check for $10K. His mom sent him money to a place where he said he volunteered – Williams Home. Fin corrects it as Williams HOUSE and he knows somebody there.

Fin heads to Williams House, and sees his son Ken (Ernest Waddell) and shows him the picture of Jack and Andrew and tells him Jack was murdered. He says Andrew has not been there in days. When Fin attempts to get Ken to check to get info, he says these are street kids here and no one is going to drop a dime on Andrew, including him, the kids trust him and he never told the kids he is a cop. He reluctantly says he will ask around.

Back at SVU, Morales (Joel de la Fuente) is poking around Andrew's mother’s computer which Andrew stole; he can log in using her remote access information. He logs in to the web cam and they can see from Andrew’s computer. They later identify a building in view of the screen as Mt. Sinai hospital, and Munch and Fin find the building where the computer is likely located. Fin tells him to stick by the building and he is going back to talk to his son who lives a few blocks from there as he felt Ken was holding something back.

Fin gets to Ken’s place, and is told Ken doesn’t live there anymore, not since December. He asks for a forwarding address, saying he is a police officer and Ken is his son. He shows no ID, but she says Ken left self addressed envelopes and gives him some of Ken’s mail, saying when he sees Ken he can deliver it in person. He looks at the address which is 110 Central Park North - the same address and Jack and Andrew’s place. When he gets back to the building he tells Munch that Ken moved there 5 months ago and no way is this a coincidence, saying Ken is harboring a killer.

Soon afterwards, we see Ken opening his door and Fin grabs him and asks him if he is crazy. Fin is pissed that Ken didn’t tell him that he moved and that Andrew’s computer is there. Ken says he moved in with his boyfriend and Fin asks if he is banging him. Ken is upset that Fin is assuming that because he is gay and that he is a sexual predator, but he says Andrew is straight. He said he found an Andrew on the doorstep all beaten up, and Andrew knew where he lives because he has a group over once a week for counseling. Fin can’t believe he brings street kids to his place but Ken is trying to help the kids get off the street. Fin wonders why he didn’t tell him this sooner, and Ken wonders why Fin didn’t’ tell him the real reason he wanted to talk to Andrews. He doesn’t know where Andrew is. He suggests the hospital ER, Jack taught him to complain of a stomach ache and you can wait all night waiting to be seen. Ken and Fin show Andrews photo around a hospital waiting area, but Andrew was not there. Ken also suggests a hotel conference rooms as they are never used at night and they are comfortable, and if they got found, pretend they are drunken guests. They check a hotel – no Andrew. Ken suggests the Metropolitan Opera and slip in while the guests are leaving, and go into the ladies room for the comfy couches. They find Andrew there, asleep. He tries to run, but Fin arrests him much to Ken’s dismay.

With Andrew in SVU interrogation, they have to wait for Joyce Hingham to come in before they can question him. Huang says the most important thing is he is off the street and he can get the psychiatric help he needs. A door opens and Ken arrives and tells Cragen that Andrew called him and he needs to talk, and asks if he can go in. Cragen says OK as long as he is not acting on behalf of the NYPD. Ken says trust me, he’s not. Since Ken is not an attorney, Cragen turns up the speaker so they can listen. Ken tells Andrew to calm down and he regrets not leaving the reception but the plan was to sneak in and steal expensive caviar. Ken chides him, saying Jack was bad news. He then admits to killing Jack, and Ken, shocked, tells him to shut up. When Ken tells them to turn off the speaker, Andrew goes on and says Jack tried to kiss him and he shoved him away and then he got violent as he was high on crystal meth. He says he forced him to have sex. Jack kept coming at him and then he pushed him off and he fell and hit his head. He picked up the first thing he could find and smashed his head. He put his own wallet there because Jack’s face was gone and maybe they would think Andrew was dead and he could get away.

Later, Huang speculates Andrew could claim self defense, but Cragen says Jack is not alive to dispute it but the crime scene photos won’t earn him any sympathy with the jury. Huang thinks the excessive violence was Andrew trying to erase himself by obliterating Jack’s face. Cragen wonders who he is trying to get away from and Huang wonders if it is child abuse, the problem is that his mom is on the way to sit in on the questioning. Cragen suggests his shrink, and Huang says he will see what Dr. Stanton has to say.

Cragen walks up to a girl in the waiting area and he find she is waiting to see him. She says she is Mallory Sidwell, and they put Andrew in the hospital for raping him but she says he didn’t rape him. Whoever told her parents he raped her had lied, Andrew is her boyfriend.

Later, Huang has Dr. Stanton at SVU and asks her about Mallory Sidwell. She says the sexual assault occurred with the onset of his schizophrenia, and is shocked when she sees Mallory is there. Huang tells her that Mallory claims the sex was consensual. Stanton says it is classic guilt reaction. Huang says many victims blame themselves, but why wait until now to revise her story? Stanton thinks she had to intervene before things escalated and claims she was legally bound to notify Mallory’s parents. Huang is stunned he had him committed to avoid arrest, and she says he needed help, not incarceration. She also indicates Joyce has troubles of her own but cannot comment on them. She says Joyce would tell Huang herself that she was overwhelmed by having a late in life child. Huang brings up abuse, and she refuses to discuss it, and Huang calls her bluff, saying if it existed she was bound to report it. She says she has been seeing Andrew for 4 years but some barriers she could not break through. When Huang comments that Andrews said he could not get away and wonders if he meant Mallory, not his mother, and tells her Andrew was apprehended yesterday, she asks if she can talk to him. He tells her after Andrew is arraigned.

At the office of ADA Kendra Gill (Gretchen Egolf), Ken enters and Fin is also there waiting for him. Gill needs to go over both their statements, and Ken is clearly uncomfortable with Fin there. Ken says he wants no part of putting Andrew away, and that Ken acted in self defense. When Gill also adds accidental death, Ken is shocked they are not taking Andrew to trial. Fin says there may be repercussions for Andrew going to town on jack’s corpse, but the ADA says he is only looking at probation and court ordered therapy. Ken thanks him. Fin asks about Andrew’s mother, Ken only saying she was an absentee mother and only abused the bottle and pills, not Andrew. Fin says he just needs to find out if Andrew will be OK once he makes bail and gets home.

Later, Fin approaches Joyce outside her home, and when Fin asks if Andrew is there, she said she is going to get him now. When Fin says she bailed him out this morning, she said she didn’t. she just got the money together. He tells her Andrew is out, somebody saved him the trouble. Fin gets on her that he didn’t come running home to her and asks why Andrew doesn’t come there when he is in trouble, and she does not know, but she did the best she could. He wonders who bailed him out.

At Dr. Stanton’s home, she answers the door to find Fin and Huang there questioning her about the fact that she bailed out Andrew. When they ask if he is there, she says she is doing what she believes is o the best interest of the patient. Huang calls that unorthodox, and when she tries to shut the door on them, Fin pushed it open and comments that Andrew’s mother is worried sick and he could arrest Stanton for custodial interference. He calls out to Andrew and then he and Huang force their way in. They heard a noise from upstairs and Fin says it sounds like someone is in trouble and he races upstairs. Andrew has fallen out of bed and seems drugged. He stares at Stanton, and she says he has been off his meds for months and she is trying to ease him back in to his regimen. He doesn’t want to be arrested, and then they hear a baby cry. He says he just wants to sleep and she tells them to get out. She covers him up and they leave.

Back at SVU, Benson questions a underage patient moving in with his shrink, and Huang says there is a danger of transference activating sexual fantasies even in an office setting. Fin thinks she’s banging him, but Cragen says that’s a serious accusation and Andrew isn’t the one who is making it. Fin mentions hearing a baby cry at Stanton's and now he is wondering who the baby’s daddy is. Huang says she has been seeing Andrew since he was 13 at the onset of puberty, and Benson says they have to get him out of there. Cragen says not without solid grounds. Huang wonders if they can bring Stanton in on something else; when they talked to Andrew before she began medicating him, he was upset but lucid, and a schizophrenic off his meds for 6 months would have decompensated and he may not be schizophrenic. Cragen tells them to subpoena Andrew’s medical records.

In interrogation, Fin brings the medical records in to Stanton and asks her to go over them with him, specifically the medications. She tells them those are the standard meds for schizophrenia but Huang asks why were only half of those meds given to Andrew when he was at Bellevue. She says she was treating a dual diagnosis, and Fin thinks she was pharmacy shopping and playing fast and loose with his meds. Huang challenges the diagnosis and that taking some of those drugs together could kill him, She says maybe she made a mistake. Meanwhile, Andrew is in another room with Benson, moaning about him being the mistake and his parents never wanted him. He says Stanton helped him for a while. He says the sessions were a waste of time at first and he finally just started talking and it just poured out. Dr. Stanton put her arm around him and it was the first time he ever felt love. He admits she kissed his forehead, cheek, then his lips, and they started having sex - he was 13. He says he loved her and she loved him, and when Benson said it was abuse, he said for a while it was awesome. Then she got pregnant and he freaked out and she said he was the only person she was having sex with. He couldn’t deal with it and started having trouble with his classes at school. That is where he met Mallory and they were in love and someone told her parents he raped her, and he knows now it was the doctor. Benson tells Andrew he is not the sick one here, Stanton is.

Stanton tells Huang and Fin that her relationship with Andrew is the healthiest she has ever had. She used to be drawn to abusive men until Andrew, and she would never do anything to hurt him. When Fin brings up her breaking up the relationship with Mallory, she says she was protecting them both, but Fin thinks she was jealous of the 15 year old he dumped her for. They tell Stanton she locked him away and drugged him and that is the only way he would have sex with her now, but she says that is not true. She say Andrew is delusional, and Fin says that is not a nice way to talk about the father of her child. Huang says she used his deepest issues against him like his own father abandoning him. When Fin adds that Andrews’s mother will now have to raise the child after she goes away, she says she is not going anywhere. Huang tells her when the paternity test comes back showing Andrew is the father, she will be going to jail for statutory rape. She denies it was rape saying they love each other. Huang says she took advantage of a child, but she says they do not understand, he is a man, her soul mate.

In Supreme Court at allocution, the judge makes sure Stanton understands that she is pleading guilty for a lesser sentence. She understands. She turns to Andrew and says she never meant to hurt him, she did it all out of love. She wanted to protect and heal him but is in love with him. She tried to deny her feelings but they were too strong, and she knows he felt it too. She said the first time they were together was the happiest moment of her life and she knows that she is guilty of things many people can’t understand. She wants him to know she is sorry if she ever hurt him and she hopes he can forgive her. Andrew looks down. The judge states they have agreed to the plea bargain of four consecutive counts of rape in the second degree and she gets incarceration for five years for each count for a total of 20 years. The judge relays her contempt for Stanton and says if she could, she would put her away for life. After the bang of the gavel, Stanton looks over to Andrew who has a weird look on his face. As they take her away, she says to Andrew that she will wait for him. We see Fin as he watches her being led out, and we fade to black.

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Esaul said...

My mom watched this with me, and she doesn't watch it as often as I do, nor as much. She guessed the shrink was sleeping with Andrew long before the detectives went to her house. Man, I feel robbed for not seeing it sooner. Is it me, or do I find myself wanting the older episodes of SVU from the first couple of seasons again? I find myself loving SVU less and less lately. :(

Jachelle said...

"Why didn’t they start with the one place there was only ONE of – The Met?" LOL. That would be too logical, wouldn't it. I didn't mind this episode. I like the episodes that focus on characters other than Benson and Stabler. It was good to see Fin and Munch working a case again. They do come up with creative ways to hand the cases off sometimes, don't they? I didn't mind Fin's son being on either. I'be been watching my SVU DVDs lately and just finished "Screwed" from Season 8. I thought it was nice their relationshiop was good enough for Fin to give Ken a hug. I like that they have Fin's son on every once in a while, it gives his character some depth and background.

Anonymous said...

Apologize for me, but no episodes Stabler and Benson for me with little tasteless.

Madeleine said...

I'm usually all for the Benson & Stabler episodes, but I really enjoyed this one. I love Huang's psychobabble and I was happy to see more of Fin and a bit more of Munch. I'd like to see a LOT more of Munch; when was the last time we had a Munch-centric episode?

I've always really liked Ken, he was great in Venon (?) and Screwed. I wouldn't mind seeing more of him on SVU, I think he and Fin have developed a good dynamic.

ShindoW said...

Everything was great with this episode until it turned to focus on the therapist and the kid, the actual case. We've been there, done that, and the thing with Fin and the old lady really stood out to me as well, but I dismissed it later. I was very happy to see Munch return as he is nearly nonexistent now and it's always good to explore the other detective's personal lives since it can greatly impact a case. Tying Fin's son to it may have been too much, though.
So, what happened to the baby Olivia was stuck with about 3-4 episodes back? Did she go dump it at the hospital? Come on, writers, at least tie that up.

Queen B said... was an OK episode

SVU lover said...


Jojo said...

I wouldn't say I hated the episode, but I guess the fact that I spent the whole time playing bejeweled kind of says something.

I agree with ATL&O (do you mind me always calling you that?) that too much Dr Huang is not a good thing. I like him when there's glimpses here and there, but he's very holier-than-thou and I start to tune out halfway through when he starts babbling.

I liked seeing more Fin and Munch. doesn't mean I don't want Benson and Stabler there too!

When they do the notification - don't they check that the ID is correct? I ID lying nearby, a very beat up face on the's not quite clear cut, is it? Would it cover their asses a little better if they said something like "we found a body with your son's ID"? I'm only nitpicking this because I watched "Abuse" last night and they made the wrong notification there, too, because the girl had given her underage cousin her ID.

The psychiatrist having a problem was also rather obvious, but I'm not actually blaming the current writing for this - I found that even some Season 6 episodes that I've been watching (and had not previously watched) had some parts that were very guess-able. I think...I'm watching too much TV.

And predictability aside - I'm having a great sense of déjà vu. Has a very similar storyline - with a female psychiatrist sleeping with her underage patient and claiming it was love - been done on SVU before? Or maybe it was something else I've seen, like CSI?

Jojo said...

Oops, I meant I watched the season 6 episode "Hooked", not "Abuse". Wrong Hayden Panettiere episode!

Anonymous said...

I liked it actually...was glad to see a focus on other members of the cast. Was glad to see a DA's office scene, even if McCoy wasn't in it.

Heck, I'd take a scene where Cutter just walks by or something.

All Things Law and Order said...

Jojo - I don't mind at all...the full blog name is sometimes too much for ME to type!

Anonymous said...

I watched this, but assumed it was not a new episode. It seems VERY "familiar". I hope SVU steps it up, because I couldn't tell this from a rerun. The plot was extremely predictable, and the whole story, just seemed overdone and old.

Anonymous said...

And predictability aside - I'm having a great sense of déjà vu. Has a very similar storyline - with a female psychiatrist sleeping with her underage patient and claiming it was love - been done on SVU before? Or maybe it was something else I've seen, like CSI?

Me too, if anyone knows the episode I'd appreciate it, because this seems like a carbon copy. I don't watch CSI though.

Jason Rule said...

@ShindoW: I believe that the baby died before Benson could make a decision.

Also, about the search that Ken and Fin did; I would think they would have more sense than just to check one or two, they only showed one or two shots in the interest of time. Also, Ken might have known which locations Andrew was comfortable with, and the focus would be there.

Incidentally, the men's lounge at Saks has (last time I checked) an antechamber with couches.

Ryan Potochnik said...

Dr. Fran Stanton And Andrew Hingham Kinda Remind Me Of Mary Kay Letourneau And Vili Fualaau And I Couldn't Tell If Dr. Fran Stanton And Andrew Hingham Were In Deed Having A Sexual Relationship Until The End Of The Episode

kat171 said...

This is my favourite svu. Because it happened to me. I was an unwanted baby when my brother and sister were 6 and 7. My mum was addicted to tranquilisers and I was seriously neglected which has caused a lot of mental problems.