Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Law & Order “Immortal" Recap & Review

All photos from NBC
Based somewhat on the real life “immortal” cells of Henrietta Lacks (HeLa cells), Law & Order “Immortal” creates their own fictional version of those cells to craft a story of deceit and murder – but not at the hands of the same person. While a murder did occur, the real criminals in this story was Hema Labs, who stole cells from a man, those cells later used for huge profits for Hema, but gave nothing to the family in compensation. It was a very satisfying episode of Law & Order, both with an interesting case, but also with some added personal drama between Cutter and Van Buren. I personally wanted to give Cutter as kick in the ass for his treatment of Van Buren on the stand, and I wanted to reach out and hug Van Buren for Cutter exposing her illness for his own self serving needs. She was right to give him that icy cold shoulder at the end of the episode.

Stories such as this one make it even sadder that Law & Order will soon be nearing its end. The quality of the show has been Emmy worthy this season, and we can only hope that some other network sees this and decides to pick up the show for another run.

Here is the recap:

A man with stab wounds collapses and dies at a hospital before he can tell them what happened. Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) investigate and find the man was dropped off by someone in another car; he still has his wedding rings, car keys, and $800 in cash on his body. His ID says he is When Jerome Turner (Terence Archie) from the Bronx. They later speak with his wife. She last spoke to him in the afternoon, he said he might be late coming home from work, and there was a problem in Queens in the E Train. They tell her he had Ford car keys in his pocket and she knows no one who drives a Ford.
At Cornell Beverage in the Queens, they are told Jerome’s hours were cut and he wasn’t at work that day.

Back at the 2-7, the detectives brief Lt. Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson). The calls from his cell phones ping from all over the place and he seems to be on the move. Van Buren wonders if he has a hack license but there is none on record. She tells them to call the 3-1 precinct to see if they have any idle yellow cabs in their area. Later, the detectives are called to an abandoned taxi in Chelsea and the keys fit. There is no blood so he must have been stabbed between there and the hospital. They hope his last fare used a credit card. They later speak to the man who lent Jerome his cab who said Jerome said he was going to come into a lot of money. He also said someone used a credit card to pay for the fare in the morning but after that, nothing. He said Jerome said he had to leave early as he had to pick up his kid at school.

They speak again with Jerome’s wife about what Jerome was really doing, and tell her that Jerome picked up their son Jaden at school at noon and then brought him back a few hours later. They also tell her he said he was coming into some money. Bernard speaks with Jaden while Lupo checks Jerome’s calendar. Bernard asks Jaden about what happened that day, and said he dad said he can’t tell, it was supposed to be a surprise for his mom. He then says he went to an office building and a big man put a Qtip inside his mouth and rubbed it around. They realize Jerome was having a paternity test run on Jaden.

Back at the 2-7, they tell Van Buren what they found. She will speak with Mrs. Turner and asks they speak with Jaden again. Bernard continues to talk with Jaden and said the man talked about Nathan’s hot dogs – he just said Nathan’s. Meanwhile, Mrs. Turned says he was never with another man and does not know anyone named Nathan.

Later, the detectives and Van Buren regroup and compare notes; the detectives show a cell phone call to a private investigator, Joseph Hernandez, who may have been the person who took the DNA swab and his office is a block from where they found Jerome’s cab.

At the office of Joseph Hernandez, they try to get info from his secretary. Lupo makes small talk and starts reading the log on her desk upside down and dupes the secretary into showing her Turner’s name on the call log and that he called about Nathan Robinson. Hernandez (Jacinto Taras Riddick) enters and denies knowing Turner. He says he is retired NYPD and was hired by a law firm and that makes his information privileged.

As there are so many Nathan Robinsons in the area, they decide to check to see if Hernandez has a lab that he works with for DNA tests. The see the secretary leaving and Lupo runs and catches up with her and ask about the lab Hernandez uses. She tells him Hernandez may not use them any more as the lab lost Nathan Robinson’s DNA sample and Hernandez told her to call Hudson university to get another one and that she should speak to a technician named Jeff.

At Hudson U they speak with Jeff, who says they have Nathan Robinson’s cells growing in cultures there, he has been dead for over 50 years. They wonder if this is about an inheritance.

At the apartment of Michael (Doug E. Doug) and Dora Reed (Adella Gauthier), they find that Nathan was Michael's and his cousin Jerome’s grandfather and his mother’s dad. Dora tells them he passed in 1959 from cancer. Michael did not talk much with Jerome. They said no one has contacted them, They find Michael has a daughter Tanya who is 6 and he does not own a car. Bernard sees a list on the refrigerator and comments to Lupo that there is a three say weekend coming up.

Back at the 2-7, the detectives tell Van Buren there was a parking schedule on Reed’s refrigerator so he was lying about the car. They check records and see that Dora Reed owned an 81 blue Cordova which matches the car that dropped off Turner at the hospital. The car was sold to a junkyard by Michael Reed 4 days ago.

They go to the junkyard to get the car and it is already crushed. They know Michael Reed doesn’t know that so they bring him in for questioning. In interrogation, Van Buren brings in a folder and implies that they have information there was blood inside the car. He admits he was trying to save Jerome as Jerome was stabbed by Hernandez. He said that some people wanted to just take Jaden’s blood. Van Buren is called out of the room, and while she is out, Michael admits white people want to steal their blood. Van Buren brings in Reed’s attorney (Seth Gilliam) who stops the questioning.

Later, Van Buren speaks with ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) and EADA Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) about the case and she thinks Hernandez is in neck deep but also thinks Reed is involved as he took Turner to the hospital and then lied about it. Cutter wants to charge him with murder, and they must work on motive.

Rubirosa tried to get help from Dora Reed, and she refuses to talk to her. Tanya lets it leak she has an uncle Eddie.

At an adult care facility, they find Eddie was has cerebral palsy and has been there 30 years. Rubirosa tries to speak with him and he asks if she is going to stick his arm. A worker says that someone used to come by to take his blood, and Eddie says it was Dr. Vincent Thurman.

Back at her desk, Rubirosa tells Cutter that Dr. Vincent Thurman died in 1997 who was an oncologist at the hospital where Nathan Robinson died in 1959. He founded Hema Labs in 1959 and their first product was cancer cells sold for research.

At the office of Glen Dolan (David Costabile) at Hema Labs, he says all their projects are confidential and proprietary. They tell him they think something happened when Hernandez was alone with Jaden. Dolan wants to consult his legal department and they decide to get a subpoena.

Later, in Cutter’s office, ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) tells them Hema Labs tested Jaden to see if he was a descendant of Nathan Robinson. Hema cell line that makes all the money is known as NaRo, probably for Nathan Robinson. They are a lab staple, cells that stay alive in cultures and are considered immoral. They may be testing a new drug and need Jaden’s cells. It seems that Hernandez tracked down some of that family in the area near where Nathan Robinson died and think he was hunting DNA which may have started trouble between Michael and Jerome.

At the shack-like home of Cordell Robinson, he says he told Hernandez all Nathan’s kids moved to the city he knows about the Nathan’s “magic” cells which he said the company stole. Robinson’s son hands Cutter and Rubirosa a bowl of “squirrel stew” which he said is chicken – honest. Cordell tells them someone took a sample of Nathan’s cells without him knowing, then shows them Nathan’s grave. When his father looks about to tell them something, his son shakes his head to stop him, then says Michael says not to say anything. Cordell says they can trust them, saying that Michael Reed said not to give anyone any blood because he is going to sue Hema Labs. He said the whole family had to stick together.

In the prison interrogation, they confront Reed and he says that Hernandez stabbed Jerome. His lawyer said wait until a jury hears the whole story.

Later, they have Hernandez in the office conference room who tells him he made a deal with Jerome for his kid and gave him a check but Jerome wanted cash. He then says to talk to his lawyer and he leaves. DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) asks what they have to corroborate his story and they say there is no evidence of a knifing or an argument and Jerome did have money on him when he was killed. McCoy says they can’t let the trial be about Hema Labs. When Cutter says the Hema Labs treatment of the family has been a disgrace, McCoy tells him to get ahead of it.

In Supreme Court, Glen Dolan is on the stand telling them about the cells and that they needed to study the last descendant of the family. Cutter tries to show how badly they treated Nathan and that neither Nathan not his dependents compensated. But he says they never hurt Nathan and the drugs they make help millions. Cutter brings up the Tuskegee experiments, where Dolan must recount how black men with syphilis were studied and there were abuses, and Cutter adds that the men were withheld treatment and allowed to die. Cutter also brings up night-snatching, where black residents were snatched off the streets so doctors could perform experiments without their consent. Cutter says Hema Labs did the same thing at the light of day and this is what angered Reed. Under cross, Reed’s attorney says Hema Labs knew that Hernandez had a violent record and was used for that very reason. But Hernandez, on the stand, says Jerome was happy when he left his office. Under cross, the Reed’s attorney brings out Hernandez record and the work he did with Hema Labs and said he helped Hema Labs to get low settlements in Indonesia on another problem, and said Hema used him to intimidate Nathan’s family and Hernandez shows his angry, nasty side.

Later, with Van Buren on the stand, Cutter questions her about Hernandez, and, after a long pause, asks her if she is undergoing treatment for cervical cancer. She seems rattled and says this is a private matter, and the judge tells her to answer as best she can. She admits she is undergoing treatment and using some drugs and treatments made by Hema Labs. He asks if it disturbs her that these drugs were created without consent from Nathan Robinson. She says, “How can you ask me that?” but he presses for an answer. She responds, “What do you think, Mr. Cutter? These drugs might save my life. I’m grateful to Nathan Robinson and his family. But that doesn’t mean they were treated with justice, Mr. Cutter. Or dignity.”

Outside the courthouse, Van Buren is waiting to ambush Cutter, and she is angry, saying she can’t believe what he just did to her in there, and is upset he didn’t give her a heads up. When he stammers and said it occurred to him at the moment, she asks if it occurred to him that she may have a problem with it. He says he was trying to keep the defense from using the same argument, but she knows he was using her and he violated his privacy to win his case and says he is no better than Hema Labs.

Back in Supreme Court, Dora Reed is on the stand being questioned by the defense. She says she convinced Michael against suing the company, and that those cells went all over the world to cure people. She said Michael would get mad at Hema Labs but not at Jerome. Cutter questions her and brings up how she had to watch her son and Jerome struggle for money. He presses her that Hema Labs owe him, and she admits that Hema Labs does owe them and should pay something and that Michael just wanted what was fair.

In Cutter’s office, he and Rubirosa tell McCoy the jury has been out three days and asked the judge to clarify the difference between man 1 and man 2. He suggests they make a deal. Later, they make Michael an offer of man 1 for 10 years, and tell him the jury verdict could mean 25 to life. McCoy also suggest to Dolan of Hema Labs they should do the right thing to avoid the publicity of another trial. Dolan offers one million to be paid over 10 years divided equally among Robinson’s heirs. McCoy brings up Eddie in the group home and asks them to read the definition of assault which includes taking blood without consent. When the lawyer says there is a statute of limitations, Rubirosa says not to cover a concealed crime against an incompetent victim. Dolan offers 3 million and Cutter presses for more, and then says to make it 10 million, payable now. Michael admits he did try to save Jerome after he stabbed him and that he stabbed him out of anger. He agrees to the deal.

Afterwards, Cutter visits the 2-7 to return Hernandez’s personnel file to Lupo and Bernard and tells them the case plead out. Van Buren walks toward him and he says "Lieutenant” as if to greet and talk with her, and she coldly says, “Counselor” as she walks right past him, leaving his standing there sheepishly as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

You are right on in your assessment of this episode. I too hope that someone at TNT says, hey this show brings in a solid 6 to 7 million viewers on a weekly basis and the fans will follow it here--it's a win-win!

Hey Chris, didn't it seem odd to you that in announcing the last ep of the season, NBC chose to just say "season finale" instead of series finale? They didn't even say something like "After 20 years blah, blah, blah". It just seems either incredibly insensitive or they're leaving the door open. Just a thought or wishful thinking on my behalf.


janethyland said...

Oh the irony of the epsiode title!

There should be huge ratings for this episode and for next weeks to give it a good send off...to where ever it lands.

Chris Zimmer said...

MissKitty, I also noticed they just called it a season finale, but I chalked it up to thinking they did the promo in advance and were too lazy - or cheap - to change it. But one never knowa...since there does seem to be come kind of talking going on, maybe the series will have life elsewhere. We can only hope!

Esaul said...

Wolf is relentless. I'm sure he will save the show one way or another. I just hope he can get a full season out of it. I would love to see S. Epatha Merkerson to win an emmy for her performance. I was saying that the defense was going to bring up her cancer...I never thought Cutter would. I just hope they'll make peace before she leaves.

Both episodes last night were great, and no other show can be as captivating as the original. NBC is making a mistake, and when Wolf gets his show back, NBC will realize it a little too late.

Unknown said...

Excellent recap as usual. This was a solid episode, not too convoluted to follow but was interesting nonetheless. This is the second time this season that Cutter blindsided one of the people on his side in court with something that just occurred to him.

I, too, noticed that the promo for next week was a "season finale".

FYI. When you wrote, "When the lawyer says there is a statute of limitations, Rubirosa says not to cover a concealed crime against and incompetent victim." I think you meant, "When the lawyer says there is a statute of limitations, Rubirosa says not to cover a concealed crime against an incompetent victim."

Chris Zimmer said...

Thanks scarlet - I fixed it!

Anonymous said...

'"Law & Order" May Get Reprieve From Death: Producer'

NBC last week said it had canceled the crime series after 20 seasons, but "Law & Order" producer Dick Wolf hinted the show might be resuscitated.

"The patient is not dead," Wolf said in a statement on Tuesday. "It is in a medically induced coma, and we are hoping for a cure."

Wolf told The New York Times he was seeking other offers for the show; a two-hour "Law & Order" TV movie was possible.' '


Unknown said...

Amazing episodes of law and order. I hope rating were good.

Jen said...

It saddens me that these may be the last new episodes of this show. That kind of hung over the episodes for me last night, though I did enjoy them.

I heart Dick Wolf's tenacity, though. At least we know, if nothing else, that if it does go down he won't have let it without exhausting every option, which I am appreciative of.