Law & Order SVU “Shattered” provided an exciting wrap up to the season as the detectives work a kidnapping case that quickly turns into a felony murder case when a kidnapper for hire gets killed while fleeing with the kidnapped boy. This sends the boy’s mother, played by French actress Isabelle Huppert, off the deep edge, and it’s not a long trip for her to get there as she was already wacky to begin with. Huppert did an excellent job playing the crazed mother.
A hostage situation occurs and I wonder if it was caused by a careless police officer, or careless writers. I always thought that police had security mechanisms on their holsters so someone couldn’t just pull out their weapon, but it seems like it is standard practice in the SVU universe for the police to have their guns unsecured. If there is anyone out there in law enforcement who can shed some light on whether a locking mechanism on the holster is a standard requirement or simple the choice of the officer, I would appreciate it. Regardless, this officer’s inability to maintain control over his weapon causes a hostage situation and results in ME Warner getting shot. It is important to note that season finales seems to be dangerous for supporting players on SVU – at least this year, they handled the scene much better than last season, when Tech O’Halloran got killed and Benson and Stabler just stood over his body and made a flip comment as if nothing happened.
The last half of the episode seemed too drawn out, and got too corny when Jo Marlowe, played by the stiff Sharon Stone, confessed to having cancer and a bilateral radical mastectomy. The scenery chewing goes to full throttle when she holds the body of the kidnapped boy to help disarm his mother. It was just a little too much for me.
Consistently excellent in the episode were Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni, who, as usual, are completely believable in their roles and they saved the episode. Almost all of the top billed stars make an appearance in this finale...all but Richard Belzer. Sometimes I get the feeling that John Munch is being eased out. I did have an issue with how Stabler handled the news that they knew Sophie was not the kidnapper. Why would he even risk telling Sophie she was set up - a red flag that Paul was behind it and meaning he was also responsible for Nicholas’s death - while Sophie was still armed? If anything, I would have thought that it would have been better for him to lie or mislead her about who was behind it (such as saying they had the real person behind it already in custody), at least until they got the gun out of her hands.
Here is the recap:
After almost getting run over by a cab, Nicholas Olsen is pulled into a “Gary’s GoofORama” van and witnesses call 911. When SVU Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni), Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Fin arrive on the scene, they get conflicting stories from witnesses. They don’t know the identity of the boy.
At the precinct, the detectives, along with Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) and ADA Jo Marlowe (Sharon Stone), look at footage taken from video camera in the area. They can see the van clearly but not the kidnapper. They can see the van is from Gary’s GoofORama. Later, they arrive at the store and they arrest a clown - Gary - who says he has been there all day. His van is there and he says he hasn’t run it in six months. Fin calls Stabler - he found the real van, but the boy is not inside. When they get to the scene, the van has been torched. They find a boy’s backpack with a schoolbook from Whitethorne Academy.
In Principal Carol Huston’s office, she identifies the boy as Nicholas Olsen, a 3rd grader. He lives with his father, Paul. Huston thinks Nicholas’s mother, Sophie Gerard, who is French and unbalanced, kidnapped him. Paul has sole custody and got a restraining order against her. She has been a repeated problem for the school. They later see Sophie on a surveillance video talking to Nicholas outside the bus. Later, at the precinct, they have a police officer who can lip read translate what Sophie is saying. She tells him to remember whatever happens, don’t be scared. Paul Olsen (D.W. Moffett) comes in, irate. They ask for his help, and he says Sophie is not his wife and did not believe in marriage, she is an anthropologist and is obsessed with matriarchal cultures. She left them to go off for her work. She wanted to take Nicholas to China with her and he said no and she went crazy. The minute she got on that plane to China he changed the locks on the doors and filed for sole custody.
Later, at Sophie’s (Isabelle Huppert) apartment, Benson and Stabler ask to talk to her inside and she lets them in. They tell her it is about her son and denies seeing him earlier in the day, but they show her photos of her from the video. She says Paul has filled Nicholas' head with lies about her, and Stabler notices suitcases. He tells her she is coming with them and as he grabs her to lead her out, she asks them to tell her what happened to her son.
When they get her to the precinct, Paul is there and when Sophie says she is Nicholas’ mother, he yells out she is not, and outlines how she has been ignoring her motherly duties and said she abandoned her child. She says she came back, and when the arguing escalates, Cragen has them both separated and removed. Cragen tells Fin to toss Sophie’s place.
Stabler questions Sophie and she denies taking him, and she says Nicholas is afraid of Paul and must travel for her work and that Nicholas understood. Meanwhile, Benson is talking to Paul who says kids need routine and Sophie despises the conventional and she thinks Nicholas would be better with yak herders than at Whitethorne Academy. She never abused Nicholas but became violent with Paul and nearly cut off his foot with an axe. Yet she tells Stabler the axe is ceremonial and not a weapon. Paul says she is a pathological liar. As Marlowe watches Paul, Fin tells her Sophia’s place was a gold mine of evidence.
Marlowe enters to speak to Sophie and confronts her with a French passport for Nicholas, and she booked a ticket for her and him to Beijing, one way. She just wanted her boy back and he would love it there. Stabler continues to press her and she says she does not know where he is, saying they search her house and they know he is not there, and she denies having an accomplice. Marlowe asked why she borrowed $50,000 from her parents two weeks ago and the day the money was transferred she tried calling a prepaid cell phone, and a week later she withdrew $25,000 to pay whoever she hired to take Nicholas. When Stabler presses her on who she hired, she says he said it wouldn’t happen so soon, a man told her he could get Nicholas back and she would be there so he would not be afraid. He said never to tell his name and address. They continue to press her, warning her Nicholas is in danger, and she admits it is Jason Culross.
Later, Benson says Sophie has a right to be afraid, Culross was a Green Beret who specializes in covert ops. He signed on with Blackwater in ’05 and worked in Afghanistan for 4 years handling kidnap and ransom cases. His file address is a PO Box in Brooklyn, but he owns a warehouse in Red Hawk. Cragen wants ESU to handle it as Culross is a mercenary, but Stabler reminds him that he was trained by marines as well.
At the warehouse, Stabler and Benson enter and see evidence that Culross has been working to get Nicholas. They see someone in the office, but it turns out to be a set up, and Stabler turns to see Benson laying unconscious on the floor. Culross (Esau Pritchett) yells out, saying they picked the wrong place to rob, and he has a gun on them. Stabler announces he is NYPD and to drop his gun. He apologize and says he did not know he was a cop, and Stabler punches him, knocking him out. Later, with Culross restrained, they question him and he says Sophie hired him to recover her son, explaining that he locates and retrieves children taken by non-custodial parents. Once he found out Paul was Nicholas’ biological father he told Sophie he could not help her but she is obsessed with her son, and the $25,000 is non-refundable and claims what he does is not illegal. He is doing what law enforcement can’t and was in Brazil last night. While Stabler gets a call, Culross tells Benson that Sophie asked for him to refer her to someone else and he said he does not know any criminals. Stabler says that Sophie found someone on her own; her credit card was just used to rent a motel room on Long Island and a man checked in with a little boy.
They race to the Goodnight Motel in Jericho with police backup. They evacuated all rooms around the one in question including a maid who was servicing the rooms. They storm in but no one is there, and Benson sees a door to an adjoining room. She enters to find a woman bound and gagged. The woman said she was attacked by the man in the next room who took her clothes and her car keys and put the kid in her cart. They realize the maid they thought was servicing the rooms was their kidnapper.
Later, they see him leave on surveillance video, dressed as the maid and with the maid's cart. They already issued a BOLO for the maid’s car, and on the video they see the kid, scared, being put into the car. They hear on the radio that they have the car in sight and are in pursuit. We hear a crash and the officer radios that the chase has ended and he needs harbor, aviation, and an ambulance right away. When they get to the scene, a car is being pulled out of the sound. The driver is dead. They open the back door to the car but say nothing.
Back at SVU, in one room, Benson goes to tell Paul the news that Nicholas is dead, and Stabler, in another room, tells Sophie, who collapses in shock. Paul is throwing furniture and Sophie wails at Stabler. Cragen and Marlowe watch in silence.
Afterwards, Cragen asks Fin if there is anything on the kidnapper, and Fin says his name is Keith Bradman, 35, from Toledo and he has a record. Stabler will pull the phone records to connect him to Sophie. Cragen tells Benson it is time to get a confession, but she balks, saying Sophie has been through a lot. Marlowe reminds her Nicholas was killed in the course of a kidnapping and that is felony murder and Sophie is just as culpable. Benson and Marlowe go in to talk to Sophie and she seems in denial as if Nicholas is still alive. Later, Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) says Sophie has become psychotic and has broken from reality. She may be like this for days or months. He thinks the unreality of it – sitting talking only to cops – has facilitated her retreat into fantasy. He tells them to make it real for her. Benson enters the room and tells Sophie they are leaving to see Nicholas.
Benson, Marlowe and Sophie get to the morgue where ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) is standing near a covered body on the table. She pulls the sheet back to show Nicholas's face and Sophie says it is a dream. She picks up the medal he is wearing on his neck and said it was supposed to keep him safe and asks if she can take it, and Warner nods yes. She puts it around her own neck and kisses him. Marlowe asks her to tell her what happened and she says she has nothing to say and does not know Keith Bradman. But Paul walks in and is upset to see Sophie there, and the officer with him said Paul asked to come here. As a fight ensues and they try to keep Sophie and Paul apart, she grabs the officer’s gun and holds it to Marlowe’s head. Benson has her gun on Sophie and orders her to put her gun down, but Sophie tells her to put hers down. She does, and kicks the gun over to Sophie and orders all of them out, and when Paul asks what is wrong with her and has she gone completely insane, Sophie fires the gun and Paul ducks. ME Warner collapses to the floor, shot. Sophie refuses to call for an ambulance.
Back at SVU, they are still working on the kidnapper’s phone records and Cragen tells Stabler that shots were just fired in the morgue and Sophie has barricaded herself inside. Stabler races there. Meanwhile, Benson tries to help Warner and Marlowe tries to talk Sophie down. Marlowe also moves to assist Benson with Warner. Outside, the cop apologized to Stabler that she got his gun, and says ESU is out on another call. Stabler says they are not waiting. He yells in to Sophie and then asks the cops to get him the blueprints to the building. She threatens to shoot all of them, and Warner struggles to breath, she says she needs a chest tube. Sophie thinks it is a trick but Warner tells Marlowe what to get to help her. Benson says she doesn’t know if she can do this and Warner says then she should get ready to watch her die. She walks Benson through the process and Warner screams in pain as Benson makes the incision and then inserts the tube. Warner can now breathe.
Marlowe asks Sophie what she wants and she wants her son back. As Sophie and Paul argue, she shoots the gun and Paul says she is out of her mind. When she tells him not to talk to her like that in front of her son, Marlowe placates her and tells Paul that Sophie is right and he should apologize to Nicholas. He goes along with it, and the Marlowe says Warner is losing a lot of blood and she would not want her son to see this and be upset. Sophie tells Benson to take Warner out. Benson calls for medical assistance and Benson wonders if there is another way in there. The cop says Stabler already found it, and we see Stabler is heading into the ductwork.
The phone rings in the morgue, and Marlowe tells Sophie to answer it but she refuses. Marlowe answers it and says that Sophie doesn’t want Benson to keep calling as Nicholas is sleeping. Paul tries to talk to her but she hits him with her gun. When Marlowe says that Sophie is scaring Nicholas, Sophie tells her not to play games with her, he is not sleeping or scared, he is dead. Marlowe asks Sophie to tell her about Nicholas. Sophie goes on about him, and Marlowe distracts her with allowing her to talk out more while Stabler continues through the ductwork. She continues to point the gun at Paul and says without Nicholas her life is over. When Marlowe tries to be sympathetic, Sophie says she knows nothing, but Marlowe admits that last year she got diagnosed with cancer, a very aggressive kind and she had to have a bilateral radical mastectomy. Stabler hears this while still in the duct. She had reconstructive surgery but it wasn’t good enough for her lover and he would not look at her or touch her and she died inside. She couldn’t go to work and spent 6 months on the couch sleeping in her clothes and she lost herself. She tells Sophie she understands and it is not easy she has to change. She came back to work and in the last month she found herself and Sophie can find herself and she has to for Nicholas. But Stabler’s phone vibrates and they all turn to hear the sound. Sophie shoots at the duct and Stabler ducks for cover. Marlowe tells her she does not want to do this. Stabler sees the text message on his phone from Cragen which says, “It was Paul. He hired Bradman. Got credit card in Sophie’s name.”
Stabler drops into another area of the morgue and opens the door and walks inn, gun drawn, and yells for Sophie to listen to him, he is on her side. He says he knows she is innocent and that the hiring of Bradman was just a set up to make her look guilty. He tells her it is over and she puts down the gun. Instead she points the gun at Paul and says it was him, as he says no, Stabler is lying. She accuses Paul of murdering her son, and he says she was going to take him away to China. He cries and says he did not mean for this to happen. She puts the gun to his head and tells him to tell God in person. But Marlowe, who is now holding Nicholas’ body, tells Sophie no, her son needs her. She drops the gun and Stabler retrieves it and gets Paul out of the room. Marlowe hands Nicholas to Sophie and she cradles his body and sing a lullaby to him. As Benson and Stabler look on, we fade to black.
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