Finally – finally! – a case that involved special victims. Law & Order SVU “Wannabe” got back to the type of case that the SVU team should be working on and the type of case where they excel. It made for a much better episode than in recent weeks, but again, I think it would have been much better without Sharon Stone as ADA. There are times she overacts, and then there are times where she seems no better than someone reading lines. I have to admit, though, that I found her a little more tolerable in this episode that her first two outings. What I can’t understand is why they made such a big deal hyping her as being Stabler’s work partner in the past, but then they haven’t really done anything substantial with that element of her story. I wasn’t expecting to see a soap opera storyline, but I hoped to see some chemistry or something more in the stories with the two of them that gave us a look into Stabler’s past (I could care less about Marlowe’s). It seems a wasted opportunity.
There were a few things that bugged me more in this episode more than Sharon Stone. I have an issue with the whole “task force”; apparently nobody seems to verify that anyone working it is really a member of the police force. I would think (there I go, thinking again) that when assembling a task force, the person assigning one of their officers notifies the person leading the task force as to whom is coming over to help from their precinct, and/or when they arrive to work the task force that they are logged in and their credentials verified. It seems that anybody can walk into SVU and sit in on a meeting and get assignments if you have the right clothing (and maybe even when you don’t). While I’m on the topic of the task force, I am a little surprised that with Cragen being so happy with how “Officer” Fletcher performed that he didn’t call Lt. Van Buren immediately to thank her for lending him to the task force. It may have tipped them off to Fletcher being a phony much sooner.
Another issue was Jo Marlowe’s use of the head slap, a technique that was mastered (and in my opinion is now “owned’) by the character Leroy Jethro Gibbs of CBS’s “NCIS”. It works on that show because Gibbs does it only with his team. Jo Marlowe, however, seems to do it with a (fake) cop, and then does it again with the same person when she is prepping him for his testimony. I would buy it if it was with her close colleagues, but not with witnesses or with people she doesn’t really know, even if they are cops. Besides, it seems like unprofessional behavior for an ADA.
I was also surprised that Marlowe prepped Fletcher in her office where she had her police mementos displayed, especially right after Fletcher was told he couldn’t have any police stuff in his own home. It seemed insensitive. Then she chastises him for touching her medal and warns him if he took it, he would violate his probation. What a tease.
As usual, the core cast all performed very well and without them this episode may not have worked at all for me.
Here is the recap:
A mother and her daughter are shopping for TVs when an image of a man “flashing” shows up on all the screens. Later, back at SVU, Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) tells everyone – including people from 5 different precincts - that an exhibitionist plugged a video camera into the feed but security footage caught him in the act. The man also matches the description of a flasher targeting young girls. Fin (Ice-T) tells everyone the man has a distinguishing mark on his abdomen that looks like the state of Florida. When someone complains about being pulled in for an exhibitionist case, Cragen tells them the man has also raped three girls in Central Park since the electronics store incident two months ago. Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) names the three victims: Colleen Johnson, 11; Tina Harper, 15; and Nicole Goshgarian, 12. Detective Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) says the rapes start5ed 4 weeks ago, all on Sunday afternoons. It is Sunday now and Cragen wants them in Central Park.
In Central Park, Benson and Stabler keep a lookout and someone radios they are in pursuit of a suspect. The officer makes chase but does not give his location. The officer catches up with him and knocks him down, and as he goes to radio his location the suspect struggles with him. We hear the officer radio for help as Benson and Stabler race to find him. Soon, they find his gun on the ground and see the officer coming out from under a bridge with the suspect. The suspect said he was just asking a girl what time it was when the officer assaulted him.
Fin talks with the girl in question, who said she was just checking her watch when the cop came over and asked the guy to lower his pants. The cop got “handy” with the guy. Meanwhile, back with Benson and Stabler, the cop - Officer Fletcher (Graham Davie) says the guy has duct tape and a box cutter - a rape kit - with him, and the man says it is just a utility pack. His name is Wayne Hanket (Raphael Sbarge). They arrest him. Stabler gives Fletcher instructions on how to handle the evidence; Hanket proclaims his innocence but the officer grabs Hanket’s pants to show the birthmark. Stabler tells him it is not going anywhere and they will take pictures at the station house.
Back at SVU, Hanket is in interrogation with Benson and Stabler, with Stabler taking photos of the birthmark. When Hanket moves to drop his drawers and expose himself, they stop him and get him to sit down. He said it was just an accident that it “fell out”. They confront him with the birthmark from the surveillance. The detectives continue to press him on his flashing, and then show him the photos of one of the rape victims.
Meanwhile, Cragen complements Fletcher on the good collar, and when Cragen says he will write him up a recommendation and asks for his C.O., Fletcher says he is with the 2-7. Cragen tells him that is his old command and he will put in a good word for him with Van Buren. Fletcher says he was just doing his job, but Cragen says taking a serial rapist off the street fast tracks careers. When Fletcher walks out without the evidence, Cragen calls him back and tells him to bag it and tag it and enjoy his paperwork.
In the SVU squad room, Fletcher is at the typewriter when Fin and Munch (Richard Belzer) approach. They tell him they interviewed the girl he saved from being raped, and she said Hanket never touched her or threatened her. But they tell him his stop was good, but they want him to walk them through it.
Meanwhile, with Hanket still in interrogation, ADA Jo Marlowe (Sharon Stone) observes the interrogation. When Hanket begins to break down, Marlowe says to herself “Oh cry me a river” and then thinks out loud for Stabler to go for the kill. Stabler continues to press him, and he said he told his dad there was something wrong with himself and he needed help. Marlowe comments about daddy issues as Fin walks in and tells her there may be a glitch in the case and tells her she needs to talk to the arresting officer.
Fletcher is still typing as Marlowe approaches. She says he is just a kid, and he says is he 22. She tells him he needs a big pat on the back, and then slaps him in the back of the head and calls him an idiot, asking if they don’t teach basic search procedures at the academy any more. When he refused to show his birthmark, he should have brought him in for questioning and said he violated his 4th Amendment right to search and seizure by “pantsing” him. But Fletcher says he started to run and he just grabbed to stop him. But Marlowe says Fletcher pulled down his waistband and THEN he ran, Fletcher stammers and said it happened so fast, but Marlowe is not thrilled, and Fletcher says he ran and gave him probable cause.
In Cragen’s office, Marlowe tell him says any attorney will get this evidence thrown out, and that everything he is spilling right now to Benson and Stabler will go straight down the crapper. Marlowe says Fletcher is still in the squad room and Cragen says they can still hold Hanket for attacking an officer. But when they get to the desk where Fletcher was typing, he’s gone and the evidence is still not logged. Nobody has seen him. Cragen says he was on loan for the task force from the 2-7 and he will find out what he did to piss somebody off. He gets off the phone and tells Marlowe that Van Buren said they did not load him to SVU and they don’t have an officer Fletcher there. Cragen doubts he is a cop.
Later, Stabler tells Marlowe that they lifted Fletcher's prints off the typewriter and he is not in the system as a cop. There are no prints in any other data base. But Benson thinks this gets all the evidence back in as Fletcher was not really a cop, but Munch adds that the rapist may be able to sue Fletcher. Marlowe says they have to find him, and also list the paperwork as a citizen’s arrest, but she can’t file the complaint without his signature. Benson comments they have 24 hours from the arrest, so they now have 8 hours. Fin has a photo of Fletcher as someone took photos of the arrest. She tells them not to bother releasing it to the media as it will be too late and why tip a lousy hand. Cragen says that Fletcher’s uniform was real, his hat was from Marcum Uniform.
Munch and Fin head to Marcum Uniform and speak with Ray Marcum. They chastise him about selling the uniform but said he would not sell a gun as he had no ID. He believed he was a cop.
Back at SVU, they found that 20 Fletchers took the police exam over the last couple years and Munch gets the list of names. Benson checks it against the DMV database. Marlowe walks in and wants an update and Benson finds a Phil Fletcher that looks a little like their fake cop and may be a relative.
At the Fletcher residence, Benson speaks with Phil who says he has tons of cousins he has never seen and he calls for his dad to come out. She shows him the photo and remembers the guy from McGinty’s, the cop bar on 3rd. Benson and Stabler head to McGinty’s and speak to Hannigan there who recognizes Fletcher as someone they call him “The Menace” and says his name is Brad something. He picks up tabs and pumps them for stories and he is a total wannabe. They tell him they don’t have a lot of time and he says he will make some calls to see if anyone knows him.
Stabler and Benson return to SVU and Marlowe is disappointed that they have nothing, but they said they found a guy who has a line on him. She says she has three rape victims and their parents in there waiting for a line up, and says she is getting some air. Clearly she is having issues dealing with the young victims. She says she is going through with the lineup and tells them not to let her down. When they have the lineup, all the victims pick #2 – Hanket. One of the girls wanted to thank the officer who got him, but Cragen tells her he is not here at the moment, but he should be there soon.
Marlowe continues to press Benson and Stabler for an ID and wants to release the picture to the press but Stabler thinks she waited too long. Benson gets a call from Hannigan who says he found somebody who knows Fletcher.
At the NYPD Explorers cleanup site, Munch and Fin talk to Sgt. Duncan about Brad Fletcher and he says that is his real name. He signed up with the Explorers when his was 14 and wanted to join the force one day, and he is still an Explorer. When they wonder if her is too old to be an Explorer, Duncan asks how old do they think he is?
Benson and Stabler arrive at a school as it is being let out, and they spot Fletcher, who says he can explain. Benson says the ADA only has 40 minutes to file his complaint and tells him to sign the report. He says that was the best moment of his life, but they arrest him for impersonating an officer.
In interrogation with his mother, they explain how Fletcher always wanted to be a cop, and they tell him he can kiss that dream goodbye as he committed 2 felonies, one of which is carrying the gun. His mother said it was hers, but they remind her he is still too young to get a permit to carry. They tell him the rapist may walk because of him.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Ms. Pond (Alex Kinston) is asking Judge Ridenour (Harvey Adkin) for a motion to exclude the evidence because Fletcher violated his rights. Marlowe says he is a civilian, but Pond says he was acting at as agent of the department. But when Pond says that Fletcher was in full uniform, briefed on the case, went to meetings, and assigned a patrol, the judge disagrees with Marlowe. Marlowe says it is embarrassing but Brad is 16 years old who got carried away, but the judge disagrees. Marlowe tries inevitable discovery, but the judge says they may have different definitions of inevitable, and he will review the motion and let them know when he has a ruling. Pond says at that point she will be filing a motion to dismiss. When Marlowe says the department in no way condones what Fletcher did, Pond says “oh please, there was talk of rewarding him with a medal.” Marlowe disagrees, and says they are filing charges and she is due in court right now.
In family court, Brad is upset and his mother tells him to take his medicine. His lawyer says they cut him a good deal and he won’t have a felony on his record. Fletcher pleads guilty and the judge reviews the plea agreement, stating that he would serve 100 hours of community service. Marlowe adds he has to relinquish all police paraphernalia, and we simultaneously see Munch and Fin clearing out his room. He also can’t subscribe to police magazines or do anything on the internet regarding the police. The judge says if he successfully complies, at the end of 6 months the case will be dismissed and his record expunged on his 21st birthday. But after court is over, Marlowe stops Fletcher and says she is not done with him, she needs him to testify at Hanket’s trial. But she wants him to come to her office and go over his testimony if it is OK with his mom.
In her office Marlowe practices with Fletcher, as a defense attorney. She says Pond will try to discredit her, but this is not about him, it’s about the rape victims. He is easily provoked but he knows he must be calm. He sees she was a cop, and she tells him it was in another life. When he asked how it was like, she smacks him on the back of the head. He asks what she got the medal for, and she says she took down a drug cartel. He asks her to tell him all about it, but her phone rings. While she is on the phone arranging to meet someone after work, Fletcher gets up and grabs her medal. Without looking, she tells him to put that down. There is a knock at the door and a man tells Marlowe that Judge Ridenour wants to see her in his courtroom. She tells Fletcher it should just take a couple minutes and to stay put and not to touch anything.
As the judge is giving his ruling, Fletcher walks into the courtroom. The judge says that Fletcher was acting for the police and grants the motion to exclude the evidence and Pond asks to dismiss the case, which he does, without prejudice. Marlowe can still re-file if she gets new evidence. Marlowe sees Fletcher and asks him what the hell is he doing there. He is upset now because he said she said filing charges against him would guarantee that Hanket would be put in jail. She says it is a momentary setback and all she needs is some new evidence. But he is clearly upset.
Marlowe speaks with Benson and Stabler and says Fletcher is nearly suicidal over this and they have to go over everything they have. They talk about going back to the original victims to get evidence not connected to Fletcher. Benson reminds them that Hanket flashed them while in custody by Marlowe says that is only a misdemeanor. She says we need to sit on him 24/7, and Stabler asks, “we?”
Benson, Stabler, and Marlow arrive late at night at Hanket’s home. Stabler said that Hanket told his father he was sick but his father didn’t want to hear about it. Marlowe thinks if his father wants him out of his basement all he has to do is give up his son. They get out of the car to go to the house, but hear gunfire. They see Fletcher stumble out of the door and down the steps, bleeding. An old man – Wayne’s father (Raymond J. Barry) walks out and says he is not the criminal, that bastard broke into his house. Benson takes his gun, and Marlowe tells Fletcher to hang in there. Wayne Hanket watches from the doorway.
In the hospital, Fletcher is recovering and asks Marlowe what happened She tells him he was shot in the line of duty, and when he says "really?!", she gets angry that the bullet was a quarter of an inch from his aorta. She tells him when he broke into that house he violated his probation, and he is in trouble as the Hanket’s are pressing charges. She asked how he got in, and he said when he was vouchering the evidence he got his house key. He just wanted to get new evidence She said he blew his last shot to get into the academy and sacrificed his future for nothing. But he says she did not see what he saw, he is so sick, and he means Wayne’s dad. Wayne was asleep and he was searching through his room and he heard muffled screams, it was the old man who was in the back room watching a video of Wayne raping Tina Harper and Wayne's father was getting off watching it. She says if this pans out, he may have bought himself another shot at the academy. She hits him on the head as he laughs, and says she doesn’t want to see his ass back here for another 5 years.
Back at SVU, Benson tells Cragen this doesn’t make sense, Wayne did not blindfold his victims and nobody saw him with a camera. The do know Wayne has a thing for cameras. The camera wasn’t set up in advance as Fletcher saw a close up of Tina’s face as if they were watching through his eyes. They wonder about his baseball cap, as the victims says he never took if off. Cragen tells them to get a search warrant.
At Hanket’s home, Benson says they will take all the hats to see what Morales can find, and Stabler comments to Mr. Hanket about all the porn he has in the house. They tell him about the “home movies” they heard he was watching and Stabler asks him where they are. He said when Fletcher broke in he was afraid for his life. They ask where is Wayne and Mr. Hanket says he went for a walk. Stabler asks if he was wearing a hat.
Fin is on the phone saying that Hanket was wearing a hat. He thinks that Hanket made them and he ducked into a peep show. Fin hangs up and tells Munch they have a search warrant for the hat, so they can hit it. They head into the peep show but Wayne is walking out. Fin grabs his hat and sees the camera, and says they are ending his movie career.
Back at SVU, Cragen tells Marlowe the only footage they got from the camera was from the peep show, but Benson and Stabler tore the house apart and they found a rape video under the floorboards. This means they get Wayne back but now wonder how involved is his father?
Benson walks in to see Wayne in interrogation and he wants to see his dad. She seems overly sympathetic towards his father, and this upsets him. He says it was his father’s idea and his father made him do it. He says he has been putting him down for years, calling him a sissy and that he was worthless. Benson says he needs to take responsibility for his own actions, and he said like when he killed his mother. He said she died when he was 12 and it was his fault, his father said Wayne made her worry so much she got cancer and he could never marry again as no woman would want him as a son. His father brought prostitutes home and made him watch. His father brought home an extra one for him and he didn’t work, he couldn't do it in front of him and that made his father hate him more. Benson says she is sorry no one held him when he was young but he is 38 now and asks why he didn’t just leave when he was 18?
Meanwhile, Stabler is questioning Wayne’s father who has nothing good to say about Wayne. Stabler accuses Mr. Hanket, saying he knew what Wayne was doing and that he rigged the cameras for Wayne. Stabler adds they found him on the store surveillance camera watching Wayne and calls him a pervert. Stabler argues with him and Hanket tells Stabler Wayne couldn’t get a girl any other way.
Wayne asks what happens to him now, and Marlowe says he will be transported to central booking for processing. His father walks out and yells to Wayne that he wishes he had him aborted. Wayne calls to his dad and then runs to him and hugs him, saying he is sorry he got him in trouble. The detectives separate them, and his father yells Wayne is dead to him and Wayne yells that he loves him. Marlowe watches him being taken away as we fade to black.
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