Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Law & Order Criminal Intent “Disciple” Recap & Review

All photos from USA Network

Maybe I missed it, but I am not quite sure what would make Law & Order Criminal Intent “Disciple” a major case. It seems like you average everyday homicide. Sure, it later tied into a serial killer, but no one would have known that at the time the case was assigned to the MCS. And how “nice” of them to assign Serena Stevens to a case that she would later have a personal connection. In the real world – yes, there is a real world outside the Law & Order franchise universe – it would make more sense for homicide to start with the case and if they later make the connection to something bigger, then bring in the big guns to finish the job. After all these years, I still don’t get what consitutes calling in the major case squad. I also seemed to have missed why Diego was shot – was it just because he was there with a hooker, who the killer really wanted to kill?

I also thought with the promos that the episode was going to feature Lorraine Bracco that we would get more than an appearance in just a short scene that could easily be missed if one blnked.

Criminal Intent us getting a little too dark for my tastes. It’s not that murder isn’t a dark subject to begin with, but I just get sickened by some of the methods these wackos use to kill, or, in this case, its “Fargo-like” way of disposing of the body. If a show gets too high an “ick” factor for me, I’m no longer am interested in the case. I think I tuned out on this episode the minute I saw what looked like mystery meat chicken parts – which turned out to be body parts – being introduced. While the show is staying true to the intent of the criminal, I am finding that the crimes are becoming weirder, and at the same time less interesting.

Here is the recap:

Elvis Howell (Chance Kelly) is being readied to serve his final sentence of death. Detective Serena Stevens (Saffron Burrows) arrives to witness it and runs into her old partner Marcus (Paul Calderon). As they get ready to administer the lethal cocktail, Howell denies the killing and says the person who did it is still out there. Meanwhile, a man leaves a gated parking lot at a construction site after talking to his wife on the phone, and we see another man remains in a car parked in the lot – and he’s dead

Detectives Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) and Serena Stevens arrive on the scene; ME Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) is already there and tells them the victim was killed with a single large caliber shot to his left temple. Stevens finds a hero sandwich in the car with no receipt but there is a pay stub for Diego Caldez from the Agora Diner in Queens. Rodgers puts the time of death as before 2 AM and she tells Nichols to check out the victim’s pants. Nichols sees that the victim's pants and underwear are down to his ankles and concludes his was in the middle of a “major distraction.” Stevens sees a copy of “Nookie” magazine in the car. Nichols sees Caldez has over $1,000 in cash in his wallet and betting slips from the OTB. They assume a woman was with him and search the area and find the heel to a woman’s high heeled shoe.

The detectives head to the Agora Diner and speak with Pete who says Diego was last seen there at 10-10:30 and says Diego was “very married.” The detectives check out some skanky looking hookers in the diner and ask about Diego but they play dumb. Finally, one of them says Diego stopped her around 11 for a “quick and easy” but she was booked but does not know who he eventually picked up.

Back at Major Case, Nichols discusses the case with Captain Zoe Callas (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and Stevens enters and says they found the fingerprints of two women on the shoe, belonging to Maricela Fernandez and Gabriella Belteno.

They arrive at the apartment looking for Maricela Fernandez, and a young woman with a crying baby answers the door and says she is not there. She later tells them she has not seen her since late yesterday. They take turns watching the baby and have no pimp. She asks if Maricela is dead and Serena says they do not know. She tried calling Maricela but she did not answer.

They decide to track her cell phone, and with some tech help at Major Case, they track the phone to a nature trail at Hunter’s Point where the find her phone – and nearby, Maricela’s body, her heel missing. She appeared to have been raped and then redressed. She appears to have been strangled. They wonder if it is a “Son of Sam” copycat; “Son of Sam" coming up for parole next month.

At the morgue, ME Rodgers says a device was used to strangle Maricela, Stevens wonders if it was a baton. Rodgers says the murder weapon was filthy. She had sex before she died and used a spermicide. She appears to have been tied with rawhide and had her back to the killer. She has scratches that were self inflicted but she also found a “love bite” below her left hip. Stevens hears this and says Nichols was right to think it was a copycat, but not Son of Sam.

Back with Callas, they discuss Elvis Howell’s record, killing 7 women using a police baton and always used a condom and left a hickey near the victim’s left hip. Everything in this case matches Howell’s last victim, Courtney Gunderson, and this was Stevens' first homicide conviction. Nichols wonders about Howell’s last comments suggests they look at Howell’s last visitors but Stevens is adamant about their conviction and gets on Zach for his “grassy knoll” theories. Callas believes there is a copycat and wants to compare photos with Courtney’s and Maricela’s killings and Stevens suggests they also look at autopsy photos of the other women Howell was suspected of killing.

Elsewhere, at a nursery, Dale (Ryan O’Nan) and Ernie (McCaleb Burnett) talk and Ernie seems to be a bit of an obsessive with the numbers. We also see what looks like a mystery baton-like measuring stick and a bag of “chicken parts.”
Later, Callas says Cook County can’t find the Gunderson photos and suspects they were stolen. But they can get a court order to exhumer her body.

Elsewhere, Dale picks up a hooker and offers her a lot of money to make him right again. He also offers her drugs.

Back at Major Case, Stevens’ ex-partner and mentor Marcus Feingold shows up and Stevens introduces him to Nichols. She tells them about their current case and that she wants to be sure about their original case. Nichols says it was his idea to exhume Courtney’s body and when Stevens tells Marcus the autopsy photos were missing, he says no perv will find them on the internet. She asked him who he greased to sit on the photos, then gets pissy with him and says unless the photos turn up Courtney will be coming out of the ground.

Back in the car with Dale and the hooker, the hooker shoots up, and he gets out a baton. Later, he is retying a knot on the strap on the baton, walking away from a freezer that looks like it has blood on it.

At Major Case, Nichols hands Stevens the photos of Courtney and said somebody lit that candle at St. Patrick’s.

Later, in the morgue, ME Rodgers goes over the photo comparison of Courtney’s and Maricela’s bodies and the other cases. They also have a Dr. Sunday (?) there to offer an expert opinion, and he says a hickey is a suction bruise. On some of the victims, that were credited as Howell’s earlier victims, the bruises were less defined, made by a person with thinner lips which makes it harder for form a seal so Howell used his teeth. But other bruises differ from Howell’s as they were made by someone with full lips as there are no teeth marks. Nichols wonders if Howell had a disciple and they should find out who Howell knew. Nichols again wants them to look at the visitors log at the prison. Stevens wants to be the one to go to Chicago to get the information. When Nichols offers to go with her, Stevens gets testy and wonders if he can’t trust her. He says no, but he says she has a personal investment in this, but she doesn’t think Howell is innocent and they haven’t proven otherwise but when and if they do, she will accept it.

At the Alton Correctional Facility in Chicago, Illinois, the warden refers Stevens to a Reverend Reading. She goes to his home and they talk about Howell and there may have been some trust between them. She brings up the copycat. She tells him she recalls that Howell, before he died, asked if everything was in order and she saw the reverend tap his shirt pocket. He says he Howell just wanted him to mail a goodbye letter to a friend, Dale, no last name. She asks if he recalls the address.

Later, in the car, as Nichols drives, he suggests they shelve conclusion, follow the evidence, and keep an open mind. At the Dolores House Foster home, they ask the woman who runs the place (Lorraine Bracco) about Dale and she recalls one Dale who was there, Dale Grisco. He ran off when he was 15 and was a pain in the butt and weird. She would have flipped him back out to county had it not been for his “life coach” from a guidance program, who took Dale to baseball games and they bonded. She says she should still have the letter there.

Elsewhere, we see Ernie digging and Dale tells him to remember to check the depth. He holds up a baton like object that he is using to stick in the dirt to measure the depth. We later see him putting what looks like meat or body parts in a chipper and spraying it on the dirt.

Back at Major Case, Nichols reads the letter to Dale that came from Howell who said he told Dale to run and said while he got credit for his last “cleaning” the final one was all him and he will make it right. He says he is proud of him and what rots is sure to rise, and signed it “Professor Howell” and that “Elvis has left the building.” Callas gets a phone call, and said another girl, Rae Ann Farmer, was missing for three and last seen at Hunter’s Point. Later, detectives hear that no body has been found in Hunter's Point, and they also can’t find a Dale Grisco with the DMV that matches the birthday given to the foster home and wondered if he changed it. They wonder what he is doing when he is not killing, Nichols comments that serial killers do not hibernate. She says Howell taught the reverend how to grow things as part of the cycle of life, and they wonder if he taught Dale gardening or landscaping. They check the list of people who had keys to the area where Diego was killed, and see an “Elvis Nursery and Landscaping” in Jackson Heights near the dumping ground.

Later, at a merry go round, Dale talks with his wife and says his happy. But she is distraught and says she found something in his sock drawer. He said it is heroin and he took it from Ernie. She suggests he let Ernie go but he said Ernie deserves a chance.

Meanwhile, Stevens and Nichols arrive at the nursery and see the locked freezer that looks like it has blood on it and the area smells. Ernie spots them and grabs the baton and tries to run away from them but they stop him and he puts down the baton and says he works with Dale and doesn’t do drugs. Nichols picks up the baton and sniffs it. Later, with more police on the scene, Ernie says he does not do drugs and just has problems, he was always special ed but was always good with numbers. He says only Dale knows the combination on the lock on the freezer but Dale will be mad that they took the stick that is 24” – magic numbers for everything they do. It is just the right depth for mulch and then says 6-12-24 are the magic numbers. Nichols uses those numbers and opens the freezer and they see it is empty, it smells and there is blood in it. Ernie says everything in there has been mulched. When Dale and his wife and kid arrive at the nursery and see the police, Dale says he will deal with this and he loved her. They arrest him. Later, Nichols comments they found fragments of human remains and think they found Rae Ann Farmer and they may find others. When Nichols says that’s it, Stevens brings up Courtney Gunderson and Nichols tells her it is a closed case. She says she has to know, did Dale really kill Courtney? Nichols warns this will be challenging the highest authority and her own police work but she insists she has to know.

Back at Major Case, they question Dale, but he says they have the evidence and they have all they need to know. He says he has cleaned the world of whores and whore mongers. Stevens said Courtney was a teacher and he responds with Courtney, mistakes are made. Nichols says he was just 15 when Courtney was murdered and asked if he picked the wrong victim and said Courtney was a clean girl. He says he was there and Howell admits that Howell drove. Nichols says Howell told him what to look for but Courtney is different from other victims, and asks if Howell picked her for Dale. They found photos of Courtney in Howell’s house as part of training, and Dale seems to not understand this. Nichols says Howell wanted power over him but Dale said he wanted to be his own man. Nichols says that Dale cares about Ernie and his family and Howell would not have, and Howell made a bad choice in him. Nichols adds that now that Dale has feeling and caring, it will be a real burden. Dale doesn’t know why they are doing this, and Nichols says they want him to know who he really is, and that Howell tempted him and said he could have Courtney and he would show him how, but Dale says Howell showed him on a whore. When Stevens yells at him asking if Courtney screamed, he said she did and she begged but when she asked God to forgive, he couldn’t do it. He said he failed Howell but he only failed him once. He admits Howell killed Courtney. Dale said he told him he was sorry and swore he would never fail him again and hasn’t until now.

Afterwards, Stevens tells Marcus that they are still OK and she will call the Gundersons. He asked if Nichols helped out and she said yes. Marcus said he doesn’t know Nichols but to thank Nichols for him, and he leaves. Nichols asks Stevens if thinks are OK and she says things are fine, and thanks him – from Marcus and from her as well. Nichols says he is just happy to be wrong. As Stevens nods and smiles, we fade to black.

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Rob said...

I guess we'll respectfully disagree here. I'm enjoying the dark subject matter and think its the natural stomping ground for a show concerned with the psyche and intent of the criminal. The sort of things we've seen this season, sadly, have been way too typical of many serial killers and career criminals.

I did think this was a bit heavy on the coincidence but other than that I thought it was a fine episode. Compellingly acted and written. Agree about how tiny Lorraine Bracco's role was... I kept expecting it to link back to her.

The definition of Major Case on this show has become extremely vague. It was under Balcer but since his departure even moreso. Still, it doesn't seem to be quite as insane as SVU's jurisdiction.

What did you think of Stevens and Burrows in this one? ATL&O?

All Things Law and Order said...

Rob, while I was watching this episode, I found myself thinking of how I would have liked the story if it were told with Nichols being paired with Wheeler or even Eames, and came to the conclusion that there is still something missing with Saffron Burrows playing detective. I think I would have bought the "I have to know" scenario more from Wheeler or Eames. There is just something there - or maybe not there - that fails to bring credibility to Serena Stevens as a detective. I always think of TV detective partners as being a bit of yin-yang as far a personalities or methods, and Nichols and Stevens seem both skewed to the same style...and as a result I am having a hard time finding anything of interest with Serena Stevens.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recap. I like this episode. Serena seemed a little bit over the top in this episode, Nichols is always... perfect! :-) Can't help but love him :-). Ah, I like the captain too, she's cool! By the way, you happen to delete my post last week? I didn't recall posting anything inappropriate, well...

ci luver! said...

I didn't like "Disciple", the episodes aren't right anymore. This is WAY beyond the Goren/Eames departures!

This show needs help if Goldblum is going to continue to be the lead detective. "Disciple" made me want to kick the crap out of my flat-screen!

And what the freakin' hell is next weeks episode, VAMPIRES?

All Things Law and Order said...

Did I delete an anonymous post on last week's episode? I don't know. I don't think so. I only delete stuff that is profane, inflamatory, or just plain inappropriate. I don't remember any comments like that on last week's episode!

Jachelle said...

I did not care for this episode very much at all. There were a few attempts at the humor that I enjoyed in last weeks episode, but they fell flat. Normally I love any episode that features guest star Paul Calderon (a frequent staple of the Law & Order universe), but he was woefully underused.
I also agree that the ick factor was a bit much in this one, ATLO. Nothing I haven't seen on the CSIs, but LOCI was always about implied violence and the psychology behind it not outright gore. I'm still watching and I do enjoy some of the episodes more than others, but if the rumors are true this is the last season, I can't say I would miss it.

Joshua Morton said...

In my opinion; Disicple needed help, all the way around. I'd go into deep information on all I thought was wrong but it would basically be a long story here.

But it was not good. Last week's episode was better (not really - but better than last night's).

Melvin Gaines said...

I actually liked last night's episode, and, after watching some previous episodes of LOCI from earlier years, I believe that the shows now are truer to form when compared to the earlier years. I prefer to watch the episodes a second time, and I believe the writing overall is excellent. I am not warming up to the Serena character much, and we'll see if she comes back. The only episode that I can't watch from this season was Abel & Willing. It was good but too creepy to watch again.

Joshua Morton said...

Melvin Gaines,

You think the writing from last night was BETTER than writing we've had before the past 8 1/2 years?!

Come on! Maybe the Warren Leight days were weak yet realistic for actual events that happen in peoples lives, the real melodramatic feeling.

And Rene Balcer the man who knows psychological and criminal behavior?!

I'm sorry but season 9 isn't to my appealing, I can and will write a better Law & Order: CI episode!

Anonymous said...

Does the Serena Stevens character even have a personality? I haven't seen any evidence of it.

Anonymous said...

From tvbythenumbers:

Law & Order: Criminal Intent
- 3.075 million viewers
- 2.2/4 HH
- 0.8/2 A18-49

Though Law & Order: Criminal Intent increased its overall viewing by more than 200,000 viewers from the previous week, it dropped 20% with adults 18-49 from a 1.0 rating last week to a 0.8 rating this week.

Anonymous said...

^So CI is officially an 'old people' show now? If it get's canceled, it better not be because of that.

Anonymous said...

Great job you're doing here!
I'm looking for information about the filming of LOCI episodes. Where the show is filming is everywhere, but WHEN it's filming is much more difficult to find out.
Do you know where I could find this information, regarding all seasons? If I could for each episode when it was filmed, that would be great.
Thank you!

All Things Law and Order said...

Hi Anne - filming information is not really made public far in advance. Sometimes, though, when the show films on location, a few days in advance, the production people post notices in the neighborhoods involved and many times the information shows up on this web site:

I hope this helps!

Sheila said...

LOCI needs to be canceled after next weeks episode - it looks stupid as it sounds. This episode was probably the only good one (Nichols-Stevens) of the season!

I heard the season finale is (a two-parter) supposed to be about Nichols's parents and him falling in love with Stevens. Bleh!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the answer!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Melvin Gaines, if you actually re-watch some of the earlier seasons, these episodes have been much closer in tone than CI has been in years.

Also, people always always always forget that earlier seasons had some poor writing in them from time to time.

So yeah, I'd agree the writing's gotten better since season 6 or 7.

Tell the Law & Order Truth said...

at the Anonymous on 06/04 at 4:45AM:

I disagree with the both of youse!

LOCI's episodes from 2001-2006 had better episodes than the ones from 2008-present!

Warren Leight was the best writer for the show. Rene Balcer and Walon Green (where the freak is the troll) they need to stay with Law & Order, esp. if rumors say that Dick Wolf is talking to FOX and TNT for a season 21!

Anonymous said...

See, When I watch the new episodes I cant help but think i Have already seen this episode before, like they just cut the old guy out and put Jeff glodblum in the same exact episode, Its happened a few times and they say the episode is new, but I know i saw it already, How is this possible, and im not the only one, my gf says the same thing

e jerry said...

The most amusing thing about this episode is that all these bodies were found in Hunter's Point, Queens, which is about eight miles from one of New York's more notorious hooker strolls, Hunts Point in the Bronx.