Skeet Ulrich is completely uninteresting in his role; thankfully Corey Stoll seems to be able to breathe some life into his own character. I didn’t care one ounce for Rex’s wife Casey, partly because I hate these forced situations that bring in family members, and partly because their scenes together were devoid of drama or chemistry.
But by far the hardest part to trudge through were any of the scenes with Terrence Howard. If he was trying to convey a forcefulness of conviction and being the “moral compass,” all I saw was a man who sounded like he was near tears all the time. Unlike Alfred Molina’s performance in the previous week’s episode, ”Hollywood,” where Molina was a commanding presence, Howard was uninspiring. Peter Coyote, as DA Jerry Hardin, overpowered Howard even with the short screen time Coyote was given. In fact, even the defense attorney, played by Jay Karnes, was far more interesting than Howard. Megan Boone also fares no better. Elisabeth Rohm could have done better (and you know how awful I think Ms. Rohm was on the L&O mothership).
Often when watching crime shows, I have what I call an “Oh, Puh-Leeze” moment, when the evidence is just too tidy or a case gets solved by some strange, off the wall, you-would-not-believe occurrence. In this episode, one “Oh, Puh-Leeze” moment came when the detectives find a photo of the suspect, taken while tending her plants, with the murder weapon held up for the camera. There was also another “Oh, Puh-Leeze” moment before that when Rex Winters said that he noticed some plants had just been pruned with a pruning knife. Really, it was laughable.
I thought I could get used to the show starting without the normal Law & Order incantation, but not if they have to start each episode with a song of the week. When shows do this, I find that if I don’t like the song choice, it starts me off not liking the episode. Maybe the show WOULD be better off with Steve Zirnkilton doing his thing at the intro.
After watching "Echo Park" episode, I am worried that if the show keeps this up, it will drop off viewers’ radar soon. It makes it seem like LA is such a dull place. There wasn’t anything compelling enough in “Echo Park” to create anything but negative buzz for the show.
Here is the recap:
A woman, drinking on the beach, is told by a cop to dump out her bottle when he finds out who she is. She later hears a whistling sound which upsets her. Later, she is found dead, stabbed to death. Detectives Rex Winters (Skeet Ulrich) and Tomas “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) find out she is “Baby” Jane Lee Rayburn (Nancy Youngblut), one of the Echo Park Tribe, a cult that killed some families in the 1970s. The word “GERM" is written on a concrete wall in blood.
The detectives, back at RHD, review the case with the lieutenant (Rachel Ticotin). The Echo Park tribe killed in 1979, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Manson murders. The tribe leader, Denis Watson (Michael Massee) is still in prison. Baby Jane was paroled last year on compassionate grounds as she had breast cancer. They check the original Echo Park crime scene photos and see the word “GERMZ” also written in blood.
At the law office of Heather Benedict, whose father was Baby Jane’s original lawyer, the detectives hear that Baby Jane seemed remorseful. The lawyer plays back a phone message she got complaining that Baby Jane should die like the people she killed.
The detectives head to the home of the caller, Henry Franklin, and they have a warrant to enter. Franklin is not there but they see a wall of pictures and clippings of the case and it seems he has been keeping tabs on her as the tribe killed one of his family members. They later find him and he expected to be arrested, holding out his hands so they can cuff him. He says he got Baby Jane and finally killed her.
At RHD, the detectives question him and he admits he did it. He gives them all the details of how he killed her and said he go the knife from a kitchen drawer. It is clear by what he tells them that his information doesn’t match the knife that killed Baby Jane.
At the Ocean Bay Medical Clinic, they show a doctor a photo array and he hasn’t seen anyone in the photos. He said Jane had asked if tamoxifen caused auditory hallucinations. She said she thought someone was whistling at her.
Back at RHD, they watch a recording taken by someone on the beach that day, and they can hear whistling.
At the Central California Women’s Facility, they speak with Sally Ricks (Dale Dickey), who was part of the tribe. They play the whistling sound, and she says it was a signal used by the tribe. She thinks it’s Denis Watson, the former ringleader. When they tell her he is still in prison, she says they don’t know what he can do and how powerful he is. She says she can’t be in there with them anymore and yells to get out of the room.
The detectives question Denis Watson (Michael Massee) but he thinks they’re crazy. They think he reached out to someone from the outside but he denies it all. He hears the recoding of the whistling and says it is nice someone remembers or they killed to impress him. Winters says it is Denis’ last chance and it he did it, they will find out, and that the death penalty is back on. Watson just laughs. Later, they look through the pile of mail that Watson gets and Winters asks for copies.
Later, at Winter’s home, he and TJ discuss the case and Winter’s wife Casey (Teri Polo) arrives and clears the table. TJ looks at one of the letters and it sounds like someone as trying to provoke Watson to kill Baby Jane. The lingo is straight from the state pen. They wonder if they can get a fingerprint form the original letter.
At the Innocence Coalition, they speak with a law student, Rachel Forester (Samantha Sloyan) who admits she mailed a letter for a prisoner. The head of coalition, Jim Roman (Jay Karnes) enters and they tell him what is going on and that a murder solicitation was included. Her prints were on the envelope. He is advising Rachel not to answer and the detectives must go back and look at who she visited.
Back at RHD, they hone in on a Maura Dillon, who was out of prison awaiting a new trial and lives 10 minutes from the scene of the murder.
At Maura Dillon’s (Bonnie Root), she tells the detectives she was in the same block as Jane. She says she has not been in contact with Jane. She said she lost her children in a fire. She said Jane was like a mother to her and was wrongly convicted. They speak to her about the letter, but she won’t speak with them without a lawyer. She is scarred for the fire when she went to save her daughter, but the detectives think it’s from someone using her as an ashtray,
They later find that cigarette burns are from her prison time – a brand – and that she shared a cell with Jane. Maura also alleged Jane burned her, beat her, and raped her with a mop, but later withdrew the compliant. They compare her complaint and the letter sent to Watson, and the printing looks to be the same.
At Dillon’s apartment, Winters sees plants that were cut with a pruning knife that could have been used as the murder weapon.
Later, in interrogation, they question Dillon and she denies having such a knife. They also found a picture of her holding the knife. She becomes upset that this is happening again. They show her the prison complaint and she says that they are twisting everything and faking evidence. They have to stop questioning when her lawyer, Jim Roman, arrives. They arrest her. As they lead her off, they stop at Winter’s desk and she sees a photo of Winter’s wife Casey Ryan, who is retired from the force, and she says she knows her. She said she is a cop who framed her. Winters admits that is his wife. Roman said they have a problem as Ryan sent Dillon to jail on a coerced confession.
Back at home, Winters speaks with Casey about it. She says Maura was not coerced and she confessed and the arson report backed it up.
At the Linwood County Jail, DDA Joe Decker (Terrence Howard) and DDA Lauren Stanton (Megan Boone) speak with Roman with Dillon present. They outline what they have on Dillon. Dillon says no more lies, but Roman quiets her. He tells them what he plans to do about her wrongful conviction, saying it led to Dillon being locked up with a killer who was also a sadist and it cause psychological trauma. Dekker laughs it off but Roman says he is going to take the system apart.
At the DDA’s office, Stanton and Dekker review the plan with Winters and TJ. Dekker tells Winters that Winters can’t work the case because of a conflict. He tells Stanton to go back to Abner Featherstone, the deputy fire marshal who worked Dillon’s case.
Stanton and TJ speak with Featherstone who shows them Dillon’s case was a classic case of arson. But his facts seem a little off and they find at the time he worked the case, he didn’t have many arson cases under his belt. They later speak with another expect who shows that Featherstone was wrong and the fire was caused by a short from a kitchen appliance.
At Mattawin Studios, they speak with another guy who worked the original case who tells them after detective Ryan was done with Dillon, as if Ryan coached Dillon.
TJ and Stanton return to Dekker with their findings. He says it is some rock to push uphill, and Stanton tells him he gets to tell the boss all about it.
At the office of DA Jerry Hardin (Peter Coyote) , Hardin tells Dekker they are going to make it go away; he should offer Dillon 12 years for the manslaughter, declare victory and get out. But Dekker does not agree. Hardin says they will not apologize for a wrongful conviction and they are considering refilling the arson case. Dekker argues about the improprieties with the first case, but Hardin says that was not on his watch and he cleaned out all the bad apples. Hardin says the police department does not need the black eye. Dekker says what Hardin wants is not good law, and Hardin says it is good politics.
Back at home, Winters tells his wife what is going on. Winters ask her if there is something she wants to tell him, and he won’t be the only one who will ask her. She says she has to check on the babies and walks away.
Dekker and Stanton are back at the prison making an offer to Roman and Dillon, who knows the new arson findings clear her. Dillon gets upset and says they know she did not kill her children and refuses to negotiate. She has to tell them. Dekker takes the offer off the table, he thinks a jury needs to decide this.
Back with Harding, Dekker explains what he did but Hardin is angry. Stanton enters and says that Roman will present evidence of intimate partner battering by her cellmate in prison.
Back at home, Winters and Casey discuss the case. He is worried she will get sued and brought up on charges and they could lose everything.
At Superior Court, Dekker makes his opening statement and so does Roman, who outlines that Dillon was wrongfully convicted and then abused in jail and she killed in defense.
Outside the courthouse, Winters tells Dekker they subpoenaed his wife. She does not know Winters is talking to him and says she is being hung out to dry.
Casey is called to the stand and Dekker immediately asks for a sidebar where he objects to Casey being called, claiming her testimony is not relevant. Roman makes his argument and the judge allows her testimony. Hardin glares at Dekker from the back of the room. Dekker says that the people will stipulate that as a result of evidentiary mistakes and prosecutorial misconduct, that Dillon was wrongly convicted and did not kill her children and if not for that conviction she would have never been in prison with Rayburn. Roman accepts it and Casey is excused.
Later, a doctor testifies about what happened to Dillon and how the abuse affected her. Dekker asks about the length of time form the abuse and the murder, and he says the trauma can last a long time, and that the fear drove her to it.
On the stand, Dillon talks about being in fear of Jane all the time and the terrible things she said about her dead children. Jane said she could always find her. Dillon felt the same even after out of prison and was panicked when she found Jane was out. She had to protect herself so he found Jane and followed her and killed her before she could hurt her.
Under cross, Dekker asks her about her children in heaven, and she says she still thinks about them. She says she feels like they are there listening and she thinks of herself as a good person. She admits Jane looked different than the last time she saw her, from her cancer illness. Dekker says she was sick and harmless and Dillon says she could not be sure of that. Dekker tries to bring out the fact that Jane was too ill. She admits Jane taught her the whistle, and Dekker says Dillon did it to incite fear and to make Jane feel what she felt, and that she was angry and wanted revenge. He asks what she would tell her children about what she did to Jane. She said mommy got mad and made a mistake. She admits she was not afraid for her life, she was just angry at Jane and the people that put her in prison and that is what she thought of when she stabbed her 14 times. Dillon breaks down and said she could not stop, she was just so angry. She says it wasn’t fair and somebody had to pay. She breaks down as she says she is sorry.
Afterwards, Dekker offers her 12 years but Roman is resistant, thinking the jury won’t go for it. Dekker offers voluntary manslaughter with credit for time served, and she serves the full 6 and no parole or early release. She agrees. Dekker says he is sorry for what happened to her, but she says now everyone knows.
Later, Dekker tells Hardin about the 6 years and that he declared victory and everybody got out. Hardin says he has to go to Parker Center and smooth some feathers because Dekker’s stipulation didn’t go over well with the police chief. Dekker says he is sure Hardin will find a way to spin it to his advantage. Harden replies, “So will you, Joe.”
Back at home, Winters talks over the latest with Casey. He asks her what would she have said. She asks what would he think, and he says the truth, one way or the other. She puts her head on his shoulder as we fade to black.
All Text Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) © allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com unless otherwise noted
Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.
Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.