Thursday, November 4, 2010

Law & Order LA “Pasadena” Recap & Review

All photos from NBC

Law & Order Los Angeles “Pasadena” didn’t have much to do with the city of Pasadena, but it had a lot to do with an affair, a pregnant mistress, lots of money and a trsut fund, a politician, and a dying wife. That’s a lot to fit in one hour, but this episode did it very well. While the outcome was predictable, it was still very interesting to uncover just who would be so cold as to run down a pregnant woman with a car. In this case, it takes more than one motivated, and/or bitter person.

This episode was great on many levels. Alfred Molina is wonderful in this role and now I find myself looking forward to those episodes where he’s the DDA. He’s commanding, he’s confident, and he’s smart, and I like his crisp decisiveness in determining a course of action. Regina Hall was a little better in this episode; they seemed to add a twinge of cynicism to her character. Morales said men fear being alone most as they grow old – I always thought they feared not having enough money. Maybe the men out there can confirm whether Morale’s assessment is correct.

Skeet Ulrich and Corey Stoll are making a good team but I think Stoll steals just about every scene he is in. This is the first episode, though, that I felt the partnership between the detectives seemed natural and real, as if viewers were actually watching two real detectives at work.

The camera work was fantastic. Using unusual camera angles and in some cases, using color - with lighting (as in the alley at the crime scene), with clothing, or even a simple grapefruit floating in a pool - made the scenes come alive. I guess I am one of those people who enjoys a visual story just as much as seeing the actors or the story itself, and I really liked how they presented this episode.

Here is the recap:
After leaving her job at restaurant for the day, Rebecca Townley (Rebecca Mader) is hit by a car as she walks to her car. Detectives Rex Winters (Skeet Ulrich) and TJ Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) are called to the scene. A witness describes a car hitting her and then stopping and backing over her again. While Rebecca is not dead, it still may be a homicide as the detectives find she was 16 weeks pregnant.

The detectives speak with the restaurant owner who is surprised to hear Rebecca was pregnant. He also adds she told him last month she was quitting and she agreed to stay on a while longer but only if she could work at that location.

At Rebecca’s apartment, they find she hasn’t been there in a month. But she had been there to pick up her mail. Her closets are empty. The guy who let them into her apartment tells the detectives to tell Rebecca that “Kern is praying for her.” The detectives think she may be hiding from the ex husband.

The detectives track down her husband Robert Forrester (Michael Mosley), who says he was away on business. They tell him about Rebecca and that she is in a coma. He hasn’t seen her for four months over financial BS. It was a clean break, but there were circumstances. She cheated on him. He is surprised to hear she was pregnant and thinks it must have been someone from the restaurant.

Later, the detectives find Forrester’s alibi checks out. They decide to check on the baby daddy. Rebecca’s car was located and inside it they found a corporate gas card for Yarborough Media Strategies. They head to the company and speak with Adam Yarborough (Rob Benedict) and are told Rebecca was an outside consultant. He is shocked to hear she was run down by a car. When they mention the baby he says he needs to speak with an attorney. When they press him about where Rebecca had been living, Adam, blows them off.

Back at the Robbery Homicide Division, TJ confers with Lt. Arleen Gonzales (Rachel Ticotin) and they wonder if Adam and Rachel were living in a “shag palace.” Rex finds Rebecca charged for two OB-GYN visits in Pasadena and wonder why she would go so far; maybe the “shag palace” is near there.

The detectives speak with Dr. Weinstein who tells them Rebecca just found out she was having a boy. Rebecca never identified the father. He gives them the address he has on file for her, it is in Pasadena with Adam Yarborough as the contact. His office sent pre-natal vitamins to that address last week.

Rex and TJ head to the house, and serve a warrant to Carolyn Yarborough (Karis Campbell) who is Adam’s wife. She doesn’t know who Rebecca Townley is but they search the house anyway.

Carolyn is clearly rattled by this, but TJ finds pre-natal vitamins for Rebecca in the medicine cabinet. Adam races in and tells Carolyn not to say another word. Rex threatens to arrest Carolyn for obstruction and tells them they can skip it if they all come down for a friendly chat.

Adam and his lawyer are in the RFH interrogation room, and they tell TJ that Carolyn could not have children and Rebecca was a surrogate. A fertility clinic handled the insemination. Rex peaks to Carolyn who said Adam had an affair with Rebecca and got her pregnant and since Carolyn and Adam can’t have children they decided to keep the baby and house Rebecca while she was pregnant. She said she and Adam are committed to make this work. Rex is amazed and skeptical at how well Carolyn is handling the situation. He heads over to the other room where TJ is questioning Adam. TJ tells him Adam’s story and Rex says what Carolyn told him. Rex pressures Adam on what he is really hiding. Adam says the night Rebecca was run down, he was at a political fundraiser in Bel Air, and walks out with the lawyer.
At the home of woman who held the fundraiser (K Callan), she says Adam’s company handled her fundraiser. She’s also trying to get a grapefruit out of her swimming pool and enlists TJ’s help. He reluctantly gets it out for her. She doesn’t believe Adam was involved with anyone else. Adam left the event with a Congressman Nelson from Riverside. She lets TJ keep the grapefruit.

At the office of Congressman Thomas Nelson (John Benjamin Hickey), he says he went to a bar with Adam after the fundraiser. He tells them he heard gossip that Adam had a wandering eye but knows nothing about Rebecca. He says Adam is loyal and trustworthy.
They head to the bar to check out the alibi. Nelson left a big tip and when they show the bartender the picture of Adam she says he was there also. She gets the receipt for the drinks and it shows Nelson paid for them.

Back at RHD, the detectives speak with Adam who insists he went straight home about the bar. He admits the affair with Rebecca when she was working downtown, and then changes it and says they met at a restaurant in Santa Monica. Rex asks about the blood test and says Dr. Weinstein says they were both RH negative. Rex and TJ leave the room, and tell Gonzales and DDA Evelyn Price (Regina Hall) that Adam is lying because Weinstein never ran the tests on the father. Price tells them to book him for obstruction and then they can get DNA. Gonzales gets a call – Rebecca has just come out of her coma.

Rex and TJ speak with Rebecca at the hospital, and she is battered and in bad shape. She does not remember much. She took her keys out of her purse and asks if they found the purse, it had a picture of her baby in it. They tell her that she lost the baby, and she gets very upset. Her mother races in to console her, but she cries out that Tom Nelson did this, and adds that “That bastard killed our baby.” Outside the room, TJ comments that it sounds like Nelson took pressing the flesh to a new level.

Later, DDA Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) arrives at the hospital and TJ tells him Rebecca has been sedated. Morales asks them to repeat Rebecca’s words. Morales says they need to test that he is the father and they can’t prove it without corroboration.

Price speaks with Rebecca’s mother who says she does not know who the father was. She was hoping Becky would change her mind about staying in LA. Rebecca said she did not need her mom’s help, that she would be moving up in the world and her mother would be proud.

Later, Price tells Rex and TJ what Rebecca’s mother said. They think she thinks she hit the jackpot with Nelson. They still need corroboration and suggest Price talk to Carolyn Yarborough.

In the conference room, Carolyn is there with her attorney. Price presses her about Nelson and suggest that Adam is covering for the congressman. Price adds that one more lie and the charges will be upped to murder conspiracy. Carolyn says Nelson convinced Adam to go on with the cover-up so it would not ruin his run for governor, and that for their help, Carolyn would be appointed to lead counsel to the defense appropriations committee. She knows nothing about the attempt on Rebecca’s life and said Rebecca said Nelson was happy about the baby and seemed “mostly” happy to go on with the charade. He sent a car to take her to a doctor and she refused to go but not to Dr. Weinstein, it was Dr. Taketa, and she overheard Nelson and Rebecca have a big argument over the phone about it.

Price heads to the doctor’s office to speak with the doctor. While she waits in the waiting area she has a realization. She races back to the office and tells Morales it was an abortion clinic. Morales says to get a subpoena for proof of Nelson’s paternity and to try to tie Nelson to the driver of the car.

At the home of Congressman Nelson, he is told he can’t avoid the DNA test. Price speaks with Nelson’s wife Patricia (Kate McNeil) , who wrote a book on her battle with ovarian cancer and she is now in remission. She is sorry about the situation with Rebecca and the baby. When Price departs after the DNA sample has been collected, Patricia tells Nelson that someone has to tell Matthew before he reads about this on the internet. When Nelson seems to balk, Patricia says she’ll call him,

Back at the DA’s offices, Morales tells Price the paternity test was positive and she tells him that Rebecca’s ex husband Robert Forrester works for AQG Industries, one of Yarborough's PR clients, and they landed big military contracts due to legislation sponsored by Nelson. Forrester started working there right after he and Rebecca separated. But Forrester has an airtight alibi. Morales thinks Forrester is hiding something.

Morales and Price go back to the hospital and speak with Rebecca. She admits to the affair with Nelson and says her husband knew about it and it ended the marriage, but she did not tell him she was pregnant. She just remembers a loud car, a silver crown on the hood, and metal antenna. She does not think her ex ever met Nelson or Yarborough, and then says she never meant it when she told the police Nelson killed her baby. She was on painkillers and in shock and that he panicked when he arraigned the abortion doctor.

Outside the room, Morales thinks Nelson got to Rebecca. Morales thinks it was on older car that hit her, and as they were not fuel efficient, he would have had to stop for gas to get to 29 Palms and has her get the detectives to show a photo of Forrester to all the gas stations in the area the car would have traveled.

At Mataro Gas in Banning, and said he did not see the man but that night someone busted the lock on his water hose and it may have been used to clean a car. They also left as t-shirt there and the gas station guy gives it to the detectives.
Rex and TJ race back to tell Price that Rebecca’s blood was on the shirt and latent found Forrester’s thumbprint on the wall by the busted hose.
The police arrest Forrester and news crews descend as they lead him in to the police department. Morales watches and says that is one down, now they go to bag a real live congressman.

Nelson has a press conference saying now they can stop the wild speculation that has engulfed his family. DA Jerry Hardin (Peter Coyote) watches while pouring himself a drink. Morales and Price tell him they want to charge the congressman. Hardin says if they want to charge Nelson, they need to bring him video of him buckling the ex into his seat belt.

Later, Price and Morales question Forrester, with his lawyer (Freda Foh Shen) present. He denies any involvement. They mention his thumbprint and Rebecca’s blood on the t-shirt at the gas station and his attorney blows it off as Forrester travels that area a lot and the gas station is convenient and anyone could have planted the t-shirt. She also says they don’t have the car, and no car, no case. Morales says she is wrong, but the lawyer says Morales covers his doubt with confidence.

At the electronics room at Parker Center, a tech tells Price, Rex and TJ that Forester’s computer was hooked up that night but someone accessed it from a remote location. It seemed someone wanted to make it look like Forrester was on the computer. The tech can find the info on where the person was who accessed the computer.

Later, Price heads to Nelson’s office, his lawyer (Christopher Cousins) present, to tell him someone at that location accessed Forrester’s computer. Nelson seems surprised but tells Price and Morales to knock themselves out checking on it and walks off. Rex tells them they have checked every machine and it is not there. Morales tells Price to charge Nelson as a co-conspirator and when the screw tightens they will see who flips.
In court, the defense attorneys moves to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence as there is no car, no computer and no proof of agreement in a conspiracy. Morales argues that they know Forrester’s computer was accessed remotely and they can prove Nelson was part of an on-going conspiracy to disguise the fact that he fathered a child out of wedlock. Nelson looks perplexed. Morales goes on that he had someone else cover it and also put Forrester in a high paying job and pressured the victim to have an abortion. He adds the computer used remotely came from Nelson’s office to help create an alibi. Morales says in the name of that murdered unborn child they should allow the jury to hear the case. Judge Tanabe-Ford rules in Morales favor, and allows Nelson to be out on bond and Forrester remanded. Morales leans over to price and bets that Nelson’s lawyer wants to chat. She asks him if she looks like a sucker.

Later, they speak with Nelson and his lawyer, and Nelson swears he had nothing to do with hurting Rebecca. He says he loves her and she made him see he was making a mistake. He wanted to do the right thing. His lawyer says Nelson has been paying for Rebecca’s medical bills and paying for her mother to stay there. He adds that they could find themselves on the business end of a lawsuit for defamation and wrongful prosecution. Nelson and his lawyer leave. Morales believes that Nelson was trying to do the right thing, and asks what the narcissist version is of doing the right thing. Price says it’s divorce your wife because you’ve grown apart so you can marry your mistress. Morales says first you hide the assets.

With Price sitting on the floor amid Nelson’s financials, she tells Morales that she found Nelson set up a family trust 10 years ago and then last month he paid a bill for the same lawyer who set up the trust. She wonders why he would go back to the same lawyer 10 years later? The wonder if he was setting up another trust for Rebecca and the baby.

Morales and Price speak to Rebecca and she knew about the trust. She felt she had a future with him. He had not told his wife, though. When Rebecca leaves, Morales thinks Nelson would not have added Rebecca to the family trust without his wife knowing, so they think either Rebecca lied to them or Nelson lied to her. Price wonders if Nelson’s wife were dead, her consent to add Rebecca to the trust would be immaterial. If her cancer returned, Nelson could have been planning his future as widower and if Patricia found out, she would be very pissed.

Morales and Price speak with Patricia Nelson and she thinks her husband is harmless. They confront her on her illness and she admit the cancer has returned. She may not have long. Just her husband knows. Morales presses her on how she felt when she found out her husband was planning a new life and a new family. We then see a car racing down the highway. Back with Patricia, Morales continues to press her on the issue. She asks if he is accusing him for murder. Morales says right now the police are going to a vacation home in Palm Springs owned by her aunt and uncle. As we see the police arrive at the home, we hear Morales state that she keeps a car there, a 1986 tan Cadillac DeVille, which matches the description of the car that ran over Rebecca. Price gets a text that the police are outside the house now. Morales gives her one more chance and if she will agree to testify with her co-conspirators he will keep her out of prison and she can die with dignity at home, but once they pry open the garage and see that car, all bets are off. Price gets a text saying they are getting the door open. Patricia breaks and said she found out about Tom and the girl and she couldn’t believe he would do that to her and her son. She told Forrester she could get him fired if he didn’t help her and when he found out his ex was pregnant he agreed. She gave him the key to the garage and he got the car. She went to the office and used a computer to create an alibi for him. It was just her and Forrester. She adds it simply could not happen, he couldn't just erase her. Meanwhile, the detectives open the garage and it is empty. Price gets another test and he asks Patricia who else knew that the car was kept in Palm Springs, and she says just Tom. He tells her the garage was empty and they think her husband got rid of it – he tried to protect her.

Back in Superior Court, the judge is sentencing Patricia and her lawyer speaks in her behalf and asks for probation. The judge says no one murders a baby and walks. But Morales argues for her since she is terminal, but the judge says she will be serving out her sentence at Century Regional Detention Center and sentences her to 365 days in the county jail and quickly adjourns.

As they take Patricia away, she stops and Tom embraces her and says he is so sorry. She pulls away and they take her off. Nelson says he does love her, he just couldn’t stand the thought of losing her – and he just couldn’t be alone. As he walks off, Price says, “Please. He cheated on his dying wife just so he’d have someone to tuck him in at night?” Morales says, “You’re young, you’ll find out. It’s the one thing we men fear the most. Being alone.” As Morales walks off, Price pauses and the moves to leave, as we fade to black.

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janethyland said...

Challenge. I am going to SO love my hate for Coyotes DA- “if” and “we think” are not words that fill me with confidence”, so he pours a drink,(shades of Schill !). He and Dekker are a real challenge to type and I like that. They both interest me.I also think Ulrich has potential to be a 50’s detective! Nice that the computer geek was a woman, that maybe the politician did love someone other than himself.

Wry Humour. The grapefruit scene and abortion clinic with door slamming boy out. Maybe “cable crackpots” is an insider joke! “baby daddy jackpot”.

Fairytale imagery. The girls silver “slippers” and “silver crown” on politician’s car, the “shag palace”. Is a type evolving of childlike women with confused fantasies, (terrorist last week)?

Visuals. Busy sets that add depth and shifting camera angles, use of shadow and music, flower and landscape paintings, Morales monotone city triptych, blue video screens in interview room. Some great staging, like the raised glass scene in Teaser.

Narcississm. What is this about “narcissism” in American TV shows? I hear that word used often, and in other Law and Orders. Here it is again when Morales says, “whats the narcissists way of doing the right thing?”Its not a common word in UK TV shows. Maybe its to do with American schools of psychoanalysis where it is a technical term? Or is narcissism equated with criminal behaviour in a society where the same narcissism is also encouraged as Individualism towards success? Anyway our expectations about Nelson as typical narcissist are thwarted by his show of feeling for others at the end, or is that just another narcissism about “being alone”. Im not sure, but I am sure of Morales comment when he says “its the one thing we men fear most- being alone”, because Ive heard men say that in real life.

Being alone contrasts with being connected in family groups throughout the episode; the pseudo family scene in the restaurant opener(“like family here”), the pseudo family set up of the politicians(“we were going to be a family”),the overkill of family photos on the doctors desk compared to the destitute loneliness of the Alley Santa, the boy who gets shut out of the consultation room in the abortion clinic, LA being “no place for a single mother” where Nelson “ just couldn’t be alone”. Being single and alone seems unpleasant, undesirable.

But its more than that. The wife , Nelson, the Alley Santa, the single mothers, the boy in the clinic; all left out and alone as non-entities and non persons... with the DA who likes a drink, the most detached and alone of all, cut off even from himself. The real horror is about Negation, not being recognised or valued, not being loved or appreciated; that’s the killer.

So I value Passadena...but not as much as some previous episodes.Clever sequence of thwarted expectations, but perhaps too obvious. It still has the feel of LOCI in the form of Mothership, but the flashy opening and subject matter had more in common with the premiere. Maybe they are being aired in different order from production ( the DA scene felt added in, after Coyote was appointed?), or maybe its because this writer has come in from Criminal Minds and hasn’t written for the franchise before. It didn’t have the same intricacy to engage me for more than one viewing.

janethyland said...

Ratings just in.
Drop for both SVU and LOLA.

SVU went down to 7.96 million and 2.1 in key demo.
LOLA went to 7.72 million and 1.96 in key demo.

So there isnt that much between them.

janethyland said...

just wondering, are those numbers for SVU worrying, since its such an expensive show to make?

Anonymous said...

So,SVU down,LOLA down;and if SVU rise ,so does LOLA.

Anonymous said...

Well, another NBC show -- Undercovers -- has been cancelled. Here's hoping several others fail as well, and perhaps NBC will wake up and realize their best option might be to bring back Law & Order. All they have to do is rebuild the studio sets - the actors are still available.

jj said...

There has been no promotion for LOLA. I haven't seen any of the actors being interviewed anywhere and very few commercial promos anywhere. NBC is the worst run network.

Melvin Gaines said...

I enjoy your recaps. Thank you, and please keep up the good work.

janethyland said...

Season 1 of LOLA will be them finding their feet,as it was for Mothership and LOCI.

Season 2 will be its consolidation, as it was for Mothership and LOCI.

After that i dont really care because Im not interested in endlessness and repitition.

janethyland said...

or spelling mistakes! Sorry about "repetition" there. It often fingers are faster than my sight!