Thursday, November 11, 2010
Law & Order Los Angeles “Hondo Field” Recap & Review
Law & Order Los Angeles “Hondo Field” involves a murder of a male oil worker at the hands of female boss. She tries to use self defense - and attempted rape - as excuse. But DDA Dekker (Terrence Howard) outmaneuvers the defense attorney and gets a murder conviction. The episode had an good first half, with the detectives having to head out to an oil rig as part of the investigation. But the second half didn't deliver. I found Terrence Howard much better in this episode, and saw glimmers of a personality in Megan Boone’s character. But, there is something about the dialog that I just can’t put my finger on. Sometimes it seems the actors are delivering the lines as if they were just reading them off the script. There is still a sort of stiffness with the delivery – with everyone, even the secondary characters like the judges or people being questioned by the detectives. The dialog sounds as if the characters are automatons and not real people.
I usually don’t have a hard time writing reviews for the shows I cover, but in this case I feel that I have nothing much to put my arms around. The case didn’t move me or pull me in at all. The episode was neither bad nor good; it’s middle of the road TV which isn’t drawing any real emotional response from me. Overall, I do like Law & Order Los Angeles but wonder if I am watching it out of habit or to pass the time than to be truly entertained or be drawn into a story. Even with the worst episodes of Law & Order SVU I am left with something, and in the case of “Hondo Field” I am coming away with no real opinion whatsoever. There is no solid attachment or bond that I am making with any of the characters and I think that is very important – at least for me – in order to enjoy a show. I am not sure what I want to get out of Law & Order Los Angeles; all I can say is I do want more than what I’m getting. I'll be the first one to admit that the problem may be with me and not with the show, so I would appreciate any feedback from fans about this episode.
Here is the recap:
A man, Freddy Ramirez, is found dead in the water by a couple taking a late night swim.
Detectives Rex Winters (Skeet Ulrich) and TJ Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) are called to the scene, the body now on the beach. Freddy is a oil worker, a rig is also spotted in the distance.
The Medical Examiner (Tamlyn Tomita) tells the detectives said there were peanuts and alcohol in his stomach. TJ says Freddy clocked in at the Hondo Field rig at 2:36 AM, and assume he was drunk and fell off the rig and drowned. But the ME says he did not drown, he was dead before he hit the water and believes he was beaten. Since he washed up on their beach, it’s their case.
At the offices of Goldshore Oil, they speak with Mr. Braden who tells them they have a zero tolerance for alcohol on board. They have a warrant for Freddy’s personnel file.
Later, they look at the personnel file, and Freddy has had four suspensions for violations. They head to the rig. On the rig, Freddy’s hat was found with what may be blood or drilling mud on it. He was missing for 18 hours before it was reported, his buddies had reported him on duty. Lucas (Jeffery A. Baker) saw him at check in. They speak with Freddy's co-workers and they say his supervisor was a pain in the ass. The detectives speak with his supervisor, Valerie Roberts (Sprague Grayden) who does not think anyone from the crew did it and she thinks she would have noticed if trouble was building. No evidence was found on the gangways or railings, so they go to check his bunk.
In his room, the detectives find nothing and wonder why Lucas was the only one that saw him at check in time.
At the San Pedro Motel, they speak with the hotel manager who lets them into Freddy’s room. They find a notebook with numbers and dates and a federal certificate of inspection saying the rig passed. Rex sees some stuff on the floor that the hotel manager thinks came from the newly paved parking lot. They also find some of the same stuff in the parking lot lot and it looks like the stuff that was on Freddy’s cap. Rex thinks they are being played.
They head back to the rig and press Lucas who sticks to his story. They think he’s lying and press him and he finally admits he took a break and when he got back he saw that Freddy had swiped himself in – he didn’t actually see him. TJ gets a message – the lab matched the dirt on Freddy’s cap to the tar at the hotel, it was mixed with his blood so they think he was killed there and then dumped at sea. They think the killer swiped him in at the rig and planted his belongings there so it would look like he fell off the rig.
The detectives head to a bar and speak with the bartender who identifies the rig workers were there and said Valerie was there with Zack, her boyfriend, who does not work on the rig. He last saw Freddy on the pay phone at 11.
At the home of Douglas Kasdan, he says Freddy probably called their maid, Lucy. They speak with Lucy Ramirez, Freddy’s mother, who is crying over Freddy’s death. When he last called he said he would be away for two weeks. Stephanie Kasdan, Douglas’s daughter, comes in to console Lucy; Stephanie and Freddy grew up together. Freddy also told Lucy that Freddy said he may have to quit because it was getting dangerous. Outside, the detectives wonde, based on the notebook and the certificate that they found in Freddy’s room, if he had a beef with the company.
At the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the manager is surprised that Freddy had the certificate in his home. There was a complaint filed by Jason Callahan, a floor hand on the rig, for a safety valve problem that has been fixed 6 months ago. The detectives show the manager the list of numbers that Freddy was keeping and he says it looks like a record of feet drilled per day, and it looks like they are drilling faster every day. They ask for a copy of the file.
Later, they speak with Jason about the complaint and said his supervisor Valerie Roberts made his life living hell over it. They wonder if Freddy decided to stand up to her.
They head back out to the rig and Valerie is not there and someone else is using her berth. The guy is a former “jarhead” and said he just finished cleaning up, saying there is nothing worse than female mess. He adds there was blood there. The see blood on the floor, maybe from her boot and decide to call the crime scene people back out there.
Later, Rex and TJ find Valerie at the bar with the other workers and they arrest her.
In court, Valerie is being arraigned and Sarah Goodwin (Natalie Zea) is her attorney. Valerie pleads not guilty. DDA Lauren Stanton (Megan Boone) request $1 million bail because of the brutal murder and cover-up, and the judge agrees.
Later, Stanton tells DDA Joe Dekker (Terrence Howard) that Goodwin has the case. Stanton says lawyers who do TV belong in the 7th ring of hell. He tells her not to let Goodwin distract her. Goodwin made a motion to exclude the blood found in Valerie’s berth.
Goodwin arrives at the courthouse and meets up with Dekker and Stanton. They discuss the case and Goodwin says it’s men behaving badly, saying the male ego is responsible for all society’s ills.
In the chambers of Judge Martha Dreyer, Goodwin argues the detectives had no right to search the berth because the guy who gave them the OK to search is not her roommate – the berth is shared on alternate shifts. She adds that Valerie did not know someone had replaced her on that shift. The judge rules the blood evidence inadmissible.
At the Robbery Homicide Division, Stanton, Rex, and TJ go over the evidence collected form Valerie’s apartment. They do find a t-shirt from Zack’s Dive Tours, and a dive boat may be been a help to Valerie in dumping the body. Valerie's boyfriend’s name is also Zack.
They bring Zack (Sam Ball) in to interrogation and tell him they found Freddy’s hair on his dive boat. He says he took him diving once. They also found a plastic bottle of crude oil. They tell him they can use the blood evidence found in Valerie’s berth against him. He admits that Valerie called him and said Freddy was drunk and hit his head and she said they had to get rid of the body. Then Zack asks for a lawyer
In Superior Court, Goodwin makes a motion to exclude saying Zack’s statement can’t be admitted without corroboration. Stanton tries to argue back with no luck. Dekker says their problem is charging Zack as an accomplice. In court, Dekker says there is no evidence Zack is an accomplice, and reads back Zack’s statement to police which supports that he did not help Valerie and they are not charging him as an accomplice. The judge tells Dekker this was well played and when Goodwin has no counter argument the judge allows Zack to testify against Valerie. Goodwin then asks leave to file for an affirmative defense, saying that Valerie killed Freddy in self defense as he tried to rape her and she was sexually harassed by the male workers on the rig which was aided and abetted by Goldshore Oil.
Goodwin and Valerie are on a TV news show and Dekker is watching in his office. As Goodwin talks about the issues women face in blue collar jobs, Stanton walks in. She says that it seems to her that Goodwin has Dekker’s mind now, and she walks out.
At Superior Court, Dekker makes his opening statement, saying there was no evidence of attempted rape and says the evidence was staged to make Freddy's death look like an accident. Goodwin counters by describing how it was for Valerie to work with the boys and the harassing comments they made and she was the lone woman among 150 men. She says Valerie’s complaints were ignored by the oil company. When Goodwin asks the jury what they would do if they were in alone in the dark with a drunk illegal Mexican , Dekker objects and Judge Dreyer orders them to her chambers.
In chambers, Goodwin shows that Freddy is illegal. Dekker reminds them Freddy is the victim and asks for mistrial, saying it is prejudicial and the bell can’t ne un-ring, but the judge denies his request.
Later, Dekker is out having a beer and Goodwin approaches. She asks if he really thinks he is a racist, and when he doesn’t respond, she says maybe racism is in everyone’s DNA. She thinks all she needs is one woman on the jury, but Dekker asks her what about the truth. She brings up when they had law classes together. She asked why he never asked her for help in class, he asked Mike for tutoring instead. He asks if she is implying he was being sexist. She says, “res ipsa loquitur” (Latin for “the thing speaks for itself”). He says they just didn’t click.
Back in Superior Court, an oil rig worker testifies about how difficult it was working with Valerie. Freddy was like her whipping boy. Goodwin cross examines him and brings up how they burst into Valerie’s shower.
Back in the office, Stanton and Dekker discuss the case. They need to find a witness who can say something good about Freddy and Stanton can’t reach Freddy’s mother. Stanton gives him the number and Dekker calls it and is given another phone number to reach Freddy’s mother. The number Freddy called before he was killed was Stephanie Kasdan’s – not his mother’s.
Dekker and Stanton speak with Stephanie who says she and Freddy were friends since they were kids. Dekker says they will put her on the stand, and she says her parents do not know about her and Freddy and they would fire Lucy. She says he called her to apologize for not seeing her before he left and he was with his buddies. She said Freddy would never rape that woman and if there was a problem it was with Valerie, she would never leave Freddy alone. Valerie would call and text him non-stop and it was so bad he had to get a new phone and a new phone number. She saw some of Valerie’s texts to him telling Freddy to do things like wash her car.
In Superior Court, Valerie is on the stand saying how tough it was on the rig, that they call the women clams and how they broke into her shower. She said she was told it was just hazing. She said that with the increased pressure after the Gulf Oil disaster, the crew took it out on her. She could have lost her hand a few times in accidents they caused. She said he was just helping Freddy that night because he was drunk and claims Freddy tried to drag her into his room and she told him to stop. She said he said he was illegal and would just run away to Mexico. She describes the attack and said she was scared because he was like an animal. She kicked him until he let go and saw he was dead. She panicked and called Zack and made it look like Freddy fell from the rig. She says she is sorry and it was stupid but she just felt it was her against all those me.
Under cross examination. Dekker asks if that was the first time she heard Freddy was an illegal alien and she says yes. Dekker shows the jury the text messages Valerie sent to Freddy, where she told Freddy to detail his car, to fix her garage door, Dekekr saying that she was blackmailing him. He shows a message where she tells Freddy to “get with the program or you and mama will be on a bus back to Mexico,” the message dates two months before she said she learned Freddy was illegal. She says Dekker does not understand. Dekker says she used Freddy to watch her back and she threatened him. He goes on to say the more they others harassed her, the more she put pressure on Freddy. Dekker continues to push on her, showing a message where Valerie said, “My little brown man, ur only here to make me feel good” which was sent two days before he was killed. Dekker asks if that was one of his chores. Dekker also shows a naked picture of Valerie that she sent to Freddy’s phone two days before he was killed. Dekker says Valerie was sexually harassing Freddy. He shows another message where Valerie told Freddy “4 get ur grlfrnd. Out there u belong 2 me” which was sent the day he was killed. Dekker says Freddy was resisting her and says that Freddy defied her and said he would report her . She counters that Dekker does not know what is it like, saying how hard it was for her to work there and the men will not let her forget that she is just a chick.
Later, Valerie is found guilty of murder.
Back in Dekker’s office, Stanton said Valerie found the one guy on the rig that couldn’t fight back. Dekker says the guys humiliated her and she humiliated Freddy – it is the nature of oppression. Stanton said Valerie is like a lot of women, they still haven’t learned that nobody is going to give them power – they just have to take it. Dekker asks if that is Gloria Steinem, and she says “Roseanne Barr.”
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