Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Law & Order SVU “Trophy” Recap & Review

All photos from NBC

Law & Order SVU “Trophy” was an episode that dredged up the past for Olivia Benson. She believes that the daughter of a rape victim may also be her half-sister. Benson’s back story of being a child of rape has gotten old and sometimes I wish the show would drop it. Dr. Huang felt that Benson was trying to make circumstances fit a scenario where she and Vivian (“Liv & Viv”) would be half sisters; likewise I felt that using Benson’s past history to shoe-horn a role for Mariska’s real-life friend Maria Bello as a potential sibling seemed too contrived. The story line aside, Maria Bello was great in the role and would have done just as well without the “half-sister” drama. Are the writers so desperate to get a child in Benson’s hands that again they have someone sign over guardianship of their child to her? At least this time the child is not near death so Benson won’t have to deal with a life or death choice. It was an interesting ending to leave Vivian’s whereabouts up in the air.

Despite the over-the-top dialog, R. Lee Ermey made for a good “pervert of the week” and I found myself asking, “Where’s Private Pyle when you need him?” (Vincent D’Onofrio fans will get the joke). I am confused about why Walter Burlock would have the expectation of privacy in a home that does not belong to him, and why he also had to be served with a warrant. Does this mean that any time there are multiple residents in a home that a search warrant has to be obtained for every person living in that home? My recollection from past L&Os is that they usually obtain one warrant covering a residence and the number of people living there isn't an issue. I don’t recall a situation where each resident of a single home needed to be served with a separate warrant. Was it considered an illegal search because the room was padlocked and because Stabler and Benson returned to Jason’s home (I assume with no warrant?) and broke into the padlocked room long after the initial shooting occurred? That I could see as being a questionable search. If they found the room at the time they detectives were shot at through the front door, would it have been fair game at that time to enter? I don’t think Benson and Stabler were the only ones that seemed to be confused about Hardwick's explanation and I think the writers could have explained the legal issue more thoroughly. Maybe I missed something, and if so, I’m sure someone out there will clear it up for me!

Here is the recap:
A woman is found dead – raped and murdered - in an industrial laundry and ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) and detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) are called to the scene. She has been cut many times and bound, and appears dead for about 2 days. The laundry came from Mercy Hospital. They question the man who delivered the load of laundry and he said someone else gave him the carts; he was off getting a quickie with his girlfriend who is a nurse at Mercy.

Fin (Ice-T) questions the guy’s nurse-girlfriend and she points him to Joe, a creep who works in housekeeping. Watching security video footage, Fin and Stabler see a man drive up in a Volvo to the laundry truck and they see the body being loaded on the truck.

Back at the precinct, the detectives find the victim is Samantha Millerton, who had a record for loitering and resisting arrest at political rallies and she worked for an environmental group called “CLEAN” – Collective Living Environment of Artists for Nature”.

The detectives head to the Clean Collective Gallery, and they see a video from a previous protest where a Global Oil CEO, Nicholas Turner had the protesters arrested. Samantha was preparing an art piece showing Turner in a negative light and she was doing to douse it in oil and burn it at the next rally.

They question Turner, who IDs the cord found at the scene as something form his wife lamps and he threw them in the trash. He caught Samantha going through his trash and he called the police but she ran off. They wonder is she went through his trash at the company.

Back at SVU, the detectives watch video footage from Times Square and they see Samantha on the camera and see the man in the Volvo, who attacks Samantha and throws her in the car. They have a plate on the car which Fin says is registered to a Thomas Gambel, but he died 9 months ago.
Benson and Stabler head to Gambel’s home and see a man walking to it and they stop him. He is Gambel’s son, Jason (Joseph Sikora). He says his brother Henry got the car when their father died. Jason walks into the house and locks the detectives out. Stabler knocks on the door and steps aside, and shots are fired through the door from inside the house. As Benson calls for backup, Stabler shoots the lock off the door and kicks the door in. He catches Jason trying to run off and throws him down the stairs. As Stabler cuffs Jason, Benson sees Jason dropped a box filled with various trinkets, one bracelet that looks like something Samantha would have made, but also sees many items that would have likely not have belonged to Samantha. They think he is a serial killer and this is his box of trophies.

In the SVU interrogation room, they question Jason, as Samantha’s prints are on the bracelet. He denies killing anyone and says those things are not his. Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) interrupts the interrogation and later tells Benson and Stabler they can’t interview a perp who just tried to kill them. He tells them they are not cleared for duty until they see Huang for psych evaluations. Cragen sends Fin in to do the questioning.

Fin questions Jason about his previous record and Jason still denies everything. Fin also says Jason has no brother named Henry, and Jason says the only person he sees is his parole officer.

Benson and Stabler question Jason’s parole officer, who says Jason is a model parolee and says Jason canceled home visits a few weeks ago and he was a nervous wreck and he had to make home visits. He did see a door padlocked at Jason’s.

At Jason’s home, Stabler and Benson, along with a CSU tech, break a padlock on a door which leads to a basement which looks like a torture room. There is evidence of blood.

Back at SVU, Jason says he never used that room. They tell him the concrete in the room has recently been replaced and they have techs using sonar to look for bodies. He continues to deny killing anyone. But Fin comes in an interrupts them this time.

Fin tells the detectives they found that the engagement ring in the trophy box belongs to Joan Arliss, but she was raped and the ring taken in 1970, and Jason wasn’t even born yet.

Later, Cragen tells ADA Hardwick (Melissa Sagemiller) they matched each trophy with a victim. Samantha’s case is the only current one; the others are about 40 years old. If Jason knows the killer he is not talking and now has an attorney, Miranda Pond (Alex Kinston) who arrives and tells them Jason will only talk if he gets immunity on Samantha. Hardwick says they will only discuss a plea if Jason tells them what he knows about the other victims.

Benson and Stabler brainstorm on who Jason knows that could have done this, since his father is dead and he has no male relatives. Fin tells them they have a picture of Gambel's father from the 1960s and hope Joan Arliss, one of the victims, will ID it as her rapist. Cragen comes in an orders Benson and Stabler to Huang’s office for the psych evaluation. Stabler heads there and Benson says she will talk with Joan.

At Joan Arliss’ home, Benson speaks with Joan’s daughter Vivian (Maria Bello) who shows Benson that her mother is gravely ill with Alzheimer’s. Benson tells her that she recovered Joan's engagement ring and Benson realizes Vivian knows nothing about the rape so she makes a quick exit. Vivian chases after her and asks Benson what she is hiding, and Benson must explain about her mother’s rape. The date of the rape makes Vivian thinks she is the child of that rape and gets angry and runs into the house. Her son Calvin (Charlie Tahan) sees this and becomes upset, saying her mother will get another headache and only the pills make her feel better.

Benson follows her back to the house and sees Vivian take a pill and a drink. Vivian says her mother hated her for her entire life, probably as she was a reminder of her rape. Benson explains her own experience and that she too is a child of rape and her mother blamed her for her problems but she understands her better now but her mother drank herself to death. Vivian talks about her father’s love and Benson tells her nothing can change that and the other man was nothing. Benson tells them they have a suspect who is dead and they hoped her mother could ID him. Benson explains the circumstances of Joan’s rape. When Vivian mentions her mother was at Barnard, Benson asks if her mother was a student there. Vivian says her mother never graduated, she had her instead.

Later, with Dr. Huang (BD Wong), Benson tells him she thinks Vivian is her half-sister as both of their mothers went to the same college and were attacked at the same time. Vivian’s mother even looks like her mother. Benson wonders if the handkerchief belonged to her own mother. Huang thinks she is associating the details in a way that is not rational. Huang thinks she told Vivian about her mother for her own benefit.
Back at SVU, Benson looks at a photo of Joe Hollister, her mother’s rapist and her father, and Vivian. Stabler walks in and they discuss the possibility of Vivian being her sister. She went back to Vivian’s to grab something out of her garbage for a DNA test. They also wonder what is the connection to Jason and the rapist. Since Jason is terrified to go back to prison, they wonder if it is his old cellmate.

Later, Fin tells them Walter Burlock (R. Lee Ermey) was Jason’s cellie for the last 5 years and he got out two weeks ago. They can’t seem to find where he was living, and they think that Jason is Burlock’s “bitch” and Burlock showed up and stole Jason’s car.

At Meatball’s Strip Club, Benson and Stabler find Burlock, who is using Jason’s credit card. They arrest him.

Back at SVU in interrogation, Benson questions Burlock. She tells him about the trophies and his fingerprints are all over Jason’s basement. She presses him to talk and he yells “Lawyer. Now, bitch!”
In the other room where Jason and Pond wait, Hardwick and Stabler enter and Hardwick says they don’t need Jason now as Jason is now considered a co-conspirator. They show him Burlock in the other room and Jason freaks. Jason insists Burlock shot at Stabler and Pond asks for a deal, saying whatever Jason did it was done under extreme duress as he feared he would be killed by Burlock. Jason was repeatedly assaulted by Burlock in prison. Hardwick ends the interview and says according to the law, Jason is not the victim. As Hardwick races out of the room, Stabler chases after her. Benson is also waiting outside and Hardwick tells them they have to void Burlock’s arrest and defer prosecution because the detectives conducted an illegal search. Stabler reminds her they were shot at and had cause to enter the house. She tells them once Burlock moved into Jason's residence, he had a reasonable expectation of privacy and they had to serve them both with a warrant. She tells them until they bring her new evidence, Burlock walks. As Hardwick leaves, Vivian and her son Calvin enter, Hardwick brushing past Vivian who jumps out of the way. Stabler takes Calvin aside, and Benson speaks with Vivian who seems skittish. Vivian asks Benson to take her blood for DNA to help her find her real father. Later, Benson pours her coffee and chastises Vivian for being high. Benson tells her she needs help. Vivian says she needs the rage to connect her to her past; her mother died last night. Vivian can’t give Calvin to his father as she does not know where he is. She does not want Calvin hurt, and Benson urges her to get help. As Vivian leaves, Benson hands her a list of counselors. After Vivian leaves, Stabler sees Calvin left his backpack and Benson races after them to give it to him. She sees Burlock talking to Calvin in the hallway and she races to break it up. Vivian walks up and Burlock begins to rattle on about them trying to get him for rape, and Vivian realizes this must be her mother’s rapist. As Benson continues to order Burlock out, he continues to talk about the accusations and Vivian lunges at him, screaming at him. When Burlock leaves, Vivian asks Benson why she did not tell her, and Benson says she thought their mothers were raped by the same man. Benson tells her they are not sisters, she ran the DNA. Vivian tells her to go to hell and races out with Calvin.

Outside the home of Jason Gambel, Benson and Stabler wait in their car on a stake out. Burlock went in there at 5PM yesterday and has not left since. Fin is watching Gambel at a local hotel. Fin radios saying Jason is on his way back home. They watch as Jason enters his house, and when Benson asks Stabler if he thinks Burlock called Jason to go out on the prowl again, Stabler says, “When you get the itch, you call your bitch.” They then see Jason exit, with blood on his hands and clothes. They race over to him, Jason looking stunned and says he is dead, there is blood everywhere. Fin arrives and they arrest Jason, who looks weirdly happy. There is blood everywhere but Stabler notices it has been there for quite some time. Benson won’t believe Vivian was the one who did it.
Benson heads to Vivian’s home and finds a friend, Sara, is there instead and Vivian is not home. Benson asks her to tell Vivian to call her ASAP and Sara shuts the door in her face.

Benson gets back to SVU, and Stabler shows her that Calvin got there an hour ago and has something to give to Benson. She speaks with Calvin, who says his mother is gone and he doesn’t know where she went. His mother drove him there and told him to give an envelope to Benson. He is upset that Vivian left him there, and when Benson tried to assure him it will be OK, he says it will not. Benson looks at the contents of the envelope and tells Stabler it is a notarized transfer of parental rights for Calvin, from Vivian to Benson, making Benson Calvin’s legal guardian. She looks back at the sad Calvin as we fade to black.

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Dalton said...

This was an okay episode, but it could have gone without the half-sister drama.

And every time I saw Ermey on the screen, I too thought about him as Sergeant Hartman and D'Onofrio as Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. Ah, the memories.

Anonymous said...

Ah the fool who clearly should've known better than to antagonise a disturbed man with a gun. Why he didn't order him to put his weapon down or subdue him, I don't know.

Oh, Pyle gave me goosebumps. Brilliant performance. Seemed to have a bit of Jack Torrance in him, except he didn't use an axe.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me who played the Parole officer in tonights episode "Trophy" I know i have seen him before and its driving me nuts!

nygma619 said...

So I'm guessing this might clear up what Olivia's decision was the last time a child was put in her custody.

I agree that the well of using Olivia's past of being a child of rape has run dry. My problem with it has been not so much about them using it for storyline material, but that it's used in ways where it eats up so much screen time that it becomes a distraction. I was fine with Olivia trying to help Vivian by relating her own past with hers to help her. But how she got Vivian being her half-sister came out of nowhere it felt.
Wasn't her having a brother who turned out to be clean enough? I'm having trouble remembering but didn't she ask her brother anything about their father when they talked?

The problems with these melodramatic episodes that deal with someones past is that the tone to law and order shows is grim and gritty enough that piling it on doesn't help. Not that I don't want to know about the characters problems, but sometimes less is more. Take that Munch episode from season 5, it's only been brought up ONE TIME, so the feel of that episode and him confining in someone still holds up. Speaking of Munch episodes like this would be the perfect use of him where he could break up the monotony with a couple quips/one-liners.

On another note, Elliot seemed alot more calm and reasonable this episode (hell this season), considering someone shot at him, and his boss cutting him off during him interrogating someone. Hell after that guy shot at him, I was expecting him to be alot more pissed off considering how he's been in the past. Not that I want a whole episode based on it, but I'd like to hear about how the characters in the show are noticing how restrained "the poster boy for rage" has been as of late. Is he on meds, or is he trying to clean up his act for his newest child? Something besides, the writers making the decision to tone him down would be appreciated by me. Not that I don't like Christopher Meloni cutting loose sometimes, but over saturation can kill anything dead.

Oh and I loved R Lee Ermey's delivery of "I want a lawyer BITCH", He's one of the few actors out there whose voice can make cliched dialogue better than what it is.

Jojo said...

I was quite annoyed that they would do the guardianship thing again without clearing up what happened the last time Olivia was given that responsibility. Hopefully it means that they'll address it in future episodes...with less melodrama.

Thanks for the review and recap.

nygma619 said...

Something else that also bothered me, back in the season 8 episode "Haystack" the device that they used in that episode, that Olivia also used to find if she has any siblings. Doesn't that thing make account for ALL siblings that a family member might have? Does it also bring up half-siblings? If so, then why would Olivia get the idea in her head that she and Vivian might be related? Or did the writers screw up here and not remember their own continuity?

Anonymous said...

i hope liv gets custody of calvin. but the fade to black shit is now getting gay, no more half sister drama i think it was kinda lame

what happen to chris's character, this episode was good but i mean this tuff guy we always known, now hes all calm and relax like when that lawyer in this episode was lettin the rapist go el just talk to her like nothing happen, now we all no that elliot wouldnt just talk to her he would prob show his real colors.

oh yeah and i dont like are new ADA!
she has no clue what the hell shes doing.. i like the last ADA from the episode WET.

Anonymous said...

They just won't let the melodramatic crap take a rest, will they? This week we got the follow up to Florida, with another guardian stunt as a special bonus, next week Star's getting raped, we all know how cheesy the recycled guest star episodes are, then we get more Stabler family junk after that (although at least Lahti's gonna appear).

I mean, not like anyone would still care about Stabler's family issues anymore anyway, but can they at least stop with Kathleen? I was sick of her two seasons ago. Focus on Elizabeth or something.

Who wants to bet that baby Eli gets kidnapped either this season or next?

Anonymous said...

I mean they ran off a string of really awesome episodes at the end of season 10. Why can't they go back to those? Baggage, Ballerina, Zebras, Snatched, and Liberties were all addicting, moving (or shocking) in their own way, with minimal Elliot/Liv drama (and when it was there, like the Geno storyline in Snatched, there was a different take on it so it didn't feel too cheesy or familiar).

Why can't they go back to those?

John K. said...

So, the ending was SVU's "Savior," all over again. Whee.

I think the term you're looking for might be "exigent circumstances." To my knowledge, that's the term the L&O characters use in situations like this, where you get shot at (and imagine if Stabler was still at the door), or if someone is crying for help in the next room. It isn't a legal cureall, but it gives the cops some leeway.

Of course, defer to anyone with an actual law degree, as I learned law from Law & Order. Heh.

Good recap, as always.

Anonymous said...

John K., you have the correct term for what the ADA would argue for admissibility of the evidence seized in the hallway. Because Gambel shot at the officers he created a "risk of harm to the public" which is one of the Supreme Court's listed exceptions for exigent circumstances. Looking for Gambel and the gun would be covered. Once Gambel was under control of the police, that ended as did the exception.
Olivia opening the closed box on the floor was not covered as an exception to the search warrant requirement. A defense lawyer should win a motion to suppress all the trophies inside the box as the result of an illegal search. And any search warrant for the house based on the trophies will be ruled invalid and any evidence obtained from that search inadmissible as fruit of the poisonous tree.
Hardwick's argument as to the search of the house/basement does not make sense. A single warrant for a dwelling will cover everything if the police reasonably believed there was only one occupant. Gambel didn't say Burlock lived in his house until after the search.
Even if they knew there was a roommate, the warrant would cover all common areas and those under the control of the roommate named in the search. Any search of an area controlled by someone not named in the warrant could be deemed illegal.
But the whole issue would be moot if the second search was also made without a warrant.

nygma619 said...

anonymous at 5:42 I thought a couple of those were awesome like Baggage, and Ballerina, but some of them like Snatched and Zebra were over stuffed. And personally I found the season 12 episodes at the beginning of the year like Locum, Bullseye, and Behave to be much stronger (Baggage being the exception)

Anyways, this was the first real clunker in a while anyways, so I don't see it as being a cause to be alarmed. Is that what happens these days? The show gives one clunker after a string of decent-great episodes and IT causes people to yearn for older days?

Esaul said...

I actually thought this episode was good, especially with Olivia believing that Liv's her half sister. Yes, it can run dry if they're not doing it correctly, but having Huang in the episode the way they did helped balance the issue.

iHeartU said...

This ep was MAJOR cliche... And quite frankly, i never wanted a child in Bensons life.. and I know, they aren't going to follow through with this, so I think its an irritation and they could've at least picked a cuter kid who didn't look like a loser.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who is confused over this transfer of parental rights thing from Mischa Barton's ep. in Season 11. I've always wanted what Liv wants, as a HUGE SVU fan, and would love for her to have a baby of her own, but to 'give' her one, and then not do anything with it and then play that story line again is just ridiculous! Grrr!! And I agree with iHeartU, with at least giving her a cuter kid and not so dorky-looking! Not to be too mean, he he. Hope that future ep's make this all clear to us - unless, of course, I have totally missed something... (which I'm pretty sure is NOT possible as I LOVE SVU!) :)

Anonymous said...

The familial DNA test used in Haystack would only find relatives who are in the DNA data base. If they aren't in the system, they would not show up. If Vivian had never been arrested, her DNA wouldn't be in police data base.
But it would have been nice if the writers had brought up and resolved the question.

Anonymous said...

There should be confusion over SVU's use of the idea of transfer of parental rights. That's because that isn't what would happen. Legal guardianship does not transfer parental rights. It gives the guardian the right and responsibility to act, care for, and make decisions for a child. But the parent also still has the right to go to court and ask for the child back until the child is
18 years old. Guardianship is generally different from adoption where parental rights are terminated and the adoptive parent is becomes the legal parent.
Guardianship is also not automatic. It is a mater for Family Court to decide if Olivia can be Calvin's guardian. She will have to show that she can provide a safe and caring home for Calvin. She will need a bigger apartment. And she will have to show that her work will not interfere with her being able to care for Calvin. The court may decide Olivia is not guardian material anymore than the adoption agency thought she was parent material.
So expect to see Vivian come back when she gets clean and ask for Calvin back.

Ankiel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ankiel said...

Anyone know the name of the actress who played Sara? IMDB's cast list for Trophy hasn't been updated yet.

Anonymous said...

Lots of people say that they dont like it when an episode has a lot of character development. I really dont understand the problem though. I feel like there are only so many ways to right about rape and murder. Without the breaks from the more "traditional" episodes i think the show would start to get repetitive. And who doesnt want to know whats going on in there lives every now and again.

Anonymous said...

Well Bello's appearing in another episode anyway (so says wikipedia). So I doubt the book is closed on this yet.

Anonymous 2:47 I have no problem with character development. I only dislike when they keep beating dead horses, like they're doing here with Liv's family or a couple weeks from now with Stabler's kids. Both these subplots ran their course before Cabot's first stint was over, ffs.

Anonymous said...

This is a reply to Anonymous at -November 4, 2010 7:38 PM- I understand that, but when Liv was given guardianship of Mischa Barton's child, nothing was done, at all.. Who is betting the same thing will happen again? I'm not trying to be funny, but why would Liv want to take these responsibilities over these children anyway?? She doesn't know them - yes, in this case, it was kinda different, as she thought (but was proved wrong) that Calvin's mum was her half-sister, so it would make sense, if that was the case, for Liv to accept the guardianship and fight for Calvin, as her "half-nephew" type-thing. I just don't get it! I LOVE SVU, but sometimes, they don't explain their actions or significant parts of an episode and don't follow on from it.. I'm also a bit sick of the Kathleen storylines and wish they would focus on something or someone else. She always seems to get the attention from her dad, yet she's the one that does loads of bad things, ie. the drink driving! Urgh! ha.

Nouvelle Maude said...

I want follow up on:
Olivia's brother
Olivia's other custodial responsibility