Thursday, January 6, 2011
Law & Order SVU “Pop” Recap & Review
Law & Order SVU “Pop” is a story about domestic violence, and those usually spell murder somewhere down the road. During the course of investigating a boy’s death, the SVU team stumbles upon a fighting/gambling group and one family where the stereotypical evil stepfather beats his wife and stepson. It’s certainly not a new scenario, but at least Drea de Matteo turned in a fine performance as the abused wife.
Stabler (Chris Meloni) also shows that he still has some anger management issues when dealing with suspects. Again, this comes back to haunt him when the abusive father accuses Stabler of beating him up, and his wife backs it up. Of course, Internal Affairs doesn’t believe Stabler, a story line that is getting a little old. If IA continues to have such doubts about Stabler, they should make an effort to have him removed from the job. Otherwise, I think IA should not outwardly say that they don’t believe Stabler, especially in front of those people who are accusing him.
Of course, evil stepdad gets killed – did you expect anything else? – and it looks like the boy did it. But at trial, the truth – or is it? – comes out. With what seems like poor forensics work at the early stages of the crime, we will never know the answer. While the story was predictable, I still found it enjoyable, likely because of solid performances from the guest stars, including the brief appearances of Olympia Dukakis, who I’d love to see more of on this show. Still, I am sure that the little screen time for Mariska Hargitay will disappoint many of her fans.
(Note: Cab # 5Y62 appears in both “Pop” and “Possessed”, both episodes which aired on January 5. In “Pop”, it’s the cab driven by the killed boy’s uncle. In “Possessed”, it’s the cab that drops off Larissa Welsh at the SVU precinct. I guess that cab is the “SVU Express.”)
Here is the recap:
A boy is found dead at carousel and he appears to have been beaten. Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) are called to the scene. The boy has no ID but is traced back to being dropped off by a cab. The cabbie, Joe Gilbert (James Carpinello) happens to be Ethan’s uncle. ME Warner (Tamara Tunie) says his death may be an accident; Ethan had a broken rib which punctured his lung. Later, Ethan’s mom thinks a kid at school did it – Blake Murphy. Stabler and Fin (Ice-T) talked with Blake’s mom and Blake said Ethan hit him and said his Uncle Joe was teaching Ethan how to fight.
The detectives track down Joe and find he is part of a fight club betting on their fights. They arrest a group of men. Back at SVU, they question Nicky Roberts (Al Calderon), whose adoptive dad Hank Roberts (Adam Senn) was also arrested at the fight. Nicky calls him “Pop”. His mom Sandra Roberts (Drea de Matteo) arrives and she is highly agitated and will not allow them to question Nicky.
ADA Hardwicke (Melissa Sagemiller) lets some of the others who were arrested be released – the law considers the fighting sport. She doesn’t seem to know Ethan Gilbert was dead from apparent beating. Stabler, questioning Hank, thinks Joe paid Hank because Ethan lost a fight to Hank’s son Nicky. Fin questions Gilbert. Hank seems to have records of domestic violence calls, but it’s Stabler who loses his cool and Cragen (Dann Florek) has to pull him off Hank. Joe tells Fin that Nicky went after Ethan and Joe tried to stop the fight and Hank held him back. Hardwicke agrees to charge Joe but releases Hank. Stabler is concerned Hank will beat Sandra and Nicky, and she secretly passes Nicky his business card as the family leaves. Cragen tells Stabler to stay away from the Roberts family.
Of course Stabler doesn’t listen, and waits for Nicky at his school. Nicky appears to have been beaten – after Hank found the business card that Stabler passed to him the night before. When Stabler takes Nicky back home, he finds Sandra accusing him of beating up Hank, and Lt. Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke) from Internal Affairs is already there and does not believe Stabler’s denials.
At SVU, Tucker questions Stabler. Cragen questions Hank and Fin questions Sandra and they both stick to their stories. But it’s Nicky who spills the beans and exposes Hank for being a child and wife beater. They arrest Hank. Later, Nicky explained how Hank forced him to fight and beats him when he loses a fight. Nicky also says that he told Hank it was not a fair fight with Ethan and that Hank wanted him to knock Ethan out and his father egged him on to keep beating him and Nicky could not stop.
Sandra tells Cragen that Hank hates his job as a cab driver and says he adopted Nicky because he loves him. She also tells him she is having Hank’s baby and won’t break up the family.
Hank Roberts is being arraigned for many charges including homicide. He gets $50K bail and there is an order of protection for Sandra and Nicky. Stabler arranges the protection. But later Cragen tells them they have to cover it themselves as patrol was pulled off, and when he and Stabler get to the residence patrol is already gone. They hear gunshots and race in to the house to find blood on the floor. In the basement, they find Sandra on the floor beaten, and Hank dead. Nicky is holding a gun and Stabler gets him to drop it. He tells Stabler that Sandra let Hank in and he started beating her up and he did not know what else to do. Later, as they take Sandra into the ambulance and Hank’s body away, Stabler coaches Nicky not to say anything unless a lawyer tells him to.
But things are not as they seem – evidence in the basement shows that Nicky shot Hank when he was either kneeling or getting something out of a low cabinet. There appears to be no imminent threat to Nicky’s life.
When Stabler and Hardwicke question Sandra in the hospital, she describes how she let Hank in and he beat her. They tell her the evidence does not show self defense. She tells them not to go near her son. Later, Stabler and Hardwicke argue over the handling of the case and Hardwicke tells Stabler to arrest Nicky for second degree murder – and he tells her to do it herself.
Later, Benson appears at the precinct and she and Stabler discuss the case. She tells Stabler to fight fire with fire. In interrogation, Hardwicke arrests Nicky, his mother present, and his lawyer, Debbie Marsh (Olympia Dukakis) arrives to defend him.
In court, Stabler is on the stand, being questioned by Marsh for the defense. He describes the environment that Nicky lived in. Hardwicke, though, questions Stabler about what Nicky said to Stabler after the shooting, and Stabler reluctantly said Nicky said he was glad Hank was dead for what he did to his mom, and that Nicky said he put the gun to Hanks head.
Outside the courthouse at recess, Sandra is reluctant to testify. She feels she didn’t do a thing to protect her son and doesn’t want to admit she was a bad mother. Stabler says this is her last chance to protect Nicky.
On the stand, Sandra testifies about how Hank beat her that night and then says she can’t let Nicky go to prison for something she did. She says she killed Hank, he was going to kill both of them and snuck up on hank and killed him. Hardwicke whispers to Stabler that her parade just became a circus.
Later, they run a computer simulation which indicates Sandra could have done it, and that they later ran a test on her clothes which were saturated with gunshot residue and fine blood spatter. But either of them could have done it.
Stabler and Hardwicke question Nicky and Sandra and tell them neither of them will be charged but they want the truth. They both say they did it. Stabler tells them they are free to go. As they leave, Hardwicke says they will never know which one of them did it, and Stabler asks “does it matter?” and we fade to black.
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