Law & Order SVU “Flight" is one of those episodes that made good use of the entire cast, and that, plus a great guest star, made for a very interesting episode. Colm Feore, who I always found enjoyable playing creepier roles (his role in Stephen King’s “Storm of the Century” always comes to my mind), was perfectly cast as the pervert of the week. Feore played the role of Jordan Hayes with a controlled calm that made his character seem even more guilty, despite his claims that he was the victim. I did find it bothersome, however, that Benson and Stabler were unwilling at the start to be objective with Hayes. Despite the fact that the detectives felt he was guilty (I did too) doesn’t mean they should have shown obvious skepticism while interviewing him as he made his complaint. They may have obtained more information out of him and obtained it sooner by playing along with his claims at first.
One oddity in the episode occurred early on, when Benson and Stabler were questioning the French rape victim via web cam with a translator. It seems that a translation was needed every time until Benson spoke one sentence about returning to New York to testify. If the girl needed a translator for everything else, how did she apparently completely comprehend Benson's English in that one sentence only? While I am on the subject of Benson, it seems we got quite a ways through the episode before she was called a “bitch” but this time she was also called a “skank.” Poor Olivia, she gets no respect!
Always enjoyable is Richard Belzer as Munch, whose conspiracy theories and his suspicious thinking usually seem to help crack the case. (Loved his special surveillance equipment.) It also never ceases to amaze me, in the land of fictional crime dramas, how quickly web sites can "go viral." It is used so often as a plot device that it is getting old and worn out. It was also amusing seeing Fin head to court with ADA Hardwicke to obtain a warrant and almost get cited for contempt for his mutterings when things didn’t go his way. I was glad that Cragen reinforced that Hardwicke was not confident from the start that they had enough to get a warrant. I wish they would use the full cast more often, it really makes for a richer story.
The end of the episode was a little dissatisfying, with the creepy pervert likely going to "Club Fed" while the trusting, naive girl will likely serve hard time in jail. But it should be no surprise that money (and a good lawyer) talks.
Here is the recap:
On a flight, a young girl shouts out in French to a man and he is restrained. She claimed the man raped her. Later, at SVU, Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) tells Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) that the man never touched her, he was just closing the shades. Apparently she was raped two nights ago at a party in the city, the perp flew her over in a private jet. She is now back in Paris.
Benson, Stabler and Fin talk about what they learned from Dominique and that the suspect is billionaire defense contractor Jordan Hayes who has powerful connections. An older girl – 15 - flew out with Dominique. They need to corroborate Dominique’s story. Stabler absconds with Munch’s (Richard Belzer) newspaper, and Stabler sees a news item on Jordan Hayes’ 50th birthday bash. They show the paper to Cragen who says he has an appointment with One PP about it and tells them not to speak to any of the people at the party without concrete evidence. Munch says Hayes made his millions selling weapons of mass destruction at high prices to the American taxpayer. He has two private planes. He seems to stay under the radar. Munch shows a photo of Dominique but has not photo of the girl who came over with him. Cragen says before they start flinging accusations they need to make sure Dominique’s story checks out.
At Teterboro Airport at Customs, they do have a record that Dominique was on the jet. Customs has photos of all the passengers on the plane. Also on the plane is Nicole Philippe, Dominique’s companion, and Dahlia Jessup, reportedly Hayes’ on again/off again girlfriend. She did not fly back with the other girls. They see the plane makes flights all over the world. The plane will be landing in 20 minutes and the detectives head over to talk to the pilot, who is a woman. One of the other women in the cabin said that Nicole was upset about Dominique. The pilot cuts the other woman off and says they are bound by a confidentiality agreement. The detectives decide to speak with Jessup.
At Jessup’s studio, Dahlia Jessup (Kelli Barrett) tells them Hayes’ friend owns a modeling agency and the girls hitched a ride. She says Hayes is not her boyfriend but admits she was at the party, The girls’ job fell through and she let them tag along, but she ditched the girls once she got there. She saw Nicole in the powder room throwing up. She put them in a bedroom and turned on the TV and told them to chill out. She says she was with Hayes all night and he did not rape the girls. Stabler says they spoke to the doctor who patched them up, and Jessup is surprised that Ari spoke to them. Benson says they have his DNA and Jessup says she has nothing else to say to them and she walks off. The detectives now have a name for the doctor and planted the idea that they have Hayes’ DNA.
Elsewhere, Munch and Fin speak with Dr. Ari who says he treated no one for rape and said he was dragged to Hayes’ party by his wife. He said they only stated for a half hour. He was on the guest list but says he’s not the only doctor with that name.
Back at SVU, Munch says there are 52 Dr. Aris in the directory. Cragen tells Fin and Munch to get with ADA Hardwicke to get Hayes’ phone records. Benson and Stabler give information on Hayes’ background and he has no record. He is also a hypochondriac and has a private physician, Dr. Ari Nathan. He is a concierge doctor who only makes house calls to the filthy rich. Cragen tells them to pick him up.
As Benson and Stabler move to the elevators, the doors open and Jordan Hayes (Colm Feore) walks out with his attorney Dwight Stanitch (Robert Klein) in tow. He tells them he is there to file a complaint to Cpt. Cragen, claiming Dominique Moreau raped him. But, as Cragen is in a meeting with the police commissioner, they have to speak with Benson and Stabler. Stanitch is not happy with the detective’s flip attitude. Cragen returns and Stanitch asks to talk with him somewhere more private, like Cragen’s office. Cragen agrees.
Inside, Hayes drops the police commissioner’s name. Stanitch says he wants the interview conducted under a waiver of immunity. They balk at the suggestion. Hayes said his doctor checked for STDs and when Stabler asks for the records, the other attorney refuses – but Haynes says they will get everything they need. Hayes explains while he was waiting for a massage given as a present, he fell asleep but felt himself being manually manipulated. He remembered it was his “present” and started to enjoy himself until it became rough. He found a woman standing over him who he had never seen before. Benson comments that Dominique was 12 but Hayes says it was dark, he just wanted her off him. Hayes says she threatened him and said if he did not let her continue she would scream rape. Benson isn’t buying it but Hayes said there was a party going on right outside the door and he knew how it would look, as they were both naked. The other attorney reminds them that Hayes is the victim, but Benson is storming out of the room in apparent disgust.
Outside, Munch and Fin are listening to the conversation via a special microphone Munch has, and Benson is upset at seeing them, saying they were supposed to pick up the doctor. Munch and Fin aren’t buying Hayes' story and they don’t think Benson is either. She tells them they both need to go back to sensitivity training. When Munch and Fin walk off, Benson uses the equipment to listen in to the conversation in Cragen’s office. Hayes wants to keep the name of the person who was supposed to “pleasure him” out of it but after Cragen presses, he says it was Dahlia Jessup. When Stabler wonders how Dominique could have threatened him because she doesn’t speak English, Hayes relays her threat in perfect French. When Stabler continues to show is skepticism, Stanitch threatens to go back to the police commissioner to find detectives who can. Cragen assures him the case will be thoroughly investigated. Hayes tells Stabler if it hadn’t happened to him he would not have believed it either.
As they leave, Benson hides the listening equipment. Stanitch tells Cragen to be sure Hayes’ name stays out of the press. After they leave, Cragen tells Benson and Stabler the only person he wants to arrest is Dr. Ari Nathan.
At Nathan’s brownstone, Munch and Fin find that Nathan is not there and his assistant will not discuss where he is. When they threaten her with an obstruction charge, she gives them the address of where he is located – and Munch recognizes it as Dahlia Jessup’s address. When they get to Jessup’s she is laying in bed and Nathan is treating her for what he says is an accidental overdose. Munch calls for a bus and they arrest Nathan for failure to comply with mandatory reporting laws.
At SVU in interrogation, Nathan tells Munch and Fin he saw no signs Dominique was raped but admits he treated her. He said she was menstruating and she did not tell him she was raped as they had communication issues as he does not speak French. In the observation room, Benson comments to Stabler that Nathan is fluent in bull. They both wonder about Dahlia and they wonder if she brought the girls over for Hayes.
At Mercy General Hospital, they try speak with Dahlia who refuses to talk to them. She says she did not do anything. They tell her what they think happened. She said she tried to get in Hayes’s room but the door was locked. As they question her, Hayes is standing in the doorway. He comments that this is how they take his case seriously. Dahlia says she did not say anything and he says he has nothing to hide and they can ask her anything.
Back at SVU, Benson and Stabler gripe about Hayes. Cragen tells them they have bigger problems – Paris is calling. They find Dominique still refuses to cooperate but Nicole (Isabella Grasso) is on camera. She tells the detectives they got bored stuck in the room and said they found a room with candles and a naked man asleep on the table, She says she tried to close the door but Dominique went inside because he was a billionaire and she was going to get rich.
Later, Benson and Stabler are outside Hayes’ huge home. They wonder if he paid for Nicole’s story. Benson thinks there are other victims and suggests they interview employees. They are interrupted as Hayes knocks on their car window. He asks of they would like to come inside. They do. He has many nude sculptures. They tell him his story seems to be checking out and asked to be walked through the crime scene. As they do so, they see a man chastising two girls. He takes them into the room, and Benson turns on the TV in the room, which is a monitor of the room. He does not have that massage on tape as he was expecting it from a friend and saw no reason to record it. Hayes is alerted that it is time for his appointment and he moves to show the detectives out.
Back at SVU, Cragen tells ADA Hardwicke (Melissa Sagemiller) that they need a warrant for the tapes, but she says that all the detectives saw was closed circuit TV. When Hardwicke wonders if Hayes has erased them, Cragen says Hayes thinks no one can touch him. She tells him he can’t use a warrant for a fishing expedition. Fin says that Hayes makes good on his bribes, Nicole is now the face of Belle Faux Cosmetics. Hardwicke says they need Hayes’ financials to show a direct link to Hayes and the company. Cragen says Nicole was managed by Hayes’ friend. Fin says Munch has been working a Paris angle and Munch and Dominique have become “FaceUnion” friends and Dominique thinks she is chatting with another 12 year old sex abuse victim, Gigi Alverez. He is trying to get her to open up about the incident. Dominique says this was supposed to be her big break and now she doesn’t even want to get out of bed, and she is afraid to leave the house. Munch is trying to convince her to file charges. Cragen stresses to Hardwicke the importance of getting a search warrant for the videos. He says Judge Miranski is doing warrant hearings and she has a good track record of getting warrants from him.
Accompanied by Fin, Hardwicke speaks with Judge Miranski (Zach Grenier) and Fin explains their probable cause. But the judge is not buying Fin’s explanation and says they don’t have what the law requires to get the warrant. As they walk off, Fin mumbles that Hayes probably financed some of the judge’s campaign, and the judge asks Fin if he has something to say to his face. Hardwicke says he does not.
Back at SVU, Cragen asks Benson what she is doing there, and she is trying to find another way to get the warrant. She is checking campaign contributions, but Cragen said Hardwicke told them they did not have enough; they rolled the dice and they lost. She thinks there has to be another way to get at Hayes. He tells her it's late and he doesn’t think any young girls are in danger tonight, he has a patrol car outside Hayes' place. He tell Benson to go home. But, a young girl walks in to see Benson, she says a friend of her sent her a link to Dominique’s blog. She says she has been in that massage room.
Later, Fin comes into SVU and Benson says they have eight more cases as Dominique’s blog went viral and the Ledger picked it up. There is a crowd of people in the precinct. The detectives and Cragen speak to several girls and everything points back to Dahlia Jessup as setting everything up with Hayes. The house manager paid them and even asked for referrals for other girls.
The detectives get the search warrant and arrest Hayes. As they put him in the squad car, Hayes says he has a massage appointment at four and doesn’t intend to miss it.
With Hayes in the SVU holding cell, Stabler brings in another man into the cell which rattles Hayes. He demands a private cell. Fin brings in Hayes’ house manager, Giles, and they put him in another room. Giles tells Hayes they tore the house to shreds.
In interrogation, Giles tells Munch and Fin that he runs the household, not Hayes’ personal life. He says receiving a massage is not a crime and knows nothing about the young girls. They accuse him f paying the girls and saying that is criminal facilitation.
Benson has Jessup in another room for compelling prostitution an promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child – and if they can put her in the room with the two girls they will charge her with rape. Jessup asks for her purse and her medication and calls Benson a bitch. Jessup claims she didn’t do anything and Hayes is not her boyfriend. Benson says it is because she aged out, and Jessup says she is younger than Benson, calling her a skank. Jessup says Hayes treats her like a princess and is the only person who ever cared about him. She admits she moved in when she was 17, and he never forced her and he loves her. She says she is not a whore and Benson cannot comprehend what they have. Benson says Hayes is no different than any other predator, he is just better dressed.
Forensics Tech Morales (Joel De la Fuente) , Stabler and Cragen review the videos, which Morales says were found in Hayes’ panic room. The tapes were not encrypted so it only took a few hours to crack. Stabler makes a comment about Hayes small size, saying that is why Hayes goes for little girls, and Hayes gets agitated. Cragen tells Stabler not to poke the animals. But Stabler presses on and asks if Hayes was cheated by mother nature. When the cell mate makes comments about Hayes being tiny, this infuriates Hayes and Hayes attacks him. As he beats the man, Stabler rushes to unlock the cell and pulls Hayes off the man. When Hayes still is agitated, Stabler asks him to give him a reason to slam him into the bars, and Hayes controls himself.
In interrogation, as Benson is cuffing her, Jessup says she has a splitting headache and needs a Xanax. Benson says to tell them at central booking. Jessup seems shocked at having to go through booking and asks if Hayes knows they are doing this to her. Benson says he lawyered up and they can’t talk to him. Jessup asks doesn’t she get a lawyer, and Benson reminds her she read her her rights three times and she never asked for one. Jessup said Hayes said his lawyer would take care of it, and Benson comments that she fell for that and that Hayes is cutting a deal right now. Jessup is shocked.
In the cell, Hayes asks Stabler for some assistance and says he needs to use the facilities. Meanwhile, Benson is leading Jessup out, who asks if she should get her own lawyer now. Benson tells her to hire one that specializes in criminal defense. She sees Stabler walking with Hayes and says Benson lied to her, and she calls out to Hayes. Hayes reassures Jessup he is handling this. Stabler sees Cragen coming in with Stanitch and the feds. Cragen said the Feds made a deal, they have the resources to handle the case, and they must hand Hayes over. Stabler asks Hayes who he paid off. As Stabler and Hayes have a stare off, Stanitch asks why there is blood on his client. Hayes replies that it is nothing. When Jessup asks what about her, Stanitch says a member of his firm will represent her at arraignment. Benson tells Jessup that Hayes is going off to a Federal country club and Stabler adds that Jessup faces 80 years. She calls after him, who tells her she will be fine and she is a survivor. She comments that he screwed her over, and he says she has to trust him. She says she has trusted him for years, what has that gotten her? He tells her to calm down, but she says she is on those tapes, telling her to do all the perverted things he told her to. Stanitch tells her to shut up. Hayes walks up to her and cradles her head in his hands and then touches her face, as if saying goodbye. He asks if he can go now. She yells out to him to come back and gets hysterical as he steps into the elevator. She says she loves him as the doors close. As Benson and Stabler walk away with her, we fade to black.
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