Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Law & Order SVU “Spectacle” Recap & Review

All photos from NBCUniversal
Law & Order SVU “Spectacle” was nothing spectacular. It was a case that started with a rape and kidnapping, but turned out to be an elaborate hoax in order to get SVU to find a boy who disappeared years before. With Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) being dispatched to Cleveland to extradite someone and bring him back to SVU, the episode is centered on Stabler.
The episode was full of plot contrivances, which detracted from what could have been an interesting story. Stabler gets a text message from the person he believes is the kidnapper – Greg Engels - and without telling his colleagues, Stabler goes off to meet him alone. Just because a suspect asks a detective to come alone doesn't mean the detective can't tell anyone about it. Why didn't Stabler work with his colleagues to bring in Engels? I suppose after all these years, the writers would like us to think that Stabler still doesn’t use his brain, or doesn't trust his colleagues to help, or his ego is so big he thinks he can go it alone. (I doubt that if Benson was there that Stabler would have gone alone.) And, if Stabler felt that the squad room was being monitored via their own web cams, shouldn’t he have warned them that Engels may have hacked in and can see their activities? Luckily for Stabler, when he arrived at Engels' location, he wasn’t walking into any kind of ambush. Instead, he finds himself face to face with Engels who demands that Stabler help him find his brother who was kidnapped years earlier, and only then will he release the kidnap victim. I would have found this episode more interesting had the whole fake kidnapping scenario been omitted and the story center around the missing boy. Of course, that would not give them the excuse to repeatedly show a scantily clad woman tied to a bed, screaming.

Meanwhile, Fin and Cragen get worried that Stabler has suddenly left the building, he is not answering his phone, his car is gone and his wife hadn’t spoken to him since the day before. When Fin realizes that Stabler was staring at his cell phone with a funny look on his face, they decide to get his text logs. Cragen gets Stabler’s text logs, Morales analyzes them, Stabler is located, and the police arrive at Stabler's location. The apparent speed that these events took place was so fast it was almost laughable.

The reason for the kidnapping was to get the attention of SVU and force them to work the case of the boy abducted years earlier. Engels tells Stabler that Special Victims has one of the NYPD’s highest clearance rates, and Stabler asks the obvious questions: why didn’t Engels just pick up the phone and call them and what was the “crap" with all the monkeys? Good questions - I asked those same questions myself. It makes no sense that someone who spent so much time and effort trying to get people to help him find his missing brother would not have simply picked up the phone and called the one of the best detective teams to ask for their help. How could creating this elaborate kidnapping scenario be easier and more effective for him than just trying to make just one more phone call to the SVU detectives? (I suppose if criminals actually did things that made sense we wouldn't have any crime shows.) And the monkeys? Well, just like the film “12 Monkeys” - which coincidentally Chris Meloni was a member of that cast – the monkeys are really a red herring. The connection in this episode was in a photo of the missing boy, wearing a t-shirt with an image of a monkey, and Engels used the monkey images to pique the interest, and frustrate, the detectives.

Of course, the SVU team succeeds where all others have failed, and the missing boy is quickly found and the hoaxsters arrested. I was just relieved that the episode was over - this wasn't one of SVU's best for this season.

Here is the recap:
A group of Westmore University students watch via a campus intranet feed while a woman is being raped. Later, after police are called, Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) are called to investigate, and watch the video, noting the tattoo on the attacker’s arm. With help from campus security, they identify the source of the video as a vacant building on campus undergoing renovations. When they locate the room where the rape occurred, they see an image of a monkey on the wall with the words “see no evil” written below.

Later, with CSU Sung (James Chen) on the scene, the detectives are told there are no prints, no hairm no fibers. The room appears to have been bleached. They think the attack happened there but was pre=recorded and played back from somewhere else. Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) tells Benson that cops in Cleveland just picked up Nigel Clemmons and she’d better go pack and she is on the next plane out.

Fin (Ice-T) shows Stabler that the attacker paraded the victim right past the security camera. They wonder if she is still on campus and Cragen starts things in motion for the search. Cragen, Fin and Stabler talk to students about what they saw. Stabler hears from one student that a few guys on campus have the same tattoo as the attacker.

Back at SVU, CSU Tech Morales (Joel De la Fuente) says that the hacker broke into the intranet from the outside but he cannot trace from where. The video was apparently viewed only at the university and Dr. Huang (BD Wong) says the rapist did it as a spectacle to get attention, maybe to impress his friends or to create terror. Huang thinks the tattoo was trying to mean “try or die” but appears to be “pie or die”. Fin says the tattoo is not in the gang database. He did find one match with that same tattoo – Carl Cooper – a junior at Westmore who had been expelled last year and was collared the next day for sexual abuse and lives near the university.
Later, when Stabler and Fin approach Cooper as he is leaving his home, Cooper flees and they chase after him. Stabler catches up and slams Cooper against a car. While Fin heads to check Cooper’s apartment, Stabler finds drugs in Cooper’s pocket. Cooper says it is for Adderall and he has a prescription.

At SVU in interrogation, Stabler looks at the empty prescription bottle. Cooper says the drugs are legit and the previous charges against him were really from a misunderstanding. Cooper says he doesn’t know the missing woman and denies doing anything. The tattoo was part of a fraternity initiation and it means try or die and lots of guys have the same ink. He claims he has not been near the school since they kicked him out.

Later, Fin tells Stabler and Cragen that he tossed Cooper’s apartment and building and there is no sign of the girl. Cragen tells ADA Hardwicke (Melissa Sagemiller) that they need a search warrant for the Phi Delta frat house but Hardwicke says they do not have enough – she needs a name. Stabler complains about this and Hardwicke says she does not make the laws. They bring up the Adderall and that it looked packaged for sale and she will see what she can do. Cragen tells Stabler and Fin to check with Cooper’s Phi Delta brothers.

At Westmore University Phi Delta frat house, Stabler and Fin find that Cooper was booted from the frat house for his behavior with women. They question a guy who says the woman came uninvited to a party, and her name is Lizzie Harmon and she goes to Julliard.


Stabler and Fin head to her apartment which shows no sign of forced entry but the inside is in disarray. They see 2 monkeys on the wall with “see no evil” and “hear no evil” also on the wall.

Later, with CSU on the scene, Stabler tells Cragen that neighbors thought they heard a scuffle in her apartment two nights ago and no one has seen her since. The media is also there. CSU Sung says they did find hair, fibers and prints but no blood. Fin says no one saw Lizzie being dragged out. Stabler sees a security camera.

Back at SVU, they review the photo of the masked perp from the surveillance camera. He was seen going in but never going out. They think he took her out through the service stairs as there is no camera back there. Carl Cooper has an alibi which checked out. They have to check out every frat person with that ink. Fin tells them patrol brought in Lizzie’s mother.

Cragen and Stabler speak with Mrs. Harmon who says she does not think Lizzie has a boyfriend, she practices piano too much. But she recalls that Lizzie said she met a boy a week ago but was not sure that she liked him and he kept calling her.

Fin dumped her cell and found dozens of calls to the same five numbers – all disposable cells. The phones were shipped to a check cashing place and they have surveillance photos of the people who bought the phones. Stabler recognizes one of the photos as a student from Westmore that he had questioned – Gregory Engels (Spencer Treat Clark). Morales calls them over – the attacker is back on line with Lizzie and she shows them the feed. As Lizzie screams for help, Morales tries to trace the source. Cragen says that Engels is a junior in computer science and has not been seen since early this morning. Morales said Engels did not put up a firewall this time and Morales has a location in Hell’s Kitchen.
Stabler and Fin head to the location and find it empty, except for a computer with the image of three monkeys with “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” displayed on it. The images changes to one of Lizzie tied on the bed and wonder how Engels is doing it.

Back at SVU, Morales says Engels used the signal of a law firm next door and he has no other information. Huang says the brownstone has meaning for Engels - its where he and his brothers grew up with foster parents. His real parents died in 2001 in a plane crash and no one knows where Greg’s brother Jason is at as he was abducted outside the brownstone two years after his parents were killed. Stabler recalls the case and it went cold. They think Greg snapped. There is a monkey on Jason's t-shirt in his photo, Huang adding this is Engels' twisted way of getting control back. Stabler gets a text message which says “I’m done playing games. If you want Lizzie back, come alone.” Cragen says Greg’s fingerprints are all over Lizzie's apartment. Stabler silently responds to the text, asking “Come where? Who is this?” the response, “ You know who. Drive north and I’ll send you directions.” He sees an image on his phone of a monkey which says “Leave now! I’m watching you.” Stabler looks around the room and sees the web cams.

Stabler heads to the location and sees a door painted with “Monkey see monkey do” and he opens it. He closes the door and head to an elevator where the Basement floor button is marked. He steps out of the elevator on the basement floor and calls out to Engels who is there and says he does not have a weapon. Stabler tells him he is under arrest and Engels shows Stabler a streaming video feed of Lizzie being held with another man present. Engels calls the other man his little monkey and if he doesn’t get a signal from Engels every two minutes, he will kill her. He asks Engels what he wants, and Engels hands him a folder of papers with a photo of his missing brother, and says he wants Stabler to find him.

Back at SVU, Morales is still trying to crack Engels’ laptop but is having trouble. Fin wonders why Engels targeted Lizzie. Cragen asks Fin where is Stabler, and Fin says Stabler left the building. Cragen tried to call him and gets voice mail.

Back with Engels, Stabler shows Engels that his cell phone is now turned off. Stabler taunts him but Engels yells at him to shut up and tells him to read the file. Stabler asks why Engels went through all that trouble to get him there and asks why. Engels says that Special Victims has one of the NYPD’s highest clearance rates, and Stable asks why he didn’t pick up the phone and call? Stabler asks him what all the crap with the monkeys is, and Engels ask him if that frustrates him, it’s what he’s been going through for years. He orders Stabler to read the file. Engels complains that the detective only worked the case for two weeks and then labeled it a cold case, and says not this time. Stabler says he wants to help him, but not like this. Engels says the cops don’t give a damn about Jason but as long as he has Lizzie he will make them care. Stabler grabs Engels by the neck but releases him. Engels says if anything happens to him she will be dead before he steps into the elevator.

Back at SVU, Cragen and Fin are still trying to find Stabler with no luck. Fin recalls the last time he saw Stabler he was staring at his cell phone with a weird look in his face. Cragen will call his provider to get them to cough up his text logs. Morales says he broke Engels' code and found a lot information where Engels was writing to law enforcement for help in finding Jason.

Stabler tells Engels that he did everything right to try to find his brother. Engels says at first people were polite and then they stopped paying attention, and says he will beer give up. Stabler asks where his foster parents were the day Jason was abducted and Engels said they were getting high off the money they were paid for taking care of them. Stabler goes through the police reports and look at all the people who were seen on the street that day and they all saw the whole thing and they did nothing. Stabler said it is the bystander effect, no one does anything because they think someone else will. Stabler reminds Engels that Lizzie is scared just like Jason. Stabler promises to help Engels but he says he promises him that she will be dead unless he finds his brother.

Back at SVU, they track Stabler’s movements from the text he received by matching the texts to his GPS. The realize he is with Engels somewhere in Queens. Morales think s he can trace the burn phone that Engels used.
Back with Engels, Stabler asks Engels to tell him everything he can about his brother. Jason used to call him Gigg because he could not say Greg. Stabler reminds him he was only 12 years old and it is not his fault, thinking he is doing this out of guilt. Stabler said he can’t imagine what that pain would make him do, and reminds him the pain Lizzie’s mother is going through. He asks Engels to tell him where Lizzie is. Stabler gives him his word he will work Jason’s case, and as Engels is getting ready to tell him, they hear a noise. Stabler says his phone is turned off but asks if Engels turned his off. They hear Cragen calling out to Stabler. Stabler yells back to him to back off, he is alright. Stabler asks Engels where is Lizzie, and he tells him to go to hell and smashed the iPad. The police burst in with Cragen and Engels tells Stabler she is dead, he killed her.

As they walk Engels out, he is silent when Stabler asks where is Lizzie’s body. Cragen says Lizzie is not in the building, and Morales said they signal died when Engels smashed the iPad. Stabler said he was getting into Engels’ head and wonders if he is that screwed up he would take Lizzie’s life. Stabler goes back to the squad car and gets in the back seat with Engels. He asks Engels why he is frowning, and says he thinks all Engels wanted was revenge. Engels said he just wanted someone to pay attention and to care about Jason. Engels begins to cry and asks Stabler what he knows about what he’s been through and he does not care about anything anymore. Stabler asks why he is crying, and Engels says that he never wanted to kill her, and Stabler guesses that she is still alive. Engels admits she is, and tells Stabler to find out what happened to his brother,

Back at SVU, Fin slams down the file and says the only thing colder than this case is Stabler making them start from scratch. Cragen asks Huang to check out all the sex offenders living in that neighborhood in 2003 and the rest of them will re-interview all the witnesses.

At SVU, they bring in all the original witnesses who recount what they see. Everyone’s story is different, especially regarding the car seen the day of the kidnapping. One woman says other than the boy getting grabbed it was a normal day. All the stories still hold up.

Benson returns and begins to help work the case. It seems that everyone saw different cars but all said it was a man who grabbed Jason. One witness saw a Mrs. Penner out there that morning but there was no Mrs. Penner on any of the reports. Stabler asks Engels about Mrs. Penner and he said he used to babysit her son Danny for her. He said she was not there they day Jason was kidnapped because she went back to Staten Island after Danny died, to live with her parents. Daniel died at 3 from leukemia. She said all she wanted was her boy back.

Later, they find Mariam Penner spent 6 weeks in the psych ward after her son died. She owned a green station wagon which is one of the cars a witness saw. They wonder if Jason was a replacement for her son. Fin also says Miriam’s parents live in Boca Raton. Benson called her number and said the woman who answered said she was the babysitter but Benson thinks it was Mariam. They wonder if she thinks they are on to them. Cragen says he will have patrol sit on her house in case she tries to bolt.

At the home of Mariam Penner, as Benson and Stabler arrive, a car tries to leave and they stop it. Stabler orders Mariam out of the car. They asks where is Jason, and they find him in the back of the car, apparently sedated. Mariam begs them not to take Jason as he is who whole life. As Benson arrests her for kidnapping, Mariam screams at them not to take her baby,

Back at SVU, Stabler tells Engels that they have Jason and now they are going to see Lizzie. Later, Stabler and police break into an apartment, guns drawn, where a man an Lizzie are there, and she looks fine. Stabler asks Engels what is going on and he is irate. Engels says Lizzie was not raped, Doug never kidnapped her, and no harm was done. Fin says to tell that to Lizzie’s mom and the dozens of cops he put through hell. Lizzie said they would not have done this had they found Greg’s brother years ago. Engels admits he is responsible for all of this but it was worth it. He just wants to see his brother before they take him in. Benson tells him to turn around, and Jason is there. Jason (Dylan Reiff) is looking at him stony faced, and then slowly walks to him and hugs him. Engels is thrilled to hug his brother. As Stabler looks on, we fade to black.

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68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Truly awful episode. Glaring plot holes. It really felt like two different episodes crammed into one. Either part could have made at least a half decent episode by itself had they actually tried to develop the story.

Anonymous said...

I stopped watching after twenty minutes,it was that awful! Like it did'nt even have any special moments at all at least,it was just boring! I think the first half would have been good by itself and they could have focused on them trying to catch the crazy person posting those videos and it being a cat and mouse chase. Then showing the trial blah blah blah anything other than what they showed.

Anonymous said...

PLEASE POST THE PREVIEW FOR PURSUIT!!! I DIDN'T GET TO SEE IT!!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!

tara m. said...

And isn't Chris Brancato CI's new show runner? - I feel bad for those fans.

I thought the episode "Branded" sucked... nope. "Spectacle" was just it's title (more like "Sh*t").

People say "SVU" is getting better... no it's not. It's just better this year than last year. ALL of last years episodes sucked, even the season finale (thanks to Sharon Stone and writer Dan Truly).

I'm done with SVU as of now. I saw Elliot/Olivia hugging - that's the bull that I'm talking about. It's fine if the writers are brining the characters closer to "more than just partners" but they seem to want E/O storyline to appeal those fans!

I want the gripping stories and the trials back! (I want Novak back!) I wish they would use Melissa Sagemiller on SVU! It only seems like her character is there to take up a few minutes worth of dialogue! Why are the writers not writing to "take the perps to trial"?! WHY?!

I think a two parter should have been done with this!

Continued in next comment

tara m. said...

"Spectacle (Part 1)": A girl is seen being raped on a university campus website. Tutuola and Stabler investigate and find out who the kidnapper is. They run around losing their heads with no leads until a break in the case (likely CSU or TARU would find something hidden). Fin and Stabler bust the guy only to discover it was all fake. ADA Hardwicke takes it to trial, we see them go away for a while to prison for orchestrating and participating in a false rape. Engles reaches out from prison to Stabler to find his missing/kidnapped little brother!

"Spectacle (Part 2)": Benson returns to help Stabler and Fin (and Munch ??) track down a kid whose been missing for 7-8 years! Engles is helping out at arms length. Old suspects, witnesses, etc. They finally lead to the mother - of another child who played with Engles little brother that died - who is psychotic and has the child stashed in her car trunk. ADA Hardwicke charges her with kidnapping but the defense comes up with a strategy; mental disease or defect. We "go to trial" and let it play out in court.

Engles reunites with his brother and testifies why he and his buddies did the "fake rape". Engles goes back to prison, his brother goes to foster care (or distant relatives, or Olivia...), and Elliot has an urge to call his mother.

I'd watch that! How about you guys?! They really messed up SVU tonight. I'm done with the show now (and apparently "Criminal Intent" too).

John K. said...

I was going to comment on the writer, as well, but tara m. had all the best lines. Hehe.

Where were Mike and the Bots when we needed them? Hopefully, now, my dream of modern SVU having the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment will come a little closer after this one. (If not, I certainly did it at home.) But, yeah, doesn't bode well for CI.

That said, doesn't it speak of the now lack of moral center ordinary citizens within the "Law & Order" universe now have? Two weeks, the cops drop a missing little boy case, and the only moral reasoning for Greg after being so proactive for years and years is... to stage a fake rape/kidnapping, freak out the college and the city. Man, I miss the days when it was simple garden-variety rape/murder. Also, never to hang around anyone from the show's Westmont Universary, given their apparent lack of morals/perspective. Sighs.

Not much left to say, as everyone else have. However, tara did confirm a thought, as the plots were have been served best in separate episodes. I don't know why SVU has to shoehorn two-three plots into one episode, when it isn't necessary. Oh, well, that's the way it goes, right?

John K. said...

I meant Westmore. Silly typos. Serves me right for typing in late, especially the grammar in the last two paragraphs.

I also wanted to say good recap. It's a public service, watching this and warning everyone not to watch. God Bless You. Wish I took my own advice. Hah...

Anonymous said...

Holy Sh*t! What was that crap? I couldn't even watch the entire episode. SVU has reached a new low. This is easiest the worst episode from this season and with so many bad episodes that is saying a lot.

I love watching Fin get more time but I couldn't watch this even for him. Whenever Stabler gets an entire episode it's just very, very boring.

Anonymous said...

Are the writers kidding me, this has got to be the worst episode ever for SVU. I love SVU, especially Fin and Benson. Are the writers purposely trying to ruin this show. If there's a season 13 and that's a big "IF" here's my wishful cast list.

Cut: Chris Meloni

Add: Diane Neal (Casey) and Michael Chiklis (from The Shield)

Keep: Mariska, Ice-T, Tamara(Melinda) and Dan (CPT).

All Things Law and Order said...

Thanks for all the comments so far. Some of them were truly hilarious and they made me laugh. I sure needed a laugh after wasting hours on the recap episode.

Giving the show a MST3000 treatment sounds like a great idea! Tara - great rewrite, that would have been watchable!

Anonymous said...

SVU had been doing better since Gray. That was good, Mask was good, Flight was good, Dirty was good. But this one was hilariously bad.

I like tara's idea, I just would've given the episodes different names instead of Pt 1 and Pt 2. And made it a Fin episode, like Conned from last year.

A cast shakeup isn't necessary, its the writers who need to pick it up. Unfortunately the next few episodes aren't looking great either. Pursuit looks like a typical hey-look-we-got-a-guest-star episode where nothing particulary interesting happens, and Bully... I don't know. 2010-2011's been a pretty weak year for broadcast TV.

All Things Law and Order said...

As requested, the preview for "Pursuit" can be found here:

http://allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com/2011/01/law-order-svu-pursuit-episode.html

Joe S. Walker said...

It wasn't the worst episode of the season, but it was the silliest.

Anonymous said...

I pray this is the end f te tandem episodes,frankly.The storylines always seem pretty weak and contrived to me.They are a team, why keep separating them out this way?It just never seems realistic to me.Having said that,I tried watching Spectacle'twice-once on CtV then on NBC.Not exactly must see tv I'm afraid.There's no questions that Elliot Stabler is written as a 'rogue' cop at times.That he'd go to a possible ambush situation by himself seemed ludicrous to me.There was too much "red herring" type plot contrivances with all those monkey references for my liking.I do agree that its really the fault of the stories themselves and the writers that are being green-lighted on SVU.They ought to try to stick to past writers.It's a police procedural.

Anonymous said...

I'm obviously going to have to go against the popular opinion here. I really enjoyed the episode and reminded me of seasons 2-6 which I loved. I liked the story, no silly and forced political crusades we are supposed to buy into, no side environmental story. No over the top Emmy chasing performances from either the guest star of the week or the regular cast. It was a SVU case and it left me with answers rather than quesions which was nice for a change. So good to see use of many of the regular cast. I especially loved to see Cragen out of the squadroom, like he used to do many seasons ago. The only thing I felt was missing was Munch, as I haven't been interested in the court cases since Novak left. I am looking forward to Paxton in action next week though.
I'm loving season 12 and this was one of my favourites after Mask and possibly Gray. The only episode I hated this year was Dirty as it was beyond boring. Wet was cracktastic but at least it was funny.

xfool said...

This one sucked big time. This is the kind of episodes viewers get when the writers and producers appeal to what they think is the 18-49 demographic. What they are really doing is dumbing down the show to appeal to the 14-18 demographic and to E/O shippers. They think this is drawing in viewers; in reality it is killing the show. Those viewers who stuck with the series since day 1 will recall the huge ratings this show used to get. The numbers have eroded over the years and now the execs celebrate when they are in second or third place in total viewers. It's pathetic. This series is a shadow of what it used to be.

ATLAO, I saw your tweet about Neal Baer saying that he is optimistic that both stars will return for another season which is a joke because Baer is bailing himself. After NBC execs saying that L&O was going to return for another season and then it got canceled, can anything people like Baer say be taken seriously?

Anonymous said...

Hmm not the best but definitely not the worst. Instead of shoehorning the whole stupid video kidnap they should have stuck with a straight kidnapping story. At first I thought when Stabler got the text it was Lizzie Stabler. That might have been more interesting. I agree the acting was good by all but as usual the writing just isn't cutting it anymore. Next epsisode with Olivia in the reeds looks awful!

Anonymous said...

Dirty was the absolute worst episode of the season but there have been precious few that have been even very good. This one had potential the acting was good and even the idea of a brother trying to find his kidnapped sibling but it just became odd. The writing is so bad. I hate to say it but this show needs to end. Its run its course. And CI fork in it so over and LOLA bad too. So sad for what used to be a great franchise.

Anonymous said...

This episode was an insult to viewers' intelligence.

Anonymous said...

The only way to save L&O:SVU is to get rid of the writers along with Chris Meloni.

xfool said...

According to TVbythenumbers "Law & Order: SVU was down 10% to a 2.6 adults 18-49 rating."



Law & Order: SVU
18-49: 2.6/7 share
total viewers in millions: 8.09

Blue Bloods
18-49: 2.3/6 share
total viewers in millions: 12.45

Blue Bloods is still cleaning SVU's clock when it comes to total viewers and very close on the 18-49 demo.

Anonymous said...

The ideas by tara m. were better than the nonsense the writers gave us. But there is no need for the trial portions.
There would be no trial for Engels and his cohorts. Nobody in the NYPD or the DA's office would want the reason for the hoax to become public. They would look incompetent and it could inspire copycatting. They would make a deal with the students for a guilty plea and probation.
Similarly with Mariam Penner, the DA's office doesn't want to put a delusional woman on trial. She would either be declared incompetent to stand trial or have a not guilty by reason of insanity plea accepted. Either way she goes to a mental institution.

Anonymous said...

Oh Cmon if your going to get rid of Chris Meloni you have to get rid of Mariska too. He at least shows up for work even as up and down as his role has been written he at least shows up to work. She has been positively sleep-walking thru her role for years. The reason this show is soo bad isn't the actors it's the stupid writing.

Anonymous said...

I guess no one has to choose between Chris and Mariska. Both are great. I think an injustice to say that Mariska "She Has Been Positively her sleep-walking thru role for years." The Olivia Benson Mariska is created by a wonderful character. And if Mariska is bad as explained she won a GG, an Emmy and having so many directions. You must be a fan of Chris, I understand, but let's be fair.

Esaul said...

Actually, xfool, the show right now is on the verge of being renewed. NBC is looking for someone to replace Baer. So why would the network do that if they don't have plans to renew the show? Sure, demos went down this week, but this season the show's been doing quite well, trumping freshman shows last week, Blue Bloods and Off the Map, and let me tell you about something, Blue Bloods has been doing quite well this season, especially when it was on Friday.

And I too am going against the popular opinion. I too, enjoyed this episode. It wasn't that bad, and it wasn't the best episode this season. But I'm glad there was a twist to it, instead of being the typical psychological episodes where they're told where to go from Point A to Point B, to Point C. Instead, this guy actually has an agenda, he wants his little brother found.

xfool said...

Esaul, L&O was on the verge of being renewed too - right before they axed it.

Nobody knows how much $$$ Hargitay and Meloni are asking in this new contract. Their salaries are already huge and, if NBC can't get the advertisers it needs to cover all those costs, they may not think the show is a good investment to carry on. Remember NBCU now has Comcast as owner, so Comcast may not want the show either on NBC. So...maybe SVU will get renewed, but who knows, it could head to USA just like LOCI did.

Anonymous said...

Do not know why fans are so demanding on SVU. I think we have a good season, despite some bad episodes. And fans fanatics Melloni, which is good actor and I admire, do not forgive the success of Mariska. I can not understand how someone can think this woman is not good actress, and Olivia is a great character. I think even more determined that Olivia is in search of justice, which Elliot. I also think silly to criticize someone because producers create scenes, with hugs between Elliot and Olivia. Viewers must understand that the public (not me) or this link. They are only fulfilling the desire of the fans. Let's be reasonable and understanding. And Chris and Mariska are great friends, love, respect each other and there is no reason for rivalry.

Anonymous said...

Esau,

SVU continues to lead in time, in the demo, 18-49, what matters most. Even with the decline in the number of spectators, we must take into account that SVU is the oldest series in view: they are 12 years. House, DH, Greys Anatomy, all of these series has less air time and lost viewers. Also I think SVU is still beautiful.

Anonymous said...

@Esau

SVU continues to lead in time, in the demo, 18-49, what matters most. Even with the decline in the number of spectators, we must take into account that SVU is the oldest series in view: they are 12 years. House, DH, Greys Anatomy, all of these series has less air time and lost viewers. Also I think SVU is still beautiful.

nygma619 said...

Stabler didn't tell them because the guy said he was watching them. Let's just say that Stabler did tell someone, how does he know the person that MIGHT be watching him, doesn't kill the girl once he says something?

Yeah I thought this episode was silly, but I thought that part was blatantly obvious and was not a case of Stabler being dumb.

Also Tara M. WHY would you continue to watch a show, if you thought all of last season sucked? That's going in to levels of insanity.

Again, some of the people who post things on here make me wonder WHY these people bother if they complain so much.

Look I don't think the show is perfect right now, but IT IS NOT as terrible as people are making it out to be. Though I can understand how an episode like THIS can make people made enough to say this stuff.

Anyways I thought the stupidest part of the episode was Greg expecting Elliot to solve a nine year old cold case from inside the basement.

Actually I take that back, the stupidest part was his friends going along with the entire schrade thinking there would be no consequences for screwing around with the police, and that's assuming they could even find him.

Yeah episode sucked, nice idea; horrible execution. Though I still stand by my statement that people like Tara M. and others hit the panic button way too much.

Esaul said...

xfool: I'm a huge fan of the Mothership, and it pains me to say this, but it was not on the verge of being renewed. Someone from the network said that she didn't want to be responsible for axing it. There was no guarantee that the show would come back. That does not mean they were close to bringing the show back for another season. However, SVU is another story. They, the network want to keep SVU on. It's one of their best rated programs, despite how long it's been on, because typically the pattern is for ratings to go down. And if they, the network itself, is looking for someone else to take Baer's place, then that is a very good damning sign that the show is getting renewed. And both Hargitay and Meloni as of now are on board.

@Anonymous - I'm actually not dissing SVU in anyway, just as a fyi. I'm supporting the show and stating that it's impressive that SVU, the current veteran of scripted drama was able to beat Blue Bloods and Off the Map, both new shows compared to an experienced one. This episode though, it saw a bit of a decline. The smart thing NBC has done was to keep SVU away from the 9 PM slot, then we'd be having a different conversation all together, because Criminal Minds keeps providing in the ten millions for viewers. My main concern is next Wednesday when Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior comes on air. With Criminal Minds as a lead in, CM:SB will surely bring in some good ratings, which is smart of CBS to do. That's what they've done with NCIS, where it's been hitting 20 million viewers for the past 4 weeks, and they've been able to retain a lot of viewers for NCIS: LA which has strong viewership as well, thanks to their lead in. Now if CM:SB does the same thing as NCIS does for NCIS: LA...things will get interesting. And it's tough for me to say this, but if I didn't have a dvr (thank god I do), I would pick Criminal Minds/Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior over SVU any day...

greg (not from the sucky SVU episode) said...

I agree with Tara.

SVU has gone down hill. To fans who say it's not: you haven't seen the show from the first season until season 7!

SVU is bad for two reasons:

1.) NEAL BAER
2.) and the writers he's hired the last 4-5 years!

SVU has sucked IMO since season 8 but I am a dedicated fan HOPING that the show will change. I agree that season 11 (and IMO season 9) SUCKED like a carton of milk gone bad after a 2 weeks exparation date!

The episodes "Wet", "Branded", "Bulls eye", "Trophy"/"Resuce", "Mask", "Dirty", and NOW "Spectacle" have sucked this season IMO, SVU is better (or used to be) than how those episodes have been written!

(From what I've seen and read) I think the next episode "Pursuit" is more crap (esp. written for E/O fans) plus Melissa Sagemiller appears to be absent AGAIN!

Christine Lahti's Paxton doesn't justify Sagemiller's exit in the episodes!

And YES, we DO need to see SOME trial aspects on SVU. The show is titled: "LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT" - It wouldn't be w/o trials!

I frankly hope "SVU" gets canceled like "L&O" did - I don't want it to keep failing in the eyes of dedicated fans and on NBC as being the 'highest rated drama'. I think that is a title that "Law & Order: LA" needs to fight for (if it returns and is renewed).

But as for SVU - I hope Dick Wolf has a DAMN good showrunner to take Baer's place. Someone needs to clean up Neal Baer's (and company's) mess!

Neal Baer runied SVU in way when he learned that there are a lot of E/O fans out there.

Anonymous said...

Hey, my name is Linda and I want to know where the heck Munch was in this episode! It seemed like his kind of episode... except the episode was the worst of the season; as far as i'm concerned if I get a hint in SVU's episode next week, i'm going to tune out! I don't like Deb Messing anyway (not in The Starter Wife)

Greg (not from SVU of course): Rescue and Mask were 'okay-ish'... not the best but certainly not the worst! Like you said, season 11 was the worst for SVU as a group.

nygma619: I think ALL fans current or gone should insert their opinions on the SVU episodes. We all have one. It's not about a "panic button", fans know what they want in a show that's been on for over 10 years. That's why NCIS is topping numbers on CBS, its a good quality show with a good writing staff and cast. SVU USED to top numbers on NBC, but now looks like Harry's Law will be the next law show on NBC to take it farther than what SVU is doing.

Tara M.: I agree with you but I disagree with you. We don't need Novak, Cabot, Marlowe, or Paxton; Harwicke is fine (she needs to be added to the opening sequence). We do need to see some parts of a trial past the bail hearing; i'd settle for the grand jury.

I think Spectacle needed to be trashed instead of two-parted. And I think Chris Meloni/Mariska Hargitay should depart the cast on the real tip!

And as for Neal Baer; he can STFU, it's his fault that SVU is in the fan war that it's in! (EO fans vs. dedicated fans).

I hope NBC cancels SVU (and LOLA) and Dick Wolf's "bed of cash" turns into a "flat boxspring", the waka flocker!

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 5;11 - SVU slipped in the demo from last week, and Blue Bloods went UP. That is a bad sign for SVU, it means more in that demo may be dicovering Blue Bloods and this may sway them from SVU.

Blue Bloods is supposed to be back on Fridays next week I think, so this may help SVU.

Esaul said...

I would like to think that it would help SVU, but again, it's going against CM:SB with CM as a lead in.

nygma619 said...

Linda, criticizing a show is fine but when someone says they have been watching a show even though they say all of the last season sucked, BUT continue watching but STILL complain, that reeks of insanity to me.

Like I said earlier, the idea of someone creating a rape spectacle to get something they wanted was a good idea for a plot. But good ideas don't always translate to good episodes unless the execution is there.

Anonymous said...

I think mostly people are pissed at Neal Baer! I don't blame them either!

He keeps saying we won't see "interactions" between the two main characters, yet we do ("Pursuit" appears to be just that)!

Baer's Twitter EO fans win again! Damn!

RUMOR says Sonya Paxton will go 'to all ends'.

Anonymous said...

GREG, I agree with everything you said. This show was great in the day. Once in a great while they will have almost a whole episode or part of one that will capture the first seasons of SVU but they have lost the grit, the exicitement and the rapport the characters used to have with each other. It's mainly the writing and Neal Baer feeding the E/O B.S. The early years were the best storytelling and they weren't trying to encourage a small group of fans who wanted to hook up a married man with a billion children and a single cop.

kaylee said...

@Anonymous 02/10/11 at 6:19PM

"the waka flocker!" LOL! :)

But honestly I'm kinda pissed myself at how NealBaer is using his shipping fans like a crutch to write the 'dramatic' stories for the Benson and Stabler characters!

I long for the days of 'classic SVU'! Thank you USA Network marathons!

I bet All Things Law and Order is tipping over at how mad SVU fans are! All Things would know a good SVU episode, last night's was NOT good (Chrissy the Black! I mean Brancato).

I do think that the Criminal Intent fans shouldn't expect much in the final season. They are gonna be pissed as the original mothership fans [were] are.

And next weeks episode reads 'shippy' to me. I don't feel a [good] vibe from it, even w/ Debra Messing's appearing 'dramatic' scenes.

SVU's writing has lost the feeling it used to have, the acting is there!

That's why I stopped trying to talk to Neal on Twitter. He started ignoring me last year when I told him that the episodes sucked. I told him Anchor was too much a mothership episode and the other episodes had too much personal drama amongst Benson/Stabler...

Baer only cares about the EO fans, proven fact.

Anonymous said...

This episode could have been great. In fact the very beginning looked like it was going somewhere. But to find out that the girl was part of a hoax was a major let down. How dare someone put their family through worry for an agenda? Just pick up the phone and call SVU! Don't resort to idiotic junk! But hey thats just my two cents.

nygma619 said...

Oh for the love of God people, if he only cared about EO, we would've seen them together already, or Kathy divorce El for good.

I swear one bad episode and people think as irrationally as the people they claim are acting irrational on the writing set.

Anonymous said...

I swear one bad episode and people think as irrationally as the people they claim are acting irrational on the writing set.

If it was only one bad episode, nobody would be complaining. I've lost count of how many bad episodes there have been and it's not just this season. The writing is terrible and the stories are ridiculous.

And yes, Neal Baer is still catering to EO fans. Even after Mariska has plaining said that there will be no EO, Neal is still teasing. Just go to twitter and read his responses.

one pissed off svu fan said...

Man SVU is WHACK lately anyway, it's never been good to me for the past 5 seasons. Season 7 wasn't too good either!

They should just cancel SVU! I hope Neal Baer fails at CBS (but I doubt it)!

And he does care about EO, I've read the tweets. He often ;) [winks] at other users who say crap about them being together!

I'm not watching SVU next week. Some minor EO fluff will likely take place after something tragic happens. Mariska and Chris NEED to leave after this season! They really do.

And Tara, the whole episode sucked really, splitting it wouldn't have done much... would it?

And SVU IS WAY OVERDUE for a MUNCH episode!

Besides, Neal Baer lies anyway! When he says no: it's yes. He really screwed SVU fans last year. He said Cabot was on ALL season, she ducked out 2-3 months before the season finale and she came in over a month later after the premiere! To this day Stephanie March fans tweet Baer for her return (or Novak's).

Where is "Law & Order: Los Angeles" at? SVU is getting on my nerves now with this episode roller coaster!

Sheila said...

Wow. I can't even comment All Things, everyone else has pretty much said what I wanted to say. And more!

Although I don't think I'd call SVU "whack", but the show can do way better than what fans have been given.

@nygma619, this is not new. Fans have griped all season about at least one episode (some more than others). People want SVU to go back to it's original 'format'. The last 5 seasons have really been about nothing BUT Benson and Stabler (and Cragen in trouble with 1PP) and their personal lives! Spectacle focused too much on Stabler (and him doing actions that'd he'd never do, with or without Benson).

I honestly can say I don't give a care if Stabler's kids all wind up in the psych ward or if all Benson's boyfriends are rapists, sadists, and pedophiles! I care about the Special Victims Unit (and Casey Novak, whose long gone).

http://www.tvline.com/2011/02/svu-optimistic-meloni-hargitay-return-season-13/ - People are putting down Baer there too.

NBC's SVU promo for next week just reads some bullcrap; they put that hug in the promo for that reason to pull out the Elliot/Olivia fans from the woodwork! I love Debra M. and her work with a passion, but if I feel the episode is weak or is skipping key parts/info. i might watch NCIS repeats on USA.

And as for LOLA, it's gonna have SVU's current ratings (if it returns) because it's been gone so long!

Wolf needed to retool the U.S. Law & Order Brand back in 2007 after CI got moved. I think all the shows won't make it past 2011/12 (meaning LOLA, SVU, and the USA pilot).

Sheila said...

http://www.daemonstv.com/2011/02/10/law-order-svu-spectacle-review/

Daemon's TV even put the episode down!

""And it’s sad to say about this once-proud franchise, but I’m starting to think 12 seasons were perhaps two too many. Many of the actors look as though they’ve been-there done-that (and they have). Seriously, how bored does Ice-T look? Even when Fin is his usual surly self, it’s like a lazy surly. There’s very little fire left.

This season has been disappointing. I want a turnaround for this show, but right now it needs a major shakeup. Not a firecracker in a pizza box that only blows up half a desk at the precinct; Law & Order: SVU needs something significantly more dire.""

Anonymous said...

George's "Pie or die" exchange was the only redeeming value for this episode.

janethyland said...

To be accurate, 2.6 in key demo is quite good for its current time slot, in fact the second highest so far. Numbers have fluctuated and 2.9 was unusual.You will have to check and see what competition was on that night.

So far in current timeslot the ratings are as follows:

1) 2.5 key demo, 8.3 million
2) 2.3 key demo, 6.9 million
3) 2.9 key demo, 8.8 million
4) 2.6 key demo, 8.o million

SVU still remains NBC's highest rated drama in key demo. Harrys Law is highest rated in total viewers.LOLA,before it went on hiatus,was highest rated new drama

Esaul said...

I liked the Cragen, it lets Florek bring out his character more, which is always a plus. I agree, there needs to be more Munch episodes, but maybe there is a reason behind it? It could be something so simple as Belzer doing other stuff, or something. I don't think it's a conscious choice they make leaving him out of the show. And Shelia, it's unknown if the USA Pilot will have any relation to L&O at all. It could be a different show all together with VDO playing someone other than Goren. All we know is the fact that Wolf has been promised a pilot from the network. As for LOLA and its hiatus, I think it will return just fine compared to the shows like The Event and Flashfoward. Those started with a strong premise and a HUGE amount of viewership compared to LOLA. So when those two shows lost their numbers drastically, it hurt them more than it would LOLA. SVU, like every show, including the Mothership has its ups and downs, has it's amazing episodes, meh episodes, and the terrible episodes. It's just bound to happen. With a new head for SVU, maybe things can look up from here. I do wish Cabot stayed on the show, she is my second favorite ADA, after Alana de La Garza.

Anonymous said...

The reason for less Munch, Cragen, Huang, Warner and assorted ADAs has to do with money. Two years ago Dick Wolf took a cut in the show fee for SVU when he made the deal with NBC/Universal. So there is less of a budget with more of that budget going to play Chris and Mariska. That's why you don't seen all the regulars in as many episodes. And I fear it will only get worse if SVU comes back for Season 13.

Esaul said...

I don't believe that is it at all. Because why would NBC do that sort of a deal and yet pay Meloni and Hargitay 290,000 dollars an episode each. I think it's just some sort of creative differences type of deal, because we've been seeing less and less Munch for more than two years now.

Anonymous said...

I think its because Belzer is not in the best of health. He looks terrible and I don't think he must have the stamina left to film the long days. They hardly ever have him leave the squadroom when he is on because watching him run after or try to catch a suspect would be painful. I think the only one who runs anymore is Stabler. The rest aren't in good enough shape.

John K. said...

Nygma makes a very valid point about "if the show is that horrible, then stop watching." I've often been in flux, myself about what is clearly a love/hate relationship with the show. I don't deny the complicated nature of the SVU love/hate, but it depends on the viewer's true motivation.

I watch the current show, mostly as a) filler for my L&O communities, b) some remaining loyalty to the L&O brand. I also don't take the show seriously anymore, but with a morbid curiosity of "could it get worse?" Any emotional attachment I had, I lost when they dumped Greylek. (I won't rehash my reasons for the character, as I had do so on here in the past.)

I do think part of this backlash is based on a higher standard that the show once achieved from, say, seasons 2-5. (Not to mention, the higher standard we used to expect from Law & Order and its storytelling format.) The show always had its problems, but those seasons made it decent to watch, and, as Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation proves, it can inspire survivors of sexual assualt.

At least, it did. Of course, there is something to be said, "yes, the show was good in the past, but you also have to deal with the present."

Meanwhile, SVU has become the current forerunner of Law & Order, now that the Mothership is out. It also doesn't help that CI is ending and L.A. has been imploding. It is an unfair pressure, in a way, but then, popularity-wise, it outranks anything else the L&O franchise has done, past or present.

The show's popularity might be another reason. We like to root for underdog television shows, whereas, more popular shows may have to deal with forms of hype backlash, as they become fair game.

Said backlash with this episode is fascinating, as, frankly, you're right -- it is not the worst episode ever. Although, its quality issues, I think, crystallized the failure of modern SVU storytelling. (The logic failure is too much, even for this show's present state.)

However, chances are, our collective outrage will fall into the memory hole -- look at "Anchor." Yeah, we were justified in being offended, and yet, come the following month, we forgot all about it. That bugged me more than this, and I should have walked away from the show after "Anchor," at the time. (Again, I can't explain it.)

Next season will be the most telling, per Baer's departure. The good news is that Amanda Green and Mick Betancourt (who co-wrote the horrendous "Torch") have been out. If the show still fails after that, I am confident that will be it for me.

Ironically, I try to complain only when there is something truly egregious. The minor things I no longer bother with, as it's a waste of mental energy, as the show is what it is.

At the end of the day, I always say the MST3K mantra: "it's only a TV show, so I should just relax." That's the only way to get by, anymore, really. All of the above is my best explanation for the love/hate relationship, but that's what happens when one lives vicariously through a show, and that isn't always a good thing. I'm glad you have your perspective, and I'm glad for mine, too.

Anonymous said...

@Esaul
NBC doesn't pay Chris and Mariska. NBC pays Wolf Films X dollars for the rights to broadcast SVU. That money goes towards producing the show. The X dollars minus Chris and Mariska's salaries is what is left for everything else. The those two get, the less there is for the other actors.
Richard Belzer was asked in an interview why he was on less. He said it wasn't by his choice. He would rather be working.

Esaul said...

NBC still pays Meloni and Hargitay, directly or indirectly, it's still coming from the network itself.

mary ann lee-boswick said...

SVU just f-in' SUCKS! That's all it is to it! I don't care what anyone says!

http://www.tvline.com/2011/02/svu-boss-promises-bensonstabler-fans-a-memorable-moment-is-coming/

Neal promises Wednesday's SVU will be "shocking", LIE! We've been hearing SVU will be shocking for the past 5 seasons, the last episode of SVU that shocked me was "Fault"!

Don’t change Olivia and Elliot's relationship, DON'T! Keep it "stricly professional"! And we need to keep A/O off too! Keep Alex in the Congo!

Anonymous said...

the whole Law and Order shebang began to fail when NBC aired the promos saying "NBC Tuesdays turn 'criminal'"!

For the original series or mothership (Law & Order) the last season with good episodes was Season 12!

For SVU the last seasons that were extremly good were seasons 5 and 6.

CI's last good season was season 7. The best was season 3.

LOLA, the best episode was "Ballona Creek".

I hope these shows die, they need to. wolffilms doesn't care at all

Anonymous said...

I didn't mind this episode like others, but feel the show has lost quite a bit with less ensemble work and less DA activity. And don't get me started on no McCoy...bringing in Waterston for SVU would have helped us mothership junkies after losing our show.

Meloni and Mariska are paid too much and are being greedy if you ask me...the fact is that the show has declined with less ensmeble casting and that is due to money. I mean, why isn't Sagemiller in the opening title cards? Because that means more money.

It's all about cash. sad thing is NBC could easily turn L&O franchise into a cash cow but instead they continue to let bad writers and decisions ruin them.

Jessica Pinto said...

Hi there

Can you tell me who plays Greg Engels? the kid's face has been bugging me for a week and the show's credits (on the show or IMDB) don't provide his name...

Sucky episode and now it wont get out of my head!

Please help!

All Things Law and Order said...

Jessica - the name was listed right in the recap! Greg was played by Spencer Treat Clark.

daman said...

The guy was cute - but his episode sucked.

This is just more Neal Baer crap. He's on Twitter bragging about the Benson/Stabler hug fans saw in the promo/on his bubble tweets.

SVU is a shadow of it's former self. I'm removing this weeks 'Pursuit' from my DVR. SVU is not worth the time anymore.

To nygma619: You don't have to currently be watching a show to criticize it. The 'continuous' effect.

MissKay said...

Who is the Nigel Clemmons guy Olivia left to go arrest?

All Things Law and Order said...

MissKay, it;s funny you bring that up. When I first saw the episode, I immediately checked all my notes on previous episodes for that name and came up with nothing. I searched elsewhere and again, nothing. The way the name was mentioned in the episode is was as if viewers were supposed to know who that wa, but I have no clue on who that could possibly be! If anyone else can shed some light on this issue, ;et me know!

Anny Onomus said...

I liked the episode where the young man faked the rape to find his brother. Loved it. The only episode I hated was the one about the French cop and her partner pushed over the edge of the bdg- maybe it is called, "Dirty" I found the dialog monotone and somewhat boring. The one thing I did like about it is a subtle play between Benson and Stabler. I think having one featured more an episode and then sometimes Fin prominent weaves a realistic "slice of life" effect. If either Benson or Stabler ever leave this show, then I go too. But having said that it is great seeing them develop them both together and apart. The tension and dynamic between these characters is what really keeps the audience coming back and among the best on TV.

Anny Onomus said...

Having said that, I just want to say about all of this criticism, maybe what SVU needs is freshness. When all ppl want is the same old thing, it burns out fast. People should not fight artistic experimentation. SVU can last a long time when there is a fresh perspective infused by people not afraid to try new things. The reason I liked the one about the Monkeys, (which really DOES have a point- it means the PD screwed up by not seeing, hearing or speaking), is because for ONCE NOBODY died! I thought that was humane and cool.... I want to see more of Olivia's brother- those were some of my favorites. And MUNCH- Love that guy....

Mr Waldorf's said...

OMG! I loved this episode! i cried at the end when Jason says Gig !! how can you not like it?

janisy4evr said...

I really loved this episode. This young man did everything to find his brother. He did his research and did what he had to do, with the help of his friends. After finding out that SVU had the best record he had to turn it into an SVU case in order for them to take his case. I cried at the end. All he wanted was for the police to find his brother.

Chris said...

This episode has just screened in Australia and, like the majority of people commenting, I thought it was one of the worst.

But anyway, can anyone tell me the street or the neighbourhood in Staten Island where the penultimate scene was filmed?

Many thanks!

bdyfxr said...

All this spec on the actors, writers, ratings, pay scales, work ethics, storyline, etc. from such dedicated fans; yet, NONE of you observed that Mariska's son, August, was the boy in the photos for little Jason Engels. I win!