Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Law & Order LA “Benedict Canyon” Recap & Review

All photos from NBCUniversal

Law & Order LA “Benedict Canyon” was a fine episode, with the exception of the last few minutes in a clumsy close to the case. I’m very impressed with the writing in this episode, which gave the lead characters dialog that is comfortable and natural. This added dimension to the characters, and right now Alfred Molina and Corey Stoll are benefiting most. Morales and TJ are well balanced together, both getting their share of both the dramatic and the witty comebacks. Guest star Khloé Kardashian Odom is the butt (no pun intended) of one of TJ’s comments - when she mentions that she was in a dress that made her butt look like a pancake, and TJ comments that he finds that hard to believe. Her appearance received a lot of press for this episode and I hope it translated into drawing some much needed eyeballs to this show.

The case itself was interesting, giving viewers a foot-chase scene, a suicide, a love sick killer for hire, family secrets, a disgruntled and crazy sister, and another suicide by jailhouse fight. It sounds like a lot to cram into one hour, but it worked well. Predictable was the judge adjourning for the day right before a key witness is to be cross examined – those witnesses usually don’t set foot in the courtroom ever again. (I have lost count of how many people in the Law & Order Universe have been killed while in jail.)

It seemed odd that Mrs. Walker never noticed the resemblance of her daughter’s friend Jill to her own daughter, yet when Jill’s real name is revealed, suddenly she has a epiphany. The issue with both girls being related as they had similar back problems seemed to be a remote connection at best. Also, I don’t think there is any such thing as “spondyliosis” or even “spondylyosis” (as they pronounced it), the back ailment the two women supposedly shared. I believe the correct term is spondylosis, and it’s a common back ailment and very easy for two people to have it even when they aren’t related. Maybe someone out there can clear this up for me?

All in all, Benedict Canyon was a fine episode. I wish, though, that the powers that be would reconsider naming the episodes after a location. The name “Benedict Canyon” brings nothing to describing this episode and, in my opinion, does nothing to entice viewers to watch. Maybe a combination of the location and a descriptive word would work better to highlight the location and the case. For example, something like "Revenge in Benedict Canyon" sounds more like a mystery than simply "Benedict Canyon".

Here is the recap:
Hollywood celebrity stylist Lily Walker (Jaime Taite) is gunned down while in her car while stopped at an intersection. Detectives Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) and TJ Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) later arrive on the scene. A witness saw a white male on a bicycle. The shot came in from the passenger side and it appears the shooter left a handprint on the car. The print came back to Harry Rice, on parole, last address in Venice.

Soon afterwards, the detective locate Harry at a motel and he also spots them and runs. The detectives chase after him, guns drawn. They catch up with him and he says he is not going back in. He pulls out a gun and kills himself. Morales notice Harry just got stitches on his hand, which did not show up on the print on the car. He thinks Harry is not the shooter and that someone is playing games.

They check out Harry’s room and there is a bike there. The print on the car was Harry’s and the gun he shot himself with is the same make. There is fingerprint powder on the wall and someone has already dusted for prints. Someone may have lifted the print and transferred it to the car. This spears to be a professional hit.

At RHD, they speak to Lily’s husband Douglas (Jonathan Scarfe) who said Lily was coming back from a party at Robbie Nathan’s, a publicist. Only Robbie, Greta, who is Lily’s assistant, knew she would be at the party.

At Rondo, the detectives speak with Robbie, who tells them that one of their mutual clients was having an issue with Lily - Khloé Kardashian – and Robbie thought a dinner party would help Lily would out their differences.

The detectives speak with Khloé Kardashian (playing herself) who insists she loved Lily. She said for the Golden Globes Lily had her in an Alexander Emery dress that made her ass look like a pancake. TJ quips that he finds that hard to believe. Khloé didn’t know why Lily put her in that dress. She said Lily denied being paid to put Khloé in Emery’s clothes.

The detectives speak with Emery who says his business was with Greta, not Lily. He paid Greta $10K. They later speak with Greta who is flip about it, and said Lily is the only stylist who wasn’t taking money. She denies hurting Lily and adds that she thought Lily was going out of business. Lily stopped spending money as she had been and she even fired the live in nanny. She tells them to talk to Lily’s business manager.

The detectives speak with Marty Fox (Robin Thomas), who tells them Lily’s business was great. Lily was cutting back on vacations to spend time with her kid. Morales notices the company name of Lily Walker Styles, and he said the partnership was now a corporation. TJ notices that the shares in the new corporation are in Lily’s name. He said he husband did not mind and he had waived his marital rights to all her assets. Afterwards, the detectives wonder if a divorce was looming, and Morales recalls that Lily’s husband said the nanny quit, but Lily’s assistant said she was fired. TJ says nanny is Swedish for “daddy gets lucky” and maybe she caught him cheating.

Later, they speak with Douglas who said the nanny was let go because their daughter was getting too attached to her. He said all the money is in a trust for their daughter and he mother is trustee - he gets nothing.
At Lily’s home, they speak with Lily’s mother (JoBeth Williams) and she says she is trustee for Katie’s trust. She said Lily and Douglas has a good marriage. She said Lily helped the nanny get a new job with the people next door. Afterwards, the detectives still think Douglas was cheating and there is a jilted lover involved.

Back at RHD, they further speculate that Douglas’ fling was with one of her clients – like Khloé Kardashian. They also wonder about the fashion switch and also Lily and Jill Jennings, and there seemed to have been a falling out between them.

At Jill Jennings Fashion, Jill (Paula Malcomson) said she has moved on. She says now she can design he clothes she likes, not what a stylist thinks. She said there is no relationship with Douglas. She said Lily was the one that was likely unfaithful.

Afterwards, Morales tells TJ when he was in college he made money driving a town car, and passengers quickly forgot they weren’t alone. They think whoever was driving Jill six months ago would know if she was having an affair.

They speak with the limo service who said Lily always requested Terry Briggs as a driver. Morales knows Briggs – he’s a ex cop. Morales knows where to find Briggs (Jeff Fahey) – at Pedro’s Bar, where Morales chats with Briggs. When Morales returns to RHD, he tells TJ that Briggs spent his last 3 years on the force working vice in Venice, and Harry Rice was his confidential informant. He thinks Briggs killed Lily.
Later, with Briggs in RHD interrogation, they question him about Lily’s murder and that they think Harry was framed. Briggs says Jill did not pay him, not in money. He said when he started driving Jill, Lily’s husband Douglas kept hitting on her and taking advantage of her. He said they had an affair and Lily found out about it and when Doug said Jill was hitting on him, Lily blackballed her all over town. Jill begged him to do something. When TJ leaves the room, Morales asks Briggs to spell it out. He says Jill asked him to kill Lily and asks if there is something they can do for him. Morales says only if he does something for them.

Later, Briggs meets Jill at a restaurant and he is wired, the detectives watching and listening. She gets suspicions and when he says she know he killed Lily for her, she screams at him, throws her drink at him, and tells him to stay away from her. She points at him and says he is a murderer, but the detectives come in and arrest her anyway. As the officers take Jill and Briggs away, Morales tells TJ that Lily must have figured Brigss was wired and she played them. TJ thinks Briggs played Morales.
Later, DDA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) and DDA Joe Dekker (Terrence Howard) speak with Jill and her attorney, Max Steinberg (Adam James). She said she ended her relationship with Briggs a few weeks ago and thinks he felt sorry for her because Lily ruined her. She said Douglas got her drunk and then into bed. She hated Lily but never asked Briggs to kill Lily.
In Superior Court at the preliminary hearing, Briggs is on the stand. He admits what he did and that he loves Jill and did what she asked him. Max cross examines him and asks him about Morales and questions Briggs spending 4 hours drinking with Morales 3 days before Briggs was wired. Dekker looks back at Morales as the defense attorney implies that Morales helped him cook up this scheme to entrap Jill. Briggs denies it. The defense uses this as an excuse to dismiss the charges. The judge agrees and dismisses the charges.
Afterwards, Dekker laces into Morales about the “4 hour pub crawl” and Morales said the case never came up during that time. Dekker said to let him decide what is material. Morales asks why Dekker didn’t call him for rebuttal, and Dekker hotly asks him if Morales would have called himself to the stand? Rubirosa comments to Dekker that he was hard on Morales, and Dekker says that considering he used to work across the hall, he wasn’t hard enough. Rubirosa says she is not buying revenge as the motive –and Dekker wonders if maybe the affair with Lily’s husband meant more to Jill than she let on.

Rubirosa speaks with Douglas who talks about the affair. He said he was going to end it and Lily found out. When Lily ran into them at a restaurant, he said Jill was thrilled that Lily’s client was wearing a sweater of her design. Douglas said Lily chose the restaurant.

Later, over pizza at Rubirosa’s desk, they talk about this latest development. They still have no evidence that Briggs killed Lily. Rubirosa sees that both Lily and Jill wrote checks weekly to Barry Baitos. She also wondered if Jill was on the outs with the in crowd, how did she know about that party that night?

At Barry Baitos Massage Studio, he says Lily had a standing appointment with him every Monday night for a back problem due to "spondyliosis." She was mentally in a good place. He also works on Jill on Tuesday – she also has back problems from a car accident. He admits he told Jill about the party. He also said Lily was looking forward to going to the party that night with Douglas.

Rubirosa speaks with Lily’s mother who said she was supposed to babysit Katie that night but that afternoon she got an invitation to a private showing at Van Cleef and they even sent a car for her. She though Lily arranged it but Lily said it wasn’t her.

Later, Rubirosa tells Dekker that she checked on the Van Cleef event and they said Jill called and begged them to add Lily’s mother to the list at the last minute. This meant Lily had to go alone and made her an easy target for Briggs. He tells her to have the charges re-filed.

Later, Morales and TJ arrest Jill. Morales says they have a new design for her – orange jumpsuit.

Morales and TJ speak with Briggs as he waits in jail. He screams at Morales to help him, and Morales says he is ashamed he ever knew him. He tells him it’s time to cowboy up.

In Superior Court, Lily’s mother testifies about what happened that night. Under cross examination, Steinberg implies that the trust was the motive to kill and that Douglas was unhappy about how the marital assets were distributed. He implies that she would help him to plunder Katie’s trust. He also accuses her of abusing Lily as a child by locking her in a closet so she could go out and party, and she admit she had a drug problem a long time ago and she made mistakes and has been clean for 28 years.

Briggs testifies about how he killed Lily and then he called Jill when it was done, and she thanked him. They decided it would be best that they did not see each other until everything blew over. He says he has no one to blame but him. Before Steinberg can cross, the judge adjourns until the next day.

As they walk in the parking garage, Rubirosa comments that everyone wanted Lily dead as an alternate theory, and Dekker thinks it is a bold move. They get to Rubirosa’s car (a Mustang?), and she said the car was her stepfather’s and after he died her mom couldn’t bear to sell it. Rubirosa gets a phone call and expresses shock.
At the jail, TJ tells her that the guards found Briggs with a shank in his neck, Briggs picked a fight and did not try to defend himself. Morales sits outside the room where Brigg’s body is laying, and Morales looks crestfallen.

Later, in the judge’s chambers, Steinberg and DDAs Dekker and Rubirosa argue about what should happen with the case now that Briggs is dead. Dekker said that Steinberg cross examined Briggs at the preliminary hearing and that can be read into evidence. Steinberg wants a mistrial, but Dekker thinks Briggs engineered a suicide for Jill and she cannot profit from that act. The judge will take it under advisement.

Back at the office, Rubirosa and Dekker, and he wonders how Steinberg knew that Lily's mother locked her in a closet. Dekker says Lily’s husband didn’t even know about it. He wonders if they knew each other as kids. Rubirosa sees that Lily grew up in Glendale and Jill in Simi Valley. He wonders if Jill’s parents were at any court proceedings.

At the home of David and Ellie Jennings, Rubirosa finds that Jill was a foster child and her real name was Gwen Coulter and she was trouble. She ran away at 17. Gwen had a doll she called sister and Ellie said she caught Jill one day sticking one of her knitting needles into one of the dolls eyes.

Back at the office, Jill and Steinberg are there, and Dekker and Rubirosa make them an offer of 15 years. Dekker says they have enough without Briggs to go to trial. Rubirosa brings in Mrs. Walker to the room to represent the victim’s family. Rubirosa asks Jill if she can get her a pillow as she thinks it will help her back, mentioning the "spondyliosis." Jill said it was from a car accident. Dekker asks what are the chances of both Jill and Lily having spondyliosis. Rubirosa tells them she spoke with her parents and they never mentioned a car accidence. As Rubirosa mentions that Jill was 9 when she was first placed in the Jennings home, Mrs. Walker seems shocked and then says “Gwennie? Gwennie.” Rubirosa mentions her name was Gwen Coulter, and Walker says Henry Coulter was Lily and Gwennie’s dad. Rubirosa says that when Mrs. Walker was doing crack years ago she lost custody of her girls and went into court ordered rehab. Gwen and Lily went into foster care. When Walker was clean, she only took custody of one daughter - Lily, and she left Gwen in foster care. Walker said she could only take care of one kid. Dekker questions why, and Walker said Lily was just a baby. Dekker harps on Jill about it, saying that Jill was angry over it and would have stabbed out Jill’s eyes with a knitting needle right then and there. But she had to wait 25 years. By then Lily had the perfect life and Jill did not. They accuse Jill of having the perfect plan to ruin Lily’s life, including sleeping with her husband and having Lily find out. Dekker said the venom must have been boiling in her veins when their marriage survived, and then accused her of turning to Briggs. When Walker asks how she could do this to her own sister, she screams. “How could I? How could YOU!” She talks about the bad foster home they were first in, and how she protected Lily and how she said mom would be better soon and she would come get them. When the big day came, they thought they were both going home. She asks why she did not take her. Walter apologizes and Jill cries.
Later, Dekker walks into the bar where Morales and TJ are having a drink. He tells them Jill took 15 to life. Dekker says the drinks are on him, and Morales asks if that is an apology. Dekker nods his head but says nothing. Morales says his dad said an apology is the best way to get the last word and then adds if that what this is, screw you. He glares at Dekker and TJ sits there and an uncomfortable silence follows. The Morales and TJ break out in a laugh, and Dekker joins in the laughter and calls for another round. They enjoy their drinks as we fade to black.

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Esaul said...

First - The episode was indeed a fine one. Not one of the best ones, but certainly not one of the worse. The writing, I thought was descent at best. Some of the lines for Stoll were cringe worthy at best, some lines I would've expected to come from Ulrich's character. I was kinda disappointed in that aspect.

At least the show was up by .2 in rating, still not a significant jump, but hey it helps when you're up against two other dead beat shows. And the only thing these sites are concerned about, mainly tvbythenumbers is the number itself. They've been saying how the show will get cancelled because of the ratings, and saying how NBC made a mistake. Yet none of them have seem to watched it at all, kinda makes it hard to give an opinion about the network "failing". If you asked me at the beginning of the season if LOLA should be cancelled or not, I would've said yes in a heartbeat, even though I liked the show. It was trying to be a hybrid of the original and Criminal Intent. After the retooling, the quality went way up. It deserves a better night, better treatment, and another season.

Now my only serious problem now comes with Alfred Molina. I love this man, love the character he has, but there's one thing I've noticed. He's been getting a lot of the attention lately, which I was defending, now I'm on the fence of criticizing. One week, we had him switching sides to become a cop again, then we had him be the only witness to the things said in the room and had him testify in court (pretty huge dramatic scene), then we had him helping his friend which caused a bit of trouble. It just seems a bit too much focus on his character, and on the actor. Again, nothing against him, himself, it's the direction the show's taking and the writing. I'd just like to see more "drama" from the other characters, mainly with Stoll. Sure, he lost his partner and that's a significant dramatic undertaking for him, but it's lost focused on that. However, as I understand it Stoll will get to have some closure when that storyline continues in the finale.

xfool said...

Alfred Molina is the best thing that has happened to the Law & Order brand in a long time. He is wonderful. I could watch him for the entire episode. It's not only how her delivers his lines but his face is so expressive of every emotion he is feeling. I would be very happy to see him get an Emmy nomination. I wish that more people would be watching the show because once they see Molina and Stoll together as a team it is hard to turn off the set or change the channel.

I wonder if they think Terrence Howard is the weak link. Is it me or does he have less screen time than when the series first started? Granted, he has improved butI get a feeling that they aren't thrilled with what he brings to the table.

Please please NBC do a better job in promoting this show.

Esaul said...

When the show first started, Terrance actually had more screen time than Molina (just slightly) and they were alternating episodes to get both actors into the show. Again, I agree with the statement about Molina, I just don't want them to over use him, and have him be the brightest light on the show. I have great respect for him and his acting, I would love to see more of everyone else too at the same time. And I love Terrance too, he's a great actor. I don't think there is a weakest link anymore.

nygma619 said...

Here's my take on the L&O LA's ratings situation and WHY it's where it is right now. And it has nothing to do with killing off Rex Winters, Skeet Ulrich fanboys.

The problem is they took it off the schedule not too long after Playa Vista. No reruns in the previous time slot, nothing. Then they just brought it back to a different timeslot AFTER being off the air for 3 months, and with a revamp of the cast, and magically the common folk are supposed to care.

I'm probably gonna get some heat from some people with this depending on whether they feel the show has improved or not. But I think they should of gutted it out on the Wednesday time slot for the rest of the season with the previous cast, and have SVU on Tuesday(where it was doing better anyways). That way you can at least keep that fanbase you built the rest of the season till May.

THEN during the summer months during reruns, you can shake up the cast how you want. BUT the common folk would know the show is still out there.

I feel revamping the show AND taking it off the air was the big mistake, that and putting it on Monday night.