Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Law & Order LA “Silver Lake” Recap & Review
Law & Order LA “Silver Lake” opens with the familiar intonation from Steve Zirnkilton, and at once I feel my spirits lifted. It gets even better when shortly after the first scenes of the episode, we get a real opening title sequence that looks pretty edgy for the Law & Order brand. I like it!
This is the first Law & Order LA episode with the new and improved cast, and I was pleased with how things shook out. While I thought he made a perfect DDA, Alfred Molina is even more exceptional as a detective. Ricardo Morales seems right at home in his new job, and his experience as a DDA both helps him and hurts him in this case. Molina worked that extended interrogation scene with the skills of a master craftsman. In fact, I find it hard to take my eyes off him when he’s on screen, he’s such a presence. Corey Stoll used to steal all the scenes from Skeet Ulrich, and I think in this episode, Molina stole the scenes from Stoll. They both make a good pairing and I’m looking forward to see more of these two. Also, Rachel Ticotin was given more to do in this episode than just being window dressing, and this also gives her character more credibility as the boss.
I am thrilled that Alana De la Garza is back with the Law & Order brand, although I think it would have been nice for them to explain to viewers why she came to Los Angeles. She added a spark to the legal side of the show, which I always felt was LOLA’s weakest because of the split DDA teams and very weak actresses in those supporting roles. Terrence Howard really impressed me in this episode, and I think this was his best performance with the show so far. His character Joe Dekker seems more confident and determined.
The story was well executed and the dialog didn’t seem stiff like it had been before the retooling. As a result, the characters come across as real live people, not actors who are simply reading a script. The biggest challenge may be getting viewers to watch. I am not sure Monday nights is the best day for Law & Order LA to air, but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers. Personally, the show airing on Monday nights will make it impossible for me to recap and review the show quickly since my Tuesdays are filled with long standing commitments that aren’t easy to break. (I got a reprieve this week because of the double header but I can’t break appointments every week!) I may be modifying my methods of posting recaps and reviews for LOLA.
The only thing I wish they would change is the titles they chose for the episodes. Naming the episode after the scene where the crime was committed is a wasted chance to build interest in an episode. For example, Law & Order SVU is masterful at picking names for their episodes that sometime create buzz long before the episode airs. Law & Order LA desperately needs some buzz, and naming episodes after a location isn’t going to do it for them.
Here is the recap:
An intruder ambushes Don Alvin (Tim DeKay) and his family, leaving Don bound in the bathroom while he hears his wife scream. He later crawls to a neighbor house and asks for help.
Detectives Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) and TJ Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) later arrive on the scene. Don’s wife and son are both dead, his wife also was raped, all while Don was restrained in the bathroom.
The detectives speak with Don, who told them he was supposed to be on a fishing trip but his son Bobby got sick and they came home. He heard a noise and when he came downstairs to get water later her got hit. He wasn’t wearing his glasses and it was dark but the man was white. The intruder was also naked. There was smudge on his left leg. He tried to look under the door and saw flashing lights coming from upstairs.
When the detectives examine the bedroom, Morales notices a light has been moved. There is bloody lingerie on the floor. They find footprints in the laundry room and they think the intruder sorted through the dirty laundry.
Back at RHD, the detectives confer with Lt. Arleen Gonzales (Rachel Ticotin) and explain what they know. Morales says it seems like the intruder had a rehearsed plan and TJ decides to check if there are any similar reports on record. Morales tells Gonzales that returning to detective is like riding a bike - except he doesn’t remember all the paperwork. He thanks her for pulling the strings to get him the job.
Gonzales then speaks with TJ who says Morales still has the chops, and when she asks about how he is doing, he tells her not to worry about him – the one to worry about is Casey. She says she will stop in on her way home.
At the home of Joe and Louise Rivlin, they talk about their experiences with an intruder. Morales notices they have a sound system just like the Alvin’s and asks for the name of their tech.
They speak with the tech from “Big Jim’s” who recalls the job. He also recalls the Alvin’s. He works by himself.
Back at RHD, TJ says 8 homes were burglarized with similar MO’s who either got AV systems installed or got estimates. One name, Nolan Sound, bid on every job but each time he prices himself out of the running by 20%. He may have been casing the house. Gonzales decides to help smoke him out.
At Gonzales' home, a man is taking notes for her fictitious sound system and she tells him she wants music even in the laundry room. She’s folding her lingerie, and adds her husband will be away from 2 weeks. She asks for a business card and he gets skittish and the detectives enter before he can leave. They cuff him. Outside, Steve Inman says he doesn’t know those guys, he said he got punked, a guy called him up and said his wife is going to show him a job and is shocked when Gonzales said it was a surprise for her husband.
Back at RHD, they confirm that Inman had an alibi. Greg Nolan also does have a contract with the state but he has been dead for 5 years. The phone number for the company is a no name cell and the email address is behind many proxies. They think he saw through their sting.
Later, Don Alvin is a RHD about Nolan Sound. He said Nolan was very polite. He also said any weekend was a good time to do the job except the last weekend because he was going away with Bobby. After Don leaves, they discuss all the cases, and until last week he was just breaking into houses, not murdering people. Gonzales tells them to check with the jurisdictions where Nolan made calls on his cell phone to see if any fit the MO.
At the home of Annette Kay (Erin Cahill), she tells them about her attack and that he took photos the whole time. She did feel a scar on his left leg. She said she told him he didn’t seem like the type to do this, and he stopped and said he was sorry and then he was gone. She had no contact with Nolan Sound. She works at a billing department in a hospital and describes how the hospital computer system had been hacked and credit card information stolen. The Secret Service investigated.
At the Secret Service office, they spoke with an agent who mentions his supervisor Raymond Garson and when TJ describe him as blond hair with glasses, the agent describes him as having brown hair and no glasses, The agent shows them a photo of Garson. They also see a scar on his leg in a photo of him running a race.
Back at RHD, they tell Gonzales what they found. TJ also gets information from Ventura Police that Joanne Dixon went missing 7 weeks ago.
At Ventura Police, the detectives get information on Joanne’s disappearance. There were heavy duty tire tracks from an SUV at the scene. They see a photo of where she worked and there is a motel across the street.
Back at RHD, they have surveillance footage from the hotel and see Garson (Jason Beghe) on it. Morales thinks they should just bring him in and talk about Annette Kay and identity theft, just to get him in there. He thinks Garson will do it as he understands the chain of command and will follow orders and if he turns them down he could tip his hand. Gonzales gives them the go ahead.
Later, TJ tells Morales that the tire tracks match the SUV that Garson was driving.
TJ looks at the clock but Morales assures him that Garson will show. Morales asks him if everything is OK, and comments it is tough losing a partner, adding he lost two, one in the line of duty and one to cancer. Morales gets a call – Garson is there. As he check in, Morales and TJ look on, and Morales says, “Now this should be interesting.”
Meanwhile, DDA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) arrives at Robbery Homicide.
TJ brings Garson into interrogation where Morales is waiting. He talks about Annette Kay and the other similar cases of intruders. DDA Joe Dekker (Terrence Howard), DDA Rubirosa, TJ and Gonzales watch from the observation room as Morales lays out what they know to Garson. Morales mentions Annette’s comment about the scar and where Don mentioned a mark on the attacker’s leg. He then brings up the photo of him with the scar. Morales gives him an icy glare. He reminds Garson that he came in voluntarily and is free to leave. Garson nods and leans back in the chair and does not leave. Dekker, in the other room, comments to Rubirosa that the suspect acknowledges it is a non-custodial questioning and Miranda does not attach. Rubirosa says, “Really? That wouldn’t hold up in New York.”
Morales continues to talk to Garson about Joanne Dixon’s disappearance and what they know about this case and how they connect it to Garson. He asks Garson for an explanation and he has none. Morales tells him that search warrant are being issue to his home and computers and their experts will find evidence there. Morales tells him he needs honesty right now, because when the telephone rings or there is a knock on the door it’s over. He continues to pressure Garson to get in front of it, his voice raising while doing so. Garson remains silent, standing facing away from Morales. When Morales moves to leave and addresses Garson as Ray, he sternly responds to call him Raymond. Morales calls him Raymond and then moves back toward the table. Garson asks what if it was consensual with Annette, and he admits he was there. Morales asks about Joanne and it that was consensual, and Garson sits down, saying that he went to visit her. He admits she is near her house, and when Morales asks if she is outside and can see the sky, Garson shakes his head no. Morales shows him a map and asks him to point out where she it. Garson says he would like to talk to a lawyer now. Morales tries to press but Garson repeats he wants a lawyer.
Later, Morales speaks with Dekker and Rubirosa and says he thinks Garson buried her near her house. Dekker says it is not enough to get the death penalty – they need him to take them to the body. Dekker also thinks Garson set up his defense on Annette, claiming it was consensual sex. TJ brings in a report on the SUV Garson was driving and they found mud and onion skins in the undercarriage. Morales says there in an onion field near Joanne’s house. TJ thinks it will take months to search the area, but Morales asks Gonzales if she thinks she can get Ventura to get search teams out by 5 AM.
The next day, TJ and Morales take Garson out for a drive out to the onion field and where a team is searching. They watch while a body is uncovered.
Back at RHD, the detectives and DDAs look at photos of Garson wearing women’s lingerie that were found in the search of his home. Dekker says Long Beach and Ventura both signed off on an offer of life without parole. Morales wonders why he is offering anything, saying they have a bona fide death penalty case. Dekker is concerned that the victims are too traumatized.
Later, with his attorney Lane Garfield (Conor O’Farrell), Dekker and Rubirosa discuss the offer and the attorney serves Dekker with a motion saying the jury won’t hear about Joanne Dixon being buried in an onion field.
In the chambers of Judge Martha Dreyer (Francesca P. Roberts), Garfield says that the detectives questioned Garson at the onion field in volition of his rights. Dekker said there was no questioning and Garson voluntarily showed them where the body was buried. When the judge hears this was Morales’ idea, but since Morales is not an ordinary cop, she says the body is out. Garfield gives Dekker a folder and after he looks at it, he hand it to her tells Rubirosa to call her and see her today.
She shows photos of Annette in bondage to Annette, who says they were taken three years ago by her boyfriend, who gave Garson’s defense the photos. Garson is claiming she consented to the rough sex with him. She said it was torture and rape. Rubirosa said they are entitled to question her credibility, but she refuses to testify.
In Dekker’s office, Don is upset that Annette won’t testify and they are dropping the rape charge and the murder charge. It still leaves the murder of his wife and son. Don wonders what people must think of him that he could not protect his family.
In Superior Court, Don is testifying about his attack. Don says before he was knocked out he landed a few punches. He mentions the mark on Garson’s leg and the flashes of light he saw under the door. When he finally got loose he found his wife and son dead. Under cross examination, he asks about the struggle and Garfield asks why he had no bruises and said there wasn’t any defensive wounds on his body. He accuses Don of making the whole thing up, saying that his wife had sex with Garson and Don caught them when he came home unexpectedly, saying Don concocted a lie.
Afterwards, Rubirosa mentions Don's credibility is an issue and Dekker asks what he is trying to accomplish. Don says he is getting emails saying he did not do enough. He shows them the emails, one email said his son puked out his guts all the way back from Big Bear but still had more guts than him. Dekker comments that the fact Don’s son was sick was not given to the media. Don said he told no one except his wife when she was in the kitchen.
At LA County Jail, they search Garson’s cell and found a smart phone. Dekker tells them not to confiscate it, they will put a tap on it.
Later, Garson is testifying on the stand, saying he used the ID of a deceased AV technician to work on his day off. He mentions that the sexual encounters were consensual and the stolen lingerie was sexual curiosity. He said Kathy Alvin invited him back when his husband was gone and they had sex and when he left she was alive and well. He says he is not proud of what he did and he dishonored the Secret Service.
Dekker cross examines him and asks about his investigations while working the job. Dekker gets him to admit that if a person revealed he had knowledge of details of a crime only known by the offender that the person would be guilty. Garson says he did not know that Don cut short his fishing trip because his son became ill and said all he knows today is that they had to come home because the boy was sick. Dekker asks if he heard about if from the hiding place n the laundry room, and Garson says no, he wasn’t there. Dekker brings out the harassing email to Don about his son getting ill on the trip that came from Garson’s cell phone that was found in Garson’s cell and it was proven to come from that cell phone, and only the killer would know those details. The judge gives the defense 48 hours to examine the evidence before it can be admitted. Dekker says they can have all the time they need.
Later, as Garson is being led out of Dekker’s office, Don is there glaring at him. Rubirosa says Garson took two life sentences without parole, and Dekker hopes he will approve. Don, standing there with Morales, nods his head in approval. As Rubirosa and Dekker walk off, Morales offers to buy him a drink. Don asks “you have a family?" and when Morales nods yes, Don tells him to go home. Don walks off, leaving Morales standing there alone, as we fade to black.
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