Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Law & Order SVU “Reparations” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Reparations” may disappoint some fans but may please others. Diane Neal reprises her role as ADA Casey Novak, and she was better than ever. The downside: Mariska Hargitay wasn’t in the episode at all, there was no Richard Belzer (again), Dann Florek, Tamara Tunie, or BD Wong, and it was light on Chris Meloni and Ice-T. The story seemed written with the sole purpose of featuring Diane, and also giving some screen time to Law & Order LA’s Terrence Howard, maybe to remind viewers that show is retuning soon (April 11 with a double header). Without heavy involvement from the usual cast, the episode felt somewhat lifeless, although Diane did shine. I still can't quite warm up to Terrence Howard, and the fact that he was playing an "arrogant prick" (as Stabler called him) didn't help much.

The story reminded me of a previous Law & Order episode where a girl claimed she killed a black man during an attack, rather than admit she had a relationship with him because she had a racist father (the original episode was called “Good Girl” and the Law & Order UK remake was called “Masquerade”). Even though this SVU episode wasn’t identical to those previous episodes, it felt too much like the others and as a result, the drama and suspense was absent. Usually as I watch an episode I write down my general impressions for my review, and I was surprised that when I finished watching, I’d written nothing down. That’s never a good sign. The episode wasn’t bad, but it didn’t thrill me either.

Here is the recap:

We see what appears to be an attack on a woman by a man, but it is only Oliver and Isabelle (Afton Williamson) in a training exercise. They hear a scream from the next room and run to find Isabelle's roommate Catherine who appears to have been raped.
Later, Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Odafin Tutuola (Ice-T) arrive at the hospital to speak with Catherine Harrison (Virginia Kull), who is a teacher, and her best friend Isabelle is there. Catherine explains her attack, and she blames herself for not locking the window to the fire escape. Isabelle thinks it was a student but Catherine disagrees. Fin takes Isabelle outside to get her statement. Stabler speaks to Catherine alone, and she admits the attacker was Kevin who lives downstairs – and he is Isabelle’s brother. Meanwhile, Fin speaks with Isabelle and she says most of the kids at the school have records. Fin gets a text from Stabler telling him that it was Isabelle’s brother. Catherine tells Stabler that Kevin is always hanging out on the fire escape and she caught Kevin watching her through the window. She never told Isabelle. Isabelle tells Fin her brother is bipolar and a agoraphobic

Catherine’s grandfather, Grant (Robert Hogan) arrives and races into the room to console her. He wants her to come home with her and Stabler thinks it is a good idea. Grant says Isabelle is not her friend and he will take care of her.

Back at SVU, Fin tells Stabler about Kevin Wright’s record and he is a level 2 sex offender and has several arrests for trespassing. CSU found Kevin’s prints on the fire escape but not in Catherine’s room. They did recover a partial men’s shoeprint next to her bed. Fin tells Stabler that Kevin got fired two days ago for acting crazy.

Later, Stabler and Fin arrive at Isabelle's and Catherine’s apartment building. Isabelle is arguing with Catherine about Kevin as her grandfather is helping her move out. Grant tells Isabelle that Catherine does not belong there and Stabler suggests they move along quickly. Isabelle said her brother has done nothing wrong, he is a brilliant engineer who builds bridges and she thinks he may have stopped taking his meds. When he is off them he gets out of control. She has the keys to his apartment. She refuses to believe her brother did it. The detectives hear a noise and Fin investigates and finds a man going up the fire escape and Stabler and Fin runs to cut him off.

Fin gets to the roof and Kevin (Kevin Mambo) runs out and stands on a ledge, admiring the nearby bridge. Stabler makes it to the roof and circles around. Fin tries to talk Kevin down and Stabler sneaks up and knocks Kevin off the ledge and onto the roof. They cuff him. Isabelle runs up to him and Kevin says he had to get some air, he could not breathe.

Later, the detectives try to talk to Kevin but his doctor will not allow them. Kevin has been sedated to calm him and he will stay that way until she can evaluate his mental state.

Back at SVU, the detectives go over what they know about Kevin. ADA Hardwicke is at a bar conference and when Fin asks who is their temporary ADA, a voice responds, “How about one back from the dead?” It’s Casey Novak (Diane Neal) and they are surprised. Stabler says they thought she was disbarred, and she says she was censured, she lost her license for 3 years but the DA’s office hired her back – on probation. They explain the case to her. Casey comments that they have a shaky ID and no evidence, adding, “Welcome home.” They tell her what evidence they do have and about Kevin’s status and medical issues. Stabler also finds Kevin was sexually assaulted and diagnosed with rape trauma. His name is not in the database. They wonder if this is a case of a victim who became a predator.
At Bellevue hospital, Stabler and Fin speak with Kevin about his attack and Kevin says he did not attack anyone else and says he does not even know Catherine and couldn’t care less about her. He goes up to the roof to look at the bridges. It was not his footprint in that room and has not set foot in there since she moved in with his sister.
Back at SVU, Fin shows Stabler and Casey some photos from Kevin’s camera and there are many photos of bridges on it. Fin mentioned Kevin was popped as a sex offender for aiming his lens at a woman undressing, and now they wonder if she just happened to be in the picture. Casey thinks their case is falling apart as they got nothing from Catherine’s rape kit. Trace on the shoe print comes from a cafeteria cleaning agent sold only to the city’s public schools. The perp may be from Catherine’s school as Isabelle had suggested. Casey tells them to cut Kevin loose and Stabler thinks they should tell Catherine.

At the apartment of Grant Harrison, they break the news to Catherine and she wonders how she can fix it. When Stabler asks Catherine to walk though the attack again, Grant becomes upset with him. When Stabler mentions they have new evidence than connect the attacker to her school, she mentions that there is a new guy at school that brings in fresh veggie every day and he stared at her, filled with rage, muttering “effing bitch.”

They speak with the man in question, Dwight Talcott (Vondie Curtis Hall) and he tells them he is clean and living the quite life. They mention his record then arrest him for burglary and assault. His mother Lorna (Irma P. Hall) runs out and asks what is going on and he tells her he won’t be home for supper. She says she will take care of him.
Stabler and Fin have Dwight in interrogation and they tell him what they have on him. He tells them to get out of his face and get him his lawyer. Afterwards, as Stabler, Fin and Casey discuss Dwight, a man walks up and introduces himself as Deputy DA Joe Dekker (Terrence Howard) from LA. When Casey mentions how far out he is from his jurisdiction, he tells her that hers was pulled out from underneath her and she is lucky to have a job (jerk!). When Fin comments about the cheap shot, Dekker says it wasn’t him who lied to a judge (double jerk!). He demands the warrant and all discovery by no later than close of business. He says he is licensed in New York and Dwight is family, his mother Lorna is his aunt, adding he took proper channels to take the case. He wants to make sure there is no police or prosecutorial misconduct. When Stabler comments, “Goody, just what we need around here, another arrogant prick.” (Thanks Stabler for saying what was on my mind.) Dekker tells him to check his conviction record and he will see why. Dekker walks into the room to talk to Dwight.

Later, Dekker and his Aunt come to Casey’s office as she is unpacking Dekker tells her that Dwight’s mother was with him at the time of the assault. She says her son is an addict and thief but he is not a rapist. Dekker says Dwight has never been accused of a sexually motivated crime and when he asks her to explain that, she says her job is to prove he did it. Dekker tells her Dwight wasn’t anywhere near the victim’s bedroom, and hands her a DVD that his Aunt says is proof that Dwight was with her at the 177th street Community Center – it’s from the security camera. Dekker tells Casey to call him when she is dismissing the charges.

Back at SVU, Casey shows the detectives the recording and if it is true, it ruins Catherine’s credibility. As they watch the recording, they see Dwight head out the back door. When her returns, he looks like a mess and he is gone around the time of the rape.

Later, Casey tells Dekker, with Dwight present, that Dwight was gone for 53 minutes. Dekker thinks he could have been anywhere. Casey makes an offer but Dekker rejects it. He says they have paper thin forensics. Dwight says he did not rape Catherine and he asks who will believe a cracked out multiple felon? When Casey tells Dekker she will see him in court, he says he is looking forward to it since she and Judge Petrovsky as so well acquainted (triple jerk!). She turns and glares at him and he gives her a smarmy smirk.

In Supreme Court, Catherine is testifying about the rape, and her grandfather walks into the courtroom. She points out Dwight as her attacker. Grant Harrison stares at Dwight’s mother and she looks back at him, seemingly wondering why he is staring at her. Dekker cross examines her and asks her about recognizing Dwight despite the fact that it was dark in the room when she was attacked. He also brings up the fact that she initially told police it was Kevin, but she admits she made a mistake. Dekker brings up race. When Dekker asks Kevin to stand, Casey objects, but the judge allows it. Dekker has Kevin and Dwight stand together and points out the differences and calls it another case of misidentification. Casey objects, but Dekker says these two men could not look more different if they tried. Judge Petrovsky (Joanna Merlin) overrules Casey and tells her to sit down. Dekker continues to press on her error about Kevin and brings out the fact that she did not even know she original made a mistake. Dekker brings out that Catherine should have seen Dwight every day at school and he hammers that her ID can likely change and she may even pick him next because that’s what black men do, rape white women. Casey objects and the judge warns Dekker. Dekker accuses her of making a false accusation but she sticks with her story. Her grandfather rises from his seat, calling Dekker an bastard and Dwight an animal. Petrovsky orders him removed as he continued to scream out. He comments to Dwight’s mother that Catherine is no slut like her and calls her a dirty whore.
Later, at a bar, Stabler meets with Casey. She says she thought it would be easier coming back and she is not sure she has it anymore. She is worried about losing the case straight out of the gate. Stabler encourages her to do something. She is worried the jurors are poisoned. They talk about what Catherine's grandfather said about Lorna and wonder what is up with the two of them. She tells him to run a check on both of them to find the connection.

Back at SVU, Fin tells them the connection is that Grant knew Lorna “real well”, he and his buddies beat and raped her in 1964. She was attacked by the Klan when going door to door for a registration drive. Grant and his friends were never charged, claiming Lorna was a prostitute. Lorna was not charged with prostitution. They wonder if Dwight went after Catherine in retaliation. Casey will subpoena Lorna, without her testimony Catherine will not get justice.
At Lorna’s home with Dekker present, Casey tells Dekker about what happened to Lorna in the past. Dekker is upset she never told him. Casey asks Lorna to tell her story knowing it is painful, but Lorna says Casey does not know the meaning of the word. Casey says her son can plead out or she can testify, and she hands her a subpoena. Dekker is incensed and rips it out of her hands. Casey says Catherine was target for revenge. Dekker is angry of what Casey is asking her to do, and Casey threatens her with contempt. Dekker says what Dwight is accused of is terrible but what Grant did is worse. He storms off.

Later, Fin steps out of his car when he sees Dekker approaching Grant at his home. Dekker wants to talk to Grant but Fin says Dekker looks like he is ready to kill. Fin says he talked to the LA cops and knows Dekker is as straight shooter which is why being there is a mistake. Grant comes out and tells Dekker and Fin that this is not their neighborhood and he tells them to go back to the ghetto, along with other racist comments. Fin shows he is a detective and tells him to go take his nap. Grant says he hasn’t done anything wrong. Fin says he is a rapist hiding behind the statute of limitations. When he says you can’t rape the willing, Dekker gets in his face. When Grant walks off, Fin tells Dekker that no one wants to put his mom on the stand but Dwight has to pay for what he did to Catherine.

At Rikers, Casey makes an offer of 25 to life to Dwight but he still denies her raped her, and thinks Dekker sold him out. He tells Casey to leave his mother alone, but she wants him to take responsibility for what he did. Dwight says sobriety is not always what it cracked up to be. He remembered what had happened to his mother, and says he was there when his mother was first attacked in 1964. He describes the attack, he was only 6 years old and had a gun to his head and made him watch. Dekker is stunned. He said he went to find Grant after he started to have nightmares and had to stop the pain. He hired a private detective and found Grant, and raped Catherine so Grant would know what it felt like. Casey asks him to explain what happened with Catherine.
Later, in court, Dwight makes a statement explains what he did to Catherine, but he seems to falter. His mother says to tell the truth, and Dwight then says he did not rape Catherine. Casey is shocked at his change of mind. He says he recalled what happened to his mother and cold not bring himself to so that. Dekker warns him that perjury voids his deal, and Dwight is aware of that. He said he did not rape Catherine and when he asks for his sentence for breaking and entering, Petrovsky calls Casey and Dekker to the bench. She accuses Novak of railroading another person into prison. Casey said both Dwight and Dekker agreed to the deal and she wonders if someone changed his mind for him. Dekker wonders if he is not guilty and the judge tells him to find out before they waste any more of her time.

Casey and Stabler speak with Catherine who is shocked about what her grandfather did to Dwight’s mother. She had no idea and said he lied to her, saying that she can’t do this. As they continue to press her, she said her grandfather said she would not be believed unless they said she was raped because black men rape and he has been telling her that her entire life and she is not like him. Casey reminds her that she lied under oath, and Casey tells Stabler to arrest her. Casey calls Dekker.

As they take Catherine off in cuffs, Grant walks up and wonders what is going on. They tell her she is going to jail for perjury. When Grant says he will help her, she turns to him and says all her life he taught her to hate, and she hates what he says and what he thinks and she hates him, adding he should go to hell. As they lead her off, they pass Dekker, along with Dwight, also in cuffs. She stops and looks at him, and he apologizes. She says she is sorry too. Casey tells Dekker that 20 to life is still on the table and he says if she makes it 15 they have a deal. They agree and walk off in different directions as we fade to black.

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Anonymous said...

I don't get the ending. So what exactly happened to Catherine? Was she raped at all?

sunshinez1975 said...

First congrats to Mariska Hargitay on adopting a baby girl...Anyway, I really missed Detective Benson in this episode. I thought the episode was okay. I was really expecting a really great episode to welcome Casey back. It was good seeing her in action, although she was a little rusty. Terrence Howard is also good to look at, wish they bring him back to represent the DA office. On a scale of 1 through 10, I'll give this episode a 7.....And NO, the girl who cried rape wasn't really raped.

Anonymous said...

if there was no rape, did she willingly have sex with someone - any of the Black guys?

Catherine said...

The writing on this episode was just horrible. It didn't make any kind of sense.
Catherine has a rape kit done that has no DNA, hairs, etc. but should that have shown no sign that there had been intercourse?
During the first interview with Stabler and Finn, Catherine doesn't say she was raped. While Finn is outside her room talking to her friend, what is Elliot asking her about? After 18 years at SVU, he would be asking her to describe the attack in detail. And he would do that before she goes home with Grandpa.
The idea that she would lie about being raped in order to have the police believe she was attacked just doesn't make sense.

Esaul said...

No she wasn't rape at all. It was just a break in. The thing that I found the most unusual was the grandfather's comment about how she said it was a black guy, or something to that effect, when the detectives were telling her that it wasn't her friend's brother or something like that. I mean, the detectives should've mentioned how she never said it was a black guy at all.

I personally enjoyed the episode more than the other episodes this season (though I wouldn't call it a favorite). And I LOVED seeing Diane again. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. I hope they bring her back. She fits just right with the show, and OMG A COURT ROOM SCENE <3

nygma619 said...

@ Catherine

Rape Kits CAN pick things up, BUT they're NOT foolproof. They probably have worked on rape cases where the kit turned up little to nothing, but a rapist appeared there (and even confessed).
Also Dwight said that he stopped JUST before penetration took place. He said he was there and had his pants down, but stopped before he would rape.

Anyways on to the episode. The Law & Order Franchise has had a pretty good track record when it comes to cross overs, the two part Design & Flaw, probably being my favorites. This episode I thought was good, but I don't think it touches the best crossovers the franchise has done. It probably helped that I vaguely remember Good Girls, and I never saw the UK version of this.

I loved seeing Diane Neal (Casey Novak) again. But Joe Dekker soured me, and I also wanted to smack him for calling Novak low, (to make her testify on the stand) after playing the race card in open court, BEFORE he even knew about the case having racial undertones.
I haven't quite loved Terrence Howard's time on LA, he's not terrible, but I've felt he has come across as a little bland at times. I've probably said this countless times, but I always felt he should be a straight man cop w/ Corey Stoll, and Alfred Molina should be the prosecutor on Law and Order LA, and I still don't get why they didn't go that route.

Whilst I would've liked to have seen Olivia here. I felt having Fin as the 2nd detective fit the tone of the episode better (black and white lawyers at oposition, but black and white detectives working together). Sure they could've had Olivia work with Fin, but I always felt Stabler had a stronger bond with Casey.

Anyways I was a little confused as to why they felt the need to have Dwight tell them he didn't rape her in open court. Dwight telling them a rape never happened while at Rikers would have sufficed. I feel the only reason that scene happened was to put Novak in hot water with Petrovsky.

I would've liked to know what Novak's plans are after this, I assume that she might look in to the white collar job that was offered in her last appearance, but I'm guessing that role was filled after 3 years.

Christina, Jack and Kevin Reese/Barnum said...

So if he didn't rape her (technically because he stopped before penetration) why did he get 15 years?

nygma619 said...


Because he broke in, assaulted her, and ripped off her clothes. He also lied under oath about not being there if I remember correctly.

nygma619 said...

Not sure if this is the appropriate place to put this. But apparently according to imdb (take that for what it's worth) some of the SVU actors are starring in a film called Santorini Blue.

Dann Florek, Richard Belzer, Ice T(along with his wife, Coco), and even Diane Neal are a part of this film. Though I'm not exactly sure of how small or big their roles are in this film; it MIGHT explain the heavy absence (more so than usual) of Richard Belzer, it might also explain the absence of Dann Florek (who's rarely absent from SVU)from some of the episodes lately.

Again this source is from imdb so I'm not sure how credible it is, but it's got a poster of the movie (due in September) and their names on it.

All Things Law and Order said...

Santorini Blue if I recall was completed quite some time ago, the trailer came out a year ago (see link). I don't think this had any affect on this season's episodes.

nygma619 said...

Okay, I saw the thing at imdb that said it was released for 2011 in some form in september, but I also said I didn't put much faith in it either.

Esaul said...

I honestly don't believe he would've been charged for perjury, since they kept going after him for rape, and the cops/lawyers wouldn't believe him. He kept telling them that he didn't rape her. That was when Casey had threatened to put his mother on the stand if he didn't tell the court that he raped her. Why punish him for telling the truth about not raping her all along? If I were a judge, or a lawyer, I wouldn't hold that against him, personally.

Anonymous said...

There is a good reason for the absence of main characters this season: too many guest stars overloading the budget.

Esaul said...

The only serious absent this season is the lack of Richard Belzer, Other than that, Dann Florek could always use a bit more screentime as well. We've been seeing quite a bit of Ice-T lately, not that I'm complaining or anything. It's nice to see Fin working with either Elliot or Olivia, it freshens the show up just a bit. I was honestly getting tired of seeing just Elliot and Olivia, so that's why I wasn't the least bit bothered when Olivia wasn't in the episode at all. :\ I love Mariska to death, but I was getting a bit annoyed with how much I've been seeing Olivia, no offense to her ^_^'

Catherine said...

The 25-life offer was just for burglary in the first degree with the rape charge dropped. That's another problem because 25 years is the maximum sentencing in New York for a Class B felony. Which means Novak's offer should have been turned down flat by Dekker as well as the judge.

Catherine said...

Part of the rape kit is the physical exam. That includes looking for evidence of penetration. That frequently doesn't result in injuries but is still noticeable. The person did the rape exam should have included a note that there was no sign of penetration which should have raised questions for the detectives and Novak. So should the fact that there was neither DNA nor condom lubricant.

xfool said...

This episode did nothing for me. It WAS nice to see Diane back though and that was the only good part about it.

Terrence Howard sucks the life out of every scene he's in. He either underplays the scene, or seems uncomfortable when he overplays it (the scene where he gets mad a Casey for the subpeona to his aunt for example). His voice is too quiet and timid. IMO he's overrrated. Speaking of Terrence Howard, I am looking forward to Law & Order LA but not to him in it. If they wanted a black actor as a presence as a DDA, they should have signed on Andre Braugher. THAT would make me want to watch.

Esaul said...

Apparently I'm missing something. I thoroughly like Terrence Howard. At first, I couldn't stand hearing his voice, but now I find it very...appearing...*shrugs* Maybe I'm just odd that way. I thought he did a good job personally.

Anne said...

I thought this was almost a old-school type svu episode. Terrence Howard was wonderful as the arrogant attorney and he was especially good in the courtroom scene. Having Diane Neal was almost a relief after all the changing DA's. She fits in great with Stabler and Fin. I did not miss Benson at all.

nygma619 said...

@ Catherine, they did make note of that during the investigation. But forensics still put someone being there.

seanboyb said...

i was thinking that in the begining mabey because the man they were talking to had mental issues shouldnt they have brought in BD wong?

Esaul said...

But by him going to the hospital, and him getting back on his meds, that kinda makes it pointless for Wong to be there.

Jojo said...

I don't think BD Wong should be in the main cast. I like him and all, but I think the main cast should almost always take part in the episode and I find that the only ones who are necessary are the detectives and the ADA. A psychiatrist is not always applicable and should really only be recurring. Same goes for Tamara Tunie as there aren't always deaths.

I found the episode somewhat flat. I enjoyed it, and it was great to see Diane Neal, but it was underwhelming. It would have been nice to see Benson interacting with Novak. Or Munch and Cragen for that matter but I'm a little more used to seeing their absence than I am Benson's.

Is Joe Dekker always a jerk like that? It's not doing much to entice me into watching LOLA.

Esaul said...

Well, wouldn't you act like that too if it were your family member involved? I found that he was doing what he had to do. And no he isn't like that in LOLA.

Alicja Buczkowska said...

The episode was a bit dead, I was kind of lost at the end. Diane Neal did a fantastic job, her character seemed a lot more bright and cheery than previous episodes.

Jonah Dekker was a total jerk in this episode, but whatever, really. I missed Benson in this episode, not realy used to seeing her absent.

megexpat said...

I agree with previous posters that there were some big plot holes in this, which I'd chalk up to some bad writing. Generally, the audience watched SVU is pretty educated, so we'd pick up on the inconsistencies, like how people mentioned that the rape kit would detect there had been no penetration. I mean, really. That should have stopped the rape investigation dead in its tracks.
A lot of people have said other things I would say, but one other thing that drives me nuts is this: do prosecutors and defense attorneys always trade insults when they meet? It seems so artificial and TV-esque for real life. Similarly, how often are people dragged out of court by bailiffs like the grandpa, kicking and screaming? That has happened more times than I can count in L&O and it seems like something that must be very rare.

Keir said...

Another let down.
Casey Novak was played as a drink hussey- look at her hair and general louche demonour. Then, just to bring her back on an high after an open-and-shut case (just like the way it started- with yet another red herring that ends up the wrong way at the very start) it comes up with another implausible turnaround. Just watch the trial- the victim was able to accuse a completely different person without being able to even see the man- and one will see that no coincidence is considered too beneath the viewer.

nygma619 said...

@megexpat: I already discussed the so called "plotholes" and how they've been around long enough to know that just because a rape kit said it didn't happen doesn't make it true.

@Keir: A drink hussey? Diane Neal's acting was putting Terrance Howard's to shame. As far as the victim misidentifying the guy. IT WAS IN THE DARK, and the guy had a beard on him. Which I could totally see her mixing them up.

I love how most of the SVU fans who call things plot holes are those who think the writers screwed up because things aren't spoonfed to them, and they don't actually do this little thing called thinking.

Also for the last time, FORENSICS still put someone being in her bedroom.

David Week said...

I think the big hole in this plot is the lack of follow up on Dwight's description of his mother's rape. Dwight described he and his mother being bundled into a car, and being held at gunpoint. That's kidnapping, a Class A felony. There is no statute of limitations on kidnapping. The prosecutors should have picked that up, and charged Grant for Dwight's kidnapping (and perhaps his mother's, as well.)

MelyB said...

I was happy to see 'Casey' return and thought Terrance Howard was good (he usually plays the 'arrogant prick' role very well, LOL).

The story line was interesting but I'm tired of storyline involving Black characters having to reach back to the Jim Crow era. Two of the most compelling SVU episodes involving Black characters were (1) Michael Beach as a down-low male & (2) Blair Underwood & Michael Michele as bitter exes.

*I thought this arrest would count as his 3rd strike, hence the plea deal.