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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