Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Law & Order LA “Reseda” Recap & Review
Morales (Alfred Molina) and TJ (Corey Stoll) are working together very comfortably, almost as if they have been partners for years. The writers are doing a fine job in making the banter between these two appear natural, with just the right amount of humor. Alfred Molina, in my opinion, can do no wrong no matter what role he's in, and I already enjoyed Corey Stoll on this show from day one. Having these two as work partners is a perfect pairing for me.
Dekker (Terrence Howard) and Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) also appear to be developing good chemistry. With each episode, Dekker's personality is becoming more layered and along with it, Terrence Howard's performance. The only weak link may be DA Jerry Hardin (Peter Coyote) who seems to be the stereotypical cookie-cutter DA. Still, the episode delivered some interesting drama between Hardin and Dekker at the end. When Hardin implies that Dekker may be on a road to destroy his career, Dekker makes the counterpoint that Hardin himself has compromised his values. It's the usual struggle between DA and their ADAs/DDAs that we've seen before, but in this case it helped spell out what kind of DDA that Dekker will be.
Here is the recap:
In a bank, a teller hands a stack of cash to a man wearing a hoodie who shoves it into a bag. When Martin, the security guard, stops the man, the teller says the man is OK. But the man runs out, and when Martin makes a move for his gun, the teller tries to stop him. Martin runs outside but the man is nowhere in sight. Martin heads back into the bank, and the teller admits that the robbers have her baby.
Later, the teller explains the situation to Detective Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina). She called her son’s cell phone and he did not answer. The last time she saw him was yesterday afternoon, he stayed with his dad who dropped him off at the bus stop in the morning. Her son Tony texted her from the bus stop to see if he could have a friend come over. Detective “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) shows Morales the security cam photo which is not much help. Morales shows TJ the photo that the teller received and TJ comments that is appears to be printed on cheap paper. They decide to check copy stories in the area where the boy was last seen and the bank. Morales promises her that they will find him.
The detectives locate the copy store where the bank robber had likely been to use a computer. TJ finds a photo on the computer of the boy that appears to have been Photoshopped.
At Iredia Hills Elementary School, they find Tony (Brady Hender) at school, safe and sound. Some guy took his picture at the bus stop. The guy was not wearing a hoodie and was riding a mountain bike, red with black stripes. His mother, who has arrived at the school, is happy to see her son.
Back at RHD, TJ talks about his own experience working in a band. Watching security camera video, they see a man on a bike swerve to avoid a car and hit another one. The bike was too damaged for a person to ride home. They think he lives in the neighborhood and walked, or he had an accomplice, or, seeing a bus, he used public transportation.
At MTA Warehouse, they speak with a woman who takes them to the lost and found, as they had a lead the bike was left on the bus. They find the bike and confiscate it.
Back at RHD, they hear that the prints from the bike belonged to Stanley Vaughn, 40, white, with a record, one offense getting him two years for involuntary manslaughter. Morales is shocked he got out in two years after a second strike. His last known address is in Reseda.
The detectives arrive at the location with backup. No one is answering the door and a neighbor (Sally Kellerman) come across the street to warn them that the door costs money. She says she owns the house, Stanley is not home in the daytime. She unlocks the door for them, They enter and find the house completely empty, and the woman says the place was floor to ceiling junk. She comments the place stunk from what he was cooking on the stove. Stanley commented to her that soon money wouldn’t be worth anything. Morales sees dates and numbers on the wall, Stanley was tracking gold prices. Suddenly they hear a loud explosion in the back yard. Officer Briar (Casey Pieretti) is now laying on the ground, his leg blown off. He had been kicking at the ground and something went off.
Later, with the bomb squad on the scene, TJ tells Morales that Officer Briar will make it. The bomb squad Sgt. Fordes (Chance Kelly) tells them the stuff in the back yard was PETN, used in IEDs in Iraq. Stanley was probably cooking it in the kitchen and it was inert until he kicked it. Most of the components can be bought at a hardware store, but he had to use a plasticizer to keep it stable, and that is harder to get.
The detectives check out Petro-Chem Supply, they speak with Mr. Gill about the plasticizer. They show him Stanley’s photo and he admits Stanley bought 6 ounces of a harmless plasticizer. He paid in cash but gave him references and said he was a gold collector who did business all over town. He got the number of his broker.
At the Gold Ore LLC, they speak with the owner. Manny, who keeps all his transaction records in his head. He identifies Stanley from the photo. He bought a gold coin off him and he follows gold prices. He was last in on Monday. Afterwards, Morales is suspicious that the owner doesn’t track gold transaction in detail like others do, and his security camera is not connected. They think he is laundering money. They get a call on their radio, another robbery is in progress.
They get to that bank and find a similar MO – another picture of a kid photoshopped to look like a faked kidnapping. Stanley got away on foot.
The detectives, along with DDA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) head back to the owner of Gold Ore LLC and after she threatens him with charges, he agrees to let them run a sting operation in his store.
Later, Morales is working in the store, pretending to be the owner’s nephew. Manny says that Morales is “as dumb as a box of hammers.” Meanwhile TJ watches from a surveillance set up. A girl comes in and asks for Manny. She says her name is Emily (Michele Nordin)and Stanley sent her there to buy coins. He says he is out of double eagles but will have more tomorrow. Morales and TJ quickly follow her out the door and with guns drawn, tell her to drop the backpack. It is filled with cash.
At RHD in interrogation, she swears she did not know the money came from a robbery. She denies any involvement. In the observation room, Rubirosa comments to Morales that Emily has a previous record for robbery. Rubirosa enters the room, and she lays out that Emily is an accomplice and can get life. She says she can get a reduced charge or suspended sentence if Emily helps them.
Later, Morales and TJ, along with police backup, arrive at the house where Stanley is staying. They spread out to search for him. TJ carefully enters a room. He looks around, but then hears a beep and notices a light flashing. The bomb sniffing dog barks, and the bomb squad Sgt. Fordes tells TJ not to move until they can disarm whatever is there. Sgt. Fordes orders everyone out by Morales says he will stay with his partner. TJ tells him he bets the DA's office is looking pretty good right now. Morales nods yes.
As the police and bomb squad move their vehicles back. Morales and TJ hear that the suspect is in the area, and Morales says to let him through. Stanley (Andrew Rothenberg) arrives on a bike and enters the house, calling for Emily. Morales puts a gun on him and tells him not to move, and then hauls him over to the room where TJ is standing and orders Stanley to get TJ out. Stanley tells him to leave the room and only step on the decals. TJ carefully steps out of the room. TJ then arrests Stanley.
In court, the charges against Stanley are read. He pleads not guilty, and Rubirosa asks for remand, adding that Stanley refuses to help police disarm the explosives. The judge sets bail at $1 million.
Afterwards, Rubirosa tells the detectives without the house, they are light on evidence to sustain 4 counts. The bomb squad won’t let them into the house to search for the plasticizer.
Later, Rubirosa speaks with Emily, who claims she knows nothing about the booby traps. She says she thought he was an inventor. She said Stanley understood what it was like for her to be in jail, as he got a light sentence the last time. Her attorney, Miss Finley, says she has documentation showing Emily is completely rehabilitated. Emily says she does not know where the gold or the chemicals used to make the explosives are.
Afterwards, DDA Joe Dekker (Terrence Howard) enters the room and asks how it went with her mom, who is now undergoing speech therapy from a stroke. Dekker says she is lucky to have her there. Rubirosa talks about Stanley’s case 8 years ago where he took a plea on a manslaughter charge 6 years ago. He got 2 years for a second offense and it was Dekker’s case. Stanley claimed that he was held up at knife point at a bar and his lawyer claimed reasonable response. The eyewitness and forensics were contradictory. Dekker comments she may not be aware of the California three strikes law, but Rubirosa says she passed the bar first in California. He says she is talking theory and he is talking reality – a second strike conviction means double the standards and a third means 25 to life. When he gets testy she says she wasn’t second guessing him, but he says she was – and she was right to do so. Dekker gets a phone call and seems shocked at what he is hearing.
Later. With Morales, TJ and Rubirosa, Sgt. Fordes says the area has been declared a state of emergency but Rubirosa reminds him of the warrant. He tells her they are going to do a controlled burn so they don’t risk an explosion. The sergeant refuses to relent.
Meanwhile, a reporter presses DA Jerry Hardin (Peter Coyote) and accuses his office of negligence saying that Stanley got out of jail because he did not prosecute him to the fullest when they had the chance. He says they will have to get back to her.
In the office, while Dekker and Rubirosa watches the house burn on TV, Hardin enters Hardin barks at Dekker to stay tuned, it gets better for him. He laces into him about Stanley’s light sentence. Dekker explains why he did it and when Hardin continues to spout off, Dekker reminds him that he signed off on it. Hardin shouts then that makes him a fool for taking his advice. He seems to calm and then asks how many counts they have on Stanley and then tells them to make them stick, he wants Stanley put away for good this time.
In Superior Court at the preliminary hearing, defense attorney Mr. Limpett (Matt Malloy) and Dekker argue about the lack of evidence, Dekker saying that Stanley should not profit because they had to burn the house. Dekker says they do have Stanley’s fingerprints on the bike used in the first robbery and they will find gold traces in the ashes of his house. The judge agrees and the charges are dismissed.
Back to the DA’s office, Hardin, Dekker, and Rubirosa discuss what they have. Dekker wants them to find something that will give Stanley three strikes. They argue about the spirit of the law. Dekker thinks Hardin wants Stanley now because of what they didn’t do 6 years ago. Hardin says they only people they should be worried about are the victims of Stanley Vaughn’s crimes and to get him the third strike. After Hardin storms out, Dekker says he needs to take a walk.
Later, Dekker is at the hospital watching Officer Briar into a chair, part of his leg missing. He returns to the office and when Rubirosa tells him she reviewed the evidence and she doesn’t see another charge, he tells her to count the pins at the bank if she has to, they are giving Hardin what he wants.
The detectives, along with Rubirosa, speak again with Emily and find that the bike Stanley used was stolen, she helped him steal it.
Later, Rubirosa and Dekker watch Limpett on TV complaining about the new charges against Stanley and they are using it as the third strike. Hardin is pleased.
At the preliminary hearing in Superior Court, Emily is testifying about how Stanley stole the bike. She adds how she thought she and Stanley could have a good life together and make a family. The judge adjourns the hearing until the next day. As they take Stanley away he looks at Emily and she looks back at him. Dekker tells her what Stanley did was not love. As they walk out, the San Bernardino Sherriff’s office arrests Emily for grand larceny for the stolen bike.
At the office of San Bernardino DA Walter Exley (Chris Ellis), Dekker an Rubirosa, they discuss both cases and Exley says the can also put Emily away for life, it will be her third strike. He says Jerry Hardin is not the only DA who is tough on crime. Dekker says Exley can make his point without applying the third strike. Exley says he is not playing politics, he is sending a law enforcement message. As they leave, Rubirosa tells Dekker this is wrong.
Back in Dekker’s office, Dekker discusses the problem with Hardin who says there is nothing they can do. Dekker says they can withdraw the charge against Stanley for the bike. They still have the bank robbery count. He reminds her that Emily is the reason they have the third strike count and it is worth it to drop it, but Hardin asks – worth it for whom – and brings up Officer Briar and his family. He said Emily played in the dirt and she got dirty. But Dekker says Hardin is now in the dirt, adding he thought Morales was too thin skinned but maybe he got it right. Hardin says before Dekker does something rash, he reminds him what Dekker said when he took the job – he wanted to work for change from the inside. If he quits, he is an outsider an ineffective.
Dekker and Rubirosa is with Emily and her attorney in the jail meeting room and they apologize for what has happened.
Back in court, Limpett argues about the bike charge and Emily’s credibility, saying they are trying to bootstrap a third strike. Dekker pauses before he responds, then calls Jerry Hardin to the stand. Hardin, waiting in the back of the room, pauses and then approaches, given Dekker a look.
On the stand, Hardin explains his decision and says he was guided by the law and the facts of the case. He said it not for political gain, he does what is right, not what is popular. Dekker brings up the second strike charge that Dekker says was done based on public reaction, and that Hardin was using the case to correct that. Hardin is slow to answer, but admits maybe that is the case. He admits that this is not justices. When Hardin leave the stand, he tells Dekker he made his point and to withdraw the charges. Dekker does so, and the judge rules they do have sufficient evidence on the robbery and they can proceed to trial.
Back in Exley’s office, Dekker and Rubirosa talk about Emily’s statement and as at the time they had no intention to prosecute her, he had not been properly mirandized and she did not have a lawyer present at the time. That makes her statement inadmissible. Dekker feigns an apology to Exley.
Back the office, Hardin tells Dekker he’d better hope he never gets a ticket in San Bernardino. Dekker comments he wanted Stanley in for life, but 15 years is still something. Hardin says by the time he gets out, it will be another DA’s problem and to hope whoever it is, is up to the task. Dekker looks at him with an air of self confidence and says he will be. As they walk out of the office. We fade to black.
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