Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Law & Order LA “Runyon Canyon” Recap & Review

Law & Order LA “Runyon Canyon” was a lifeless episode, more along the lines of what we saw before the series went on hiatus. Alfred Molina and Corey Stoll still make a strong pairing, but I was disappointed in the legal side of the episode. There was an attempt to add tension to the case when Dekker decides to go ahead with the trial despite evidence that the woman he is trying is not the killer, but it falls flat. Sometimes Terrence Howard sounds like he is not speaking naturally, almost as if he is trying too hard to inject drama into the dialog. I have always been impressed with his performance in movies, but for some reason he seems like a fish out of water in this show.

The case involves the murder of a squeaky clean college co-ed, and attempts to make us question our preconceived notion of college kids. Everyone expects the guys to experiment sexually but no one wants to believe that the girls can be just as adventurous, especially when thinking about one’s own children. Sadly, the topic bored me, maybe because there is nothing new with a story of the exploits of college kids, even if it ends in murder.

Here is the recap:
A pre-med freshman Beth Garrett (Jillian Nelson) is found laying in the hills, tortured and strangled to death. Detectives Ricardo Morales (Alfred Molina) and “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) are called to the scene. The girl has a sorority tattoo. They later speak with her friend who said Beth was focused on her studies and last saw her going to the library. TJ finds a lacy thong in her room.

Lt. Arleen Gonzales (Rachel Ticotin) and the detectives speak with Beth’s parents who think their daughter was very innocent. They later find Beth had glass in her foot and found cocaine residue on it, maybe from a crack pipe. They also find she got a text from Sylvie Lester saying “We are on.”

They speak with Sylvie (Rachel Dipillo) who said the text was about getting together to study. Sylvie went home to sleep and Sylvie said Beth went for a swim. They check on the records and find Beth did not swipe her card in to swim that night but found that Jesse Beckman swiped in right behind Beth when she came to the pool earlier in the week.

They question Jesse (Luke Kleintank) who said he does not know Beth. He said she just likes to swim and when they see one of Sylvie’s drawings in his room, they confront him with cheating on Sylvie with Beth. He said Sylvie was acting weird so he went to talk to Beth about Sylvie. He was at the basketball game on campus the night Beth was killed.

They talk with Roger Darden (Scott Michael Foster), who has the basketball season ticket seat next to Jesse, he said he saw Jesse at the game. But TJ trips him up with a comment about the coach at the game and they know Roger is lying. They think not only is Roger covering for Jesse but he may be an accomplice.

Back at RHD,  they discuss that they found someone who was also at the game who said Jesse and Roger both left the game at the half. They find Roger has a job and was working Tuesday night guarding an empty house in Runyon Canyon.

The detectives go to the empty house and it appears it is being used as “party central.” They find a broken crack pipe and also a room filled with graffiti, a mattress, condoms, and “nasty” stuff.

Back at RHD, the detectives tell Gonzales that Beth’s blood was found in the house, blood samples from 22 others and semen from 19. Roger's prints  can be placed on a baggie with traces of a drug called Salvia. They later speak with Roger and his rep from the ULA legal clinic present and he said Jesse was not there. They confront him about the blood evidence, and he still denies being there, saying he drove to get a sandwich. But the detectives are happy because Roger inadvertently admitted to operating his vehicle under the use of a drug and since he had a previous DUI they can now impound an search his vehicle.

They check out his car, and there is no trace of the victim but they find something on a cup in the car that may place Jesse in there They are able get a warrant and then match wax from a candle in Jesse’s room to wax found on Beth’s body. As they now have his prints, he admits he was at the mansion the week before with Roger and that is when he brought the candles. There was no electricity in the mansion. They outline some scenarios that implicate him, but before he can answer, his rep from the ULA legal clinic arrives and tells them the interview is over. Morales tells Jesse that the first one that speaks up gets the deal.

Later, TJ tells them he found that Sylvie got the lawyers for Jesse and Roger. Morales looks at one of Sylvie’s drawings from Jesse’s place and finds it may match the handprint on Beth’s neck. They check with M.E. Nishizawa (Tamlyn Tomita) who says the hand print marches but is not the one that killed Beth. She thinks it is from erotic asphyxia.

They speak with Sylvie about her hand print drawing and show her on the body where it was found – it matches the strangulation marks. She says Beth was alive the last time she saw her in the mansion. Sylvie says that Beth wanted to party and she wanted to try salvia. They went there with Jesse and Roger and it got crazy. She started making out with Roger and wanted to try the chocking thing so she did it for her. She got freaked out by Jesse and said Beth ran off and they did not find her. The detectives arrest her.

Morales and DDA Joe Dekker (Terrence Howard) have Jesse in for questioning, his legal rep present. He denies killing Beth but adds that Sylvie told her to make out with Beth, and the whole thing was Sylvie’s idea and she told them what to do. Meanwhile, ADA Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) has Roger in for questioning and he says the same thing. He said Sylvie choking her was what freaked Beth out. Jesse said Sylvie said she would destroy them if it ever came out.

Later, Morales, TJ, Rubirosa and Dekker discuss what they learned. The talk about how to convince a jury that Sylvie is that cold. Rubirosa wants the case to be based on facts, not perception.

Back at RHD, Gonzales and Rubirosa talk to Sylvie’s parents. They are stunned to hear these things about Sylvie. Her mother suggest they talk to Melanie Patterson who had been friends with Sylvie since high school.

Rubirosa speaks with Melanie who says Sylvie got weird when she got to college and Sylvie tried to kiss her and got hurt when she turned her down. She said when they pledge the sorority, Sylvie hurt her physically and Melanie has not talked to her since. She says she and Sylvie used to take her dog to the dog park on Mulholland.

At the preliminary hearing for Sylvie, Dekker outlines the case against Sylvie and they have cause to proceed to trial. Her attorney, Mr. Citron (Reed Diamond), tries to make Sylvie out to look too innocent. Dekker says she is a perverse sadist, and the judge says they have shown cause to proceed to trial.

At RHD, Sylvie’s mother speaks with Gonzales, and she is very upset over what is happening. She says the girl Dekker described is not her Silvia. After she leaves, Gonzales seems to get an idea and pulls a book off her shelf. Meanwhile, TJ gets a message which outlines Cesar Vargas sightings and emails back for photos. He closes his PC quickly when Gonzales comes out with the book and asks TJ and Morales if it bothers them that the only evidence that Beth was in Sylvie’s car was a few hairs in the front seat. They also said there was no evidence of Silvia at the dump site. She tells them it is worth another look.

The detectives go back to the ME who says the strangulation marks occurred during a struggle and that the killer was trying to hold on. She also found dog hairs on the body and in her lungs. She thinks the hairs were breathed in while inside a house.. But there were no dog hairs in Sylvie’s car or at Roger’s or the mansion. They think the real killer is out there, walking a black and white dog.

The detectives and Gonzales give this information to Dekker and Rubirosa. They think it is an unknown suspect. Dekker says the evidence is vapor, they are going to trial and there is no doubt here. After Dekker and Rubirosa leave, Gonzales tells the detectives to play it out and check the dog park.

Dekker and Rubirosa speak with Beth’s parents who are angry at Sylvie and that she is showing no remorse. They tell Dekker they are counting on him for a guilty verdict. After they leave, Rubirosa tells Dekker that 3 good cops think they are jumping the gun. Dekker says he does not answer to them and only the facts, not perception, matter.

The detectives are at Nichols Canyon Dog Park asking about a black and white terrier, but they get nothing. They continue to search. Later, a woman comes in after seeing one of the flyers the detectives handed out. She says there is a man who comes with one black and one white terrier and uses them to hit on women in the park and he has not been around since Beth was killed. She said he was supposedly on a reality show.

Later, at a bar, Morales speaks with Dekker about the case, saying he is not convinced Sylvie did it. Morales says Citron is a smart attorney and Morales is not sure he can’t handle him without perjuring himself. Dekker says he would never ask him to do that.

In court, Morales is on the stand and challenges Morales that he made a decision on the case based on his own morality. He says he based his decision on his experience. Citron mentioned there was no trace that Sylvie transported the body. He asks Morales if he is satisfied that they have pursued every lead with the crime, and Morales says no, he says he never considers a case closed until there is a finding of guilt and only the jury can do that.

Afterwards, TJ brings him information on the guy with the 2 Scotties,  Trevor Cannon, who  is on probation for assault. After he got thrown off a dating show, he beat up someone in a bar.

The detectives question Trevor (Rand Holdren) and when they ask to take samples of the dogs’ hair, Trevor says his dogs would not like that. When Morales makes a move for Trevor’s shoulder saying he has some dog hair there, Trevor grabs his arm. TJ tells him he just violated his parole and they arrest him.

Meanwhile, Sylvie is in court and on the stand and she describes what happened, saying the boys were awkward and she had to tell them what to do. She said Beth cut her foot when she ran out and Roger got her,  but later Beth ran out an left and so did Sylvie. Rubirosa gets a message and tells Dekker that the cops have another suspect, but  Dekker decides to go on an questions her about what they did to Sylvie and that she has no compassion. The detectives have Trevor in interrogation, asking about how he got dumped on the reality show. He said it was worth the paycheck. TJ brings up the episode clip  showing Trevor was dumped and the detectives mock him. This makes Trevor irate.

Dekker continues to question Sylvie about her lies and that she didn’t want Beth to file a complaint. Sylvie insists she could not find Beth after she left, and Dekker presses her on how she killed Sylvie, but Sylvie still denies it.

Trevor is still being questioned when Dekker and Rubirosa arrive. Dekker tells Gonzales that double jeopardy has attached and if they pull out now, they cannot retry Sylvie if they are wrong about Trevor.

Morales and TJ question Trevor on his whereabouts relative to where his cell phone placed him. He says he ran an errand for his mom and then helped her with her laundry. Rubirosa gets a text saying Sylvie’s lawyer now wants to meet to take a plea. Dekker tells her to call the lawyer and they will meet in 15 minutes in his office. But they hear Morales question Trevor and say the path to his mother’s house is near where the body was found. They continue to press him and Morales says there is Trevor with rage about his mom, and then half naked college girl sitting next to him in the car crying. He accuses him of touching her and that Beth told him not to and commanded him to stop, just like his mom. Trevor nods that Morales has it right, he fought back and he could not stop himself.

Back in court, the judge tells the jury that the state has dropped all charges against Sylvie and tells Sylvie she is free to go. Sylvie’s parents are happy. But as everyone leaves the courtroom, Beth’s patents glare at Dekker. He is walking out of the empty courtroom as we fade to black.

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1 comment:

Tess said...

It would have been more interesting if Sylvie was the killer. I thought the way they found the actual murderer laughable..'A man with two dogs, one black and one white' Gee that should be easy to find in a huge city like LA. I also thought it was unbelievable that a young woman would get into a car with a man who was a complete stranger..The episode was sloppy.