Friday, May 13, 2011

Law & Order SVU “Delinquent” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Delinquent” was an enjoyable episode as it featured almost the entire top billed cast of characters who were given a compelling special victims case. Having Munch (Richard Belzer) and Cragen (Dann Florek) back in the thick of things seemed to make for a more rounded, interesting episode. Too bad they gave us a fill-in Medical Examiner (instead of Tamara Tunie), and for some reason couldn’t find an excuse to bring in Dr. Huang (BD Wong) for a quick consult on this clearly nutty kid, Hunter Mazelon (Sterling Beaumon).

Despite some flaws in how they handled this case, I really liked the story. It also gave us something to think about:  Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) may actually be a “giant douche” who is sometimes “ass-reamingly wrong”. (If you saw the episode, you know those aren’t my words.) Stabler’s first mistake was not filing a report when Hunter accused him of inappropriate touching, especially when there was another officer who witnessed the alleged incident. If I recall correctly, Stabler was accused once before of behaving inappropriately with a female victim, so one would think that he would be very cautious about any further allegations, whether the accusations were witnessed or not. Instead, Stabler doesn’t report it right away. Then, when he has a sit down with IAB, he gets mouthy with Lt. Tucker -  a “giant douche” in his own right – and this only gets Tucker to tighten the screws on Stabler.  SVU's overall attitude toward IAB – who Benson called “the rat squad” – is part of their problem. If Stabler would have been more proactive in protecting himself, maybe his encounter with IAB would have been less painful. It is getting tiresome, however, that IAB still continues to pick at SVU despite the fact IAB never gets anything on them.

Stabler also errs when he tails Hunter in defiance of the restraining order. Despite the fact that Stabler was ultimately right about Hunter being trouble, Stabler should have been smarter in how he worked to prove it. Stabler also used poor judgment by barging into the courtroom and causing a scene, making himself look like the one who was unhinged. Just when I think Stabler has actually turned a corner and learned to control his impulsive behavior, he shows that he’s still the same old Stabler who acts before he thinks.

I am assuming that, if/when SVU returns next season, the ADA revolving door will continue. In this episode, we get ADA West, played by Law & Order brand repeat offender Francie Swift. It’s not her first time with the SVU team, but hearing Fin and Stabler talk about her, it was as if they had no experience with her. If I had to pick a consistently weak segment of the show, it’s the legal side. It’s hard to tell if the ADAs are friend or foe.

Rita Wilson was very believable as the clueless mother who was in complete denial about her son. Sterling Beaumon was very convincing as the creepy serial rapist who also happened to be a victim. I was amused, though, that his character appeared to have magical powers to evade just about everybody, including squeezing out the window of a police car and later overpowering a MRI technician so he could crawl thought an air duct to escape. I could have easily bought one of those escapes, but I think the writers got a little carried away with the second one.

Here is the recap:

Annie Meyers, after returning home with a date, finds a young boy asleep, naked, in her bed. Later, Detectives Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and John Munch (Richard Belzer) bring the boy, Hunter Mazelon (Sterling Beaumon) to the SVU precinct. Munch tells Stabler and Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) that the boy’s mother said to let him spend the night in jail. Meyers comes in and says she found his backpack in her closet with a bottle of whiskey and accuses the boy of waiting there to attack her.  They also see a schoolbook,duct tape, pantyhose, and a knife in the bag.

Stabler takes Hunter to the "child appropriate” lockup and Hunter gives him some attitude. When Stabler moves to un-cuff him, Hunter gets irate, claiming Stabler touched his “junk.” Officer Nelson (Eric Schneider) walks in and asks if there is a problem, and Stabler says the kid is a smart ass. Hunter then said he freaked out as it’s the first time he’s been arrested and indicates he is OK, then tells Stabler it was a joke.

Meanwhile, Hunter’s mother Bree (Rita Wilson) arrives at SVU and complains to Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek) that she has been kept waiting to see her son. Cragen has to explain to her that her son is not the victim. She can’t believe it. She also said she was furious when the police first called and asked he be kept there to teach him a lesson. She thought he has been spending the night at his friend Jake’s working on a science project.

At the Cartelinni residence, Munch and Fin (Ice-T) speak with Jake and his father. Fin thinks Jake was Hunter’s lookout, but Jake denies it, saying he was forced to partner with him for a science project. He tells him that Hunter pulled out a frogs brain for a science project while the frog was still alive, thinking it was fun. Munch comments its one of the key indicators of sociopathy. Jake claims Hunter would have even done that to their cat.

Back at SVU, Benson speaks with Bree, who is in denial about her son. Stabler brings in Hunter, who calls his mother “Bree” and says it was nice of her to show up. She slaps him and Stabler pulls her away, but she tells Hunter to tell them she did not raise him this way. Stabler asks if she is in the habit of smacking Hunter, and Hunter says no, her weapon of choice is a verbal tongue lashing. Clearly there is tension between mother and son. Benson asks Bree to sign a waiver as Benson reads the rights, but Bree refuses and moves to leave with Hunter. They tell her Hunter is not free to go. Hunter gets flip and again calls her mother Bree, which incenses her. She tells the detectives they are making a mountain out of a molehill, and Hunter says everything in his backpack was for a science project. Bree says she is calling a lawyer, and Stabler says he can meet him at arraignment.

In the office of ADA Sherri West (Francie Swift), she tells Cragen, Fin, and Munch that she can’t charge Hunter with a sex crime. But they think Hunter intended to rape Annie Meyers. West says she can’t present a thought crime to the jury, and Cragen suggests to charge him on what they do have him on and get him in enrolled in a sex offender treatment program as part of his plea deal. Munch tells her this is not his first offense, he once had grabbed his teacher’s breasts. The teacher wanted hismexpelled but his mother made it go away. The teacher will not come forward. Cragen reminds West that for a first degree burglary with a weapon,  the cut off is 14 and she can charge him as an adult.

At arraignment, Hunter is being charged with burglary 1 and criminal trespass 2, criminal possession of a weapon 4, possession of burglar’s tools, and possession of alcohol by a person under the age of 21. Hunter’s defense attorney Roger Kessler (Ned Eisenberg) thinks the prosecution is abusing their discretion and thinks this should be in family court. Hunter pleads not guilty. West asks for him to be detained in a juvenile facility, and she and Kessler argue about Hunter’s behavior. Judge Ridenour (Harvey Atkin) sets bail at $5,000. West asks for an order of protection for Annie Meyers and the judge grants it. But Hunter says he is the one who needs the order, he claims he was molested by Detective Stabler.

Back at SVU, Benson gets the news via phone of Hunter’s accusation against Stabler that were made in open court. She rushes over to tell Stabler. Stabler is angry and says Hunter set him up and explains what happened in the youth office. He said Hunter said it was a joke so he did not write it up. Stabler says as soon as you’re smeared with that kind of stuff the stink does not go away. He knows hope this works and he is going to go to IAB before those bitches make it public.

At the Internal Affairs Bureau, Stabler runs into Bree and Hunter as they are leaving. When Stabler asks how Hunter’s twisted fairy tale played with IAB, Bree calls him a pervert and tell him to stay away from her son. Stabler says Hunter knows he made it up, but Hunter says he saw his file on Lt. Tucker’s desk and it was pretty thick and asks how many other guys Stabler has been too friendly with. Stabler asks Bree if her son has even been taught that actions have consequences, and she tell Hunter to go. As she starts to walk off, Hunter says he wants to stay to get more parenting advice from a child molester. He tells Bree if she lets him lie and charm his way out of trouble, she is not doing him any favors. When Hunter sees Tucker (Robert John Burke) come down the steps, he comments that Stabler is now stalking him. Stabler tells Tucker he was on his way to see him. Tucker says he didn’t send for him, but Stabler comments that he thought he’d save him the trouble. Bree says they have been trying to leave but that Stabler won’t let them. Tucker tells Stabler, “My office.”

In Tucker’s office, Tucker tells him he is entitled to a lawyer, but Stabler waives it, saying it is a set up. Tucker reminds Stabler he has been in this hot seat before, but Stabler says it is about his temper with pedophiles and he does not touch children, he protects them. Tucker asks how many perps have said those exact same words to him. Tucker begins to question Stabler, using a tone that makes Stabler sound guilty, and Stabler calls him an idiot. Tucker continues to outline what transpired, saying that Hunter cried out for help and to stop touching his junk. Stabler says Hunter was setting him up, and when Tucker asks why Stabler did not report it first. Stabler pauses, sits back, and said it was an asinine prank by a 14 year old punk that only a moron with an ax to grind would ever believe. Tucker glares at him, and Stabler glares right back with a smirk on his face. Stabler adds that the door was wide open, and Tucker says he knows, that’s why they have a witness.

Back at SVU, Officer Nelson sees Benson and tells her to tell Stabler he never intended to get caught up in this. Benson says they know how the rat squad works. But he says all he could tell IAB is what he heard and what he saw, he could not lie. He said he saw Stabler backing off the kid when he heard him come by and he could not see Stabler’s hands from his angle. Benson says he let the kid play him. He says after he spoke with IAB, he got stuck on “cop in a box” duty.

Later, Cragen tells Stabler and Benson he doesn’t want anyone harassing Officer Nelson. Stabler thinks Cragen is playing into the stunt, but Cragen says the defense would have a field day with any new dirt. Everything they all do has to be 100% above board, they know what his tactics are and they have to be smarter. Benson is upset, saying that now any scumbag in custody can yell “bad touch.”

In ADA West’s office, Kessler says they will drop their case if West drops hers. She calls it blackmail. Kessler adds that Hunter is a kid and the finer shadings of the law escape him. She says she will pass that along to internal affairs. West also refuses to discuss a plea. Kessler says she would have been better trying him in family court as there is no jury there. She says there is also no record after he gets out. When she asks if he realizes that Hunter is guilty, Kessler comments how hard it is to get a jury to convict when there is no victim. She says they have a victim, Annie Meyers. He says under cross he will ask if Hunter laid a finger on her and her answer will be no. West states she is not going to let a future Ted Bundy escape. Kessler says if they work out a deal maybe the kid will get some help.

Back at the Stabler household, his phone rings and wakes up both Stabler and Kathy (Isabel Gillies). When Kathy answers the phone, Kathy says it is his office wife. Benson tells her – and Kathy relays it to Stabler – that Benson thinks he is off the hook on a trumped up molestation charge, which Kathy comments he never bothered to tell her about. But Stabler looks stony-faced when he hears that ADA West is letting Hunter plead out.

At allocution, the judge lectures Hunter and asks him to allocute. He reads a statement and start making excuses and the judge tells him to skip the editorializing. Stabler, meanwhile, walks in and tells West not to do this and loudly tells her to call for a recess.  The judge asks if there is a problem. Stabler shouts that they need to call a recess, and Bree says they have restraining order against Stabler. The judge does not look kindly on Stabler’s behavior and asks the court officer to escort him out. Hunter continues to claim he had no idea what he was doing.

Later, at a bar, Fin and Stabler talk about what happened. Fin comments about how they have been burning through ADAs and maybe West cut the deal to cover Stabler and maybe she just wanted them to like her. West approaches them and says as bitchin’ as it would be to hang out with the cool kids, she did not do it for him. Hunter got 3 years, suspended, but any further violation results in mandatory detention, plus 50 hours community service, alcohol treatment classes, and enrollment in a sex offender therapy program. She adds if she rolled the dice and lost, he would be out there with no supervision. Fin gets a call and says he has to roll, Munch got a case, and said Munch says he’d better stay away from this one.

On the scene, Munch tells Stabler and Fin about finding the body of Madeline Harris, in her 50s, whose skirt was hiked up and her throat slit. Witness saw a man dressed all in black, reeking of whiskey with pantyhose over his face, slender, 5’10” with dark hair and looked like a kid. Stabler thinks it is Hunter, and thinks Hunter was pissed off about the plea deal. Fin wonders if he was celebrating.

Stabler, along with another officer, arrives at Bree’s home and when she asks what he is doing there, he comments that she was notified that the restraining order was vacated. Bree is less than thrilled, but Stabler says he is there to introduce her to Mr. Sowicki (Larry Joshua), Hunter’s probation officer, and Sowicki says this is a surprise visit. Staler says Sowicki is there to confirm Hunter is complying with the curfew. Bree says he has been home as he had a headache. They hear loud music coming from his room, but when Bree knocks there is no answer.  Stabler hears a noise coming from another part of the house, and finds Hunter in the kitchen. Hunter pulls out a knife from the drawer and waves it freely and tells Stabler he has to give this up. Bree walks in and Stabler tells him to drop the knife. Hunter says he locked himself out of the bedroom and usually uses his pocket knife to unlock the door but they took that away from him. Stabler moves in quickly and grabs the knife, and, despite Bree’s objections, grabs Hunter by the collar and tells him when an officer tells him to drop a weapon, do it. Hunter is flip about it, and when Sowicki asks where he has been, he says out, getting some air. Sowicki reminds him of the curfew but Hunter claims he was only on the roof for 10 minutes. Stabler says his mother hadn’t seen him for hours.

Hunter opens the door to his room. Stabler asks Bree if those are the same clothes Hunter was wearing the last time she saw him, but she did not see what he changed into after court. She verifies that those are his clothes. Hunter also says he is sober as a judge but he seems loopy. Sowicki demands a breathalyzer test, and Hunter balks. His mother tells him to do so. Hunter complies,  then says he had cough syrup earlier. Sowicki comments this would not give him the .09 he just blew. Stabler says Hunter just violated his probation. Bree asks why Stabler is so obsessed with Hunter, and he just tells Sowicki to place Hunter under arrest. Bree pleads with Stabler, saying she did not know how bad Hunter’s problem was and she is getting him help.

Back at SVU, Fin asks Cragen why probation didn’t haul Hunter’s ass in last night, and Cragen sinforms him that Hunter is on probation which has a higher standard than parole and one can’t make a summary arrest. The hearing is Friday. Stabler tells Cragen, Fin, and Munch that Madeline Harris' husband could make no connection between her and Hunter. Cragen thinks it was a crime of opportunity. Stabler says someone gave Hunter a change of clothes, and Fin wonders if he stopped by a Laundromat and took clothes out of a dryer, adding the kid is smart. Munch comments that Hunter did not get that from his mom, and wonders if they can get her to cooperate. Cragen thinks with the blinders she is wearing they need stronger evidence.

At the ME’s office, ME Birch (Sean Patrick Folster) tells Munch and Fin that Madeline Harris victim was asphyxiated, the slit in her throat was not deep enough for her to bleed out. The attacker severed the trachea and nicked a nearby artery which bled into her windpipe and into her lung. The attacker raped her from behind with a straight edge to her throat. When the ME comments the deeper cut was an accident, Munch counters it was a homicide. The ME says lucky for them, it was a rape – the attacker did not wear a condom and they are running the DNA now. Fin wishes they had something to compare it to as the plea deal did not include a sample of Hunter’s DNA. Munch said he probably left it somewhere else.

Munch, along with CSU Captain Siper (Caren Browning) go back to Annie Meyers closet, where they find body fluids. Meanwhile, Stabler is trailing Hunter and sees Hunter following another woman, and then walking away from the way home. Stabler chases after him, and Hunter has entered a church and gone though another door. When Stabler catches up with him and stops him, Hunter tells him this is getting creepy. Stabler says he is supposed to go straight home after school and asks what Hunter is doing there. He said he is following court orders, he’s going to a teen AA meeting.

Back at SVU,  Cragen hotly asks Stabler if he needs a remedial English course, adding how can he make him understand the words stay away from Hunter. Stabler defends himself saying he thought Hunter was stalking a new victim. Cragen said that may have helped his case “if you hadn’t been so ass-reamingly wrong.” ME Birch arrives and tells them he ran the DNA on the murder victim through CODIS and got a hit on 5 unsolved rapes in Oregon, and the DNA in the closet matches that DNA. It’s Hunter. Stabler is stunned that Hunter is a 14 year old serial rapist.

Later, Munch and Fin arrest Hunter. Hunter said he hated Oregon because his dad fought hard for summer custody just to ignore him. Hunter asks Munch if he has a sister who teaches there – Munch says no – and Hunter comments that there is a calculus teacher that looks a lot like him and maybe he will have her next year. As Fin shoves Hunter into the car, Munch asks if Hunter just threatened his hypothetical sister.

At SVU, Bree asks Benson and Stabler why they are hell bent on destroying her son. She is upset that the NYPD is tearing apart her apartment and thinks it all about the complaint they filed against Stabler. Stabler comments that she really doesn’t understand any of this. He and Benson show her the photos of all the women Hunter attacked when he was in Oregon in the summer, and Cragen shows her the composite made of the attacker that looks like Hunter. Bree thinks it does not look like Hunter, but Benson said Hunter thought it did, which is why he now wears the hose on his head. Stabler tells her thy have Hunters DNA and his sperm was in each one of those women. Stabler wonders why Hunter is so fixated on older women and asks if he was molested by one, maybe one around Bree’s age. She says he is sick and denies it.

When they wonder why Hunter is not there by now, they find out via a phone call from Fin who tells them they were following the officers who had Hunter in the back of the car and suddenly he went flying out the window. Hunter told them he was going to be sick and needed fresh air and the officer  lowered the window only a little bit, not thinking Hunter could squeeze out of it. Hunter is on a stretcher saying he can’t breathe. Fin tells Hunter he will ride along with him in the ambulance, he doesn’t care if he broke every bone is his body, he has eyes on him.

At Bellevue, Munch and Cragen arrive and Fin tells them they are giving Hunter an MRI to make sure his brain is not bleeding. There is no metal allowed in that area, so Fin was not allowed there with his gun and Hunter is un-cuffed. They told the tech to lock himself in the booth or to alert them if Hunter tries anything. But Cragen does not like it and races to the room. They get to the room and the MRI tech is not at the controls and the machine is still running with the tech in it. Cragen tells them to get a doctor and lock down the hospital; Hunter is likely wearing whatever the tech had on. Fin sees an open air duct and thinks that is how Hunter got out.

Meanwhile, back at Bree’s home, she is frantic, wondering where is Hunter. Stabler and Fin ask her who Hunter goes to when he is in trouble, and she says her, not his father. Her phone rings and they tell her not to tip him off. It’s Hunter, and she tells him the cops are not there. He tells her she is so dumb. He says he is fine, but he is slurring his words heavily. He says he has been drinking, and calls her a dumb cow. She asks him to come home so she can take care of him, but he sarcastically says she takes such great care of him. He says she should have done something and now he has to do it himself. She asks what he means, and he just says “Bye Bree, thanks for selling me out.” He also says goodbye to Stabler, saying he is going to do his job for him, calling him a giant douche and then he hangs up. Bree says she does not know what he was talking about. Fin says Hunter was calling from a cell phone that has GPS and Hunter is in Chelsea.

Munch and Fin trace the GPS from the phone to an apparent homeless guy. Fin hands him some change and asks if he has a phone on him. He pulls out his phone, saying the kid borrowed it from him, and then the kid called someone a douche. He did not see where Hunter went, but Hunter gave him a bottle of whiskey.

Back at SVU 24 hours into Hunter’s escape, Benson tells Cragen they have nothing. Cragen said someone had to give Hunter the whiskey. Stabler thinks Hunter boosted it. Cragen asks if Hunter could be suicidal, and Bree, standing in the doorway, overhears it and asks Cragen not to say that. Benson said they asked her to stay at home in case Hunter called back. She asks them not to let anything happen to him, this is her fault, and that Stabler was right, he was molested. She explains that he was only 7 and it took her months to realize something was wrong and to get him to tell her about it. She should have filed charges but she did not want anyone to know. It was his babysitter. She cries a about the things she did to him and what she made him do to her. She wanted Hunter to forget about it so he could be normal. He used to spend a lot of time at her apartment years ago, and says her name is Ellen Huffner.

At Ellen Huffner’s apartment, Benson and Stabler enter, guns drawn. A bottle of whiskey is on the floor. Ellen is laying dead in on the floor in a pool of blood. But Hunter, who first appears to be dead, rolls over and moans. As Benson calls for a bus, Stabler tells Hunter to relax. Hunter tells Stabler he did not know that he cared, and then says the blood is all Ellen’s. Stabler has him get up. Hunter says the other women that he hurt – that wasn’t him. He does not know why he kept doing those things. Benson says she knows. He wanted to stop and thought if he confronted Ellen about why she did those things to her, he thought it would end. But she wouldn’t tell him and says now she will not do it to anyone else and neither will him. He thinks he will be all right and will be OK now. Benson and Stabler look at him as he cries, and we fade to black.

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sirmikelogan said...

solid episode

nygma619 said...

Dawn Denoon, I love your writing. Even in the later seasons of SVU you managed to not lower yourself to the mediocre level of the other writers. But THIS? Dawn why have you forsaken me?

Too many characters acted like idiots. Stabler, Tucker, Fin, the officer driving the police car, the doctors, & the mother. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes.

And I found myself not believing a single thing that little snot said at the end. Why should I? After all the things he did before hand? Why should Elliot or Olivia believe a single thing he said either?

I'm going in to the finale with very low expectations next week; and even then I'm not sure the episodes gonna live up (down?) to them.

Catherine said...

This was just a bad filler episode. The writing was terrible especially the legal parts. Alex tried Jeremy Brice as an adult in Juvenile. There should be no problem trying Hunter as an adult for rape and murder. And why did Oregon come him back for trial for the 5 rapes he committed there?
Hunter's sudden remorse at the end was such nonsense. And Olivia just believed him. And why did people believe his story that his babysitter molested him? With all the lies this kid told why wasn't that questioned?
Rita Wilson and Sterling Beaumon gave terrible performances. They were both full blast on the emotional scale. Dial it back if you want to be believable.

Alex said...

I am really sick of the gaping Huang-shaped hole in these episodes. The last two have called for his presence but nope, nothing.

Jojo said...

Improvement on last week but certainly not the best that SVU has done. The ending was way overwrought.

Good to see Munch back after what felt like a long absence.

Thanks ATL&O.

nygma619 said...

One other thing that also bothered me about this episode (in the laundry list of them), if Hunter really wanted to murder the babysitter that did this to him, HONESTLY What the hell was stopping him from tracking her down and murdering her before that?

Its not like there was some revelation where he was having trouble finding her before then. But he just so happens to track her down and murder her, AFTER his Mother reveals the incident with the babysitter. Gee, how convenient.

Honestly it was nice to see the main cast again, but this episode had so many conveniences, & characters acting stupid, that it ruined my suspension of disbelief; and after Spectacle; that's saying something.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this episode a lot. I think there were incredibly strong performances by both the guest stars and the regular cast. Sterling Beaumon was absolutely exceptional in his role. I think he can go far with his acting skills.

Esaul said...

I actually thought this episode was dreadfully boring. I couldn't wait for it to be over. It's one of the worst finales this show has gone through. And it doesn't really send Neal Baer out with a big bang or anything? Of course he's the one who starts all of this hype anyway. Good riddance. I'm glad he's gone. Also, I swear I saw Huang in the background toward the end of the episode, wearing a sweater vest. So I thought for a second they were going to kill him off randomly. I'm glad he still has a chance to come in though. However, once I saw her in the beginning of the episode, I knew she was going to die. I got more enjoyment from Criminal Mind's finale over SVU.

Esaul said...

Erm. Nevermind. I just checked my DVR and they look NOTHING ignore my statement about Huang being in there. >.>

e jerry said...

Hmmm. Shirtless Meloni and asses getting reamed. Are those supposed to be turn-offs? I don't think so.

e jerry said...

Oh, and...
While yes, Hwang would have been very useful in this episode, by the time this one aired, B.D. Wong was already working pilot season and Awake (R.I.P.) would have been more of a priority for him, since it would have been part of the NBC upfronts, even as a mid-spring replacement show.

m cox said...

whats the song at minute 22.00 where they go in his room?