Monday, June 6, 2011

Law & Order CI “Trophy Wine” Recap & Review

  All photos by NBCUnversal

Law & Order Criminal Intent “Trophy Wine” was a solid episode that looked like a killing over counterfeit wines but quickly turned into a killing over an impending divorce. Despite the fact that the wife seemed the likely suspect all along, there was enough misdirection to keep the episode entertaining. Bobby Goren is too smart to be fooled and he quickly puts all the facts together to conclude that the misdirection was all part of the killer’s plan.  I loved some of the humor in this episode ("the butler did it" and Goren's size 13 "vibe").

What may have fans talking is where Goren discusses his feelings with Dr. Gyson (I hope they have finally settled on her name and spelling ) about his feelings for Eames. I have never been a Goren/Eames “shipper”; I always saw the respect, understanding, and friendship between these two characters and never thought of the relationship as remotely romantic. I think Goren’s questioning as to why some think the relationship has to be more than that was a fair question not just to the doctor but to fans themselves. This dialog also may be an attempt to clarify the Goren/Eames relationship before the series ends. That aside, based on the previews, it looks like Goren is still unsettled and who knows where things could lead down the road?

Here is the recap:

A special delivery (via armored car) of wine is made to wine importer Bing Cullman (Michael Cumpsty). He also gives his wife Avery (Andrea Roth), an ad exec, an anniversary gift and tells her to open it after she finishes her photo shoot. Later, Bing has a special wine tasting with one of the special bottles of wine, and his wife, finishing her work, opens the gift to find a key on a chain inside the box. At the photos shoot, Shane (Scott Evans) later complains that Avery was gone for an hour but she responds by asking for a lift home. After the wine tasting is over, Bing appears to argue with one of his guests. Later, as Bing continues to drink wine, he seems to be getting ill. As he opens the safe in his wine cellar, he gets more sick and the door to the cellar slams shut and is locked. He screams to be let out and bangs on the wine cellar door.

Detectives Bobby Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Alex Eames (Kathryn Erbe) are called to the scene. Bing is dead in the wine cellar, found by the butler, and Major Case must get involved as Bing was the mayor’s wine advisor. Eames sees the safe us open and empty, and Goren sees that Bing has scrapes on his hand to look like he had been banging on the door. They wonder if someone locked him in.

They speak with Avery. She tells them she came home at 11 and assumed Bing was in the cellar and went to bed and Loy, the butler, found his body. He had normal heath problems for his age and the detectives ask for a list of his meds. Their marriage was not perfect but better than most.

They speak with Loy (Juan Luis Acevedo) who mentions the tasting and that 6 bottles of a rare wine were delivered by armored car. Ev Dilahunt and two other guests were at the tasting. Bing sells his wine through Dilahunt’s auction house.

At Lang/Malreaux Auction House, they speak with Dilahunt (Munson Hicks) who talks about the special wine that Bing found. It was a stash of George Washington’s wine and Washington’s initials were engraved on all three bottles. Dilahunt says there were only three bottles of that special wine. Dilahunt’s sommelier gave the wine a perfect score and Dilahunt bought the other two bottles for $350,000 Euros. He says Miss Balon his sommelier was there but says the names of the others are confidential.

Back at Major Case, the detectives review their findings with Captain Hannah (Jay O. Sanders). Bing had a BAC of 1.9 and found his normal meds, but also found traces of Viagra in the wine glass, and that combined with his nitrates could cause a heart attack. They think the killer locked him in and left him to die. Avery has no record but her mother in Nebraska had a record for drugs and prostitution. Avery is a senior VP at Wellman Media.

They speak with Miss Balon and she doesn’t want to break confidentiality on the other guests. It was her first tasting at that level. Goren brings up her being there on a visa and her coming up for renewal to get her to give them the names of the other clients.

At the estate of Mason Kent (Adrian Pasdar) they speak with him about the tasting. He says he will be bidding on the wine at auction. Goren asks to see his cellar and Kent says no, he has to limit the vibration down there. He has them shown out, and Eames mutters that Kent has something to hide. Goren thinks it is his size 13 vibe.

Later, at the office of Dr. Paula Gyson (Julia Ormond), Goren mentions how much he trusts Eames. Gyson questions Goren about his relationship with Eames. He bristles when Gyson asks if he loves her. He says she is like a sister to him. He mentions, and recalls,  his brother. He is upset that Gyson thinks a man can’t have a working friendship with his partner or that it has to be more than that, but she just wonders if he has romantic feelings for someone he admires and respect. She asks if there are any women in his life, but he says the last few years he has been dealing with a lot of loss and his work is not conducive to relationships. His thinks she thinks that a man his age being single so long is a problem. She says between his work and his affect, he had created an emotional drawbridge that has protected him. She adds it is a good thing. She asks if he feels lonely. He sits back and does not answer.

Back at Avery’s home, Eames mentions the money that Dilahunt gave to Bing but that the safe was empty. She said Loy was the only one he let down there, and adds that Loy is at home taking a few days off.

As Loy is leaving his home via taxi, the police swarm.  Later, with Loy at Major Case in interrogation with all the money, he admits seeing Bing dead on the floor and taking the money. His mother is very ill and thought the money would help her. He seems shocked that Bing was murdered. He swears Bing was fine when he left, and that Dilahunt was there and Bing was angry with him that “the nose” – Hutton Mays - was not there and if he was going down they were all going down. Mays comes to all the tastings – except this last one.

At the Chelsea Wine Tasting Room, the detectives speak with Hutton Mays (Bryan Batt) who says his nose was congested and he could not smell. But it comes out that Mays suspected that Bing was passing counterfeit wine and they may have been using Mays' name to pass off the fraud.

Later, in the lab, they get confirmation that the initials of George Washington on the bottles and wines were fakes.

Back at Major Case, the detectives question Mays and Dilahunt together. Eames mentions that Dilahunt is selling hundreds of lots from Arnold Binder, and it appears this is Bing Cullman’s real name. It seems Bing was letting them taste the real wine and then selling fakes. Dilahunt mentions they got into it but denies killing him and that Bing was alive when he left. He adds that Avery and a handsome young man had arrived home as he was leaving.

The detectives later speak with Avery who says Shane was one of her models and he drove her home because she got tipsy. She says there were 6 bottles of wine delivered and one was opened for the tasking. The detectives wonder who has the other three bottles. When Avery gets in the car, she looks at the key on the chain that Bing gave her. She later arrives at Shane’s apartment and she tells him Bing is dead and it is done, and she kisses him passionately.

Later, the detectives arrive back at Kent’s with a warrant for the cellar. They found the other three bottles. He admits that Bing put the three bottles aside for him before the tasting and cut out Dilahunt as the middleman. He taped the whole meeting, and hands Goren a file. He says Bing was the Bernie Madoff of the wine world. He had Bing under surveillance. There was a photo of a place that Kent says was Bing’s “f” pad which he sublet from a man named Arnold Binder.

The detectives search the apartment of Arnold Binder and see a large wedding photo of Bing and Avery on the wall which has the words “Dumbest day of my life” on it. They also find information on an escort service which points to a girl named Emily.

At the LM Theatre, they speak with Emily (Kay Copeland) who last saw Bing on Thursday for a late dinner. She says he taught her about wines. She adds he could not take the Viagra that night as he had already taken the nitro and they were both careful about it. She says Bing had an open marriage.

With Avery at Major Case in the interview room, the detectives mention the open marriage and confront Avery with the information on Bing’s playpen for his call girls. Avery asks them if they are the sex police. She says they fixed things. They show her the photo on the wall of the apartment and she is silent. As Goren continues to press Avery said that when she came home that night with Shane she heard another woman in the cellar and knew that if he was with a girl he had take Viagra and he poured a glass and put in the nitrates and then locked him in the cellar. She says she is glad he’s dead.

Afterwards, they speak with Captain Hannah on this latest development. Goren thinks she is lying to cover for someone. There was Viagra in the glass, no nitrates, They also found that Avery was paying rent on another apartment starting two months ago. Goren confronts her on this “love nest” and says he will be able to put her and Shane together. She sticks with her story that she did it. He asks her again what happened Friday and she goes over her story again.

Later, the detectives arrive at Shane’s apartment and also find Emily there. While Eames asks to look around, Goren continues to question them. Eames finds a bottle of Viagra with Bing’s name on it in the bedroom.

At Major Case in interrogation, Goren and Eames question Emily and she says they did not do anything. She says Shane knew about Bing and was cool about it. Goren gets in her space and asks he how it played out, suggesting that Emily helped Shane to get Bing out of the picture so Shane could hook up with Avery and they two of them could bleed her dry. She says she did not want Bing out of the way, she liked him and he really really liked her. She says Bing was leaving Avery – she heard him talking to his lawyer and it was days away.

The detectives confer with Hannah who thinks they have nothing. Goren says when Avery saw the wedding photo she looked hurt but not surprised. He wants a search warrant for Avery’s personal belongings.

Later, with Avery in the interrogation observation room, she listens with Goren as Eames questions Shane. Shane says Avery left the shoot for a while and didn’t know where Avery went. He says they have it all wrong. He says he was working for Bing, he hired him to service Avery but she had no interest. He told Bing that he did her anyway so he could get a bonus. He did not have sex with Avery as she is too old and too weird for him. A few days after Bing died, Avery came to his place and came on to him but freaked out in the bedroom and left before anything could happen. Goren mentions the bonus to Avery and says their 10 year marriage was a fraud. She said she loved him. Goren brings up the prenup and she says she was not marrying him for his money. Goren says the prenup ends after 10 years and they become equal partners. He adds she has a fidelity clause but he didn’t. He presses her that Bing was going to serve her with divorce papers. Goren goes though her purse and finds the key to Bing’s love nest. Goren thinks she left the photo shoot to go the apartment and she saw the wedding photo and wonders if Bing left the divorce papers there. They got a copy of the divorce papers from the lawyer mentioning the affair. But Shane lied about her being unfaithful. She says Shane is lying an she confessed to protect him. Goren accuses her of lying to make it look like she was protecting Shane, saying she deliberately gave them a flawed confession knowing they would catch her in a lie. She knew they would eventually stumble on the divorce papers and Shane and she needed to create reasonable doubt. Goren says she took Shane to the townhouse and placed him at the scene and took Bing’s Viagra and planted it when she went to Shane’s apartment. Goren said it was not about the money. He mentions Nebraska and her mother and her hard life. Avery says she is not her mother. Goren says she moved to the big city and married a millionaire and she didn’t cheat on him. Goren thinks Bing used the information on her mother to hurt her and to make her feel like she was her. He says Bing was sadistic. Avery cries, and says her prenup was a million dollars over 10 years which comes out to $300 a night, “just enough for a whore like you” Bing said. Goren says she is not a whore, Bing did that to ruin the last 10 years of her life, to erase it and make it irrelevant. She said she told him to have a toast to the good years, and when he went to the john she put Viagra in his wine and she locked him in the wine cellar and went to bed. Goren mention that he died before the divorce papers were filed and she would have inherited everything. She says it was never about the money and she is not a whore. Goren says no she is not, she’s a murderer. As Avery is taken away, Goren looks on as we fade to black.

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ReviveLawandOrderLA said...

All Things you forgot to mention that Mr. Warren Leight wrote this marvelous LOCI episode!

I don't think SVU fans have anything to worry about (DESPITE Chris Meloni's departure/Mariska Hargitay's last season, her character's time being cut this upcoming one)! Last night's LOCI was a very good one; my second best of the season (my first was "The Consoler")!

maculae said...

The entire episode was a showcase of Gorenisms. As a Goren fan, I enjoyed it. However, I thought that the therapy session was a distraction.

All Things Law and Order said...

I usually don't nmention the writers. But, when I posted the link to Twitter, I did mention it as Warren Leight is on twitter I thought fans of SVU would be interested in knowing that he wrote a CI episode.

ReviveLawandOrderLA said...

Despite Chris's departure and Mariska's future one: I think Leight will prove to bring the SVU writing back home like he did with LOCI in the 6th & 7th seasons, more so the 7th.

SVU can last with some good casting/acting and writing. Something that LOCI lacked in season 9, which got it to where it is now, with 3 episodes remaining.

Wish USA would change their decision, but I'm content really because it's 'ending' and not 'axed' like L&O and LOLA were.

UDENGUI said...

A mi lo unico que m interesa es LOCI, quisiera que graven mas temporadas, o lo acaben aqui, esta buenisima la serie y la actuación de Vincent mejor que nunca, para BObbi todo mi AMORRRR!!!

gahks said...

Yaaay Warren Leight wrote a decent 'CI' episode! Now if Balcer is revealed as the finale writer, I'll be over the moon!

maculae said...

@gahks, Balcer confirmed that he rewrote the finale.

T'Jara said...

Leight has written LOCI eps since S2. I do think he sometimes sacrifices story to drama. That said I really liked Trophy Wine except for the shrink session which I'm very torn about. But the rest was darn good.

janethyland said...

I lov some of these shots:
The contemplative Goren.
Goren face to face with the knight!
Eames glowing jacket against the dark theatre background. Mmmmm

janethyland said...

The investigation into the various Partnerships that surround this murder and Gysons investigation into Goren’s own experience of Partnership in therapy both point to the same end ,which is Goren’s extreme aloneness. When the crime is solved and the therapy scene complete, we see Goren alone and silent and contemplative. And in LOCI extremes divide and unbalance, which is why Goren is in therapy, to find a balance that brings him peace, the kind of balance he brings to others in his work but has not found in himself.

To solve the crime the detectives unravel a web of diverse relationships or partnerships, professional and personal. Dillahunt the dilettante and Hutton the Nose/Prick are a comic double act of “poseur and drag queen” who complement each other(see "Cruise to nowhere" double act). Shane and his Juliet connect in a relationship that “plays” on their older “patrons”. The wine business is a web of pseudo Partnerships feeding off each other that Eames calls “alcoholic snobs”. It’s a seething mass of wriggly lies and deceit in a decadent entropic ruling elite. Friendship, business connections, longterm marriage, sex – these are the human connections that bind and unbind us, and one leads to murder.

Chains that connect can also imprison and the marriage relationship between Bing and Avery that appears open is now abusive. Bing is a “sadistic monster” who “acts to make Avery’s life irrelevant”. In LOCI, denying our humanity is a cardinal sin. It’s a terrible thing to negate someone as worthless because our validation in who we are is in how we relate. When Bing negates his wife he effectively “murders” her and is as guilty as Avery who commits the act. Ironically, the key he gives her frees her from the delusion of her marriage imprisonment as she sees the truth, but it leads her to the murder that will also imprison her. He broke her heart so she attacks his! Bing’s real “heart trouble” is the fact he doesn’t have one. That’s the heart attack that kills him.

This mixture of humanism and existentialism, our human value and exposure of delusions/lies are central to LOCI. The ambiguity of the ending is also central, that we smile through our tears, because that’s what makes us human, not machines.

janethyland said...

(part 2)

That process of investigation is paralleled beautifully in the psyche scene where Gyson begins to unpick the lock on Goren’s inner life, because there are actually 3 cellars containing treasure in this episode, the one where Bing is locked up alone, the one kept private “to limit the vibration” by Kent, and the one that is in Goren where he keeps his innermost privacy under armoured security, having “pulled up the emotional drawbridge to protect himself”. He is heavily fortified there like the armoured car and the armoured Knight of which he is a type.

This cell of his innermost being is “easily opened from the inside unless locked from the outside”. There is something precious and hidden there. As Gyson carefully explores Goren’s relationships and partnerships with Eames who also dramatically “ carries his water” , she is also building up another relationship in the room that Goren can accept and trust so that he opens himself up, to free himself from his lockdown. She is opening the outside so he can open from inside,"condemned to be free"(!)

So the process inwards is the same as the process outwards in the crime case file. Gyson is peeping into him as Goren peeps through the peephole of the wine cellar. When a safe becomes a prison the person inside needs someone on the outside to release them.Otherwise your heart stops. That’s the key to any therapeutic relationship.

Like all episodes this season, Trophy Wine is a memento of all that is LOCI, using past references and reminders- the use of slapstick comic double acts and irony and puns, the range of acting styles from theatrical to Method, the role of Fate><self-determination (“Gods Will or yours?”), Goren’s quirky mannerisms like handclapping or invasion of space, the comparison to knights, the use of Theatre (Romeo and Juliet) and Literature with its own coded linguistic tags like “playing” and the echo device “really, really”, the ambiguous endings without triumphalism, use of animal imagery (fox),the recurring motifs of maps(wall in adjoining interview room) and keys, the use of numbers (3 to 6),the interplay of sumptuous visuals with the verbals, deliberate enhancement of colour for effect, here it’s the warm amber/yellow glows against dark background akin to chiaroscuro (love Eames coat in the dark theatre and the Still Life paintings!), the use of media and mirrors and cameras, the underlying convictions of humanism and existentialism and the frayed hope that shines through….. and always laced with compassion. This is what LOCI has built up over the years with all contributing to the whole.

This episode is rooted in the 5 senses, the appetites. It reminds me of “Senseless” with its appeal to sight and taste and touch…but no sound. Has there been a change of policy over background music because its bland and horrible this season. They haven’t explored that properly. Or that’s Goren’s silence maybe.

I wonder if this episode is indicative of the angles Leight will take SVU- this human web of relationships that sometimes leads to crime but is still part of the tangle that involves us all. How will he organise his irrepressible irony in that context, I wonder?

David said...

Andrea Roth is seen carrying a black and gold handbag in the this episode. My wife is dying to know what it is. Anyone have a clue? Thanks.