Thursday, October 13, 2011
Law & Order SVU “Double Strands” Recap & Review
T.R. Knight was very believable as both the normal, well adjusted family man who is wrongly accused of being a serial rapist, and also the creepy twin who has serious anger issues towards both his biological and his adoptive mothers.
This episode was a nice feature for Kelli Giddish, and it provided some insight into how Rollins operates. Giddish offered a solid performance in the final interrogation scene. I suppose with every new female cast member – regardless of the series – there has to be the old “woman in peril” storyline; at least in this case it is Rollins who puts herself in that position in order to catch the guilty man. Maybe because Benson is slightly dismissive of Rollins, or because I haven’t fully accepted Giddish in this role, but I am not sure that Giddish /Rollins has much chemistry with the rest of the group just yet. Amaro’s beat down of the suspect in defense of Rollins may have been an attempt to inject a sense of chemistry between those two, but it seemed forced. Danny Pino, on the other hand, fits in better than I expected and while no one will ever replace Chris Meloni, Danny can help viewers to move on and embrace the change.
One thing that made me really laugh – well, besides the wonderful Munch-isms in this episode – was Benson having to get the high priced sketch artist, not to draw the sketch of the attacker but to draw the yin yang tattoo. Seriously now, she had to pay extra for something that can be easily found on the internet or something that the rough sketch they likely already had would have shown? If I were Cragen I would have laughed - and then had a cow over the expense.
Here is the recap:
Mariska Hargitay – Detective Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Richard Belzer – Sergeant John Munch
Dann Florek – Captain Don Cragen
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Diane Neal – ADA Casey Novak
Francie Swift – Sherri West
T.R. Knight – Gabriel Thomas
A dancer is stretching while a man outside is secretly photographing her. Later, as she is walking home, the same man approaches her and after saying how pretty she is, he forces her to the ground and rapes her, saying to look at his face.
Later, with SVU on the scene, Danielle Hynes tells Benson her friends wanted her to stay for another drink but she has a rehearsal in the morning. Benson tells her she did everything right - she survived. She tells Benson she’s never seen the man before but he knew all about her. Meanwhile. Rollins sees bike tracks and tells them to get the cement. Benson notices Danielle’s neck and comments to Danielle that the guy got her good.
Danielle says he was wearing latex gloves. She also says he had a tai chi tattoo on his neck, and this piques Rollin’s interest. Rollins asks her to describe that. Danielle says it was half black, half white, in a circle which Rollins recognizes as the yin yang. Rollins presses on, asking if he said anything to her during the incident, and she says he said “Tell me you love me mommy.” Rollins asks if she is sure about the wording, and Danielle nods yes. Rollins pushes further, asking if she noticed how he got away, and Danielle says it was on a bike. Rollins gets a look of realization on her face, and Benson asks Danielle to excuse them for a second, and then asks Rollins to have a word with her. As they walk away from Danielle, Benson tells Rollins she doesn’t know how they do things down south, but her in New York they think it is best if one person does the intake so as to not overwhelm the victim. Rollins thinks she knows the guy and recognizes his MO, and Bensons asks from where, she just got here. Rollins informs her they were tracking a serial rapist in Georgia and it is the same signature – the way he stalks and the tattoo. Benson counters that the city is filled with rapists with the same MO. But Rollins highlights the “tell me you love me mommy” line but Benson still thinks it is a stretch. Rollins says it could be – but it could be that he is here.
Back at the precinct, Rollins briefs the SVU team, saying they called him the Atlantic Coast Rapist, white male, 30s – Amaro notes the yin yang tattoo – and Rollins adds that he struck in Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland. He is a power reassurance rapist with over 15 rapes in the last 9 years, none in the last 3. They thought he was in prison or dead. As she lays out the photos of all the other victims, she says that Benson thinks she is reaching but she asks them to all follow her – the victims are all young, fit and athletic and the planted bike in the woods. Amaro says there are a lot of people who ride bikes in the city. Munch comments that the rapist has never been north of charm city and now he jumps the Mason/Dixon? Fin asks them to hear her out. Cragen asks if she thinks he followed her to New York on the heels of her move, and could he be taint8ing her. Rollins says no, that’s not his way, he has avoided them all these years by staying under the radar. Cragen asks if he made any mistakes; Rollins informs him that with the first 4 rapes he did not wear a condom so they have his DNA. There are no matches. She adds that there was another slip up in Gaithersburg, Maryland. They got a partial print on a screwdriver left at the scene at Halloween in 2003. Munch observes that the rapist likes blondes, and Rollins calls it an obsession.
Benson walks in and says that Danielle did the perfect thing – she pulled out her attacker’s hair, roots and all. Munch asks if Benson got a sketch, and she tells Cragen she hopes he does not mind, she brought in Fujita, a freelance and the best sketch artist in the city. Munch whines that Fujita takes hours and he is exorbitant. Benson points to the old sketch and says these aren’t going to catch anyone, and she puts up the new, very detailed facial sketch and one of the yin yang tattoo and says, “but these will.” Rollins notes the tattoo. Fin says to get this out and call One PP as they have a serial rapist on their hands, but Cragen slows them down and says to just hold on, there is no need to cause a panic. He instructs them to go with what they know, put it out and link it to last night’s attack and they keep the rest in their pocket for now.
Later, Fin and Munch see a large electronic sign with the attacker’s sketch and that he is wanted. Fin calls in to say the sketch is up. Munch gripes to Fin about Big Brother watching and worries that they will take your DNA at birth and put it in a government database. Fin and Munch debate the point, but Munch tells Fin he is missing the bigger picture– which schmuck are they going to manage all the calls.
Back at SVU, Munch is managing the calls and is getting frustrated, asking someone to take over for him so he can go chew some glass. Fin The rest of the team is also working on the calls. A police officer brings in a blonde girl to speak to them.
In the interview room, another girl describes a similar attack made on her but never reported it until now when she saw his face on the news. The tattoo on his neck was the same. Meanwhile, we see a man with the yin yang tattoo on his neck, in the park talking to a young boy and a woman takes a photo with her phone. Back at SVU, the girl says he told her to look at him and his face, and also said “tell me you love me mommy.” Fin enters and said they got a cell phone image from the tip line and shows it to the girl who says it is him.
In the park, Fin and Amaro speak with the women who took the photo who says the man started coming to the park with his boy in the summer. One woman says the man lives across the street from her.
At the home of Gabriel and Janey Thomas, Amaro and Fin stop Gabriel, with his son Luke, at the doorstop. Amaro asks to speak with them alone so he sends his son inside. Amaro asks him if he saw the papers and he said yes. Fin guesses it was the Times and tells Gabriel he should read the tabloids, showing him his image on the cover. Gabriel says that has to be a mistake. His wife Janey comes out and asks what is going on, and Amaro asks where her husband was two nights ago. She replies he was home with his family. Gabriel tells them he was out for a bike ride, around 9 after he put his son to sleep. He rides alone. Amaro suggests he come down to the station and Janey tells him she is calling her brother. He tells her he doesn’t need a lawyer, he didn’t do anything. He kisses his wife and tells them he will be right back.
Back at SVU, Amaro tells Rollins if that is her guy, he is pretty cool and doesn’t want a lawyer. She says that is funny, he already has one: Sherri West.
Fin starts the line up while outside of the room. Benson and Rollins stand by as West arrives and Cragen comments that she must have gotten the short straw. Rollins makes a comment that if West gets the guy off, they are worth the money they are throwing at her.
Fin is conducting the line up an when he asks #5 – Gabriel – to step forward, Gabriel balks and Fin asks him again. He steps forward and then back. After the last man steps forward, 5 knocks are heard on the window, and Fin asks all the others to leave except Gabriel. When Gabriel says he doesn’t understand, Fin tells him he should have stayed down south, his game wasn’t ready for the big city, and those 2 girls he raped just made him. When Gabriel says this can’t be, Fin tells him he is done. Gabriel stands there in shock.
After West and the detectives and Cragen observe, Cragen tells West they are all friends her so let’s cut to the chase. West says she may be new to defense but even a paralegal knows not to let a client talk to the cops. As Benson, Rollins, Amaro, and West enter Cragen’s office, Benson asks West why she is here. West tells them they have the wrong guy, she believes he is a straight arrow with a family and a job. Amaro said that was his take on him, and suggests they get his side. Rollins comments that she would love to take the confession. West says if Rollins goes in there with her mind made up, she will advise him to shut up. Cragen asks West if they can have the room for a second.
After West leaves and Cragen closes the door, Rollins says it is him, he fits the profile to a T. Amaro asks if she can hear herself, adding that they have to go in there to look for reasons to exclude him, not to find him guilty. Rollins scoffs, saying he is guilty and asks what they are waiting on. Benson looks mildly frustrated. Amaro says how about the DNA and the fingerprint on the screwdriver, that they still don’t know who that belongs to. Rollins says while they are waiting, let her take her shot. But Cragen tells her to hold on, and tells Benson and Amaro to take the lead, and tells Rollins to watch with him. She replies quietly, “Yes sir.”
In interrogation, Benson questions him and she brings up and old domestic charge, that happened 15 years ago in college. He is a pharmaceutical rep and just got a promotion and moved to New York. He can’t prove he was out biking that night. The night of the other rape he was probably home. He has been in Switzerland working at his company’s home office for the past 3 years, before that he was sales rep in Georgia, South Carolina, and Maryland. Amaro asks for his employment record and despite West’s concern about the wide net Amaro is casting, Gabriel agrees. He asks to go home, but Benson says when they are done here then he can call her.
Outside the room, Rollins says that was nice work, they can place him in every state the rape was reported. Amaro said they didn’t do anything, he put himself there. Benson said they gave him every opportunity to exclude himself and he couldn’t. Amaro comments that if Gabriel is obsessed with blondes he didn’t notice her. Rollins says he likes submissives and they have him, this is their guy. Cragen says Gabriel volunteer his work records so he tells them to connect the dots.
Later, Rollins has a map showing the location of previous attacks along with Gabriel’s homes over the same period. Benson adds in 2002 he was transferred to Maryland and the next year he struck 3 times in Gaithersburg; South Carolina and Georgia show the same pattern. ADA Novak comments there were no rapes the years he was in Switzerland. Munch comments that there are a lot of blondes in Switzerland and asks if any match the MO there, and Cragen replies they have a wire out to Interpol but not to hold his breath. Rollins goes on to say there have been two rapes in two month since his return to New York. They have a screwdriver and knife that was in his bike bag which fits his MO, but Amaro says that matches the content of every cyclist’s bike bag. Amaro says Gabriel’s life dovetails with the rapist but it is weird he offered all that up. Novak asks Cragen if Rollins is always like this. Benson gets a message which says the lab matched Gabriel DNA to the first 4 victims and Danielle Hynes. Novak says to book him, adding she wishes they were all this easy. Rollins comments she is going to call her captain in Atlanta and tell him the good news. Cragen tells her nice job. But it is clear something is nagging at Amaro.
Later, Amaro makes a visit to Gabriel in the cell, who says the DNA results are wrong and that labs make mistakes all the time. Amaro says DNA doesn’t lie. Gabriel says neither does he. Amaro whistles for someone to let him into the cell. Gabriel says it isn’t him, but Amaro tells him he is in a tight spot and asks if there isn’t anything he wants to tell him that he didn’t want to say in front of the attorney or his wife. When Gabriel says no, Amaro presses, saying that the women sent mixed signals. Gabriel says he’d never seen them. Amaro asks Gabriel about his son, Luke. Amaro says he has a 4 year old and they grow up fast, and he asks Gabriel if he every wants to see his son again. He suggests to Gabriel that if he comes clean right now, he will make sure he does all his time in New York with full visitation. He says if he wants to hug his son and see him grow up, if he gets sent out of state, that’s a long trip for his wife and boy to make. Gabriel stands up and looks Amaro in the eye and says his wife loves him and knows he would never do this. Amaro tells Gabriel up to know he has given him every chance but Gabriel is not helping himself. He tells him to turn around, and he cuffs him. Gabriel says he won’t admit to something he didn’t do, and then as Amaro tries to move him out of the cell, Gabriel tell him that the rapist is still out there.
Gabriel is being arraigned and he pleads not guilty, his wife is in the gallery with her brother. Novak asks for remand and explains the rapes in the other states and the DNA evidence. West argues for Gabriel but the judge remands him to Rikers. Gabriel gets upset and frantically tells his wife she can’t believe he did this. As she walks away from him he screams her name.
As Amaro and Fin work out the transfer to Rikers and they make small talk with the desk officer. Another office races in and calls for the detectives, saying they have a bleeder. They race to the cell and call for a medic. Gabriel is laying on the floor, bleeding from a slash in his wrists. Amaro tells him he will be OK, but Gabriel grabs him and tells him to tell his boy he never raped anybody. Gabriel collapses as Fin continue to yell for a medic.
At the hospital, the doctor tells Benson and Amaro that she hasn’t done a psych evaluation and he has lost a lot of blood. Benson asks how many times have we seen this; the guy gets caught and he takes the easy way out. Inside the room, Gabriel asks Janey what she told Luke, and she said that he was on a business trip for a long time. He worries that the kids at school will talk but she tells him she explained it to the headmaster. Gabriel tries to move his restrained arms, and he asks how she could think he could do this. She apologizes.
Later, Amaro asks the doctor if Gabriel could commit those crimes and have no awareness of it. She says she’s never seen it. She says his lawyers will hire psychiatrists who says yes. Benson asks if anyone has ever done it to bolster an insanity plea. The doctor comments someone tried to chew his arm off to convince a jury he was crazy and it worked. As Janey walks out, Benson stops her and says the doctor said he will be OK. Janey tells her not to pretend they care about him. Janey can’t believe this as she’s never saw a sign of this. Benson tells her true predators are masterful at this. Janey says it makes her sick and that her mom wants her to cut him loose but he has no one else, he was an only child whose parents died within 6 months of each other when he was in college. She thought he dealt well with his, and with their miscarriage. He never left her side that weekend, even to wash the makeup off his face. Benson questions the makeup, and Janey said they had on pirate costumes form a Halloween party. Gabriel had on eyeliner which ran when he cried. It was Halloween 2003.
Afterwards, and outside at a food stand, Amaro stops West and wisecracks about her eating there. He asks her for her alternate theory, he comments that there are a few lose ends. He suggests she look into some date for her client, suggesting Halloween 2003. West says that was rape #4 in Gaithersburg. She says his DNA was all over that but Amaro tells her to check into a man being in two places at the same time.
Back at SVU, Munch asks Amaro what is bugging him, and Amaro mentions when Gabriel was bleeding in the cell to tell his son he didn’t do this. Munch says it is the last words of a dying man. Amaro knows he is guilty but his affect just bugs him and that after all these years a guy can play him like that. Munch asks if he is sure that is all that is bugging him. Amaro said they have his DNA, but Munch counters that when he got his shield, all they had to go on was blood type and fingerprints and went with their gut. Munch says he misses those days.
At the Medical Examiner’s office in the DNA lab, Amaro questions the lab tech about getting it wrong, and she explains the odds are astronomical. Amaro recalls a scandal in the Nassau County lab and Virginia of evidence tampering to raise conviction rates. She questions that all 4 labs would conspire to take Gabriel down and asks for a motive. He doesn’t answer.
Later, Cragen call Amaro into his office with Benson already there, saying that Benson told him Amaro may have something. Amaro explains that the victim from Halloween night said the victim said her rapist had a chipped tooth and a long abdominal scar. Gabriel has perfect teeth and no scar. Cragen reminds him that the victim saw the yin yang tattoo and teeth can be fixed and scars get removed. Amaro says that Halloween night Gabriel was 100 miles away at Johns Hopkins when his wife miscarried and have affidavits from his wife and mother in law that he never left Janey. Cragen is skeptical, noting that doctors aren’t there 24/7 and mother in laws have been known to lie. Benson reminds Cragen that this one never liked him. Amaro thinks the DNA could have been planted, but Cragen questions that he just stopped at the 4th time. Cragen asks what they know about the family. Amaro says let’s ask him.
Rollins knocks on the door and asks what is going on. Cragen takes a breath and says Benson and Amaro are dotting some “I”s and he will fill her in.
Back at the hospital; Gabriel says he was an only child as far as he knows but then tells Benson and Amaro that he was adopted. He was never interest in contacting his biological parents and asks why they are interested, wondering if they are trying to fit a profile. He then tells them “screw you” and that his parents are great people and he was raised right.
At a halfway house in Trenton NJ, Benson and Amaro speak with the birth mother and find out there were twin boys who were not given to the same home. Back then, they separated identicals. She heard from one of the sons, Brian, who came to visit her 20 years ago. She said she read about him in the paper the next year that his adoptive mother killed the adoptive father. She was jealous so she drugged him and burned him up in front of Brian and he had to testify. It happened in Richmond or Norfolk, and he came to see her a few months after the trial and he wanted her to be in his life. She asks what was she going to do, take him to Arthur Treachers and the movies? She gave him up once and she should have taken the hint. She asks if they are done but Amaro presses and asks her if she ever told Brian he had a twin. She admits she did and that he went on and on about him knowing that something was missing and that you could hear the violins.
Back at SVU, Benson shows them a newspaper clipping from 1992 in Richmond covering the trial of Catherine Smith and that she got the death penalty for murdering her husband. Amaro reads some of it back to the rest of the SVU team about Brian’s testimony. Fin says he is already looking for Brian Smith and Munch comments about how many have that name. Benson wonders how many follow their twin to New York. Fin says there are 126 Brian Smiths in New York City. Rollins comments that as they are twins to look at their birthdates. Fin finds a match. Brian started as a provisional for the Parks Department in July of this year. Fin brings up a photo and they are shocked to see Gabriel’s twin. When Amaro says they should go pick him up, Cragen asks him to hold on, and suggests they bring the DA up to speed as there are some issues here.
Rollins explains the situation to Novak who is incredulous. Rollins says it’s still a win, it’s the same DNA and same ID, but Novak reminds he it is for two different suspects who are twins and this is the definition of reasonable doubt. She asks why Gabriel didn’t bring this up, and Rollins replies because he didn’t know, Cragen adding that it’s been Brian’s plan from the start. He tracked Gabriel from city to city and if he ever got caught he could put it on his twin. Novak says that is a very good plan because there is no way a jury could tell them apart. Cragen suggests they catch Brian in the act. When Novak asks how they are going to do that, Amaro adds that Brian has self control and won’t strike if his brother is in prison. Cragen wonders if they let him think Gabriel is out, but Novak is worried about terrorizing the whole city. Rollins suggests they set a trap and that he does like blondes.
In court, the judge agrees to release Gabriel with a bond of $250,000 and he is confined to the New York City borders and must continue psychiatric treatment. The judge sets a hearing date of October 6th.
Later, Amaro visits Gabriel in the SVU cell and shows him a newspaper and tells him the public is outraged at his release. Amaro asks how he is enjoying his freedom, and Gabriel asks if they set him free, why isn’t he home? Amaro says he will know everything one they have it sorted out. Gabriel asks what kind of game is he playing, and says his attorney won’t even tell him. Amaro tells him to sight tight and he walks out and closes the cell door.
As Rollins runs in the park, she speaks with the rest of the SVU team and asks if Brian is still sweeping. Amaro says Brian has been watching her for 4 days and all Brian has done is snap a few pictures, telling her maybe she is not his type after all. Fin tells them Brian is on the move, and Amaro also tells her Brian’s new location. Rollins heads there. She stops to rest and Brian watches her. She starts to move again and Fin radios that he thinks she hooked him and to stay in sight.
Brian pulls a bike out of the wooded area and follows Rollins. Amaro races around the corner on a bike and tells her to stay close, but he stops when he almost runs into a woman with a baby carriage. He doesn’t see Rollins anywhere. She continues to run and Brian continues to follow, while Amaro frantically asks her to update her location but she seems unable to hear him. Brian pushes her off the road with his bike and into an area next to a small tunnel. Amaro can hear her struggling and he calls for her. Brian pulls out a knife and holds it to her neck, saying she is a feisty one. She tells him to slow it down and she will give him what he wants. He tells her to look at him, look at his face. Amaro continues to race around and comes up on them and yells for Brian to put down his weapon. Rollins punches Brian. She picks up the knife and as Amaro begins to beat Brian, she tells him enough. Fin arrives to assist. Amaro asks Rollins if she is OK and she replies she is fine. He tells her she was supposed to stay close, but she tells him that she had her shot and she took it. She asks him what the hell was that and asks if he is trying to ruin this case. She glares at him and walks off.
At SVU with Brian in interrogation, Rollins argues that she knows this guy better than anyone and knows what makes him tick. Cragen tells her to save it, they only have him on one charge – his attack on her. Novak says that makes Rollins a witness. Benson reminds them this is Rollins' collar, but Novak is worried this will get it thrown out with prejudice. Cragen said she heard the counselor.
With Brian in interrogation being questioned by Munch and Fin, he says Rollins came on to him. They remind him about the knife and catching him in the act, but he tells them they don’t know the half of it. He will only talk to the blonde. When Fin tells him that won’t happen, Brian asks for a lawyer. Munch and Fin walk out of the room and Fin tells the others that Brian said the magic word and asks if they have enough. Novak says the wire went in and out in the tunnel and Amaro used excessive force and Rollins ran out of his view. Novak says the defense will paint this as two detectives trying to make a name for themselves. Cragen reminds them of the reasonable double because of the twin. Benson asks that if he doesn’t talk to the blonde he walks and then tells Cragen they need a statement. Cragen allows Rollins to go in.
Rollins enters the interrogation room and he says she looks so much prettier when she smiles, and she says so does he. She says she’s wanted to talk to him for a long time, telling him she is a southern girl who worked sex crimes in Atlanta and she is the one that made him, saying she was obsessed with him. She continues to try to charm him and flatter him, saying he was the best. He comments about how cute and bouncy she was in the park and that she teased him. She says just like the other girls, but he says that was his brother, it was the same DNA. She says that was the plan all along, to leave enough DNA to pin it on his brother and even had the tattoo and that it was genius. He says she said that, not him. She adds there are a couple holes, and asks him to lift up his shirt - she says she wants to show him something. He complies, and a large scar is visible. She tells him his brother does not have the scar or a chipped tooth and they have victims that saw both. He asks if that is the best she has, it was dark and witnesses make mistakes all the time. She reminds him about the Halloween rape in 2003 and says his brother’s wife had a miscarriage that weekend and doctors and nurses claim he never left her side. He replies there is always a back door, but Rollins tells him he was 100 miles away. She tells him to sit down and he does. She also said he made another mistake and lost his screwdriver and left a fingerprint. She tells him that one will cast him big time because twins have the same DNA but different fingerprints but he knew that which is why he started wearing the gloves. She says she knows he had to teach himself everything, not like his brother who had a great life. She said he followed him all these years and he never said hello. Rollins said they met his mother at the halfway house who told them he found her and she told them that she gave him up once, you’d think he would have taken the hint the first time. Brian cries and called her a drunk and who cares. Rollins said his mother took care of his twin and made sure he found a good home and she sent birthday cards. Brian said he had good parents, but she reminded him about his adoptive mother murdering her husband. She continues to press him and says anybody would be broken, and no one has even listed to him. She wants to hear his whole story, not just these mistakes. Everything. She tells him she has all night and she is not leaving him. She asks him too look at her – look at her face. He looks at her.
Afterwards Benson and Amaro open up the cell where Gabriel is being held, and Benson tells him that it is over, he is free to go home. He asks what happened, and Amaro tells him they found the guy. Gabriel asks who, and they take him to the observation window and he asks who that is. Benson tell him it is his twin brother. Gabriel says he didn’t know that, and Amaro says HE (his twin) did. As Brian walks up to the mirrored glass, Gabriel stands and looks back at him…and we fade to black.
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