Thursday, December 1, 2011
Law & Order SVU “Lost Traveler” Recap & Review
Law & Order SVU “Lost Traveler” was one of those episodes that had me changing my opinion about it all the way through. I hated it – then loved it – then hated it – you get the idea. The story was solid and the supporting cast members were all very convincing in their roles; particularly creepy was the psycho in training, Courtney.
The seriousness of the episode was broken by the appearance of TARU Tech Leo Gerber, played by Gilbert Gottfried. While I find Gottfried a humorous person, this was a casting misstep, one that rivals the casting of Noel Fisher as the equally annoying TARU Tech and murderer Dale Stuckey. Gottfried’s voice is grating (it works very well when he is doing humor) and it made his acting abilities even worse. This is one character that I am not looking forward to seeing again. In Gottfried’s defense, he gave them what they seemed to have wanted; he can’t help it that someone tried to write in a lame comedy interlude into this otherwise serious episode. Casting does get extra points for bringing in former cast member Dean Winters’ brother Scott to play a smarmy detective.
I was also disappointed in the 4 minute opening set up to the crime. This was one of those episode where I did not like the “Law & Order Criminal Intent” style opening. I don’t want to waste 4 minutes on minor guest stars or a set up to the crime; I tune in to Law & Order SVU to see the lead characters. I don’t mind a short introduction to the crime, but 4 minutes is just too long for me.
And is it just me or is it some rite of passage that when any female lead character is added to the cast of any Law & Order brand show that at some point some guy has to say something like “oh, she’s pretty AND smart too!” In this case, it was a comment a detective made to Fin about Rollins. While I am on the subject of Rollins, I have some issues with Kelli Giddish – or maybe it is how she is playing Rollins – and she just doesn’t quite fit. One thing that may help – get rid of her constant use of “Lookee here.” I know that Rollins is supposed to be from Georgia, but seriously now, “lookee here” makes her sound as thick as a brick. I also felt that the argument between Rollins and Amaro seemed too forced. It is as if they are trying to put a square peg into a round hole with Giddish.
It was nice to see Linus Roache and Stephanie March, but was hoping that they would have a little more screen time and there would have been a little more legal maneuvering. (I guess I still miss Law & Order.) And it never ceases to amaze me how many people are dumb enough to bring their kids in to a police precinct for questioning and don’t have the brains to bring legal representation. Don’t these people watch TV? If they did, they would know that one never submits to questioning at a police station without having legal representation, much less have their kids questioned separately as in this situation. This should be a warning to everyone – if you are asked to bring in your minor children for questioning by the police, refuse to do it without a lawyer present. The police are not always your friend when it comes to a murder case.
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
Stephanie March - ADA Alex Cabot
Linus Roache – Bureau Chief Michael Cutter
Tamara Tunie – Dr. Melinda Warner
Gilbert Gottfried – TARU Tech Leo Gerber
Mark Margolis – The Rom-Baro
Ron Rifkin – Marvin Exley
Donnie Keshawarz – Tomas Grey
Alexandra Silber - Nadia Grey
Michael Barra – Mark Rajic
Scott William Winters – Detective Dumas
Gavin Lee – Mr. Griscomb
Quinn Shephard - Emma Butler
Lili Reinhart - Courtney Lane
Gary Lindeman – Chris Lane
Lucas Near-Verbrugghe – Greg Kandel
Tamir – Ana Rajic
Cameron Ocasio – Nico Grey
Wai Ching Ho _ Gladys Tang
George Feaster – Alonso Hearne
Laura Pruden – Sandra Butler
Sammuel Soifer – Ryan
Jason Gladstone – State Trooper Levon Davis
Nic Pagano – Little boy
A young boy, Nico Grey, and his mother Nadia go over instructions before his first walk to school alone. A neighbor boy, Mark, waves to him and Nico walks away looking uncomfortable. As Nico races to school, someone follows him. Nico isn’t paying attention and he almost gets hit by a car. His phone rings and when he answers it, he turns to see his father is the one following him. His father chides him about how to properly cross the street, and Nico insists he can do it. His father allows him to go on alone. As Nico walks off, his father waves and then two young girls standing on the corner seem to follow Nico. He makes it to school and a snobby boy comes up and asks Nico to tell him his fortune. The boy grabs Nico’s hand and says he can tell his fortune, saying he sees a long life line and a mansion and then spits in his hand, saying he sees a swimming pool. A teacher, Mr. Kandel, sees this and tells the boy – Ryan - that he will see him after class, and he hands Nico a tissue to wipe his hands and tells him to get to class. One of the girls who followed Nico to school comments to Nico that Ryan can be a jerk sometimes.
Afterward, Nico leaves school and Mr. Kandel asks if he is flying solo today. Nico tells him that he practiced and he knows the way. Nico gets to the subway station to find it blocked off and then looks to his phone. He also drops a glove. He looks around, confused, and after a bus passes him by, Nico is no longer on the street corner.
Later, Detectives Benson and Amaro are outside the Grey home, speaking with Detective Dumas. He explains about Nico going missing after never making it home from Caswell Academy. The last time he was seen was at 3:30 at school. The detective does not think “these people” in the neighborhood trust their own police precinct. Benson tells him maybe they don’t like being called “these people” or “gypsies”. The detective does not think the kid is missing and thinks it is a con. The media arrives and Benson tells the detective to take the media and she and Amaro will take the parents.
Amaro speaks with Nico’s father Tomas who explained Nico wanted to be a man and go to school on his own for the first time. They practiced for a week. Amaro asks why they did not get a call until 7:00 and Tomas says he told his wife to call right away but she said the police probably would not care because of who they are.
Meanwhile, Benson speaks with Nico's mother Nadia who describes what Nico was last wearing. He had a rabbit’s foot which was his good luck charm. They also bought him a cell phone but he does not answer/ The last person to see him was his teacher, Mr. Kandel. She explains Nico does not have a lot of friends and that he is bullied at school.
Tomas tells Amaro that Nico is a smart kid and he got a partial scholarship to the school and he wanted Nico to meet all different kinds of kids, not just Romani. He adds that Nico is a good and happy kid. When Amaro asks if Nico has a place to hang out or a happy place to go, Tomas says Amaro is in it.
At Caswell Academy, Rollins speaks with Mr. Kandel who says he saw him as he left school alone and that Nico is teased for being Romani. He says the parents keep to themselves and Nico just wants to fit in but he is caught between two worlds. Fin speaks with the two girls, Courtney and Emma, who are classmates and says they live on the same block. They tell him Nico is weird. Ryan makes a comment that Nico should have seen this coming, and Fin stops him. The girls says they didn’t see him on the train on the way home as the J was down and they took a taxi. Ryan says he was in detention.
Back at SVU, Cragen watches video from the route Nico walked and Rollins explains they can track him to the subway but then they lose him at 3:37. Fin says they ran all the sex offenders in the area and there are no witnesses and no leads. Nico does not use a computer or use social media and he just got the cell phone that week which TARU is trying to track. Cragen comments that the parents aren’t old world, they are Romani and they don’t trust outsiders. Fin explains Tomas was arrested for assault 3 months ago for getting into an altercation with a co-worker, Alonso Hearne, at his bike shop but the guy dropped the charges. Cragen wonders if this is payback and tells them to check with the precinct in Brooklyn.
At Alonso’s Bicycles, Alonso said the kid is not there and tells Fin and Rollins to go check. Fin asks about the fight 3 months ago and Alonso says Tomas has trouble and he brought this on himself. Detective Dumas arrives and tells Fin they call him “Doom” and tells them he heard they needed a tour guide. Dumas tells Alonso to think harder and while he is thinking he will go over every bike and makes sure none of them got separated from a chain by accident. He tells him to take what he wants. Dumas presses that they think this is a scam and asks if Tomas stole his own kid, with Rollins adding this is his last chance. Dumas asks him if this is about the Rom-Baro and when Alonso gets up and walks off, Fin asks what the hell is a Rom-Baro?
Outside the store, Dumas explains that the Rom-Baro works for the king of the gypsies, the king lives in Hungary or Serbia and the Rom-Baro lives here as the king’s rep and settles disputes and collects tithes. Fin calls it kickbacks and when Rollins adds that she bets the Rom-Baro gets a little taste, Dumas tells Fin that he is in trouble, that Rollins is pretty AND smart. Fin asks if anyone has told him that he talks too much.
Back at the Grey home, Tomas asks Benson and Amaro where she heard that, adding Alonzo looks out only for himself. Benson replies if there is a chance someone took Nico to get back at them to let them know. Tomas says this has nothing to do with the Rom-Baro. Amaro counters that every minute they don’t level with them is another minute Nico is out there scared. Nadia comments to her husband that he didn’t pay, and when he glares at her, she says again loudly that he didn’t pay and she knew something like this was going to happen. She orders he husband to tell them. Tomas admits they stopped paying their tithes so they could pay for Nico’s school and that the Rom-Baro said this would not stand and that they had to be punished.
At the Rom-Baro mansion, Fin and Rollins enter the room and Fin asks the Rom-Baro if he knows the Grey family. He does, and asks if they have found their son. Rollins asks if he knows Nico. He says he is a bright boy. Fin asks when he has saw him, and the Rom-Baro says the Greys don’t associate with the community much. He says if the Greys want to be outsiders they will find out what it’s like to be outside without family to protect them, Fin comments that this sounds like a threat, and asks if he is using the kid to make them pay him. The Rom-Baro replies he would never hurt a child, but Fin says the NYPD isn’t going to look the other way just because this kid is Romani and they will find him. Rollins tries to diffuse what Fin said by saying she knows the Rom-Baro would never hurt a child and that she hopes they will find him safe and that this is just a family misunderstanding and they would thank him for his help, adding that is a happy ending she would like to see. He laughs, saying it must be nice to believe in happy endings, but he can’t help them or the Greys. He tells Elba to make sure they get an almond candy on the way out, and Fin and Rollins walk out.
Later, outside the Grey household, Benson tells Fin and Rollins that she and Amaro brought up the Rom-Baro with the Greys and they are terrified of him. Fin tells them the Rom-Baro says that the Greys are outcasts and Rollins says they wouldn’t rule him out for taking the kid but nobody in his fiefdom will go against him. Tomas opens the front door tells them that Nico is alive and as he and Nadia run out, Tomas explains they have been calling Nico's cell phone every 5 minutes and it has been saying his mailbox is full, but now it went to voice mail and he thinks he is checking his message and is deleting them. They are thrilled at this but the detectives don’t seem to be.
At TARU, the detectives speak with TARU Tech Leo Gerber who is looking at the cell phone records with Fin, Rollins, and Amaro. The phone had been shut off and they wonder if someone else is deleting the messages. Amaro thinks they want to know what the family knows. Gerber explains that it appears this is not coming from the cell phone but from an IP address (using the internet, not a phone line, to call). The account was set up an hour after Nico was reported missing. Gerber thinks it is sourcing from a laptop and they are getting signals wherever they can. Rollins asks to see if there are any other numbers that have been called regularly and Gerber finds another number with an address.
Amaro and Rollins go to the address which is an Asian fast food place. Amaro looks at the computer delivery records for the times of the calls that match Nico’s phone records and finds that the person called twice to complain about the food being too spicy for the little boy and she could hear the kid crying.
Amaro, Fin, and Rollins head to the address with police and the police break down the door. A young boy runs to his father, who begs them not to shoot. But the boy is not Nico. They arrest his father anyway.
At SVU in interrogation, attorney Marvin Exley explains to Munch, Fin, and ADA Cabot that Griscomb is an investigative journalist for the Ledger. Cabot says he hacked into a missing child’s voice mail and says they can go to the Feds or his client can cooperate. Exley nods for him to do so. The journalist says he wanted to leave room in his voice mail in case anyone else wanted to call him. Munch sarcastically says Griscomb doesn’t want to get a scoop on the case, he’s one of the good guys. Cabot says they want the notes on the deleted messages, and Griscomb says that is covered by the First Amendment. As Fin and Munch continue to make comments, Exley asks if they are finished with the moral outrage and says maybe they can help to find the boy. He calls Cabot a “sweetheart” and tells her to call her boss. Munch stands up and says to Exley “ADA Cabot” and glares at him.
Later, in Cragen’s office and with Bureau Chief Michael Cutter, Cabot tells Exley if he wants a deal that his client tells them what they want to know AND he does time. Cutter adds how much is up to Exley. Exley says the Ledger would love to have a story on the NYPD and the First Amendment, and he tells them to ahead and try them. Cragen gets testy and says the three of them are playing this while there is a missing kid out there. Cutter tells Exley to cut to the chase, and Exley says if Griscomb gives him the phone records he should get full immunity. Cutter says wiretapping is Federal and it is out of their hands. He says if Griscomb gives them something they can use, they will give him felony eavesdropping. He tells him to take a minute to think about it and by a minute he means 59 seconds.
Afterwards, Griscomb explains that the deleted messages were all from the parents and they don’t know where he is. Cabot reminds him the deal is conditional and not to jerk them around. Exley said they Feds don’t hear what comes next. Cabot agrees. Griscomb admits he jacked into a few other phones in the neighborhood and said that a woman left the Rom-Baro a voice mail begging for his help and that people think her son took Nico. She did not leave her name but her son’s name is Mark. She was spooked.
In the interview room, Benson and Amaro break the news to the Greys that it is not Nico who accessed the voice mail and someone hacked into his voice mail. Amaro mentions the name Mark and ask if that means anything to them.
Later, Amaro and Rollins speak with Ana Rajic who says her son Mark doesn’t live there anymore. When they ask where is he, she tells them they should tell her, and tells them to go away because she is watching her shows. As Rollins and Amaro leave, they stop a man who is walking his dog and he lives down the block. He explains Mark’s brain stopped growing before his body did and that his daughter and her friend are scared of him. He says Mrs. Rajic keeps him locked in the basement. He says he saw his mother and two others hustle Mark into a handicap van from New Jersey.
Elsewhere and later, another office shows Rollins and Amaro a “gypsy” encampment. Rollins and Amaro ask how they are doing and it they know a Mark Rajic. No one says anything, but they see someone run off. The detectives make chase and a gunshot is heard. Rollins has Mark at gunpoint and tells him to drop it. He drops the gun and says he wants to go home as Amaro orders him to the ground. As Amaro begins to cuff him, Rollins says she has it. But Amaro chastises her for being gone without giving a heads up. She asks him how about if he keeps up.
At SVU in interrogation, Mark tells Rollins and Amaro says he did not hurt Nico and he is not supposed to talk to anyone. The detectives gently press Mark and he says he saw Nico on Monday. Amaro tries to reassure him but Mark says he did a bad thing. A knock comes on the door and Cragen lets the Rom-Baro in, who tells Mark to stop talking. Cragen explains the Rom-Baro is Mark’s lawyer.
Afterwards, in the observation area, the Rom-Baro says Mark has the mental capacity of a child and he may not understand. Rollins thinks he knows between right and wrong, but the Rom-Baro says this will be judged at a capacity hearing but it won’t get that far. He asks if they have probable cause to hold him, and when no one answers, he says he is taking Mark home to his mother. He opens the door and Mark rushes out. Afterwards Cragen asks them if they like Rajic for this, and Rollins said Mark was hidden in the woods and he ran and that he is guilty about something and they need to search the house. Amaro says they will need a warrant. Cragen says the tribe is circling and if Mark is what they think he is, Nico is not the only kid he eyeballed. Amaro mentions one of the neighbor said his daughters was spooked and Cragen suggests that may get them to a warrant.
At the Lane residence, Rollins speaks with Courtney Lane and Amaro speaks with her friend Emma Butler about Mark. Courtney tells Rollins the night Nico came home, she thinks she saw Mark on the front porch holding a rabbit’s foot which looked like Nico’s.
Later, at the Rajic household, Rollins and Amaro serve the search warrant. The Rom-Baro encourages her to allow the search. She opens the lock to the basement room and Mark is there and he gets upset. The Rom-Baro asks Mark to wait with him while the police do their work. Amaro finds a donut bag close to Nico’s school and Rollins finds a metro card which Ana says is not Mark’s. Amaro lifts the mattress and sees a rabbit’s foot. Amaro tells them it looks like her boy’s luck has changed. They leave the house with Mark cuffed.
Back at SVU, Amaro tells Fin and Cragen that the guy at Two Bridges says Mark looks familiar. Rollins says the last time the metro card was last swiped was Monday night at 8 PM at the East Broadway station. Fin says that is by the Manhattan Bridge where there are tons of construction sites in that area. Cragen tells them to relocate the grid search and sends Amaro and Rollins downtown.
As they leave, Rollins tells Amaro she thinks they are looking at a recovery and the stats don’t look good for him. Amaro says kids are tough and you never know.
Later, at the morgue, Nico’s body is on the table while ME Warner explains to Rollins and Amaro that the construction site where he was recovered is where he was killed. She thinks he was under the tarp at least 72 hours, which was the night he want missing. Rollins notices many cigarette burns. Warner thinks whoever did this never let the lit end make full contact, Amaro thinking this means they had never done it before. Warner says his body showed reaction to all the burns and his body was soaked in urine – he was terrified. He was strangled with his own scarf. Benson enters and tells Warner to hold off on getting DNA from the cigarette butts on the scene, as the parents are there to make the ID. Benson tells her to cover Nico up.
When Tomas and Nadia see the body, Nadia says it is not him. Benson assures her this is not how she will remember him, but they need to know. She cries and embraces her husband, and Tomas says that is their son.
Back at the Grey household, Nadia blames Ana Rajic as she kept Mark locked up. She also thinks the NYPD is afraid of the Rom-Baro. Benson explains this is not about him but they do need her help. Benson asks if they can recall any details about Nico’s relationship. Nadia gets very upset and Tomas says they don’t say Nico’s name out loud as he is dead. Benson apologizes. Nadia screams to them to get out of her house and throws papers at them.
As Benson and Amaro leave, they see the Courtney and Emma delivering flowers and they say that the school wants to plant a tree for Nico. They add that everyone is upset that Mark has not been arrested. Amaro says that they hear Mark is kept locked in, and the girls say his mom does not know that Mark can get out through the back and they see him at night on the roof, smoking.
Back at SVU, Rollins tries to make her case to Amaro and Cragen that Mark did it. Amaro tells her Mark’s DNA is not on the cigarette butts and he doesn’t show up on the videos and they have nothing that ties him to the scene. Rollins and Amaro begin to argue and Cragen tells them that is enough. Cragen tells them to get something that puts Mark or whoever at the crime scene. Rollins phone tings and she tells the caller to keep her there, they are on their way. She tells them Nadia just tried to set Mark on fire.
On the scene, Dumas tells the detectives that Nadia doused him with gasoline through the window and she tried to spark him. Mark is being tended to. Benson says they want to talk to Nadia before they take her. Dumas tells Benson the next time they tell them how these people are, believe them.
Benson asks Nadia what happened, and she says they had him and they let him go. She says Mark is an animal and she burned her baby and killed son and it is justice. Amaro asks why she said burned, and Nadia explains that someone told her Nico was burned with cigarettes.
Back at SVU, Benson tells Cragen the cigarette burns were not released to the press and there was no way the parent knew. Cragen says unless the parents did it, and Fin says Tomas was at work and Rollins says the mom called the school 20 times from a land line. Cragen wonders who tipped her off. Amaro wonders if it is the girls, Courtney and Emma, who have been tipping them off all along. Fin and Amaro explain who they are and they are always around. Cragen says he knows they are all tired but sleep is for closed cases and to give him something.
Later, Rollins says there is nothing in juvie and Benson adds there are no discipline flags at Caswell Academy. Rollins says the girls lied to them, as they said the last time they saw Nico was that morning but they are on the video walking shortly behind Nico. Benson wonders if they did it and stashed the rabbit’s foot and the metro card in Mark’s room. Amaro thinks Mark is too afraid to say. Rollins thinks there is someone who can get him to tell the truth.
Rollins and Fin speak to the Rom-Baro who is wary of their motives. Rollins assures him this is not a con and they don’t think Mark hurt Nico. Rollins tries to convince him to help them get justice for Nico and Mark.
In interrogation, Mark is there with the Ron-Baro and Mark explains that Courtney and Emma snuck in the window. It was Monday night and they made him stop watching football.
Later, Benson brings in Courtney into the bullpen with her father and she denies telling Mrs. Grey about the cigarette burns. Amaro walks by with Emma who is there with her mother. Courtney sees them and asks why they are talking to Emma.
Amaro leads Emma and her mother into an interview room. Emma says Mark did it because Courtney said. She says they did not see Nico after school and then asks what Courtney said. Amaro looks at her coldly and says they know she is lying, they have her and Courtney on video following Nico. Meanwhile, Fin and Rollins are in with Mark asking him what else the girls did. Mark does not want to say but the Rom-Baro says his mom will not know. Mark said Courtney touched him down there and he told her it was wrong and stuff came out and it felt funny but nice. Then they gave him a rabbit's foot and told him if he didn’t tell anyone they would come back and do it again.
Back with Amaro, Emma is getting very upset with Amaro’s questions and says Mark did it, didn’t he. Amaro explains that Mark told his partner that they were in Mark’s room and asks does she want to tell her mother what he says they did to him? He asks Emma if she is scared being there and asks how she thinks Nico felt and was he scared. He shows Emma a photo of Nico's body and what was done with the lit cigarettes and Emma closes her eyes and cries as her mother asks he what this is about. Amaro tells her to open her eyes and look at him, saying Nico was so scared he wet his pants. He asks if they laughed at him. Emma says it was Courtney and they were just playing around. They pantsed him but Courtney would not stop and she lit a cigarette and she tried to say no. She told her to quit it and they should just go but he was crying and he said he was going to call his mom, Courtney grabbed his scarf and she was yelling stop, stop! She said Courtney said he was just a dumb gypsy and who is going to miss him.
Afterwards, as an officer takes Emma away, she looks at Courtney. Courtney mutters Emma is a stupid little bitch, and tells her stunned father it was just a joke, they were just fooling around with him. She adds that Nico started crying and making like he was going to tell. Amaro comments she made sure he wouldn’t. Courtney says she shut him up. Benson adds "and then you went to Mark’s." Courtney asks if he snitched – adding she gave him the only fun he has ever had. Her father says Courtney has a perverse sense of humor but he thinks it is time to stop. He says his is calling his lawyer, and she says, “it’s a little late, dad.” Benson tells him that Courtney is right. She coldly ask if there is anything else. Benson asks why. Courtney looks blankly back at Benson and asks, “why not?” As Courtney looks back at Benson with a icy stare, we fade to black.
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