Thursday, December 8, 2011

Law & Order SVU “Spiraling Down” Recap & Review

If I was doing a one word review for “Spiraling Down” it would be as follows: exceptional. As there are so many good things to say about this episode, I thought I should still take the time and outline what made it so good.

The story was compelling and was well scripted. Both the lead and supporting cast made it seem like I was a fly on the wall, watching a real life drama take place. Andre Braugher was his usual superb self, and I found myself wondering if Braugher had been cast as the lead prosecutor for Law & Order LA I think that series would still be on the air. I also found myself wishing that they would bring the original Law & Order back and somehow get Bayard Ellis to find his way into working for the DA’s office.

Treat Williams was perfect in the role of the ex-football star Jake Stanton who shows signs of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a progressive brain disease that is found in athletes who have experienced repeated head trauma. Sadly, the disease can only be diagnosed after death.  Jake was able to shield the disease from the public as it's not an illness that makes a person look obviously ill.   One can’t ignore, though,  that his wife was covering up Jake’s problem and clearly taking her eyes off him, which allowed him the chance to get into trouble more than once.  In a way, she should bear some responsibility for what happened to the victim, 14 year old Vicki.   It was tragic to see Jake come to the realization that they will only know for sure that he had the disease only after he is dead, which is likely one reason why he decided to end it all. (A side note: after his performance in this episode, I now officially forgive Treat Williams for his appearance in the films “The Ritz” and “1941.”) One nitpick – I thought all officers/detectives who carry a gun are supposed to have them in a locking holster.  It should not have been that easy for Jake to grab the officer’s gun. I have lost count as to the number of deaths which have occurred at 60 Centre Street, which may be one  of the deadliest places in the Law & Order universe.

I usually don’t care for too much focus on the characters’ personal lives, but they worked in the short scene with Amaro and his wife very well.

After Jake falls apart on the stand, Cabot expresses her displeasure with Benson, arguing that Benson wants justice for the victim AND compassion for Jake, and Benson can’t have it both ways because the world does not work that way. I don’t agree with Cabot. Vicki hopefully got plenty of justice from the SVU team nabbing all those other johns and her pimp, and I assume they were all (or will be) successfully prosecuted.  "Spiraling Down"  may have been one of those cases where someone like Dr. Huang  could have stepped in and helped to determine if Jake was competent at the time of the crimes or whether he was even competent to stand trial.  I also wonder why Ellis also didn’t move for some sort of competency hearing. Maybe I missed something here.

All in all, this was a flawless episode  and the best of the season so far.  Hopefully, it will be an episode that will bring some Emmy nominations.

(Note: deleted scene at the end of the recap)

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

Guest stars:
Stephanie March - ADA Alex Cabot
Andre Braugher – Bayard Ellis
Treat Williams - Jake Stanton
Beth Chamberlin – Georgia Stanton
Laura Benanti – Maria
Kay Panabaker – Vicki Harris
Dominic Fumusa – Jason Harris
Jon Michael Hill - Tre
Ned Eisenberg – Roger Kressler
Tonye Patano – Judge Maskin
Linda Emond - Dr. Emily Sopher
David Pittu – Jake’s (first) Lawyer
Jerry Rice - himself
Warren Sapp – himself

A young girl walking around the city is being followed by a man. When another man stops her and asks her for money, the guy following her stops her and asks her if she made it. She plays along and the guy asking for money walks off. The guy who was following her tells her she has to be careful, there are a lot of crazy people in New York, and he introduces himself as Tre. She says her name is Vicki. They walk off together.

At a later time, the two are in bed together and Tre gives her a necklace. She wonders why he is being so nice to her, adding the guys in her school are jerks. He says they are punks who don’t know how to treat a lady and he will take care of her.

Later, Marcus arrives and tells Vicki she is getting prettier every day. Marcus has a box with him with red platform shoes in it, but when Tre indicates he can’t afford them, Marcus says maybe they can work something out. Marcus sits down next to her and puts his arm around her, and Tre tells her “c’mon girl, it’s just Marcus.” She looks less than thrilled.

At another time, a man storms out of Tre’s room and tells Tre he wants his money as the girl is crying. Tre tells him to wait there, he’s got this. Tre storms in the room and asks Vicki what is going on, and she is crying and begging that she does not want to do this anymore. He says he has guys lined up and he punches her. She slaps him back and tells him to stop it. He goes into the bathroom to check his injury, and she picks up her cell phone and dials her father and tells him she is sorry. He asks who she is talking to and he slaps the phone out of her hand.

At SVU, Benson is telling Amaro that someone – a date? - doesn’t share food, they split the check, and they missed the opening number. Amaro describes the person as having receding hair, an academic, with a checkered shirt. Benson says all of the above, adding that Amaro is good. A man approaches Amaro and says his daughter Vicki is in trouble, he drove from Philly, and says he is Captain Jason Harris who was deployed I Baghdad with Amaro's wife and she told him about his transfer to Special Victims. He says his daughter is in New York and got a call and he heard a man threatening her. He thinks his daughter ran away, she lived with her ex and he just got back from deployment. The call came from a blocked number but New York is all Vicki ever talked about. He gives Benson his cell phone to trace the call. He explains to Amaro that is daughter is only 14 and knows Amaro has a daughter and adds Amaro was lucky to marry Maria as she is a good person and grounded. He says Amaro has to find his daughter, and Amaro says his wife sent him to the right place. Jason adds that he came back from Iraq last week and his ex said Vicki was on a school trip. She never mentioned knowing anyone in New York. Jason’s wife enters and asks where is Victoria. Jason and she begin to argue and place blame over Vicki, and Cragen enters and asks her to come with him. Fin tells Amaro they have something on the phone.

Amaro, Fin, and Jason hear from Rollins that the phone his daughter called from was a throwaway and Fin adds that if they call the number and Vicki picks up, they will be able to trace it. Amaro dials and Vicki answers. Jason gets on the phone and she asks how he got this number. He asks where is she, and she says she should not have called her and everything is fine. He continues to press but Vicki says she has to go and ends the call. Rollins says they have her; she’s within 100 yards of 14th Street and 11th Avenue. Jason wants to go along as he will recognize her, but Amaro tells him it is better if he waits here.

At the Ascot hotel, Amaro tells Benson it is déjà vu, he busted up a heroin ring there in ’08. Benson says some places are like people, they never change. Amaro knocks on the door of room 608 and Vicki calls out and asks if is Tre. Amaro identifies himself as maintenance, saying they have a water leak. Vicki opens the door and an older bald man walks out and Benson stops him and tells him to give his ID to the officers. Vicki tries to close the door put Amaro pushes his way in. She asks if they are cops and Amaro explains they are friends of her dad’s who wants him to come home. She is frantic that she wants them to leave now. Benson asks if Tre, her pimp, is coming back. She says Tre is her boyfriend. Benson tries to explain that Vicki can’t stay there but Vicki refuses. Amaro tells Vicki she is under arrest for prostitution but Benson tells him to hold on. Benson tells Vicki she is not in trouble but they need to figure something out and get her some place safe. Vicki resists again and swings her hands at Benson, saying she is not leaving. Amaro hands Benson the cuffs and Benson arrests Vicki and reads her rights.

Back at SVU and in Cragen’s office, Jason is surprised they had to arrest Vicki, but Amaro assures him that Vicki is not actually under arrest. It was the only way to get her out of there. Benson explains that Vicki is in 9th grade and did not do this on her own, she is a victim. Her mother asks to see her, and Benson explains Vicki said she is not ready to see them now. Jason says she will talk to him, but Cragen explains Vicki is more likely to tell them what happened without her father in the room. Benson adds they can be with her later, but they should allow them to talk to her alone.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Tre returns to find Rollins and Fin waiting and they arrest him. Tre says they are wasting their time as she will never say a word against him and he owns that bitch.

At SVU in interrogation, Vicki shows Amaro a necklace she got from Tre. Amaro asks if he bought it for her before or after he had to sleep with one of his friends. She says Tre loves her. Benson explains what Tre did to her is not love. Her parents love her. She thinks her father signed up for another tour to Iraq just to get away from them. Amaro says she should have seen her father the morning he came in, he was worried sick. Vicki explains her mother thinks her father is seeing someone over there. Amaro and Benson are silent.

Later, Amaro tells Fin that he thinks Vicki is not ready yet to give Tre up and she wants to believe he is in love with her. Fin says these Romeo pimps have the girls brainwashed. Fin thinks a guy like that has someone on the side and suggests they check him out on line.

Later, Benson shows Vicki Tre’s Face Union page showing Tre with another woman and kids. Vicki cries, and says they always stay at hotels. Amaro explains Tre lives with this woman and kids in Brooklyn. Vicki says he called her his honey dove. Benson hands Vicki a legal pad and a pen and asks her to tell them what happened to her.

Afterwards, and in Cragen’s office, Amaro explains to ADA Cabot that Vicki has been turned out for two weeks and has been forced to have sex with dozens of men. Cabot tells him to relax, they are not charging her and they have enough on the pimp to put him away for 25 years. Benson asks what about the johns and Tre’s friends? Fin adds that Vicki is underage and every one of them is a rapist under the law. She tells him not to start that again. Benson suggests to charge the johns, it’s not victimless. Cabot thinks it is impossible to prove. Amaro replies, “not if we do a sting.” Cragen adds they have an opportunity and if she wants to stop teenage prostitution they need to prosecute the johns and send a message. Cabot wonders if the pimp will give up his clients, and Fin says Tre is just a tadpole – he turned Vicki, Fin thinks he can turn him. She agrees.

In interrogation, Fin and Rollins question Tre with his attorney Roger Kressler present, who asks what they want. Fin says they are trying to give his client a chance, Rollins adding if he helps them, they will help them. Tre says he is not a snitch. Fin outlines all the possible charges against him, adding it could mean a life sentence. Tre is stunned. Fin says he is about to do heavy time for some tricks, and he wants names, suggesting Tre start with someone he doesn’t like.

Later, with a sting operation set up, Amaro and Cabot are in the mobile unit while the team snags some of the johns. In the hotel room with an undercover officer, Rollins says they have one more and they are out. In another room, she tells Fin there are 7 down and one more to go. Fin asks how the undercover is holding up, and Rollins says she is good, and she told the undercover that  this is how she got her shield. Another man enters the hallway and Rollins says, “son of a bitch.” Fin asks if that is Jake Stanton. In the mobile unit, Amaro also recognizes Stanton.  Stanton knocks on the door, and Cabot asks Amaro who is Jake Stanton. Amaro seems surprised Cabot doesn’t know, and explains Stanton is the best quarterback since Johnny Unitas and 20 years ago he was king of New York.

Stanton enters the room and asks the undercover if she knows who he is. He adds he was famous back in the day, 1990 was his big year. He gets out his money and asks her if she needs all those clothes. He complains his knees and back aren’t what they used to be. Fin gets up and Rollins follows. Cabot and Amaro watch from the mobile unit. Jake continues to ramble on and he lays on the bed; the undercover says they are going to have a big party. Fin and Rollins open the door and Fin announces himself as police. Jake asks what is going on and then tells the undercover he is sorry. Rollins says they are not arresting her, they are arresting him. He is surprised. Fin tells him it is for patronizing a prostitute for now. Jake says, “Big guy, you got it all wrong.”

At SVU and in the bullpen, Jake is recounting football stories about getting hit in the head during a game and throwing a perfect spiral afterwards as staffers listen. He seems to have difficulty recalling a detail.

In his office, Cragen tells Fin and Rollins it was a nice job. Fin tells Cragen to thank Tre, the little bitch sung like Caruso. Rollins adds that Vicki ID’d Jake and 7 other johns and they can be charged with rape 2. Cragen sees the staffers taking photos with Jake and he asks what is going on. Jake tells him no worries “big guy,” they are just talking. Rollins asks Jake to come with her, and Cragen tells her to put him in interrogation, alone, he’s held court enough.

In interrogation, Jake opens up his wallet and shows Rollins a note which says “call home” and tells Rollins he is supposed to call his wife. He says she has him on the short leash and he knows what she is going to say – the same thing she always says, “get a lawyer.” Rollins says he can call his wife, and Jake thanks her.

Later, at arraignment, Jake’s lawyer claims Jake had no way of knowing her age and this is entrapment. Cabot argues no one forced or coerced Jake and they will also show this is not his first offense. The lawyer thinks they are rushing to judgment because of Jake’s high profile and Jake’s wife has already agreed to put up their home as bond. The judge agrees that Jake has significant ties and does not pose a flight risk and sets bail at $50,000. AS they take Jake away, he looks back at his wife who looks on with concern.

Afterwards, Benson tells Cabot there are 16 news vans outside and Cabot says good, that Benson wanted to send a message and if Jake goes down for rape that out to do it. Jake’s wife Georgia stops them and is upset, but Cabot says they did not set out to trap him. Georgia thinks they are glad they caught him and they get to make a big splash. Benson says to hold on, this isn’t a one time mistake; two weeks ago Jake paid for sex with a 14 year old girl and she is going to testify. Georgia says she is not saying he didn’t do it, she’s saying if he did, he didn’t know. She adds that Jake hasn’t been the same recently and most nights after 6, Jake has no idea where he is.

Back at SVU, the team watches a video of football players Jerry Rice and Warren Sapp recount plays where Jake was hit hard. Benson wonders how many concussions Jake got, and Rollins says when Jake stepped off the elevator he wasn’t all there. Amaro says Jake was a little punch drunk and that doesn’t excuse what he did. When Fin makes a comment about how many times he got hit in the head when he was a kid and Cragen says he hesitates to ask. Rollins thinks this is not funny, that the league is changing the rules about hits and bringing in neurologists to clear the injured players. Benson says it is pugilistic dementia or CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and says the symptoms include confusion, memory problems, and that poor judgment is a hallmark of the disease. Amaro asks if calling a pimp back twice and having sex with a teenage is on her list. Meanwhile, Cragen has received a phone call and says that New York’s hero who was let out on bail 2 hours ago just exposed himself to a woman in the bathroom at the West Bank Café.

At the West Bank Café, Jake is there arguing with Fin and his wife Georgia is on the phone, and tells him she is calling their lawyer. Rollins is getting a statement from the woman to whom Jake exposed himself. She explained when Jake took it out she screamed and Jake just stood there, as if he didn’t know why she was screaming. Meanwhile, Jake continues to try to explain what happened and Georgia screams for him to be quiet, and Fin tells Jake he should listen to his wife.

When Fin brings Jake back to SVU, he walks in and jovially asks them how they are doing, as if he is oblivious to why he is there. Fin takes him away as Benson and Amaro watch. Amaro tells Benson that Vinnie the Chin walked Little Italy in his pajamas and convinced the jury he was crazy. He wonders if Jake has a plan. Benson replies she saw a football player use an insanity defense and the difference her from everything the wife said is Jake’s behavior is completely out of character. Benson and Amaro watch as Rollins walks in with Georgia.

Georgia tells Benson they can’t travel anymore, last time she found him in the hotel hallway naked, he locked himself out. When they go to his brother’s house he gets disoriented and she puts furniture in front of the door. Jake’s internist is a good old boy and Jake calls him “big guy" because he doesn’t know his name. It is OK as long as he plays a part he is familiar with unless it is late in the day, then all bets are off. Benson comments that is sundowning. Jake has had an MRI and it is inconclusive. Georgia says there is no treatment and the doctors said never to let him out of her sight. She regrets letting him go to the bathroom by himself. When Benson asks if they have home care, Georgia says they are broke. Jake handled the finances until this year and there is nothing yet. Benson asks about the team or the league, and Georgia says the league has a fund for wounded warriors but Jake is too proud. Benson asks who is helping her. Georgia says her husband is in holding, she can’t even get their lawyer to come down and help them. They owe so much money he said they will have to use a public defender. As Georgia cries, Benson is silent. She then reaches into her desk drawer and pulls out a business card, saying he is a friend.

In interrogation, Jake is eating and Rollins comments that he polished that off in a hurry. He says he was hungry. He pulls out his wallet and shows her the same note she showed her the last time, and said he has to call his wife. He adds she has him on a short leash and he knows what she is going to say. Rollins asks ,”Get a lawyer?” Jake replies, “Yes Ma’am.”

Cabot walks in to SVU, making a comment about twice in two days, asking if Jake wants to be put away. Benson explains she does not think that is what this is, and Rollins walks in and says me neither, adding if he is faking it, he should have been an actor, not an athlete. As Fin comments that Jake Stanton can still work it, defense attorney Bayard Ellis enters and says he will need a few minutes with his client. Fin asks, “Stanton?” When Ellis answers it is, Amaro asks if he is missing something here as he is not the kind of guy he expected him to represent. Ellis asks, “You mean a white guy?” Amaro asks if he is playing the race card already, and Ellis laughs. Cabot takes him to see Jake. Amaro looks at Benson who is still seated at her desk.

Amaro and Ellis come in to the interrogation room where Ellis is already there with Jake. Ellis thinks they can straighten all this out. Jake says he did not know it was a ladies room and wasn’t paying attention, the lighting was so dark he couldn’t see anything. He adds he told them that when he arrested him. Amaro asks if he meant Detectible Tutuola. Jake says yeah, they both look a lot alike. Ellis says to Jake that it seems like a lot of things are confusing. Jake asks what he means, and Ellis says maybe things that used to come easy to him seem overwhelming now. Jake says no, it was just a bad night. He didn’t want to hurt anybody and that is not who Jake Stanton is.

Afterwards, Ellis tells Cabot that he would tell them to release Jake on his own recognizance but he is not sure he would know how to get home. Benson says his wife is there, but Cabot thinks Ellis is trying to make a point. Ellis says Jake is tired and disoriented and if their office feels compelled to prosecute he will make sure he shows up for arraignment. Rollins says the complainant has calmed down and she is willing to let it go. Cabot says fine but if he stumbles again she will have his bail revoked. Amaro asks Ellis if this means he will represent Stanton on the rape charge, and Ellis says he just met him but if he does take the case, he suggests that Cabot brush up on her Latin. Cabot says she can’t wait, and Ellis says let’s start now, and says “actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea”.

When Ellis goes back into the interrogation room, Amaro says it means the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty. Cabot tersely thanks him, adding she knew that one. As Cabot walks off, Benson and Amaro look through the observation window and Amaro thinks Ellis is pretending to care, adding it is all PR and he is a heat seeking missile. When Benson does not answer, Amaro looks at her and then looks back at Ellis.

At a later time, Ellis is outside walking with Benson and gives a hypothetical that Benson told Jake’s wife to call him. She says, “Hypothetically” and Ellis says he would ask why risk losing her badge for a man who committed a terrible crime? She replies that Ellis talked to Jake and is she wrong? He says no. He watches his father die with Parkinson’s and he knows diminished capacity.   Benson says this one is on her, she pushed to have the john indicted and now she is not sure Jake can be held accountable for his own actions. Ellis says he is pretty sure he had no idea of her age but they both know that is no defense. Benson says he will think of something. He smiles and walks off.

In a conference room with Jake and Georgia, Ellis asks Jake if it sounds good. Jake says he is the quarterback and Ellis is the coach, if he calls the play he will run it. Ellis brings up Vicki Harris, and when Jake does not know who that is, Ellis explains it is the underage prostitute. Jake asks what this is about, and when Georgia explains, he asks what this will cost. Jake does not want his charity. Ellis says his secretary is a big fan and it would mean a lot to him if he signed something for him for her boy. Jake says if he will let him throw in a signed football, they have a deal. They agree.

Back at SVU, Amaro is in an interrogation room with his wife Maria  on a video call. She asks how Jason is holding up and he pauses and says it is tough. Jason told him Vicki is not his little girl anymore and he is staying away way too long. He is planning on being there for her and coming to the trial every day. Maria says he is a good dad and it means a lot to her, Amaro comments he never heard of this guy until he showed up in the squad room. Maria replies that she hates when he does this – she thinks they are having a conversation and it turns out he is interrogating her. She glares back at him and he is silent.

Before the pre-trial hearing, Ellis asks Georgia how Jake is doing. She says he is fine and knows that after they make this plea, his condition will be public. She says keeping this all a secret has not helped.

In court, Ellis states they want to change Jake’s plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity. Cabot argues that insanity defense is not appropriate as there is no evidence. As Ellis argues the point, Jake looks uncomfortable and when Cabot mentions the word crazy, Jake gets very upset and vocal. He says he not crazy, and despite Ellis reminding Jake he was his coach, Jake goes on to say he is not insane and he is an all American. Ellis tries to calm him and the judge calls them into her chambers. Jake site back down and repeats that he was an all American.

In Judge Maskin’s chambers, Cabot says this is a Pandora’s box and every defendant will please not guilty due to reason of concussion. Ellis says he is defending his client, they have reached a Rubicon and human behavior cannot be separated from human biology, saying the DA’s office hasn’t caught up with modern brain science. The judge tells Ellis not to preach t her, preach to his client, it is his plea.

Later, Vicki is in the courtroom on the stand doing a dry run with Amaro, her father standing by. He reminds her to just tell the truth. He tells her to stay calm, and she says she can do this and asks if they can go. Jason comments to Amaro he heard Ellis is claiming Jake was insane, but Amaro said even Jake didn’t go for that. Amaro tells Vicki she will be doing great and he shows her where he will be sitting.

At trial, Vicki is on the stand and she points out Jake. Jake looks confused. Vicki explains she is 14. Ellis cross examines her and asks if Jake asks how old he was, and Cabot objects and it is sustained. She also objects when Ellis asks if Vicki told Stanton how old she was, and that is also sustained. She admits he never hurt her or forced her. She says he did pay her. When Ellis asks if Jake may have thought this was a consensual transaction, Cabot objects again and the judge tells Ellis to find another way. Vicki looks upset as Benson looks on from the gallery.

Back in court, Dr. Sopher testifies about CTE and that there is often damage to the frontal lobe which deals with decision making. Ellis asks if a person with this disease can be responsible for his own actions, and the doctor says in advanced stages they may not be able to remember their own actions. Jake is listening and is appearing distressed. Under cross, the doctor says Jake’s symptoms are consistent with the disease, but does not know if he has dementia, She adds the only way to diagnose CTE is by autopsy of the brain. Jake is looking even more concerned. She says there is no way to diagnose CTE if the patient is still alive. When Cabot asks that any suggestion that Jake suffers from CTE is pure speculation, the doctor replies yes.

Later, on the stand, Jake testifies he did not know Vicki was 14 and he didn’t rape anybody. Cabot asks if he had sex with Vicki and solicited sex from Officer Lagrange. He says yes he did, but other guys cheat on their wives and they don’t see him doing that. Cabot says then he does know the difference between right and wrong. Ellis objects but Cabot goes on and asks if it is true Jake made the arrangements by himself, took cabs to the hotels, found their rooms, and he brought the correct amount of cash. Jake admits it and while Ellis looks frustrated, Jake goes on to say it is not like he picked her up off the playground and said hey kid you want some candy. He says he is not a child molester, he thought they were working girls. Ellis leaps up and says he needs a moment to confer with his client. The judge gives him 10 minutes.

In the hallway, Jake argues with Ellis that he told him he is not crazy, but Ellis asks him if he remembers he was told to only answer questions yes and no. Ellis says yeah Ellis is the coach but he is doing great out there, he is moving the ball down the field and he is in the red zone. Georgia tries to explain that Ellis is doing everything to make sure he can stay home. Jake looks at him strangely and then tells Ellis he can’t pull him out now. Georgia tells Ellis if he goes to prison, it will kill him. Ellis says he knows. He tells Jake “Let’s go get ‘em” putting his hands on his neck and calling Jake big guy. Jake happily says OK.

Later, as Cabot rests her case, the judge wants to reconvene at 9 AM but Ellis wants to redirect. The judge is surprised and Cabot says it is quite late and asks for the redirect to take place tomorrow morning. Ellis says his client would like to finish tonight. The judge allows it. Ellis goes over some details and asks how long Jake has been married to his wife. Jake says 25 years. Ellis asks who is Terry Drake, and Cabot objects but Ellis asks for a little latitude. Jake says he is his center and says he saw his back every Sunday for 12 years. Ellis asks what number he wore, and Jake stammers and then says 52 and that his own number was 9. He says someday they will retire the number and they will hang it in the stadium, adding to the court reporter that she can mark that down. He says he watches football every chance he gets but when Ellis presses him for details, Jake says he watches the games but doesn’t pay attention. Ellis asks how long he has been married, and Jake says 20 years. When Ellis said Jake just told him 25, Jake looks confused, and Jake says 20, 25…long time. Ellis asks if Jake ever got hurt playing football, and Jake says he was taken out of games with concussion and broken this and that, it is all part of playing the position. Ellis asks what were the three things that he just asked him about, and Jake gets a odd look and asks what things. Ellis said he just asked him 3 questions and does Jake remember them? Jake says he asked about his wife, and then says he doesn’t understand. Cabot objects to the relevance, and the judge tells Ellis to get to the point. Ellis asks Jake if he had sex with Vicki Harris and Jake asks “Who?” Ellis explains and Jake says he told him he did not rape anybody. Ellis asks if he knows who Vicki Harris is, and Jake says he told him he never paid for sex with that woman. When Ellis asks what woman, Jake says he never had sex with her, and points towards Benson. Everyone turns to look at her. Ellis says that (Benson) is not Vicki Harris and Jake says he does not know who that is, he told him that. Ellis asks what was Terry Drake’s number, and Jake asks can’t they make him stop, he answered enough questions. Cabot stands up and asks the judge to request a recess. Jake asks the judge to let him talk to his attorney. Ellis tells Jake he is his lawyer and Jake shouts, asking why is Ellis badgering him and aren’t they supposed to be on the same team. Ellis asks Jake if he knows his name, and Jake shakes his head and says he told him he didn’t do anything wrong. Ellis asks how did Jake get down there today, and Jake replies “What?” Ellis asks him what day of the week it is and what are the charges he is facing today. Jake looks confused and does not answer, looking around the room. Ellis asks if Jake knows where he is, and Jake asks him to please stop, he is very tired and he wants to go home. Ellis has no further questions, and Jake begins to cry on the stand.

In the courthouse hallway, Cabot says to Benson that was ugly and Benson replies that Ellis was doing his job. She adds Jake is not competent and she tried to warn her. But Cabot is incensed, telling Benson that she walked her right into it – that Benson wanted a sting operation and to prosecute all the johns for rape. Benson said the guilty ones, and when Benson tries to explain Stanton, Cabot angrily tells Benson that Benson does not get to cherry pick. Cabot asks if they are supposed to prosecute all of the johns except Stanton, asking what kind of message does that send and does the DA’s office give sports stars a free pass. Cabot says Benson wants justice for her and compassion for him, and that Benson can’t have it both ways and the world does not work that way. Benson tries to call Cabot back as Cabot steps into the elevator, but Cabot tells her she doesn’t even want to know how Ellis showed up in the squad room.

At trial, Jake is found not guilty of rape and the judge says Jake is free to go. Jake hugs Ellis and also his wife. Jake asks if they won it and she says yes. Benson looks on as Jason Harris also looks on with sadness. Jake asks Georgia “So I didn’t do it?” and she looks at him dejectedly but does not answer. He says he is sorry, so sorry.

On the courthouse steps,  Amaro tells Benson he had no idea what to say to Vicki’s father. Benson tells him nobody wins here. They see Jake at the bottom of the steps surrounded by reporters. Jake is explaining what happened in football terms. He says he is happy to celebrate the big win but he looks less than happy. As they begin to ask him questions about his health, he looks even more despondent. He gazes at all the cameras and when an office asks him for a quick picture, Jake allows him to stand next to  him and take a photo. Jake reaches over to the officer’s gun and pulls it out of the holster and points it at his own head. The reporters scatter and Ellis pulls Georgia back. Benson and Amaro race down the steps with guns drawn, with Benson trying to get Jake to drop it. He moves the gun away from his head. But as soon as they think it is under control, Jake turns and shoots himself in the chest, to the horror of his wife and everyone else.  Jake drops to the ground. As Georgia sobs over his body, Ellis stands there stunned. Amaro moves to make the call and Benson takes off her coat and uses it to cover Jake as we fade to black.

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sunshinez1975 said...

I loved this episode! It was sad and great at the same time. Treat Williams played the character perfect, I felt really sorry for him. He should get a Emmy nod for this episode. I really didn't care for Alex in the episode. I'm use to seeing Casey and Olivia at odds. I am wondering about the Benson/Ellis friendship. I love Andre Braugher and I think his friendship is exactly what Liv needs. It's great to see her talking so someone outside the precinct. I went to to view the deleted scene been Benson and Ellis and I don't understand why they deleted that scene? It would have made a perfect ending.

fred said...

one of the best episodes of any drama in recent memory...hopefully SVU will be renewed and survive the loss of Stabler

Esaul said...

I hate to say it, but I don't think this season would've been as great if Chris Meloni stayed. He's a great actor, but his character didn't have much left in him with his anger issues. I'm enjoying everyone. I'm sad Andre has one episode left. I'd love to see more of him...

janethyland said...

Lots of variety this season with every episode different and appealing to different people. This one would appeal to Mothership fans,like True Believers.This season isnt formulaic but trying out lots of things.Experimental.

Ratings for this episode were 1.9 in key demo and 7.0 million total viewers.Again the eyes are on it but not the ages.Its funny because Revenge gets similar total viewers (7.3million) but the key demo is higher at 2.4.They have to think about youth appeal or doesnt it matter?

It was an odd episode. In the end Jake made the right judgement in the right place, for everyone. He did it himself.I like that.

nygma619 said...

@ Esaul: According to Warren Leight (via Twitter), Ellis will appear in 2 more episodes.

This episode was phenominal. Treat Williams was fantastic in this role. At first I thought he was faking his illness, it wasn't until Ellis's final cross examination that I believed that there was something wrong with him. Big ups to Treat for getting me to buy it with his performance. This was one of the best SVU episodes in years, and it makes me wish Warren Leight had taken over the show a few years ago.

nygma619 said...

@janethyland: That's always been one of the best appeals about SVU in its prime compared to the mothership. Even though the show is more police procedural, sometimes the story would wind up in court, sometimes it stayed with the detectives. It was more about what would make a specific story more interesting. Sadly ever since Diane Neal left the main cast in 2008 this element of the show hasn't been the same.

janethyland said...

That explains it for me,cos im not into court room drama. There was very little of that on LOCI and thats the only show i watched in the franchise really.Ive enjoyed SVU2 so far,but not if it changes track.

You might be right, that leight has been asked to do more court stuff because they have Kevin Pollak in to star as a judge.I hope Im not getting dejavu to LOLA when they made it more like mothership and less appealing to people like me.

janethyland said...

Actually, thinking about,something went on in November so maybe they decided to change direction,much as they did with LOLA last year.I just feel quite depressed about it,
especially if leight succumbed to pressure.It didnt work well for LOLA that way so why would they repeat the strategy?

chillicothe20 said...

Best ep in years. Amazing drama. Williams was incredible. Ellis is a great character and Olivia is really growing as a character this season. Such a moving episode. It is painful to think about the many people around the world living with family members afflicted with dementia and other similar disorders as well as the victims themselves. So depressing. This episode really left an impression...

RobbieH said...

About time Stephanie March had more to do than have one scene cameos. I'm sure it must be a budget thing, but it bothers me that the promotional staff led us along with allusions to the return of popular ADAs and has largely relegated them to the background. Hopefully more substantial roles lie ahead for the legal side of the show.

Esaul said...

Oh I thought he was only in for three, not four. BUT STILL. This is great news. I really underestimated Andre and I'd love to be able to like personally apologize to him for that. :P

I've enjoyed having Stephanie and Diane back. This was a good move. Also Linus! Love that man! I miss Sam though :\

xfool said...

In my opinion, the SVU episodes which includes courtroom scenes or legal wrangling are always much better than those that don't. This episode was a perfect example of how the show can excel with being more than just a detective show.

Treat Williams was perfect - great casting here. Andre Braugher was also perfect. I agree with you ATLAO, if Braugher would have been cast in the role that Terrence Howard had in Law & Order LA, the show would not have been canceled. I like the idea of resurrecting Law & Order mothership and cast Braugher as a prosecutor. Hint Hint.

I am glad they left the deleted scene out. Mariska's acting was awful in it, and IMO I preferred that they left the audience to figure out that he was really sick...and he wanted to prove it, which is why he shot himself in the chest and not his brain.

Nice job writers!

Laura said...

I must agree that this was a very good episode, although I HATED the beginning. When they opened with that corny music in the background and showed the old “innocent young girl meets charming boy who turns out to be a pimp” routine I wanted to change the channel. I just couldn’t believe that this was SVU. Plus the opening was SEVEN minutes long. The only thing that kept me watching was knowing beforehand that the episode would have Cabot in it. And I have to say, I’m glad I kept watching.

Amaro kind of got on my nerves a bit in this episode, a little more so than Rollins for once. I could have done without the drama between him and his wife. (Thankfully they kept it short, but still.) That’s just what we need, another male detective who is insecure about his relationship with his wife. I think they’ve done more than enough background for both of the new detectives.

It was great seeing Ned Eisenberg return as Roger Kressler. I haven’t seen too many familiar faces this season. He looks like he’s aged fifteen years in just five. I know he’s one of the sleaziest attorneys they’ve had on the show, but I kind of wish they had him play a bigger role in the episode.

I’m so glad that they had Alex in the episode quite a bit, more than they’ve had her in any of the other episodes this season. I have the feeling, though, that this will probably be the only episode this season that has her in it this much. (Keeping my fingers crossed that I’m wrong, but I’ve gotten used to SVU letting me down.)

I guess they had to have a “lover’s spat” between Alex and Olivia to satisfy the A/O shippers. They haven’t had much interaction between Alex and Olivia this season (in fact, the episodes that actually had Alex in it barely gave her any screen time, much less screen time with Olivia), so I suppose they had to throw that in there to keep them happy. After all, the A/O shippers live on subtext.

I am kind of sad, though, because this episode just cemented the fact that SVU will never be the same show it was. Yes I knew it was going to be different without Stabler, but they could still have the same format with different characters. L&O did it many times. But now they’ve changed the show to the point that it’s not even SVU anymore. SVU is dead, and I’m still on the fence about how I feel about the show that’s taken its place.

@janethyland: I understand that there are fans who don’t like the courtroom aspect of the show, but there are so many police procedurals that ignore that aspect that it would be tragic if they made SVU like that. There really aren’t any other shows that look at how district attorneys prosecute crimes. Dick Wolf made a show not just about “the detectives who investigate crimes” but “the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.” Getting rid of the trial scenes completely would cut out a large part of what made SVU and the original so great. Criminal Intent had 10 years to do things differently from the original formula, but just because it’s gone now doesn’t mean it should be reincarnated as the new SVU. There are a lot of people who couldn’t stand to watch Criminal Intent because of that (myself included).

Arleen said...

I thought this was a good episode but not my favorite. You can tell that Olivia's character has changed quite a lot this year; in previous years she would have defended the actual sex crimes victim (the 14-year-old girl) to the end, but in this story she pretty much abandoned her. Not even a word of comfort for her or her family at the end of the trial?

I'm not sure I liked the way they switched story lines in this one - from underage sex trafficking in the beginning to athlete sports concussions. The sports hero became everybody's center-of-attention for most of the show. I guess however, that that reflects real-world reality; sports stars are always front-page news, and runaway children and prostitutes are faceless nobodys that no one cares about in the end. I miss Stabler - he would have cared more about the child-victim.

theliberator12 said...

thought this was a good episode but not my favorite. You can tell that Olivia's character has changed quite a lot this year; in previous years she would have defended the actual sex crimes victim (the 14-year-old girl) to the end, but in this story she pretty much abandoned her.
Thanks for post.

Esaul said...

I'm enjoying the fact that the show isn't all about Olivia. It helps give Mariska less work time for her family, and meanwhile she still stays on the show. It gives us the chance to see the other characters, and hopefully more John Munch. They've missed so many chances where they could've used him, and also of course Dann.

lais said...

Hi, could you put subtitles in this video? I'm brazilian and I can not understand the conversation in English, with the caption will be easier.

thank you.

nygma619 said...

@ xfool: I don't believe it's guaranteed that Law & Order Los Angeles would've been around today, if Andre was in Terrance Howards role. Almost every show that's been in that Monday Night slot has tanked in the ratings, also none of Andre's appearances this season have been moving ratings either.

But hindsight is 20/20.

Esaul said...

Keep in mind that ratings are done within a network. LOLA did better on Wednesday. If the show had better lead ins, it could still be on...or if NBC didn't foolishly move it to Monday. Even so, it's been doing better than The Playboy Club...

nygma619 said...

@ Laura: What exactly has changed about SVU that makes you consider the SVU "as you know it" dead?

nygma619 said...

@ xfool: what exactly was so bad about Mariska's acting in the deleted scene?

loveyoumore said...

Thank you for posting this very informative review(and deleted scene, too)! I am looking for the background music on the first scene, where the 14-year-old girl first met her later pimp. I heard some part of the lyrics like 'since you've been gone, waiting and waiting...' Is there any chance you might tell me the song title and the artist?

Allthings Lawandorder said...

loveyoumore, it is called "Honey Dove" and it is performed by Lee Fields - here is the song on YouTube:

loveyoumore said...

Thank you so much for the quick answer for my question. You literally know everything about Law and Order!

Out of curiosity, are you one of the staff of this show? or just very interested in this show?
I am just a fan of Law and Order SVU and CI in S.Korea. (Sad there's no CI episodes any more.)
I'm not good at English so I couldn't get much information about Law and Order series.
Now I found your informative blog, so I will visit there often. Thank you for sharing all the stuff you know.

Happy Holiday and happy new year!

Allthings Lawandorder said...

loveyoumore - I'm just a big fan of the show, not on the staff of the show or of NBC!

Icy said...

I liked this episode, but can't stand Ellis.. Good thing that he's got one episode is a good thing..

I do disagree with whomever said that the season would be better with Meloni. The season is fine with or without him, just because he left doesn't mean the show isn't the same.

HardyMRH said...

Did anybody see the replay of this episode on 1/25/12? It started with the statement that there was a different ending..... And then my DVR crapped out on me so I don't know the end... Search led me here so thanks but I am curious what they chnaged.... Thanks

Chris Zimmer said...

I did not see the replay (my DVR doesn't record reruns!) and so far the alternate scene isn't available on the NBC site. If it shows up somewhere I'll recap it in the comments.

Ceja Hall said...

What is the name of the song in the beginning of this episode? I cant find it.

Chris Zimmer said...

Ceja - the name of the song and the artist was already listed in the comments - it's "Honey Dove" ny Lee Fields.