Thursday, January 19, 2012

Law & Order SVU “Official Story” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Official Story’ had a lot packed into this episode, including an assault on the CEO of a big company, the Occupy Wall Street protest, an old rape case that happened in Iraq, a murder of a witness, an attempted murder of the father of the rape victim, another attack on the initial rape victim, a threat to Amaro’s family, a new EADA and a love interest for Benson. Whew! Despite having so much going on, I am actually having a hard time writing the review for it.

First and foremost, I did like the episode and there were many elements that I enjoyed. The writing team has been doing a great job this season of coming up with very interesting cases, and they are telling the stories very well. The cast is all performing well (Munch is MIA again, though) and things seem to be clicking. I think my hang-ups with this episode, and why I am struggling, revolve around two issues:

1. The investigation of Rand’s company’s involvement in the cover up of a years old rape in Iraq had no business being handled by SVU. Forget Amaro’s argument (or excuse) that it could speak to O’Keefe’s motive - I don’t think that was a valid reason for SVU to be involved any further. O'Keefe already gave them the motive and it should be up to his defense to determine whether that motive mitigates the crime he committed. As the case progressed, it became even more clear that SVU was in way over their heads. Later on, after Benson’s apartment is ransacked, a witness killed, a girl attacked and her father stabbed, THEN Cragen makes the observation that they are dealing with a private army. Well, no kidding – that should have been glaringly obvious the minute that the company name “Battle Tested Security” was mentioned and its CEO attacked. SVU sticking their noses in a case that was far beyond their abilities contributed to a witness being killed and the girl and her father being attacked. If SVU would have used their brains, the witness would have never been left in his hotel room without a guard outside. (Update: Amaro did comment that the uni (uniformed officer) said no one came to the room after he left, so possibly someone was watching the room. If so, how did the liquor get in... maybe the officer wasn't stationed right at the door?)   SVU’s sloppy handling of the case led to far too much collateral damage.  This case may have fit much better as a Law & Order or better yet a Criminal Intent episode,   or, if either of those series still existed. this story could have made a for a nice SVU crossover/double episode.

2. I adore Harry Connick Jr.'s music and I own many of his recordings gong years back. But it pains me to say that his acting was awful. His delivery was flat and lifeless in every single scene. Yes, I am thrilled that Benson may have someone who – at least at this point in time – makes her happy, and Harry is certainly easy on the eyes. But his acting was no better than someone reading lines. I literally cringed with every one of his scenes.

I’m also not a big fan of focusing on the characters’ personal lives. While I don’t mind this episode’s focus on Mariska/Benson – after her years with SVU she deserves it - I am already a little tired of the focus on Amaro’s family.

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:
Harry Connick, Jr. - EADA David Haden
John Doman - William Rand
Laura Benanti - Maria Grazie
Holt McCallany - Donald O’Keefe
Annie Meisels: Dr. Rausch
Lola Glaudini – Virginia Pell
Lisa Masters – Tina Heller
Jacob Wallach - Kenny Taylor (the protester)
Billy Brown – Joe Marshall
Craig Walker – George Coleman
Megan Ketch – Cory Green
Caris Vujcec - Counselor Bree Price
Alison Fernandez – Zara Amaro

At an Occupy Wall Street protest, William Rand steps out of his limo and a protester asks him how he sleeps at night. Rand says he is serving his country and sleeps just fine. Later, on a news program, Rand, who is CEO of Battle Tested Security - the largest private military contractor in the world – talks about how well business is going. Meanwhile, Detective Nick Amaro comes home with his daughter Zara and surprises her when she sees her mother is home. Amaro welcomes his wife Maria home and kisses her.

Later, Rand exits the TV studio and is in his limo and when the driver asks if it has been a long day, Rand says they are all long. Rand drinks some bottled water but he looks a little ill. He notices the driver is not going the right way and he asks why they are going uptown and not the heliport. The driver tells him to relax, there is tunnel traffic. Rand continues to look ill.

The next day, a boy on a school outing, at a memorial for soldiers and sailors, points out a man laying on the ground. The teacher sees a man laying on the ground with his pants down and the words “Payback is a bitch” written on his leg. His shirt is open and he is gagged. It is William Rand. She calls 911.

Later, in the hospital, Rand tells Benson and Amaro he does not know what happened. Benson says they think he was drugged. The last thing he remembers is being in the limo with the driver and he went the wrong way. He was not one of his regulars, he was sent by the TV studio. Amaro asks for the name of his contact and Rand says Jenny can get that for him. Virginia Pell, Rand’s general counsel, introduces himself and says she is emailing for the information now. Rand says he did have some bottled water in the limo. When Benson explains that the tox screen will show if he was given any sedative, Rand asks don’t they need his permission to look at those records? Amaro says they are there to help him. He asks Beth to see where the nurse is and she leave to find her. He asks Benson if they think she was raped, and she reminds him that he was found drugged and beaten with his clothes ripped off. Rand gets upset and says he wasn’t raped, he was attacked by the enemy because of the work he does. Pell says Rand has been through a lot, and tells the detectives that Rand needs to rest now.

As they leave, Pell says she appreciates their concern but they will take it from there, they have their own team of investigators. Benson explains SVU does not subcontract their investigations. Pell asks if they understand the delicacy of the situation and they need to control the publicity. Benson says all of their cases are sensitive and Amaro adds that they need their cooperation, unless they want them to start issuing subpoenas. Pell agrees and says she will be in touch, and she walks off.

Back at SVU, Rollins gets off the phone and everyone the driver who was supposed to pick up Rand got a call 2 hours before telling him the job had been canceled. The call came from Rand’s office and whoever made the call spoofed the number. Cragen walks in an says he just got off the phone with the mayor’s office and as CEOs are a priority for his team, they want to be kept in the loop. Rollins explains that the fake ID was set up by someone using Orange Box software and Cragen comments that Rand is ex-military. Amaro confirms Rand was a former Army ranger who built up his company guarding diplomats and military bases with private security. Fin wonders if he was a terrorist target. Benson recalls the message written on Rand’s leg and says that sounds personal. Cragen ask if there are extracurriculars, and Rollins replies there are no bimbo eruptions and he has a stable marriage and he stays out of the headlines. Amaro adds that it’s except when he is hyping his company, and brings up a video of Rand being taunted by the Occupy Wall Street people.

Later, Benson and Amaro speak with the protester who harassed Rand in the video. He says that is him, and says it as about time someone called that goon out. He says he is a war criminal and if he wants to go on TV and brag about profits, he’ll get in his face. When Amaro asks if that includes kidnapping, the protester asks what is he talking about. When Amaro asks where he was at 6 last night, the protester says he was uptown at a drum circle outside the mayor’s house. Benson informs him that something happened yesterday that could tarnish the movement’s image, and the protester says if they want to know who was most aggressive toward Rand, it was one of the guys he planted. When Benson asks how he knows it was their guy, the protester describes him as a man with a military build, 50. that he saw getting into a pickup after a protest last week and he hadn’t bothered to take the “special forces” sticker off the back window. Benson and Amaro look at each other.

Back at SVU, Rollins shows them a video from two months ago that includes a black pickup that was outside Rand’s condo and the guy is also outside a SoHo benefit a month later. Last week he was at Battle Tested headquarters. Fin says the pickup is registered to Donald O’Keefe, and Rollins adds he lives in White Plains and is a former marine in special ops. When Cragen asks if Rand’s people know him, Benson says Rind’s people are dragging their feet about turning over the phone records and emails. Fin asks if they don’t want them to find out who kidnapped him, and Cragen adds or why they would take it this far. When Cragen asks if O’Keefe has a day job, Fin explains O’Keefe has been doping security for oil tankers with a lot of travel to Somalia. Cragen tell them to handle with care, and this is a man who shoots pirates for a living.

Later, Donald O’Keefe is on a dock readying guns as Fin and Rollins approach with full backup. Fin calls out that they need a word with him. Donald asks if this is about Rand, and Fin tells him to take it easy. As guns are being pointed at them, Rollins tells Donald not to make this harder. He tosses his gun aside and asks them what took them so long; after what they did to his little girl - he puts out his arms to be cuffed – he adds that Rand got what he deserved.

At SVU, Amaro and Fin have Donald O’Keefe in interrogation going through what Donald did. Donald says it all comes back to his daughter and if they take care of his case, he will take care of theirs. Fin replies that they are not here to play "let’s make a deal." With him. But Amaro asks Donald to explain. Donald says his daughter worked for Rand’s company in Basra and a month after she started, four of the men who worked with her drugged and raped her. She reported it to the nearest base commander, who said they are not military. They tried for four years with the State and Justice Departments. The DOJ caved like everyone else; no one wants to take these guys on. When Fin comments that Donald thinks it is OK to rape for another rape, Donald says he gave Rand just enough of the baton to make him think about it every time he sits down. When Fin and Amaro leave the room, Amaro turns back and gives one more look at Donald.

Outside the room where Cragen and Benson were observing, Benson says Donald is not making it up about the daughter, Cragen says it doesn’t mitigate assault, kidnapping – they are not here to make deals with him and there are legal avenues for settling scores. Amaro reminds Cragen that Donald tried those. Fin says they are not Basra PD and says they should stick to their job. Benson gets a message which says Rand has decided to work with them and he wants to come in and make the ID.

Later, Donald is in a lineup and Rand shocks them all when he says he is sorry, the drug must have wiped his memory. As Rand and Pell leave,  Pell says she appreciates all they are doing. Amaro comments that Rand called to come in and then tanked the ID, and Benson adds he got out of there fast enough once he saw Donald. Amaro wonders if Rand was eyeballing Donald so his guys could take care of him later. Benson wonders if Rand does not want them looking into what happened there. Cragen says neither does she and adds it is not their concern. Benson wants to at least talk to Donald’s daughter and Amaro adds this speaks to O’Keefe’s motives and is part of their case too. Cragen tells them to just remember which crime they are investigating.

At the Brooklyn Bread Bakery, Benson and Amaro speak with Donald’s daughter Cory and when Amaro says they want to hear her story, she says they want to prosecute her dad. Benson admits that is the official reason but unofficially, they are here because what happened to her is wrong. She explains that the first month the guys weren’t friendly but were professionals. Then one night they had a party and the other women knew not to go. Ian Kent, one of the deputy of the recon team, gave her a drink. He said she needed to loosen up. A few minutes later she could not feel her legs and Ian carried her into his room and three of them were in there. She was in an out while they were raping her and it was brutal, crushing her. She could not breathe and she asked them to give her a break and they just laughed. She does not recall how long it went on, when she came to she realized he was in an interrogation room with two armed guards. Joe Marshall, their supervisor, told her she was in the room for her protection and then he asked if she was going to sue the company. She was held for 72 hours then one of the guards finally gave her a cell phone to call her dad. That is when they released her and let her see a female army doctor. They did a rape kit and by the time the DOJ started the investigation, it had disappeared. Cory says it is not just what those guys did to her, it was that they knew they could get away with it.

Back at SVU, Rollins tells Benson, Fin, and Amaro that Donald was just arraigned and even without Rand’s ID he can get 1-8 years. Amaro comments that Donald will go to prison but his daughter’s rapists get nothing. Cragen calls Benson and Amaro into his office. Cragen introduces Benson and Amaro to David Haden, the new Executive Assistant District Attorney. Benson tells Haden the last she heard, he was the head of rackets. He explained they kicked him upstairs. Cragen informs them that Haden is there for the Rand case, and Amaro wonders why the #2 DA is handling a sex crime. Haden explains officially it is not just a sex crime, it is the kidnapping of a high profile figure; the DA has asked him to take a personal interest, Amaro retorts it is a personal interest in protecting Rand’s image. Haden says that is fair enough; he is a second generation DA and he is used to cops giving him the stink eye. Benson comments to forgive their suspicions, but Rand is not cooperating and the suspects daughter was gang raped by his employees. Haden says it was in Basra, adding that Justice dropped the case. Benson replies she is guessing he knows why. He says no, but he’d like to, and he’ll set up a meeting, and asks if he can expect Benson and Amaro to join him. He thanks Cragen for his time, and exits his office. Benson and Amaro look at Haden as he leaves, and then look at each other. Amaro asks “What was that?” Cragen advises them to watch their step here, until they know his agenda.

At the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bree Price comments to Haden, along with Benson and Amaro, that his office hasn’t overreached enough and now he wants to pursue cases in Iraq. Haden asks why didn’t the Feds stay on this. She explains there were problems with his case, there was spotty memory and no rape kit. When Amaro says they were told there was one, and Price says if there was one it was lost in Iraq, reminding them is was a war zone. She says the US Government has to look at the bigger picture. Haden says she means that now that they are privatizing the war, these companies are above the law. Price says he knows as well as she does that the contractors are not military and they can’t be court-martialed. She adds that Order 17 put them about Iraqi law. Haden says they can still be prosecuted by the DOJ and Price adds it is at their discretion. Amaro is annoyed and says she is saying they can do whatever they want, Benson adding even gang rape female employees without any fear of reprisal. Price explains that these guys have a lot of juice in Washington, and tells Haden she is telling him that as a friend.

As the three of them leave, Haden comments that was a “profile in courage.” Benson says she knows where they got their marching orders, and Amaro adds now they know why Cory’s dad snapped and these guys are untouchable. Haden thinks maybe not, saying Rand’s headquarters are in New York, and if they can prove there is a cover up of the rape – directed from here – they have jurisdiction. Benson asks what he would need from them. Haden suggests a real investigation, and they should start with the rape kit.

Back at the Amaro household, Amaro asks his wife how much she has to deal with the civilian contractors. She says as little as possible, they are cowboys. She asked what is going on with his case. He explains about the missing rape kit. She asks if he wants her to make some calls and she knows people in Basra, nodding that she can trust them. Amaro reminds her that these people have reach. She says she knows, she can handle herself. He says he knows, and she asks if they can let this go for now, she is only there for a few more days. She moves her robe and he carries her off.

In the DA’s conference room, Haden, along with Benson and Amaro, question Dr. Rausch about Cory Green. She says yes she remembers Cory; she was to be deposed on it three years ago but was told the case had been settled. She did the rape kit because he father called the base, and, after pausing, explains that the rape kit showed they tore her apart and it was a violent sustained gang rape. When Amaro asks if it was all documented, she said she had photos, swabs, notes, plus her clothing, complete with semen stains from multiple donors and no traces of drugs in her system because they held her for 72 hours. Haden asks about the kit’s chain of custody. She says she gave it to her superior officers but she heard they had no jurisdiction so they turned it over to Battle Tested. She adds that one of her CO’s – she won’t say who – was complaining that Battle Tested had the run of the base. Haden asks if she would be willing to testify in front of a grand jury? She does not answer.

Later, at a restaurant, Benson tells Haden that she has to admit they were not sure of him at first. He says she can trust him, he is an attorney. Benson laughs. And says that she can be a little testy when she works with new people. Haden says he can be testy around his kids, saying he has a boy and a girl who live with his ex-wife. He asks about her and Benson haltingly says she is just getting over something. Haden comments  isn’t everyone. He asks if she can stay for another round. She suggests they call it a night - he needs a clear head in front of that grand jury tomorrow. He asks for a rain check, and Benson says she’d like that.

In the grand jury, Haden questions Dr. Rausch and when asked about her examining Cory after 72 hours from the assault, she says she can’t speak to the length of time. Haden pauses, and then asks if she does recall the details of the rape exam. She replies they are talking about events that happened four years ago and she examine thousands of patients when she was in Iraq. The jury looks confused, and Haden brings up their meeting in the office the day before and what she said. She says she since realized she may have been confusing the details with facts from other case. Haden asks her if she realizes she is under oath, and she does.

Afterwards and while walking down the street, Amaro tells Benson and Haden that Rand works fast, adding that Rausch is not only ducking their calls, she gave notice at the VA that morning. Benson says they are sitting on her house and when she comes out, they will bring her in. Haden tells then to get the team started on tracking down any other witnesses. Benson says they are already on it.

Back at SVU, Cragen has Cory looking at photos of the people involved in her attack, and she points out Ian Kent who brought her the drink with the drug in it. Amaro says Kent is now in a Battle Tested security zone alone with two others, Matthew Baker and Edward Miller, adding the company claims the location is classified. Benson asks about the last man, and Cory says Wally Barton, who she thought was his friend. Cragen says they have four rapists and asks who is Joe Marshall. Cory says he is the head of detail and he had them isolate her afterwards. Rollins comments that he is a company man who just got promoted to senior VP under Rand. Benson asks Cory to tell her about the guards, she said one of them, George Coleman did not rape her, he was the one who gave her his cell phone to call home. Rollins says he has dropped out of sight and left the company three years ago. Amaro says they’d better find him before the company does.

In the jail interview room, Amaro has explained that Dr. Rausch recanted. Donald says Rand can intimidate a witness, and Amaro says they are trying to find out how Rand got to her. Donald says all his life he tried to do the right thing and signed up for the Marines when he got out of school. When the country asked him to fight, he went. He confessed and was ready to do his time because he trusted them to get justice for his daughter. Amaro says he knows how he feels, he has a daughter too. Donald says really, and asks if his daughter flinches when he tries to hug her or wake up screaming in the night? He asks if his daughter was raped so brutally that she will never be able to have children? Amaro says they will get these guys. Donald tells him to prove it.

Back at SVU, Dr. Rausch tells Benson and Amaro they are going to make her miss her flight. Amaro asks if she is heading back overseas. Rausch says she realized she can make a difference in that part of the world. Benson comments Rausch is going to a surgical college where Rand is a trustee. Amaro accuses her of taking their call and losing her memory and that they can subpoena her phone records. Benson said it is going to be very difficult for her to make it to Bahrain if she is stuck her fighting a perjury charge. Rausch tells them to charge her, and that they don’t know what they are like. Benson says Cory does, and Amaro adds they get it, but if she doesn’t give them something, she is not getting on that plane. Rausch sits down and says that they had her run tests on four men for STDs.

In the interview room, Rollins is speaking with Joe Marshall, who is there with Virginia Pell, and he says Cory had a meltdown after one of the men in his detail broke up with her. He never wanted her on his team, she was unstable. Amaro asks if that is why he had four of the men tested for STDs, and Pell comments that those records are confidential and there is no subpoena. But Marshall tells Pell it is immaterial. Rollins comments that after Cory was diagnosed with Chlamydia, the rest of the team just happened to get tested. When she asks Marshall if he was tested too, he leans forward and says he never touched that girl. He has a wife and three daughters, but Cory went buck wild when she went to Basra. Rollins sarcastically says that Iraq has that effect on women. Marshall says some girls get turns on in a war zone and get turned on by the dude with big guns, saying that is some rape crisis counselor. Amaro comments that it was all consensual with four guys, and they are all willing to hang together, Marshall says no one is going to talk to them, the company is built on loyalty. Rollins asks if George Coleman feels that way, and that George does not work for the team any more. Marshall says George has been in every drunk tank between here and Florida the last 3 years and no one takes his word over ours. Pell says the fishing trip is over, and they both leave. Amaro tells Rollins that was an ice job, and he will make some calls to Florida. Rollins says she thinks she can handle that one.

On a later day, Benson and Amaro have George Coleman in interrogation. They question him about his drinking. Amaro says he is not the only one to come home with a problem and explains it is another world in Iraq, he was over there himself and worked in interrogations after 9/11. He comments about the stress and the choices you have to make. George says people don’t know and then you come home and you can’t talk about it, so you drink. Benson asks if Cory Green is one of the things he can’t talk about. Benson talks about what happened to Cory, and that he let her borrow his cell phone and he watched out for her. Amaro continues to press about the rape and George says that was not his call. Benson asks whose call was it, and George says it was Joe Marshall’s as he is Rand’s bitch. George adds that he saw all the faxes, and the orders came straight from Rand’s office.

As Benson exits the interrogation room with Amaro, she tells Haden that a couple days to clean up and they will be good to go. Haden says his office can put him up in a hotel but somebody is going to have to keep an eye on him. Amaro says they have company. In the squad room bullpen, Cragen tells Benson, Amaro, and Haden that Mr. Rand and the Deputy Mayor Tina Heller were just heading to a city youth corps event downtown. Tina says the Commission said she should stick her head in and say hello to the captain. Haden introduces himself. Tina says she has to run ahead and to let her know if he needs anything else. As Tina walks off, Rand says he was surprised to learn that he is using O’Keefe’s assault as a pretext to open an old discredited case. Benson comments that they follow the leads where they take them. Rand comments about it being a mentally unstable woman who has been in and out of psychiatric care the last 4 years. When Amaro wise cracks “So it’s like that, huh” Rand tells him that he has his own intelligence division. He looks at Haden, and adds that everyone has skeletons. Haden looks right back at him and replies he is going to pretend that was not a threat. Rand walks up close to Haden, getting in his space, and tells Haden to just ask himself something; is this the battle he wants, because war is his business, and business is good. He then tells them all to have a nice evening, and walks off. As Cragen and Amaro walk away, Haden comments to Benson, “That was subtle.” Benson replies that right about now he is asking himself what has he gotten himself into? Haden surprises her by saying, “You kidding? I live for this.”

At the Corona Motor Lodge in Queens, Coleman asks if Amaro is checking the room for bugs or for bottles. Amaro says to be honest – both – saying they all have a lot riding on this.

Meanwhile, in jail, Donald is being moved and someone else brings out a knife. Elsewhere, Cory screams as she is being attacked. At home, Amaro’s phone rings – while back in jail, Donald is being stabbed. Benson comes home to her apartment to find it ransacked. She pulls her gun. Elsewhere, the attack on Cory is stopped as someone enters the room and asks what is going on, and in jail, Donald lay bleeding on the floor. Back at home, Benson realizes no one is there an she puts down her gun.

Later, the CSU on the scene in Coleman’s motel room, Amaro and Fin see Coleman laying dead on the bed. There are liquor bottles everywhere and Amaro confirms to Fin that he searched the room from top to bottom. Amaro says they just made George Coleman collateral damage.

Back at SVU, Cragen asks Rollins what is the damage report. She says Cory has a broken wrist and the shiv missed Donald’s kidney by and 8th of an inch. Cragen asks if everyone there is OK, and Benson comments she was going to move that coffee table anyway and CSU is there now. Amaro informs them the cause of Coleman’s death was alcohol poisoning and he had 5 time the legal limit in his blood. Fin says that is not black ops, that is Houdini. Cragen reminds them they are dealing with a private army here operating without legal restraints. Rollins comments about them taking on NYPD and the rape of Cory is the tip of the iceberg. He tells them to put on their vests and carry their radios and sidearms at all times. Cragen points that Amaro knows what these guys are like and they can help protect his family. Amaro says he is all in. The all agree they are in. Cragen said somebody got that booze into Coleman’s room and to find out who knew he was there. Amaro finds that George’s last call was to a land line in Rockaway Queens. Fin says that is where George is from . Amaro adds the call was to a James Pell, and Benson mentions that Rand’s general counsel is Virginia Pell. Rollins says James Pell is 70 years old, it could be her dad.

At the residence of James Pell, Benson calls out to Virginia Pell, who is walking up to her father’s home; he is using a walker. She suggests they try her at work, but Amaro says she may not want to discuss this at her office. Amaro says Coleman is dead and Pell says she knows, she is arranging the funeral, adding he would still be alive if it wasn’t for SVU putting him on t he spot. She says he drank on a good day but Benson says there was no alcohol in his room when they left, adding that a few hours later he had 5 time the legal limit in his system. Pell excuses herself and says her father needs his meds. After she walks off, Amaro says that should start some chatter.

Back at SVU with Haden, Benson and Amaro play back a recording of Pell’s phone call to Rand where she comments about 5 times the legal limit and that she thought the plan was to just talk to him. Rand is heard saying he can’t talk about it as he is in a meeting. She says now they will be all over them and asks if he wants her to make a run out to the mountain. Rand says he will speak to Joe at the funeral and he will make the hike, calling her baby and saying not to talk business on that line. She apologizes, adding she got a little rattled, she knew George a long time. Benson tells Haden they understand the “baby” but the "mountain" is what they are working on.

At George’s gravesite, Rand and Pell are there as SVU arrives. Rand tells them they have a lot of nerve, but Benson replies that George was their witness, but they knew that already. As Amaro and Fin take Joe Marshall away, he asks what is the charge. They explain there is no charge, he is a material witness and a flight risk. Joe says it won’t stick. Rand asks Benson where they are taking Joe, and Pell says if they are arresting Joe, she is his lawyer. Benson informs Pell they may subpoena her to testify in front of the grand jury as well and Joe will need outside counsel. Benson adds, “My condolences.”

Back at the Amaro household, Amaro's daughter Zara is on the phone, saying that mommy is home and daddy is home too. Amaro walks up to her and asks who is it on the phone. He takes the phone from her and he asks who is this. He gets off the phone and tells Maria they know her next assignment and that she is leaving in the morning. They both look worried.

At SVU, Joe Marshall is in interrogation, and Amaro runs in screaming and grabs him, saying Marshall talked to his daughter and threatened his wife. Benson calls out to Amaro, and Marshall says he should not be naïve, they started a war. Things calms down, and Amaro asks Marshall if he thinks what happened to George will not happen to him. Amaro plays back a recording of Pell and Rand, saying that Marshall never got out to the mountain and he has some keys on his chain and may be going to Barbados soon and taking the family. Marshall says they doctored it and Amaro says that is not their game, that’s Marshall’s. Marshall says he needs to make a call, and Amaro says it is too late, they are already trying to figure out how to make his wife and kids disappear. Marshall says they won’t do that. Amaro asks why not, then realizes Marshall has something. Amaro says they know the mountain is Iron Mountain, the storage facility, and Rand has something there as an insurance policy. Benson thinks it is the rape kit, adding that Rand held on to it to make sure no one else would flip on him. Marshall says it is not there anymore, they heard Rand. But Amaro says Rand didn’t get everything, saying that Marshall kept a few keys on his chain, asking if he has the semen stained clothing or the STD tests on the rapists. Benson says Marshall is smart, he kept his own insurance policy, but adds that it is time to cash it in. He says OK, and tells them to call their DA, he is not going to Rikers, he gets the full ride.

In the grand jury, Marshall testifies under Haden’s questioning that he took the rape kit and transferred it to company headquarters under orders from William Rand. Afterwards, as Rand and Pell are at the heliport, the SVU team arrests them.

Back at SVU, Rand and Pell are exiting the building and being led into a police transport. Benson explains to Corey that Rand’s yacht was waiting to take him out of the jurisdiction. Cory asks that he won’t get away, and Benson reassures her none of them will, mentioning George’s murder, multiple assaults, and Amaro adds obstruction. Benson then adds witness tampering and the underlying crimes, saying they will be in there a lot longer than 72 hours. Amaro’s phone rings;  it is Cory’s father on the line and when she hands him his phone, Cory tells her father they did it and she loves him too.

Back inside in the squad room, Amaro speaks to his wife and he asks how was her flight. He tells her it is done and tells her to be safe over there and that he loves her and misses her. After hanging up, he kicks his chair and leaves.

Elsewhere, Benson and Haden walk out the door or a restaurant. Benson laughs and looks happy. She tells Haden that just for the record, she hasn’t worked that well with anyone in a very long time. Haden says that makes two of them. She smiles and asks, “Nightcap?” and, as Benson and Haden stand close to each other, Haden explains he has a 7 AM meeting. with the Deputy Mayor, so…and he does not finish the sentence He kisses Benson, and then they quickly break it off when a cab driving by beeps its horn and then stops. Benson laughs and Haden moaning, “timing.” Benson says, “You know what they say, you can never find a taxi or police officer when you need one." Haden opens the door to the taxi and Benson gets in but Haden does not. As Benson smiles happily and sighs, the cab drives away, as we fade to black.

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Ry A said...

I agree - it did feel like an episode that would have worked better on CI or L&O.

From a fictional point of view, I guess Jack McCoy leaving the DA's office resulted in Cutter's demotion to SVU Bureau Chief and Haden's promotion to EADA (though I really wish the writers would be consistent with those terms...)

Clyde Hargraves said...

I want to see Benson and Amaro get together. I thought the episode they did when Amaro suspected his wife of cheating would open that door. I thought that was the reason for bringing him on the show. I don't think Haden(Connick) is a good fit for Benson(Hargitay). -Latrice H.

nygma619 said...

I don't get why you think the focus on Amaro on his family is such a big deal. It's not like his family has become the focus of the episode like with Stabler's family or Benson's brother. And when they shoved THEIR problems down our throat and made the episodes about them.

Otherwise I agree with you on the other two things. Though #1 was less of a problem for me, and more of a minor nitpick (it was still a rape case). Except for the witness being killed part I agree a guard sould've been outside. Why wasn't he?

Steve said...

I'm a huge fan, probably seen every show several times, thanks to reruns, and always have appreciated the writers (usual) ability to weave an intriguing plot. I get really turned off when their writing gets overtly political, supporting leftists positions of the day but I'm a former New Yorker so I can handle it. I wonder if anyone else has every noticed, and wondered why, with such effort into the writing of the story, they NEVER properly handcuff someone. If you watch carefully, most of the time they just put the perps hands behind their back and start walking them away. Seems so cheesy to me, to work so hard one way then be lazy at the finish. It would take some real cops about 1 hour of training to teach any decent actor how to really handcuff someone and I wish they would invest the time. Until then, it's like letting the air out of my balloon, right at the peak of the party.

Icy said...

@Steve- It's just a show, what you see on tv isn't always going to be correct. It's not lazy writing. This is just a fictious show, so there will always be mistakes in every show not just this.

A lot of crime drama shows have mistakes just like this.. It's just tv, I don't analize these things. Not worth it. By the way I'm also a former New Yorker as well.

janethyland said...

Ratings came in at a season low of 1.8 key demo and 6.4 million total.

All NBC shows were down in ratings last night whether they were set against American idol or not, also down were Criminal Minds and CSI. However Revenge bucked the trend and increased its ratings.

It hasnt been a good week for NBC. Parenthood went down to 1.7 key demo on another night.

Official Story might be my least favourite episode so far, but i can see it was well crafted and co-ordinated, and it was nice to see Olivia smile.I didnt see any chemistry with Harry and the actor was a bit wooden,but Im assuming its meant to be a casual affair that just moves her on from being stuck in the past?

I liked the pub and Holt/O'Keefe.

However what Ill most remember is the fact it opened with the Occupy Movement and aired on the same day the Occupy Movement lost their High Court Case in London.Its this uncanny ability season 13 has to foreshadow real events.Thats been a trend all season,and thats what ill always associate with this episode.

Congratulations on NAACP nominations for ICE T and for Outstanding drama.

xfool said...

There was waaay too much going on in this episode. I agree ATLAO, had L&O or LOCI still been on the air, it would have made a great double episode and crossover.

I don't care too much for the personal stories either. We've seen more of Amaro's family this season that anyone else's. It's just like they did with Stabler, and I always disliked the Stabler family drama.

Harry Connick Jr. can act as well as a brick. I am sure he is a very nice guy, I like his singing, but his acting skills leave something to be desired. When I first heard the news he was going to be on the show, I was worried that he was going to be bad because in everything else I've seen him act in he's been lousy. The bad part is we will have to see him in more episodes this season. He'd better take some more acting classes.

Cragen should have held his ground and not let them get involved in this case. The SVU team and their poor handling of protecting that witness George got the man murdered., They should have had an officer outside the guy's door. Sloppy, sloppy SVU!

ConnorBehan said...

How do you know there was no guard? We definitely see Amaro leave George but in that scene we can also see another officer outside the door. When the assassination happened, I took that to mean that they paid off the guard or tricked him into leaving somehow.

The montage of scenes where Battle Tested did its dirty work bothered me for a different reason - namely the omniscient narrator. It's not quite as bad as criminal intent but it would have been just as effective to only show the prison stabbing when the cops first find out about it. Oh and the second rape of Cory... why the hell did they do that? If they're going to this much trouble to cover up a rape, raping her again would just give them more to cover up.

So yeah, I was bothered by that scene and the absence of Munch (in an episode that would've been great for Munch). Conspiracy theory about a PMC turns out to be true? Come on!

Bonnie said...

Who is the actress that played Virginia Pell? I know I've seen her in other things, but I can't remember where.
Can you believe I just got into this show last season?
And what does Amaro's wife do?

Allthings Lawandorder said...

Bonnie - sorry I missed two names on the guest star list and added them. Virigia Pell was played by
Lola Glaudini. Amaro's wife is in the military but I forget exactly what her rank is.

Connor - I went back and eatched the scene in George's hotel room and I missed that Amaro said the uni said no one came in after he left. So that either means the uni was not at the door the whole time, or the booze got in some other way, or, as you said, he got paid off. Still, considering the nature of the case, they should have figured out a better way to make sure that George was better protected (even from himself!).

Icy said...

@Xfool- Don't assume anything about Harry's character. It's just his first episode, you can't judge on this until you see more episodes.

The first impressions aren't always accurate.

xfool said...

Icy, I don't have an issue with the character David Haden. My issue is with Connick's stiff acting. Connick is a wonderful singer but that doesn't make him a great actor. He won't be able to pull off the character in future episodes if his acting doens't improve.

sunshinez1975 said...

@xfool- I totally agree with you. Just because you can sing doesn't mean you can act. There was no and I mean absolutely NO chemistry between his character and Benson. I was also happy to see Benson smile but SVU could have found a better actor to play her love interest.

I liked the episode. It had a little suspense feel to it which was different. The episodes this season are a lot better than previous seasons. I am susprised the ratings were so low with all the hype that led up to this episode.

I can't wait for Andre Braugher's return. WL tweeted AB has two more episodes left and he'll be back in episode 16....YES!!

Icy said...

@sunshinez1975- From this one episode you said that they have no chemistry. The relationship hasn't even started,and it's too early to tell if they have chemistry.

You are jumping ahead, and so what his acting was bad. It was his first appearance, give him a chance.

No one can tell how the character will be from a first appearance.

I can't stand Ellis, I'm glad they never put her and him together. They had zero chemistry, he's a very annoying character.

Yet all he wanted was to be friends with Olivia not romantically.

Anonymous said...

I like SVU but haven't seen all of the episodes in earlier seasons and there is a lot I don't know. I am not sure what Olivia meant when she said "I'm getting over something" to D.Haden. I know she was very upset when Stabler left but it does not seem like she would refer to it that way,like he was an ex of some sort. What did I miss? Thanks!

sunshinez1975 said...

@Icy- you have your opinion and I have mine. I think Ellis and Olivia had chemistry and you don't, so what. No chemistry in first episode and there will be none in the others HCJ is in. Thiis is a forced thing WL is pushing down our throat. Andre Braugher will give SVU something HCJ can't and that's great acting.

Allthings Lawandorder said...

JStewart, I took her comment to mean she was getting over Stabler's leaving SVU.

nygma619 said...

@xfool & allthings:

I agree this episode could've made a nice mothership/criminal intent episode &/or crossover with SVU.

But lets get real here. This army on ANY show should've realized that the cops had NO JURISDICTION on them and should've done NOTHING to incriminate THEMSELVES in the states. I found their handling of the situation from their pov to be more laughable and sloppy than SVU's handling of the situation.

The ONLY one you could make ANY argument on going after was the CEO due to a phone call in the states. And even then I found that claim by David to be questionable.

"I don't care too much for the personal stories either. We've seen more of Amaro's family this season that anyone else's. It's just like they did with Stabler, and I always disliked the Stabler family drama."

I could see yours and allthings point IF there was ACTUAL family drama in this episode (there wasn't). Seeing Amaro's family get screen time IS NOT the same thing. The only time their was family drama was in "Spiraling Down" and even then it was short enough to not be offensive.

janethyland said...

This episode was nothing like LOCI.It was plot driven action drama where as LOCI focuses on psychology which is why it had depth and this episode didnt.

I was assuming this episode was more geered to SVU fans because of the action and the emotion.

Andre Braugher is in another league of acting from Harry Connick so i wouldnt compare them. Braughers character was problematic and that makes good drama and good tension.I dont think we are meant to like him, but the moment Braugher is on screen he demands attention.He has authority in his acting.

Why do people assume people go for their own type?If i was Olivia Id look for someone totally unconnected with the Law or Order!It would be a welcome change, but where would she meet that person?

nygma619 said...

Yes but LOCI also does something that has always annoyed me about that show. It portrays the major case squad from New York City inaccurately.aa

OhSusannah said...

I think that its nice to see a blossoming love affair for Olivia but I agree that Harry Connick Jr. wouldn't have been my first choice.He has a certain urbane quality about him, believable as an EADA.Perhaps because he and MH are supposedly real friends I didn't see a lot of chemistry between them, but its early on in his episode arc.When he took over as show runner Warren Leight eluded in interviews that Benson felt 'unrequited love' for her partner and was devastated personally when Stabler left SVU after that shooting.In that context when David Haden asks her about her personal life, she tells him she's just "getting over something".I'm more curious to see how they tie up their little affair-if it becomes that or if its just a flirtation.I was very puzzled that when Cragen basically ordered them to stand down from the case, Benson overrode his authority making a comment about the witness and decided the case was worthy of their time. This baffle me how she's able to usurp his authority.The ep was confusing to to me a times- it always is as they throw in far too many extra characters and storylines simply as red herrings each week.It wouldn't be SVU otherwise!Loving this season so far!

Icy said...

@SunshineZ1975- They are not pushing HCJ down our throats, it's no way being forced. How can you even say that judging from one episode.

One can't judge one episode and automatically assume something. It's his first episode, no one can tell how he'll be or the acting nevertheless.

Ellis ugh, can they just leave him out. He pratically ruins the whole episode, with him being so pushy.

Icy said...

@SunshineZ1975- They are not pushing HCJ down our throats, it's no way being forced. How can you even say that judging from one episode.

One can't judge one episode and automatically assume something. It's his first episode, no one can tell how he'll be or the acting nevertheless.

Ellis ugh, can they just leave him out. He pratically ruins the whole episode, with him being so pushy.

sunshinez1975 said...

@janethyland- The comment you made about Andre Braugher is on point and HCJ will never be in his league when it comes to acting.

@ohsusannah- I love Benson but it gets under my skin when she disrespects Cragen. He is still the Captain and the writers always seemed tort her and Stabler do what they want no matter what Cragen says. Fin and Munch isn't that privilege. In the real world, she would have been kicked off the force by now.

@icy- HCJ acting isn't going to improve he's been the same for years. Did he get the job because he's MH's friend? Yes, I think so. Just look back on last season and count how many of her friends were guests on the show. By the way, Andre Braugher's first episode on the show was powerful and it made me dislike his character (Bayard Ellis) but that's what I love about AB. He's a powerful actor who will grab your attention no matter what.

Anyway... I was just happy to see Benson smile. It really doesn't matter to me who put the smile on her face. I was so sick and tired of her being depressed about Stabler.

OhSusannah said...

@sunshinez1975- as much as I love MH as an actress and Benson as a character it often seems to me too that the writers must favor her over other actors the way they let her over-ride Cragen's authority.In fact when S13 was first confirmed and it was made public that MH was staying with less of MH and a more authoritative role for Benson, I wondered if Dann Florek was leaving.It would in no way explain how she could have gotten promoted over Munch as Sargent of course, and not made sense.At the same time, I expect that MH is able to wield a pretty strong bargaining chip-her immense popularity in this role -with the creative powers that be.I suspect that her character is given carte blanche to usurp Cragen once again. She seems to do it more overtly then when Stabler was there.I'm all for strong women figures in the work place as well, and good role models for young women on tv, but I too think it seems disrespectful towards Cragen.He's been like the father figure Liv never had in her life.
Off topic, to compare HCJr's acting ability to Andre Braugher's is like comparing apples to oranges. Andre B' presence is so much greater than most tv actors its almost laughable that anyone could be reasonably compared.Andre Braugher was hired as Bayard Ellis to ignite the screen with his courtroom prowess.SVU needs this frankly.Showrunner Warren Leight has suggested he wanted to take the show away from the forensics and crime driven element and make it more like a legal drama. I think the writers knew of MH's friendship w HCJr, and crafted a believable EADA character to have a little dalliance with Liv. I doubt he'll be mentioned much once it ends and she goes on from there.When have they ever referenced her other few past relationships?I think the show will always be primarily about the team's work-her personal life secondarily.It would lose the focus of the show if they made it about her romantic/personal life.Just my opinion!

janethyland said...

What Leight actually said was that he would incorporate aspects of the two now defunct law and order shows in the one surviving show,not that it would become legal or psychological, but a show of unity.

janethyland said...

I agree that Braugher is an extraordinary actor and compelling...which is why its odd to bring in this other legal character whilst still trying to establish Ellis. Its like they changed course midstream?

Icy said...

@Oh Susannah- They aren't favoring Mariska or adding in HCJ because she's friends with him. They had other people in mind, but it came down to whoever was in charge of the casting, who thought that the actor would work well with her.

They don't favor anyone, it certainly cause a big uproar with the rest of the cast. Your point doesn't really make a lot of sense, no offense but that's just me.

@Janethyland- They aren't changing courses, Ellis isn't an ADA like David is. Plus David was brought in to be her love interest.

Can everyone stop critizing on HCJ's acting. This was his first episode,and you can't tell by this episode how he's character and acting will be.

You need to just let it play out and give him a chance. Making such judgment based on this first episode makes one assume something that might or might not be.

As of Ellis, he's a bully and thinks he can take over everything.
The show does not need him at all,I'm so glad that they never considered him to Olivia's love interest. Ellis was more interested in being just friends...

He isn't her type.

OhSusannah said...

@icy- no offense taken!No problems..I did go on far too much in that earlier post. I simply meant that each season, a lot of MH's actor friends- and some musicians -seem to make guest starring roles in SVU. I meant no disrespect to MH personally or otherwise.I was simply stating an opinion: that MH must have a lot of clout with the casting/writing on the show.She's stuck with it for 13 years now, with some question episodes and seasons, according to some.I see that SVU is taking an upturn in storylines and I credit the entire cast/crew as well as Warren Leight with with the improvement.

janethyland said...

Ah, if they are friends that might explain the lack of chemistry.However a good actor should demonstrate their craft from the moment they walk on, whatever their role and however small that role is,even if they dont have a speaking part.

Im hoping this affair is just a brief interlude to move Olivia on from her past with Stabler,so that the show can move on too.

Does anyone know the validity of the comments being made about Connick senior and corruption on the IMDb site? Its a bit disturbing but may relate to the episode about "Fathers shadow"?

sunshinez1975 said...

@icy- you need to take a chill pill. HCJr can not act so stop defending him by saying it's his first episode. You keep singing the same old song. I don't mean to be rude but you're fighting a losing battle so stop defending his acting skills. There are some singers who can act and sing (Barbara Streisand and Jamie Foxx to name a few) but HCJr isn't one of them. My eight year old nephew can act better than HCJr.

HCJr mentioned he has two kids I hope these kids that are being held hostage in the next episode isn't his. It'll be a little cliche for Olivia to save the kids. I never liked Stabler and I'm glad he's gone but they could have picked someone sexier than HCJr to play Olivia's love interest, like someone who could act too.

By the way this episode received so much hype and NBC made sure there where plenty commercials of it and the ratings were low and I mean a Season low. I don't know what the writers were thinking when they brought in HCJr. This guy couldn't keep his broadway play from being cancelled. I think it only lasted three months if that. HCJr as an actor, what a joke.

Joanne said...

@Icy - just because it is HCJ's first episode, it doesn't mean it's not valid to criticize a lacklustre performance. Many guests come onto the show for only one episode - are they all allowed to give a poor performance because it's their "first"?

I'm willing to give recurring characters a few episodes (not that I had anything against the character in this one), but the acting is supposed to be good from the start.

I actually didn't mind Amaro's family in this one because it was somewhat relevant and didn't feel too intrusive. Maybe it's because I quite like him - I probably wouldn't be all that interested in seeing Rollins' backstory.

OhSusannah said...

I agree that hopefully that's not Haden's two kids being held at gunpoint while Liv comes to the rescue.That would be far too cliche.We'll have to wait to see until February 8 I guess..if that's when it airs...

Esaul said...

I really disliked this episode in its entirety.