Thursday, April 12, 2012

Law & Order SVU “Justice Denied’ Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU seemed to be on hiatus for so long I was worried that viewers would forget about it. “Justice Denied” was an episode that was clearly worth the wait. It begins with a flashback taken from the episode “Quarry” that first aired in January 2005 (from a 2004 case). While this dialog was taken from “Quarry,” I do not believe that “Justice Denied” is an actual revisiting of the primary case in “Quarry”. I am sure there are nitpickers out there who can help confirm or refute this.

It seems the entire season so far has been building to this episode. This was a well crafted story where Olivia Benson’s work, her friendship with Bayard Ellis, and her romantic relationship with EADA David Haden would collide in spectacular fashion. Sadly, it’s Benson who winds up losing at the end. Her relationship with Haden goes by the wayside as he isn’t willing to sacrifice his new promotion. She understands, but my suspicious nature wonders if David wasn’t just using her – and her access to controversial cases - just to find a way to advance his own career. It seemed all too easy for him to turn on his professional persona when needed. It was either that, or the fact that Harry Connick Jr. comes across cold even in scenes where he should be personable. (I actually feel bad for saying anything negative about Harry’s acting because I really enjoy his singing and music.) Andre Braugher is perfect as Bayard Elllis, a lawyer driven to defend people who have been wronged. At the same time, he maintains a good working friendship with Benson, despite her being in a job with which Ellis, or other lawyers like him,  can sometimes be at odds.

“Justice Denied” was an exceptional episode where Mariska showed the breadth of her acting ability. One of the biggest improvements with SVU this season has been the writing; each story seems completely believable and the dialog seems very true to the characters. Fans should feel proud of the work that the entire SVU production team is doing this season.

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:
Andre Braugher – Bayard Ellis
Harry Connick Jr. – EADA David Haden
Guillermo Diaz – Omar Pena
Mark Consuelos -Mike Martinez
Cynthia LaForte - Gina Logan
David Harris – the Warden
Ramon Fernandez - Javier
Tabitha Holbert – ADA Rose Callay
Max Baker – Rope Guy
Ami Brabson – Judge K. Blake
Samantha Soule - Ariel Baskins

Story by: Stuart Feldman, Warren Leight
Teleplay: Stuart Feldman

Back in 2004, Omar Pena is in SVU interrogation with Detective Olivia Benson, and he is breathing heavily. Afterwards, Captain Don Cragen asks if she got her confession, and Benson nods, saying he held out for 9 hours. He hands her an envelope and says the desk sergeant asked him to bring this up, and then asks her if she wants any coffee. She says yes, then adds two eggs over easy, hash browns, and toast. Cragen turns and looks back at her, but she smiles and says coffee is fine.

In the present day at Green Haven Correctional Facility, the warden arrives at Omar Pena’s cell, and the guard tells Pena is it judgment day. The other inmates clap for Pena as he walks out but the man tells Pena not to get his hopes up.

In the courtroom, the judge confirms that Pena wants to represent himself and he has a motion to vacate his conviction based on new evidence, and asks what new evidence. Pena says the evidence is pending a retesting of the DNA at the crime scene. The prosecutor says there was no DNA at the crime scene, and Pena says none based on the technology of the time but new techniques can obtain DNA from much smaller amounts of trace evidence. The prosecutor tersely argues that Pena wants then to overturn a conviction based on evidence Pena does not have. Pena states that the state has the means at their disposal to prove that he is not the man who committed this horrible crime. The judge asks if he means the crime he confessed to – the rape and torture of Ariel Baskins, whom he tied up, stabbed, and tried to blind her with ammonia. Pena says he has maintained for 8 years that confession was elicited under extreme duress. He says he recanted, but the judge interrupts and says it was after he pleaded guilty and the victim ID’d him. She rules that he failed to make the standard to overturn his conviction and denies the motion.

Outside a bar – it’s fleet week – a woman stumbles out with a Navy officer and tells her female friend they are going dancing but her friend Gina decides to pass. When Gina gets to her apartment she is immediately attacked as she tries to open the door. Later. she is bound to her bed, gagged, and bleeding, and she reaches for the phone and pulls it toward her.

Later, Benson arrives at the scene and is on the phone with EADA David Haden, and she is apologizing for sneaking out on him, saying she would have woken him but then probably would not have left. She enters the apartment and Detective Nick Amaro tells her the victim is Gina Logan, and explains the unis responded to her 911 call and found her tied to the bed. Her attacker forced her inside and was wearing a sailor’s uniform. EMS took her to Mercy and is still in serious condition Benson notices a bottle of ammonia cleaner on the floor and Amaro says the attacker poured ammonia in her eyes and tried to blind her. Benson asked if she was gagged, and when Amaro confirms that, Benson asks if he cut her below the chest, and Amaro says three slashes. Benson knows the attacker – adding they put him away for life 8 years ago, but thinks this is him.

Back at SVU, Benson asks Rollins if she is sure, and Rollins explains that she spoke to the warden herself; Pena was in his cell as of 10 minutes ago. Benson insists this is Pena’s MO, mentioning the Navy uniform, fleet week, torture, the ammonia. Benson says if Rollins told her someone took his place in prison, she would believe it. Rollins says it is possible. Pena had a hearing in New York a week ago to get his conviction overturned and he lost but maybe he staged a flip. Cragen approaches and tells them to back up, asking if they are talking about last night’s attack, and asks how is the victim. Amaro says that Gina Logan has chemical burns to the eyes and she has slash wounds, the attacker did a number on her. There are no leads and CSU is still checking for prints and running the rape kit. Cragen asks if Benson thinks he knows this guy, and Benson explains that they put Omar Pena away in 2004 and he confessed and the victim, Ariel Baskins, ID’d him. Pena spent the last 8 years recanting. Rollins asks if he had an accomplice and Fin says he remembers this case, the victim was alone with him for 10 hours in hell and was gagged with her own scarf and bound in rope and the guy never said a word and there was no partner. Cragen asks if Pena switched with a doppelganger when he was being transferred for the hearing, and Benson thinks maybe he got somebody on the outside to mimic his MO. Amaro wonders if a copycat would through suspicion on his conviction. Cragen tells Benson and Amaro to head up to Green Haven and talk to whoever is in his cell and tells Fin and Rollins to go to the hospital and see if the doctors will let them interview Gina

At Mercy Hospital, Rollins speaks with Gina and asks her if she saw the man before who attacked her. Gina, struggling to talk, says no, and tells Rollins the man was Hispanic in a white Navy uniform. He never spoke. The nurse enters the room and tells Rollins the doctor told Rollins to come back tomorrow. Meanwhile, Fin speaks with Gina’s friend Courtney and asks where was the bar the two girls were hanging out. She explains it was a dive they go to when the ships are in. When Rollins approaches and asks if any Hispanic guys talk to them, Courtney says it was fleet week, it was like the UN in there. She last saw Gina outside the bar around midnight. She hooked up with an officer and they were headed to a club and Gina felt like the third wheel so she walked home and Gina was drunk. Courtney feels she should have never left her alone. Fin says the rope guy at CSU has something, and Rollins seems surprised that that they have a rope guy. Fin shrugs, saying “Yeah. Guess I’ve been on this job too long.”

At the CSU lab, the rope guy is more interested in the knot, they guy used a clove hitch on the wrist and a bowline to tie her to the bed. This is something taught in Navy training. He demonstrates how he wrapped the working end around and finishes on the inside, and says whoever tied these knots finished on the outside, meaning the attacker is left handed.

In Green Haven, Omar Pena asks Benson and Amaro that he is in prison two hours away and they think somehow he raped someone again? He asks Amaro is he is Benson’s new partner, adding that Benson has had a hard on for him for 8 years. Amaro warns him to watch it. Pena claims that Benson put him away for a crime he didn’t commit, but Benson reminds him he confessed. Pena says he was in there all night with no food and water and he wanted to get out of there. Benson counters that he had the victim’s ID and credit card when they arrested him. Pena insists he told her that he found them in a dumpster. Benson says he did not have an alibi, and again Pena insists he told her he partied all night and smoked a couple joints and he already had too priors, he couldn’t tell her that. Amaro tells him that makes sense, Pena is sorry he confessed, and goes on to ask if Pena got one of his boys on the outside to copycat the crime to prove it wasn’t him. Pena says no, but Benson presses, asking who was it – one of his prison cellmates? She tells Pena to just give them his name and they won’t even charge him. Pena comments he is in jail for 300 years. Benson counters that Pena earned every single one of them; now he put another woman through this horror to maintain his lies. Pena insists he does not know anything about it, but Benson angrily reminds him it was a week after his hearing was denied with the exact same details. Pena is equally angry, asking Benson what does that tell her – it isn’t him this time and it wasn’t him then. Pena thinks they have a sick prick still out there and instead of looking for him, they are wasting their time on him. Benson tells Pena he is not a waste of time, he’s a waste of a life. She gets in his face and reminds him that he confessed because he knew what he had done. Amaro calls her off, telling her they are done here and gently pulls her away to leave the cell. As Amaro calls for the guard, Pena tells Amaro he took the confession back the first chance he got and asks if Benson told him that. Amaro asked if that was before or after he got sentenced, telling Pena that happens all the time. As Benson and Amaro leave, Pena shouts out that she didn’t care; nobody did, and once you confess, everybody stops listening.

Outside the facility, Benson and Amaro speak with the warden who explains that Pena has been buried in law books ever since he got there, sending letters, and the guys in his cell call him Matlock. Benson says they will need a list of everyone he has been in contact with on the outside. The warden says it is a short list, Pena doesn’t get any visitors, his mother died a year after he arrived and she was the only person who came. He became obsessed, 20 letters a day, 7 days a week.

Back at SVU, Amaro says if Pena had somebody on the outside, he did not write to them. All the letters are to lawyers, administrators, journalists, congressmen, and the president. Only Bayard Ellis wrote him back about a month ago, and he told Pena he would look into it. Benson says Ellis gets 100 letters like this a month. Fin enters and Benson asks if he had any luck at the bar. Fin says there are bras and thongs on the ceiling, no security cameras, no one remembers seeing Gina. Amaro comments that fleet week doesn’t produce the most reliable witnesses. Fin says all they have is that the attacker was left handed, Latino, and wearing a white sailor’s uniform. They know he is a lefty from the knots, and CSU is checking the rope from 8 years ago to see if it is a match. Meanwhile, Benson appears engrossed in reading something. Rollins adds that she has a list of inmates from Green Haven since Pena has been there, and cross checked with the Navy database, they got one hit, Mike Martinez, ex-Navy, dishonorable discharge, He was charged with attempted rape but plead down to 5 years stretch for assault and he made parole three months ago. The lawyer that prepped him was Omar Pena. Benson looks shocked that Pena got Martinez out, and asks who was his parole officer, wondering if Martinez paid back the favor.

At the apartment of Gladys Martinez, Fin pounds on the door with Rollins standing by. A young girl opens up and says Gladys is not there and says Mike is not their either, he is at work. Fin pushes the door open to look inside, and as Rollins asks how old is the girl, Fin seems movement and races inside. Fin runs out the back and catches Martinez trying to flee up the fire escape. Fin yells he isn’t going to chase him but he will shoot his ass from right there. Martinez climbs down.

Back at SVU, Amaro and Benson have Martinez in interrogation. Martinez says he was at work until 5 and then out with friends but gives no names. He says he was out all night. He hurt his arm at work. Benson counters that his boss said it didn’t and tells him to cut the crap. Benson asks where was he Saturday night at midnight. He if says he was getting high - Benson interjects that Pena even gave him his alibi – he goes on to say he loses his parole. Benson storms over with a folder of photos of Gina and says she thinks Martinez was raping and torturing a 23 year old girl. Martinez insists he is not a rapist, and when Amaro reminds him he was convicted once, Martinez replies that he did his bid and made his parole. Amaro reminds him it was with the help of his jail house lawyer, Omar Pena. Martinez admits “Matlock” helped him get out. Benson says Pena then told him he owed him. Martinez says no, but Benson asks if Pena gave him the details and told him how to commit the crime, and Martinez seems shocked.

Benson says they can put him back in prison right now. He had coke and weed in his system, he had sex with an underage girl who answered the door. Martinez says he does not want to go back. Benson says then why don’t they help each other out, and asks if Pena ever talked to him about the crime he committed 8 years ago. Martinez says yes, Pena kept saying he didn’t do it and wouldn’t give it a rest. Amaro comments that Martinez was in the Navy and dishonorably discharged, asking if he remembers how to tie knots (he says he guesses) and asks if he still has a uniform. Martinez replies at him mom’s. Benson tells Martinez that they are looking for a Latino guy wearing a Navy uniform who knows how to tie a bowline and who knew the details of Pena’s crime and who also owned Pena a favor Benson asks if he sees their problem; all of those things fit him. Before he can answer, Benson raises her voice and tells him he has two choices, he can be straight with them about what happened on Saturday night and they can talk to the DA or he can sit there and protect somebody that doesn’t give a damn about him. Benson asks what Is it going to be. Martinez says he knows why they think he did this, and Benson says the jury will think so too. She asks if he knows how long Pena was sentenced for, telling him it was 315 years. She adds that with his previous rape, the exact same crime, he will get the exact time. Martinez asks to just let him think. Benson continues to press, saying they will tell the DA the truth, that he was scared, maybe he threatened his family. Martinez tries to think and there is a knock on the door, Benson commenting that is probably the DA now and once they get involved, it is out of her hands. As Amaro leaves the room, Martinez says to tell the DA he is thinking. Benson raises her voice again, and says Martinez doesn’t have time to think, he is at a crossroads RIGHT NOW. She shouts that he has to make a decision, and Martinez says OK. Benson says if he makes the right decision, she will go to bat for him. Amaro opens the door and calls to Benson, but she shouts back that they are getting somewhere here, saying Martinez is thinking straight. Amaro says before he does, she should know. When she says she will be right there, Amaro insists that she needs to take a minute. Benson tells Martinez to think hard. She angrily exits the room and asks Amaro what is he doing pulling her out, she had him. Amaro says Martinez didn’t do it. Benson argues he is good for this. Cragen says the DNA results are back from the rape kit; the lab found skins cells under Gina’s fingernails, but no hits on CODIS. Amaro reminds her that Martinez’s DNA is in the system. Benson says he was about to confess. Cragen says the doesn’t mean he did it.

Later, Cragen tells the detectives that Martinez goes back to Green Haven for the rape of his 15 year old girlfriend but he is not good for the rape of Gina Logan. Benson adds that Martinez did say how Pena went on about being framed and wonders if he got somebody else up there to do it. Fin wonders if Gina’s rapist was really in the Navy his DNA would be in on file. Cragen thinks they are back to square one. Rollins says Gina is now stable and lucky, here eyesight is coming back. Cragen asks Rollins to see if Gina is up to working with a sketch artist. Benson wonders if they are dropping Pena just like that, and Fin says he’s got to be behind this. Benson adds to look at the crime scenes, the slashing. Amaro says there is one other possibility – the two rapes could be the same perp and it may not be Pena. Cragen suggests Amaro not go down a rabbit hole and adds Pena is good for the 2004 rape and if he did set this one up, he will not walk them through it. They need to find who did attack her and walk it back. Bayard Ellis enters the squad room and asks if he has come at a bad time.

Outside of SVU and walking down the street, Ellis says that Omar Pena asked him to look into his conviction, he believes the real rapist was never caught and just struck again. Benson says he doesn’t believe that, he set up the second rape so someone would fall for his story. Ellis asks if that is her working theory, and she asks what’s his. Ellis says she heard about her old partner and that IAB had a deep file on him and he wasn’t a stranger to threats and coercion. Benson insists this wasn’t his interrogation; Munch and Fin took the first shift and she took the last nine hours. Ellis comments about 9 straight hours, and Benson says she gave him breaks and he knew his rights. Ellis counters that even so, nine hours takes a toll on the detective as well as the defendant. Benson thinks Pena is playing Ellis and that Pena has written ten thousand letters – and Ellis corrects her that it is 62,000. Benson pauses and replies that this doesn’t mean he is innocent, and she continues to walk.

Later, as Benson walks with David Haden’s to his office, Haden asks her if she is aware that Bayard Ellis is now representing Omar Pena. Benson comments she has heard. Haden tells her not to let Ellis take advantage of their relationship as he has an agenda. He adds that Ellis is challenging police methods, claiming confessions are coerced. Benson explains that this one wasn’t. He asks how sure she is about that. She says very, adding that Omar Pena was a washout from the Navy, he was wearing his old uniform for fleet week and new details of the crime that were never made public, down to the color of the scarf that the victim was gagged with. Haden says that’s what he needed to hear, adding that now that there is a copycat, Ellis wants them to retest the old evidence for the new rapist’s DNA. Haden says he will be denying his request. He sits down and begins to look through a file, and Benson just stands there. After a pause, she asks if they are good. He looks up and says, “yeah.” After a long pause, le looks and Benson and says, “Thanks for coming in, detective. Give my best to your captain” and then continues to look through the file on his desk, seemingly paying no attention to Benson, She stands there looking slightly uncomfortable, then nods her head and turns and walks out of his office. Haden pauses, look at the doorway, then seems to be thinking about what just transpired.

Back at SVU, Cragen asks if they’ve had any hits on the sketch. Fin says no, it looks like half the sailors in town for fleet week, and Amaro adds most of the possible witnesses were drunk. Rollins says Gina did not give many details, she is sure it as a Navy uniform. Benson adds that is just like Pena, but Amaro says they know it is not him. Benson thinks he slipped that detail to his copycat. Nick gets a look of frustration and Benson picks up on it, asking Amaro if he has something to say, just say it. Amaro says he is noticing inconsistencies. The rope guy says the knots from ’04 were made by a lefty and Pena’s handwriting looks right handed. Benson testily asks if Amaro is a handwriting expert, and Cragen tells Benson it is easy to confirm. But Benson says they should be focusing on Gina’s rapist. Cragen tells her they are dead ended from leads on Gina’s attack and maybe it is time to go back and see if they missed anything from 8 years ago. He adds that case had witnesses who put Pena in the bar with the ships are back in town and maybe some of the witnesses are too, asking Rollins to see if she can shake the old ID. He tells Benson and Amaro to go back and re-interview Ariel Baskins and show her the new sketch. Benson comments that Ariel picked Pena. Cragen says again to show her the new sketch, saying there is a possibility they are looking at one perp here, not a copycat.

As they walk outside of SVU, Amaro tells Benson he has gone over the case and gets why she is sure Pena is guilty, but Benson tells him not to work her. Amaro wonders that if his confession was because he could have caved under pressure. Benson tells him they had their guy so she pushed hard. Amaro comments it is like Mike Martinez, who was about to cop to being set up by Pena. Amaro stands in front of Benson and stops her, saying that he has been right where she is, got so involved in a case he lost perspective and taken down a guy who he knew was guilty of something. Benson counters that she trusts her instincts and if she doesn’t have that, she shouldn’t be here. She gets into the car.

At Brazilian Frigate Maranhao at pier 88, Fin speaks to Javier who says the sketch looks like every other guy on his ship. Fin says that is the third witness to tell him the same thing. He says it is like Pena, he testified at the grand jury 8 years ago and he recalls it well. He went down to the Bulkhead Tavern and Pena had his hands on the victim. Javier also had been drinking. Meanwhile, Rollins speaks with Marco who says he picked Pena out of a line up and he knew the guy right away as he bummed a cigarette off him. Javier tells Fin that Pena was just staring at her, then he tapped her on the shoulder and she blew him off. He said what Pena did to that poor girl was horrible and he will never forget it.

Elsewhere, Benson and Amaro speak with Ariel who doesn’t want to remember anything about that night. Benson explains they want to make sure the man who did this to her stays in prison and asks for her help. Benson says Pena has a lawyer who is trying to reopen the case. They show her the sketch, and Ariel strains her eyes, using special glasses, to see it. She recognizes the uniform, but not his face, she insists the man was Omar Pena. Amaro asks if she saw his face while he was attacking her, and she says she saw his uniform and was trying to remember details and he must have seen her looking so he splashed her in the face. She insists it was him and doesn’t know why they are asking her this, they told her themselves that he knew all the details and about the scarf that he used to gag her with. She hasn’t worn red since. Benson asks if she said red, and asks if she is sure the scarf was red. Ariel replies yes, it was a birthday present from her mother and she said it was supposed to bring her luck. Ariel asks them to tell her he is not getting out. Benson does not answer.

Afterwards, Benson is racing out of the apartment and Amaro tells her to slow down and asks what is going on. She says it is one of the details only the rapist would know.

Later, in the file room with Amaro, Benson looks through the evidence box and says when Pena confessed, he said he used a green scarf . It was the one detail that convinced them Pena was guilty. Amaro sees in the file that the officer who vouchered it listed it as green. She finds the scarf in the box - it’s red – and she holds it up and asks him if it looks green to him. Benson tells Amaro she was not at the crime scene, she was at the hospital with Ariel. Amaro says Benson questioned Pena over an evidence log that she did not know was wrong. Benson said at some point, she must have mentioned the green scarf and then when he was tired and exhausted and confused, he must have repeated it back to her. Amaro comments that Pena put himself away for 300 years. Benson is distressed that Pena recanted and kept telling her he was innocent.

In Haden’s office, Cragen tells him that the officer  was color blind, and Haden asks if he is kidding him and asks how he got on the force. Benson said he was fine when he came out of the academy but in 2004 he head early stage MS and one of the symptoms is colorblindness. Haden comments that anything that can go wrong… and Benson says she must have mentioned the detail to Pena and hours later he repeated it back to her. Cragen says it could have been a detective that interrogated Pena earlier, but Haden says it does not matter, the confession is no good. Benson states she takes full responsibility, but Cragen says they are not pointing fingers here. Cragen says if Pena’s confession was compromised and he is petitioning for a DNA test, he deserves one. Haden testily says a couple days ago Cragen’s detective assured him he had a good confession, he took her word on that, adding they are all out on a limb here. Cragen comments that people make mistakes and Benson has stepped forward. Haden replies he is not arguing character, this is about perception. Ellis will turn this into an indictment of both their offices. Benson volunteers to talk to Ellis and tell him that this was entirely her mistake. Haden cautions her not to bear her neck to a wolf, just tell him the DA’s office will get the DNA test approved, and he looks away. Benson looks distraught and Cragen motions for them to leave the office.

Back at Green Haven in the visitor’s room with Ellis, Benson tells Pena they found matching DNA on the ropes at both crime scenes and it means it was not him and they are re-opening the case. She explains that at the very least if it has to go to retrial, there will be reasonable doubt. When Ellis prompts for a response, Pena is incensed this could mean a reinvestigation and a retrial. He asks Benson if she wants a gold medal now, saying she is telling him something he told her 8 years ago. Ellis cautions Pena to take it easy, and Pena says he is innocent and he doesn’t want a retrial, he wants them to vacate his conviction. Ellis explains there is light to the end of the tunnel. Pena retorts he will believe that when he is out and he storms out of the room. Benson tells Ellis the confession was all her fault, she worked him hard and she told him they had all kinds of evidence and he was going away no matter what. She broke him, but Ellis assures her she was doing her job. Benson goes on to say she forced a false confession, and, looking as if she is ready to cry, wonders if there are others. She tells Ellis she looks in the mirror and does not like what she sees; she’s seen "good old boy" detectives pull this and she took pride in knowing she is not one of them. Ellis stays it is because she is not; she stepped forward. Benson grabs her coat and leaves the room.

Back at SVU, Fin asks Benson how it went at Green Haven yesterday. She asks how does he think? Fin wonders as he and Munch and Pena first if they slipped up on the scarf. Benson tells him it doesn’t matter. She walks over to Amaro and Rollins and asks where are they on catching the real rapist. Rollins ambiguously says nowhere and somewhere, there are more than the two rapes that happened here. There are three other DNA hits form Interpol. There are three sexual assaults, one in Buenos Aires in 2006, on in Naples Italy in 2008, and Rota Spain in 2009. Amaro thinks the serial rapist starts here in 2004 with Ariel and moves on to other ports, Benson adding until he comes back and rapes Gina Logan. Fin confirms it is the same MO. Rollins says the dates all match up with international fleet week events. Amaro says they know the rapist is not US Navy as they would have his DNA on file. Benson asks how different are the Naval uniforms from country to country.

Meanwhile, Ellis is in Haden’s office saying his client has been wrongful imprisoned for 8 years, and asks Haden how much longer he has to wait? Haden replies that they have to complete their investigation and the DNA results alone are not exculpatory. Ellis counters that paired with the false evidence, “the hell they aren’t.” Haden argues there is plenty of other evidence besides the confession; the victim picked him out of lineup, 6 witnesses ID’d him in a bar harassing her, and he gets arrested with the victim’s credit cards. Haden scoffs that it is not a slam dunk for dismissal. Ellis claims it is circumstantial and the IDs were bad. Haden insists there is no malice – not from the DA’s office, or the NYPD, and Benson is killing herself trying to make this right. Haden says Ellis saw her with Pena. Ellis admits he knows, and Haden adds she has taken this personally. Haden says Benson is not one of those “good old boy” detectives and this is a point of pride with her. After hearing the “good old boy” comment, Ellis pauses and then asks when did Benson tell him about their visit with Pena? Ellis says he was with her on the train yesterday afternoon so it must have been last night. Haden shrugs and asks what Ellis is asking him. Ellis says he is curious, and asks him what is the nature of their relationship? Haden stands up and tells Ellis “I think we’re done here.” Ellis asks if the district attorney knows. Haden takes a breath and does not reply. Ellis goes on to say that he has an innocent man in prison and appearances suggest that the detective who coerced the confession is involved with the ADA whose office is re-investigating the case. Haden tells Ellis he knows them both better than that. Ellis replies then he knows they will both do the right thing here. Ellis moves to leave and turns to look back at Haden before he exits.

Later, sitting in Benson’s parked car, she tells Haden that she does not get it, Ellis knows their relationship has nothing to do with this case. Haden agrees that he does, but it gives him a grenade. Benson feels they have no choice, they have to disclose. Haden thinks it is too late; if this comes out now after he vouched for her, they lose their careers. Benson doesn’t understand why the DA won’t release Pena, and Haden snaps back that it does not work that way. He explains that overturning a guilty plea with that much evidence has to go through a process. Benson asks how do they speed it up and get Omar out of prison? Haden says if she finds the real rapist and tie him to both cases, that exonerates Pena completely. Benson asks, “And if we don’t?” Haden shrugs and says Ellis has to play his hand. Benson looks frustrated, and she starts up the car and asks Haden if she can drop him somewhere. He replies that he will get home on his own, and steps out of the car and shuts the door hard, leaving Benson in there alone, thinking.

On another day, Benson enters Ellis’ office and asks if she can talk to him. He says sure, and asks her to come in. She tells him “David Haden and I…it’s not some conspiracy.” Ellis didn’t think it was. She knows he is doing this for Pena and hopes that he knows her well enough to believe they want the same thing. He does, but how does he tell Pena that he has a way to get him out today, but he can’t use it because two people might lose their jobs. Benson says she understands that but she is not here to plead for her career or David’s. Ellis replies that he expects that if David Haden had something to say to him, he would say it himself. Benson says that is not what she meant, and asks if there is any part of this that is about Haden...and Ellis and her. Ellis says he hopes she knows him well enough not to have to ask that question. She smiles and says OK, point taken. Ellis asks what can he do for her. She asks he give her time, if they arrest the real rapist then Pena gets out, and when Ellis asks how long, she says a week, or she will go to the DA herself and tell him everything. Ellis nods in agreement and leans back in his chair.

Back at SVU, Benson asks the team where are they with foreign military. Rollins says the State Department was able to get access to a database of international ship logs. Three foreign vessels made port stops that match the attacker's. Gina and Ariel said the rapist never spoke and it could be because he had an identifiable accent. Fin shows them that the Brazilian Navy uniform looks similar, and Cragen notices it looks like ours. The Brazilian ship that matched is leaving tomorrow but right now it is docked at pier 88. Rollins says they already know 2 from that ship, Javier and Marco who were witnesses at the bar and they re-interviewed them the other day by their ship. Benson reminds them that it was Javier who pointed the finger at Pena 8 years ago and if he is the rapist he had motive to set him up. Cragen cautions that before they start an international incident he suggests they get photos out to the victims.

Amaro shows the photos to Ariel who picks out Javier, and then she asks herself what did she do? At SVU. Benson shows the photo to Gina who strains to see them and picks out Javier, saying she is positive. Gina asks where is he and did they find him, and Benson assures her they are working on it. Gina asks that he’s been doing this for 8 years, and Benson doesn’t answer. Gina is upset, saying if they hadn’t put away the wrong man, this never would have happened to her. Benson says she is sorry, and then walks out of the room.

In the corridor, Amaro says it is two for two, and Benson tells Cragen they have to pick up Javier. Cragen says they may be too late. Fin called and said Javier’s buddy Marco is still on shore, but Javier has already boarded the ship. Rollins asks since they are docked in their jurisdiction, what’s to stop them from going on board and arresting him? Cragen informs her only about a dozen international treaties. Cragen spoke to Haden and no way will Brazilian authorities turn over a sailor to US law enforcement. Amaro asks what about State? Cragen thinks that can take days to go through the proper diplomatic channels. Benson says they do not have days, they sail tomorrow. Rollins reminds them that Javier does not know they are looking for him yet, and it can’t be too hard to get a sailor to go on shore leave.

Benson and Amaro are at the bar, Benson calls it a classy place. Amaro tells her the owner is a retired cop and he thinks he misses the action. Benson sees Javier arrive and he sees Marco and comments there aren’t too many girls. People begin to surround him and he asks what is this and Benson shows her badge saying it is his going away party. Javier moves to leave but is prevented by the others around him. He takes a swing with his left arm at Amaro and is restrained. Amaro comments about Javier being a lefty as he cuffs him and takes him away.

At a 440 hearing, Ellis, representing Pena, says the people no longer meet the burden of proof and he moves to vacate the judgment. Haden informs the judge that the DA’s office has no objection and they fully support the request. The judge apologizes to Pena and will not allow him to be incarcerated for one minute longer. She vacates the judgment against him, and says he is a free man. He stands there and cries silently. Haden looks down, and then back to Benson who is sitting in the gallery. She nods back at him.

Later, in Cragen’s office, Benson informs him she just got off the phone with the lab and they confirmed Javier’s DNA is a match to all 5 crime scenes. Cragen comments that at the end of the day, she got her guy. As she moves to leave, Cragen calls her back in to give her a heads up that the DA’s office has decided to set up a conviction integrity unit on past cases and they are going to start by taking a look at sex crimes. Benson says two days ago, the DA was content to let Pena rot in prison, and now he wants to play the hero. Cragen says, “Welcome to my world.” He adds that David Haden will be in charge of the unit. Benson nods and says this is good to know. She walks out of his office and back to her desk to grab her coat. Amaro tells her goodnight, and Benson says “you too” but then tells him he is a good partner. He looks back at her and she walks out, and he gets a slight, satisfied smile on his face.

In a restaurant at the bar, Benson comments to Haden about being Chief Haden and raises her glass. They toast and she congratulates him. He thanks her and says it is a big undertaking, adding he asked Ellis o be a member of his outside advisory panel. Benson quips that she is not so sure he is a joiner. Haden replies he guesses they will see. Benson asks where does that leave them? He turns and looks to her and says, “In conflict.” He adds he will be looking at the cases that she handled. Benson reminds him they never disclosed. Haden says it is not too late but that means he would have to resign. Benson thinks that is ridiculous, he can’t do that, it’s what he lives for. Haden asks, “says who”” and Benson answers, “says you, the first time you walked in to our squad room.” He says he will be assigned to her cases, and she nods. He sighs, and then says she knows that means….and Benson she says she knows – “us…this…never happened.” Haden is not looking at her and Benson looks near tears...we fade to black.

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Icy said...

So heartbroken over Liv and David breaking up. She had tears in her voice when she said, " Pretend like it never happened."

She really cares so much for David. I know why he avoided looking at her, he didn't want to see the sadness in her eyes. Plus David really did not want to end this relationship either.

Perhaps they will get back together.

This episode really showed just how talented Mariska truely is. She was awesome and deserves more than a single emmy for this episode.

sunshinez1975 said...

I'm glad Liv and David are over. Bayard Ellis is a very good lawyer and a true friend to Liv. He respects her and when she began doubting herself, he tried to reassure her that she's a professional and good at what she does. I hate it that Andre Braugher is leaving SVU, I'm going to miss Liv and Ellis friendship.

By the way, David was an a$$hole in this episode. I never liked him but I really don't like him now.

Icy said...

If this didn't happen with David looking over her past cases, they would have been still together.

He couldn't even look at her, he too felt bad.

David was angry over the case, he had to act that way because of it. People can't be nice all the time, but at the sametime he really didnt' want to end the relationship with Liv.

Whatever, we know that she end up getting stronger because of this. Liv is a strong person, but her heart completly broke. I don't think she's ever loved her former boyfriends as much as she loved David.

Her previously relationships she was fine when it ended. Olivia seemed to be hurting deeply during this one.

ConnorBehan said...

Clearly Warren Leight is watching season 3. The question of whether the explanation is a wrongful conviction or a copycat is from Redemption. And the guilt Olivia feels after railroading an innocent man is from Wrath.

I liked the episode a lot. I initially thought it was a farce that Omar could get a 315 year sentence. I thought back to the season 1 episode Nocturne where a judge says "115 years, the maximum the law will allow" but I just checked. There are really are criminals in New York serving 300 year sentences. The more you know.

xfool said...

This is by far the best season in YEARS. Warren Leight has re-energized this show, which under Neal Baer had been living in "camp-dom" for a long long time.

I'm glad to see Haden out of Benson's life because I could not stand Harry Connick Jr. Mariska needs to be paired with someone who can act and with someone that she has chemistry with. I don't mean Stabler either. Connick did nothing for me.

The episode was excellent and Andre Braugher is a wonderful adddtion. Too bad that the show is geting swful ratings/ What was NBC thinking by having the show off for 6 weeks? When a show is off that long, only the die hard fans retunr. SVU can't survive on die hard fans alone.

OhSusannah said...

interestingly, the S3 ep Quarry that they took that 2004 clip from with Liv and Cragen was also a case of a death row inmate appealing to Liv for help in his last minute plea bargaining to prevent execution.I liked this ep for a lot of reasons.The writing and acting are really on point.Not surprised to see that she and David chose to break up rather than risk their respective careers. I much prefer her relationship/chemistry with Bayard Ellis. I wondered if she wanted Bayard to indicate his interest in her was romantic.Their personalities seem much more in sync than with David. I think we all knew by showrunner Warren Leight that it was only ever a temporary diversion to Liv; certainly not the love of her life. He was there to move her past her grief over Elliot's resignation.I really hope there's a S14 for SVU.

Samantha said...

First of all, THANK GOD Olivia and David broke up. I cannot stand him, and I never could. (a) he used her, (b) they had nothing in common, and (c) Casey and Olivia have a thousand times the chemistry they did. Finally, Warren Leight got one right. Stop making Olivia look like a desperate girl, hon. She's a rock, not some horny schoolgirl. Long live C/O, glad David is gone.

janethyland said...

I agree with Samantha about the lily livered weak character of Hagen.It felt like he was chosen to satisfy shippers rather than satisfy Olivia or the drama...but he was a good device to move Olivia on.

He was also there as a device to bring in more Law and fuse it to the personal levels. Id rather see her connect to a man who brings in another world that would add vibrance to the show.

Leight needs another year to develop more interest in the show,more original moments.I hope he is writing the season finale.

janethyland said...

I cant even get that characters name right. Ive tried but it doesnt register!Haden/Hagen/who cares!

chillicothe20 said...

Amazing episode. Best of the season.

I just had one comment: for all the mention of Olivia not being desperate or acting like a schoolgirl, she has been downright stupid lately. She is a veteran detective, and she knows the danger of conflict of interest, not only to convictions, but to justice itself. That she would not have wanted to disclose the relationship before, or at least before this case got too big is surprising, and a little selfish. Bayard was 100% right that it was a problem. She should KNOW BETTER. We know she is better than that. Maybe if HCJ hadn't been so unlikeable, then I could believe she would act so foolishly, but as it stands it was out of character and disappointing on her part. I love Olivia to death, but I am objective enough to cede the point.

P.S. I am not complaining, just putting in my two cents.


OhSusannah said...

I just watched Justice Denied on a local station.Still one of the best SVU episodes ever. I wish Bayard Ellis had stayed longer.It occurred to me that while Liv was talking to David in his office, the door was open the entire time, and his staff could no doubt hear their conversation. If he seemed so dismissive towards Liv, and he was certainly, to the point of rudeness, it was because he knew his staff could hear every word. I'm pretty sure he did that to deflect any speculation that they had any kind of personal relationship. He probably left his office door open on purpose when she visited him that day. What a brilliant episode!