Thursday, October 3, 2013

Law & Order SVU “American Tragedy” Recap & Review

They said it couldn’t be done – mixing the ripped from the headlines stories of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen, and stop and frisk. (I would say they could have thrown in the kitchen sink but we did get a lavatory sink which is close enough.) The writers mashed up these headlines with mixed results. Yes, it could be done, but in the case of “American Tragedy”, I have to ask if it SHOULD have been done. The real life stories were not special victims cases and this episode seemed like a desperate attempt to capitalize on hot-button real life issues while they were fresh in the public’s mind. The downside of this is that the fictional story seemed too familiar and I felt no sense of suspense or drama, nor was I left with any urge to debate whether what Jolene did was murder or self defense.

When I heard that Cybill Shepherd would be playing the “Paula Deen”-type role, I thought it was a great call. I quickly changed my mind as her performance was stiff and more like a caricature, not acting. Her southern accent seemed to come and go and was not consistent. It felt more like parody than a dramatic performance.

Also too familiar was the continued segments with Benson and Dr. Lindstrom, which reminded me all too much of Bobby Goren’s sessions with a doctor in the final season of Law & Order Criminal Intent. I feel like we are not seeing anything new here. And no offense to Bill Irwin, but I he has creeped me out since his infamous role on CSI and I cringe every time he is on the screen as Benson’s doctor. In fact, his CSI role is a testament to his fine acting skills, but it also put an image in my mind that will not go away and I have a hard time getting past him in the role of a supportive doctor.

It was interesting that Benson reacted quickly and defended herself against a man who was coming on to her and getting in her space while she walked alone on a darkened street. The only difference between her fear reaction and Jolene’s was that Benson did not use her gun. That is, assuming that Jolene shot out of true fear.   Amaro appears to have noticed that Benson is either still wound a little too tight, or, that she has simply decided she isn’t going to take any crap from anyone. (She could be turning into Stabler!)

The timeline of the episode appeared to move much quicker than it would in reality. If my notes are correct, the first date listed was August 7 when Barba met with Jolene. It was as if the shooting had only happened a day or two before, and right after this scene,   Mehcad dies in the hospital. Jolene is arrested on August 8 and the trial starts August 12. Can the system really work that fast, even if the DA wanted to expedite it to help stop the protests? I would think that the defense would want more than a few days to prepare for such a serious case. By the way, it’s a little sad that in the last several years, we’ve had a nameless, faceless, Manhattan DA. If this was an election year, why couldn’t they just either use McCoy’s name or make up another name. Even if we weren’t going to SEE a district attorney, as a Law & Order fan I would like to know if Jack McCoy is still running the show or if someone has taken his place. (Correction - I've been reminded that Mike Cutter mentioned there was a new DA in the season 13 SVU episode "Scorched Earth" - but no name for the new DA.)

The high points – Raúl Esparza and Jeffrey Tambor were both very believable in their roles and both provided very passionate performances. The writers also have created an interesting personality for Barba that is helping to make him someone that I look forward to seeing.

I’m a little confused about the name of the serial rapist. Amaro first refers to him as Willie Smith, and then later he is referred to as Willie Taylor. Did I miss something?

The people working the set – or the cameras – should be mindful when using a long shot showing the entire elevator, from top to bottom. In the scene where Barba, Benson, and Fin exit the elevator, that’s clearly a solid floor instead of an opening in the floor at the base of the elevator. Seriously now, how much can it cost to put a strip of black tape there to make it look like a real elevator?

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
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba

Guest stars
Tamara Tunie – Dr. Melinda Warner
Bill Irwin – Dr. Lindstrom
Jeffrey Tambor – Counselor Lester X. Cohen
Cybill Shepherd - Jolene Castille
Leslie Odom, Jr - Reverend Curtis Scott
Pablo Schreiber – William Lewis
Kevin Carroll - Cory Carter
Sonja Sohn - Lisa Carter
Cindy Katz – Chloe
Allison Mackie – Bethenny
Alice Barrett Mitchell – Aubrey Trisler
Francis Jue - Judge Ong
Joshua Boone – Willie
Albert M. Chan – Lloyd Chang
Gregory Konow – Craig
Patrick Byas – Shawn
Joshua Rivera – Darryl
De’On Ragin – Tyrone
Kal Parekh - Doctor
Moise Morancy – Mehcad Carter
Andrew Rein – Reporter #1
Sope Aluko - Reporter #2
Bill Kocis – Reporter # 3
Rhonda Ayers – Jury Foreperson

At SVU, Benson and Rollins interview separately two victims who have been raped. The victims describe similar circumstances and the attacker – a black man, about 6’, in a hoodie who tells the victims that he knows they want it. After the interviews, Benson and Rollins explain to Munch that both victims describe their attacker with the same characteristics. Rollins believes they have a serial rapist on their hands and wants to get in a sketch artist, but Munch disagrees as they’ve already spent too much on overtime and he wants them both to get some rest.

Afterwards, walking down the street alone, Benson is stopped by a man who calls out “hello gorgeous” and as he reaches for her, he asks her what is the matter, doesn’t she have a smile for him? Benson quickly uses self defense techniques on him and gets the man to the ground, and is readying to punch him but she holds back. The man is stunned, but Benson also seems stunned at her own reaction. She starts to walk away, whispering to herself. She briefly turns and looks back and then quickly walks away.

At a later time in Dr. Lindstrom’s office, Benson says that guys say stuff like that to her all the time, and she went off on him; she’s a NYC cop and can’t go around beating people up. Lindstrom asks if she remembers what they talked about last session, and she recalls that she said she was upset that Lewis got the drop on her and how she should have reached for her gun. But Benson thinks this is different – this wasn’t Lewis. Lindstrom says he hears her first beating herself up for under reacting to Lewis and now overreacting to this guy. Benson feels she can’t get anything right, she’s all over the place. Lindstrom says if a victim said that to Detective Olivia Benson less than three months after an assault, what would Benson say to her? Benson replies she’d say that survivors can experience a wide range of reactions from stress to fear to numbness…Lindstrom adds depression, anger, flashbacks. Benson adds “all of the above.” Lindstrom asks if she has even known someone to take a self defense course or obtain a gun and resolve never to be a victim again. Benson replies of course. Lindstrom says she might see this kind of overreaction to people to be emotionally triggered and Benson might tell her that over time she’ll recognize those triggers and temper her responses. Benson nods and pauses - having flashbacks of her experience with William Lewis = then goes on to ask – then what if she doesn’t believe me? Lindstrom suggest Benson may ask her to forgive herself a little bit, and remember she is going through a process and that healing takes time.

Back at SVU, Rollins pins up the sketch on the board and Fin describes it as useless. Rollins reminds him it is a start and that they are also checking traffic cams. Munch asks for the forensics and Amaro says there is no DNA on the guy as he used a condom and he sounds like a pro. Munch asks if there are any recently released sex offenders, and Rollins explains there are none that match the sketch but they got a hit on the condom lubricant which Fin adds is sold in every bodega in the city. Benson enters and apologizes for being late and when Munch says she is allowed, she tells him please don’t say that. Benson looks at the sketch and also describes it as useless. When Fin tells her that is what he said, Munch comments that you never know, suggesting they give it a shot, alert the media and the neighborhood and catch a break. Rollins gets a phone call and says it is too late.

At St. Michaels’s Hospital, Rollins and Fin question another victim, who describes her attacker as African American in a hoodie who attacked her at her front door, putting a gun against her back, saying “I know you want it.” He got a condom and raped her. She begged him to stop but he just started beating her.

Back at SVU, Benson advises the detectives and officers that they are looking for a serial on the upper west side, all three rapes occurred within a half mile of each other between the hours of 10 and 1. Amaro adds that the suspect is a 6’ black male who wears a hoodie and a cap and follows the women home and pushes his way in. Benson explains the attacker is escalating and is getting more violent. As she and Amaro explain where and how they want coverage, we see officers putting up posters and questioning people in the area. Benson reminds them to do 250s and stop and frisk.

As the detectives are out questioning and frisking various people in the area, a formally dressed woman walks down the street alone and a person in a hoodie seems to follow her. She turns around and asks what he wants, and he does not answer so she turns back and walks away faster. He continues to follow. Soon, Fin and Rollins hear a nearby gunshot and race to the scene. Benson and Amaro drive up in their car and see the woman standing over a body and they order her to drop the gun. She drops it as she states the person was attacking her. Amaro orders her to step back and Benson checks the man laying on the ground and he has a pulse. She calls for a bus as Fin and Rollins arrive at the scene. The woman insists to Amaro that the man was following her and was going to rape her.

Munch arrives at the hospital and Rollins informs him the suspect is Mehcad Carter, 16, and he was shot once in the chest by the victim and is still in surgery and his parents are on the way. Munch asks if he had a gun, and Fin says no, they recovered a cell phone from his pocket. Rollins explains the victim is Jolene Castille, a celebrity chef who explained she shot in self defense. Fin adds Carter showed similar MO to the other vics. Munch sees the parents arrive and says he knows they are worried about their son but to find out what he was doing in that neighborhood. Fin and Rollins speak to the Carters who say Mehcad is a good kid, and they don’t understand why he was shot.

Meanwhile, Benson and Amaro are with Jolene in another room who is being checked over. She says he tried to rape her. She explains she was coming home from a benefit and wanted some fresh air so her driver pulled over so she could walk. She first saw him on her street and was following her and was wearing a dark hoodie just like in the poster. She asked him what he wanted and he did not answer, he just kept coming. She went to her brownstone gate and he did too, and she told him to get back, get back. He did not respond, he had his hand in his pocket and thought he had a gun so she pulled out her pistol. Amaro tells Benson is was a Smith & Wesson 38. Jolene explains she has a carry permit. She pointed her gun at him and told him to stop and get back but he just lunged at her. Amaro asked if he assaulted her physically, and Jolene explains he did not get a chance to, she was terrified and knew he was going to rape her. She shot him to stop him, saying it was horrible and she never shot anyone before. Amaro tells her the boy she shot is in critical condition, and Jolene seems surprised it was a boy and asks if he will recover. When the detectives don’t answer, Jolene adds she had to do it and she had no choice.

Fin and Rollins continue to speak with the Carters who are surprised at what transpired. When Fin asks what Mehcad was doing in that neighborhood at 10:30, the Carters explain he was walking home from playing basketball and he usually takes the subway. Rollins asks if Mehcad lives with them, and his mother says of course he does, he’s 16. His father adds that during the school year he is home studying but in the summer…Rollins finishes that he was playing basketball. Tonight but asks about other nights, the nights of the other rapes. When his mother says he was out, Fin asks what time he got home. The parents realize they think Mehcad is the serial rapist but they do not believe this and think the woman is lying and shot their son in cold blood and they need to arrest her.

Amaro speaks with one of the other victims, Chloe, who is still in the hospital about the suspect being in the same hospital and he tries to reassure her. He asks her to look at a few photos.

Benson is back at SVU and speaks with another one of the previous victims, Bethenny, who said it was dark and she did not see his face. Benson tells her it is OK and they will be in touch. The door buzzes as Benson walks into the squad room and tells the others it is a no go, Bethenny could not make the ID. Amaro says Chloe picked him out right away, and Rollins says so did Aubrey. ADA Barba recaps that they have two vics that can ID him and one that shoots him in the act but there is no gun on him. Benson explains none of the other women saw the gun and whatever he threatened them with was hidden. Amaro thinks it was probably the same pocket that he had his cell phone in that he threatened Jolene with. Barba asks about the cell phone, and Fin says there were the usual messages about hooking up and hanging out, but the GPS puts Mehcad in the west 80’s every night the rapist hit. Rollins adds his parents say he went to play basketball and they can’t – or won’t – confirm what time he got home. He has no record, is an honor student and in the church choir and everybody that knows him says he is a good kid. Barba dryly counters they’ve all heard that one before, it’s amazing how much trouble these honor students get into. He asks if Jolene’s story holds up, and Benson explains she sounded genuinely terrified and knows Mehcad is only 16, but he is 6’. Amaro recounts Jolene said she shouted stop and he didn’t and bang. Fin reminds them he was wearing ear buds, but Benson counters that he stalked her on the empty street and it was dark and she believes Jolene was in fear for her life. Barba states a rich, white celebrity shoots a black teenager and the papers are already hailing her as the Ragin’ Cajun and they should just make sure the kid is the rapist.

On Wednesday August 7 at the office of the ADA at One Hogan Place, Jolene and her attorney Mr. Cohen are in the meeting room with Barba. Jolene is shocked the boy was only 16 and confirms to Barba she was close enough to see his face. Barba questions her about what transpired that night and what she said, and then explains Mehcad was wearing ear buds. Cohen stops Barba and asks how Jolene would know that, he was also wearing a hoodie. Jolene said she yelled loudly and he smiled at her and didn’t say a word and she felt in fear for her life and pulled out her revolver. Barba asks if that is when he lunged at her, and Jolene said he opened her gate and she said get back. He had his hand in his pocket, she thought it was a gun and she pulled out her revolver. She told him to get back again but he just kept coming and she shot him. Barba questions how far away Mehcad was to her, and Jolene explains maybe one or two feet. Barba asks if it was close enough to see her revolver, and Cohen counters that Mehcad could have turned, left, but he lunged and got shot in the chest, not the back. Jolene adds she is spry for his parents but she would do it again if she had to.

At the hospital, the Reverend Curtis Scott paints a different picture of Mehcad to Fin and Rollins, and his parents are upset . A doctor calls them over and while the Reverend explains Mehcad did not do this, the parents find their son is dead and the parent scream in shock. Rollins gets a shocking message – they have one in progress,

Benson and Amaro are at the scene of another attack where another black man, Willie, has been apprehended who says he didn’t rape nobody, they wanted it. He looks to Benson and says she wants it too, referring to her as a bitch, and Benson knees him in the groin and roughly hauls him off to the squad car while Amaro looks on with concern.

Back at SVU, Munch comments to Amaro that the guy claims Benson went off on him, and Amaro says the guy is a liar. As Fin and Rollins question Willie about the other rapes and he counters that the papers say the boy that got shot is the one who did it. As Munch and Amaro observe, Munch thinks they have a problem and tells Amaro to tell Barba.

Outside one of the court rooms, Benson and Amaro tells Barba that Willie Smith is a recently paroled level 3 sex offender and the rapes fit his old MO. He’s been sleeping at a shelter for the last two weeks that is within 10 blocks of each rape. Barba asks if there is a chance they are looking at a copycat, and when Benson sighs, Barba explains he had to ask. He asks about the two victims that ID’s Mehcad, and Rollins said there is a similar look and cross race IDs. Benson suggests they bring those victims back in and see if they can ID Willie in a line up, and Barba explains if they do they’ve ID’d two different suspects which just about defines reasonable doubt. Amaro asks if Barba doesn’t want to bring them in and Barba doesn’t know, but then recalls the one victim that did not ID Mehcad and tells them to bring her in first. Fin questions if he is throwing out the other two cases, and Barba asks if they have anything else to tie him to those two other than MO and cross race IDs. Rollins informs him Willie said he cycles cooking oil and suggest CSU test the victims clothing and if there is lard/oil residue…Benson saying if they get a match…and Fin finishes that Jolene shot an innocent kid. They all fall silent – and Barba then comments that the question is, did she know that? He tells them to tell Warner he needs that autopsy, now.

At SVU, the line ups take place and all victims identify Willie, one recognizes his hands, and Chloe recalls the smell of rancid fast food oil.

Meanwhile, at the morgue, Warner tells Benson, Barba, Rollins, and Fin that when kids crump they crump quick. Rollins explains to Barba this means all the vital go south all at once. Fin asks if they are looking at a homicide, and Warner comments if getting shot is what killed him, then yeah. Benson explains Jolene claims she fired in self defense, but Warner explains there was no stippling on his body and he was not that close to her. Barba asks if the stippling could have disappeared during surgery, and Warner tells him it can’t, stippling burns into the skin. Rollins asks about the clothing, and Warner says after EMS - the “Evidence Mangling Service” -  cut the clothes off through the bullet hole she will hunt them down and kill them. Benson tells Warner that Jolene claims he was a foot away, and Warner says Jolene is either lying, or confused. Barba tells the detectives to find out which on it is. As the detectives leave, Warner stops Fin and tells him before they go to Chez Jolene to use the men’s room, her ex’s nephew worked there and when the kitchen toilet broke she would not let the help use the customer rest room, they had to use the diner across the street.

At Chez Jolene on August 8, Benson comments the place is packed and Fin comments Jolene is becoming a folk hero. They explain they have a few questions and she suggest they take it in the back. The discuss the new suspect and when Jolene asks about the other IDs, Benson says sometimes victims misapprehend the situation, Jolene tersely says she did not misapprehend, not one iota. Fin questions her on how close Mehcad was and moves closer to her and touches her and Jolene angrily pulls her arm back and tells him not to touch her. She then smiles and apologizes, saying she is still jumpy. Benson explains what the ME said about Mehcad being farther away, and Jolene says the ME wasn’t there, that boy was going to rape her and he said he knows she wants it. Benson comments Jolene never told them that before, and Jolene says she was not comfortable with his patios. She challenges them that just because they caught a black rapist that he is the one?

Outside the courthouse, protests take place against Jolene, asking for justice for Mehcad.

In Barba’s office as the detectives arrive, he is on the phone with the DA who is clearly putting pressure on Barba. Fin says the DA is suddenly concerned because it is an election year, and Barba pleads no comment. Barba says Willie Taylor is good for all the rapes, and Amaro mentions all the oils found on all the vics, and Mehcad was just a kid in a hoodie, the wrong place at the wrong time. Fin adds, and the wrong skin. Barba plays devil’s advocate and asks what Mehcad was doing there that night. Benson says his friends said Mehcad lost his metro card and he was walking home. Barba asks why he followed her to the gate, and Fin comments the parents say Mehcad liked to watch the cooking channel and maybe he recognized Jolene and wanted an autograph. Benson informs Barba that Jolene is now embellishing her story and now says Mehcad said “you know you want it.” Fin adds this was the day after it was leaked to the press. Barba asked how she reacted to the ME’s report, and Fin states Jolene doubled down. Benson adds not one neighbor heard her scream. Barba thinks her story is a house of cards and she is hiding behind self defense. Fin believes this is more like a hate crime. Benson feels this is racially motivated and Barba suggests if it is, she will have a history, telling them to find it, and looking down at the protesters, states this isn’t going away.

At SVU, Jolene is being photographed for a mug shot and she thinks they are afraid of that mob and they're trying to bury her ass to cover theirs. Cohen says this is their kitchen, not hers, but tells Amaro this is a farce. While Rollins continues to take the mug shots, Jolene makes bigoted comments and the DA wants their votes. Barba assures her it is his call, not the DA’s, and tells Rollins to print her. While Rollins takes her fingerprints, Jolene asks if Rollins is from Georgia and how did they put her up to this charade, and they both know if they were down home she’d be getting a medal. Rollins looks disgusted.

Back at the courthouse, Benson wades through protesters and reporters, one who barks a question at Barba. Jolene arrives and reporters also question her. She asserts she was in fear for her life when she shot Mehcad.

At the Supreme Court on August 12, Barba questions ME Warner about the stippling and questions Jolene’s claims she was inches away from Mehcad. Warner says the shot that killed Mehcad was fired from a distance of at least 5 feet.    Next, the Reverent testified to Mehcad’s character, and under cross, Cohen tries to imply that Mehcad was not what he seemed when he was with his friends, referencing people who are Sunday saints and Saturday sinners.

Mehcad’s mother testifies about Mehcad being a fan of Jolene and that he was never in trouble with the law. He also only had his cell phone and cherry bubble gum with him. She knows he was tall, but he just turned 16 and was still her boy. She cries.

Benson is on the stand about Willie Taylor’s arrest and then they conclusively linked him to the other cases and Mehcad was ruled out. Cohen questions her about Jolene fitting the profile of the rapist’s other victims, and Benson replies yes. He also asks about Mehcad appearance and behavior, and she must admit that it did. He challenges her on the other victims IDs of Mehcad and Benson informs him they recanted. Cohen states they did ID Mehcad, which means SVU also believed he was the rapist. Benson testifies he was a suspect and after investigating further the realized a mistake had been made. Cohen shouts what further – when? – 48 hours? Cohen states that if SVU and two victims believed Mehcad was the rapist, how could Jolene – a woman alone a dark street – know he wasn’t, in the blink of an eye.

Outside the courtroom, Mrs. Carter berates Barba, who apologizes and Benson says she was wrong. The Reverend says that lawyer just slandered him like that, and Barba assures him the jury can understand Mehcad was not a threat and the burden is on her to prove self defense. The Carters think Barba needs to go after her and make them see who she really is. Barba tries to explain and Fin jumps in to say that Barba will do all he can. The Reverend says Jolene fooled them, will they let her fool the jury?

Outside on the courthouse steps, Cohen defends Jolene to the reporters. Amaro and Rollins give Barba information on a deposition years ago made by Jolene on a discrimination and wrongful termination suit by 5 black males who worked in the kitchen. She accused them of stealing and referred to them as “field hands.”

Later, in judge’s chambers, Barba makes his case for using those statements to Cohen’s objections. Cohen admits he was aware of the statements. The judge won’t allow them to be admitted but will allow Barba to use them if Jolene opens the door.

Back in Supreme Court on August 13, Jolene is on the stand and defends her behavior with her employees and her black friends Barba brings up her calling her black employees “field hands” and she says she blurted it out during a moment of duress and is a vestige of the way she was raised. Barba brings up denying her employees the use of the customer bathrooms, and she states her restaurant is about hospitality and she has never denied an employee a fair working environment. When Barba makes a snide comment, the judge tells him to move on. He asks if she carried a gun when owning Chez Jolene in New Orleans, and she explains there was no need. She started carrying one here as she was a public figure. Barba taunts that it is because NYC is less segregated than what she is used to, and Jolene says she did not say that. Barba challenges that she did say in Les Bon Temps magazine that nobody takes the subway unless they have to, it is like a jungle train through the Congo. She grins and says everybody knows that was just a joke. Barba states it was a telling joke, and adds that the night she saw Mehcad, did she see a field hand, a jungle animal, or just a boy trying to make his way home. Cohen objects but Jolene states she wants to answer that - she saw a hooded man following her and she told him to back off and he came though her gate. Barba challenges if it had been a white man would she have told him to get back or pull her gun? Cohen objects, but Jolene states if it was a white boy, she would not have been afraid. Barba says let’s be clear, Mehcad Carter didn’t have to do anything, he didn’t have to say anything, he just had to be a black boy standing on her sidewalk and that gave her the right to shoot him. Jolene coldly replies that is not what she said. He asks, “Isn’t it?” and concludes his questioning.

Later, in the elevator, Barba tells Benson and Fin he is going to offer a plea. Benson questions why, Jolene is on the defensive. Barba replies for now, it’s a he said/she said only this time he is dead. Fin counters that SHE shot him. Barba says it means the jury is only going to hear her side, they are never going to hear his. Fin says she won’t take the plea, and Fin is handed a subpoena as they exit the elevator. He informs them he defense wants him on the stand.

On the stand, Cohen questions Fin about the night of the shooting and asks him about his 250 reports, otherwise known as the stop and frisk reports. Cohen asks about the race and the age, and Fin says they were all black makes who matched the description of the suspect. Cohen brings up the stats of blacks and rapes and accuses the NYPD of targeting a disproportionate number of blacks males in the stop and frisk operations. Cohen brings up that the mayor said they stop a disproportionate number of white males, and minorities too little. Cohen asks if Fin is prejudiced against young black males and Fin replies of course not and insists his actions were not racially motivated. Cohen says those men fit the profile, and why is Jolene racist for doing the same thing? Fin replies there is a huge difference between frisking someone and shooting someone. Cohen comments that Fin expected Jolene to read Mehcad his rights and arraign him for trespassing? Barba begins to squirm. Fin says Mehcad was 16 and she had options to cross the street or dial 911. Cohen sarcastically apologizes, saying he is sorry he realized Fin was there that night.

Later, Cohen makes his closing arguments, recounting how SVU handled the case with Mehcad and that Jolene was merely reacting the way police and many white and black New Yorkers did. When NYPD flooded the zone and was frisking black men, Jolene, when backed up against the wall, had reason to fear for her life. Even when she told him to stop, Mehcad just kept coming at her. He adds that hindsight is 20/20 as this is self defense, and asks the jury if it was someone they knew, they would want them to have the right to protect themselves.

Barba closes by showing the jury a photo of Mehcad and describing what kind of boy he was and why he walked home the night he was killed, going home to his parents. He said  Jolene did not like the way he walked, dressed, or looked. Barba asks how can they believe Jolene’s claims of Mehcad’s intent when she lied about every other detail in the case – about him having a gun, what he said to her, and the ME’s testimony of how far Mehcad was from her. Jolene presumed Mehcad guilty and she became his judge, jury, and executioner and she got to go home to her brownstone that night. Mehcad will never go home again.

Later, Benson is in the ladies room splashing water on her face when Jolene enters and Jolene comments that this is awkward. Benson says she will get out of her way, but Jolene states she was afraid of her life. Benson counters he was 16, and Jolene explains that he was 6 foot tall and coming after her. Jolene tells Benson she is a woman cop and knows what it is like to be alone and vulnerable. Benson replies Mehcad was not a rapist, he was just a boy. Benson moves to walk out but Jolene grabs her arm and says she knows, she does not have any children and her restaurants are her babies. She mentions the look in his parents eyes, and that their boy is dead and there is nothing she can do about it and she is sorry.

Back in Supreme Court on August 14, the jury renders a verdict of not guilty, and the courtroom erupts, the judge banging the gavel for order and tells Jolene she is free to go. Barba looks back on Mehcad’s tearful parents and Benson and Barba sadly watch them exit the courtroom.

Outside on the courthouse steps, the reporters question Jolene and Cohen motions for her to be silent. Mr. Carter tells reporters they are disappointed in the verdict but ultimately they respect that the jury has spoken. A reporter asks if there will be rioting tonight, and Mr. Carter says if there will be any protests they ask that they be peaceful, there has been enough violence already. Mrs. Carter asks please, for Mehcad’s sake, and for all their sons’ sake, let this end now. Barba walks up to the detectives standing at the stop of the courthouse stairs and says the jury was split on t he first vote. Benson asked what happened, and Munch said fear won out. Barba says he is sorry, but Benson said no, Fin adding it is not on Barba, it’s just how it is. As they watch Jolene get in her limo, we fade to black.

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Ry A said...

Just a small point - Jack McCoy hasn't been DA since Season 13. Cutter makes reference to "the new DA". You actually made reference to it in your review of the episode ;)

Chris Zimmer said...

Well DUH! on my part! I completely forgot. I found the episode, it was
Scorched Earth". (The new DA was never named, it's no wonder I forgot.)

Thanks, I made a note in my review to note my error!

Ima Feman said...

I think there was a bigger difference between Liv & Jolene's situations and the ways in which they reacted. They guy on the street actually put his hands on Olivia and blocked her path, the show told us that Mehcad was something like 5 feet away from Jolene when she fired on him. Obviously Liv still overreacted to the situation but an understandable overreaction given what's happened.

I never saw Bill Irwin on CSI, haven't really watched much of it, so I guess I'm ok with him as the therapist. Not sure about the therapy scenes, though. I think what's bugging me is they are being used to state the obvious. Like last night, Liv takes the guy out and the next scene we see is her explaining what she did and how it was a complete overreaction on her part, etc... Mariska is a great actress, she did a fine job of getting all of those emotions across in the moment when that scene took place. I didn't need to see a therapy scene to have all of that explained to me. I guess I feel like those scenes should be used to inform us, the audience, about things that we don't necessarily see. How does she feel about the fact that the trial is till to come, how is she coping with the flashbacks, does she have nightmares, there's a whole host of things they can address instead of just repeating what Mariska already told us with her acting.

I thought the episode last night was pretty weak. Acting wise it was good, but the content was just ok. I think there was way too much going on in that episode for one. And, the ending just felt flat for me - I don't think I was invested in the story like I should've been.

Also, regarding Nick's look after Liv kneed the guy in the groin - He definitely recognizes that old Liv wouldn't have had that reaction and what happened to her has truly affected her and continues to affect her. I also think there was a hint of guilt in his look because he knows why she's having the reaction she is and certainly wishes he could've spared her all the trauma she endured. I wonder how many more times in the future he's going to have to cover for her like that.

Sylvie Trans said...

Personally I love the scenes with Dr. Lindstrom (Is he suppose to be Swedish btw?) But then again, I haven't seen him in CSI, so perhaps that's why? ;-)

I really hope they keep those flashbacks coming throughout the season! They are very powerful! And I hope we get to find out more about what happened to her during her captivity trough those flashbacks. Someone mentioned somewhere that they read the script and that the scenes between Lewis and Olivia were very different in the script and that it became more violent. So I wonder if they shot more scenes that they will spread out through the season?

BensonFan said...

Mix the Trayvon Martin case with Paula Deen's scandal, slap a rape on (so it can still be called L&O SVU), and that's the gist of this episode. No suspense. No interesting legal maneuvers. Just plagiarized straight from the headlines.

Seriously, at least make it slightly different from the aforementioned headlines.

Ima Feman said...

BensonFan, you put into words exactly what I could not with regard to what was off with this episode. That is right on point. I expected something a little different to make things interesting.

DewieTheBear said...

I just can with these mash-up episodes. I guess on the one hand, it beats a monkey in a basketball but it also reminds me too much of the agenda-driven episodes (like the one that ostensibly started out as child kidnappings post-Katrina and then morphed into MASSIVE GOVERNMENT ANTHRAX CONSPIRACY).

On the very bright side, TNT is showing "Everyone's Favorite Bagman" right now - the original L&O pilot, though it ended up airing sixth in the freshman season. Good stuff.

DewieTheBear said...

*just can't, that should have read. Argh at no edit button :(

Joaquin Corbalan said...

I want to Sheri West back, as a defense attorney :)

Cardinal said...

I'm totally with Ima, DensonFan and Dewie on this one. I was surprised at the lack of enthusiasm I felt during this ep; probably because it was too many things twisted together and then had an extremely unsatisfactory ending. While I realize justice is hardly ever truly served, this version of injustice left me angry, despite knowing she would walk because it would echo the injustice of the Zimmerman trial.

It was good to see John Munch, especially being the good sergeant who thought about overtime costs. ;) (We have to revel in seeing him while we CAN.)

I also fully agree with what Sylvie said about Benson's flashbacks. I *do* hope there was some additional footage shot that was even more violent in nature, because then we can have more insight into what transpired between Benson and The Beast.

I love Raul and was so thrilled to see him in all his glory as Barba, just throwing all of himself into the role! Jeffrey Tambor is exceptional, too, so those two helped keep me invested in the ep.

I don't know why, but -- and don't hate me for this -- the writing didn't feel as strong in this ep. Wish I could put my finger on it, but I think it was simply that they tried to do too much in one ep, by combining all three elements.

Cardinal said...

BENSONfan, not DENSONfan -- it sucks getting old and having stiff, arthritic fingers that make typos! My apologies, BF!

Joanne said...

I am also being creeped out by Bill Irwin, those therapy scenes aren't working for me.

I didn't mind the episode but either Cybill Shepherd played her role terribly or it was written poorly. Possibly both. I couldn't take the character seriously.

One thing I can never fault is Raúl Esparza. He brings so much life into Barba.

BensonFan said...

No worries, Cardinal :)

Joanne, I too have a hard time relating to Bill Irwin's character. He's a good actor, he has these facial expressions that remind me of the creepy character he played on CSI.

My hope is that with Olivia's brutal attack, we will get to see the stages of her recovery in a realistic fashion. In real life, it takes a lot of time for a rape or assault survivor to heal. There are so many nuances, so many levels to what a survivor goes through. I hope the show will be brave enough to delve deeply into these levels in a way that is interesting, inspiring, and informative. I personally hate when TV shows have someone go through something one day and the next day, the character is as good as new.

Jason said...

Thanks for posting the summary. I didn't watch it because of the real life headlines. I'm disappointed that art mimicked life. Being scared should not be an excuse to kill someone who isn't doing anything illegal. I just saw tonight's episode and wanted to see if this was the case that broke Munch's back. I wonder what the real reason is for his leaving. At least he held the record of longest fictional character.

Benji said...

The prosecution in a criminal case has the burden to disprove self-defense, beyond a reasonable doubt, once the defendant produces some evidence of self-defense. If the other person is dead, and there are no witnesses, as long as you tell the police, “He started it and I thought he was reaching for a gun” you have created some evidence that you acted in self-defense. And at that point, prosecutors have the burden of proof to show otherwise