Thursday, November 7, 2013

Law & Order SVU “Dissonant Voices” Recap & Review

Sometimes the SVU squad gets their perp, and sometimes they get it wrong. In “Dissonant Voices", Amanda Rollins is reluctant to make their accusations public until they are certain they are pursuing the right man and her concerns turn out to be valid. Despite having no physical proof tying vocal coach Jackie Walker to accusations of child molestation, they move ahead and charge him, destroying his career. Billy Porter was excellent as Jackie Walker, making the criminal of the week (who turned out not to be a criminal) a very likable personality that I found myself rooting for early on and felt sorry for at the end.

Why didn’t ADA Barba handle the case from the beginning? As Raúl Esparza is part of the first billed cast, why did they feel the need to bring on another ADA? Instead, we were given ADA Pippa Cox, who seemed a little too eager to make a move on Jackie before there was any solid proof. Was it so the stink of how badly the case was handled wouldn’t be on Barba? [Update: Executive Producer Warren Leight advises that when a sex crime involves children, in NY, it is usually handled by CorpCounsel, thru Child Advocacy Center. The protocol is not for the regular DA to handle child cases, so Barba would enter later.]

 Rollins was right to walk away from Barba and the detectives at the end of the episode as they tried to convince themselves that they handled this case correctly. Maybe if Captain Cragen would have been there – and Barba at the onset – this case would have never gotten so far. If they found the boy’s DNA on the “magic egg”, wouldn’t it have been suspicious that Jackie’s prints were not on it, especially if his prints or DNA were on every other item in that storage box (I assume they never checked this)?    And, if he were guilty, why would he have kept something like that in a box in the room that is open to anyone, including the children? Even though we know that Law & Order’s Jack McCoy can indict a ham sandwich, even Jack would tell you that even a ham sandwich has to have some meat in it.

This was a great episode for Kelli Giddish, who gave Rollins the perfect blend of skepticism over the allegations about Jackie, disgust for the teenage girls, and disappointment with the SVU team.  She was the only true dissonant voice in this episode,  consistently sounding her objections with the rest of the team, who seemed content to just "doing their job."

Benson’s session with Dr. Lindstrom was shoe-horned in and I don’t think it added much to the story at hand. I’m also not sure at this point in Benson’s story that I am interested in how she felt as a child or having someone take care of her. I don’t mind having “shrink” segments in an episode as it relates to a case (as in seeing Dr. Huang), but it bores me if it does not. I felt the same way during the final season of Law & Order Criminal Intent with Bobby Goren’s shrink sessions – it felt like wasted time. The other potential time waster was the 5-1/2 minute intro for the American Diva segment.  I resigned myself long ago to accept that many network TV shows are catering more to a much younger demographic who may be more interested in the style over the substance of the story. I would have edited out all the clips of the SVU team as they watched the show, as now I have a lot less respect for them and their TV viewing choices (wink).

Here is the recap:

Mariska Hargitay – Detective Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Dann Florek – Captain Don Cragen
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba

Guest stars:
Billy Porter – Jackie Walker
Kelly Deadmon = Mrs. Allen
Jennifer Roszell – Allison Burns
Jessica Phillips - ADA Pippa Cox
Hana Hayes - Brooke Allen
Kara Hayward - Rachel Burns
Carly Rose Sonenclar - Grace Belsey
Ben Livingston – Dan Kenner
Kevin Collins – Steven Burns
David Pittu - Counselor Linus Tate
Bill Irwin - Dr. Lindstrom
Jake Katzman – Jonah Allen
Ashanti – as herself
Clay Aiken – as himself
Taylor Hicks – as himself
Alex Bento – Cooper Burns
Alison Fernandez – Zara Amaro
Sonia Manzano – Judge Gloria Pepitone
Dawn Yanek – TV reporter
Kimberly Stern = Grace’s mom
Charlie Romanelli – Grace’s dad
Madeline Hoarle – Emma
Isabel Harperleight – Charlotte
Mason Schnieiderman - William

Backstage, Jackie Walker coaches contestant Grace Belsey before she goes on stage for the show “American Diva”. When she gets on stage and she introduces herself, clips of her personal story shows for viewers. Back at SVU, Rollins and Fin watch the show as Grace thanks her vocal coach Jackie Walker and Jackie talks about how he will take her as far as she can go. She begins her performance and she can barely be heard.

Meanwhile, Benson is at home, also watching, talking to Brian on the phone about throwing a housewarming party. Then she tells Brian not to say that, he loves parties. Back to the performance, Grace is signing louder and the audience and the judges engage.

Elsewhere, Amaro is at a diner with his daughter, also watching the show, who asks about how they can get on the show. He tells her it is the same way to get to Carnegie Hall – practice. She tells her father he is weird.

Grace’s performance continues as Rollins sings along back at SVU. Meanwhile, back at the Allen residence, young Jonah is called in by his mother and sister to watch the show. The crowd cheers as Grace finishes her performance. Jackie applauds her backstage. The judges are all very complementary, and when one asks where her voice comes from, she calls out Jackie to come onstage. Jonah sees Jackie on TV and says he does not like him as he makes him play doctor. Jonah runs to his room as his mother and sister look worried and his mother follows him.

Later, in an interview room for children, Jonah tells Benson that Mr. Jackie is a bad man. Benson asks why is that, and he replies he follows him into the bathroom when he has to go. It is just the two of them. As Amaro and Rollins observed, ADA Pippa Cox enters and says Jonah Allen is 4 years old. Amaro says his mother called SVU. They hear Jonah explain to Benson that sometimes Jackie wants to play doctor. Benson asks him if he likes to draw and he nods yes. Benson hands him a piece of paper. Amaro comments to Cox that Jonah’s mother saw his music teacher Jackie Walker on TV and flipped out, and Rollins explains he is the vocal coach on American Diva. Amaro says Jackie kept his day job as a pre-k music teacher at the Margaret Fuller school, which Cox knows as a $50K a year prep school off Park Avenue. Rollins explains his mother and sister brought him here and his parents may be wealthy but they are also separated 3 months ago. Cox comments that the 4 year old suddenly comes forward and it could be that he wants attention or it could be a divorce maneuver. She tells them to get the father down there too.

Later, Amaro and Fin speak with Jonah’s mom while Rollins speaks with Jonah’s sister. His mother said Jonah recently spent the night at his father’s and he wet the bed there which he has not done in two years. Jonah’s father Steve arrives, angry, and says whatever she is saying is a lie, and a huge argument ensues and their daughter also pipes in. The detectives separate them all. Steve tells Fin his wife is lying, she already made a false report to the IRS. Fin tries to calm him. Mrs. Allen thinks Steve is accusing her and Amaro asks why he would do that. She explains that he wanted public school and she wanted Margaret Fuller.

Rollins speaks with their daughter who thinks this is her fault, when Jonah told her she should have told her mom that Mr. Jackie followed her into the bathroom and touched him. Rollins looks stunned and asks when Jonah told her that. She explains a few weeks ago, but Jonah is 4 and he makes things up. Sometimes he says he has another family in California or that he can see through doors. She has known Jackie since she was four, and then thinks she is going to be sick.

Meanwhile, Jonah makes a drawing for Benson where the crotch area on the two figures is highlighted in yellow and he also drew a purple oval which he calls a magic egg that Mr. Jackie uses to tickle him and points to the crotch as to where Jackie tickles him. He tells him to stop but he doesn’t. They play the doctor game in the special bathroom which is special because it has bluebirds and flowers.

Later, Cox says there are consistent details and Jonah seems credible. She asks if they believe Jonah. Benson replies that Jonah is adamant that Jackie did something “wrong” and asks the others if they got anything from the parents. Fin comments that the parents hate each other but he does not see either of them coaching the kid to lie. Rollins adds that his sister is 15 and Jonah disclosed to her 3 weeks ago and she also said that he does make things up. Cox asks if there is any history with this guy, and Rollins says no. Fin adds that Jackie is clean and he is not in a registry and there are no legal issues. Rollins advises that the doctor says there are no signs of STDs and sexual abuse is inconclusive. Benson comments that Jonah said that Jackie used a magic egg to tickle him and he didn’t say anything about penetration. Cox asks about the magic egg, and Benson shows her Jonah’s drawing of a purple over, and says Jonah states Jackie kept it with the rhythm instruments. Cox thinks it is enough for probable cause, but Rollins rolls her eyes. When Cox adds that she will call CSU, Rollins stops her and asks if they have to make a show of this. Fin asks Rollins if she is worried about the school, but she says no, Jackie Walker, he is an openly gay male teacher and a celebrity and if he gets accused of pedophilia, the charges may go away but the stain won’t. Cox tells her she is touched by her concern and they will keep it in mind.

At the Margaret Fuller School, Fin and Rollins find the special bathroom with bluebirds and flowers. Jackie is speaking with another parent about her son’s voice as Rollins and Fin interrupt and ask Jackie where he keeps his rhythm instruments. He points them out and Rollins goes to the “clap and play” box. She pulls out a purple object which looks like a vibrator and when Fin asks what that is, Jackie, stunned, says he does not know. Rollins turns it on and it is a vibrator. She asks if anyone else teaches in there and the principal says there are students and faculty in and out of there. Jackie asks if his producer put him up to this, and wonders if he is being punked. Fin says it is no joke, and they have questions to ask him. Jackie says that is not his. Rollins says he does not want to do this here. As the principal steps out to talk to parents who are watching, Jackie looks on with a stunned face.

Later, Benson and Amaro have Jackie in interrogation, who says Jonah is 4 years old and this is horrible, he would never harm a child. Amaro asks if he is saying that Jonah lied to them, and Jackie says he does not know what to think; Jonah does tell stories and they should hear the songs he makes up in class. Benson says the stories Jonah told them about the purple eggs turned out to be true. Jackie is emphatic that the egg shakers are not his. Benson corrects him that they are not eggs shakers, they are sex toys and that Jackie used them to tickle Jonah. Jackie states he did not, he’s never even seen them. Amaro asks if he ever did anything with Jonah that he may have misinterpreted. Jackie asks “like what?” Amaro replies - adjust his zipper or touch him somewhere. Jackie holds up his finger and testily tells Amaro to stop, he is not a child molester. Amaro says it’s OK, then asks if he has even been alone with Jonah, maybe in a private bathroom in the school. Jackie, wide-eyed, says no, never. He scoffs and then asks if they think he put himself alone with a boy in a private bathroom? Benson suggests maybe he got sick or fell, maybe in the bathroom he played doctor. Jackie again orders them to stop, all he does is teach kids music, saying they clap and sing and have a great time together. Benson brings up his TV show and his thriving career coaching singers, and asks why he is still teaching preschoolers? Jackie explains that he actually cares about the job he does, adding that kids need music in their lives and the early years are important. Amaro gives him a skeptical look and agrees they are, then asks if Jackie has any children. He says no, someday, if he meets the right man. Amaro says Jackie knows kids, at that age they jump all over you and touch you in the strangest places and you like to wrestle and get tickled. Jackie hold up his finger again to stop them and says that is enough, they aren’t paying attention to him, so he is going to need his lawyer.

Outside the room, Rollins, Fin and Cox are there as Amaro explains that Jackie said the magic word – lawyer. Cox says she is not surprised, but Rollins counters that maybe he is innocent and that Benson and Amaro were going after him pretty hard. Benson says they found the eggs where Jonah said they were, and Amaro thinks he is lying about something. Cox asks where they are on forensics and Benson says she will put in a call. Cox asks about his pedigree, and Rollins says he has been a music teacher at Fuller for 12 years and worked on Broadway and off - mostly off – and he is a vocal coach with a freelance mix. He was popular even before he got the American Diva gig. Fin says that will change, everyone loved Elmo too. Rollins reminds them this is off the word of one4 year old. Amaro reminds them about the sex toy and thinks Jackie is grooming Jonah. Cox says that might be but Rollins is right, it is hard to go on the testimony of one boy that young. Benson says he was consistent and not by rote and Rollins counters he also has an active imagination and at that age, the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Cox believes Jonah but no judge will find him swearable. As the detectives look frustrated, Fin asks what Cox wants from them. She says more – if he was grooming Jonah with these sex toys, there has to be other kids and she will talk to the principal and put some fear into him.

At the Child Advocacy Center, Rollins speaks with another boy, Cooper, who says he did not want to go to music class because Mr. Jackie does bad things, and has a story like Jonah’s, but says the bathroom has a window and a bathtub. Rollins asks about the bathtub and the boy corrects himself to say a sink. They play a game which Jackie said is their secret, he has extra secret purple magic eggs and tickled him with them. Rollins looks skeptical and then hands him the drawing with the figures on it and asks him to show her where. She rolls her eyes as he starts to draw. Meanwhile, his frantic mother is on the phone as Benson and Rollins approach her. Mrs. Burns says last week he skipped class as he said he was feeling sick. She recalls that a month ago, Cooper came home without his underwear, and he said he had an accident.

Back at SVU, the detectives go over the similar stories from the boys but Rollins reminds them the description of the bathrooms were different. As Rollins gets a call,  Benson comments she would be worried if the stories were the same. Rollins says that Jonah’s saliva was on the sex toys along with fecal bacteria and there is a second unknown sample. Benson suggests they run it against Cooper’s, and Cox asks what about Jackie’s prints or DNA? Rollins says no, and there were a lot of people who had access to that room. Benson reminds them that the kids said he used eggs and where he kept them and now they have DNA. Amaro reminds Cox they got her more and what are they waiting for? Cox nods her head.

Later, Jackie is in interrogation with his lawyer Linus Tate and Benson tells him about the DNA. Jackie gets upset, asking what is she talking about, and Tate tries to calm him but Jackie says he is here to help him and he is sitting on his ass. Tate says he is doing his job, they made allegations and he will take it from here. Amaro gives him one more chance, and Benson says two other moms came forward whose kids saw him go into the bathroom with Cooper. Jackie looks petrified but then says Cooper fell into the toilet and when Benson asks why he lied before, Jackie says he did not want to admit being in the bathroom with a little boy when they were accusing him of being a child molester. Benson comments it would have been better than lying. Jackie claims Cooper was embarrassed and crying and he didn’t hurt that boy, he was helping him and was saving him from shame. Benson and Amaro continue to press Jackie who says Cooper’s underwear was soaking wet. He should have told his mother but she did not do pick up that day and he had to go, he was taping the show. Benson says that was three excuses, which one should they go with? Jackie insists he did not do anything to any of those boys and shouts that they have to believe him. As Benson and Amaro stand to leave, Amaro says no they don’t, and tells Tate to tell his client what is coming down. And what happens to guys like this when it goes to a public trial. Jackie shouts “no, no, no, no!” and Benson looks back, telling him he had his chance – and then she closes the door.

Later, as the detective watch TV coverage of the story about Jackie as a child molester, and Rollins says the feeding frenzy started. One of the American Diva judges also speaks on the issue saying Jackie is taking a leave of absence and Rollins asks if that is the same guy that got his wife’s sister pregnant. Amaro said he did not molest kids. Fin asks if they are sure Jackie did, and Rollins adds all she is saying is that Benson is working through some things and questions her judgment and thinks she is pushing this too far. Amaro says he will side with his partner, and Rollins says of course he is and he walks off, as Fin gives a look to Rollins.

At arraignment court, Jackie is being arraigned and Tate pleads not guilty, calling it a rush to judgment. Cox argues that Jackie has access to monetary and logistical resources, but Tate says Jackie has ties to the community and no record and a reputation he wants to defend. Cox says he has that, and the judge sets bail at one million, to Jackie shock. Tate asks Jackie if he heard any of that, and Jackie says yes, he doesn’t have that. Tate asks if there is anyone he can call, and Jackie says his own brother won’t return his phone calls and he doesn’t have anybody. As Benson and Rollins stand in the gallery, Benson questions that he can’t make bail. Rollins reminds her he was on that show for only a year and before that he was a music teacher. Benson thinks it is classic predator move, he wants everyone to feel sorry for him and nothing is his fault.

On a later date, Benson arrives at Dr. Lindstrom’s office and thanks him for taking her early. She says things are crazy at work, and he says he is happy she is there. He asks how is she and she replies she wishes everyone would quit asking her that. She then adds she is sorry. She tells him about the current case and she says sometimes she feels like she is playing whack-a-mole, she gets one and three pop up and it’s over and over and over. Then she thinks even if she saves one…he asks if she thinks of herself as a savior, and when she says someone has to protect them, he asks if it always has to be her. She replies it is her job. He asks if she ever wondered why, and she tells him to say what he is thinking. He says she spends most of her life taking care of others but in these sessions she has never mentioned her parents. He couldn’t help but wonder if when she was a little girl, she wanted someone to take care of her? She smiles and does not answer.

Later and in the child’s interview room, Benson speaks with a little girl who says Mr. Jackie is a bad man. Fin speaks with a little boy who says Mr. Jackie ‘s game was inappropriate. Amaro speaks with another little girl who says Mr. Jackie is a bad man because her mom said he is so she thinks he is bad too. ADA Barba watches along with Benson, Rollins, and Cox and asks how many allegations is this, and Cox says 9 and counting, 2 more moms just called. Barba questions that it is boys and girls, and Benson replies it is not unheard of but he worries there are hundreds of boys and girls of various ages. Benson says so far all of the kids are preschoolers at Margaret Fuller who all claim Jackie tickled them. Some have older siblings at ages 6-7. Barba counters they are still not swearable to most judges. He says they have no testimony and his prints are not on the egg thing and they do not have a case. Rollins says no older students have come forward and Cox reminds them of the Savile assaults went unreported for decades and these parents have seen the headlines and they don’t want their kids caught up in it. Benson mentions Jonah’s older sister who is 15 and she studied with Jackie when she was four. Rollins says she was beating herself up for not protecting Jonah and she said she felt like it was her fault. Cox wonders if she was feeling guilty.

At the Allen residence, Rollins and Benson speak with Brooke about Jackie and she lost interest in the class but Benson sees all her posters and says she doesn’t think she did. Benson asks if there is anything he did that made her uncomfortable. Brook says everything is like sex to music teachers and when she and Jackie worked on a piece he would tell her to imagine she was kissing a boy. He never touched her, he touches little kids and he is a creep. Rollins reminds her that she was a little kid when she studied with Jackie and Brooke looks concerned. Benson asks if Jackie ever touched her and she nods yes. Benson tells her it is OK, but Brooke cries saying it is not OK, if she would have told her parents none of this would have happened. She promised Jackie it was their little secret. Benson says she knows what Jackie did was wrong and she does not have to hide it anymore. Brooke says he started out tickling her and he made it seem so normal, like this is what students and teachers did and it was normal. She says he had these eggs, toys that vibrated and she thought they were instruments. He had them put them inside her and he watched and touch himself. It was four when it started. She did not tell her parents and begs them not to tell them as they will be so mad. Rollins says they will have to find out but Brooke gets very upset. Benson asks if she told anyone.

Later, Benson and Rollins are at Rachel Cooper’s home and her mother asks her to open a bedroom door. When she opens the door to also see Benson and Rollins she looks uncomfortable. Cooper is in the bathroom and she says she hasn’t brushed Cooper’s teeth yet and she needs to read him his story. Rollins offers to take care of that so Benson and her mother can all talk. Rachel is clearly uncomfortable. After Benson takes Rachel and her mother into another room to talk. Rollins helps out Cooper and notices a window in the bathroom with a pattern of bluebirds and flowers. She comments about the pretty window and Cooper says he likes the pink flowers. Rollins asks if Mr. Jackie has ever been to their house and given him a bath here, and Cooper says no, he is only at school. She asks who does give him his baths.

In the other room, Benson speaks with Rachel who tells them about the vibrators, and she’s seen them in other moms’ bedrooms. She said Jackie used them on her and said they were playing doctor. Rollins comes in and apologizes for interrupting and asks to speak to Benson. Benson, looking annoyed, says now is not the time. Rollins says she understands and asks Rachel and her mom to excuse them.

In the bathroom, Benson comments, with Cooper in earshot, that the window is pretty with the pink flowers and blue birds. Rollins says Cooper says sometimes he takes his baths there with Jonah. Benson asks if it is by themselves, and them says they are big boys. Cooper says no, it's with Mommy and Rachel and sometimes Brooke. Rollins asks if Mr. Jackie was ever there, and he says no, he came into the bathroom at school and he was all alone, only it was there secret so nobody could know. He tickles him with purple magic eggs. Rollins asks Cooper if he knows the difference w=between the truth and a lie, and Cooper says a lie is when something is not real. Benson asks where did he play doctor, and he insists it is in the school bathroom with flowers and birds. Rollins reminds him he said there was a bathtub and a window and when he seems reluctant to talk, Rollins compliments him on his good memory. He says thank you and Rollins asks if it is hard to remember the story the way it was told to him. He admits it was very hard, adding sometimes he forgets things and then he remembers. Benson asks if someone told him to tell the story, and he admits yes. Benson asks if he can tell them who it was, and he says it was Brooke, she said he was a big boy and she knew he could remember. Benson and Rollins looked stunned.

Later, Benson and Rollins break the news to Barba and Cox that Brooke coached Cooper to lie. Benson thinks Jonah was too. Benson explains how Cooper mixed up the details and Cox asks what about the other 8 complainants? Rollins thinks the mothers spread the story and that people get worked up and it takes on a life of its own. Cox thinks if the mothers whipped up the hysteria, why did Brooke and Rachel frame Jackie? Benson says Brooke and Rachel both disclosed to her last night that they were molested by Jackie when they were four. Barba questions that they then both coached their younger brothers and asks if she believes them. Benson replies that right now, she does not know what to believe. Barba asks if Jackie is still at Rikers to go ask him.

In the visiting room at Rikers, with Jackie and his Tate present, Rollins and Benson question Jackie about why the two girls left Jackie’s coaching. He said they did not leave him, he dropped them, the season was starting and he had to choose who to coach for American Diva and he went with Grace. He adds that to make it, you have to be really special and those girls really aren’t. He told them that, saying he did them a big favor instead of them having to wait 10 years for a break that would never come. Rollins says she is betting they did not take that very well, and Jackie gets a look of realization and then says “Oh my god!” and sighs, with a pained look on his face.

Afterwards, as Jackie is being led back into the cell, Benson comments about the girls set up Jackie and that was hardball. Rollins adds that Brooks sees her mother play hardball with the divorce and kids don’t miss anything.

Later, at SVU in an interview room, Rollins and Fin speaks with Brooke and her mother and mentions the stained glass window in Cooper’s bedroom and Brooke says maybe Mr. Jackie gave him a lesson there. Rollins says Jackie was never there, and Brooke asks if they think she molested him. Rollins says they are not sure about what she has all done.

In the squad room, Benson and Amaro speak with Rachel, there with her mother, who says Jackie had a power over them and they would do whatever he said and they quit Jackie. Benson brings up her being dropped by Jackie before the audition, and Rachel says no, he is a pervert who touches them all the time. Benson calls her on that, saying pedophiles are usually not interested in teenage girls. Rachel looks worried.

Meanwhile, Rollins mentions to Brooke that Cooper was having a hard time remembering the story Brooke told him, and Brook angrily says he is 4 years old, you can’t believe him. Fin replies that she wanted then to believe him about Jackie.

Benson and Amaro continue to press Rachel as her mother is shocked. Amaro explains about how Rachel bought the magic eggs on line and then tells her it is over, and she needs to stop lying. She screams she is not lying and it wasn’t her idea. Benson asks whose idea was it, and Brooke’s mother presses her to answer. Rachel said it was Brooke’s; after Jackie dropped them she was really mad and she made the whole thing up and told her and Cooper what to say.

Meanwhile, Brooke’s mother shouts that what with all her family has been through, they will sue the city. Rollins asks if she will with false charges, like she threatened her husband? Brooke’s mother replies how dare she, and why would her daughter do this. Fin says it’s because Jackie dropped her as a student and told her she was not good enough for American Diva. Brooke says so what, she knows how good she is and she will be a star and her whole life everybody has been telling her that. Her mother looks perplexed. Rollins raises her voice and says if they have been telling her this her whole life, it must have really sucked when she found out everybody was lying to her. Brooke cries, saying that is not true, and she didn’t do this to Jackie, Jackie did this to her. Brooke tells her mother not to let them get away with this, and her mother says she won’t. and they get up to leave. As they get to the door, Fin calls out to Mrs. Allen, and says she must be really proud of her daughter. Mrs. Allen says nothing as Brooke storms out of the room.

Benson, Amaro, and Rollins are at the dismissal hearing for Jackie with an empty court room gallery. Cox asks for all charges to be dismissed and for Jackie to be released immediately, and extends their sincere apologies to Jackie and his family.

As Jackie leaves the courtroom, Rollins walks up to him and says he knows he does not want to hear any more apologies, but she is sorry. Jackie questions that she is sorry, asking if that is supposed to make that right. Benson says she can’t imagine, and Jackie stops her and says no, she can’t. Rollins asks if he wants them to talk to the school, he asks haven’t they done enough, adding they all dragged him into this and he told them from the beginning he had nothing to do with it and that he was innocent – and they didn’t believe him. He raises his voice further and adds they would not even listen to his side. Rollins says they will work hard to clear his name, and Jackie says his name is ruined, it was front page news when they charged him and asks if they see any cameras out there today? He says he will never teach again and his life is over. Barba walks up and addresses him and Jackie asks him about those two girls, when do they get charged? Barba says the DA has agreed to let them take a plea and for misdemeanor obstruction they will do one year’s probation. As Jackie scoffs, Rollins asks if Barba is kidding. Barba explains they can’t take this to trial, the girls won’t testify against each other and the only way to make a case is to put 2 four year old boys on the stand to testify against their sisters and the boys are damaged enough as it is. Jackie shoots a look back to Barba and questions that THEY are damaged, scoffing and then saying “I see.” Rollins tries to reply but Jackie holds up his hand for her to stop and then says to get away from him. He walks off. As Rollins stands there with her mouth agape, Benson says she keeps going over it in her head, those kids did not sound coached. Amaro adds they had the DNA, they were just doing their job. Barba says people lie and people make mistakes and people get hurt, this comes with the territory. Rollins disagrees, saying they can keep telling themselves what they want – this didn’t have to happen. She walks away from them. Benson looks away sadly as we fade to black.

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Alex said...

You misheard one part- "Barba counters they are still not the most reliable judges." He actually said "not swearable to most judges."

I didn't like this episode much. The story was a hot mess.

As for why Cox was there- Warren Leight said that child cases aren't handled by the same ADA as the regular ones, which makes some sense but doesn't explain why Barba was still there. I think the "real" explanation is that this one was a tandem with October Surprise, and Raul was filming Hannibal at the same time as well.

Nancy R said...

I didn't like the episode. I don't like the Cox character.
I thought many of the four year olds used words (like "inappropriate")
that they would not know- unless coached.

Chris Zimmer said...

Alex, I made the correction. I saw Warren's tweets to me on the other issue and put an update to that fact in my review.

Alex said...

Didn't see your correction before I added my comment.

I'm still confused, though, why Barba was there if Cox was also. (Not that I'm complaining! *Wink*)

Chris Zimmer said...

Alex, you're right, Barba's presence at that point was never explained, I wonder if they just brought him in, just in case the scope of the case became much larger? Or, maybe he was just being "nosey"!

Sally Sitwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally Sitwell said...

I feel like there is a loose end with Jonas's saliva/ fecal matter on the vibrator. Towards the end I thought the girls were the one molesting their brothers?

Maurizio Rosas Dominguez said...

I found the episode somewhat enjoyable, though I felt Benson and Amaro really jumped the gun on this one. Like Nancy said, the four-year olds using words like "inappropriate" and "uncomfortable" seemed odd too me - a 4-year old would probably use simpler terms to describe how he/she feels. A couple of the kids actually used the same exact phrase that Jackie "is a bad man." That was a MAJOR indicator for me that they were being coached. I couldn't believe Benson missed it.

I'm starting to wonder if Amaro and Benson are starting to let their own mistrust and insecurities affect their judgement on the job - I'm hoping this is addressed later in the season.

EchoInTheSilence said...

Honestly, not a fan of this episode. There are just too many episodes of this show where it turns out the "victim" lied. The false report rate for sexual crimes is actually very low. I thought at least it was going to turn out that they'd been molested by someone else (like the episode "Contagious") but the theme on this show recently seems to be that if the victim isn't dead and it's not blatantly obvious, it turns out the crime didn't happen. SVU should believe the victims, that's part of their job, and that's why I was a little turned off by Rollins believing the alleged perp even when the evidence was stacked against him. (Yes, she was right, but by the end she didn't seem to have an actual reason to.)

Alex said...

"Honestly, not a fan of this episode. There are just too many episodes of this show where it turns out the "victim" lied. The false report rate for sexual crimes is actually very low."

Going with the statistic that 2-5% of reports are false, the amount of SVU eps where it turns out the victim outright lied (not including misdirected accusations and so on, which are a different matter entirely) would actually fit in with this number. I have no problem with it.

"SVU should believe the victims, that's part of their job"

Not necessarily. You can't automatically believe everyone, because people DO lie, or accidentally conflate things, and on and on. Detectives can't only believe the people who seem to be victims, because that's exactly how cases like Jackie's come about. And further, JACKIE was the victim in this case, so actually, they did "believe the victim".

english2791 said...

I was impressed they mentioned jimmy saville as i have not heard his case get much coverage in the us.I thought billy porter was great he's a broadway actor isn't he?I had to chuckle at fin watching the american diva show with rollins.

Bull705 said...

Interesting episode,but I think something's missing from the analysis.Rollins seemed pretty determined to clear Porter who was openly gay.I haven't seen her like this in prior episodes.The description for the Nov.20 episode refers to Rollins' private life becoming public.Is it possible that Rollins might be gay?

Petra S said...

I'm a fan of Rollins so of course I had much to cheer about in this episode. I liked it. Didn't love the episode as a whole but parts of it was awesome. Like Fin & Rollins watching/singing/dancing. Too short but so funny.
I like tension in the squad room so I liked that it was the partners against each other. Amaro stood up for his partner and Fin did a little of that too.
I loved the last scene, the one with Rollins walking a way. I wish Fin would've been there and walked after her, that would have made it perfect.
Billy Porter is totally anonymous to me but I thought he was really good, he was brill in that last scene and so spot on.
I think it's only human to fault at times though and even SVU must take that walk of shame sometimes. Rollins have been wrong at times but, at least the case I can remember right now, she stood up for it and apologized. I wish they could've sorta made amends as a team but since they were just making up excuses for themselves in that final scene I too thought Rollins did right to tell them off and walk away. It just makes me a bit worried since I figure she'll need them to have her back in episode 9 and I hope this ending won't stir things up too much.

Sylvie Trans said...

Rant alert!

Bensons therapist sessions is a joke, they seem like fillers! Like they really don't need to be in the episodes! They only scratch the surface and they hardly ever adress what happened to her with Lewis anymore...For example, in this episode the kids say Jackie followed them to the bathroom, perhaps this would be a good time for Benson to talk to her therapist about what happened when Lewis followed her to the bathroom... The connection was right there, why ignore it?

Warren made it seem like Olivia's journey would be huge, but I don't see it- at ALL! I have been patient, I have given it every benefit of the doubt... But this Is just becoming a huge disappointment! Why would the writers have her go trough being burned and cut, forced to watch a rape, taken to the toilet by her abductor (with her hands cuffed. So he wold have unzipped her pants and pulled down her panties and whiped her afterwards-extremely humiliating) And at the end pushed so far that she became brutally violent and almost beat a man to death.. WHY have Liv go trough all this when they are hardly ever gonna address it...

Olivia had to walk the walk they said. Well first of, what about showing how Liv experienced having to take a rape-kit? Isn't that a huge and significant part of the walk! Wouldn't it be natural to show the audience that from Olivia's point if view?

And we haven't even seen how she copes with being intimate with Brian (weren't we suppose to see her walking the walk? Warren even said we would see how the assault affected her relationship- but we have yet to see that-other than the fact she seem happy and content with him. And something tells me a victim of what Benson endured would have some trouble with being in a romantic relationship, but so far Liv seems fine! What about seeing a scene where she takes her shirt of and Brian sees her scars from the cut/burns? Where she pushed him away etc? And WHY establish the flashbacks only to use it in two episodes?

There are so many "Why's"! Even though all the episodes are greatly written, I am still left disappointed after every episode due to this!

I still haven't given up hope that we will see some more of that journey that's been hyped up! But after every episode it seem less and less plausible..

So Warren, if you read this, please do something more with her story and journey! Pretty please? ;-)

Ok, rant over!!

Lisa said...

I think the stats of lying are much higher the 2% is just what was proven wrong. Lord knows how many cases were proscuted and a offender punished and the acuser lied. Lying about abuse is common in divorce cases some parents use a false allegation to assure they get sole custody and a hefty settlement. If any of you follow the real housewives shows one of the real housewives lied about her "horrific abuse" to sell books. Even though some think she was telling the truth her storys were pretty much disproven with little effort. So like i said the 2% is just what we know were lies, much more were probably lies but still prosecuted. Do a google search and see just how common it is,.

Barbe said...

Sylvie, I completely agree with you ... on every level.

Olivia has always been a strong and courageous woman, but I would think that at some point she will no longer be able to ignore her true pain from the trauma Lewis inflicted upon her. I think she is much more wounded than we get to see and that is where my disappointment comes in. How can she recover if she does not admit how truly damaged she really is? Those emotions are what I want to see from Olivia.

fred astire said...

i loved the ep! Rollins is continuing to win my heart! Excited about her ep (9)! Can't wait!! Also I feel like Liv is completely dead inside! She walks around like a zombie sometimes. She always look so tired and this is all expected but man after her behavior in this ep, I feel like she's heading for a MAJOR BREAKDOWN very soon. She's so confuse and so broken. It's heartbreaking to watch her and I feel she really needs to start talking about the Lewis thing instead of talking around it! And Sylvie Trans ITA with you about the bathroom connection!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought this was a decent episode. Lately the episodes have been seeming a lot more "old school" SVU. They're telling a good story. Nothing that rocks your socks off, but a good solid story nonetheless.

I get the nagging feeling, though, that this situation with Benson is going to come to a head at some point. I feel like the writers are teasing us with it, lulling us in to state of "Okay she's alright…almost" and then BAM everything is just going to come out of nowhere and throw her life way off balance again….well that's what I would do if I were a writer. Or perhaps they are neatening everything up to end the story of her character and move on with the show without her (after which, I will stop watching completely.)

It's just that Benson lied about how she beat up Lewis in her statement after the abduction, we've gotten hints that she's not being straight forward with Brian about her recovery, we don't know whether he got his shield back or not, Cragen says he's going to retire soon, and we haven't heard anything about her taking the sergeant's exam. So no, they're not spending a lot of time on her recovery, but then again, you can't have an entire episode watching Benson in therapy…But then again, she's tackling some real deep issues there. I mean, she's been in therapy and never mentioned her parents? Given her storyline and character, she should have been living in a therapist's office since season one when she can't hold down her lunch after listening to a victim's story or playing back the tape of her mother's statement after being raped.

And I'm guessing Rollins is not coming to her housewarming party...

Anonymous said...

Or maybe we're over thinking it…This episode could be a F*@* you to Fox's American Idol because The Voice is a much better show….

OhSusannah said...

I really enjoyed how Rollins was the only one of the regular team that gave this unfortunate's man innocence even a passing thought. It does seem that both Liv and Nick as partners have become much more jaded in dealing with these crimes.I realize they are simply written as playing devil's advocate or there would be no real tension to these stories.
I am truly baffled as to where the relationship between Liv and Brian is heading. They have zero chemistry on screen, no small feat with an actress of Mariska's caliber. I blame Dean Winters. he overplays the heavy-handed streetwise cop. He's a good actor, but the role of Brian is so mired in cliches about tough NY cops, I almost cringe. In some scenes, he isn't even present-Liv is talking to him on a phone. I really hope WL and the writers come to their senses and end this love affair soon.I'm intrigued by them playing up Rollins right now. The upcoming episode where a man is killed sounds like Amanda may be bisexual, which would explain her unwavering sympathy for the defendant in this episode.

Anonymous said...

Rollins was deliberately made sexually ambiguous. The only reason I think it was deliberate is because writers waste no time in identifying the sexual orientation of a new character in any show and the fact that she's been on for two years with no mention of a boyfriend/girlfriend, lover, crush whatever is suspicious. Perhaps they waiting on the demographics of female watchers to see if they want to make her gay or straight. And Rollins was sympathetic because she's been the instinctive character throughout this show starting from the beginning. She's got the spidey-sense that will push the plot along with a Mulder-worthy theory or conclusion.

Cheshire said...

It's disappointing that very few viewers recognized that this entire story line was an adaptation of the very real McMartin preschool case, as covered in the movie "Indictment."

The McMartin case had a strong message that deserves to be given the spotlight through shows like svu. I commend the svu writers for trying to do that. But the idea doesn't work if the public doesn't even know to go back in the news and read about the historical case.

Petra S said...

Oh I just really really hope they don't make her gay. Rollins that is.
Lol, that was such a weird thing to write 'make her gay', like it's a choice, oh right it's television - it is a choice ;)
Anywho I'm a Finanda shipper so I want her with Fin really really bad. She can be bi, Fin could handle that I'm sure. The episode information, with the mention of love triangle, makes me too wonder if it is perhaps something of a sexual nature with Rollins on the stand bit. Since all of Tmblr seems to think Barba is gay it will be kinda fun to see that play out in the courtroom. & how it will be received on Tmblr.
But please don't make her gay. She would not have oogled those firemen in the stripjoint if she was gay me thinks.

gangstila said...

Giddish NAILED this episode. Rollins is undeniably the star of the show with the richest range of emotions views and personality traits. Amaro is not multi divensional and Liv sounds and looks tired,flat, ignorant.
She is done and no lewis arc can revive this character.

Nancy R said...

I believe more people on Tumblr think Barba is bi, not gay. Consider his conversation with Olivia about his high school girlfriend and the scene with Yelina Munoz.
Watch the scene just before Barba and Munoz go outside the policeman's event - Barba's expression is so wistful when Alex and Yelina kiss.

Alex said...

I agree, Nancy, most seem to lean towards bi. Most of the ones who think he's gay seem to be E/O or Bensidy shippers who don't want him to be a "threat" to their ship, what with all his subtext with Olivia.

He definitely is attracted to women, at the very least. It would be refreshing if he was bi, since bisexual people are rarely written well, let alone bisexual men.

Linda F. said...

I agree with jaecollins27--Olivia's breakdown is coming. I think she thinks she's dealing with it, but she isn't. There are still at least a dozen episodes or more left in this season, I'm guessing, plus two or three sweeps periods. It's my belief that Warren Leight is parceling it out and dropping hints, and I'm fine with that. I don't want melodramatic Olivia angst every week, but I do want it here and there, leading up to something big. Again agreeing with jaecollins27, that's what I'd do as a writer.

I was disappointed in my boy Nick this episode. The Amaro gut instinct seems to have ducked out for a coffee break or something. But good for Rollins for stepping up to take his place as the resident skeptic.

I didn't particularly care for the episode--it required too much suspension of disbelief--but I loved Rollins in it. Of course, I always love her. Next to Amaro, she's my favorite character.

I did enjoyed the glimpses of the squad watching the singing show, although I agree it went on way too long. Nick and Zara are really cute together.

The season has been good so far, so I'm okay with the occasional clunker. This was definitely a clunker.

CLA said...

In a recent interview Mariska hinted that this is his last season. I hope so. If the show continues I will not be seeing more. I wish however that the series still going strong. I'm not like most fans Meloni that after his departure only know put the show down. The rest of the cast is excellent and can do a great job.

CLA said...

@ gangstila ..

Amaro is not multi divensional and Liv sounds and looks tired,flat, ignorant.
She is done and no lewis arc can revive this character.

You must also believe in Santa Claus.

Mariska was nomeanda lastly, the 4th time to compete for the award for favorite actress of America.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to what Sally said. Why did they not question how the DNA got on the vibrator?!

Kelli Giddish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gangstila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gangstila said...

@CLA i call it how i see it. she looks tired and lethargic and fed up most of the time. As if she is pushing herself to keep going. I see no energy whatsoever except for when she becomes personally invested in the cases which is a wrong strategy btw. I also find her acting flat these days. Her gestures, her facials, her voice tone are all unoriginal. Maybe it is because we ve seen her perform this way for 15 seasons. Personally, i want fresh stuff and more multi dimensional characters like Rollins who combines strength with weakness and acknowledges her flaws.I wanna see a hero that is not afraid to fall and stand back on their feet. Benson thinks too highly of herself and this is quite tiring for me after all these seasons. Like the doctor said, she thinks of herself as a superhero who is not entitled to get hurt and this point of view hasnt changed all these years which makes her character stall. This nomination is not making me rethink my view. As i said, i call it how i see it. Benson is the cornerstone of a prestigious show so it is possible to get nominated but maybe based only on the 2 hour premiere and ep 3.After ep 3 she has just been nesting from what i saw.I like Benson but i need to be real and not suger-coat it.
Being devoted to a character can also mean giving it constructive criticism. Its not a bad thing you know.

Children7 said...

meanwhile, back in the real world....remember jerry sandusky.....even though there were adults who knew what he was doing, the abuse continued on for years.....

the true challenge is not an occasional false is for the victim to be able to talk and be listened to and believed....and for society to recognize the size and nature of the situation

i myself am a survivor of childhood sexual-abuse by 5 adult family members and one grade school teacher. all by the age of 12.

as of 2011
Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted

An exhaustive government survey of rape and domestic violence affirmed that sexual violence against women remains endemic in the United States and in some instances may be far more common than previously thought.

Childhelp's Speak Up Be Safe;
this is what we need.

Beginning in grades 1st – 6th , education tools helps children to recognize and report abuse to further prevent victimization.

It's an easy tool for children to educate their peers directly and indirectly.

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is at 1-800- 4-A-CHILD!

and they need to be listened to and taken seriously

About Erin's Law:
Erin Merryn is a crusader for sexual-abuse victims, and actively encourages others to speak out about their own survival. She published her diary detailing her cousin's abuse and her own recovery, relapse and reconciliation in book form as Stolen Innocence in 2005 In November 2009; she published a second book, Living For Today, discussing earlier abuse by her neighbor. Beginning in 2010, she launched a campaign to pass Erin's Law, legislation requiring that all schools make sexual abuse prevention a part of their curriculum. Since that time, seven states have adopted Erin's Law.

EchoInTheSilence said...

Okay, just an opinion. I'm not saying false allegations never happen, but I do think they're sensationalized a bit much on this show (and a lot of other places) whereas the false report numbers of rape are actually about the same as false reports of other crimes. I remember rejoicing when I saw "Witness" in Season 11 because it turns out the very questionable victim was actually a victim and not making it up for attention. I guess what really bugs me is that most times if even one person on the team questions if it really happened, or the victim is questionable, it turns out it was a lie, especially in the more recent seasons.

In this episode, at first I can sort of understand the skepticism, but after the fourth or fifth kid "came forward", Rollins' refusal to believe he could do it seemed more like stubbornness and a need to be right than anything the facts bore out. Of course she was right, but there was no reason for her to believe that for awhile.

As to the actors debate, this may have something to do with the fact that I didn't get too into it until shortly before Stabler left, but I don't feel like the show fell apart without him. I think they may be losing steam a bit, but that seems to be independent of Stabler leaving (especially since there were, IMO, more good episodes than not in Season 13) and more like they're running out of new ideas, which also IMO pretty much every long-running L&O show did at some point.

Andrey Y. said...


mrmeadowlark said...

I thought this was a great episode, until Mr. Jackie got off. I believed he was guilty from the get-go from the way he carried himself, way too flamboyant for my taste, and at the end of the episode, I felt like that while the girls had coached their brothers to make these allegations, that he probably really had molested some kids at some point, just not these kids.

Alexander Edward Pytko said...

It may have be a far-fetched idea but I think it would've been cool if they had gotten Simon Cowell, himself to come and listen to see if Jackie was right in what he said about the girls not being good enough. In a closed office, Simon listens to Brooke's singing and Benson is in the office as well and she can tell that Brooke's singing is nothing special. Simon cuts Brooke off.

Simon: Brooke, let me ask you something. Did your music teacher really tell you that you weren't good enough for "American Diva."
Brooke: Yes.
Simon: Well, let me tell you something, I totally agree with him.
Brooke: WHAT?!
Simon: I'm sorry but he's right, I'm afraid you just don't have the talent.
Brooke: But everyone has been telling me for years that I'm great!
Simon: Really? And who is "Everyone"?
Brooke: Well, my friends and my family.
Simon: Friends and families ALWAYS say that, no matter what. I'm afraid they've been misleading you all these years.
Brooke: That is not true!
Simon: Brooke, your friends and families don't work in the music industry but I do.
Brooke: So it's your job to lie to me?!
Simon: It's my job to tell you what you NEED to hear not what you WANT to hear. Read my lips, Brooke. YOU WILL NEVER BE A PROFESSIONAL SINGER.
Brooke:(angry tears in her eyes) I am a good singer! I'm going to prove you wrong!
Simon: Unfortunately, that's what they all say and they never succeed. I advise you to go in a new direction with your life(points to the door), starting out that door.
Brooke: I bet Jackie probably got you to say this me.
Simon: Goodbye, Brooke.
Brooke: You're gonna pay for this. I'm... I'm going to tell everyone I know that... that you're a lying ass!
Simon: (calmly) Well, that's not the direction I had in mind but good luck, then.
Brooke:(storms out and slams the door).
Benson: I've got to admit, you handled that nicely.
Simon: I told her what she had to hear, the truth.
Benson: I'm surprised you didn't cringe at what she said back to you.
Simon: Oh, I'm used to it. I get thousands of angry responses like that for rejected wannabe singers every year. It's not right to give anyone false hope. Jackie Walker seems to understand that. (Simon gets up, walks to the door, stops and turns at Benson) It's really too bad what's happened to him. The music world needs more people like him.(Simon walks out the door).
Benson: (sighs and hangs her head)

Unknown said...

Their job is not to believe the accusers, but to seek the truth...

Alexander Edward Pytko said...

They acted to hasty. They charged him before they had any rock solid evidence. The eggs did have the boys' DNA on it but the eggs didn't have Jackie's DNA or prints. Jackie couldn't have wiped the eggs clean without removing the DNA and the boys never mentioned Jackie wearing gloves. Of course, Jackie should've mentioned the underwear in the bathroom incident. I know he was just trying to be a friend to Cooper but he should've mentioned it to them when they were questioning him and not let it be revealed by Cooper's mother, he knew what was at stake.
Benson was also being stubborn. Everything that Jackie said, she kept trying to tie to Jonah's accusations somehow. It's like she wanted him to be guilty. She took the word of a 4 year old boy over the word of a grown man.
Brooke and Rachael should be charged with what they did. They should spend time in juvenile hall or be sentenced to A LOT of community service that would cut into their weekends and summer break. Those girls not only caused an innocent man's life to be ruined but they also caused to the police to waste a lot of time and tax payer money for no good reason.

Unknown said...

This is late but I think you meant to say that Rachel's mom presses Rachel to tell Amaro and Benson.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Unknown - late comments are fine! I just checked the scene and Rachel's mom tells Rachel "Tell them!" so I think the line still holds that Rachel's mom pressed Rachel to answer.

Randomcomment said...

This is another episode along with others that I would eventually like to see a follow up, sequel or whatever too. I'd like to see an episode where Jackie sues the city and the police department for what had happened. He was wronged and he didn't deserve any of that. He was right to not forgive the detectives and walk off. He kept trying to tell them and they wouldn't listen to his side like he said and I know that feeling well. If this was me, I'd sue the hell out of the city and police department.