Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Law & Order SVU “Amaro’s One-Eighty” Recap & Review

“Amaro’s One-Eighty” marked a turning point for Detective Nick Amaro. He went from being a detective who appeared to trust and respect the organization for which he works to a person who is now a little paranoid about who, in the upper ranks at One PP,  the DA's office, or in politics, has it out for him. His faith in the system has been rocked.   It’s interesting that he missed Munch – the former resident conspiracy theorist – to use as a sounding board for advice on what to do when an unseen force is working against him. Maybe Amaro is also at a crossroads with his own religious faith. There were both obvious and subtle references to his religion in the episode: early on, while Amaro is hitting a punching bag, the word “cross” from a police line sign is glaring; Rollins refers to Amaro as a choirboy; he goes to church to consult with a priest who talks to Amaro about guilt and the sin of pride and Amaro makes sure to make the sign of the cross before he leaves the church; Benson's wondering if IAB wanted to “crucify” Amaro; Calhoun saying that testifying to a grand jury is a cardinal sin.   Amaro has sometimes been too saintly and sanctimonious and maybe it was time that this character was given a dose of harsh reality. He did all the right things according to his training, but sometimes that is not enough. He is serious about his religious beliefs but he may now realize that the Church, or God,  doesn’t always have the answers. Just as Amaro was giving his all to the punching bag at the start of the episode, he himself must have felt like a punching bag as IAB, the DA’s office, and public opinion tried to make his actions appear to be those of a drunk racist with anger issues. (He DOES have anger issues but I doubt this had an effect on the shooting.) In the end, I think Amaro realizes that pride in his work may not be the sinful thing that his priest seemed to make it, in fact, his pride in his work and high standards may have been what saved him from indictment and falling victim to the system.  But, it would be no surprise if Amaro's self-confidence hasn't taken a hit, and for the short term, this may not be a bad thing for him. Until he knows if someone really is out to make trouble for him, he needs to be cautious.

I found it odd that Officer McKenna’s behavior wasn’t put under more scrutiny. The firing of shots didn’t start until she came around the corner and stepped into the hallway.  It was later established the boy had no gun and the only bullets that were in the hall were from her gun and Amaro’s, so exactly what did she see the boy do with what she thought was a gun that made her shoot repeatedly even after being hit? McKenna’s continued shooting at “something” is what triggered Amaro to continue to fire. She seemed to be shooting blindly at a threat SHE perceived, yet unlike Amaro, McKenna seemed to be given a free pass for the shooting.

Of course, we all knew Amaro would somehow come out of this with his job back, so there wasn’t much suspense as far as that part of the story. The constant narrow mindedness of IAB and Lieutenant Tucker (I hear a “Boo! Hiss! in my head every time he is on the screen, even when Robert John Burke is on other shows) gets a little old at times. Still, it was great (and well written)  drama to see how the system can turn on a good person and (almost) ruin them in the process.  Amaro’s frustration with the system and fear about what an indictment meant for his future was very well played by Danny Pino.

This also was Captain Cragen’s last case with the Special Victims Unit; Cragen retires and is off for a 6 month cruise with Eileen. He seems happy which makes ME happy. Dann Florek is one of my all time favorite characters in the Law & Order brand and it will be hard to imagine the series without him. He had plenty of screen time in this episode and the send off was low key, but satisfying. I said this with Richard Belzer’s final episode and I will say it with Dann Florek’s: I would have loved to see a story line based on a previous case of Cragen’s and to make him the focus of his final episode. Now Benson will take the helm as Sergeant, which may mean some interesting – and maybe bumpy – times for her and the SVU squad down the road. The possibilities are endless!

Here is the recap:

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

Guest stars:
Dean Winters – Detective Brian Cassidy
Greg Germann - Derek Strauss
Elizabeth Marvel - Rita Calhoun
Robert John Burke - Lt. Ed Tucker
Cathy Moriarty-Gentile- Captain Toni Howard
Mary McCann - Didi Denzler
Leslie Odom, Jr. - Reverend Curtis Scott
Gbenga Akinnagbe - Father Biobaku
Mel Harris - Eileen Switzer
Vicky Jeudy – Officer McKenna
Stephen Bradbury – Judge Colin McNamara
Nancy Ticotin – Cesara Amaro
Tina Fabrique – Grand Juror #1
Hubert Point-Du Jour – Berko Barre
Linda Thompson Williams – Nateesha
Laura Chaneski – Nurse
Joselin Reyes – EMT #1
Luc Owono = Mr. Barre
Lorry Francois – Mrs. Barre
Aubrey Joseph – Yusef Barre
Alison Fernandez – Zara Amaro
Frank Alfano, Jr. – Officer Mike Dragin
Jared Kemp – Teen #1
Jeremiah Craft = Teen #2
Phil Eichinger – Reporter #1

In what looks like an SVU storage room, Amaro is punching feverishly at a punching bag as Fin enters the room. Fin asks him how much longer, calling him “La Hoya”, adding they are due at Liv’s. Amaro tells him he can go on ahead, and Fin says he’ll chill. Fin asks how many times do they have to celebrate this damn Sergeant’s exam, and Amaro, still punching away, says hey, she earned it. Fin says he doesn’t like it, they’re not going to let her supervise them, he means she is going to be transferred. Amaro stops punching to ponder that statement, and watches Fin as Fin leaves the room.

Later, at Benson’s and Cassidy’s apartment, Benson opens some wine and hands the bottle to Rollins, asking if she will do the honors. Rollins jokingly asks if she means pour, and Benson replies yeah. Eileen, Cragen’s girlfriend, enters the room and says the brussel sprouts were delicious, and Benson happily says she is glad someone thinks so. She adds that these cops – if it doesn’t come in a takeout container it’s not food. Rollins pours the wine and Eileen comments that Benson was sweet to invite her, and then asks Benson where is Brian tonight? Benson informs her that he is undercover – again. Eileen says that he was there for Benson at the trial, and that is what counts. Benson seems to be thinking about that and quietly answers yeah.

As Rollins fills Fin’s glass with wine, he tells her to keep it coming, girl, that’s what he’s talking about. He then turns to Cragen and asks how long he has to stay here, and Cragen tells him to just let him make a toast and then Fin can rush home to…whatever it is he rushes home to. Rollins asks if Amaro wants some more, and he replies no, he’s good. Rollins counters with “Nick, c’mon, don’t you get tired of being the choirboy?” He replies, “Choirboy. Good.” Benson and Eileen join the group as Cragen announces for all of them to listen up, he knows that everybody has been worried about all the changes at One PP. The new mayor has his agenda but they don’t make the rules, they follow them. Fin asks if this is a toast or a memorial, and they all chuckle. He goes on to say that the good news is that so many people are leaving the department because of these changes – Benson looks uncomfortable – that One PP can’t spare a Sergeant for their unit. They have agreed to let Detective…he means Sergeant - Benson stay on at SVU. He raises his glass for a toast and they all clink their wine glasses in congratulations.

Afterwards, Amaro and Rollins are leaving the party and Rollins catches up with him and asks him if he drove. He replies yes and asks if he can drop her somewhere. She says just to the F train on 6th. He agrees. Rollins comments that Benson is his new Sarge which is cool, and Amaro replies is it better than having to teach some baby faced boss the ropes. Rollins asks if they are going to give him a new partner, and Amaro shakes his head, saying how would he know, no one tells him anything, it’s the NYPD. Rollins moans she knows, they are the never-yeilding perpertual dick-around. Amaro smiles, saying he hadn’t heard that one, asking if she made that up. But Rollins doesn’t have time to answer as someone runs behind them and a voice yells “Police! Stop!” As an officer makes chase, he is hit by a taxi cab driving down the street. As the officer lay injured on the ground, he tells Amaro and Rollins  that they saw that kid do a deal and thinks he has a gun. Rollins tells Amaro to call it in and she will back up his partner, and Amaro says he will go. He asks the officer again that he saw a gun, and the officer says McKenna did. While Amaro makes chase, Rollins uses the officer’s radio to call in that the officer is injured and that a plain clothes officer is in pursuit and the perp may have a gun. Amaro calls out to others watching that he is NYPD and asks which way. Someone tells him which way as a woman records the action on her phone, saying he didn’t do nothing. As Officer McKenna chases the perp into a building, Amaro follows close by. He opens the door to a hallway to hear McKenna telling the perp, who has run down another hallway, to drop the gun. She is taking cover behind the wall and reacts to seeing Amaro and points the gun at him and he quickly holds up his badge, asking what does she have. She explains that he had a gun and is at the end of the hall. Amaro asks if he is alone, and she answers he is backed up against the last door, she saw it in his jacket when she took cover. We hear someone banging on a door as McKenna yells for the perp to drop the gun and kick it away. Amaro hear the perp yelling and tells McKenna the perp doesn’t speak English. The woman taking the cell phone video comes in the same door that Amaro entered, still recording. She tells him to leave that boy alone, and Amaro points his gun toward her and yells that he said back out now. She pulls back and closes the door. McKenna tells Amaro to get the woman out, she is going in. She enters the hallway and shots ring out. She is hit and falls to the ground as more shots are fired. Amaro reaches his arm around the corner and shoots without seeing at whom is he shooting. Shots continue to be fired by the what seems like the  perp and McKenna. Amaro reaches for McKenna and drags her by her jacket around the corner of the hallway. He asks if she is OK and she explains she is shot. Rollins opens the door and enters the hall, asking Amaro what the hell happened. Amaro explains McKenna is shot and Rollins tells her to keep pressure on the wound. She explains that backup is coming. There is yelling down the hall as a boy lay on the floor with two people tending to him. Amaro and Rollins race down the hallway with Amaro telling him to put their hands where he can see them. Rollins also yells for them to put their hands up. Rollins moves the man and woman to the wall and tells them to put their hands up, as Amaro says to secure the gun, but searches the bleeding boy and sees there is no gun. He frantically asks “Where is the gun?” Rollins yells back she does not see it. Amaro tries to put pressure on the boy’s wound and tells Rollins to call it in as the woman wails. Amaro and the boy look at each other, both silent.

Later, Rollins tells them the other officers have arrived to search the apartment and the stairs and the streets; they are missing a gun. Amaro tells the EMT tending to the boy to bag his hands for GSR, he shot a cop. The EMT tells Amaro that was nice triage, he saved his life. As the EMTs take the boy away, something falls from the boy's coat. Amaro picks it up and opens it, describing the contents as Khat, an eastern African amphetamine, and that Somali pirates use it to make themselves fearless. Rollins thinks that is why he ran and why he had the gun. Amaro thinks with that amount, he is a small time dealer. Captain Toni Howard arrives and ask who was the other shooter, and Amaro explains he is. She says they saved his guys, and thanks them, then adds she did not know SVU was working her precinct. Rollins explains they are not, they came upon the scene and they saw one officer get hit by a cab and Amaro says Officer McKenna gave chase and he ran to back her up; she rushed in and got shot and he fired to cover for her. He asks how is she, and Howard says she lost some blood and will be okay. Howard explains that she hates to ask, but she will need his weapon, he knows the drill. He will be escorted to the hospital for a complete workup with blood alcohol. Rollins gives a look to Amaro as he hands over his gun. Rollins tells Howard it was a good shoot. Howard asks if the kid was armed, find the weapon. Amaro gives a concerned look back to Rollins as he follows Howard out.

As Amaro exits the building, a huge crowd has gathered and Benson, along with Cragen and Fin, breaks through it, calling out to Amaro. She asks if he is OK and he says yeah. He explains the blood on his shirt is not his. Cragen asks what happened, and Amaro explains that he and Rollins ran into a mess, a uni was chasing a dealer, he shoots at her and he shot at him. Fin comments lucky for her Amaro was there. Cragen asks where is Rollins, and Amaro informs them she is doing a grid search, the gun is still missing and someone may have dumped it. Cragen asks that the precinct captain has arrived yet, and Amaro replies yes, it is Captain Howard. Fin comments that is his old Lieutenant from Narcotics, Benson adding that is good, they know her. Cragen says even so, don’t say anything to anybody until his delegate shows up and adds he is going to the hospital with him. He tells Benson and Fin to stay and find that gun.

As Cragen walks off with Amaro, Amaro tells him that he had to shoot, McKenna was down. Cragen replies he does not need to explain it to him, in fact he might not want to, nothing is privileged. Amaro says he is not sure that boy is going to make it. Cragen tells Amaro to let the doctors worry about that. Amaro gets in the back seat of the police car, and he lets out a deep sigh.

Meanwhile, Rollins is at the apartment with the offers and Captain Howard acknowledges Fin’s arrival. She asks Fin if his whole squad showed up. Fin explained they were with Amaro before the incident. Howard asks that he didn’t actually see the chase or the shooting, and Fin explains no. She says good, then she can put him to work. Benson arrives and says she speaks some French and can talk to the parents. Howard replies no, the translator is on the way, and says thanks. Benson leaves. Howard explains to Fin that SVU can’t be primary investigators but while they are waiting for warrants, SVU can canvas for the gun. Rollins calls them into another room and says they have a big problem. She explains that the window is open and it looks like there is an older brother that is missing. Howard says it is Berko Barre and he is 17 who has a sheet for peddling without permits and dealing Khat, he is well known to his squad. Fin notes it is a couple stories down and questions that he went out the window with the gun?

At Mercy Hospital. Amaro is going through the exam and Didi Denzler arrives, saying she is his delegate. She asks the nurse if that is the tox screen, and Amaro says it is okay, he just had a couple. Denzler tells the nurse to hold off on the blood draw. The nurse says she needs to take his blood, and Denzler explains it is police business and confidential. The nurse stops and leaves the room. Denzler explains to Amaro that technically, nothing he says to her is privileged, but if they are alone it is less of an issue. Amaro explains it was two glasses of wine. She asks if he ate dinner tonight and he answers not a lot, and then he worked out earlier. She asks why don’t they review the process; #1 he should speak to the department psychologist ASAP. Amaro quickly replies to let them take his blood, he is fine. She hands him a cup of water and she continues by saying “As I was saying, psychologist” and for now, he goes over all the details and they pray somebody finds that gun. Amaro adds and that the kid lives, saying that he’s what -  16? Denzler says they are claiming he is 14. Amaro looks dejected.

IAB Lieutenant Tucker arrives at the hospital with Brian Cassidy in tow and come upon Cragen who tells them that the 2-7 has this under control. But Tucker counters not any more, the new mayor and his commission believe only IAB can conduct an independent investigation. Cragen sarcastically asks if that is any time a cop fires or only when a teenage black kid gets shot? Cassidy comments that is a good question, to which Cragen asks if Brian is there as a friend. Tucker explains Brian is on duty, he is training now in IAB and it will be his chance to show he can conduct an unbiased investigation. Cassidy says he is here doing his job. Cragen asks if he knows what that means, their new mayor is looking for a poster boy for excessive force and IAB is there to serve up Amaro as a sacrificial lamb. The Reverend Curtis Scott approaches and says the only who was sacrificed is Yusef. Cragen tells Reverend Curtis that was quick and Curtis says word travels fast when NYPD shoots an unarmed boy. Tucker tells Curtis he can dial it back, they are still trying to determine what happened. Curtis says they know exactly what happened, they can’t stop and frisk any more so now they shoot to stop. Cragen replies this was not racially motivated and Curtis says he thought they hadn’t yet determined what happened. Cragen gives him a cold stare. Curtis says the whole city is watching them, and the mayor, and he wants to see if they can whitewash the shooting like the others. Cragen replies he wouldn’t waste his time with them, the cameras are down the hall. As Curtis walks off, Benson races up and asks Cassidy what is going on and how is Amaro. Cassidy explains he does not know, he is there as IA. She looks surprised and then says oh, so they can’t talk. She says okay and walks away.

In the exam room. The nurse has drawn Amaro’s blood and Benson asks if they are good to go. The nurse nods and walk out. Denzler says to Amaro that he has her card and she is his delegate 24/7 and he needs a lawyer. Benson quickly comments that they have it covered and thanks her, and Denzler leaves the room. Amaro asks Benson if the other cop is OK and Benson informs him she is fine but it is a circus out there - IAB, press, Reverend Curtis – enough brass for a band so she is going to get him out the back door. Amaro asks if she is there, they found the gun? Benson explains no, and t he brother is still missing. Amaro asks how is the boy, and Benson says Amaro saved his life. Amaro comments so he made it, and Benson replies yeah. Amaro sighs in relief and Benson adds they found one of the bullets in his spine, and the doctors don’t know what that means yet. Amaro looks stunned, but says, “Yeah they do.”

Back at SVU, Fin walks into Cragen’s office and informs Cragen, Benson, and Rollins that the kid may be paralyzed and the doctor says Amaro may have saved his life. Cragen thinks the family may not feel that way. Cragen asks if Yusef has a record, and Rollins explains it is for minor busts - street peddling of native art from Djibouti – but his brother Berko is the bad apple, for assault, stealing. Benson thinks Yusef was working for his brother and holding the gun and saw the cops and bolted. Fin comments is the only problem is the only person that saw the gun so far was the female uni, McKenna. Rollins adds they did a grid search for two blocks and they got warrants on the neighbors - clean. Benson thinks the brother took it; find him, find the gun. Fin adds – if he’s stupid. But Cragen counters – or they are lucky – thinking he’s a dealer, he had known associates. He tells Fin to put some pressure – unofficially.

Meanwhile, in a church, Amaro talks to a priest about what happened to Yusef. The priest comments that the guilt must be a burden, but Amaro counters no, according to his training, he did everything he was supposed to. The priest wonders about according to his conscience, and Amaro says nothing. The priest asks him to tell him why he feels guilty, is there hatred in his heart? Amaro answers no, he was trying to protect the other officer. The priest asks again why does he feel guilt? Amaro replies that he had a few drinks. The priest asks if this affected what he did,. And Amaro insists no, but they will think it did, they will say he shot him because he was impaired, because he was black. The priest says it’s Amaro’s pride that is wounded, but Amaro insists he did everything right. The priest counters “and yet God didn’t give you the results you expected or deserved.” Amaro asks if God planned for him to paralyze Yusef, and the priest replies that no one knows God’s plans, and maybe one lesson he can learn from this is why pride is a sin. Amaro quickly stands up, steps into the aisle and makes the sign of the cross and quickly heads to the door.

Fin and Rollins are at the home of Shannon McKenna, who says her delegate told her not to answer questions. Rollins explains that IAB is going after Amaro hard and think it was his gun that shot Yusef, and Fin adds that the gun is gone. Rollins asks if she did see it in his hand, and McKenna said when he was making the deal, he saw a flash of metal, then in the hallway, she got hit by a bullet he fired. She kept her head down until Amaro pulled her to safety. She wonders if the woman with the cell phone got something as she ran in. Rollins asks what woman, and McKenna does not know, describing her as a middle aged cop hater, and Amaro kept telling her to get back but she just kept recording.

Meanwhile, Cpt. Howard leads in Amaro and his attorney Counselor Calhoun into an office with Cassidy and Tucker waiting and Calhoun asks why is Internal Affairs is there. Howard explains that he was made aware of a bigger picture and have agreed IAB will take the lead. Calhoun thinks that One PP already knows where they want this to end up and under the circumstances they will be exercising her client’s right not to self incriminate. Tucker says Amaro is free to go, but given the pressure that is on this case and the absence of a gun it might be in his best interests to talk to them. Amaro says he has nothing to hide. They all move to sit down and Tucker tells Cassidy he is up. Amaro questions that Cassidy will question him, and Tucker says he will supervise, and asks if that is a problem. Amaro does not answer as Cassidy adjusts the camera, Cassidy learns forward and asks if Amaro ID’d himself to the suspect. Amaro replies that he joined in on a hot pursuit by a uniformed police officer - and Howard adds it was from her precinct. Howard asks when he though they trapped the suspect, did he try and talk him down or wait for backup? Amaro states that McKenna rushed the suspect, shots were fired and she shot when she had been hit and he needed to protect her. Cassidy asks Amaro that he maintains the suspect had been armed, and did he see him holding the gun? Amaro comments did he stick his head around the corner to see if it got blown off – NO. He didn’t need to, McKenna was hit, shots were flying and tells them to go look at the holes in the walls. Tucker comments that earlier in the evening Amaro was at a dinner party where drinks were served, and Amaro says it was at Cassidy’s apartment. Tucker goes on to state that after he was taken to the hospital, her refused to let the nurse take his blood right away and why is that? Calhoun comments that Amaro followed procedure per his delegate. Amaro states she asked for a moment and it was not long. Tucker asked if it was long enough to lower blood alcohol content? There is silence in the room.

Later and elsewhere Cassidy questions Fin about the number of drinks Amaro had at the party, and Fin says he wasn’t counting but Amaro was sober. Later, Cassidy questions Rollins and asks them about her and Amaro encountering the officers in hot pursuit, and Rollins explains that Officer Dragen told them his partner saw the suspect was armed and Amaro joined the pursuit and she called in the 10-13. She did not see the gun. Tucker then questions Benson about how many drinks she served Amaro, and Benson says she did not serve him. Tucker tells her not to be cute, was he served at her apartment. Benson answers maybe 2 glasses of wine over the course of two hours and he ate dinner. When he left the party he was unimpaired. Tucker explains they will ask her that on the stand, and would she say the same thing under oath? Benson asks if Amaro is going to be charged, and Tucker says nothing.

Afterwards, Benson is getting out of the SVU elevator with Cragen and tells him Tucker let it slip he wants it to go to trial. Cragen counters that it is not Tucker’s call, there is a regime change. Benson wonders if their first act is to crucify Amaro. Benson is shocked to see Amaro sitting in the squad room, and she asks if he is sure he should be there. Rollins explains she called him, and says he needs to see this. When Cragen asks see what, Fin explains that a concerned citizen posted the shooting on a web site called “Eyes-On-Cops”. They see the video and Benson says there is nothing there. Rollins explains the problem by showing the rest of the video where the woman opened the doorway and Amaro points his gun at her saying to back out now, and then Amaro says “speak English”. Through the window of the door, we see the shots being fired. Rollins adds after that, the recording is useless. Amaro says before that is B.S., what he said was he DOESN’T speak English and she edited this and he is being set up. Rollins explains the video was posted anonymously and Eyes On Cops hides behind the First Amendment so it might take a while to get the original. Cragen tells Amaro not to worry, they will find the full clip or find her. Tucker walks into SVU with Cassidy and tells Amaro he is looking for him. Cragen says Amaro already told him everything he knows, but Tucker says here is something he does not know, and Cassidy comments that Yusef had no gunshot residue on his hands or his clothing, but the only shots fired came from McKenna’s gun - and his. Tucker says the third gun that he and his squad are unofficially looking for – they can stop now, it was never fired. Rollins counters that McKenna was shot, and Cassidy said it was by a ricochet from her own gun. As Amaro shakes his head in disbelief, Cassidy adds that McKenna admitted she had her hand on the trigger when she tripped. Cragen asks them to hold up, Amaro believed that a fellow officer had been shot by the perp and he was trying to save her life, and Tucker says maybe, but McKenna is refusing to cooperate in any way. He adds that Amaro had a blood alcohol content of .049, almost 2 hours AFTER the shooting, which means he was possibly impaired when the shooting occurred. Tucker puts out his hand and Amaro hands him his badge, and Tucker adds that as a courtesy, Amaro will have until 9AM tomorrow morning to turn himself in. Cragen asks if he is arresting him before he is indicted, saying this is a farce. Tucker tells Amaro he’d better get his affairs in order.

At arraignment with Amaro, Calhoun states to the judge that the DA has rushed to overcharge this and that Amaro is a dedicated career officer, and she requests release on his own recognizance. Judge McNamara states not in his court, and, given the serious nature of the charges, sets bail at $500,000. Amaro and Calhoun are stunned, and Calhoun asks if this is punitive or political? The judge does not answer her and simply calls to the bailiff for the next case. Amaro whispers that they want in him jail, he doesn’t have that kind of money. Calhoun asks if he owns his home, and Amaro says with his wife, they are separated. Calhoun says she will have to sign off on it. The courtroom is all abuzz as Amaro is taken away.

In the hallway, Reverend Curtis speaks with the press, explaining that all eyes are on the new administration, and during the campaign they pledged to change NYPD’s culture of racism and brutality and this will be a test case of those promises. As Benson exits with the rest of the SVU squad, she tells Cragen it was a hell of a show and they are railroading him. Cragen says his lawyer sees the big picture and if he listens to her he will be okay. Rollins gets a message and says this might help –  Yusef’s brother Berko stopped by the hospital to check in him and the unis are holding him now. Fin asks if they notified IAB. But Rollins told them to sit tight on him until they got there. Benson tells her nice work, and tells Rollins to go talk to him and see if they can get anything that can help them.

In the SVU interrogation room, Rollins and Fin question Berko, who admits Yusef delivered for him and he never sold and never owned a gun. He ran because they chased him and every time they talk to the police they get in trouble with permits and fines, any excuse to mess with them. HE ran because they shot his brother, asking Fin wouldn’t he run too?

Later, Amaro hears a knock on his door at home and opens it to find Benson. Zara is also there with his mother. Amaro wants to speak alone with Benson so Zara and her grandmother move to another area of the room. Amaro tells Benson he would offer her a drink but someone might say she was impaired. Benson asks how he is doing and he sarcastically says great – there are wanted posters up for him as a kid killer and to put his house as collateral which thrilled Maria. Benson brings up having to care for Zara and Amaro says his mother will take her to D.C. once the trial starts. Benson tells him they will figure this out, but Amaro replies they should not have to. She asks what does that mean, and Amaro angrily says “your boyfriend” and grabs a newspaper with Amaro’s picture on the front page with the headline “.049?! Drunk Cop Cripples Kid” and asks if he is enjoying this. Benson replies this is politics – she grabs the paper and throws it down – saying Cassidy hates that he is caught in the middle. Amaro questions does he – and leaking IAB files and sandbagging him in the press is bonus points? Benson counters that if he is going to be paranoid, then he needs to think a lot bigger than this, stating that One PP is hanging him out to dry and are making him the fall guy. Amaro, frustrated, replies whatever she says. Benson reminds him that all of them have their back, but then a sharp noise of breaking glass from bullets flying through the window force Benson and Amaro to the floor, and as Zara screams.  Amaro tells them to get down. Benson races to the door and reaches for her police radio and calls in that they have a 10-13 with shots fired at 2022 Bowler Avenue. They radio back that backup is on the way.

Benson exits the home with her gun drawn and calls out to three people walking down the street, saying she is NYPD and to stop. One person begins to run and she tells the arriving officer to follow him. She holds her gun on the other two and tells them to put her hands up where she can see thin. They cooperate. One man asks if she is going to shoot them too, and she tells them to keep their hands up where she can see them and asks if they want to tell her what happened. One of the men says nothing, it is just a quite night, and the other says yeah, they didn’t see nothing. Amaro runs up with a baseball bat in hand, and shouts that they are lying, and to stop lying, and one man says maybe somebody saw him with a gun. Amaro shouts that they showed up at his house – screaming – WITH MY DAUGHTER INSIDE? Benson tries to pull Amaro back, shouting that she’s got this and she moves him aside, telling him to back off. Another squad car arrivcs.  Amaro tells Benson to cuff them now, and one of the men says to go inside. Amaro asks where is the gun, and the man counters is he sure there was a gun, maybe he just imagined it. Amaro says if he really wants to shoot him he is standing right there. Amaro swings with his bat and more shouting ensues, but he doesn’t hit anyone and Benson orders him to get back. The other officers tell Amaro to put the bat down and Benson holds up her hands and gun and says they are on the job, as does Amaro. One of the possible shooters asks “With a bat? You’all hit us, police brutality.” Amaro fumes and Benson calls his name to try to keep him calm. Meanwhile, passersby video the encounter. Amaro takes a swipe at a garbage can.

Later, Cragen is at Amaro’s home and gets off the phone, telling Amaro they found a .22 in a sewer grate down the block and they are bringing two of the three kids in. Amaro asks what is the point, and Benson replies if the slug is a match…but he interrupts, saying the shooter got away and wiped the prints. Tucker arrives and Cragen tells him the precinct has this. Benson explains that she called him in and tells a shocked Amaro that she had to. Amaro tells Tucker they shot through his window and could have shot his mother and his daughter. Tucker comments that he appreciates his anger but he can’t go after civilians with a baseball bat. Amaro angrily asks if they can shoot at him? Benson tells Amaro to stop, and he turns his back and walks a few steps away. Cragen tells Tucker they shot at his daughter, and Tucker calmly says he understands that, he still has to investigate the incident. Amaro pipes up and says “That’s great, just keep doing your job. Hey, how much are you making now?” Benson asks Tucker to please give them a minute, and he nods, but then tells Amaro that, for what it’s worth, he would have done the same thing he did…or worse. Tucker walks out and Cragen tells Amaro they have to get him and his family out of there. Amaro notes he is one it, his mother will take Zara home tonight and to D.C. in the morning. When Cragen asks what about him, Amaro shrugs and says he is good here. Benson suggest he come home with her, and Amaro says “ You and Cassidy” and he gives a sarcastic laugh and says, “No way.” Benson says he is never home and they have a comfortable couch and why doesn’t he try it out for a few days, adding “Please.”

At Benson’s apartment while she brings out some bedding, Amaro is on the phone with Maria and says he gets it. He hangs up and tells Benson that Maria wants sole custody, until his case is over. Benson says she is sorry, that is tough, and Amaro says he can’t argue with her, it’s safer for Zara and if he gets convicted he’s going to have to ask Marie to bring Zara up for prison visits. Benson tells him not to catastrophize, but Amaro says he’s way past that. He’s thinking he should cut a deal. He says he misses Munch right now, and Benson says they all do. He asks who is he going to talk to, his lawyer or NYPD shrink? Benson suggests he pick up the phone and call. The apartment door shuts and Cassidy walks in and says “Hi babe” to Benson, and hi to Amaro, who is staring away from Cassidy and does not acknowledged him. Cassidy asks if he is okay, and asks about Zara and Amaro replies she is shaken up but fine, still not looking at Cassidy. Cassidy says that’s good – that’s real good. Amaro says thanks and Cassidy walks away. Benson tells Amaro to let her know if he needs anything.

Back at SVU, Cragen is looking through paperwork and then sees Amaro in the interrogation room on the phone. Cragen walks in the room and Amaro explains that was Munch, he thinks he should just take a plea and get this over with. Cragen questions that Munch said that and Amaro explains that Munch said just because he is paranoid doesn’t mean he doesn’t have enemies. Cragen says that sounds like Munch. Cragen tells Amaro he is a good cop and good cops make enemies. Amaro asks if Cragen agrees and he should just take his pension and run, and Cragen replies that he can’t make this decision for him. But has he thought about what his life would be like without his badge. Amaro doesn’t know, asking Cragen has he? Cragen doesn’t answer. Amaro thinks if he moved to D.C. he could be closer to Zara and pick up security work, and Cragen adds as long as this doesn’t stick to him. Amaro says he is damned either way. Cragen says he wishes he could say the NYPD looks out for their own, but he is not going to lie to him. Cragen leaves the room, leaving Amaro sitting there alone to think.

At the office of Special Prosecutor Derek Strauss, Amaro arrives with Calhoun. Strauss asks Amaro how is that son of his and Amaro says “all good.” Strauss says it is a tragic situation for everyone and Calhoun says in view of the current environment, Amaro is willing to plead guilty to misdemeanor reckless endangerment and is willing to leave the department, keeping his pension and no jail time. Strauss replies that is okay. But given the circumstances he can’t just let him walk, he will have to serve at least a year probation. Calhoun explains that Amaro is willing to do that, as long as there is no felony charge on his record. Strauss pauses and says that may be an issue. Calhoun, surprised, says “Excuse me?” and Strauss explains there is a sentiment that he should plead guilty to a hate crime. Amaro is stunned and says that bumps it up to a felony, asking where is this coming from, Reverend Curtis? He raises his voice and says he is not a racist, and Calhoun cautions him to take it easy. Strauss says Amaro shot a black 14 year old and is went after two black kids on the street with a baseball bat. Amaro leaps up and says that’s it, he’s done. Amaro storms out of the office and Strauss calls out after him, saying Amaro may think so but he is just getting started. Calhoun follows Amaro out.

Outside the room, Calhoun catches up to Amaro and says this had nothing to do with hate. Calhoun asks if he seriously thinks he can count on a jury knowing what was in his heart? Calhoun adds this is why she likes defending criminals, they’re much less trusting. Amaro says it won’t plead to something he did not do and if that is pride, so be it, the grand jury is going to indict him either way.

In the grand jury, Strauss questions McKenna who says Amaro flashed his shield but did not verbally identify himself . After she accidentally fired he weapon, Amaro immediately started firing. The nurse then testifies that she was about to draw his blood when his delegate asked her to leave the room. Strauss comments they let her back in 40 minutes later and even with that delay, his BAC was .049. Strauss says that is just under.05 which is legally impaired. Then, with Rollins on the stand, Strauss asks that the night she volunteered to help officer McKenna, that Amaro, despite having a few drinks, overruled her and insisted he’d go. Rollins says yes. Strauss asks if she’s ever know him to use excessive force, and Rollins says no. He asks Rollins if she was aware of Amaro physically assaulting a man who he thought was sleeping with his wife? Rollins says she can’t comment on that. He asks Rollins that she’s never known Amaro to overreact, and Rollins says not that she can recall.

Later, Rollins rushes out of the courthouse and walks over to Amaro, Benson, Fin and Cragen who are waiting outside. Amaro asks how bad was it, and she replies that it is a grand jury, Strauss can say things he can’t say in a courtroom, just making insinuations, that’s all. Fin adds – so it was bad. Benson suggests to Amaro they get him out of there. As they get ready to leave, they see Yusef coming up to the courtroom in a wheelchair with this family, and Reverend Curtis and a whole group of people. Amaro says if Yusef testifies, he’s indicted and maybe he should plead to the hate crime. Cragen says he said before he can’t tell him what to do, but if he takes their plea, he won’t be able to live with himself. Amaro says nothing, and then Benson suggest they should go. They all walk off.

On another day, Benson and Amaro walk with Calhoun, who tells Amaro that testifying to a grand jury that is investigating him is a cardinal sin. Benson cautions him that Strauss can ask him anything he wants and it can all be used against him. Calhoun adds that she can put him on the stand at trial. Amaro explains he does not want to be indicted for a crime he didn’t commit, he wants the grand jury to hear his side. Calhoun reminds him she can’t be in there with him. He tells her not to worry about it, it is not on her. Benson asks if he is sure about this, and he says yeah, he is.

In the grand jury, Amaro is on the stand and Strauss mentions his BAC and the fact he shot an unarmed boy that Amaro maintains he did everything right. Amaro explains there was a female officer down and he did everything he was trained to do. Strauss mentions female officer and Amaro says officer. Strauss mentions that the other time Amaro fired his weapon was in defense of a female officer and when a woman is in danger, does he feel compelled to rescue her to the point that reason goes out the window? Amaro states that he made the only decision that he could under the circumstances. Strauss decides to review the circumstances and explains that after having a couple glasses of wine, he gave chase without identifying himself, and when McKenna went around the corner and tripped and shot herself, he made the determination without any visual confirmation that she had been fired upon. Then without looking, he poked his gun around the corner and started firing. Amaro says yes, and Strauss asks how many rounds, to which Amaro answers he fired until he ascertained the firing had stopped. Strauss says Amaro was the only one shooting and what he means is he fired until HE stopped firing. Amaro counters that he couldn’t know those bullets were ricochet, the hall was an echo chamber with bullets flying and an officer down, and it is easy for Strauss to judge in hindsight, it took CSU 24 hours to figure it out what Strauss expected him to figure out in that moment. Strauss asks if he thinks it would have been any easier for him to figure it out if he hadn’t been drinking? Amaro glares at him, and Strauss adds or if officer McKenna had been chasing a 14 year old white girl? Amaro says nothing, and Strauss says he has no further questions and tells Amaro he can step down. But a black juror raises her hand to ask if they can ask something, and Strauss says sure. The juror asks Amaro if he thinks it would have made a difference that night if he hadn’t been drinking? Amaro says his judgment was not impaired, but she asks what if, like the prosecutor had said, it was a 14 year old white girl? Amaro says he didn’t shootYusef because he was black. The juror asks if he honestly thinks he did everything right? Amaro says there is no right way to shoot a 14 year old boy, cripple him and put him in a wheelchair. He has always prided himself on following his training and his professionalism and respect for the law. Since that night, he has been struggling to reconcile how doing everything right could lead to such a horribly wrong result, and yet if he were in that situation again, he would do the same thing. Does he regret it? Yes, he does. Amaro sighs quietly.

In the court hallway, Yusef and his family wait in one area while Amaro waits in another. Benson arrives and asks if he wants to go take a walk. Amaro explains that Calhoun said it is a quick vote and it only takes 13 to indict. Calhoun walks up and Amaro tells her she was right, it was a mistake. Calhoun says no, she was wrong. Ten voted to indict but 8 didn’t, and, smiling, she tells him he is free to go. Amaro asks for how long, they will just charge him again. Calhoun says no, she will tell the press that the DA overreached and the mayor and the commissioner will trip all over their…she looks like she will say “dicks” but instead says…ties walking away from this. Benson thanks her and Calhoun walks off. Benson asks Amaro if they should get the hell out of there, and he says yeah. He looks back on t he family and Yusef looks at him, and Amaro asks for a minute. He walks over to them but Reverend Curtis stops him and says now is not the time. Amaro turns and takes a deep breath,

Back at SVU, Cragen gives Amaro back his shield and welcomes him back. Amaro asks what does One PP want, and Cragen says after two days of negotiating, he is looking at a command discipline, anger management, and mandatory re-training, to be done using vacation days. He adds for the moment, Amaro is on desk duty. Amaro asks until when, and Cragen says until Benson tells him he is not. Benson looks up and asks what is Cragen talking about? Cragen tells the room to listen up, and says he did not want to announce this until Amaro’s situation was resolved, but it’s done, and so is he, he’s leaving. Rollins says, “What? Now?” Amaro stands up and asks if this is part of the deal and if this was their pound of flesh, but Cragen insists no, this is his call. Fin asks where is he going to go, and Cragen says around the world; Eileen has two tickets for a six months cruise and he has enough accrued leave to take him to his mandatory retirement day.. If she stays, he makes less that if he would leave. Rollins seems happy about the cruise, saying if anyone has earned it… Cragen adds he is proud of his time here and he is honored and grateful to have worked with the finest unit of detectives he has even known. He tells Amaro he will get through all this as he is too good a cop and too good a man not to. He tells Rollins he was never sorry he brought her up from Atlanta and he would do it again. He tells Fin what can he say, for a guy who never should have been an SVU detective he is okay. Fin says “Right back at you, Captain. Nobody could ever take your place.” Cragen says for the meantime, Detective Benson will, she is ready, and it is not easy going from player to coach so don’t bust her chops. He leans over and tells Benson if they do, you bust them right back. The whole group gives Cragen a round of applause, and he gives them a quick salute and walks to his office.

Afterwards, Benson walks into his office as Cragen is packing up, and says they should throw him a party. Cragen says he doesn’t like parties, and he smiles. He tells her this is good, and when he says “word of advice?” she says “oh, please.” He says he gave his whole life to NYPD and he forgot to live his own. He and Eileen is a Hail Mary and a shot at happiness. People used to say to him all the time – and he never understood what they meant – but take care of herself, she deserves it. She nods and they hug each other. He picks up his bag of personal items and before he leaves the room, turns to Benson who is sitting on the desk, and says “Do something with the place, will ya?” She smiles and nods. He walks out of the office and shuts the door, leaving Benson sitting on the desk, her face turning serious, as we fade to black.

All Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) Copyright © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


MrTanokki said...

Am I the only one wondering why they haven't just gone ahead and stuck Dean Winters face in the opening credits yet? I get that he's not always in the episodes, but I'd argue he's had enough of a presence in the episodes he's not in.

D.Chester said...

Where are the pictures of Cragen and Liv hugging? you have to include that. and Cassidy interrogating Nick.

Petra S said...

I dunno about you but I felt tension with Bensidy in this episode so I'm predicting Cassidy won't be around for much longer if they don't do some serious mending/changes there. Bensidy will not work with Cassidy at IAB me thinks.
And that first exchange between Liv & Amanda; do the honors/you mean serve? I didn't take that as a joke more that they don't get each other at all. Liv's reaction at least told me that. So I see a riff between them and she still has one with Nick, however it seems to be mending a little, but it has me worried Rollins now alienated everyone but Fin & with her 'bumpy road' ahead as Warren tweeted I can't see a good outcome. But I do trust the writers so here's to hoping.
Otherwise I liked the ep. It was a good portrait of one side/risk being a cop. In the end I think Amaro saved his own ass by that open & honest speech to the grand jury.
Oh and I love to hate Tucker.

Chris Zimmer said...

Mr.Tanokki - Being in the opening credits denotes the person is considered a "regular" and I suspect being a regular means more $$$ for the actor (which means it costs the show more). I also suspect Dean's character will not be around for the long term.

miriam gamache said...

I was crying at the end. I get that cragen has to leave, but I don't want him to.

Kevin Casey said...

I really hope they keep Dean Winters around. I like him and Benson and i think after Cragen's comment, Benson will try to keep the relationship together. I don't think Dean should be in every episode but I do like seeing him as a Special Guest Star. Warren Leight if your reading this, apart from Dean I'd love to hear/see Diane Neal and Stephanie March again. What happened to them?

Avi Reiss said...

I felt like the whole episode they were just dropping hints about Bensidy getting into a big fight and or breaking up. First she went over to Brian to talk to him about what was happening and when he said he was there with IAB she seemed to be upset. Then she also said he is never home. I don't know if it was just me.

jaecollins27 said...

There is some tension in their relationship. I think the nature of their entire relationship has changed since Benson's kidnapping. She's realized how much she needs him in her life as a source of support, which is new for her in a relationship, but they've both been conditioned to have their lives revolve around work so as she's making this transition to dedicate more time to her personal life, Cassidy is trying to rebuild is career. Benson just got promoted so she doesn't have to start at the bottom like he does. Overall though, I think it's just something that will develop over time. Pitting them against each other makes for interesting plot twists so keeping them together is more beneficial for the story.

Sara Kürz said...

I have just watched the episode and i don't know about you but i this one wasn't what i expected. I wanted to see finally some things cleared up or changed for instance what is going on with rollins personal life but instead i only see this awful tension in the squad. I know the writers are trying to keep this captivant,but this bad atmosphere and unclearity isn't exciting or nice too watch at all.
Don't missunderstand me i really like character-centric episodes but they have to tell as something new,not tge stuff we already know like in rapist anonymus. I liked amoro's acting but followed with that tension didn't let me enjoy it. To benson i hope she can handle all that. Cragen left wich makes me really sad,he was such a warm character,a great boss and a fantastic adviser. His team loved him and especially rollins got support from him when she gambled,any other captain would fire her. So i hope we see finally some real changes in a good way. I want to see more from rollins. The squad cant continue on without to clear things up. I think you all noticed the beginnig with rollins and benson and thats what im talking about.

Petra S said...

Unfortunately Sara I think it will get worse before it gets better when it comes to Rollins and I expect that means the tension will build up. Warren has tweeted Rollins will be on a bumpy road when the episodes starts up again after the Olympics. Some tweeters read this as she'll get pregnant but I think it's more of the gambling and just how far she's dropped. He also tweeted 'she's in deeper than you will believe'. I'm fearing we'll see Murphy back (which isn't all bad cause I love Tommy Flanagan even when he plays a bad guy). I don't know how they'll resolve the tension between Liv & Rollins but I have faith in the writers so here's to hoping

Sara Kürz said...

Oh my godness,petra thats not what i wanted to hear. I actually do love to know what's going on with rollins but after warren tweets i don't think that we're going to see reassuring infos. When you look back at rapist anonnymus she was a mess. Rollins is known for her ambition and stubbornness but that make her fall so deep when she doesn't achieve something after that hard working. Other than that she doesn't have anyone she can talk to. That would make anybody sad,in a bad mood she is also only a human being.
Maybe we eventually things about her childhood or what happened to her at atlanta. Or we get to see her sister back but that would only bring more trouble i think. By the way i don't think that her "blumpy road" has anything to do with pregnancy. I mean rollins has er deep downs but she is not dumb. I think she was clever enough to use a condom when she was with that crappy man;). Im still looking forward for a good rollins episode and also a tension-break between liv and her! By the way i would seriously love to see a rollins/amoro relationship!

Petra S said...

Yeah Warren's tweet makes me anxious but I'm still addicted to them ;) I love her (Rollins) in focus but I just don't want to see her get herself in trouble. Or more trouble I should say.
I'm really hoping it's not a baby that's the bump in the road (just like u Sara I think she has better sense, at least when it comes to that) and I also hope it's not a baby cause then the Benson fandom will go bonkers I think. They seem to wish for a Bensidy baby (or at least that Liv gets one) but I just think - frankly - she's too old now and not everyone needs a baby to be happy.
As for ships I'm a hardcore Finanda shipper (Fin + Amanda) so don't go there with Amaro ;)