Thursday, March 20, 2014

Law & Order SVU “Criminal Stories” Recap & Review

“Criminal Stories” had everything going for it; an interesting story, a big guest star, and Mariska Hargitay’s directorial debut. It was a great episode that fans of the show AND new viewers who may have dropped in to see Alec Baldwin would have enjoyed.

First and foremost, Alec Baldwin made everything in this episode work. He was perfect as the newspaper reporter with the ego – and apparently the balls – the size of Jupiter. The writers did an excellent job in capturing the spirit of “Jimmy Mac” with dialog that fit Baldwin and his SVU alter ego like a glove. I don’t think this episode would have worked as well with someone else in that role. Baldwin brought some much needed chemistry to SVU and I could see Jimmy Mac and Benson developing a relationship - that is, if his drinking doesn’t kill him first.

The case itself was a little dull, with a call out to the Tawana Brawley case from the late 1980s. But I didn’t mind; this episode was more about how the media sometimes sensationalize crimes and interject their own opinions, which sometimes has an adverse affect on public opinion. This is not the first time that Benson had a problem with a reporter interfering in a case. It was interesting to see how, as Sergeant, Benson held her own in standing up to Jimmy, even though he out-maneuvered her and her team more than once. Clearly,  Benson has her hands full in her new position but each week she seems more and more confident.  Let's hope that is for real; she admits she's having nightmares about Lewis and one would think this would have some affect on her stress level.

In “Criminal Stories”, Jimmy used his connections to get the inside scoop; he did uncover some of the truth but once he got HIS big story, he never followed through to get the WHOLE story. As a result, the jury pool is tainted more than once, and the trial ends with a mistrial.

By the way, is it odd to anyone else that there would be a courthouse newsstand? It seems that the courts wouldn’t want any news readily available for people who are potentially at the courthouse to serve as a juror. Granted, it’s probably hard to avoid a newsstand in New York City, but having one at the courthouse is like begging for trouble. But in this day and age of readily accessible news from various sources, I don’t know how anyone can be completely objective when serving as a juror on a high profile case.

The speed in which this case came to trial was completely unrealistic. I can’t imagine the defense or prosecution being ready so quickly, even if the case could move through the courts that fast. If I was the DA, I would want to wait for the negative press to die down a bit before I took my case to court.

This episode may hold the record for the most displays of a front page of The Ledger being shown in one episode. I am too busy (and too lazy) to verify!

A review of this episode must include a review of the director, Mariska Hargitay, in her directorial debut. There were a few wonky camera angles and one or two shots where I thought the scene wasn’t framed at its best. But overall, she did a fine job, and gave what I felt was a new and fresh look to the show. It’s even more amazing that she served as director AND had many scenes in the episode. She should be very proud of her work here.

(A minor annoyance of mine, not just a problem with SVU but I seem to see it on SVU more than anywhere else: will someone please do something to make the doorway floor of the elevators look more realistic? A simple strip of black tape or duct tape on the floor in the opening of the doorway can go a long way to make the elevator look real. When the door opens and a solid floor is visible, it highlights the fact that it’s just a set. I guess I am a stickler for realism.)

Here is the recap:

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

Guest stars:
Tamara Tunie - ME Melinda Warner
Alec Baldwin – Jimmy MacArthur
Summer Bishil – Heba Salim
Samrat Chakrabarti – Heba’s father
Manish Dayal - Fareed
Ami Brabson – Judge Karyn Blake
Delaney Williams - Counselor John Buchanan
Leslie Odom Jr. - Reverend Curtis Scott
Josh Pais - Hank Abraham
Nick Mennell - Elias Kemp Jr.
Nils Lawton - Mike Sullivan
Katie Couric - herself
Jacqueline Antaramian – Sakina Salim
Samantha Tuffarelli - Janelle Hahn
Sal Inzerillo – Lucius
John Kinsella – Juror # 3
Questlove – Dead body in morgue (uncredited)

Benson, on the elevator, is waiting for her floor when Deputy Commissioner Hank Abraham enters. She asks which one of her detectives did what now, and he tells her not to be so cynical. He adds that today is her lucky day; legendary Jimmy MacArthur wants to interview her squad. Benson refers to him as “Jimmy Mac” saying he is the legend in his own mind. Hank replies he is the last of the great columnists and has two big shiny Pulitzers to prove it. He wants to do the story on SVU, and Benson asks why, because he smells blood in the water? As they step off the elevator to SVU. Hank comments about her cynicism and replies it is better to get him on her side – OUR side – than not. Benson questions the “our side” comment. Hank explains that Jimmy called his friend the commissioner, and Benson concludes that this is an order. Hank thinks it is an opportunity and Benson comments she will think about it.

As they walk into SVU, they hear laughter and Benson stops dead in her tracks. Benson and Hand see Jimmy MacArthur is there, telling stories and laughing with the other detectives and officers. Rollins and Fin are at their desks and they appear amused. Benson comments to Abraham “thank you for the advance notice” as Jimmy notices her and calls her out as the “woman of the hour.” Hank tells Benson he had no idea Jimmy would be there, he was supposed to call ahead. Jimmy tells Benson that he can tell Hank is lying because he’s breathing. Jimmy tells Benson she looks fantastic and she counters it must be a slow news day if he’s trolling for a sex crimes store. Jimmy explains he is profiling HER. Benson looks surprised, and looks to Hank, saying he left that part out. Jimmy tells her the city needs heroes and her surviving that ordeal, the crucible of the trial, the head of Manhattan SVU – he corrects him to acting commander.. Hank says those tow are all caught up so he will leave them to it, telling Jimmy he can’t wait to read it. Jimmy asks Hank what happened to his hair? Hank gives him a look and walks off. Benson tells Jimmy there must be somebody interesting he can interview, but Jimmy tells her she “made good, kid” and it’s time for the world to take notice. He asks if she wants to do her first interview in her office, and Benson asks now? She says no, and as people hand her files, she says she has 4 open investigations, she has a meeting with the DA in an hour. He asks if she wants to meet him after work, and she informs him she is working until 1AM. Jimmy counters he can sit and talk with her detectives all day long or they can have a late night supper at D’Apolitos, he’ll just be hitting his stride. She sighs and he says he will take that as a yes and then says it’s been great chatting with her. As he walks away, he comments to Fin about his name, saying there are two Ts and two U’s, and Fin adds “one ola.”

As Jimmy leaves, Benson asks the detectives if anyone wants to be her for the day. Rollins asks if Benson is OK with them talking to Jimmy, and Benson comments not really. Amaro explains that Jimmy did most of the talking, and Fin adds that Jimmy is working them looking for dirt. Benson notes that she does not know what Jimmy has heard, and Amaro asks if this means no. Benson explains Jimmy is there at the request of One PP so he’s going to write the story either way and if they shine him on, he is just going to dig deeper. Rollins asks if this means yes, and Benson replies Jimmy is probably going to nose around about Amaro’s shooting and Rollin’s gambling…operation. She cautions them that anything they say can and will be used against them. She asks if that is understood, and they all nod and leave her office.

Later, Benson and Jimmy are at dinner and she explains that she’s spent 15 years counseling women who have been assaulted and who she’s pushed to testify, telling them they are not alone, it’s not their fault, and they are strong. Until you go through it yourself…Jimmy says he was there for some of it and it was harrowing to watch. She explains it is over now. He asks if she feels she has …Benson says closure, and he nods yes. She explains some of it you can put behind you but they do change you, it is a process. The good news is she doesn’t have as many nightmares now. Jimmy writes down on his note pad commenting “nightmares about Lewis” and Benson puts her hand on his to stop him from writing, and then comments she is sorry, asking if they can keep the nightmares off the record? He chuckles and says she knows she is supposed to say “off the record” beforehand but that is okay, he doesn’t want to give Lewis the satisfaction. Benson thanks him, saying she owes him, and Jimmy adds her and everybody else in the world. She gets a message and then excuses herself, saying duty calls. He says if she caught a case he will ride along and when she comments that is not a good idea, he explains the commissioner and Hank granted him full access. She asks “did they?” and Jimmy tells her she won’t even know he is there.

At the scene, Fin tells Benson that a couple tourists said they heard moaning on the other side of the wall around 2AM. Amaro informs her the victim’s name is Heba Salim, 24, her clothes bloody and torn with scratches on her face and bruising on her body. Jimmy is also there taking notes. Benson asks Rollins if she got a statement, and Rollins explains the victim was out of it, she told the two responding unis that she had been raped by two male whites. Benson asks if they set up a grid search, and Amaro says from the park entrance and they are canvassing hotel doormen at Central Park south, so far no witnesses. Fin sees Jimmy talking to an officer and taking notes, and asks Benson what he is doing down here. Benson tells him not to even start; One PP gave him full access, there is nothing they can do. Rollins explains the victim is Muslim and they tore her head scarf and they taunted her with racial slurs while assaulting her. Benson asks them to keep that between us for the moment. Jimmy calls out to Benson and ask if her guys told her they are looking at a hate crime here? They all turn around and look at Jimmy and say nothing.

Back at SVU and in Benson’s office, Heba is in the interview room and Reverend Curtis argues with Benson about this being a hate crime but Benson tries to keep them focused on the case. Barba, Amaro and Rollins are also in the office and Curtis explains that Heba’s brother Fareed is on the way. Barba asks the detectives if they have interview Heba yet, and Rollins informs him Heba was completely out of it at the scene, she was freezing and she spent the night in the ER, this is the first chance they had. Amaro adds they can’t talk to her in front of her parents or the Reverend. Curtis thinks this is more than just a rape, and she was singled out because she wore a hijab. Amaro and Curtis argue the issues of a hate crime, Curtis saying she was called a Muslim bitch, asking if he is misinterpreting that. Benson jumps in and says no one is saying that he is, and Curtis counters even so, this community doesn’t trust the NYPD. Amaro retorts that they trust Curtis, and Curtis says they reached out to him as advocate. Barba interjects that is what the DA’s office is. Curtis says Heba’s parents are concerned with her honor and reputation. Benson sends Rollins and Amaro in to talk with Heba and gets everyone else out of there, then tells Barba and Curtis to work together in reassuring the family.

Barba and Curtis speak with the parents who are worried that Heba’s name will be kept out of the press but they already had a reporter call their house. Fareed explains it was Jimmy MacArthur from the Ledger. Jimmy asked if it was hate crime and he knew about the slurs. Curtis thinks someone at SVU is violating confidentiality and Fin insists it is not coming from SVU. Fareed asks why should they believe him?

In the interview room, Heba explains her brother blames himself, he was at the event with her but left early and told her to call a taxi. The event was a benefit by Fareed’s firm and she worked as a volunteer. She left a little after midnight, and asks them not to tell her parents she had a glass of champagne with the other girls when it was over. She was alone when the left for the N train and the street was quiet. Then she heard two men behind her laughing and thought she was being paranoid. She slowed down so they would pass her by but they grabbed her and pulled her over the stone wall in the parks. She tried to call out but they tore her hijab and held it over her mouth and threw her to the ground, face down. They raped her. When Rollins asks if it was vaginally, Heba stands up and Rollins tries to reassure her, saying they need to get all the details. Heba explains she was a virgin, they took turns and told her to go back to India and called her Muslim bitch and a whore. Amaro asks if she would recognize the white men if she saw them, and Heba says she did not see their faces. Amaro steps closer to her and asks if she remembers what they smelled like or what they were wearing, and she says no, she was afraid they were going to kill her.

Later, Benson opens her blinds of the window that looks out from her office to the squad room, and asks what are they looking at here? Fin informs her that the exam confirms vaginal tears and semen from two different men. Benson looks at the file and notes it was on remnants of torn hymen tissue. ADA Barba sighs and asks where are they on the hate crime aspect? Rollins explains they ripped off her head scarf and taunted her with racial slurs. Amaro adds according to her, they haven’t found any witnesses. The room goes silent and Amaro adds “Oh come on. That time of night, right by the park? Somebody should have seen or heard something. “ Benson instructs him to go back up there and re-interview everybody – doormen, street people – then asks where are they with the security footage. Rollins explains they have the DOT traffic cam but they are still checking into a couple other things. Benson looks up from her work and when she sees no one has moved, she tells them to go, asking what are they waiting for, get moving. The detectives all move to leave. As they others leave, Barba tells Benson that the family says Jimmy Mac called them and had details of the case. Benson explains he was at the crime scene, and Barba explains they think someone from SVU was talking to the press.

At Grand Army Plaza in Central Park on Monday, March 10, Fin and Amaro question people working in the area and one guy said it must have happened after he left. They see Jimmy speaking with another vendor, telling the guy that he will make him famous again. He sees Amaro and Fin and asks how is the vic and asks if they found the head scarf yet. Amaro questions if Jimmy thinks they will talk to him about an open investigation, and Jimmy surmises this means they have nothing. He says that’s okay, there may be nothing to get. Fin asks if Jimmy has anything to share, and Jimmy, speaking in the third person, says, “Jimmy Mac didn’t become famous by sharing his sources with the cops” saying they can read about it like everybody else in the city in tomorrow’s paper. He tells the detectives he has to run and he will see them at the finish line. She grabs a bit of a hot dog and while he’s chewing, he yells for a taxi. Amaro wonders what Jimmy knows, and Fin, getting a message, shows Amaro his phone and says he hopes it is not this.

Back at SVU, they see a video of Heba from the DOT surveillance footage which show Heba was attacked in another location and before the time she had already stated. She lied about being assaulted in Central Park, and Amaro wonders what else she lied about.

At the morgue, Rollins and Fin speak with ME Warner who thinks Heba was assaulted but not in Central Park. The mud from the park was not on her thighs or buttocks and she found abrasions on her knees and palms that were consistent with carpet burns. Rollins asks if she looked for carpet fibers in her nails or hair. and Fin tells Rollins that Warner is getting there. Warner says under the mud in her nails, she found fibers and some kind of animal hair, each fiber individually dyed red and gold. Fun thanks Warner . As Fin and Rollins move to leave, Warner tells them Jimmy Mac had a nice thing to say about Fin, saying he came by in the morning as he has dated a few of the techs. Rollins sighs and looks back at a few of the female workers.

At the home of Heba Salim on March 10, Rollins and Amaro try to explain the inconsistencies in her story, showing her the video before she was in Central Park. She gets very upset and her mother asks what is wrong. Amaro tries to explain the inconsistencies and they do believe she was assaulted. Heba tells her mother they want her to say it wasn’t a hate crime. Her mother thinks SVU is afraid of their image and New York is supposed to be better than New Delhi. She orders them out of her house.

Back at SVU, Benson reviews the new evidence with the detectives and they believe something happened to Heba but not where she said. When they brought it up with Heba she became defensive and enraged and her mother threw them out, feeling the NYPD is trying to make the case disappear and it is damage control. Barba walks in and comments that this won’t help, and holds up the front page of The Ledger written by Jimmy with the headline “HOAX” and Barba asks who has been talking to Jimmy Mac?

Afterwards, Benson walks with a purpose into Jimmy’s office and Jimmy comments that the mountain really does come to the Mohammad. She puts the paper on his desk and he asks if she wants him to autograph it for her. She tells him his story is wrong and somebody put out a pile of manure and he just stepped right into it. He asks if she came there to clean it up for him and tells her to circle where he got it wrong. Her vic lied about where she went after the benefit and she lied about being in the park. Benson counters if he bothered to ask her, she would have explained to him that more than half the time the victim initially omits details of some aspect of the crime. Jimmy questions that they omit details of some aspect, and, raising his voice, says she made the whole thing up, there was no hate crime. Benson also raises her voice and asks what makes him so sure? Jimmy explains she claimed that they said “go back to India you Muslim bitch” and Jimmy wonders how they knew she was from India and that she was Muslim or that Muslim even live in India? Jimmy adds racism is a crime of ignorance. Benson questions that Jimmy doubts her story because her attackers knew she was Muslim? Jimmy replies that mooks like that never attack attractive women, they pummel towel heads behind a dumpster. Benson looks like she cannot believe what he is saying. Jimmy asks Benson if she knows her father was a victim of a hate crime after 911 and the police wouldn’t take the report? Benson replies so she stages a rape 12 -1/2 years later, asking Jimmy to get real, the girl was attacked. Jimmy replies, “You are a real sob sister, you know that? Your vic had a couple of drinks, had sex with somebody she shouldn’t have, then conflated her father’s story with her own to get her family sympathy.” Benson reminds him of the hospital reports show injuries consistent with rape. Jimmy counters but not scrapes form the stone wall, just rug burns and carpet fibers consistent with a rough ride on some guy’s floor. Benson shakes her head and asks who showed him that report? He asks if she wants his source, then says he will give it to her but write it down, it’s a funny name: GO FU…She stops him and says OK, she’s got it. He says he is not so sure. Maybe she should read the First Amendment again. She lets out an “ohhhh” with an annoyed smile, looking away from him. He adds he knows she does not like reporters but people don’t speak to him because he carries a badge, it’s because he keeps his word, and he is not going back on it for her - and raising his voice and yelling to her as she says “we’re done here” and leaves his office - "OR FOR ANYBODY ELSE.” Benson storms out.

Elsewhere, Amaro and Rollins speak with Fareed and his father at their home and they all disagree on SVU’s motives and the headlines of the paper. Rollins shows them the video of Heba taken before 2AM and the inconsistencies. Fareed admits he left the party early and asked his boss’ assistant Janelle to keep an eye on her.

At Hauser-Kemp Real Estate on March 11, Amaro and Fin speak with Janelle said she did not see Heba leave with anyone. Elias Kemp and Mike Sullivan enter the room and Elias says he saw Heba at the benefit as a volunteer. As they move to enter his office, Janelle orders them to take their shoes off. Fin tells Amaro to check out the rug and nice view. Elias says he didn’t see anything and says the paper says Heba was lying. He believes he left before she did, he came back to her office to do a conference call with Hong Kong. Fin says he always gets the time messed up, are they in front of us or behind us. Kemp doesn’t answer.

Back at SVU, Benson asks if Amaro Rollins, and Fin think that Heba was assaulted in her brother’s boss’ office because of the color of their carpet, saying they are going to need more than that to go after Elias Kemp Jr. Rollins explains that Warner was very specific about the fibers, and if they can get a warrant…Benson says you can’t get a warrant. But Fin interjects they don’t need one, Elias is a neat freak and the assistant made them take off their shoes. Fin holds up an evidence back with his sock in it and Benson tells him to get that to Warner. As Fin walks off, Benson asks Amaro and Rollins that even if Heba was assaulted there, given his profile and wealth – Amaro adds the fact that Heba already lied to them – and Rollins says she lied to them because it was her brother’s boss who did this to her. Benson asks if she will help them out now, and Rollins does not think Heba is there yet. Benson instructs them to get the security footage from the building and dig into his past but please be discreet.

As Amaro and Rollins leave, Hank walks in and asks if everybody is running for the lifeboats. Benson replies it is still an open investigation. Hank thinks it is imploding and City Hall is apoplectic, asking her to quit while she is behind. Benson asks why, because Jimmy Mac is bloviating in the press. Hank asks if there are any leads to Jimmy’s sources, that they seem close to the investigation. Benson sternly states she can assure hi it is none of her people and there are leaks in the ME’s office and in One PP, asking if he is looking at them? Rollins interrupts and tells Benson she needs to see something.

In the squad room, they see a TV show where Reverend Curtis is speaking to a crowd of protesters, saying that Heba is being re-victimized by the press and police. Jimmy comes up and asks Curtis why is the alleged victim not there to answer any questions? Curtis says Heba has suffered enough and he will not have her face a media lynch mob. Jimmy yells that this is just another Tawana Brawley, and the crowd gets riled. Curtis counters that Jimmy claims to be the conscience of his newspaper, asking where is the compassion for a young woman who has been violently assaulted. Jimmy shouts that the only assault here is on the truth, SHE LIED! Curtis says, NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE” as the crowd joins in the chant. Jimmy walks off as the squad continues to watch the news coverage.

Later, back at the morgue while Warner is working on a body, she tells Fin that was nice work with the socks, it picked up the fibers like a lint roller. When Fin says that’s what he does,  Rollins counters she thought the secretary told him to take off his shoes. Fin says yeah and then changes the subject to ask Warner if she got a match. As Rollins looks at the body of the very large black man, Warner watches her and says she’ll run the DNA on the goat hair but yes, the fibers under Heba’s nails and hair came from that carpet. Rollins asks if she is sure, and seeing Rollin’s fascination with the body, Warner covers it up and then tells Rollins she asks her that every time. Rollins insists no she doesn’t, but Fin counters that she does. Warner says she is sure, she ran the fibers through NYPD animal hair collection and it is died goat wool and camel hair and whatever happened to Heba happened on the floor of that office. Warner goes to hand the file to Rollins and as Rollins reaches for it, Warner pulls it a away and hands it to Fin.

Back at SVU, they watch the video of Elias and Mike entering the office at 12:05 and then 10 minutes later, Heba shows up. An hour and a half later they see Heba leave, clearly post assault. Fin asks why make up the Central Park story, and they suspect Heba made up the Central Park story because Fareed worked for them and/or her parents are devout and she didn’t want them to know she met with the two men. Only Heba knows and she is not talking. Barba says her credibility is shot, she didn’t just lie, she made the attack about a whole cloth. Benson says they know who did it, when and where, and tells them to build the case without her.

Back at Hauser-Kemp Real Estate, Fin and Amaro collect Elias’s and Mike’s DNA based on a warrant. They tell the men they are not under arrest yet; Elias tells them to leave his office and he’ll have is lawyer get in touch to set up a meeting.

Later, Elias is in interrogation with Counselor John Buchanan who says he didn’t realize it was a crime for his client to change decor. Fin replies they still have fibers from the old rug and they have his DNA. Buchanan says the sex was consensual. Elias explains that Heba’s brother works for them and he’s told them how old world his family is. He didn’t want to humiliate them. Meanwhile, Amaro speaks with Mike, there with his lawyer, who says Heba was wild and when these repressed girls let go they explode. It was not rape they just Eiffel-Towered her. She freaked out when she realized how late it was and Elias told him he thought that is why she made up the story.

Later, in Benson's office, Heba is there with Curtis and, seeing the video, asks how they can say it was consensual. Barba assures her they believe her and Benson says they need is for her to tell them what really happened. She is worried about going up against the Kemp family, and worries about her lie. Benson tells her if she wants justice he has to testify otherwise the men go free. Heba ad Curtis moves to leave, Curtis saying he will talk it over with the family. Benson tells them to please do, they are not giving up on this.

 After they leave, Benson tells Barba that Kemp’s team will destroy her on the stand and asks if there is any way to make a case without her. Barba feels there is no chance, she made up a bizarre story and these guys are charismatic and good looking, plus they have her buddy Jimmy Mac hammering her every day, holding up a Ledger with the headline “Rape, Lies, and Videotape.” Benson counters that Jimmy is not her buddy and One PP gave him full access. Barba asks if that was before or after the rape, and Benson says before, asking why? Barba asks Benson to check the timeline, Kemp Jr. rapes Heba,  24 hours later, the paper his dad bailed out twice calls her a liar on the front page…? Benson gets a look of realization.

Back in Jimmy’s office as he pours himself a drink, Jimmy is offended that Benson thinks he is in the tank for Kemp. He writes for the working stiff, and when Benson says she understands, he says she doesn’t; if he wanted to sell out he would have done that a long time ago. He says he should throw her out on her can. Benson questions Jimmy had no idea that Junior was involved in this? Jimmy calls him a prick, stating that if there were any truth to it, he would have written about it because it is a hell of a story. Benson tells him to write it, and Jimmy asks her to bring Heba there and tell him her story. Benson thinks he is out of his mind if he thinks she would talk to him after what he did to her. Jimmy takes a deep breath and says no, she knows he will see right through her, just like he did in the first place and just like he sees through Benson. He counters that Benson screwed up the investigation and now she wants him to save her ass. Benson says that’s not what this is, But Jimmy thinks it is, saying she can get down on her knees until they are raw, he is not going to change his mind. Benson looks disgusted and tells him not to flatter himself. He tells her good night, and opening the door for her, tells her it is time to go as she is boring him and that is the greatest sin of all. She storms out.

Back at SVU, the detectives in the squad room watch on TV as Jimmy is being interviewed by Katie Couric about the case where Elias and Mike are on trial. When Katie comments some people thought this case would not go to trial, Jimmy thinks that was with good reason; calling Heba a “Ta-wanna-be”, a phrase he hopes to trademark, saying Heba lied to the police. He adds that if the detectives read his column more carefully they wouldn’t be here. Benson watches in her office as Jimmy slams SVU and the DA. Barba is watching in his office fixing his tie. Jimmy thinks the whole thing was not a rape and it was a hoax.

In Supreme Court on March 13, Rollins testifies that Heba did stage the crime scene to support her initial story. But the entire rape was not staged, she only lied about where she was attacked, the rest was real. Under cross, she must admit that some of the injuries like the rug burn could be from rough sex under the influence of drugs.

Fin explains the video of Heba arriving and then leaving the Kemp office and that Kemp lied about when he last saw Heba and only admitted she was there when they came to the office with a warrant for his DNA. Under cross, Heba’s repeated lies are brought forward but Fin testifies he still believes she was not lying about being raped. Buchanan says it is more about faith than fact, and that can he see how others may have some doubt. Barba objects and Buchanan withdraws the statement.

Heba testifies she knew Elias and Mike as her brother works with them, they were nice to her and Elias got her a glass of champagne, her first glass ever. She does not drink. Around midnight Elias invited her to an after party in his office and that she would have fun and meet people. When she got there it was no party, it was just Elias who gave her another glass of champagne and that the others were coming. Then Mike arrived and the locked the door. Elias pulled off her hijab and pinned her arms behind her back and started biting her neck and Mike grabbed her breast. She did not want this and she screamed and tried to get away but they were very strong. They choked her and Elias slapped her and told her to shut up. Then they forced her on her hands and knees and between the two of them they took turns sodomizing and raping her. Barba brings up that the medical report shows she was a virgin when this occurred, and she says yes she was, it was very painful and the just laughed an high-fived each other. When they were done, she asked Elias if she could have her hijab back and he wiped himself off with it and threw it in the trash.

Under cross, Buchanan says that is a disturbing story, almost as disturbing as the account she initially gave police, and in that story she told police they called her a Muslim bitch and had suggested she go back to India. She admits this did not happen, but what happened to her in that office was rape and it was true. Buchanan brings up her staging the park crime scene that that was a lie but now she is telling the truth. Heba admits yes. He asks that when she called it a hate crime is when the police and Reverend Curtis, her family, even Barba believed her, and she says yes. Buchanan shouts that she is a very good liar. Barba objects that she is attacking the witness and Buchanan withdraws the statement. Jimmy watches with interest from the gallery.

Outside the courtroom in the hall, Benson tells Heba she is sorry, it is not over until it is over. Jimmy stands nearby and Benson sees him and walks over, asking if he is happy now. He says it wasn’t boring. Benson adds that Heba was telling the truth, and Jimmy asks if she lacks confidence in the wisdom of the jury. Benson says they all read his columns and how he discredited Heba before she even took the stand. Jimmy says she digs herself a hole in the mud in Central Park and her squad falls in – he got the story right. Benson counters that he only got half of it right; those two sons of bitches raped Heba and now they are going to walk. Jimmy stops and asks what she wants from him, and she asks how about a retraction? Jimmy laughs and says that’s funny, but Benson said he said Heba wasn’t raped and he knows that she was. Jimmy says, “Jimmy Mac don’t retract, you don’t apologize, you don’t explain.” Benson replies, “Wow, so that is it.. The great Jimmy Mac. It’s all gone to your head, hasn’t it? The awards, the long nights at Elaine’s, the celebrity.” Jimmy tells her not to forget the Knicks tickets. She nods her head and goes on to say it is sad, he used to be good and have a conscience; he’s not a reporter any more, he is just like them. Jimmy begins to cough and gag and Benson cautions him to think about laying off the sauce. She walks off to leave Jimmy think in the hall.

Back at SVU, Amaro barges into Benson’s office, commenting that he doesn’t know what Benson put into Jimmy’s drink but he has seen the light. Amaro holds up a Ledger front page which says, “Penthouse Rape – How Jimmy Mac Got Played.” Benson reads that Jimmy reported that they thought they’d get away from it because of their money and their hooks at One PP. Amaro says Jimmy explained the story and that his police sources played him – and Benson asks who? Amaro states that Jimmy did not name names, he just lobbed a grenade.

At Supreme Court on March 14, the jury admits that many of them saw the headline o the court house newsstand and also read the article. Buchanan argues the article was filled with libelous allegations that are highly prejudicial against his clients. Barba counters that the jury read previous articles prejudicial against Heba and they were seated on the assurance that they would keep an open mind. The judge explains that was then, this is now, the jury ignored her explicit instructions and she has no choice but to declare a mistrial. Buchanan asks Barba if he has time for a cup of coffee..

Afterwards in the hallway, Benson asks Barba if they have a new trial date, and Barba explains there won’t be a new trial, at least not for Elias. Amaro and Rollins meet up with them and Amaro asks if Elias is throwing Mike under the bus. Barba informs them that Elias gave a statement giving his deep and sincere remorse for the actions of his employee. Elias admits to being present for the assault and agreed to please to sexual misconduct. Benson adds that is a class A misdemeanor and he will do a year. Barba says maybe, and Sullivan goes away for 5 to 15 and the both go on the registry. Amaro asks if that is the best they can do – Elias was the violent one and it was his idea. Barba replies Elias is the first one to the table – that’s how you get the best deal. As Barba walks to his office, Rollins asks Benson if Heba will be OK with this.

Later, Amaro and Rollins explain the outcome to Heba and she doesn’t care, she figures it was all part of the settlement. She explains she is not supposed to talk about it until after Mike’s trial. Amaro comments that Kemp’s people move fast, and Asks Heba what was their offer. She snaps at him, telling him not to say it like that. As far as her parents is concerned, she has already lost her honor, at least now her brother can go back to school and get his MBA.

Elsewhere. Benson is sitting at a bar with Jimmy sharing a drink, and she offers a sarcastic toast to justice. Jimmy says it is nothing new, the biggest rat always gets the cheese. He adds that Elias is on the wheel, showing her a piece of paper saying it is his last column for The Ledger. It’s about a month in the life of Elias Kemp Jr. , how he raped a girl in his office and pinned the rap on his best friend and wrote a check and walked away while his dad calls his publisher and asked to keep his kid’s name out of the paper. Benson asks if he is sure he wants to run that, and he explains he already posted it on the web and any time that kid’s name comes up in a search engine this story will come up and he can hire call the reputation managers he wants, he’s f…. he doesn’t finish the word, instead saying “toast.” Benson asks Jimmy where he is going to go, there aren’t many papers left. He tells her don’t every cry for Jimmy Mac. He always lands on his feet; he’s 55 years old, his profession is dying and his ex-wives all hate him. His credit cards are maxed out because he has three kids in college. He starts to cough and gag again, but goes on to say he’s never felt better in his life. Benson laughs. Jimmy states he said his peace and now the whole world knows he has balls the size of Jupiter again. Benson reaches for her wine for a toast, saying “Here’s to Jupiter.” They clink glasses and take a drink. He asks if she wants one more for the road, and Benson tells the bartender she will have what he is having. The bartender moves to get their drinks 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.


Unknown said...

A few things:

Anyone else notice that spark between Fin and Warner? I've thought this since the Christmas episode last year but excited to see it followed up on. Love it!

Also was hoping for a little more Rollins followup from last week, but I guess it's time to give that a rest.

I was glad to see Benson being a little more personable in this episode. I have not really warmed up to her in the "Boss Benson" role yet... it's been a very quick and noticeable personality change and she's been overall very pissy and snide... not the same Liv we've come to know and love. I know that she is just the "acting commander", so I am ready for them to put someone else in charge and her to be working back with the team just with a little more of a leadership role.

Also, noticing huge differences in how the staff seems to perceive Olivia. Previously, about everyone called her "Liv". Now it's strictly "Benson" or "Sergeant". Is this an expected change due to her new role as commander and it being necessary to show more respect? Or is it showing their changing opinion as far as them not considering her as much of a friend/ally anymore.

I feel like the nightmare comment is the first time that we have actually heard her open up about the attack. We've seen her actions and can infer a lot about how she is doing but she hasn't really spoken about it that we've seen. I want to see more of that.

DId anyone watch the deleted scene last week with Claire, when Benson makes the comment about "we all have our vices" and includes wine at the end of that? Olivia admitting that it's become a struggle?

Vim said...

"Rollins says she is sure, she ran the fibers through NYPD animal hair collection and it is died goat wool and camel hair and whatever happened to Heba happened on the floor of that office."
I think that Warner was sure:)

Icy said...

@Seneca Reviever- I don't think that means anything in reguards to Olivia drinking. I think it means her struggles, in dealing with the aftermath of being assaulted.

Just because we saw Olivia down two bottles of wine doesn't automatically make her an alcohol.

She's perfectly in control, she's doesn't act drunk or come in hung over.

She had a few glasses with Jimmy but that's just being social.

As for the episode-

No I can't see them having a relationship, he was just fliting with her, a lot of men flirt with Olivia.

That would also be a recycled storyline, Olivia had dated someone from the ledger before.

This is the only episode that Alec was in, I don't expect to see his character reappear again. I doubt any relationship will ever happen.

Mariska did an awesome job directing

Chris Zimmer said...

Vim - yes, I think I just got my names mixed up, thanks I fixed it!

Laurie F said...

The ratings for this episode were dismal and maybe many tuned out because of Alec? I don't know the guy but his public persona makes him appear unhinged. This role was classic Alec Baldwin and it was the only thing that made the episode interesting. I saw the chemistry between him and Mariska and it helps they are friends off screen. I could totally see him as a recurring character.

The case was predictable.

Mariska's directing was ok for a first timer. I agree there were odd camera angles. One shot it looked like they had the camera lower down and off kilter on Barba. I thought my head went sideways for a minute. If I didn't know it was someone's first time directing, I would have said it was a bad job. I wondered if they gave Mariska the chance to do it this season as there may not be another season of SVU where she could give it a go? The fact that NBC renewed Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Grimm and no word yet on SVU concerns me for the fate of SVU. If they can't grab big ratings with an episode with names like Alec Baldwin and Katie Couric, this show may not have what it takes any more.

Linda F. said...

Was there NCAA basketball on another station Wednesday evening? I don't follow basketball so I don't know, but if there was that could explain why the ratings were down. If my 800 co-workers are any indication, three-quarters of the population watch March Madness no matter what obscure cable channel it's on.

I'm not too worried for SVU's renewal; Michael Ausiello at has it as "A safe bet," and he's usually pretty spot on.

Re: this episode, it wasn't my favorite of the season, but it wasn't bad. I think Mariska did a good job for a first-timer, and will learn as time goes on. My main quibble with this episode was that once again, Barba had a rug yanked out from underneath him. He has things happen TO him, rather than making them happen like he did at the beginning. Between that, Rollins' gambling, and Nick's stalking, they've turned my three favorite characters into basket cases. I love the personal focus of the new episodes, but the crazy's even getting to me, showrunners. Dial it back a little.

Chris Zimmer said...

Linda, there was a normal Wednesday line up for prime time - no basketball to draw away viewers. NBC simply had a bad Wednesday for all its shows.

JJ said...


Hey Chris!

Love your blog, longtime reader. I was just commenting to make sure that you knew it was ?uestlove who was the body Rollins was inspecting at the morgue.

"As Rollins looks at the body of the very large black man..."

If it seemed a little weird that she (and the camera) were paying such attention to the body, it is because it was a little "cameo" of his own. Not an Emmy-worthy role, but a role all his own lol!

B said...

I enjoyed the episode. Wasn't my favorite, but I really liked Alec Baldwin's role (and I can't stand the man IRL). Would definitely be all for a recurring role for him.

Re: Olivia and drinking, I really thought there was foreshadowing going on in the episode with the wine. Alcoholism is in her family and I feel like her new duties are getting to her. I was glad to see her a bit more like the old Liv in this episode, though. I've really disliked her demeanor since becoming in charge of the unit.

Barba isn't being used as much as I'd like. He just brings so much to every scene he's in.

What was with the animosity between Rollins and Melinda? Maybe I missed something in prior episodes? Confused as to what's going on there and if they'll expand on it. And Fin and Melinda would be interesting, but is she married? I know she has a child but I'm not sure if I've ever heard her mention a husband.

I'm not good at analyzing directors' abilities, but I'm assuming Mariska did well here. Good for her. Love her. :)

Is the next episode the season finale? An episode list I saw on another site ended after the next show.

Chris Zimmer said...

B - the season finale airs May 21st.

Chris Zimmer said...

Hi Joy! yes, I knew that was Questlove and I had listed his name in the credits - as"uncredited" as his name never was given in the scene nor was it in the credits! But I did know it was him. I thought it was a liitle odd how Rollins seem so fascinated with the body and I'm sure they did that just to call attention to who he was. I loved it whe Warner covered up his face because Rollins was staring so much!

Unknown said...

This episode was really nice and i think marishka did a great job. I actually haven't noticed any wrong or odd canera pose but i believe it depends on how detail-focused some viewers are. All in all it was well written and brings to the light what sadly happens sometimes to woman no matter how much they cover them selfes up, besides one thing that just made me angrily role my eyes:
The end where heba wasn't wearing her headscarf. From what i know and from what my muslims friends told me is,that loosing honor for women and men in islam only happens when they commit adultery. But not when they were raped! And the hijab have buy the way, nothing to do with if she still have honor or not. They are wearing it for selfrespect,modest and dignity reasons so come on why wasn't she at the end allowed to wear it?!
So besides that i was also hoping to see more rollins follow up,especially between her and nick. Like i said before they would make such a perfect couple and would also bring a lot of storylines to the next episodes.

magix74 said...

@sara I have worked with Muslim woman in the past and I remember them saying that they did not have to wear the hijab inside the house or when they weren't around men. I think in that scene she was at home which is why she may not have been wearing it.

Unknown said...

Some muslims choose not to wear hijab in front of men indoors... but if u really adhere to hijab rules its supposed to be infront of men(excluding relatives/husband) outdoors and indoors.
What irked me is that Heba Salim is an Arabic name and not Indian.