Thursday, April 3, 2014

Law & Order SVU “Downloaded Child” Recap & Review

As I watched Law & Order SVU “Downloaded Child” I had an odd feeling. Something was wrong with this episode but I could not put my finger on it. Afterwards, I did a quick walk through of all the activity in this episode, and I think my issue is that it all felt way too easy.  Some days moved too fast and were filled with more activity than was realistic.   We had a fixed timeline for a while and then lost the dates; we know how long it took from when we first saw Jenny to the first time she appeared in court (10 days) but the timeline disappears from that point on.  Not only do we not know how long it took Jenny to get word of  her $4 million judgment, but we also have no idea how many days transpired from Benson and Cassidy realizing their relationship is troubled to when Cassidy tells Benson that he loves her.  Strangely, the latter bugged me the most.  We know it took at least 10 days - likely more - and that seems like a long, long time from Benson and Cassidy to let that issue hang once it's out there.

I know that this is the “Special Victims Unit” but the real special victim here was Maddie, the poor little girl left at home alone by her mother, who has issues of her own. Yet right off the bat, Benson seems driven to make sure that they find a way to get this child back into her mother’s care, thinking this in Maddie’s best interests. Maybe working with victims for so long, Benson has highly developed spider senses that told her getting Maddie back with her mother is the best option, but I am not sure that is a normal reaction. It could be Benson’s desire for a family is clouding her judgment and she thinks all problems can be solved by keeping a family together.  Lucky for Benson that they uncovered an explanation for Jenny’s negligent behavior.   Hopefully they have a good follow up system to make sure that now that they put Maddie back in her mother’s hands, and with all that money,  that all her mental issues have been resolved and Maddie’s best interests will be served. If the SVU is going to act like social workers as they did with Jenny, they’d better make sure that her problems are truly resolved.

Please note: due to pressing family matters, the recap is VERY abbreviated this week. Hopefully I will be able to do a full recap at a later date.

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:
Dean Winters - Detective Brian Cassidy
Bill Irwin - Dr. Peter Lindstrom
Daniel Stewart Sherman - Gary Aschler
Meghann Fahy - Jenny Aschler
Jeremy Shamos – Roger Pierce
Jayne Houdyshell – Judge Linden
Penny Balfour – Tammy Dobbs
Frank Deal – FBI Agent O’Connell
Socorro Santiago – Judge Ortiz
David Pittu – Linus Tate
Ella Anderson - Maddie
Kelly Briter – ADA Bartell
Thedra Porter = Chantal
Lena Cigleris = Kate Corbett
McKenzie Frye – Jade
Ben Lipitz = Bruce Corbett
Ian McLaughlin - ESU Officer

Day One (March 18):  It's morning and Benson is at home; late for work. As she races off,  she and Cassidy make dinner plans for later that night. Later, she is at Family Court for a custody hearing on Baby Doe. Afterwards, she gets to a scene where a young girl who appears stuck on a balcony. The girl, Maddie,  is rescued. They find that her mom, Jenny, was was caught for shoplifting and is in jail. Benson and Amaro speak with her and get a sense something is wrong with her situation with her husband Gary, her daughter’s stepfather. Amaro and Fin question Gary at his apartment and he’s a loser. Back at SVU, the detectives review their findings and think there is enough to convince Family Court that Jenny is a victim of domestic violence. They speak with Jenny, now at SVU who seems to have serious issues as a result of being raped by her husband. Afterwards, Benson gets home late for the dinner plans with Cassidy and it appears that their relationship is having problems. Cassidy drinks more beer and Benson some wine.

Day Two (March 19) – At Barba’s office, Benson and Rollins explain the situation regarding Jenny and convince him that Jenny is also a victim and Barba hopes the stepfather is dumb enough to confess to something he doesn’t realize is a crime. At SVU, Amaro and Fin dupe the dumb guy into confessing. Benson arranges for a pysch evaluation with Dr. Lindstrom. Benson and Jenny meet with Lindstrom and it is clear Jenny’s problems go way back even to her childhood, of which she has no recall. Benson goes back to SVU and explains this to the detectives and suggest to get photos from Jenny’s childhood to jog her memory.

Day Three (March 20) – Amaro and Fin speak with Jenny’s mom who clearly has issues of her own and they get a box of pictures from her. Back at SVU they all review the photos taken by Tammy’s second husband and have concerns about these photos being used in the exploitation of a child. Benson, Rollins and Fin meet with Barba and the FBI at Barba’s office and are told the FBI has been searching for this girl for years, calling her “Lacey Unknown.” The scope of this abuse is large. Barba wants to be notified by the FBI if someone is found in possession of these images. They weight their options and think they should review this with Jenny and Barba thinks there may be a chance for restitution.

Dates Unknown - Benson and Rollins review the photos with Jenny who is in denial but does identify herself in the photos.

Benson and Rollins meet with Barba and explain Jenny made the ID and Barba decides to us the Defense of Women Act to get restitution from anyone who downloaded an image.

Jenny is back at her apartment and Benson and Rollins drop the bomb that her photos and video are out there on the Internet and she freaks out.

Benson meets with Dr. Lindstrom and while meeting with him,  Jenny interrupts and behaves like she is jealous and then takes off most of her clothes and comes on to the doctor.  She says she is Lacey and Benson consoles her

Sometime later, Benson and Rollins speak with Jenny who is at some sort of mental facility. She says the first week she just slept. Maddie is at a foster home. They tell her a case is coming up soon for an EMT who had her images and Jenny can write a victim’s statement but Jenny decides to testify herself to look the man in the eyes.

Day Ten (March 27) in Federal Court, Jenny confronts the man, who was an EMT, and she gives him an earful.

Dates Unknown - Back at SVU, Benson and the detectives explain to Jenny that she got $20,000 in restitution from the EMT. They also show her boxes and boxes of the FBI letters officially notifying the victim – Jenny – of each arrest in the use of her image/video. She is overwhelmed.

Benson and Fin confer with Barba who has a CEO, Roger Pierce, who is worth $20 million and the can go after him for the estimated $4 million in full restitution and Pierce can chase after the other victimizers to get their share of the money.

Barba meets with Pierce and his lawyer at SVU and when Barba threatened Pierce with distribution he caves.

Amaro and Rollins explain to Jenny she gets $4 million and Rollins cautions her on using the money wisely so it can last. Jenny gets Maddie back with rules attached in order to keep custody.

Benson is walking on the sidewalk and Cassidy races up to her and he apologizes for being late. He says he got stuck in traffic back there and she comments she guesses they are both kind of stuck, He asked what happened. She says she’s been thinking about it; they found each other at the darkest, lowest point in their lives. He got shot and then demoted and she got …hurt…and he got her through that. She grabs his arm and pulls him closer alongside her. He says he’s always been there for her. She wonders if that is what it was supposed to be, maybe there is something even more right for each of them. She still thinks about having a family, asking Cassidy if he ever thinks about having kids with her or growing old with her. Cassidy dryly states he does not see himself growing old. Benson whispers, “I know you don’t, I know” and smiles. He adds that there’s something on his mind for a long time, something that he has to tell her. She tells him to go ahead, she can take it. It says it’s not like that, not at all, not even close. He says he loves her. Benson’s voice quivering, she replies that she loves him too, adding “always will.” He kisses her gently on her head and then says “Let’s go” and they walk off together, hand in hand, as we fade to black.

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Damon Ford said...

Admittedly, I did not pay much attention to the episode date timeline, but I wonder if, with these 'ripped from the headlines' stories, there is an assumption that the audience is familiar with the source case, and curious with how the parallel SVU universe deals with it ? I know I was, and personally, I thought the case itself reasonably well handled, and quite believably, if somewhat (necessarily) compressed for the available 42 minutes.

It was also my impression that the Benson / Cassidy relationship was mutually ended with this ep, clearing the decks for whatever the inevitable fallout is to be from next week's episode (perhaps I read it wrong, but that was my take).

Don Lodsky said...

The episode itself was average, and gave me a slight feeling of copy and paste plotlines from a few previous episodes. hat said, I was super-excited for the is episode because the intro was shot right around the corner from where I live, and it was pretty awesome to have show I like so much film so close by to me. It pretty much lived up to what I was hoping for in that department: I loved seeing all the police/fire/ambulance vehicles and cameras, and I even got to see them repelling down the building in person. I also got t see Mariska and Ice-T staring up at that scene while it was going on. It was all very awesome, if you can manage to attend an SVU taping somewhere in NYC and are a fan of the show, you really should try to. That it was so close to home (my building was visible in several shots) was icing on the cake, and I must have taken some 200+ pictures of all the action. For that reason, this episode will always stand out for me despite its otherwise middle of the road qualities.

Don Lodsky said...

Also, look closely at the little black thing on the end of the fire truck ladder - that's a camera. I'm surprised they barely try to hide it post editing.

Laurie Fanat said...

This episode didn't grab me. Maybe it was the actress that played Jenny, she grated on me. As far as the story, I find it very hard to believe that they could get even one case in court much less a settlement in that short time frame. Completely unrealistic. The episode was disjointed too- with Benson/Cassidy spliced in with Baby Doe and then the case. Don said it perfectly - it felt cut and paste.

Chris, you were also correct when you tagged them for acting more like social workers.

RE: Benson and Cassidy, did they dump each other? Did she dump him? He joked he never saw himself getting old but he never said no to the family issue. He says he loves her. Is is over? Is it almost over? Will they just live together for now? I know Dean has a new show and he'll likely be off SVU at that time but I still saw that the relationship isn't completely over. Maybe a long term one is, but they still share an apartment AND care for each other.

Lisa said...

Olivia has a long History of letting abuse victim or rape victims use the abuse excuse for committing crimes and making sure they dont do time. Its rather annoying just because you have been raped or been a abused dosnt mean you no longer have personal responsibilty over your actions. Its just been my pet peeve over the yrs.

any how I do think they have decided to break up but the actual split may take time because now they have to decide who moves, then find a place a ect.

but its apprent IMO that Cassidy is done,he dosnt want kids or even to grow old. I am glad they made it a good split and not a angry bitter one.

Cody Ashby said...

I think this episode looked better on paper than it did on the screen. Everyone done a good job performing their parts...maybe too good perhaps in regards to Jenny. It was just the story line throughout that threw me off a bit. Jenny leaving her daughter at home alone while shoplifting knowing that she'd get caught? That's just odd. The so called "there's no such thing as raping your wife" tidbit annoyed me a bit too, especially Gary and his I-don't-really-care attitude of it all. Grabbing a doughnut and stuffing it in his mouth made a pretty crummy character even worse imho. I know people like that exist out there, but I wasn't impressed with how it looked.

Also, what was up with Jenny reverting back to her Lacy days and going after Dr. Lindstrom? That came out of nowhere for me. I'm also probably one of the few that wasn't impressed with them milking the "Bensidy" relationship. A couple of scenes is fine, but I think they overdone it on that part.

I'd probably put it on par with "Dissonant Voices" earlier on last Fall. Simply a so-so episode, but it easily could've been a whole lot worse.

Wilfred Valencia said...

I wish they would cut this "Bensidy" BS out. It just gets in the way for me. The episode is itself did seem off though.

Tyler said...

This episode as tragic as it was did not live up to the hype of being a heartbreaking episode for the victim. Good acting by the victim but not much else. It did however cast a light on a dark corner of the internet and that child pornography is not a victim less crime. And at least I learned there is legal recourse for the victims.

The whole Bensidy issue was not handled well at all. I know Dean Winters has got Battle Creek going for him but he did mention in an interview on YouTube that he would like to keep coming back (albeit he said that a year ago). But they could have kept it going on in the story lines like how they did with Kathy Stabler. Even the ending was somewhat vague and ambiguous, so much so WL had to tweet the last last page of the scene.

For me personally, Seeing Cassidy and Benson together was something I wanted since season 1 and for two seasons I got what I wanted. But seeing the way the seasons unfolded and they way Bensidy was treated, after 20 years of watching the franchise, I'm done watching. I'll come back when they bring Bensidy back together.

Cassandra said...

Well, conversely, I might actually stick around now that Bensidy is over because I found their pointless, awkward, chemistry-free scenes to be the least tolerable part of the show, and I still have no idea what they had in common apart from working too much. Maybe now they'll have her date someone who gives off the sense that he actually wants to be in the same room as her. Or maybe they'll tone down on the constant, endless personal drama and solve a case once in a while instead, who knows?

Anyway, there's no point in threatening to stop watching over this. The situation is kind of out of the writers' hands. You can't typically star in one network show and still guest in a show on a different network (cable might be okay though). The executives really don't like it. I heard CBS is especially strict about it, though I'm not sure if that's true. Notice that Andre Braugher's character also disappeared off SVU the moment he got onto Brooklyn Nine Nine. So if Bensidy was the only reason you were watching, your best chance is to hope Dean Winters's new show crashes and burns, which is really not very nice. Certainly don't take offense. I felt like the writers tried to let people down as nicely as possible, honestly.

Lisa said...

Thank you..No way would CBS loan a star out to a rivil station
to a cable show yes because they are not in direct compitition.

Tyler said...

To each their own I suppose. IMO, Cassidy was the only man who understood her job and what it means to her. Whereas other men didn't understand her job or were too interested in a creepy sort of way. And he was there to support her in her time of need. Unfortunately he won't be around for next week's episode as I understand it.

About CBS being strict about its stars, that I didn't know. I thought it was the travel constraints that was the big issue but I can see where network exclusivity can be a major factor in these decisions. I must disagree that it was "out of the writers hands". They could have left the relationship in cannon and kept their relationship off-screen until Dean could make an appearance if he so chose. That's how I would have done it anyway.

I've watched the franchise from all the way in 1993 and I miss the old days when it was about the cases, not the characters. When it became "The Benson Show" I lost interest until Cassidy came back. Now that he's gone again I've lost interest. Can't be helped.

Don't misunderstand me. I don't want Dean's show to fail for the sake of him returning to SVU, I want him to succeed. However, I believe that his new show will probably last 2-3 seasons because in my view, CBS is not known for edgy or thrilling entertainment.

Sara Kürz said...

So okay well this epside was quite good but there was something that bothered me and that was the no-personnal-connection. I understand that the past episodes where it was more character-focused,and some of you saw it soap-opera drama like. So if,for example a detective acts in an inappropriate way, we only get to see the reason 5-6 epidoes later with other problems that followed by and they all get to spread out in one later episode. And in between we get nothing at all to see.
In this case im talking about rollins and amaro. In gamblers fallacy it seemed like they had alittle flirt a little friction what looked like a start of a relationship,wich i would love by the way,i believe they so have some chemistry!
As i mention relationships-im really tired of bensidy i dont see anything that holda them together. The more scenes i see them together,the more i get the impresson that cassidy is no good for her-at all! Why not focusing more on amanda and nick? Its much more fresh,new and interesting!
Dont get me wrong,i still love svu but it just boring me a little when its basically always about benson!
Please be more open to knew stuff-maybe you gonna hate what you love tomorrow so dont judge that fast-and let the the "newbies" have a chance!

CLA said...

I can not stand Amanda. I do not know what she's still doing in SVU. That woman, and ugly, is unbalanced. I'm looking forward to the episode with Lewis. They foramj the best this season.

Cath T said...

I'm not going to say I'm sorry that Bensidy appears to be over. I never detected any chemistry between Hargitay and Winters. The way it ended was handled well though and suited their circumstances.

Now all that needs to be done is to get the Lewis saga finished off.

Petra S said...

Damn @CLA that's like the most offensive thing I've ever read on this board I think. I know everyone has a right to their opinions & that Kelli by putting herself in front of a camera exposes herself to scrutinization but I really thought people on this board was civilized and able to keep to judging talent. Ugly? That tells me more about your persona than anything else.

Deborah J Armstrong said...

Kelli ugly? I don't think so CLA. She's gorgeous. Your just envious of her looks. Whatever your physical appearence CLA, you have proved on here you are uglier than sin on the inside.

Mardee Sherman said...

As a divorce and custody attorney, I can tell you that most courts, judges, attorneys, and police will do their best to make sure that the child is reconciled with the parents or parents. Most states give parents a plethora of opportunities to do better. No state wants to tear a child from his or her mother mother after one offense, especially if the child came to no harm and there was no intent to harm.

And yes, 10 days is a very short time to get a final judgment in a civil action, but obviously this is a TV show. It doesn't make any sense to prolong the episode for the year or two it would normally take in a case like this.

Petra S said...

Thanks for explaining that @MardeeSherman, as a non-American (perhaps for everyone?!) the law side of this show is hard to follow at times :)

CLA said...

I mean I'm obligated to find the beautiful Kelly Gidish? She looks like an alien. We will combine the following: you stay with your opinion, I'll take mine. Let's respect each other. To me, she still ugly.

CLA said...

@Petra and Deborah J Armstrong

I mean I'm obligated to find the beautiful Kelly Gidish? She looks like an alien. We will combine the following: you stay with your opinion, I'll take mine. Let's respect each other. To me, she still ugly.

Cath T said...

@CLA I don't really understand your comments.

I get that you don't like the Rollins character but I don't see how Kelly Giddish's appearance has anything to do with constructive opinion.

If you want to say I don't like Rollins because of this or that or how Giddish portrays the character that's one thing.

To say that someone is ugly is simply unnecessary and quite frankly nasty. It doesn't advance mature, objective discussion among fans of the show.

I love SVU but there are aspects I haven't enjoyed such as "Bensidy" even so I don't take personal shots at the actors or writers.

No-one is saying that you are obligated to like or find Kelly Giddish beautiful but it is completely unnecessary to comment on her looks at all.

Deborah J Armstrong said...

Yes CLA, you do have the right to your opinion, but to attack someone on looks is not only nasty, it also shows ignorance.