This episode was a combination of ripped from the headlines news stories about young, spoiled brat celebrity “starlets” (channeling Lindsay Lohan and her mother as prime examples) and good old Hollywood sex party stories, similar to the recent allegations against director Bryan Singer. Sometimes episodes that mirror real life news stories tend to feel predictable and devoid of drama or suspense. This was the case with “Producer’s Backend” which made me feel as if I were watching a rerun. Even Amaro getting accused of inappropriate behavior didn’t grab me much, as the same situation happened with Det. Elliot Stabler years ago. It must be a rite of passage for male detectives.
Thanks to Benson’s pushing the issue with SVU-hating Lt. Tucker, Amaro is back with the squad. It’s evident that Amaro and Rollins still have something going on, but what exactly that something is we don’t really know. I still can’t help but feel zero chemistry with those two.
Stevie Lynn Jones was well cast as the problematic young actress, conveying her character’s immature behavior and having to live in an environment where she was abused sexually to help open doors for better acting jobs. I continue to enjoy Peter Scanavino; his character’s different approach to working cases is refreshing, although clearly he annoys the others. This week, Ice-T was missing from the episode and I don’t recall any explanation as to why Fin was not there.
Early in the episode, a scene where we hear Noah seems under the weather is a set up for the ending scene where Benson hears Noah is in the ER. This turn of events made me groan in dismay as I don’t want this baby to be an every-few-weeks crisis for Benson. (Regular readers of my blog know how I feel about the baby story line so my groaning at the end of this episode should not be a shock.)
This is one of those episodes where I can’t think of much to say about it. It wasn’t a bad episode, it simply left me with nothing.
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
Ron Rifkin - Marvin Exley
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick Carisi, Jr.
Kaitlyn Bausch - Maude Peterson
Brian d'Arcy James - Adam Brubeck
Stevie Jones - Tensley Evans
Dana Wheeler- Nicholson - Donna Evans
Robert John Burke – Lt. Tucker
Dennis Boutsikaris – Jim Durant
Aida Turturro – Judge Felecia Catano
Tabitha Holbert – ADA Rose Caliay
Gary Milner - Dennis George
Drigan Lee - Brody Clark
Bronwyn Reed – Lucy Huston
Linda Emond – Dr. Emily Sopher
Hoda Kotb - Herself
Josh Saviano – Counselor Don Taft
Kaitlyn Bausch – Maude Peterson
John Marballi – Officer Tommy Ryan
Mark Boyett – Tom Miller
Tommy Nelson - Gregory Miller
Jazmyn Richardson - Janae
At night, two women are outside their crashed cars, arguing, as the police arrive. One of the women recognizes the other as being someone from TV as Amaro and his partner get out of the squad car to break up the fight. When Amaro asks one of the girls who she is, she appears loopy and cops an attitude and says she is Tensley Evans, former teen movie star and current favorite celebrity hot mess. Amaro asks for her license and registration and asks if she has been drinking. She calls him an idiot and says she is sober. Meanwhile, the other officer calls out to Amaro for help as the other woman seems to be fainting. Amaro tells Tensley not to move as he goes to assist. He decides to call a bus and Tensley speeds off in her car. The officers tells Amaro to go, he has the other woman.
Tensley hits a dead end and she tries to turn around but Amaro’s car blocks her exit. He yells for her to get out of the car but she tells him to come get her. She gets out and says she knows she has been bad but she can be good, and Amaro orders her to get her hands on the car hood. He tells her to stand back and he will call his supervisor. She says she will do him too, she loves threesomes. She appears drunk or stoned and she laughs as he cuffs her.
Later, on the Hoda! Show, Hoda reports the story about the out-of-control Tensley, showing her on the way to the courthouse from her DUI arrest. At SVU, Rollins and Sonny watch the story and Rollins explains that Amaro caught the case. When Sonny calls Amaro a disaster magnet, Rollins comments to a cleanly shaven Sonny that she liked him better with the ‘stache.
At arraignment court on Wednesday, September 3, Tensley’s attorney Marvin Exley argues that the case belongs in traffic court and wants Tensley to get back to rehab to complete her probation. When the Judge Catano comments this is Tensley's fourth appearance in her court, Tensley mother stands up and shouts out her own objections that there are extenuating circumstances and prompts Exley to explain. Exley then says that Amaro may have behaved inappropriately. Tensley pipes up that he said he would let he go if she got in the back seat and then she drove off and then he said he wanted to have sex with her. The people in the gallery gasp and chatter and the judge calls for order as Amaro looks on with disbelief.
At SVU, Tensley is in the interview room with her mother Donna, Rollins and Sonny, while Benson observes from her office. Amaro enters Benson's office and give her his statement and is surprised they are interviewing Tensley. Benson explains it is just protocol and he has nothing to worry about, she saw the dash cam. He is frustrated about the delay in his return to SVU but Benson reassures him.
Meanwhile, as Rollins and Sonny press Tensley, Sonny explains the dash cam footage to a stunned Tensley who is caught in her lies. When Exley continues to argue the point, Donna chimes in and Exley tells her to stop. Tensley says she doesn’t feel well and when her mother asks for water to Tensley can take her Xanax, Sonny tries to get her to leave the room with him to get water. Donna explains she is Tensley’s court-appointed guardian. Tensley gets her to leave to get her a power bar. With Donna out for the room, Rollins comments to Tensley that on the night of the crash, she left rehab without telling anybody. Tensley explains she had to get out of there. Rollins counters that her 60 day probation is mandatory and she can’t decide to leave on her own. She says he can’t go back and says they don’t understand. Exley asks what is it they don’t understand, and she replies that no matter what she says, he will twist it around. Rollins asks who is he, and Tensley says she can’t say. Rollins explains they can’t help her if she doesn’t say, and Tensley answers it is the psych director, Jim Durant, adding he will just deny it. Rollins presses about what, and Tensley states that at first he was nice and he listened to her and he let her lay down on his couch in his office when she was overwhelmed. She should have known what he wanted. By now, she should know how all men are.
Later, Rollins walks into Benson’s office and Benson hangs up the phone, explaining that Barba said in light of Tensley’s latest accusations, the judge ordered Tensley to be released into her mother’s custody. Rollins is annoyed Tensley gets to go back to normal life, and Benson explains they have to follow up on the allegations against the psych director, Jim Durant. Rollins counters he has no record and there are no whispers there. Rollins believes Tensley is lying and will accuse anybody to get out of there. Benson thinks she is taking this personally and tells her to get a statement from Durant and to take Sonny with her. Rollins asks when they will get Amaro back, and Benson explains she does not know and when Rollins says he is taking his anger management really seriously, Benson says she is working on it. As Benson walks out of her office, she tells Rollins to keep showing Sonny the ropes as it is really helping. Rollins wisecracks it is like her mother telling her she is the only one who can mop the floors because she didn’t want to do it.
At the Internal Affairs Bureau on Wednesday, September 3, Benson discusses Amaro’s situation and shows him the footage of the incident with Tensley’s traffic stop showing Amaro handled things perfectly and by-the-book. He states he will do his due diligence and get back to her. When she explains the urgency he pushes back and says when his investigation is complete she will be the first to know.
At the Strength, Hope & Recovery Center in the Bronx on September 3, Rollins and Sonny speak with Jim Durant and they hear how the center works and Sonny is skeptical. The doctor explains Tensley’s behavior and says he behaved professionally with her and there are security cameras everywhere and the footage will exonerate him. They find she did have an encounter with a boy, her roommate’s son, who was 15. The Center informed the boy’s mother but she did not want to pursue.
Meanwhile, Amaro is at Benson’s apartment holding Noah, and Benson says Noah likes him, he doesn’t spit up on just anyone. The she adds lately he has been spitting up a lot. The nanny takes him for his bath, and Benson reminds her to dry his hair because he has been coughing. Benson explains to Amaro she showed the dash cam footage to Tucker and he should go home and put on his suit, he’s back in. She then adds that a security cam caught Tensley fellating a 15 year old boy in a closet at her rehab. She tells Amaro to talk to the boy and his father and get their side. Amaro smiles and thanks her. She tells him to take Sonny with him. Amaro cracks that he hears Sonny is a real empath. Benson smiles and asks where he heard that, and Amaro avoids answering. Benson adds Sonny is eager to learn and working with Amaro will make Sonny better.
At the residence of Tom and Gregory Miller in the Bronx on September 3, Amaro and Sonny speak with them and hear the story. Gregory got Tensley some weed and Tensley gave him oral in a closet to thank him. Amaro explains that Gregory is underage and they have security cam footage and he is the victim. But Gregory thinks this was exciting and doesn’t want them to ruin it.
Later, Benson and Rollins discuss this with Tensley and her mother and Tensley and her mother are flip about it. Tensley starts to run at the mouth about it and Benson arrests her as Donna calls Exley.
In court again, Exley argues for a full psychiatric evaluation for Tensley. Barba thinks it is a delaying tactic but Judge Catano orders it and reminds Tensley she is still on probation and if she violates it in any way, the judge will remand her.
At a later time, the doctor explains to Benson and Barba that she sent her evaluation to the judge and Tensley is a complicated mosaic but she does understand the charges, she just disagrees with the law. Barba comments he would love Tensley to say that to the judge; she’s had enough second chances and will not get away with this one. As Barba walks off, the doctor speaks with Benson that if she had a young suspect who didn’t understand that sex with adults and teenagers us wrong or even abnormal…Benson finishes the sentence, saying she would want to know why. Benson then says “got it” and thanks her.
Back at SVU in Benson’s office with Donna and Exley, Tensley doesn’t get why she is in trouble, she’s had guys who have done way more to her than she did to that geek. Benson presses to find out what guys and when. Donna says her daughter has never been abused. Exley says if Tensley has information that will be of use to her or the DA, he will insist in quid pro quo. Donna asks if they are saying she is not a good mother, but Tensley says they are not saying that, asking why is she hearing it? Donna explains she took her to all the auditions and made sure she met all the right people and got the right jobs. Rollins suggests it would be easier to talk to Tensley if she was alone and when Donna is reluctant, Exley reminds her she can trust him. Donna leave the room. Tensley then says she doesn’t know what they want her to say, and Exley says the detectives are suggesting something happened to her when she was a young teenager, and he asks if that is true. She pauses then says she wasn’t raped, if that is what they are saying; she is no victim and it is part of the business and she did what she had to do. Benson comments fair enough, then asks what was that? Tensley says it was no big deal, the first time at a producer’s pool party, her mom said it would be good for her career if she went. Benson asks whose party, and Tensley looks to Exley who nods for her to go on. Tensley answers Adam Brubeck. Tensley explains he is an A-list movie producer and this was one of his casting parties at his place in East Hampton. She was in the hot tub and got too drunk, woozy, and he took her into his bedroom and toweled her off and said she had a beautiful body and if she made him happy, he would find a role for her in his next movie. So she did. The next time, he brought in two more guys, first to watch, but then they said fair is fair, so she did them too. Rollins asks how old was she, and Tensley replies thirteen or fourteen, she doesn’t know, adding it went on for a couple of years. Rollins comments that Tensley is 24 now, not 23, and Tensley nods yes. Benson asks how long did this happen, and Tensley says she does not want to remember, she had drinks, or they had coke or ecstasy to blur the edges. She says “open your mouth, spread your legs” with different guys but it worked, she got more roles and bigger roles. Her mother was right. Rollins asks that her mother knew she was having sex with her producer and his friends, and Tensley replies they never talked about it but her mother put her on the pill a couple months later, adding they don’t see her complaining like that pansy-ass Gregory. She gave Adam what he wanted and he gave her what she wanted, adding “"Ob-la-di, ob-la-da".
Later, in the squad room, Rollins explains Adam Brubeck was one of the biggest teen producers out there, and Benson states that, according to Tensley, Brubeck passed her around like a sex-toy party favor. Amaro wonders if she is telling the truth, and when Rollins seems to defend her, Amaro reminds them she is an "actress.” Benson says Tensley doesn’t even know she has been victimized. Barba counters that Gregory’s father thinks Gregory has, so he has to indict her. Benson is surprised, saying this is textbook mitigating. Barba counters that Exley is free to bring that up when he tries to cut a deal. Barba moves to exit as Sonny asks to take a run at Brubeck and see if he wets his pants. Rollins asks if he was sick the day they went over the statute of limitations at law school. Sonny says she was 24 which in New York is one year too late to charge statutory rape and looks to Barba, asking if anybody wants to explain to him why that law still exists? Barba dry replies he can thank the church lobbyists for that, Amaro says the law is the law, she needs to do time. Sonny asks that Brubeck doesn’t, adding that whatever he did to Tensley, dollars to donuts, he’s still doing it to other girls. Benson nods as Barba asks if they are going on a fishing trip. Benson suggests they pursue two tracks, he can pursue his and they will pursue theirs. He walks off as Benson asks if Brubeck is still producing and Rollins says he is still busy and says his Twitter feed says he is in New York this weekend at a casting event for his new movie-musical, “Junior Prom.”
At the Marsden Hotel Pool on Saturday September 6, a party is underway with lots of young girls and older men as Amaro, Rollins, and Sonny arrive with additional officers. One young actor approaches commenting on his admiration of NYPD. The detectives ask for Brubeck and when the kid points the direction, Amaro nudges him over and walks past him. Sonny is amazed that Amaro just pushed Brody Clark. Rollins comments she counts about 2 dozen underage girls in bikinis and tells Sonny and the other officers that no one leave and to start checking IDs.
Amaro and Rollins find Brubeck and his house counsel, Dennis George, and when he asks if there is a noise complaint, Rollins asks if everyone has an ID. Brubeck says no one without a wristband gets served and they don’t need to waste their time or kill the buzz. Amaro asks about Tensley, and Brubeck says if she is claiming she has a job with them or use them as a reference the answer is no, she is “puttanesca non grata.” Dennis says they had to sever all ties with her long ago. She arrived drunk to their set causing massive delays, she was drunk and incorrigible. Brubeck tries to blow them off but Rollins presses for more questions. They enter a cabana and speak about the party in East Hampton 10 years ago. Brubeck indicates Tensley’s mother would have gotten her on the guest list, and says she was trouble and who knows what her mother fed her. He does not recall being alone with her. Dennis enters with an excuse to get Brubeck away, and as he leaves, he tells them to watch her back with Tensley, calling her a waste case.
After Brubeck leaves the cabana, Rollins, discussing creepy Brubeck with Amaro, stands very close to him and Sonny walks in, saying there is no underage drinking or drugs, and then asks if he is interrupting something? Rollins says no, they were just leaving. Sonny shrugs and says it looked like something else, Amaro pausing to give Sonny a look.
In Barba’s office, with Benson, Rollins, Amaro, and Sonny, they discuss that they found nothing. Rollins says Brubeck admitted Tensley was at his parties when she was thirteen but blamed her mom. Sonny says if they keep digging deeper they will find something and when he tells them he made a few calls, Rollins cuts him off and says so did she. She did research on other child stars of Brubeck’s and gives them examples of others that have crashed and burned – arrests, porn, and in rehab. Barba asks if any filed a lawsuit or pressed charges, and Rollins says nothing. But Sonny says he was almost charged in LA, adding he has an ex at LAPD ho told him an actress names Amber Forbes drowned at one of Brubeck’s pool parties 9 years ago when she was 15. The ME ruled it an accident but there was alcohol and ecstasy in her system. Brubeck and Dennis were questioned by police and on the witness list was Brody Clark. Benson tells them to talk to Brody and find out what he knows.
On the set of “Final Sin” on Monday, September 8, Brody, dressed as a priest, speaks with Sonny and Amaro and Sonny asks that he and Tensley were engaged for 2 years. Brody replies that was PR but he does care about her. Sonny asks about Amber’s drowning and Brody said Brubeck was there, it was his house, but he does not know if Brubeck was in the pool. He raves about the house. He says Tensley was there and she was like a big sister to Amber and Tensley cried for months.
Meanwhile, at Tensley’s apartment with her mother and Exley, Benson and Rollins speak with her about Amber and the party where she downed. Exley says that death was ruled accidental and Tensley needs to be immunized. Donna touches Tensley’s shoulder and she recoils. Benson says Tensley is not a suspect and gives her word. Tensley says she was there but would rather not go back to that time. Rollins continues to press and Tensley gets up, saying she is going to be sick and runs toward the bathroom. As her mother moves toward her, Tensley tells her not to touch her. Donna says their agenda is destroying her daughter, and Rollins counters that Donna put her on the pill at 13. Donna insists it was her doctor’s idea. When Rollins says with sarcasm that Donna didn’t know what was going on at those parties, Exley tells Rollins that is enough. When Donna asks them to leave, Benson says she would like to talk to Tensley alone, and when Donna says she will go with her, Rollins tells her she will stay right there. As Benson gets no answer from Tensley in the bathroom and the door is locked, she pushes the door in and finds Tensley has slit her wrists and is bleeding. Benson wraps Tensley’s wrists with a towel as Tensley sobs and appears to be having a breakdown.
Later, with Tensley recovering in rehab, Benson speaks with Tensley who tells her that in group today a girl told her that her next bottom isn’t on this earth. This got through to her. Benson is glad. Benson comments that the other day, Tensley said she did not want to go back to that day and asks if she is ready now. Tensely says that is all she can think about and everybody in group knows so she might as well too. Tensley explains that the night at the pool, her, Autumn and Amber were high and they were splashing around and Brubeck set down the house rules. They had to take turns on him while he held their heads under water. Amber was so scared but she had done it before and she went for it and choked so she had to go inside. She tried to get Amber to come with her but Brubeck said no, and she never should have left her. She was 15 and still new to this and says it is her fault she drowned. Benson lets out a breath,
Back at SVU, Brody tells Sonny and Amaro that he heard about Tensley and said he sent her flowers, asking if she will be okay. Amaro says she will need more than flowers and Brody said he told them he did not see what happened. Sonny explains what Tensley told them and said Brody knew about Brubeck too. Amaro presses Brody if he was paid or if he got more acting jobs. Brody admits it was not Brubeck’s secret he was protecting, it was his. He was in the screening room with a man and they weren’t watching movies. He is still afraid of being outed, his career would be over. Amaro continues to press about the other man, and Brody says the man is still in the closet and would destroy him if he said other word.
At the offices of AOC Productions on Tuesday, September 9, Benson and Barba speak with Dennis George and he says he did not see anything that night, he was alone in the study on a business call. Barba presses him about his story and they ask about Brody. Dennis says Brody was of age and homes the NYPD is not in the business out outing gay men. Benson says they don’t have to be, and he asks what they want.
Later, in Barba’s office, the team looks at a video that they have of a young girl playing to the camera for Brubeck. Amaro says Dennis gave them more flash drives and they have hours of this stuff. Barba asks if there are any girls underage in the video that are within the statute of limitations, Rollins comments Brubeck is more clever than that. In the last 9 years, all of Brubeck’s movies have been shot in Pennsylvania, Washington, and Montana. Sonny adds these are all states with the age of consent of 16 and a mistaken age defense. Barba leaps from his chair, says that means the guy can have sex with a 14 year old and claim he thought that she was 16, adding he is too smart. Rollins says Brubeck has been gaming the system ever since Amber died. Amaro asks if they are giving up and Benson says no, this guy killed Amber Forbes and ruined countless lives, saying there has got to be a way to stop him. Barba says Brubeck is threading the loophole of legality state by state and keeps good records and is very thorough. As Barba leafs through the DVDs, he picks one out marked Winnipeg Nights. Rollins saw the tape, it did not look like an audition, it looked like foreplay. He asks if it was shot in Canada and Sonny replies the audition was, but the movie was never made. Barba looks at Benson who asks if Brubeck auditioned anyone else. Rollins says it was just one girl, Maude Peterson, who was 16. Benson gives a hopeful look to Barba and then tells Rollins and Amaro she needs them to get on a plane to Winnipeg and talk to Maude to find out how she got this audition, if there was ever a script at all and how far he got with her. Sonny asks how does that matter, the age of consent in Canada is 16. Barba replies that if the film was never made and Brubeck got lucky up there, they just got lucky too.
In a Winnipeg bar, Amaro and Rollins speak with Maude about Brubeck and Maude explains how she got the audition. She got no script and he said she should work on a monologue and they would improvise. The audition was in his hotel as he had no office set up yet. Brubeck was alone and that should have been her first clue. They spent the weekend together and she told him she was a virgin and he said she needed life experience if she wanted to be a real actress. She cries as she admits to having sex and all kinds of stuff with him. He said she was a natural and would make her a star and she believed him. She admits she was so stupid. She excuses herself to go back to work.
Back at SVU in interrogation, Brubeck and another lawyer, Don, are there with Benson and Barba. They tell them it is not about Amber or Tensley, it is about Maude Peterson. Brubeck feigns ignorance. Benson reminds him it was only one audition in Canada and he had sex with her. He admits he slept with young wanna be actresses but he kept it legal. When Barba says he may have though he did, Brubeck insists he did, and he does remember her now. She was 16 and the age of consent in Canada. When his lawyer asks to hold on a minute, Barba tells him Winnipeg Nights was never made. Brubeck said if they knew anything about the industry they would know the most projects never get off the ground. Benson says there is usually a script, and he said there was, he registered one with the Writers Guild. Barba says yes he did, and they subpoenaed it, and he shows it was a treatment with “all work and no play makes Adam a dull boy” written over and over again for 10 pages. He tosses it to the lawyer as he adds it was authored by Brubeck. The lawyer says they have to stop now, complaining about being blindsided, and Brubeck stops him and tells him it is okay, his assistant must have registered the wrong document. Barba calmly counters that Brubeck’s signature was on it and asks if there was any legitimate pre-production at all – a schedule, a budget – and Brubeck says he is the creative, Barba will have to talk to Dennis. Benson counters that they did and the only budget entry was for a first class round trip ticket to Winnipeg and a weekend stay at the hotel with extensive room service bills, stating he never left the hotel that whole weekend. Brubeck gets upset, yelling about Dennis as Don tries to get him to be quiet and then says they are leaving. Barba says no, he won’t, there was no movie or intention to make a movie, his client traveled to Canada with the primary purpose of having sex with someone under the age of 18, a federal crime. Brubeck asks Don what is he talking about, and Barba says it is sexual tourism, section 2423C of title 18 – engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Benson looks on, smiling with satisfaction. Don tells Barba he can’t be serious, saying that law is intended to stop pedophiles from flying to Thailand to have sex with 12 year-olds. Benson says his client IS a pedophile and a rapist and a murderer. She adds if this is the only way they can get him, then this is the way he is going down. Barba comments that the feds have been watching this interrogation and they are outside right now. Benson opens the door and the feds walk in, and she tells Brubeck to put his hands behind his back. As he is cuffed, he looks at Barba who nods at him with a slight smirk. The feds take Brubeck out of the room and Benson shuts the door.
Later, Tensley is on the Hoda! Show talking about Brubeck’s arrest for being a predator, and admitted she harmed many people because she did not understand what was done to her. She says she is working hard to straighten out her life and make amends. When she meets young actors she tells them they don’t have to be victims. As Hoda complements her and asks about a new project, Tensley says after her 6 months community service, she will be doing an arc on “Orange is the New Black” . Rollins dryly says, “seriously” and Amaro adds, “Justice has been served” adding he is surprised she didn’t get that arc as community service. Sonny thinks she will look hot in a prison jumpsuit. Benson races out of her office and asks someone to just hand her her bag. She asks Amaro to turn off the TV. Rattled, she tells him she needs him to hold down the fort, and when he asks if everything is alright, she races away, saying she does not know, Noah is in the ER. As she speeds down the hall to leave, a worried look on her face, we fade to black.
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