Thursday, January 22, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Padre Sandunguero” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Padre Sandunguero” reunited Nick Amaro and his father Nicolas Amaro, but this was no happy reunion. Father and son have been estranged for quite some time and Amaro remains very angry over his father’s past abusive behavior. We learn that Nicolas Amaro Sr. was a wife-beater, and those beatings spilled over to young Nick, who admits on the stand he still has nightmares about them. More recently, Amaro has displayed anger issues in the course of doing his job and in his marriage. At first blush, this appears to be learned behavior from his father. But it's more complicated than saying “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Amaro didn’t simply learn to be angry by witnessing his father’s abusive behavior toward his mother, but likely by being the victim himself of his father’s anger. His father’s rage arises from feelings of jealousy and challenges to his authority,  where Amaro seems angry over the physical and mental pain his father inflicted on him and his mother. Danny Pino was excellent in portraying the angry son who has long loathed his father, a feeling rekindled by a new incident that showed his father hasn’t changed one bit.

In addition to the long standing rift with his father, this case also put a wedge between Amaro and his sister Sonya and his mother Cesaria. Despite Nicolas’ later comments that Amaro protected Nicolas’ fiancée Gabriella, his mother, and his sister Sonya and they will get over it, I don’t think Amaro will - at least not right away. My opinion is that Sonya is just as bullheaded as her father, and her siding with their abusive father may be an issue that Amaro won’t easily forget. (The only person who remains clearly in Amaro’s corner is his daughter Zara.)

In addition to being alienated from his family, Amaro is working a lot of overtime, sometimes almost completely alone in the squad room. This isolation seems to depict Amaro’s attempts at fighting his demons on his own as he tries to get his emotions, and his life, back in balance. Benson offers her support and advice, but her first attempt only brings out cutting remarks from Amaro regarding Benson’s own father issues and her ordeal with William Lewis. It was a low blow on his part which he immediately regretted. The one thing we can count on with Amaro: he is not afraid to say what is on his mind. He still has a long way to go in order to get his emotions and life in check. If – as his sister believes – that anger management isn’t working for him, maybe he should consider looking at a different type of mental health professional for assistance or be more open to a suggestion from Benson.

This was Mariska’s second time directing an episode, and I think she did a great job in relaying Amaro’s inner turmoil with his father from the moment he arrived all the way to the very end. It felt like I was seeing everything from Amaro’s own eyes.

I do have a question regarding how the legal end of this case was handled. Maybe I missed it, or maybe it was something that was implied but we never saw it on screen, but did the EMT who heard the outcry also testify at some point? I fully understand that discussing issues regarding medical care would likely be protected under HIPAA, but wonder if Gabriella’s outcry about being beaten – and naming the person – would be exempt from those rules. I would think that naming her attacker, especially in the presence of a third party, would open the door for the EMT to corroborate Amaro’s story. Clearly, the EMT told the other detectives about it, so why not use it on the stand? I would think this would have boosted Amaros’s credibility significantly and support that Amaro didn’t just say Gabriella was beaten by Nicolas as retribution. I know Barba felt as if Nicolas slipped every one of his punches, but as far as I could see, Barba made no solid punches to start.

Barba made a comment about how Cubans come to this country and in one generation they are doctors, lawyers, CEOs of major corporations, but the headline is “crazy Cubans in wedding brawl.” But the whole episode did exactly that - perpetuate a stereotype.

It was shocking – shocking I tell you! – when Lt. Ed (“Mother”) Tucker actually seemed to be in Amaro’s corner during this mess. And later, he gets my gag reflex going by asking Benson to join him for a drink. I think this is the sign of the apocalypse.

I enjoyed Armand Assante’s passionate and convincing performance as Nicolas Amaro Sr. He was both charming and sleazy at the same time. Only one downside: there were a few times that I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

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
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Armand Assante – Nicolas Amaro
Robert John Burke – Lt. Ed Tucker
April Hernandez-Castillo - Sonya Amaro
Aida Turturro - Judge Felicia Catano
Nancy Ticotin - Cesaria Amaro
Joseph Lyle Taylor - Counselor Mickey D’Angelo
Ivan Hernandez - Javier Arenas
Daniel Zacapa - Luis Nuñez
Katty Velasquez - Gabriella Nuñez
Nikki M. James – Detective
Caris Vujcec - Detective
J. Bernard Calloway – EMT Himes
Alison Fernandez – Zara Amaro
Clay Drinko - Rab Convers
Samantha Jones – Jury Forewoman

A man walks into the squad room where Benson and Carisi are hard at work and asks where is Nicky? Carisi asks who? and the man clarifies Nicky Amaro. Benson explains she is his Sergeant, and asks who is he. He says she is the Sergeant and he is the father, laughing. Benson realizes he is Amaro’s dad, and he introduces himself as Nicolas, and shakes Benson’s hand. He comments that his son never told him that his boss was so “encantadora” [translate: charming]. Benson laughs and asks him to have a seat and she will let Amaro know that he is here. Nicolas introduces himself to Carisi.

Meanwhile, Amaro and Fin are in interrogation with a suspect who says she wanted it, and she was hot. Benson interrupts and asks Amaro if he has a minute so he leaves the interrogation.

As Benson and Amaro walk out of her office, Amaro sees his father and hears him talking to Carisi about Amaro cutting up a Monte Cristo cigar when he was 5, telling his father smoking was bad for him. Amaro stops in his tracks and his face goes blank. Carisi is laughing at Nicolas' stories and Nicolas sees his son and stand up and moves toward him. Amaro stops, looking less than thrilled, and asks him what is he doing here? Nicolas comments “you see how he talks to his father?” adding that he just came by to say hello and talk. Amaro walks away, saying he is working. Nick asks Benson if she minds if he takes his son to lunch, it would mean a lot to him. Amaro, standing behind his father, shakes his head motioning no to Benson. Benson, looking to Carisi, says she doesn’t know if this is the best time, but clueless Carisi says he can handle things with Fin. Amaro glares at Carisi and Nicolas tells Amaro he has nice friends here and gently pushes into his should, asking him if he likes Chinese. Amaro looks at Benson and says he will be 20 minutes. Benson says okay as Amaro grabs his coat to walk out with his father. As they walk out of the squad room, Nicolas comments that with all the years Amaro has on the job, he thought he’d have his own office by now. As Amaro presses the elevator button, he testily states that he has barely seen his father since he was 15 and he can’t just show up. Nicolas cuts him off and explains he is throwing a party and he needs him to come – he WANTS him to come. As they step into the elevator, Amaro says it is not happening, but Nicolas says it IS happening, it’s a rehearsal dinner, he is getting married, he’s in love. Amaro looks forward with no emotion as the elevator doors close.

At the restaurant, Nicolas shows Amaro a photo of his fiancée, and Amaro asks if she is 25. Nicolas says Gabriella is 28; her whole family moved here. Amaro asks why is he getting married here and Nicolas says he outgrew Miami and what is he going to do at his age, die of an early bird special? Amaro seems annoyed his father may move back and has a lead on a mixed martial arts gym. Nicolas urges Amaro to come by, but Amaro asks if his father can hear himself. Nicolas comments whatever happened between him and his mother in his imagination it’s over and they are all over it. They talk all the time and they worry about him. Nicolas brings up Maria and Amaro doesn’t want Nicolas talking about her or Zara. Nicolas brings up Amaro’s son and that Amaro didn’t know about him, and Amaro leaps up and cuts the discussion short, telling him they should do this in another 20 years. He storms out of the restaurant despite Nicolas telling him not to walk out on him.

Amaro returns to SVU and enters Benson’s office. Amaro tells Benson his father is getting married again to a child bride and he wants him to come. He adds that since going he would require pretending that they have a relationship or that what happened in their home didn’t actually happen. Benson tells him he has every right to be upset, and Amaro cuts her off and says his father doesn’t get to wipe…Benson cuts him off and says this is not about him, this is about Amaro holding on to his anger. She has learned that in order to heal, they have to let go. He angrily asks if she has forgiven her father or William Lewis? Benson looks like she can’t believe he just said that, and she walk away from him, saying, “Wow.” He says he is sorry and walks out of her office as Benson stands at her desk, shaking her head.

Later, at the apartment of Cesaria Amaro at 175 East 155th Street on Thursday, January 15, Amaro is shocked to hear his mother spoke with his father and is okay with the marriage and she promised Amaro’s sister she would go.  Amaro think his sister wants Nicolas to be happy, asking how much money she borrowed from him.   His mother said Sonya has it tough for a long time and things never came easily for her. Amaro counters he worked hard for everything he got, He didn’t go out partying and ring up credit card debt. The apartment buzzer rings and Cesaria tells Amaro to be nice to her. Amaro is surprised his sister is there, arriving with his daughter Zara, which thrills Amaro. Sonya explains she had bonus miles and convinced Maria it was such a special occasion. Zara says she has a new dress for the wedding and is a flower girl, and Amaro asks his mother to take Zara to help Zara put the dress on so he can see it. When they walk off, Amaro asks Sonya if Nicolas put her up to this, and she says she knew he would be upset. He asks if she is guilting their mother into doing this and Sonya says it was her mother’s idea. He thinks he is being set up and is worried if he tells Zara she can’t go, she will be heartbroken. Sonya asks if he is worried about Zara coming tonight, why doesn’t he come? He explains he has to work. He wants to spend a little time with Zara, He gives his sister a kiss and says it is good to see her, but if she is going to take Zara to the party to do him a favor, just take it easy for once. Sonya asks him what is that supposed to mean?

Later, the party is in full swing and Nicolas is bragging about his fiancée to the crowd and says tonight is for Gabriella. Nicolas encourages everyone to party. Gabriella’s father Luis glares at Nicolas.

Meanwhile, back at SVU, Amaro is hard at work and Carisi tries to convince him to come bowling with him at the Piers with his friends from law school. Amaro wants to take a rain check, so Carisi leaves,

Back at the party, Nicolas sees Gabriella dancing suggestively with another man, and she sees him watching her and she breaks it off and walks away. Nicolas follows her while Cesaria sits with Zara, who has her head in her grandmother’s lap.

Back at SVU, Amaro is at his desk on the phone with Maria. Amaro tells Maria that yes, Zara is here, she is at the party with Sonya and his mother. He adds it is all find and of course he is glad to see her. He just doesn’t like being sandbagged; this is his family and he is her father. He gets a beep that another all is coming in and he asks Maria to hold on and he talks the second call. It is Zara. She is sitting under a table to protect herself, the sound of a fight is in the background. She tells Amaro to come quick, there is fighting. Someone falls to the ground right next to the table. Amaro leaps up and races out of the squad room as the person who has fallen on the floor is being beaten.

Amaro arrives at the location, ambulances and police cars are already there. He calls out for Zara and finally sees her and his mother. He picks Zara up and she says it was scary. He asks if she is okay and she shakes her head yes. His mother said one minute everyone was dancing, then all hell broke loose. He puts Zara down and asks a police officer to take his mother and daughter out of there and make sure they get home. A police officer exits with a man who is in cuffs and who is shouting “Animal! Nicolas is a pig!” and yells to see his daughter Gabriella. Amaro walks inside and Sonya runs up to him, thankful he is there. She points him to Gabriella and then rushes off to find her father. An EMT is taking Gabriella out on a stretcher, her face looks beaten and bloodied. The EMT asks who called SVU, and Amaro explains he is with the family. Amaro explains to Gabriella he is Nicolas’ son, and says they will get her taken care of. She says she is dizzy, adding that Nicolas was so angry, he said she wasn’t showing him respect and he hit her. Amaro looks shocked and asks “what?”, the EMT giving him a look Amaro asks if his father did this to her, and she says, “Espérate.¿Nicolas es tu papa?” “Amaro says “Si” then speaks quickly in Spanish. [My Spanish is not great but it sounded like he asked her what happened.] She seems confused that Amaro is Nicolas’s son, then tells the EMT she doesn’t feel well and begs the EMT to take her to the hospital. The EMT says “Yes Ma’am. Detective, please” to get Amaro to move out of the way. The EMT takes Gabriella out as Amaro stands in the doorway, stunned.

Now outside, Amaro sees two officers leading out his father in cuffs. Nicolas mentions to the officer that his son is here and he is a very important New York detective. One of the officers tells Nicolas that they have to take him in, Another detective, standing next to Amaro, asks if Amaro if he wants to talk to his father, but Amaro says no, to do what they have to do. Nicolas yells at his son, :”What are you doing? I said what are you doing?” as the officers lead him away. The other detective tells Amaro as he heard Gabriella’s outcry they have to take his statement and tell him to meet them at the hospital. Amaro agrees. Nicolas calls out to Amaro, asking if he is going to tell them, reminding Amaro he is his son. Amaro yells back to his father, advising him to just do as they say. As they put Nicolas in the squad car and shut the door, Amaro looks on with concern.

Later, Benson arrives at the hospital where Amaro is waiting. He asks what she is doing there and she explains she heard about the fight and asks if Zara is there. Amaro says she is fine; Nicolas has been arrested and Gabriella has a head injury. The female detective asks Benson if they can speak in private and as she walks off, she tells Amaro to go home. As she walks away with the 2 female detectives, Benson finds that the EMT is a real stickler and heard the outcry and Benson explains nobody is looking for special favors. Benson finds the detective interviewed Gabriella who has a fractured skull, and now tells them a different story. Benson says this happens in DV cases, but hears the EMT thinks this happened after Amaro said something to Gabriella in Spanish and Benson thinks the EMT believes Amaro told Gabriella to change her story. Benson says this is not possible.

Benson, along with the other two female detectives, question Gabriella who says when she was talking to the first detective she was confused, meaning Amaro. She was wrong to say it was Nicolas’ fault. She explains she was dancing with one of the guests, Javier, and he got fresh and she pushed him away and she went to the downstairs bathroom. She says he followed her and pushed her into the corner and touched her breast. Nicolas came down and tried to pull Javier away and this is when she hit her head against the wall by accident. She says no one hit her and insists her head just hit the wall. She adds it was just the two of them, then changes it to three. One detectives said Gabriella told Amaro that Nicolas was angry with her, and Gabriella says he was worried. If he wouldn’t have come down, she doesn’t know what would have happened. Benson says if she is afraid of Nicolas or that his son is a cop, they can keep her safe. Gabriella insists they let Nicolas go, he didn’t hurt her..

Later, Benson is back at SVU with Amaro, along with Carisi and Fin in her office. Amaro says if his father did something, he doesn’t want anyone risking anything on his behalf. He doesn’t know about her claim she was sexually assaulted. Benson tells him in the meantime, he is back on the desk. He is less than thrilled and leaves her office. Benson tells Fin and Carisi to get a timeline, witness statements, cell phone pics and any video footage from that party. As Carisi gets a message on his phone, he tells Fin the other guy is Javier Arenas, and says up until a year ago, he was on the registry for statutory rape. Benson tells them to start there.

At West Side Dermatology on Friday, January 16, Fin and Carisi speak with Javier who explains the statutory rape charge took 10 years to clear his name. He denies the assault on Gabriella, saying they just did dirty dancing and whispered he could do things without a blue pill. She caught Nicolas looking at her and she freaked out and took off. He stayed on the dance floor and danced with Sonya next, and she didn’t just back up the bus, she parked it. Gabriella’s father Luis saw the whole thing.

Later, Fin and Carisi speak with a beaten Luis at his auto repair business. He didn’t see it but knows it was Nicolas, calling him a piece of garbage. Gabriella was dancing and having fun and then Nicolas stared at her. She stopped dancing and went downstairs and he followed her, just him. A few minutes later he comes up, grabs some ice, and rubs it on his knuckles. Luis ran downstairs and saw Gabriella all bloody.  Luis wants him in jail, even if he has to go too.

At the Internal Affairs Bureau on 317 Hudson Street on Friday, January 16, Amaro arrives in a conference room where Lt. Ed Tucker is waiting and moaning about the number of Amaro’s IAB investigations. Amaro quickly states he did not pressure the victim. Tucker informs him the EMT claims he identified himself to the victim as NYPD and her fiancées’ son and he spoke to her in Spanish. Amaro explains he told her everything was okay and asked if he could help. Tucker comments it was just like that she claimed his father didn’t hit her. Amaro, staring straight ahead, replies he did not tell her to back off that story, not in Spanish, not in English. Tucker states he believes him. Amaro looks at him with surprise and Tucker goes on to ask Amaro to do them all a favor and steer clear. He can’t look like a cop who is pulling strings to protect family. Amaro looks stunned and moves to leave.

Later, Nicolas is in SVU interrogation with his lawyer Counselor Mickey D’Angelo and Nicolas insists he heard Gabriella scream downstairs and he pulled Javier off her. Fin and Carisi explains no one saw Javier go downstairs, the only one they saw was Nicolas. D’Angelo brushes if off as drunk people in a dark room. Nicolas says the ice on the hands was because he hit a wall with a friend of his fiancée and he had it coming to him. Carisi says according to Javier, who didn’t have a mark on him, Gabriella was twerking and Nicolas got jealous and beat her. D’Angelo says there are no witnesses and she is not pressing charges, adding they are done. Carisi explains that domestic violence is a must arrest, and D’Angelo counters it is not a must charge. Nicolas states this is an accident that happened the night before the wedding and he stands up and says he would never hit a woman.

Meanwhile, Benson and Barba observe from her office. Barba comments that Cubans come to this country and in one generation they are doctors, lawyers, CEOs of major corporations, but the only headline you will read in the paper is “crazy Cubans in wedding brawl. I hate this.” Benson agrees none of them want to be here but Nicolas is guilty. Barba counters she seems awfully sure, asking if there is anything else he needs to know. She shuts her office door and says yeah, there is.

At the Manhattan Detention Complex on 125 White Street on Saturday, January 17, and Nicolas moans to Amaro about the assault charges high bail but Amaro will not bail him out. He urges Nicolas to take a plea and not open it up to a trial. Nicolas won’t plead guilty too something he didn’t do, and when Amaro explains Gabriella told him, Nicolas says she is mixed up. Nicolas says if you talk to 50 people at a party, you will get 50 different answers. Amaro isn’t having any of this and gets up and walk out, which makes Nicolas angry and he yells that he brought Amaro into this world and he does not walk out on him. He says he is his father and Amaro does not dare to walk out on him. As Amaro points to get out, Nicolas says Amaro hates him because he is his flesh and blood and is no different than him. Nicolas screams at Amaro that he is Nicky Amaro Jr. and he does not walk out on him. Amaro leaves anyway.

Later, Benson walks into a bar and sees Lt. Tucker who says they have to stop meeting like this. Benson says Amaro has no interest in protecting his father and he is not trying to fix this. Tucker drying retorts, “Alright, so much for the small talk” but says since she’s asking, he would hate to be him right now. Either he testifies against his father, which is barbaric, or he looks like he is conspiring to cover up a crime; he almost feels sorry for him. Benson replies, “Wow, you’re getting soft in your old age.” He replies maybe, and then asks if she is just going to stand there and talk about Amaro or can he buy her a drink. She asks how is the wine here, and he suggests the bourbon. She smiles.

At a later time, Barba is conferring with Benson and Amaro in her office about him testifying as Nicolas will not take a plea and there are no witnesses to the fight. Benson says Gabriella made the outcry to him and is the only one that can testify this is part of a pattern. He become upset that Benson told Barba what he told her in private. She said she had to inform as it was pertinent. Amaro gets up to leave as Barba hopes that if Nicolas sees Amaro’s name on the list he may plead it out. Amaro wonders what if he doesn’t, asking how he will explain that to the rest of his family.

Later, Amaro sits at dinner at his mother’s with Sonya and Zara. When Zara mentions that Sonya thinks Amaro wants his father in jail, he tells her to go play on her iPad. But when she resists, he insists and she asks him not to yell. Sonya tries to bring it up but Amaro says they can’t talk about this and she may be called too. She hopes she is, she is still in his corner, saying he would hurt Gabriella. Amaro argues they all know what happened, and his mother says Gabriella must have done something. Amaro challenges her that she thinks it is all Gabriella’s fault, she must have done something just like she did. She says his father is not what he was. Amaro asks if she wants to help him they should tell him to plead guilty and he will get community service and anger management. Sonya wisecracks that a lot of good that has done for him. Sonya tells her mother not to let Amaro do this and he will destroy the family and she storms off. Amaro says it is too late, Papi has already done that.

On another day, Barba brings Nicolas and D’Angelo into a conference room right before opening statements. D’Angelo says Nicolas is willing to plead to a crime he did not commit. Barba counters that his office can’t accept a plea without a genuine admission of guilt. D’Angelo reminds Barba he has no cooperating complainant and no witnesses and suggests they drop this to a disorderly conduct. Barba reminds him that Nicolas cracked Gabriella’s skull. Nicolas makes his arguments and says Sonya and Gabriella will testify and no one saw this. He says Amaro has never had the nerve to go up against his father. Barba pauses, then suggests assault 3, 60 days in Rikers. Nicolas scoffs but D’Angelo urges him which makes Nicolas upset, saying he does not take crumbs, and, referring to Barba, says especially from this gentleman who wears suspenders. He walks out.

In Supreme Court Part 18 on Monday, January 19, Barba questions Javier about what happened at the party. He says he did not follow them downstairs. He states seeing Nicolas put ice on his hands. He later saw her mother bring her up the stairs and she was out of it. The fight had broken out. Under cross, Javier speculates Gabriella blamed him instead of Nicolas and the answer is thrown out as speculation and D’Angelo makes a point that Javier doesn’t know anything about what happened.

Next, Barba has Luis on the stand who explains what he saw, including the ice on Nicolas' knuckles. His comments about Nicolas hitting Gabriella drew and objection and the judge asks Barba to rephrase. Barba does, and Luis says he saw no one else downstairs or come up the stairs other than Nicolas. D’Angelo gets Luis to admit he would do anything to derail the wedding and D’Angelo asks if that includes lying but has to withdraw the statement as Barba objects. Barba asks that, due to the lateness of the day, if they can reconvene tomorrow and D’Angelo comments that Barba can take all the time he needs, they are ready when he is.

At Forlini’s Restaurant on 93 Baxter Street on Monday, January 10, Barba and Amaro sit down for a drink. Barba tells him it is a he said/she won’t say, and no one else saw what happened and the jury senses all his witnesses have a grudge against his father. Amaro asks if they see why, and Barba doubts it. He thinks Nicolas has the whole room on his side. Amaro thinks this is the story of his life; he beat his mother and she would testify if Barba asked. Barba will see if they will take a plea of harassment, but Amaro is upset that this is only a misdemeanor, reminding Barba that Nicolas fractures Gabriella’s skull. Barba says if Amaro testifies, his father could still walk. He tells Amaro he does not have to do this, and Amaro wonders if Barba is playing him now. Barba says he knows what it is like to have to face down your old man; his own father has been dead 15 years and his hand still curls into a fist when he thinks of him. Amaro wonders if his father gets to walk away again, and Barba says it is Amaro’s family so it is his call.

Benson arrives at the courthouse with Amaro and urges him to just tell the facts, and don’t say more than you have to or burn the house down. He tells her Barba said the same thing. He sees his father who tries to smooth talk Benson and the exchange with Amaro starts to gets testy so Benson tries to pull Amaro away. Amaro tells his father to tell the truth and end this right now, but Nicolas says he can do what he does and he will do what he does. Amaro tells his father he is always right. Nicolas says it took him 40 years to learn that. Amaro sees Sonya and Gabriella waiting in the courtroom doorway as Nicolas says not everyone throws him under the bus.

In Supreme Court Part 18 on Tuesday, January 20, Amaro testifies about what happened when Zara called her and what he saw at the party when he arrived. He mentions Gabriella’s spontaneous outcry and when Barba asks why Amaro believed it, D’Angelo asks to approach the bench. D’Angelo argues that Barba may be digging into family history. Barba mentions it shows a pattern and they have been over this. The judge tells D’Angelo that Barba is right and she has to allow. She then tells Barba “but up to a point.” Barba exhales and continues questioning, asking why he found Gabriella credible. Amaro says he recognized what set Nicolas off. Whenever Nicolas was jealous or felt like he had been disrespected, this is when he beat his mother, and him, and he still has nightmares where his father uses that same language.

D’Angelo cross examines and brings up their estrangement and that they are not close. He asks if there is tension and Amaro says yes, with good reason. D’Angelo brings up that Nicolas came to him in the spirit of reconciliation to invite him to the wedding. Amaro scoffs about the “spirit” and says Nicolas wanted to create the illusion that they have a relationship. He admits he refused because he is still angry with him. D’Angelo brings up Amaro’s anger issues and Amaro says everyone has a temper. D’Angelo counters they haven’t beaten up a civilian in plain view of a yard full of school children. Barba objects that this is prejudicial and the judge sustains it, telling the jury to disregard it. D’Angelo asks if it is fair to say he has anger at his father that may prejudice him against him. Amaro testifies that he knows what he heard Gabriella say. D’Angelo speculates Amaro heard what he wanted to hear and he is using this case against his father. Amaro says no and asks if he thinks he wants to be here – he doesn’t want to be here – but he hit her and he smashed her head against the wall. D’Angelo comments then Amaro saw it, but Amaro must admit that no, he wasn’t there but he knows what happened. D’Angelo comments that maybe this is just another nightmare from his childhood? Barba objects, but the question is withdrawn. Amaro stares forward as his father stares downward.

At a later time, Amaro has a web cam call with Zara who says her mother said Sonya and his mother are mad at him. He explains sometimes you have to do things that are right but still make people mad. She tells him not to look sad and he says OK. She made a bracelet today and asks if he wants her to make her one. He says yeah and then tells her to go do her homework. He says he loves her and she says she loves him too as she walks off screen. He sits in the near empty squad room.

At Supreme Court Part 18 on Wednesday, January 21, Nicolas is telling his side of the story on the stand. He uses his story about Javier and said he (Nicolas) did not hit her. He said he put ice on his knuckles because of defending his fiancée. He also points out Gabriella, saying how beautiful she is and that she refused to testify against him. Barba objects and the judge tells D’Angelo to move it along. Nicolas said the past issue is painful, Amaro has never forgiven him for leaving is mother, and, looking to Amaro sitting in the gallery, says he hopes they can make peace.

Under cross, Barba states Nicolas said he was not jealous when Gabriella danced with Javier. Nicolas said he did not like it. Barba challenged him on why he would be defending Gabriella if he said he never went downstairs, and Nicolas asks if he knows how quickly this occurred. Barba counters they had 6 witnesses testify to the fact that it did not happen as quickly as he thought,. Barba brings up Nicolas’ injured hand but that Javier had no injuries of any kind. Nicolas says Javier was a coward and he ducked. Barba brings up Gabriella’s fractured skull and Nicolas states he was defending his finance. Barbra brings up Amaro’s’ testimony to Gabriella’s outcry and asks if Nicolas is calling him a liar. Nicolas states no, he is not going to call his son a liar, he has his issues. Barba asks if Amaro was telling the truth about what happened to Gabriella that night and what happened in his own home. Nicolas gets indignant, and asks Barba how he knows what happened in his own home? Nicolas admits he wasn’t there and should have been, he could have shown him how to conduct himself as a man. Amaro glares at him. Barba asks Nicolas again if he hit Gabriella that night, and Nicolas says no he did not. Barba questions that nobody saw Javier go downstairs or come back up, that Nicolas alone hurt Gabriella. Nicolas testifies he would never hurt her. Barba shakes his head and ends the questioning. The defense rests, and the judge states they will proceed with summations.

Outside the courtroom, Amaro waits in the hall as Benson and Barba approach and Benson asks if he is okay. Amaro feels he should not have come and thinks his father used him to play the jury. Barba comments “you and me both” and Amaro is upset his father lied on the stand. Barba adds that he knew he would, he’s known guys like this his whole life; he went straight at him and he slipped every punch and he does not know what happened. Amaro feels he does. Barba gets a message and says the jury is back. Amaro is disappointed it’s only been 20 minutes and he walk off.

Later, the verdict is read: not guilty on the counts of assault in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the second degree. As the judge thanks the jury, Amaro sits in the gallery, staring blankly. The judge released Nicolas to the joy of Sonya and Gabriella. As Nicolas hugs them both, Benson shakes her head in disgust and coaxes Amaro to get up and leave.

Back at SVU, Amaro is working at his desk and Carisi tells him that was a lousy case and justice was swift and wrong. Amaro says it is over as Carisi leaves. Fin tells Amaro goodnight and pats him on the shoulder as he also leaves. Benson walks up to Amaro and asks if he wants a few days off. Amaro say nah. Nicolas walks in and asks to have a word with his son. Benson stops him and says she does not think that is a good idea but Amaro says it is okay. She looks to him and he tells her it is fine so she leaves. Amaro asks if Nicolas came here to gloat, and he says no, he is not what he said on that stand. Amaro comments he was just trying to get off, and Nicolas says he is free now and he is here. They sit down. Nicolas says finally Amaro stood up to his old man and protected Gabriella, his mother and sister in one shot, adding that was good. Amaro says they hate him for it. Nicolas explains they will get over it, admitting he is the big bad wolf and he had to say what he said on the stand because he is too old for jail. He admits he put Amaro in a horrible position and asks if they can start fresh. He adds that even Gabriella forgave him and that will not happen again. Amaro tells his father he is still lying to him and to himself. Nicolas gets it, he is angry and he can stay angry all he wants but he is there because he is his father and if he wants to yell, just don’t take it out on Maria, Sonya, or god forbid Zara. Amaro stands up and says he would never lay a hand on her and says “I am not you.” Nicolas also stands up and asks if they can stop, asking for Amaro to just talk to him. He says just to call him at 4 in the morning telling him he ruined his life, whatever he has to say to him, because this hatred sits in this chest and is not going away. He admits he lived this, asking if he gets it. He states he’s not the one to fix it, Amaro himself has to fix it. He adds he can’t change the past. Amaro says nothing, Nicolas tells Amaro that if he wants to talk, he wants to listen. He gives Amaro a kiss, and then says “When you’re ready” as he walks off. Amaro stands there, staring. As the tears fall, we fade to black.

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Ana Andrade said...

Here's the conversation between Nick and Gabriella translated into English.

Gabriella: Wait, Nicolas is your father?
Nick: Yes, but that's not important. I'm only here to help. Just tell me what happened.

This episode was really good. Danny Pino and Armand Assante were terrific. Mariska did a great job directing as well. It was good to get some insight into Nick's anger issues.

Chris Zimmer said...

Ana - thanks for the translation!

Alex said...

Has anyone else noticed that this is the second episode out of the last three where someone comes thisclose to making a homophobic comment at Barba but then stops? Wonder what this is leading up to?

This was one of the only solid personal episodes I've ever seen from Warren Leight. A shame it performed so poorly ratings-wise, though Empire is to blame for most of that. Also a pity that Olivia stans will now be using this as "proof" that no one cares about anything, even cases, as much as her. Gag.

In regards to the Nick-Olivia comment, I think Olivia was out of line in the first place. Nick's comment was also out of line. They both owed each other an apology, but only Nick gave one.

I have mixed feelings on the Barba's father issue. I do love the prospect of getting to see Raul shine showing Barba's angst and pain later on, but I also enjoyed Barba being the "only sane man" and will be sad when that ends later on. I liked Barba just being a normal dude who happened to wind up in the sex crimes bureau. That's not to say I didn't want him to have his own episode, but you can have a day in the limelight without angst- I would have preferred an episode that shows a case from his point of view.

Barba mentions clenching his hands in anger when he thinks of his father; you can actually, if you pay attention, see him doing just that in court scenes, which is A. A really good, subtle indicator that he is off his game because Nick's father is digging up memories for him, and B. A brilliant move on Raul Esarpza's part. Raul is the master of conveying subtle yet important, communicative body language. I could nearly feel Barba's tension and fury in the courtroom without him so much as raising his voice. Well done.

Danny also knocked this one out of the park. I am not used to liking Amaro, and while I always liked Danny, I have only recently started getting into him as an actor. He is good at portraying angst and anger, although I hope SVU gets the hint that you can have too much of a good thing and tones it down now. Same goes for Amanda.

Chris, you are totally right re: stereotyping. This episode plays on more negative racial stereotypes than you can count, both against Latinos and Italians, but then they have the nerve to have Barba complain. It reminds me of Imprisoned Lives, when Olivia bitched about the "feeding frenzy" going on with the victims, while SVU itself was chomping on their story. Seriously, show, if you are going to deliver an Aesop, make sure it's one you understand.

Carisi annoys me. I see no value in his character. He is dim-witted and obnoxious. This is not a knock against Peter Scanavino, however.

I wish SVU would focus more on positive family relationships. The only good relationships we see are the detectives with their own children- Nick with Gil and Zara, Olivia with Noah, and Fin with Ken (at least from the small bits of dialog we get about him). Otherwise, everyone's family hates them and I am filled with dread every time a family character is announced simply because I know it means more angst. I'd like to see Barba with a sweet old aunt, Amanda or Nick with a cool cousin, that kind of thing. I know no family is without issues, but this is too much to stomach.

Alright, I'll end that there before this turns into a novel. This was overall a good episode, just with some little rough patches.

Chris Zimmer said...

Alex, it does seem that the insults to Barba have been so pointed that one has to think *something* will come of it. I really enjoy watching Raúl because he is so physically expressive. I wondered if this is a carry over from his stage work. It IS a bit of a downer that everybody has a depressing back story. I have hopes that if/when they have a Barba-centric episode, that it will end on a high note. You know, something like a case that helps us find out more about him, but ends with something that shows that whatever turmoil he's had in the past, he's overcome it long ago.

Alex said...
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Alex said...

Chris- most definitely a carryover from Broadway. Stage work requires an expressive, bordering-on-exaggerated style because you have to be able to reach everyone, front row and back. So the stage actors have to master the art of body language, facial expressions, prop use- all things Raul does so well that he runs circles around the others. More TV and movie actors should master the skill, I think; it makes the characters more interesting and real. Barba is more interesting to watch when he's simply in the background than most of the others are when they're at the forefront.

Laurie Fanat said...

I have mixed feelings about this episode. I liked that we finally got the scoop on Amaro’s anger issues. I did not like the stereotypical way that the Amaro family was portrayed. The writers painted themselves in a corner a long time ago when they made Amaro a stereotypical Latino guy with anger issues. Everybody on the SVU squad is screwed up except Fin. Poor guy gets no story, that’s what you get for being outwardly normal! Ice-T has been phoning it in for a long time so maybe they don’t think there is much fan interest.

Raul Esparza is the best thing on this show. I agree the stage experience give him a huge edge. Now if they could make Barba go back to being the take no prisoners guy like he was when he first came on board I would be happy. He’s been off his game.

Tucker asking Benson to join him for a drink – yep, the coming of the apocalypse describes it well, Chris!

Thank God my hearing is not at fault. There were times I put on the closed captioning to figure out what Armand Assante had said. Last I saw him he was on NCIS playing the father of Tony’s girlfriend and I don’t recall him being that hard to understand.

The ratings are terrible. They gain viewers with highly publicized episodes and then they tank the following weeks. This makes me worry that this is SVU’s last season.

charisma said...

Laurie, there is a Fincentric episode coming up titled "Intimidation Game" which is about video gaming and so far is scheduled to be episode 14.

Cath T said...

I very much enjoyed this episode.

It was a strong character piece and Danny Pino's performance was brilliant.

Interesting that some comments refer to racial stereotyping. That never even occurred to me. I saw a troubled, dysfunctional family and a son dealing with a violent father. Domestic violence cuts across all segments of society.

Amaro's feelings and motivations were easy to understand. Less understandable was the behaviour of his mother and sister.

It was implied that they chose to "let go" of the past in order to have family peace in the present. Also, it was apparent that Sonya views her father in a completely different light to Nick. Daddy's little girl perhaps?

I always believed that Nick and his mother had a close relationship yet she didn't tell him that she still had regular contact with his father. Obviously she knew what his reaction to that revelation would have been.

Armand Assante and Danny Pino were excellent in their scenes together although I agree that it was hard to understand Assante at times.

It wasn't entirely clear why the jury decided Amaro Senior was not guilty but I assume lack of an eyewitness to the assault and perhaps their belief that Amaro Junior had an axe to grind against his father influenced their decision.

All in all a well crafted episode. Writing, direction, acting all excellent.

empxth tbh said...

I really liked it, but I think it was kinda unrealistic how everyone at the party just started fighting bc of one punch...

CLA said...

@ Laurie Fanat

Really rankings in 18-49 demo fell much these last two weeks. But the total number of spectators SVU remains stable. This decrease coincides with the spectacular rise of the Empire series, which in the last two weeks took viewers of SVU and Criminal Minds. In fact, in 10 years, was the first time that Criminal Minds achieved less than 2.0 in the demo 18-49. And these variations always occur in the course of the season. But if Empire continue at the pace it is, something has to be done.

Jacques Dray said...

I suspect that Ice-T is doing a little subversion in SVU.

Case in point: in the previous episode, Fin commented on Lennie's LMZ work and the risks around the pundits' abilities to "talk crap, get shot". This sounds suspiciously close to the name of Body Count's tune "Talk S***, Get Shot". (Body Count is Ice-T's heavy metal side project.)

In this ("current") episode, Amaro's in-law-to-be was walking his dog Spartacus to calm his nerves. FTWK - that happened to be the name of one of Ice-T's dogs.

Will Fin eventually be front-and-centre in SVU? Hmmm,,,

RSmith said...

Does anyone know the name of the 2nd Spanish song that played at the party?

Ana Andrade said...

Chris Zimmer - No problem. Glad I could help :) My mom is always telling me to utilize my bilingual skills. LOL

BensonFan said...

They do seem to do everything but actually spell it out that Barba is gay. I don't know why his sexuality even needs to be an issue. Wait until it's actually pertinent to a case. Otherwise no one's sexuality should be the subject on the show.

Alex said...
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Alex said...

Bensonfan, I respectfully disagree with the majority of your post.
One, the indications seem to be that Barba is bi, not gay, since he has twice been shown to be attracted to women (Funny Valentine, October Surprise).
Two, I don't see why it is okay for Barba's race to be an issue, but not his sexuality. It is a bit wrong to me. It also denies non-straight people a voice about issues affecting them. That's not to say I want an episode where Barba gets gay-bashed or something, dear lord no. But if there can be an episode about the issues facing Cuban-Americans, I fail to see how it is wrong to have one about sexuality. The only reason I can think of is a desire to not see non-straight people represented in any fashion... which is plain old homophobia and should not be considered in the show's decision-making process. It has no place in 2015.

Njtoocool said...

I don't think that barba is gay, as it shows in prior episodes. But then again in would be nice to have an episode showing his past

elaine aiello said...
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BensonFan said...

I see your point about giving a voice to LGBT people. What I'm saying is that I don't want his sexuality to be a gimmick for ratings.

Alex said...

BensonFan- THAT I can agree with!

D.Chester said...

But it absolutely will be, unfortunately.

mrmeadowlark said...

I just rewatched this the other night. Am I the only one who thinks Amaro's dad talks like his mouth is full of Crisco?

Becky_Calvin said...

@mrmeadowlark That comment just made my night. Haha