Thursday, February 26, 2015

Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” Recap & Review

“December Solstice” featured two story lines involving people of advanced age: famous author Walter Briggs and ADA Rafael Barba’s grandmother. Sadly, this underwhelming episode made me feel like I aged ten years just watching it. It’s not the fault of guest stars Robert Vaughn and Marcia Cross, who were perfect as the elderly and somewhat addled famous author and his stunning young wife Charmaine. The problem was the dull case and highly predictable outcome. The real mystery was how the case prosecuting Charmaine for Walter’s death wound up in court with such lightning speed. Had the detectives and Barba taken more time to vet the daughters’ stories, Barba would not have wasted his time in prosecuting such a weak case. Also, the second degree manslaughter charge against Charmaine was arraigned on Monday, February 9, and was quickly in Supreme Court on trail the very next day. I know in the SVU universe the time lines are accelerated, but they should at least make it realistic. I’d love to hear from real ADAs in Manhattan to see if this kind of scenario is even remotely believable.  I've seem local traffic court cases take longer to get in front of a judge.

Also very disappointing was the Barba-centric story. I assumed from the episode details released before the episode aired that it would play out in the manner it did, but I know many Raúl Esparza were hoping for something far meatier. The boilerplate story surrounding his grandmother and mother felt like filler for a weak main story. Had it not been for Raúl’s honed ability to emote, the whole segment would have fallen flat. In praise of the writing, they do remain true to Barba’s personality, especially with his quick sass. His comeback to Carisi - where Carisi asked if he was right and Barba snapped “Seldom” and then Barba just moved on -  was both well written and delivered. Barba is also quick to remind Benson they are not social workers, something that I find myself shouting to the TV screen frequently during cases like these.

Carisi was getting to the point of annoying with his obvious admiration for Walter. I wondered if it was proper that he accepted that signed, first edition book from Judith. After all, Delilah still had not agreed to the deal that Charmaine and Judith made with Barba. Had further investigation been required, this gift could have compromised Carisi’s objectivity.

The fact that the issue of Noah's parentage opened the episode and that Benson "hypothetically" tipped off Barba, one just knows this is going to come back and bite someone 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
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Marcia Cross – Charmaine Briggs
Robert Vaughn – Walter Briggs
Emily Bergl – Judith Briggs
Susan Pourfar – Delilah Briggs
Mercedes Ruehl - Lucia Barba
Jefferson Mays - M.E. Rudnick
Kate Jennings Grant – Judge Marian Adams
Michelle Hurst – Housekeeper
Anne Betancourt – Catalina Diaz
Jennifer Van Dyck - Dr. Brenda Tedroe
Sharon Washington – Judge Hayes
Steven Shaw - Frederick Worth
Sandy Duncan - Judge Virginia Farrell
Susie Essman - Counselor Arlene Heller
Jason Bower – Devon Wallace
Chris Harnick – Reporter #1
Drew Grant – Reporter #2

Barba is at Benson’s apartment – which looks like a disaster – and she speaks with him – “hypothetically”– that Johnny D is Noah’s father. Benson admits she is losing sleep over it and asks Barba to tell her that Johnny D doesn’t have to know. He says he doesn’t, adding it is not exculpatory in any way and he never needs to find out. She whispers that she’s already started the adoption paperwork. Barba states that, given Noah’s history, how could she be expected to know who Noah’s father was? She nods her head.

At the Elysium Club on Friday, February 6, author Walter Briggs arrives with his young wife Charmaine. A man approaches him and when Walter doesn’t appear to recognize him, Charmaine explains it is Fred Worth, a reviewer. Charmaine finds an excuse to get them to move along and as they walk off, Fred looks concerned.

Later, as Walter and Charmaine leave the club, Walter's two daughters, Delilah and Judith Briggs, race up and call out to him, saying they weren’t on the list for the party because of Charmaine. Delilah says Charmaine won’t let them see him. Charmaine gets Walter to move quickly into the car, and he looks to the two women and says it is great to see them and he blows them a kiss as the car pulls away.

At a later time in Benson’s office, Carisi knocks on Benson’s door, and opens it to tell her that there are two women here that will only speak to someone in charge. She waves them in and asks them how can she help them? The two women – Delilah and Judith Briggs - enter and Delilah states they want to report a sex crime - a rape. Benson stands up and says she is sorry and offers them a seat. She asks which one of them… and Delilah says it wasn’t one of them. Judith says it was their father, Walter Briggs. Carisi asks if this is the novelist, and when Judith nods yes. Carisi says he is an admirer and has read every one of his books. Benson cuts Carisi off, asking the women what happened to him. Delilah says his wife Charmaine pumps him with erectile dysfunction pills and makes him have sex with her every day, which in dangerous considering he has a heart condition. Judith says their father is divorced from both their mothers and Charmaine won’t let them see him. Benson asks then how do they know this, and Delilah says his housekeeper told them, and the housekeeper feels terrible but she doesn’t know what to do. Carisi says that might not technically be rape. Judith quotes penal law section 130.25: sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent because of mental disability or incapacitation. She adds their father is almost 80 and has dementia. He does not consent and cannot consent. Carisi asks if she looked that up, and she says she is in law school. Carisi asks where, stating he is at Fordham. Benson cuts him off again and then asks why would their father’s wife be doing this? Judith says their father’s will divided his estate into equal shares between his current wife and his children. Benson comments that their stepmother wants a child so she can have an extra share. Delilah says, “So she’s raping him.” The women look at Benson, Carisi gives Benson a questioning look, and Benson says nothing.

Later, Carisi speaks with the housekeeper in the SVU interview room who states her concerns about Walter and about Charmaine giving him pills. She says he was brilliant but now he has gaps. She rushes off so as not to be late. Carisi walks into Benson’s office where Benson, Rollins, and Amaro have been observing. They discuss Walter’s age and the fact that he is on his 6th wife and she is very young and the sexual demands. Benson explains that if he is incapable to giving consent, it is rape. Carisi mentions Walter being a literary genius. Amaro asks if Walter is also the literary genius who threw one of his wives through a plate glass window? Carisi admits yes, and there is a similar scene in one of his books. Rollins wonders what’s in it for the daughters -  a bigger slice of the estate? Carisi suggests love, devotion, and concern. Rollins gives him a skeptical look and says, “Right.” Benson states they have an allegation and corroboration, and tells Rollins and Carisi to speak with the happy couple. She cautions Carisi to do it as a detective not a fan.

At the townhouse of Walter and Charmaine Briggs on Sunday, February 7, Rollins explains she and Carisi are there to do a welfare check; they do it from time to time for seniors. Walter comments that would be him. Charmaine asks if her husband’s daughters called them, Carisi replies that they did express some concern and said they weren’t allowed to see Walter. Charmaine explains this is one of those difficult family situations:  step-mother, step-daughters. She is sure it happens all the time. Rollins comments she is sure it does, but then asks Charmaine if she can speak with her separately, citing standard procedure. Charmaine says she does mind, saying that she and Walter don’t keep secrets from each other. She moves in to sit closer to him. Walter jokes that he humors her. She asks what they want to talk to her about, and Carisi says it is pretty personal, Rollins adding that it pertains to their sex life. Charmaine questions that is a police matter, and when Rollins looks like she is at a loss for words, Walter laughs and says he is 79 and stiff as a varnished eel. Carisi smiles, repeating the “varnished eel” comment, and Rollins also smiles. He said his third wife took up with a bartender because Walter got distracted by his book on the Pope. Charmaine laughs, and Walter says you spend 6 months in The Vatican and you see what happens to YOUR testicles. Everybody has a laugh. Carisi says Roman Follies was a wonderful book and he read it in college. Charmaine says all of his books are wonderful. Rollins asks Walter if he is happy to keep his wife satisfied, and he says of course he is, adding for them to just look at her. He adds he is obliged, it is a man’s duty and it’s nature. He states that a million years of evolution and all these feminists can preach and screech all they want, but until the day a man suckles an infant and a woman goes out and hunts, AND….he pauses and then closes his eyes and appears to forget what he was saying. Charmaine puts down his raised hand Carisi tries to repeat what Walter said to trigger him to finish the thought, and Walter can’t. Charmaine get up and says her husband is very tired but as they can see, they are fine. Carisi looks at Rollins as if he doesn’t believe that.

Later, as they walk through the hall to Barba's office, Benson, along with Rollins and Carisi, confer with Barba. Barba comments that Walter is consenting but Benson asks if he is capable of consent. Rollins gets a call and moves to take it.  Carisi states he doesn’t know, saying Walter winked at Rollins a whole bunch and quoted an essay he wrote for Playboy in 1972 and then he went off into gaga land. Carisi adds it was sad, saying the guy was a titan. Rollins gets off her call and states that was the housekeeper, Walter just went to the hospital for an apparent heart attack. Benson comments the daughter said he had a heart condition and then tells Barba if the wife knew and was secretly feeding him those pills.  Carisi pipes in and says that is assault 3, recklessly causing physical injury to another person, maybe even attempted murder. He asks Barba if he is right, and Barba quickly dismisses him, saying “Seldom” and quickly adds that unless the daughter can give proof the wife knew about the heart condition and was exacerbating it, they have nothing.

Meanwhile, Amaro is speaking with Delilah who is on a call hearing that Charmaine is contesting it, calling her a bitch. She explains that was Judith who has been at the courthouse all day trying to get visitation rights. Charmaine won’t let them visit Walter, even in the hospital. He has had several heart attacks before going back to the 80s and he wrote a piece about it for Esquire. She explains she is a playwright and she started this theatre to put up her own work and now she does all the work. Amaro asks if they specifically discussed Walter’s heart condition with Charmaine, and Delilah says absolutely.

At the Grollier LeMay Health Center on Saturday, February 7, Benson and Carisi speak with Dr. Tedroe and ask if Walter’s heart attack could have been caused by his ED medication. She explains she never got a chance to do a complete medical history. His wife arrived 20 minutes ago with a private ambulance and removed him from the hospital against medical advice. The doctor leads them to his empty bed and adds Charmaine pulled him off the EKG monitor and was in such a hurry she took their IV pump with her. Benson asks if he can maintain outside the hospital, and the doctor says maybe, maybe not; his wife has put his life in jeopardy. Carisi raises his voice and asks the doctor if she just let Charmaine take him, and the doctor explains his wife said she was transferring him to another hospital. Suddenly Delilah and Judith enter the room, saying they got the court order, and see their father is gone. Benson explains he was taken.

Later and walking outside with Carisi and Barba, Benson explains that they’ve checked every hospital in Manhattan and there is no sign of Walter. Barba states Charmaine is his wife and has the right to take him out of the hospital. Benson complains it was against medical advice and ripping hospital equipment out of the wall, and Barba sarcastically asks her if she wants him to file a larceny charge for an IV pump. Carisi says Walter’s daughter has a court order and Charmaine is in volition. Barba asks if Charmaine has denied them access and Carisi states they don’t know where he is. Benson emphasized Charmaine is endangering Walter’s life. The doctors made that clear. Carisi adds the rape and assault charges are still under investigation. Barba says barely, one is a stretch and the other is a chasm. Carisi says there is a sick old man getting dragged across the city, and Barba counters they are not social workers. Benson reminds him they are cops and they can keep investigating. He smiles and tells them to knock themselves out, and she says they will. As they walk off, Barba makes a phone call to his mother and asks how his grandmother is doing. He says he can stop by the hospital tonight and is surprised to hear they sent her home and he worries who is going to take care of her.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” Previews

Here are previews from Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” which will air on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The videos feature Mariska Hargitay, Peter Scanavino, Danny Pino, Marcia Cross, and Robert Vaughn.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” can be found at this link.

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

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

Friday, February 20, 2015

Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” which will air on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The photos feature Mariska Hargitay, Danny Pino, Raúl Esparza, Peter Scanavio, Susie Essman, Emily Bergl (as Judith Briggs), Susan Pourfar (as Delilah Briggs), and Robert Vaughn (as Walter Briggs).

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” can be found at this link.

Photos by: Michael Parmelee/NBC 2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Photos added February 23. 2015

Photos by: Michael Parmelee/NBC 2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

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

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” Recap & Review

“Undercover Mother” is a perfect example of how an episode can be so much more compelling when the whole cast is in on the action. It feels like it’s been forever since we’ve had all the detectives and Barba in the same episode. This A+ story provided something for everybody: action, drama, a solid guest cast and some surprises.

The SVU team, while working a stakeout at a brothel, arrest who they think is the madam, Martha Thornhill (played perfectly by Lili Taylor). But Martha explains she is working undercover - on her own - to find her daughter who was kidnapped 3 years ago. Barba has enough to charge Martha but Benson’s soft heart gets the SVU team involved in a sting to help locate Martha’s daughter Ariel. And then the surprises begin.

This episode brings back characters from previous cases. The first is Selena Cruz from the SVU episode “Girls Disappeared” from earlier this season. More notable and far more enjoyable was the return of Lieutenant Declan Murphy, who again is working undercover. His work, and the SVU case, cross paths in an unexpected way. Lucky for Murphy, the SVU team keeps his cover intact, but he is less than thrilled in what he perceives as Benson’s inability to think big picture. While I do understand Benson’s desire to reunite Martha with her daughter, I do question her judgment in going all in so quickly for an undercover operation AND for bringing Martha along, despite Barba’s prior instruction not to do so. I am sure Benson wanted to show that she can be assertive and decisive, but Barba clearly was displeased and disappointed in her actions.

This isn’t the first time SVU worked a sting and almost blew someone else’s investigation. I can’t recall the episode name, but Cragen once ordered a sting operation and later found the Feds had already infiltrated their targets. Cragen was rightfully pissed that he wasn’t informed of a Fed sting going on in his area, and maybe Benson should have been alerted by Murphy or by whomever Murphy is getting is orders. Rollins did check with Vice who said Martha was not working for them undercover, so I assume that if Murphy was working for Vice, Vice should have alerted them to their own operation at that time. If I recall correctly, SVU also stumbled on Brian Cassidy working undercover, so maybe it’s standard procedure for the NYPD not to share any undercover operations with other divisions. I’m not clear on exactly which NYPD organization Murphy is working for and I don’t know why, but something bugs me about his undercover work here.

Murphy shouldn't be putting all the blame on Benson for intruding on his operation.  He's worked SVU and he knows the issues they face.   He is engaging in illegal operations under the guise of gaining the trust of the people running them and in the process, he allowed girls to remain in danger. It seems he’s done little if anything to help those victims in order to preserve his cover. I understand he needs to behave a certain way to get himself further into the organization, but at what expense? In his defense, if there was a concern that the brothel was operating while someone at the NYPD was allowing them to do so, maybe Murphy did not know whom to trust. It’s a touchy situation for everyone involved, especially for the victims who continue to be held against their will and abused while Murphy infiltrates.

One question remains: will Barba charge Martha?  She admitted she engaged in illegal behavior to find her daughter, but the fact remains she was party to the illegal operation, regardless of her motives. I’m curious: if this were a real case, what would a real DA do?

Regarding SVU staking out the house where Tracy and the girls were working, could they be any more obvious by sitting right in front of the driveway with the camera directly facing out the window? It’s no shock they may have been spotted. Likewise, Amaro and Rollins were parked in the same direction as Fin and Carisi, so when their mark made a u-turn, there was no way any of them could make a move without it looking obvious. Next time, park on opposite sides of the street with one car pointed in each direction.

The ending provided the biggest shocker to Benson: Johnny D, the leader of the pack, is Noah’s father. Things could get messy.

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:
Tamara Tunie – M.E. Melinda Warner
Donal Logue - Lt. Declan Murphy
Lili Taylor – Martha Thornhill
Danielle Burgess - Nina Soren
Amanda Warren - Tracy
Justin McCarthy - Tommy Strickland
Charles Halford - Johnny D
Nikki M. James – Detective Gail Dunbar
Laura Gomez - Selena Cruz
Jas Anderson - Timmer
Jay Patterson - Judge Evans
Bronwyn Reed - Lucy Huston
Justin McCarthy – Officer
Derrick Baskin – Det. Cash Gillette
Jamila Velasquez – Pilar Morenas
Emily Althaus - Jessie
Danika Yarosh - Ariel Thornhill
Josh Saviano – Counselor Don Taft
Danielle Burgess – Nina Soren
Candace Gordon – Federal Prosecutor
DK Bowser – Frank
Shannon Garland – Officer Denice Legrange

The SVU team is working a stake out, Benson and Rollins are in a van and Fin and Amaro are in a car. Carisi is undercover inside. A camera is in his eyeglasses so Benson and Rollins can see what is going on inside. He approaches the house madam, acting impatient about his wait and she tells him it is worth the wait, the girls are young and fresh. Fin radioed that a minivan with blacked out windows has arrived. Benson and Rollins watch as young girls exit the van and Benson recognizes the female handler as Selena Cruz, someone they’ve picked up once before and whose son they got out of Mexico. Rollins comments Selena is doing what she knows. Benson radios to Fin and Amaro and all the other units that the female handler is known to them and they will have to secure her before she gets upstairs. All the others copy Benson’s information.

As the girls are being taken to the entrance, they are arrested as Selena opens the door. The other NYPD cars move in and the other detectives and police storm inside. Carisi continues to pretend he is a customer. Another detective corners the madam who says it is a private party and it is legal, claiming she is just a waitress. They arrest everyone, including Carisi,

Back at SVU, Benson tries to get the girls to talk but is unsuccessful. She tells Rollins to talk Selena – calling her a piece of crap – into holding. The guy Amaro is bringing in says the girls are all 18 and to check their IDs. Amaro states they did and they are all fake.

As Fin brings in the madam, she asks to speak to someone in charge, and Benson tells her it better be good. The woman claims she is undercover and has been tracking this ring for a years. When Benson asks for who, the woman says they have her daughter,

As the woman walks into Benson’s office, she looks to the interview room and tells Benson that she needs to talk to those girls SVU picked up. Rollins enters the office and states that vice doesn’t know her and she is not UC. The woman says she is not a cop, her name is Martha Thornhill and she is from Calgary and her daughter Ariel was kidnapped three years ago. Benson asks if Martha thinks that Ariel was taken by traffickers, and Martha says she knows she was’ she has been tracking her from Toronto to Minneapolis to Buffalo. She has seen her pictures in sex ads; if they took her to New York 6 months ago. Rollins asks Martha if she contacted NYPD, and Martha replies no. When Benson asks why not, Martha states Toronto police didn’t believe her. She explains Ariel was 13 and they were on vacation in Toronto, they were having lunch in a café and she went to pay at the register and she was gone two minutes tops. The Toronto police thought she and her boyfriend had something to do with the disappearance. Rollins bluntly asks if she did, and Martha replies no. The adds that the three days the police spend grilling them is when they lost her. Benson seems skeptical and asks Martha why should they believe her, they just caught her red handed trafficking, Martha asks them to let her show them.

At Martha’s apartment in Flushing Queens on Thursday, January 29, Benson and the detectives enter to find one of her walls covered with photos and information tracking her daughter. Benson seems to believe Martha now,  and when Martha says she is not a criminal, Benson says they will have to speak with the DA. Martha says they have to let her go, but Fin reminds her she told their UC she had underage girls coming to the brothel. Martha explains that Ariel was to be there, she called her 6 days ago. Martha gave her number to a girl that knows her and Ariel didn’t know it was her. She was crying that they wouldn’t let her go. Benson presses for the name of the girl but Martha is reluctant to say because the girl thinks she is a madam. She is her only connection to Ariel and she is not giving up until she finds her daughter,

Back at SVU, Barba looks at the info on the board and says that the woman saying she is pretending to be a sex trafficker is a new defense. Rollins explains the Toronto police confirm Martha’s story. Fin explains the police suspected the boyfriend Brian Marks, a pot dealer. Amaro states Marks has since died from a heroin overdose, the police could not implicate and the trail went cold. Carisi adds how Martha kept searching and Benson explains local precincts blew Martha off so Martha went deeper into the life, putting herself at risk. Barba wisecracks “Touching story” and asks them to tell him how posing as a criminal and engaging in criminal activity doesn’t make you a criminal. Benson explains Martha has recorded every single job and every single pimp, and is better than any US they’ve seen. Barba counters it is because she IS a trafficker. Benson says Martha has been searching for her daughter, which Barba understands. He adds that, assuming Martha hands over all her records and turns state’s evidence, he MIGHT take that into consideration. Benson argues that it has taken Martha three years to get this far, she is not going to work with them unless they help her get her daughter back. Barba states firmly that Martha is not going back in. Benson pauses, then suggests maybe they go in for her.

In the interrogation room, Martha is shocked and questions that they are going to charge her. Barba reminds her she broke the law - kidnapping, sex trafficking – and she is looking at 20 years. Martha counters that her daughter has been passed from pimp to pimp for three years, she has been in New York for the past year and they have done nothing. She argues that she finally finds the pimp who has her and they decide to move in NOW? Barba reminds her she is running a brothel. Martha insists she is infiltrating to get to Ariel’s pimp. She adds that they scared him off and she may be lost forever. Benson informs her they are going to keep looking for Ariel, but Martha begs that they let her keep looking. Barba states Martha is out of this game and if she does not want to do time, they need her names, her intel – all of it. Benson adds that the girl who gave Ariel Martha’s phone number is where they start. Martha says she can’t, it will blow her cover; she promised she wouldn’t give her away to anyone. Barba answers, “Well, guess what – you lied.” Benson asks if she thought Ariel was going to be delivered last night, and Martha states that Selena told her boss she was going to bring 7 girls. Then she called and said she was just going to bring 5. Her pimp held back 2 so he could discipline them. Barba asks who is the pimp, and Martha says they call him Timmer; if a girl gets out of line, he boot-stomps them in front of the others. Benson asks who told her that, and Martha replies that she has not saved her daughter yet but she bought and sent home 6 girls. Barba questions “Bought?” and Martha explains if a girl causes enough trouble, a pimp will sell her for $1,200. Benson comments it is a slave trade. Barba tersely asks where does Martha get the money, and she explains it is from donations from her church. When Barba raises his eyebrows, she adds it is a cash business. She explains the pimps deliver the girls at the beginning of the night and when the night is over, they take them home; they get 70% and the house gets the rest. Benson concludes that Martha was going to buy back Ariel last night, and Martha confirms it, and also buy her friend. Barba thinks the girls they picked up last night should know Ariel. Martha insists they will not talk to him, Timmer owns them. Barba states not any more, adding Martha has a choice: cooperate with them or he will charge her. He walks out of the interrogation room. Martha begs Benson not to do this, adding her daughter might be lost forever. Starting to cry, she says, “Please.” Benson says she promises her that she will do everything she can not to let that happen. Benson gets up and leaves the room.

At the Parisian Suites Motel in Queens Village, Queens, on Friday, January 30, Rollins speaks to one of the girls who is reluctant to give Rollins any information. Rollins brings up Timmer’s name but it doesn’t do any good. Rollins shows her a photo of Ariel and asks if she is still alive.

Meanwhile, in the same motel, Carisi works another girl for information. The girl calling Ariel a “snow bunny” and said Ariel mouthed off and Timmer stomped her in front of them. Carisi continues to press but the girl isn’t buying.

At prison, Amaro and Fin press Selena about Ariel and use Selena’s son as leverage Selena thinks the other girls are lying but Amaro and Fin aren’t buying it and explain how things will play out for her. But Selena still will not talk.

Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” Promo

Here is the promo for Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” which will air on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” can be found at this link.

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

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

Friday, February 13, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” Preview Clips

Here are preview clips from Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” which will air on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The clips feature Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish, Raúl Esparza,  and Lili Taylor.

Please note: these previews have a limited life and may be removed at any time, so catch them while you can!

SVU_16015Clip2_16x9 by tvwatchr

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

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

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” is “ripped from the headlines” of “Gamergate”.  An oversimplified explanation of Gamergate: it’s a polarizing controversy over what is perceived as widespread misogyny in video games and the video game culture, which morphed into an ethics and culture war. Last year, three game developers found themselves being attacked in Internet forums, where they were threatened -  anonymously - with various acts of violence including rape and murder. There is a lot more to this issue and rather than explain it here, my suggestion is to check your Internet search engine of choice to get all the details.

Full disclosure: I don’t play video games for a lot of reasons. I understand that many get enjoyment from video games; I don’t. That’s just me and is in no way meant to be a diss against those who enjoy video games.

The episode was action packed, which kept my attention. The location scenes heightened the tension and drama; this aspect of this episode was very well done.

There were times the episode was clichéd and cringe-worthy, even for someone like me who avoids video games like the plague. The constant gamer slang got old, and (like Benson) I started to feel like I was being treated like an idiot who couldn’t grasp the simplest gaming concepts. I also felt like there was a contest going on to see how much gamer slang someone could cram into the episode. I suspect that gamers watching this episode hated it for the negative way gaming was depicted. Not all male gamers are violent, crazy, misogynistic lunatics. Yes, there are many out there who are very passionate about gaming. I heard from a lot of them last week, with many nasty comments being lobbed at me when I first posted the episode information, as if I wrote the damn thing. But I also heard from many who were level headed about the issue.

Before the opening credits rolled, I said to myself, “bored already.” The opening scene in the doctor’s office felt shoehorned in. I suppose it was to set the stage for Benson to later voice her concern that as Noah grows up, she will be faced with more complex behavioral issues. I did question the doctor’s comment during his talk with Benson that breaking things is in a boy's DNA, which in my mind translated to “boys will be boys.” He may have meant it in a lighthearted manner but the episode itself seem to imply that male gamers have violent behavior because it’s in their DNA too.

The gaming topic was the perfect feature for Ice-T, and I think Fin was a good example of how gamers can be normal people. OK, he did kill one of the gamers at the end, but Fin was dealing with reality and not playing a game.

Rollins made an insensitive comment to Raina when she called them for help while using the kidnapper’s cell phone. Rollins says they will be there as soon as they can. Well, that wasn’t very reassuring.

A glaring error: This case and last week’s episode, "Decaying Morality,” overlapped dates, starting with Sunday, January 25. Amaro was nowhere to be found in this current episode, but on this same date in last week’s episode, he was clearly in the SVU squad that day and even interviewed the dentist in his office with Carisi. I don’t see how Carisi could work both the gamer conference case and the other case simultaneously. There is a similar conflict with those two cases on January 27. These kinds of errors are just plain sloppy and it annoys me to no end.

Please note:  Everyone can feel free to make comments about this episode here;  all I ask is to keep it civil, on topic, and leave out the vulgarity and insults.  This is my blog and my rules, and if someone can’t play by them, they shouldn’t be shocked when they find their comment deleted.

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:
Mouzam Makkar - Raina Punjabi
Peter Mark Kendall - Steven Kaplan
Griffin Matthews - Leslie Connolly
Susannah Flood - Sarah Keller
Adam Scarimbolo – Security Guard
Bill Irwin - Dr. Peter Lindstrom
Jefferson White – Gary
Logan Paul – Ryan
Toby Turner – Game Host
Jack Vale – Himself
Andrew MacLarty – Zachary Carter
James Ciccone - Peter O'Neil
Juliet Pritner – Marissa Rossi
Bruce Falk – ESU Commander
Kelly Evans – Reporter
Luke Marinkovich – Anthony Rossi
Evan Jay Newman – Pierce
Anthony Mazza – ESU Officer #1
Josh Daniels – ESU Officer #2
Trevor Zhou – Douchey Guy
J. Clint Allen – Laser Pointer Guy

Benson is in Dr. Lindstrom’s office, discussing her experiences and issues with raising Noah, and how much she loves him. She worries about how he will grow up with his history, but is still going through with the adoption. Lindstrom tells Benson that boys run around and break things; it’s in all their DNA.

Meanwhile, Fin, Rollins, and Carisi are at a gamer convention and Fin is clearly enjoying himself. Fin refers to “campers” in the video game he is playing, explaining that campers are lazy creeps who hide behind stuff and don’t engage, waiting for you to run by and shoot you in the back. Carisi thinks this is better than ComicCon and Fin says wait till they see the main event with teams playing for long periods, saying they are not “noobs”, explaining that is short for “newbies.” At one of the gamer booths, some guys make threats to one of the women, Sarah Keller, working the booth over the game that her boss, Raina Punjabi is developing. She tells them to get out of there and ridicules them back. Rollins makes a comment to Fin that some gamers are overgrown boys staring at a screen pressing buttons, asking isn’t there a basketball game on? Fin, laughing, asks if she’s seen the Knicks lately. Rollins spots Leslie from their “Glasgow Man” case at a booth and video game of his own. He tries to get Rollins to try his virtual reality game, saying it is like being inside the game. Rollins says she’s good.

Back at the booth, Sarah takes a break and leaves the booth. She heads to the restroom and finds the gamers who were antagonizing her earlier are waiting and they viciously attack her in a stall.

The detectives watch people play the “Kill Or Be Slaughtered” game where Fin and Carisi are really getting into it while Rollins seems more entertained by watching the two detectives. While the crowd watching the game gets more involved in the violence, Sarah’s attackers ramp up their assault. But Leslie races to the detectives and alerts them that someone is in trouble in the ladies room. Rollins seems to be the only one who isn’t enthralled by the game and she tells Fin and Carisi – who aren’t even paying attention – not to worry, she has this.

Rollins enters the ladies room and finds Sarah and tells her she is a police officer. Sarah says she is okay, and explains these guys can’t stand women in gaming, and when Rollins asks what did they do to her, Sarah says “they leveled up,”

Later, Sarah is in the SVU interview room and Fin and Rollins are briefing Benson. Rollins and Fin explain that Sarah Keller, 22, works for Raina Punjabi, the game developer. Benson asks “this girl was attacked at the what again?” Fin explains it was at the IVL Finals – International Videogame League. Rollin add it is like March Madness for video games. Fin states he goes there every year and nothing like this has ever happened. Rollins says that Sarah told her that the guys who did this don’t like women in gaming. Fin says in their world, a developer is like God and some guys are not ready to give a girl that power. Benson asks if she knows her attacker, and Rollins thinks maybe, Carisi stayed behind to cull security footage. Benson asks if Fin has Rollins AND Carisi in on this - on a Sunday? Fin laughs and Benson says never mind, she is not going to understand a word of what anybody is saying about this, so she asks Fin to come with her to interview Sarah, and tells Rollins to follow up with Carisi at the “whatever it is.”

Benson and Fin speak with Sarah who explains there were two attackers, calling them “FALs”. Fin explains that means “Failures At Life.” Sarah describes them and Fin says that sounds like 80% if the crowd. She tells them about the attack and admit she does not know the attackers personally but they had stopped at her booth and was talking smack about her boss, Raina Punjabi because her game is not popular with KOBS addicts. Fin explains KOBS means “Kill Or Be Slaughtered.” Sarah adds that is just another carbon copy FPS with new skins and a 10 year old engine. Fin explains to Benson that means “first person shooter, ” a shoot-em-up game. Sarah says guys who play hate games like Raina’s and “Amazonian Warriors” is non-violent and non-stupid, which is like the opposite of a KOBS addict. They launch on Tuesday and it has been getting crazy on-line. Carisi enters the room and asks if they have a second.

As they walk into Benson’s office, Rollins says the security footage is like trying to find a geek in a geek stack. They have an image of the suspected perps with partial views of their faces. Benson asks if you buy tickets to this on a computer, and Carisi says they are running the buyers names against the sex offenders registry now. Fin says that is not what this is; these guys want Raina out of the gaming world. Benson questions just because she is a woman, and Fin states there are a lot of haters out there who thinks she slept her way into the business. Carisi explains she is engaged to that venture capitalist, Stephen Kaplan. Rollins says with sarcasm that because her fiancé has money, this means she has no talent. Fin replies, “To them” and they want to take her down, no matter what. Benson questions then why attack Sarah, why not just go after Raina?

At the production offices of Amazonia Warriors at 66 Tenth Avenue pm Sunday, January 25, Raina Punjabi tells Fin and Rollins that Sarah told them she fought them off, and she put a reward on her web site for anyone who catches these creeps. Fin asks if Sarah also told her these creeps have a grudge against her and her game? Raina states there is nothing in the game for them to be angry about; you can choose how you play. You can wage peace or war; you can have a patriarchy or matriarchy, be eco-conscious or industrialized. Fin says he knows, he read on Kotaku that it’s better than Civ V with Brave New World expansion pack. Rollins says the guys who attacked Sarah weren’t so evolved as her partner, and shows Raina some photos and asks if anyone looks familiar. Raina looks through the photos and says they all look familiar, that is the gaming demo and there are always a few haters in the mix. Fin asks if there have been anything specific like email threats post to her web site or other gamer sites or hacker attack? Raina replies all the time, but she can’t be bothered with that right now, she blocks it all out, emphasizing they launch in two days. Stephen Kaplan approaches and asks if everything is alright. Raina says the detectives are there about Sarah, and says this is her (Raina’s) fiancé. Fin says his name Stephen Kaplan, and shakes his hand. Stephen asks if Sarah is okay, and Rollins replies yes. Stephen explains they wanted to give Sarah the week off but it is too important a time. Raina emphasizes that Sarah does not want to miss any of it. Rollins questions that Stephen is not just and investor, asking if he works here. Raina states they are a team. Fin comments that they DID have an employee attack, and Stephen insists they take that seriously; their internal security is working on it. Fin states they will need them to give them any specifics from the past few weeks. Raina looks anxious and says she doesn’t have time for this right now. Stephen excuses her to go back to work and then apologizes to Fin and Rollins, explaining Raina is really under the gun. He adds this launch is a career changer, and they will give the detectives all they have.

Back at SVU, Carisi enters Benson’s office and says Fin and Rollins are working with Raina’s security team but not with Raina; the Amazonian Warriors is like roll out of a movie. Benson comments she has been reading articles on line, and worries this is Noah’s future playing cyborg cowboys and Indians? Carisi warns her not to tell Fin that, Kill Or Be Slaughtered is like a spiritual experience for him. Benson states she doesn’t get it,. And Carisi says she won’t get this either: Leslie Connolly, the Glasgow Man guy, he might have something for them.

Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” Promo

Here is the promo for Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” which will air on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” can be found at this link.

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

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” which will air on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The photos feature Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish, Ice-T, and Peter Scanavino.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” can be found at this link.

Photos by: Myles Aronowitz/NBC & Michael Parmelee/NBC
2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

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

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

Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” Episode Information

Here are the details for a new episode of Law & Order SVU, “December Solstice.”

Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” Air Date February 25, 2015 (9 PM ET/8C Wednesday NBC)


Celebrity author Walter Briggs (guest star Robert Vaughn) is the focus of a feud between his sixth wife, Charmaine (guest star Marcia Cross), and his daughters from previous marriages (guest stars Emily Bergl and Susan Pourfar). The fight over control for both his well-being and his estate becomes a criminal case when Charmaine is accused of abusing her husband. Meanwhile, Barba (Raul Esparza) struggles with his own family drama when he goes against his grandmother's wishes. Also starring Mariska Hargitay (Sgt. Olivia Benson), Danny Pino (Det. Nick Amaro), Kelli Giddish (Det. Amanda Rollins), Peter Scanavino (Det. Sonny Carisi). Also guest starring Susie Essman (Counselor Arlene Heller), Jennifer Van Dyck (Dr. Brenda Tedroe), Mercedes Ruehl (Lucia Barba) and Judith Delgado (Katerine).

# # #

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “December Solstice” can be found at this link.

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

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

Monday, February 9, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” Photos

Here are advance photos for Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” which will air on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 9PM ET on NBC. The photos feature Mariska Hargitay, Tamara Tunie. Peter Scanavino, and Ice-T.

My recap and review of Law & Order SVU “Undercover Mother” can be found at this link.

Photos by: Michael Parmelee/NBC 2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

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

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