Thursday, February 5, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Decaying Morality” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Decaying Morality” was one of those episodes that had me talking back at the television. The SVU squad’s bungling of an accusation of rape caused an innocent man to be kidnapped and later die,  and almost caused the guilty party to go free. As the detectives worked the case, I found myself asking “who ARE these people and what happened to the real SVU squad?”

I try to avoid social media (Twitter specifically) while watching SVU as I want to take in the episode and form my own opinions about the case. But before the episode aired, I saw the hashtag  “#NotCosbyOnSVU” and became confused. I recalled a lot of press in the weeks leading to this episode that SVU was going to do a Bill Cosby inspired episode and I thought "Decaying Morality" was that episode. So why were people connected to the show making a point of tweeting “#NotCosbyOnSVU”? Maybe they felt the initial disclaimer that the story was fictional and did not depict any actual person or event wasn’t strong enough? The perp of the week was a character who is revealed as a long time rapist/fondler who drugged his prey, probably the only resemblance to the real-life story. I remain confused as to why someone wanted us to think it WAS based on the Cosby story, but then took great pains to pull back on that hype as the episode aired.

But back to the episode. It was clear after the first commercial break – and with the opening credits still rolling – that the dentist (Neil) was the rapist. The big clue was the episode title - “decaying” – reminiscent of tooth decay. Viewers also know that when a person is arrested very early in the episode, he/she likely isn’t the guilty party, so Jerome was immediately off the guilty list.

Speaking of the initial arrest, was it right for Benson to arrest Jerome on the spot based only on an accusation? The SVU team was too quick to jump to conclusions and treat Jerome as guilty when there wasn't one ounce of supporting proof. They WANTED him to be guilty. Yet, when they confirm it’s Neil’s DNA from semen found inside Jenna’s sweater, they allow Neil to walk out of SVU without arrest. It gives the appearance that a black man get arrested  while the while man walks free – both for the same accusation of rape.  If Benson has one fault, it's that she is too focused on the victims. She needs to reflect on Don Cragen's leadership style and how he approached cases. Cragen had the right balance between concern for the victim and wanting to get his ducks in a row before he tipped his hand. He kept the SVU team from leaping before they looked.   Benson tipped her hand far too soon and  her team followed her (wrong) lead.

Compounding the problem, information about the case was freely given to Neil and the family about Jerome being a suspect or being released. Benson even tells Luke that they will make the case. The end result was that information was used by Neil to rile up Luke which resulted Jerome’s murder. I always thought that detectives kept a tight lip on their cases/suspects and are cautious about designating a suspect to the family to avoid these exact kinds of situations. Again, the SVU team had Jerome as their guilty man and were working hard to make the evidence fit their suspect, rather than the other way around.

Thankfully, Jerome did not die from breathing problems when Benson arrested him, although that would have been a more interesting story. Instead, Jerome dies while Luke has kidnapped, interrogated, and tortured him. I was disturbed at the amount of sympathy that some members of the SVU squad had for Luke after Jerome died. I don’t blame Barba for his extreme annoyance with them for what he may have perceived as support for Luke’s actions, or that a legal case against Luke would be a tough go. I also don’t blame Barba (“Booyah Fordham Law”) for being annoyed with Carisi who suddenly can’t stop spouting his legal opinions based on his own law studies. While I am on the subject of Carisi: what is up with him in this episode? He seemed more testy and mouthy than usual (example: his comment to “mute that witch”). It goes without saying that purposely injuring Neil’s fingers while he was being finger printed is very wrong and very concerning. Carisi went from normal to psycho in one episode. His comment to Benson (“Her own uncle.That can’t be) upon hearing that Jenna was raped by her own uncle was completely out of character for Carisi. He’s been a detective long enough that this discovery should not have shocked him.

Benson and Rollins appear to have put the past behind them. Maybe Benson was trying to make a connection with Rollins in order to help Rollins recover from her own demons? Benson did seem very quick to forgive, but my spider senses tell me that Benson should keep up her guard,

The only bright spot was waiting to see just what suit Barba was going to be wearing in the next scene. I think I counted at least 6 different suits (or maybe fewer suits, just different ties). I could hear the Barba fans all over the country squealing over the tuxedo. It bothered me, though, that I felt more interest in Barba’s wardrobe changes than with this case.

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:
Paul Adelstein - Dr. Neil Alexander
Eva Kaminsky - Marcy Davis
Jamie McShane – Luke Davis
Haley Lu Richardson - Jenna Davis
Michael Mastro – Judge Serani
Jason Cerbone - Counselor Desappio
Kamal Angelo Bolden - Jerome Jones
Jacqueline Hendy – Attorney Crane
Gayatri Bahl - Jiya Alexander
Catrina Ganey - Ermil
Patricia Floyd – Louise
Erik Alex Cruz – Russell
Samuel Gomez - Leroy
Fred Tolliver Jr. - Donald
Vanessa Bartlett – Carol
Elizabeth Loyacano - Nia
Anya Whelan-Smith – Portia
Sarah Elizabeth Grace - Marcia
Celestine Rae - Bridget

Benson and Rollins sit drinking coffee at a table at the front window of a coffee shop. Benson comments “Yoga retreat in Costa Rica” and Rollins replies that it was the furthest she could get away from New York…and Atlanta and it was good, Benson asks if Rollins worked through some stuff, and Rollins explains it was therapeutic; they were mediating on the summit of this volcano and a yogi came over and taps her on her shoulder and she didn’t even tense up. Benson is happy at this, and then asks now that Rollins is back, will she continue with therapy? Rollins apologizes for what she put them all through. Benson says she is sorry for what Rollins put herself through.

Meanwhile and nearby, a girl, who appears drunk, staggers down the street and gets harassing comments from men on the street. She runs into a pizza place and stumbles into the bathroom, looking ill. There is knocking on the bathroom door and when she doesn’t open the door, Jerome Jones enters the bathroom and when he moves closer toward her, she says “no, please” and moves away.

Benson and Rollins exit the coffee shop and Rollins said she heard January was pretty crappy and Nick went through hell. Benson tells her that winter at SVU, Nick’s dad, Noah’s lungs; every time Noah wheezes she is afraid it’s another trip to the ER. Rollins assure her he will be okay.

As they walk down the street Benson says she will see Rollins tomorrow, and Rollins says she will be early. They hear shouting behind them and turn to see a man chasing after a woman who is telling him to get off her, but he says he is just trying to give her her purse. Benson and Rollins approach and Benson holds up her badge and announces herself as police. The woman screams he is took her purse, They pull the tow people apart and the man holds up his hands, telling Benson they have the wrong idea, he didn’t do nothing. The woman continues to scream as Rollins tries to calm her, then she accuses the man of drugging her. The man shouts back that she is lying as Benson tells him to put his hands up. Rollins tells the woman she is trying to help her, but she points at the man and tells Rollins to arrest him, he raped her. The man looks stunned, as does Benson and Rollins. As Rollins attempts to console the woman, Benson cuffs the man, who looks like he cannot believe this.

Afterwards, Benson and Rollins are at the hospital where the girl – Jenna Davis – has been taken. Rollins has contacted her parents and Benson says Jenna had alcohol and clonazepam in her system. She has slight bruising on her wrist and thigh and semen on her sweater and evidence of torn hymen tissue. She fell asleep after the exam and the nurse will tell them when she wakes up. Rollins moans about the circumstances and Benson tells her “welcome back to SVU.”

Meanwhile, back in SVU interrogation, Amaro and Carisi question the suspect, Jerome Jones, who denies attacking Jenna. He says he was trying to help her and she was drugged or drunk and out of her mind. He explains he went into the bathroom as he  had customers waiting in line. He denies touching Jenna and says he knows all the cops hate him. When Amaro doesn’t understand what Jerome meant by that comment, Jerome thinks they are messing with him. When Fin walks into the room, Jerome complains this is police harassment. As Fin leaves the room with Amaro and Carisi, Jerome looks like he is having an asthma problem.

Outside the room, Fin explains the prints came back and Jerome is THE Jerome Jones. Amaro knows him as “Brooklyn Jerome Jones” who is one of the Prospect Park 3, and Carisi comments they were kids held on a gang rape charge. All three confessed and there was some sort of DNA contamination issue at the lab. Then,  all three recanted, saying the confessions were coerced. Fin explains they have a $36 million suit pending against the city. When Amaro and Carisi express objections, Fin explains the victim was drugged and disoriented and no one knows what happened in that bathroom. When Amaro makes a move to continue questioning Jerome, Fin says Dodds and Barba called, and said to go easy on Jerome until Barba gets here.

Back at the hospital, Luke and Marcy Davis arrive, Luke telling Benson that is his little girl and asking where is the bastard that did it? Benson informs him that they have a suspect in custody and they are talking to him now. Marcy asks when they can see Jenna, and Rollins replies soon. Rollins questions if they know where their daughter was this afternoon, and Marcy replies that Jenna had a dentist appointment after school and never came home. Rollins explains they will need to speak with her dentist. Luke states he is on his way, and when Benson gets an odd look on her face, Luke explains the dentist is his brother-in-law, Dr. Neil Alexander, he consults with NYPD and he figured if he…Benson finishes, asking that they wanted to make sure they take it seriously? Luke says yeah, and Benson states they do. Rollins says right now they have to ask them a few questions about Jenna – has she ever gotten into trouble with drinking or drugs? As Marcy shakes her head no, Luke says she doesn’t drink or do drugs, and she is a straight A student. Dr. Neil Alexander arrives and hugs Marcy, asking how is Jenna? Marcy informs him she was asleep and she will go see if she is up. Luke makes the introduction to Benson and Rollins, and Benson explains they’ve met; he’s testified at a few trials, mentioning the Ellie Porter case. Neil comments she was the burned girl, adding that was horrible. Rollins asks that Jenna was just with him this afternoon. Neil says yeah, and Rollins asks how was her condition when she left his office, wondering if he had to administer gas or any meds? Neil explains she needed a filling on her lower second molar, so there was some lidocaine and there was some nitrous, but they were off rather quickly. He adds she was fine by the time she left. He understands they have a suspect in custody, and Benson confirms they do. Marcy enters the room and informs them the doctor says Jenna is waking up. Benson explains that she and Rollins have a few questions, saying to excuse them. Neil tells Luke that he and Marcy should go in there too, telling Rollins and Benson that Jenna is 16. Rollins comments “of course” as they walk toward the hallway.

In the hospital room, Jenna explains that everything is kind of jumbled. She recalls leaving her uncle’s dentist’s office and was going to go to a friend’s house. She was there for a little. She says she did not drink there. She explains she felt sick at her friend's and decided to leave. She had to go the bathroom so she went into the pizza place and the guy was following her and he went into the bathroom. She recalls being cold and her skirt and sweater were pushed up and she felt his belly rubbing against hers and it hurt but she couldn’t move. He got it all over her. She cries and tells her father she is really sorry but he tells her it is not her fault, sounding like he is also crying.

Back at SVU, Barba races into the squad room, dressed in a tux, asking if Jerome Jones is still there. Fin says they are still waiting for the vic’s statement, and when Barba asks what is taking so long, Fin explains she was intoxicated and her memory is off. Amaro tells him they found what may be semen on her sweater and he can put a rush on it. Barba says if it is his, that is probable cause; if it’s not, Jerome is extraordinarily lucky at DNA tests. As Barba races to the observation window, he adds Jerome has ammunition for another false arrest and harassment lawsuit. Carisi says one more lawsuit from this guy and they are all working Staten Island. Amaro says the Prospect Park 3 were guilty and the lab just screwed up, and Jerome is guilty of this too. Barba tells them to make the case airtight and he will charge; until then, let Jerome go. When Amaro questions that, Barba reminds him Jerome is waiting on a $36 million judgment as is not a flight risk. He tells them to get Jerome out of there – politely. As Barba walks off, Carisi asks Fin and Amaro who wants to call the Sergeant, and Fin points to him and says, “The new guy.” Carisi asks, “Still?”

Back at the hospital, Benson is on the phone with Carisi getting the bad news. She tells him to re-interview Jerome’s co-workers, put a rush on the DNA, and she needs security footage from the pizza place. Neil, who is also getting off the phone, races to Benson who also heard the news. She tells him not to worry, they will make the case. Luke approaches and is upset when he hears the news and that Jerome is one of the Prospect Park 3. Benson explains there were a lot of problems with that case, it was not just a lab issue. Neil thinks they are treating Jerome with kid gloves and when Luke expresses his upset, Benson assures him they are not dropping the case, they just have to collect as much evidence as they can before charging him. Luke wonders who is pulling her strings, and Benson says this is not about politics, they care about his daughter. Luke retorts, “Not as much as I do.” As Luke storms off, Neil follows him. Telling Benson to let Luke walk it off.

Back at SVU, Fin explains to the group that they found Jenna’s backpack at her friend’s house and her mom was there the whole time, and the girls were not partying. Carisi said she did say Jenna looked green when she left around 6. Rollins asks if the mom was in the room with them, they could have snuck a drink or popped a pill. Amaro adds that traffic cams picked up Jenna 2 blocks from the pizza place, clearly staggering. They also see her going into the pizza place and 10 minutes later coming out with Jerome following her. Benson comments they’ve seen rapes that have taken less time than that. There is no video to the bathroom, Fin said there is a glitch in the pizza place’s security footage and they’ve sent it to TARU. Amaro got nothing form the co-workers. Carisi adds one customer they tracked by credit card recalled seeing an angry black employee unlock the bathroom door and heard Jenna scream. Benson thinks if she heard Jenna scream, someone else did and to keep canvassing and push TARU to get that security footage. Her phone rings and ask she moved to answer it, she says Barba wants this case airtight. She asks the caller “Where?...Okay…yeah.” She looks to the detectives and says it looks like they don’t need to put a rush on that DNA.

Elsewhere, police and crime scene people are on the scene where Luke has been cuffed. Fin and Carisi ask Luke what happened, as they look onto Jerome’s body laying on the floor. Luke says he was trying to record a confession and did not mean to kill him. Carisi, seeing rope tied to a chair, says it doesn’t look like an accident.

Back at SVU, Benson, the detectives and Barba watch Luke’s video where he is questioning Jerome, who is tied to a chair. Luke threatens him with a nail gun. When he points it at Jerome’s groin and tells Jerome to admit he did it, Jerome says he did it. When Fin stops the video, he states that Luke did give CPR. Amaro says the ME thinks Jerome died from a heart attack triggered by his asthma. Benson said Luke called 911 so he did not intend to kill Luke. Barba says legally it doesn’t make any difference. Amaro says that confession may complicate things. Rollins says the nail gun makes that confession coerced. Barba says either way, Luke Davis is looking at felony murder. Carisi asks Barba if he does know that the defendant gets a free pass if he can show he acted under extreme emotional duress? Barba retorts “Booyah Fordham Law.” Barba says the facts are clear: Luke kidnapped Jerome Jones, tortured him, and within an hour Jerome is dead. Benson said Jerome may be dead but their job is to figure out whether or not he was guilty so to keep pushing the DNA and get the security footage from TARU. Fin asks if Jerome is good for the rape…and Amaro says no way the jury convicts Luke. Barba comments, with dripping sarcasm, “Thank you for your support. If you come the arraignment, keep your mouth shut.” He leaves the room.

At arraignment court part 31 on Friday, January 23, Luke is arraigned and to the outrage of the gallery and Jerome’s family, Luke pleads not guilty. After Counselor Desappio argues Luke called 911 and Jerome confessed to raping Luke’s daughter and that Jerome died from asthma complications, another one of Jerome’s relatives yells out that Luke tortured Jerome. But the judge, who cannot condone vigilantism, sets bail at $1 million and remands Jerome to Rikers. Jenna consoles her dad, and Neil tells Luke they will get him out of there.

Outside the courtroom, Barba tells Benson that went well. Reporters surround Jerome’s mother, who accuses the NYPD of framing Jerome and then set him up to be killed. She points out Jenna and says Jenna is lying. Her mother, along with Neil, race Jenna away. Rollins and Carisi approach Benson and Barba and explains that TARU got the footage from the pizza joint and Jerome was in that bathroom for less than two minutes.

In a courthouse room, they watch the footage, and Carisi explains Jerome was in the bathroom less than 90 seconds. Benson notes the bathroom door was ajar. Rollins notes the line of people outside and Jerome came out with her purse. Benson sees Jenna was fully dressed and with her tights on. Rollins adds Jerome is fully clothed. Carisi says they are still waiting for the DNA on the sweater but Jerome did not have enough time and the door was open. Barba states the obvious: Luke killed an innocent kid. Benson wonders if Jenna was assaulted first and then conflated things. Carisi suggests that Jenna is a 16 year old girl who got drunk and had sex and was afraid to call her parents so she cried rape. Benson suggests to keep vetting her, her friends and any boyfriends, and to recheck texts and social media and find out where she got that clonazepam. She adds not to bring her back in there until they fill in the gaps.

At Rikers, Marcy, there with Jenna, speaks with Luke, and when he comments to Jenna that Jerome was the one that did this to her, she doesn’t reply right away. But then she says even if she is not sure, it’s better for Luke if she says he was. Luke looks at Marcy.

Back at SVU with Jenna in the interview room, Amaro and Rollins plays a recording of that jailhouse visit and they press her on her comment. They believe she was assaulted but not by Jerome and ask if there is something she has not told them. Meanwhile, Fin speaks with Marcy who is waiting in the squad room. When Marcy doesn’t understand why they can’t be in there with Jenna, Fin explains Jenna may be more free to talk without a parent present. After questioning, Jenna admits that she did have a few sips of vodka at her friends and then said it all started to fade after that. But as they press her for more details, they ask her to describe her position when she was attacked. She sits back in a chair as she would be in a dentist chair. She recalls hearing music but then recalls the clink of his belt buckle. She says he pulled up her sweater and she couldn’t move, his hands were so cold. She cries and recalls he was wearing a big ring. She begs them not to tell her mom, who is already a mess. She admits it was a ring like her Uncle Neil wears and thinks it was him. Rollins asks if she thinks, or does she know. Jenna says it was him, her Uncle Neil raped her. She sobs as Benson and Carisi watch from her office. Carisi comments, “Her own uncle. That can’t be.” Benson replies, “Yes it can.”

Later, with the detectives and Barba in Benson’s office, they discuss this new information. Benson thinks Jenna’s memory came back in pieces and Jenna did not want to believe it. Barba comments he doesn’t know if he wants to either; aside from consulting for them, Neil is big on the charity circuit, setting up dental clinics in third world countries. Carisi comments Neil testified in dozens of cases and if he is a rapist, all those convictions come back into question. Barba glares at Carisi and dryly replies “Yeah, not to mention that.” Benson says that Jenna has no motive to lie and sticking to the Jerome story helps her father. Amaro thinks it matches the dentist’s office, and Fin comments this is why he doesn’t trust dentists. Benson asks them to find out why it is taking so long for the DNA on the sweater, they should know if it is a familial match by now. Amaro moans good luck on getting a sample from Neil with a warrant once Jenna tells her mother and her mother tells him. Barba tells them to hold them here longer ad find a pretext like mug shots to do so. Benson tells Amaro and Carisi to buddy up to Neil and to let him know they are on Luke’s side and get his DNA.

At the Neil’s office on Sunday, January 25, Neil says he knows what is going on, they were ordered to exonerate Jerome. Carisi blames One PP and politics and Amaro they want to make sure they put blame where it belongs – on Jerome. They mention there was DNA under Jenna’s fingernails and say they are trying to rule out friends and family and anyone who was in contact with her that day. Once they are cleared, everyone will know it was Jerome. Neil comments that since Jenna was in his office that afternoon…and Amaro replies “Exactly” adding they will need a sample from anyone who was in the office that day including one from Neil. There is a knock on the door and an assistant mentions a patient has been under a few minutes. Neil introduces her as his wife. Jiya. As he moves to attend to the patient, he tells her to get the detectives the patient list from the day Jenna was there. Carisi presses for the DNA swab and Neil complies. As Neil leaves, the detectives follow Jiya to get the list. Jiya comments that Jenna is such a tragedy and Luke too. She said Jenna was fine when she left the office that day but says they keep the anti-anxiety med bottles locked up. She implies that it is possible she could have gotten access to pills that were left out.

Outside the office, Amaro comments to Carisi that Jiya was quick to throw Jenna under the bus and implies she stole the meds. Carisi suspects she is protecting Neil and she knows what’s coming.

Back at SVU, Benson hears their theory that Neil raped Jenna while the hygienist/wife guarded the door. Amaro explains it is a small office. Benson states the working theory is Jiya gave Jenna the meds while she was in the dentist chair, them the nitrous. Jenna was so out of it she could not process that she was being raped but she was in pain afterwards so she did a few shots of vodka at her friend’s house. Rollins adds that mixes with the meds and Jenna starts to lose it on the way home. Amaro says Jenna staggers into the bathroom at the pizza place and Jerome walks in and she panics. Benson thinks Jenna was in denial about being raped by her uncle and she puts the whole thing on Jerome. Fin sees a message on his phone and tells the others that the working theory has just become fact; the dentist’s DNA matches the semen found on Jenna’s sweater.

Later, Amaro and Carisi have Neil in the interview room and press him on the DNA and the semen. Neil claims that he had sex with his wife on the chair before Jenna came in. Amaro tells him Jenna said HE raped her, and Neil denies it. He claims he would never touch her or any patient. He thinks nitrous can call hallucinations and Jiya thinks Jenna helped herself to the meds and Jenna also had alcohol. They continue to press him but he thinks this is fantasy and if they keep this up, they may all be deposed in another lawsuit. He says he has a practice to run and he quickly leaves.

Afterwards, Rollins states Neil is right about the drugs and booze. Benson thinks if Neil really did rape his niece while his wife was in the office…Fin finishes the sentence saying this is not Neil’s first time. Benson suggests a full court press – the next time Neil comes through the doors, he will be wearing cuffs.

Later, Benson, who has her coat on and looks ready to leave, asks the detectives to tell her they found something. Rollins found a lawsuit 5 years ago but the records are sealed and the attorney could not talk but hypothetically it was not about bad dentistry. They can’t talk to the patient but Rollins will see if Barba can work around the confidentiality agreement. Benson says she will call him and to keep digging. As Benson moves to leave, Marcy and Jenna enter the squad room and Marcy states that Jenna needs to tell her something.

In the interview room with Benson, Barba, and Rollins, Jenna retracts her accusation against Neil. Her therapist told her that Jenna was confused and trauma, drugs, and alcohol can mess with short term memory. Barba is less than thrilled that she went to a therapist. Marcy said the therapist said what happened to Jenna made her suggestible and when she left Jenna alone with them, they planted that idea. Rollins emphatically denies this. Marcy asks if they have ever even heard of false memories, and Benson quickly replies of course they have but something this traumatic takes time to process. Bits and pieces come back slowly. Marcy claims they are framing Neil and they are using Jenna to do it. Barba asks if they were referred to the therapist by her brother, and Mary tells them not to twist this. Barba firmly states he knows this is difficult and reminds her that there was DNA evidence on her sweater. When Marcy says Neil told her how it got there, Rollins fires back, asking if Neil told her how it got INSIDE Jenna’s sweater. Marcy says they are not listening anymore and instructs Jenna to tell them it was all a lie. Jenna says she is not accusing her uncle and he would never do that to her.

After, Barba moans “Well, there goes that case.” Benson says not so fast; they know what happened and Marcy is pressuring Jenna. Barba asks if any other vic have come forward, and Rollins replies no, just the one lawsuit so far. Amaro suggests that Barba get a subpoena for Neil’s patient records and start talking to everyone he’s worked on, and Carisi counters if they do that, it will play into Neil’s claim that the NYPD has an agenda. Fin suggest letting the patients come to them, asking Benson if she is still friends with the reporter, Jimmy Mac. Benson says they keep in touch and says she does own him a drink. Barba strongly tells them not to leak this to the press. Benson counters that they all know that there are more victims out there and each one of them thinks they are the only ones and nobody will believe them. As soon as they find out that it happened to others, they will come forward. Carisi likens it to throwing a rock and watching the ripples. Barba sternly comments he is not hearing ay of this.

The next day at SVU, they watch a news report where Neil, along with his wife, is stating he was sickened by the headlines. He mentions his own accomplishments. Amaro comments about his wife standing by him and Rollins asks what is she going to do, he is her whole life. Carisi blurts out that she looks drugged. He thinks Neil does her high too, calling Neil a textbook somnophiliac – sleeping beauty syndrome – thinking Neil gets off on passed out vics. Amaro asks what the hell is the point of that, and Fin replies that they don’t talk back. Neil’s lawyer gets on camera and says this is an obvious ploy by the NYPD to distract the public from the fact that they had the rapist in custody and released him upon political pressure. Carisi yells out to mute that witch.

Benson walks in with The Ledger and the front page shouts “Demon Dentist Rapes Niece” but adds that Jimmy Mac swore he’d leave the vic out of it. Fin says, “And you believed him? He’s a reporter.” But Rollins says the ploy worked, the phones are ringing. Carisi says this is the fifth call since they got back; the current caller said Neil drugged and raped her back in dental school. Benson tells them to bring all of them in here now and, turning to the TV, says she is going to wipe that smile off that son of a bitch’s face.

Later, several victims are in SVU recounting their stories about Neil. They recall his ring. Some attacks were many years back. They claim they were drugged.

Benson tells Barba that so far, 11 victims have come forward and all remember being raped or fondled by Neil, under sedation, over the past 20 years. Barba questions that some continued to see him as a patient afterwards. He notes he can try to prosecute but no corroborating evidence, no outcry at the time. Benson raises her voice and reminds him he told her to find more victims. Barba admits he did and they have but these are all tough cases; tough to prove and if Jenna and Marcy aren’t willing to testify his hands are tied. Benson suggests they talk to the father.

At the Rikers Island visiting room on Tuesday, January 27, Fin and Carisi speak with Luke and thinks Jenna is confused. But Fin and Carisi suggest that Neil set him up. They continue to work him and when Fin says they found Neil’s semen INSIDE Jenna’s sweater, Luke gets a strange look and then says he has to go. He tries to move away and says he has to get out of here but Carisi tells him to sit down but Luke tells them they have to get him out of her to take care of this. Carisi says they are not going to do that; they need him to talk to his wife and asks if he can do that for Jenna.

Back at SVU in Benson’s office, Marcy tells Benson and Barba that Luke is on suicide watch and he really thought Jerome raped Jenna. But she does not think that. She’s had three friends that called her since that article. For two of them, Neil groped their daughters and the third he may have raped. Marcy referred them all to Neil. Barba asks if any of them are willing to talk to them, and Marcy says they won’t put their girls through this. Marcy does not want to put Jenna through this either. Benson comments that Jerome dies and Luke does hard time, and her brother the rapist goes free. Marcy said Luke didn’t know and he just went crazy. Barba says he understands but he will talk to his lawyer about a plea but she needs to talk to Jenna. Marcy says if Jenna testifies, Neil will break her, he is too smart, they can’t catch him. Benson thinks Jenna can.

Later, Jenna, wired with audio and video. waits in a restaurant with Fin listening nearby. Neil enters as Carisi and Rollins are in a nearby van, watching from security cameras in the restaurant. Jenna tries to get him to admit he raped her but he skillfully avoids implicating himself. But as he gets up to leave, she says she might be pregnant, which pulls him back in. He says he didn’t get her pregnant, he couldn’t have; he had a vasectomy. He asks if they are done here, and in the van, Carisi, who’s heard this admission, says “Oh yeah, you’re done now pal.” Rollins and Carisi exit the van as Jenna tells Neil he admits he raped her, and Neil says it’s not such a big deal, she’s not so special. As she tells him she was a virgin, Fin catches up with Neil and says he never met a bad man who wasn’t afraid of a baby, it works every time. They arrest Neil. Neil says he wants a lawyer as Fin reads him his rights. Rollins checks on Jenna who says she is okay.

Back at SVU, Jenna returns with Rollins and meets back up with her mother. Jenna, crying, tells Marcy that Neil said he did it. The console each other while Benson and Rollins look on.

Fin and Carisi step out of the elevator with Neil, who says they have nothing. Neil comments that Jenna is an overly paranoid girl, and Carisi fires back, asking if she is crazy like the other 17 women who came forward. Marcy sees them enter and she breaks off her embrace with Jenna and makes a beeline for Neil., screaming at him. Amaro pulls her away. As Marcy screams, Neil says Jenna has issues, she always has. Marcy shouts she is his sister and how can she do this to his own family? Benson attempts to calm her, telling her this is not the time. Marcy hugs Jenna who tells her it is okay and not to worry.

Meanwhile, Carisi is fingerprinting Neil and he tells Neil he should have let him get her hands on him. As he forcefully holds his hand to the finger printer, Carisi says Neil raped Marcy’s daughter and ripped her heart out with her husband going to jail for killing a guy that should have been Neil. Neil winces in pain and says Carisi is hurting him; he is a dentist and he needs his hands. Carisi asks him if that is all he has to say. He pulls Neil’s fingers back, and a crunching sound is audible. Carisi asks what hurts more, this, or what he did to Jenna? Neil recoils in pain.

As Marcy and Jenna leave SVU, Benson and Amaro watch. Amaro comments that Jerome’s family and Marcy’s family have both been destroyed. Benson asks him to tell her how either one of them starts over. Amaro says nothing and walks back into the squad room.

At the courthouse meeting room on Wednesday, January 28, Barba speaks with Jerome’s mother and other family member and tells them they were right. Jerome did not assault Jenna, he was trying to help her. Jerome’s mother says that is what they said before, that is not news to them. Barba explains she was raped by her uncle; he knew her father Luke had a temper and worked him up to kidnap Jerome. Jerome’s mother said Luke murdered her son. Barba pauses, then said her uncle is under arrest and is being brought in now and will pay the price but Luke Davis was not trying to murder her son; they have footage of him attempting CPR. She looks stunned as Barba said Luke wanted justice for his daughter, the way she wants justice for Jerome. The other family member asks what Barba is saying, and he explains if he takes this to trial for felony murder, a jury may let Luke go. If he pleads to manslaughter, he will do time. Jerome’s mom asks how much – he gets a deal and her innocent son is dead. She asks whose life matters to him. Barba only says he is so sorry for her loss. As a tear falls down her face, she glares at him. Barba says what happened to Jerome is horrible and he wishes he could bring him back, but this is where they are. She shakes her head as we fade to black.

All Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) Copyright © unless otherwise noted

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

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


Guest said...

I can't disagree with any of what you said. Meh. As has been the rest of the season thus far.

Njtoocool said...

Love how your a fan of law and order svu yet you still give the blunt truth of their episodes ( Wheather is good, great, bad, or ugly) and I thank you for that!! :)

I also have a question... What is you favorite episode from seasons 1-12 and 12- current.

Chris Zimmer said...

Njtoocool, thanks so much for the feedback!

It's very hard for me to pick a favorite episode. I can say that when I watch the SVU reruns on USA, I always feel like anything from season 1 is the best work they've ever done.

As far as season 12 to present, I really liked "Undercover Blue" from season 14, a great episode all around. The other two that i thought were excellent were Psycho/Therapist and Beasts Obsession, both are "William Lewis" episodes. They did a great job telling the Benson/William Lewis story but admit I'm glad they wrapped it up!

Kittukat1978 said...

This episode was better but still predictable. The odd thing was everyone seemed to be uncharacteristically different as if they all swapped personalities. It was a bit off putting and Barba seemed more aggravated than usual...but nice tux. I have to agree with Chris Carisi was just more psychotic. Shame really I had such high hopes that svu would break the mold of male detectives with anger management issues....guess not.

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

I didn't see Carisi as psychotic - just that he was learning the horrors of what SVU is like. Remember when Benson asked him Why are you SVU? and he gave that little speech? He's got an annoying exterior, but inside he seems to be getting really sensitive about this kind of stuff. That's just my initial character analysis.

Barba rocked it like always. That final scene was really great, despite the disappointment of not knowing what happened with Neil and Luke and if justice was really served.

Still a little disappointed at the lack of a real reaction from Fin and Amaro about what happened to Rollins. Do they even know she was raped?

Petra S said...

I quite enjoyed this episode even if the (big) gueststar Paul Adelstein (no not my sweet dr Cooper *sob*) of course would prove to have a pivotal role in the crime. Haley Lu Richardson (Jenna) did amazingly well, she was just heartbreaking in that interview scene with Nick & Amanda.

I did not barf as much as I thought I would during the Amanda & Liv bonding scene, it was quite well played out actually. #KnowWhenToWithdraw

But yes @Michele - where was the rest of em's support? I took from what ltl they gave us that Fin might've been in contact with her, she did know about Nick's ordeal but she hadn't talked to him directly. I would've liked to see at least a exchange of looks between Amanda & Nick, hell I really thought Barba would at least give her a look (he does looks sooo good). So that was really disappointing but at least she's back. Hiatus is over. I really don't want SVU w/o Amanda so Kelli better sign that contract for S17.

I did find Carisi's behavior a ltl odd in this ep, the 'not the uncle' was just ???, I would say the uncle, the grandpa, the stepfather, well they are all up there on the suspect list rather quickly when it comes to kids/teens. I really hope they won't go down the anger route or that he was molested by an uncle/grandpa/stepfather as a child. & pls don't bring Barba down that route either. I heart the drama with Nick & Amanda but they can't screw up every new detective/ADA in the squad room, it would get overwhelming in the end.

chillicothe20 said...

I enjoyed the episode, though the squad bungled all the cases involved. It was obvious from the opening that Jerome wasn't guilty, as we saw him asking if she was okay and bringing her purse to her (or attempting to). Once her father stormed off, you knew he was going to do something stupid. I guess they figured the uncle would calm him down (he went after him), but of course, given the final result, he clearly wanted the father to overreact. I did not suspect the uncle until the girl mentioned the chair, and then it became all too clear. I was hoping at first that it was a red herring, as the episode went from intriguing to utterly predictable from there.

Carisi was completely out of line with the fingers thing, but I have been watching some older SVUs lately, and this sort of rough disregard is all too common. Not just Stabler (who had a temper), but Fin too in the episode I watched from season 5 today. They seem to be all too comfortable with covering up such things, while I would hope in the real world that a cop would at least be suspended pending investigation, or at least put on desk duty. You could go further to the Benson/Lewis iron bar thing, but at least she had an emotional/stressful circumstance behind her. Carisi wasn't in any danger, and he wasn't even trying to get information. It was just done to be punitive.

Benson doesn't seem to have adjusted well to being in charge. It is not that she isn't knowledgeable or experienced. She is just not used to being responsible for so many people.

One last note, in watching some earlier seasons recently (most of which I had seen before at some point), they mention in the early couple of seasons that most of the SVU cops are cycled out after 2-3 years, if they don't choose to leave sooner. Benson has been there 16 years (and Fin for nearly that). Even her dangerous undercover work and the Lewis stuff notwithstanding, she is due for some time elsewhere. Obviously, given this is TV, most of our cops are there much longer than 2-3 years, but it was just an interesting point that they made early on. Maybe they weren't anticipating it going on so long, or Olivia and some of the others being so popular with fans. I wouldn't want them gone or anything, but the toll that this sort of police work takes is very important, and the show does not seem to mention it unless they want to wedge it into that week's plot.

Sorry for my length. I don't always comment, but I enjoy your reviews.

empxth tbh said...

it was so obvious that the dentist did it... I mean, the moment he walked in I just kinda knew but I guess if Jerome wasn't guilty there weren't many options left...

Carisi was acting kinda weird but I guess he's not really "made" for SVU? idk..

But I found it good that (except for the opening) Rollins was really "normal" and not a mess like in season 15 and everyone was basically just doing their jobs and not having too many personal issues... (I'm sure that'll change soon)

Also about them "ripping from the headlines" all the time: I don't really like when they do it but I also understand that after 16 seasons everything's been done before... like if they do anything remotely close to something that's been done before everyone's gonna complain, so it's better for them to just keep "ripping from the headlines" to get "ideas"...

Laurie Fanat said...

The episode irritated me. Agree that Benson is too sympathetic to the victims and it clouds her ability to get at the truth. Chris, you nailed it when you said they wanted Jerome to be guilty. If Benson was true SVU management material, the fact that they were in the area and heard the victim make her outcry should not have clouded her judgment. Think about it: The victim was fully clothed when Benson/Rollins came on the scene. The man she accused as being her attacker was fully clothed too. That should have been a warning flag right then and there. They didn’t need to wait to see the video footage from inside the pizza place to see that Jenna’s tights were still on. They made a huge assumption and yes it led to Jerome’s death. Yet I heard more sympathy coming out of Benson and the detectives for Luke, the man who kidnapped Jerome and that event led to his death. No wonder Barba was incensed with them. The SVU detectives are supposed to be sensitive to the victims but they are also supposed to be objective, and they weren’t in this case. Benson should also have NEVER told Luke they will make the case. Everybody except Barba acted like rookies.

Carisi was weird. He’s suddenly filled with anger like someone flicked a switch on. Then he gets physical and takes it out on pervy Neil. This was wrong on so many levels and I grow tired of SVU always making the male detectives turn to hurting or attacking the perps physically. (Now if Rollins tried to break his fingers I would have believed it.) Add to this Carisi’s disbelief that Neil was the rapist. That made no sense as any detective who’s been around the block as many times as Carisi would not have found the revelation so shocking.

The “not Bill Cosby” twitter hashtag got me thinking too that they were afraid of a lawsuit. It was Dick Wolf that started the Cosby talk to begin with (link here to audio: ) and the word spread from there. There was no attempt by anyone associated with SVU to correct that if it was an error. The fact that the hashtag appeared on the day of the episode implies that they were worried Cosby would sue.

This was one of the most predictable episodes this year and had it not been for the SVU’s strange behaviors and Barba’s frequent suit changes, this would have been a snoozer.

Cath T said...

I agree with this review.

I found Decaying Morality the weakest episode of the season although it was nice to see the whole squad take part for a change.

I wonder about Carisi. Will he now become the resident squad "hot head?" Seems like it. Passing of the baton from Amaro to Carisi?

Overall it's been a pretty strong season so I guess we can expect a so-so episode here and there.

Chloe Arreola said...

The real victim was Jerome. Not that girl.