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.

Later, at 349 West 47th Street on Saturday, February7, Rollins speaks with the ambulance driver who drove Walter and Charmaine. Charmaine wanted to go to a private airport in Westchester and he refused to take her and would only take them to a hospital. Charmaine made him stop right there and she dragged her husband out and hailed a cab. Charmaine mentioned she was taking Walter to Canada.

Sometime later, Amaro and Carisi arrive at the Westchester airport and manage to stop Charmaine and Walter. Charmaine says they are taking a vacation and Walter says he humors her. Carisi explains the court order but Charmaine says she is his wife and no one cares about Walter more than her. Amaro says she will have to tell that to the judge, and she explains her lawyer already spent half the day in front of a judge. Carisi counters now she will have to spend all night.

At the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains NY on Saturday, February 7, Judge Marian Adams asks the detectives if they are pursuing a criminal investigation against Charmaine. Charmaine’s lawyer Arlene Heller says this is ridiculous and this is police intimidation. The judge asks the detectives if Charmaine is not under arrest, and Amaro confirms. Charmaine asks then why is she being held against her will? Delilah says Charmaine was trying to sneak her father out of the country. Heller disputes they were sneaking but Delilah says they have a court order to see him and Judith states they are moving now to become his guardians, pursuant to article 81 of mental hygiene law. Charmaine disputes he needs a guardian as he is married to her. Amaro explains Walter was removed from the hospital against medical advice and Carisi adds that evidence suggests that the heart attack the put him there was caused by Charmaine overdoing him on erectile dysfunction medication. Heller raises her voice, asking what evidence and who is testifying here, asking when did NYPD become medical doctors? The judge says she will take if from here, and asks that the contention is Charmaine is abusing Walter, and Delilah says absolutely. The judge asks Walter if his wife is abusing him and he says no, of course not. Amaro says to the judge there is a question of mental competence. The judge asks Walter if he can tell her what this hearing is about. Walter states that he is pretty sure it is about him. Delilah says he is here because he should be back in the hospital. He says he is fine, but she says Charmaine is not taking care of him. Charmaine pipes up and says she doesn’t have to stand for this. The judge tells them all to stop, telling them one at a time. Judith approaches the bench and asks the judge if she can have a minute, and the judge allows it. Judith turns to her father and asks that he knows who she is, and he looks at her and say yes, she is his daughter. She points to Delilah and asks if he knows who she is, and he says she is another daughter, asking doesn’t she think he knows his children? She asks what are their names, and he pauses and Charmaine puts her hands on his shoulders and says this is ridiculous; he is exhausted. The judge then asks if he knows their names, and he says he ought to, he named them himself. Judith asks him again who is she, and he says she is the one that wants to be a writer, but then points to the other and says she is. Judith says that’s right, but then bends down to look at him eye level and asks again what is her name? She reminds him that he named them after women in the Bible – strong women. Charmaine tells Judith that is enough, calling her by name. Walter says there have been so many people. Heller says this proves nothing; it’s late and Walter is recovering from a heart attack. Delilah says that didn’t stop Charmaine from pulling him out of his hospital bed. The judge says that is enough; she is going to reserve judgment on the motion for guardianship pending a psychological and physical exam for Walter. Suddenly, Walter speaks up and says he remembers. The names were from the Bible. Delilah cut somebody’s hair and Judith cut off somebody’s head. The judge thanks him and says in the meantime he will be admitted to Westchester General and his daughters may visit whenever they like. Both women look happy, but Charmaine, not so much.

As Walter is being taken to the hospital, Charmaine chides Carisi, saying they are the ones tormenting Walter, not her. She tells Walter she will get him the best room in the hospital. When she walks off, Walter tells Carisi he had 6 wives and hundreds of lovers. He penetrated their bodies and their minds as he was a man and that’s what he was supposed to be. Now women are batting him around like a feathered shuttlecock – his wife, his daughters and a judge in a skirt. He laughs and says tonight he is going to have a nurse wipe his ass. He asks how does this happen, and, looking at Carisi, asks “You tell me.” Carisi shakes his head as the EMT takes Walter away.

At the apartment of Catalina Diaz in the Bronx on Saturday, February 7, Barba speaks with his mother Lucia Barba about his grandmother not wanting to go to rehab. He worries Lucia with be stretched too thin working and caring for her mother. Lucia says she is her daughter and the stairs are hard for her. Barba says his grandmother should live in an elevator building but she does not mind. They enter the apartment and Barba’s grandmother refers to him as “el juez” (judge) and when he says he is not a judge, she says he will be. She is happy to see him.

Back at SVU, as Carisi brings Benson up to speed, Amaro gets off the phone and says Walter died earlier this morning form another heart attack. Carisi thinks it may be for the best with a wife like that and it could have been brutal. Benson said it already was and says she wants Warner or any other NYC ME to perform the autopsy to make sure his wife’s actions did not contribute. Amaro explains the judge held off on ruling about guardianship and Charmaine still has control of everything, Carisi adds including the body and that is not good. Benson tells them to get up there and tell Barba.

At Westchester General Hospital on Sunday, February 8, Amaro and Carisi arrive as Walter’s body is being loaded into a vehicle. Amaro shows him the court order and Carisi says the trip is off, the world is not done with Walter Briggs.

Later, at the morgue, Carisi and Rollins hear that the ED meds could have contributed but also find that Charmaine removed semen shortly before or after Walter died via  rectal probe electro- ejaculation.

In Barba’s office, upon hearing this news from Benson and Carisi, Barba says rectal probe electro- ejaculation sounds like a sex crime in and of itself. They explain his wife called in a specialized company for the procedure. Barba is shocked the hospital allowed this, and Benson reminds him he said the wife had a right. Barba gives her a look and Carisi says Barba knows what they are looking at here. Charmaine tormented this guy and Barba admits that it pains him to say this but Carisi is right…she killed him.

At arraignment court part 11 on Monday, February 9, Barba and Heller argue the charges and the judge assumes the plea is not guilty and sets ball at $100K.

Afterwards in the courthouse hallway, Barba’s mother stops him and says they have to talk. He says he is a little busy right now.  She argues he is always busy but this is important. He starts to argue back as Benson approaches and complains about the bail amount. He introduces Benson to his mother who says Barba talks about her and that Benson drives Barba a little crazy. Benson smiles and looks at Barba, saying she is just doing her job. He gives her a look right back and walks off with his mother. He tells her to take another look at the place and she knows it is the right thing to do. Lucia say HE knows it’s the right thing to do. Exasperated, he tells her to just think about it and she says he is thinking, and to call her and she walks off.

Meanwhile, reporters wait outside Charmaine’s home and surround her as she returns. As they yell out questions, Charmaine says they are jackals and just want raw meat. Heller comes to her defense and Charmaine says she just wants her husband to rest in peace.

Back at SVU, Rollins and Carisi see this footage as the reporters ask about the rectal probe, and Carisi asks if they have to listen to this. Rollins comments they are not bad questions. Amaro shows Carisi the headline on the Ledger which blares “Death Bed Perversion – NYPD Probes Briggs Probe.” Carisi yanks the paper out of Amaro’s hand and says yeah, complaining that everything the guy accomplished, his whole life, is reduced to this. Amaro counters that he wasn’t exactly a great human being, but Carisi passionately rebuts that Walter was a great writer and the work deserves respect. Amaro grudgingly nods.

At Supreme Court part 17 in Tuesday, February 10, the housekeeper testifies about the ED medication and despite her attempts to state Walter didn’t know he was being drugged, the judge won’t allow those statements. Heller paints the housekeeper as a person who did not like Charmaine and was looking to feed Delilah ammunition for her case.

Doctor Tedroe testifies about Walter's health and how dangerous it was for Charmaine to take him out against medical advice. Heller counters that Walter was in bad health and was in danger of dying anyway trough the normal course of his life. On redirect, Barba gets the doctor to reinforce that Walter should not have left the hospital.

Later that same day, at Saint Teresa Assisted Living, Barba and Lucia again discuss care arrangements for his grandmother and Lucia does not want to put her in places like this. Barba does not think Lucia can take care of her and says this place is not so bad and maybe his grandmother will like it. But his grandmother says it smells and Barba explains they are cooking lunch. She asks if they are cooking skunk. Lucia explains the trouble that “Rafie” has gone to arrange this and his grandmother says she did not ask him. She questions why should she move after 40 years. Barba counters that here they don’t have to carry groceries up 6 flights of stairs and they have activities and movies. He mentions the chance of her falling down again, telling her she can just push a button. She says of she falls at home she bangs on the floor and Mrs. Rivera hears. Lucia tells Barba they will think about it. He says he is just trying to help both of them and kisses them goodbye, saying he has to go to court. His grandmother says good, go help somebody else.

Back in Supreme Court part 17 the same day, Delilah testifies about Charmaine not letting them visit Walter. She mentions the court order being allowed to visit him and that this is why Charmaine moved him out and mentioned the will. The judge strikes those comments. Charmaine’s phone rungs as do a few others in the courtroom. The judge asks if there is a problem and Heller, looking at the message, says it could be. It is a video message from Walter Briggs.

Back at SVU Benson. Barba and the detectives watch a video of Walter from “” that was recorded on 6/14/2012. He takes a shot at Fred Worth and his other literary rivals. Walter’s obituary triggered the video’s release. Walter mentions Charmaine, saying she saved his life, and says he loved his daughters despite the way they treated him. He says their mothers turned them against Charmaine and they were rude to her in his own home. Amaro says he spoke to the daughters and they knew nothing about this. Benson asks if this can be used in court, and Barba thinks they will find a way.

At Supreme Court part 17 on Wednesday, February 11, Delilah is on the stand and Heller plays Walters video where Walter says she would not speak to him for years because of that incident with her mother. Heller asks if that was when Walter threw her mother through a closed window, and Delilah confirms. Walter goes on to mention her career in the theatre tanked and her writing a “dreadful” adaptation of The Fifth Assailant without his permission, she pestered him for the rights. It became too tedious to see her. Delilah still believes Charmaine was blocking her because of the will and thinks Walter was under Charmaine’s influence – her spell. Walter goes on to say Charmaine was sentimental and felt he should see his children, no matter what but he had to insist it was best for them all. Judith looks on sadly from the gallery.

Later, Charmaine testifies that Walter did not have long and she wanted him to die in peace in a beautiful place. There was a place in Quebec where they had happy times. He was dying and he knew it and had the courage to face it. She didn’t have to tell him why she took him out of the hospital; he’d made it clear he did not want to die surrounded by tubes and machines. She admits to the ED pills, saying Walter was very proud and he wanted to fell like a man and didn’t need to know a drug was helping him. She wanted to have his child, but not for a share of the estate, it was because she loved him. She tears up as she says she never met anyone in his life like Walter and she wanted to have a piece of him forever and wanted the world to have a piece of him.

Under cross, Barba states that Walter’s doctor testified he might have recovered but Charmaine said he was dying, asking which medical school did she attend? Heller objects and the judge chides him. Charmaine said she knew he did not want to be in that hospital, but Barba counters that she didn’t remove Walter until after she learned his daughters won visitation rights. She states that seeing them distressed him. Barba says Charmaine knew he wanted to die in peace, and she states yes. Barba comments that she “peacefully” yanked him out of the hospital, lied about where she was taking him, pulled him out of the ambulance in midtown Manhattan and shoved him in a taxi and, despite her arguments, he adds that she took him to Westchester to wait in an airplane hangar without oxygen, medication, and professional supervision. Charmaine testifies Walter was happy and he wasn’t suffering, he was with her. Barba counters until the fatal heart attack that occurred shortly thereafter, to which Charmaine rebuts could have happened at any time. Barba asks if that gave her the right to have it happen sooner? Heller calls out to the judge and Barba withdraws the question.

Heller shocks everyone by calling Judith as her next witness. When Barba voices concern that she has been sitting there and listening to all witnesses, Heller counters that Judith didn’t hear anything she didn’t already know and she only just offered to testify. The judge allows it and gives Barba an hour to prepare.

Afterwards in another courthouse room, Delilah and Judith argue the issue, Judith saying she thinks all of this was just Delilah. Barba interrupts and asks Judith what she plans to say on the stand. When Judith says that Delilah lied to her, the arguing continues. Judith thinks this is all about Delilah’s play and they continue to disagree. Charmaine and Heller enter the room and Heller says Judith will demolish his case. Barba calls this family drama and points it back to Charmaine. The arguing continues but Judith wants Delilah to stop, saying her father would not want any of this.  Heller says they don’t either and tries to cut a deal with Barba. Barba suggests reckless endangerment, first, and he could accept probation. Heller says they will take it to court and get an acquittal and when Barba calls her bluff, Charmaine says let’s end this and she will take it under the condition that Delilah is not allowed to ruin Walter’s work with her bad play. He didn’t want that so Charmaine doesn’t want that. Delilah pleads to Judith saying the will will be tied and Delilah threatens to take her to court. Charmaine says no, she may be may be cut out but there is a third vote she will control: their new brother or sister. She drops the bomb that a fertility clinic implanted a surrogate with an embryo - her egg and Walter’s sperm. Barba says they have a deal.

Back at SVU, Barba explains this to Benson and Carisi; Carisi is not taking it well. Barba says he knows Carisi admired the guy and tries to explain there was no way a jury would put Charmaine in jail. Carisi asks if the daughters are okay with this and Barba says one of them is. Carisi asks if it is Judith, and Barba nods, telling him to talk to her himself. Carisi says that is a good idea, and he walks out of Benson’s office. Barba says to Benson, “Families” and Benson asks how is his grandmother. He explains that she is still giving him grief about moving out of that walk-up deathtrap of hers that she has confused with Shangri-La. She didn’t like the facility but it can’t be her choice any more so they are starting to pack her things, under protest. Benson comments that is hard but tells Barba he is a good grandson. He replies no he is not, he is over-compensating. He asks what will Benson be doing when she is 85, and she says, “Squabbling with you?” He smiles, and says, “Wouldn’t that be nice.”

Later, Carisi is speaking with Judith, who gives him a signed, first edition copy of Walter’s book The Fifth Assailant. She knows he admired Walter and he says he did. He thanks her and asks if she has to clean up her father’s affairs. She said he was a charmer and Charmaine asked her to go through his papers. His publisher is bringing out his collective works in a new edition. Carisi says Walter deserves that. Judith comments she wishes Carisi could have known him, when he was all there. Carisi holds up the book, and says he does.

Back at Barba’s grandmother’s building, Barba races in to the lobby, and ambulance waiting outside. Lucia is there and they embrace, both upset. Lucia says she came over to help with her things and she buzzed the buzzer and there was no answer. She had a key so she went in and found her lying in her bed. Barba says he is so sorry but Lucia says she should have never agreed to this; she told them she did not want to move. Lucia says she should have quit the job and moved in with her, but Barba says no, it was him. Lucia says her mother wanted to die in her own home. Barba says she did. As they embrace each other, 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.


Alex said...

Totally agree Chris. I loved this episode because I'm a sucker for hurting Barba and because of Raul's fantastic-as-always acting, but the story was disappointing, and this was very disappointing as a supposedly Barba-centric episode. For this supposedly being a big Barba episode, Carisi being a fangirl towards Briggs was given almost as much screentime as Barba and his abuelita. Color me disappointed especially since this is most likely all we'll get till next year.

Alex said...

On another note, am I the only one who can't figure out if Barba's grandma died from natural causes or from suicide? It seems really ambiguous.

Shoshanarose said...

I love the part where Barba asks Benson what she'll be doing at age 85, and she says "Squabbling with you?. And he says, "Wouldn't that be nice?" And they exchange a look.

What are we to make of that? Surely they won't still be working at age 85? So...they will still be squabbling together because...they will be living together?

Is this a precursor to a Benson-Barba romantic twist? I hope so! Love them together.

Chris Zimmer said...

I see their relationship as only a friendship. For some reason, I don't see any romantic chemistry between those two. I don't see him as one that wants to be tied down bya child, either.

Chris Zimmer said...

Alex, I'm glad you brought that up. For a fleeting moment I had the same thought about suicide but then I figured that she died simply from being broken hearted about leaving her home. You're right, it wasn't made completely clear. But the fact that Barba was going to put her in St. Teresa Assisted Living, I assumed she was Catholic so she would not likely kill herself.

Adarie Tucker said...

Is nick and Amanda still in a relationship

CLA said...

With this SVU episode rose through the ranks and had nearly 8 million viewers. Was it due to the presence of Marcia Cross? Loves it in HD. Great actress and beautiful woman. She and Mariska are great friends.


Jefferson Mays as M.E. Rudnick

Njtoocool said...

Even if it's not the greatest episode, I'm always a fan of the dialogue

Alex said...

Chris- true that she wouldn't want to do that, being a Catholic. OTOH, seniors are the next most likely group to commit suicide after teens, and if comes down to a person being that depressed, faith might not be enough to stop them.

arplnfxr said...

Was Sandy Duncan in 'December Solstice'? The cast listed in this recap says yes, as judge Virginia Farrell, yet the recap says judge Marian Adams? She is credited as judge Virginia Farrell in 'American Disgrace ' episode...

Chris Zimmer said...

arplfx, Sandy Duncan was the judge in the court case in Manhattan and I did not list her name in the recap. I only referred to her as the "judge". Judge Marian Adams was the judge in the court at Westchester and her name was correctly listed in the recap.

Laurie Fanat said...

This episode was so bad that I forgot to make a comment here. And that is my only comment - it was BAD. The Barba story was lame and disappointing.

Keith said...

Contrary to most of the comments here, I thought this episode was fantastic :)

Keith said...

Contrary to most of the people who replied, I thought this was a great episode. Marcia Cross was fantastic as always and I enjoy when we see the personal stories and glad we saw Barba's.

D.Chester said...

TOTALLY agree and I'm glad you said it! I don't understand people who see romance between these two. Great friendship, yes but nothing more!

Felicia Angel said...

I know it's been a while (thank you Hulu for letting me catch up) but while this was just an ok episode for me, I did feel with Barba. Watching over your aging abuelita or parents is hard, and the transition to a new place is even harder, especially with work, and no matter what, there's always gonna be some reluctance.
Also, I swear that when Barba's mom told Liv "he says you drive him crazy" and he went to talk to his mom after her own comment, all I kept thinking was that he wanted to say "Mama, stop, she doesn't know I draw hearts around her and my names in my notebooks!"
....he totally would.

Alexandra Edge said...

I don't think that moment between Benson and Barba was meant to presage romance (at least I hope it wasn't). I think it was just the two of them expressing the hope -- knowing it to be in vain -- that nothing would have to change between that point and when they reach old age. Their squabbling with each other is what they do at this point in their lives and they'd sure like for that to last another 40 years, but they know it won't.