Thursday, May 21, 2015

Law & Order “Surrendering Noah” Recap & Review

There was no surrendering of Noah in the season 16 finale of Law & Order SVU "Surrendering Noah." (You didn't think after all the focus on Benson being foster mother that it would end in her losing custody?) Nick Amaro, after taking 2 bullets in a courtroom shoot out - and after being told he had zero chance for advancement in the NYPD - decides to make the big move to California to be closer to his family. Johnny D gets killed in that same shoot out, giving Benson that clear path to adoption. No surprises here. Still, it was a well executed wrap up to the season and to the Noah as foster child story line.

The end of the episode where Amaro tells Benson he is leaving was both touching and infuriating. The barely veiled diss to Stabler – or should I call him “He Who Shall Not Be Named” - was a head scratching moment. Amaro has been far more a thorn in her side than Stabler ever was. I could hear the Stabler fans collectively scream in outrage. Even I shook my head at what I was hearing. Are there such hard feelings on the part of SVU producers/writers with Stabler fans or Chris Meloni that they felt a put down to Stabler was necessary?  That scene distracted me so much that it wasn’t until I watched the episode again for the recap that I realized the touching part of that scene with Danny Pino. Yes, we get it, Stabler is gone. While there are people out there who are still upset Chris Meloni is not with the show, my guess is the majority of current viewers have long moved on.  It would have worked just as well for Benson to tell Amaro that he has helped her grow in the last four years, and leave out the Stabler reference. Sometimes I think it’s the producers/writers who can’t move on from the Stabler thing. If one wants to stop a smoldering fire, don't fan the flames.

Again I found myself questioning Benson's judgment. I understand her desire to be truthful about Noah's parentage, and how lying doesn’t work for her, but she should have listened to Barba (and Tucker). By coming forward with this information, she gave Johnny D an opening for his defense, Then, she’s outraged with Barba when he suggests cutting a deal when she was the one who ignored his advice? The more I think about it, I question why ME Warner gave Benson this information in the first place (in the episode “Undercover Mother” ), especially since Warner said the information was un-discoverable. This is really the trigger incident that put Benson between a rock and a hard place. I know Benson wanted to be honest about Noah’s parentage but in this case, she should know that sometimes one has to work the system and use the law to her advantage.  I also was concerned the moment Benson gave Ariel her "fearlessness" necklace as I thought that could be perceived as bribing a witness. I guess in Benson's mind it isn’t okay to withhold information but it IS okay to bribe someone? Lucky for her, Johnny D started shooting when he did,  because the defense attorney seemed poised to pounce on the issue of Benson's influence on the witness.

I also felt bad for Amaro when Benson crushed his hopes by telling him he had zero chance of moving up in the NYPD. I think he had to be informed of what he was up against, but her delivery of that message was lacking in sensitivity. (Never deliver bad news to an employee when standing.)

The courtroom shooting was no surprise as it was featured in the promo for the episode but at least the promo got fans guessing about who would get shot. Amaro gets hit in the liver and knee, the latter making him fit only for desk duty for at least while he recovers. Ultimately, this helps him make the decision to head to California to reunite with his family. Despite the fact that many Danny Pino fans already suspected he was leaving the show, I could still hear them screaming their disappointment in the final scenes. Good luck to Danny in his future endeavors; he was a great addition to the SVU cast. Now the questions are: Will they bring in another detective to replace him? Will Benson move up to Lieutenant and get a new Sergeant? Will she stay as Sergeant and get a new boss?

I shouldn't have to say this, but everyone knows that a phrase such as “we can protect you” means that someone will certainly die! I don’t know what the proper procedures are for the transport of prisoners, but I didn’t think they transported men and women together. Can anyone clarify? And, with Johnny D’s apparent reach to the victims even while he is in prison, they should have vetted the prison guards OR had the SVU detectives follow the van.

Despite my issues, this episode was very well done and it brought closure to season-long story lines which brings me hope for fresh stories in season 17 (maybe stories with less focus on Noah). I'm looking forward to it!

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 “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Peter Hermann - Counselor Trevor Langan
Robert John Burke - Lt. Ed Tucker
Jenna Stern – Judge Elana Barth
Lili Taylor – Martha Thornhill
Jayne Houdyshell – Judge Ruth Linden
Charles Halford - Johnny “D” Drake
Michael Kostroff - Counselor Evan Braun
Danika Yarosh - Ariel Thornhill
Jefferson Mays - M.E. Rudnick
Laura Gomez - Selena Cruz
Jas Anderson - Timmer
Jamila Velazquez - Pilar Morenas
Emily Althsus – Jesse
Bronwyn Reed - Lucy Huston
Thedra Porter - Chantal Jackson
Danielle Burgess - Nina Soren
Sipiwe Moyo - Officer Fox
Joselin Reyes - Paramedic # 1
Sadie Scott - Elana Mays
Zena Woody - Tanya Mejia
Arianna Groover - Juliette
Kyanna Simone - Laura (as Kyanna Simone Simpson)
Wendy Gutierrez - CO Stella Lopez
Mario D'Leon - CO Jerez
Adrian Matilla - Officer Gomez
Chazz Menendez - Pimp
Ryan Fame Quinlan - Court Officer
Bradley Dubow - Noah Porter

In her apartment, along with Trevor Langan, Benson explains the outlets are covered and there is corner padding, and Trevor says she has toddler-proofed every inch. She adds Noah has been eating a lot lately. As Miss Jackson inspects the kitchen, she asks about outdoor activity. Benson states Noah has scheduled exercise time at daycare and the babysitter takes him out every day. Trevor adds Benson spends weekends and mornings with Noah. Benson says at night they read; Noah didn’t have a lot of verbal interaction as an infant and she does not want him to get too far behind in his language development. Jackson asks if she sings to him as that is also important. Benson replies “Of course.” Jackson states Noah will need a taller bed before he climbs out of that crib. She then says Benson passed all her home studies and she will recommend Benson be approved as Noah’s adoptive parent. Benson grins and says thank you. Benson opens the door for Jackson to leave the apartment and thanks her again. Jackson turns and wishes her good luck. Benson turns and looks to Trevor, smiling. He is also happy and tells her, “That’s great, Olivia.” She asks what is next, and Trevor explains her will confirm with the agency that Noah is free for adoption and will initiate proceedings to go before Judge Linden. The paperwork looks in order. When Trevor mentions the birth mother is deceased and the birth father is unknown, Benson says there is something she should tell him. She explains how they stumbled on Noah’s birth father during an investigation, and we see how Johnny D and Timmer operated and how the detectives handled the case and how they caught up with Johnny D.

At SVU, Barba tells the SVU squad that Johnny “D” Drake has run out of delaying tactics and he will go to trial on 17 counts of rape, assault, trafficking and kidnapping. Carisi comments that it was nice working taking this from the Feds. When Amaro asks if Barba will need them to testify, Barba assumes that will not be a problem. Benson confirms not at all and Fin comments there are lots of witnesses and it will be a long trial. Barba wants him put Johnny D away for life. Rollins asks what can they do, and Barba tells them they have to re-vet all the witnesses – no surprises. As the detectives all get up to leave, Benson asks Barba us she can walk him out. As they walk to the elevator, he asks if there is something she needs to tell him. She explains she has decided to name Johnny D as Noah’s birth father on the adoption papers. Barba reminds her they talked about this and she is under no obligation to do that, it is not material to what he is being charged with. She says this isn’t about the trial. The adoption paperwork lists Noah’s birth father as unknown. Barba questions what is the problem, and Benson whispers that lying does not work out well for her. He sighs and says okay. He shakes his head as he walks to the elevator, saying Johnny D and family court are separate universes – he’ll never find out. Benson counters maybe not, but someday Noah might – or the courts. She does not want her life with Noah to be built on a lie. Barba cautions her, saying “Don’t do this. Johnny D is a psychopath. Do not open this door.” He steps into the elevator.

At Rikers Island on Monday, April 27, Johnny D’s lawyer Counselor Evan Braun comes to see him and drops the bomb that Ellie Porter (Noah’s mother) may be Johnny’s get out of jail free card.

At SVU in the squad room, the Carisi rambles on about why the Feds gave them the case. Amaro seems mentally disconnected from the discussion and Fin says they should have shot Johnny D when they had the chance. Amaro gets up from his desk and walks into Benson’s office. Benson is sitting at her desk on the phone with Barba and Amaro knocks on her door and asks if she has a minute, and she does. He said that Fin mentioned Benson is up for Lieutenant and that she might need a new Sergeant. She replies that right now that is just talk. He explains the deadline is Friday, same as the Sergeant’s exam and he just registered, Benson looks surprised and says, “Oh.” Amaro says he would like to try moving up the ranks and after watching Munch – and her – it is a track he can see himself on. She explains that she had to approach Fin first as he has seniority. Amaro comments that knows that, adding that Fin told him he is not interested in the administrative part of the job, but Amaro is. Benson stands up, smiles, and says “Okay. Good” and then – “Start studying.” Amaro smiles and says he already has.

In motions court part 21 on Tuesday, April 28 with Judge Barth, Barba fights Braun’s motion for dismissal who states Benson hid the information about Noah, the child she is trying to adopt, and pursued Johnny D because she was motivated by denying Johnny D’s parental rights. Barba argues the timing issues but Braun thinks this is a vendetta. Barba brings up the situation regarding Johnny’s arrest and that he is a career criminal, and Braun argues Johnny’s DNA was never in the system and thinks Johnny is a victim of a single minded blood feud. Barba thinks this motion is an overreach and as he ramps up his argument, Barth tells him to save the ivy league oratory for trial. Before she rules on the motion she wants to speak with the ME’s office and Benson.

Elsewhere, Benson sits at a bar as Lt. Ed Tucker meets her. She thanks him for meeting her there. He asks if the squad knows about her situation, and she replies they do now. She explains she did not know Johnny D was Noah’s father until after the arrest. He says the ME confirms and they don’t have a problem with it. He says she probably should have kept it to herself, and the scumbag will use any leverage he has. But as far as IAB is concerned, she has no liability. She thanks him. He asks if that is tea she is drinking and she says it is. He tells her “Man up, will ya?” He sits down and Tucker asks if he can get two glasses of…and Benson finishes “Nero D’Avyla.” Benson says while he is here, she wants to run something past him. She explains Amaro wants to take the Sergeant’s exam and would make a good #2. Tucker says it does not matter if he gets a perfect score on the test, he’s damaged goods. She argues he is a solid cop and is turning things around. He reminds her Amaro shot an unarmed 14 year old kid, chased after three others with a baseball bat, and beat in innocent suspect in a schoolyard. She tells him to stop; in those case he was exonerated. Tucker states technically yes but realistically, the way One PP sees it, Amaro could cure cancer and they will still not promote him. He knows she likes Amaro but this is never gonna happen. She says “Got it.”

At Barba’s office at 1 Hogan Place on Wednesday, April 29, Braun visits Barba and tries to offer a deal.

Afterwards, Barba is walking outside with Benson and she rejects the idea that Johnny D will relinquish parental rights and waive visitation and Noah will never have to know Johnny existed. Benson says Johnny doesn’t get to do this. Barba states they offered a plea of 3-5 years for prostitution which he agrees is not enough – Benson should “Not enough!” - and Barba says he can sell them on one count of trafficking and plead it down and Braun indicated they might accept 10 years. Benson screams “Yes, because he knows if this goes to trial that Johnny D will spend the rest of his life in prison. He sex trafficked young girls. He raped them. He brutalized them. He does not get to plead this down because I want to make my life less complicated.” Barba says okay but adds there is something she needs to know: regardless of whether he is convicted or not, he can still appeal for parental rights and has a good shot of getting parental visitation. She could be taking Noah to prison to visit Johnny D until Noah is 18. Benson looks conflicted.

Back at SVU at the coffee station getting something to drink, Rollins says to Amaro she is surprised that Amaro applied for the Sergeant’s exam, and he asks why. She replies she doesn’t know, asking what does Liv say? He states she thought it was a good idea. Rollins pats him on the arm, smiles, and says “Alright!” Amaro comments that Rollins should think about taking it, she would be on the fast track and she doesn’t want to be a detective forever. She comments that she does, and states “I’m good as I am. My life is perfect.” Amaro says it must be nice. Carisi, sitting at this desk, asks if anybody has heard from the Sarge, noting that she is late. Fin, also sitting at his desk, doesn’t look up and comments that Benson is dealing with a lot right now. Benson races into the squad room and is happy they are all there. She informs them she just met with Barba and the judge threw out Johnny D’s motion so it looks like they will be going to trial in a few days. Amaro asks if she is going to testify and she states she has to, she was the first one on scene. Carisi says if Barba does not call her, the defense definitely will in order to cast shade on her. Fin dryly adds that he still says they should have shot him. Rollins says “OKAY Fin.” Benson informs them that Barba needs to schedule prep time with all of them and he also wants to assign each of them to one of the witnesses, Fin questions if it is as bodyguards, but Benson explains it would be as confidants so they knew they are looking out for them and also so they can let Barba know if anyone gets…shaky. Amaro says so they will bond with them, and Fin asks about Selena and Timmer, the deal says they have to testify. Benson says they are both up at Sing Sing and make sure they feel secure. Amaro states that Johnny D is not getting away, and Benson says, “Yeah.” She asks Amaro if he has a sec, and they walk into her office. Inside, he tells him she talked with Tucker and explains that it is not Tucker, it’s the department, and Tucker thinks there is no point in Amaro taking the Sergeant’s exam and they will just round robin him out. Amaro looks stunned and says forget it, and says Munch said not to fall in love with a job because she will never love you back. He walks out of her office and shuts the door hard.

At the Church of Saint Andrew Safe House on Thursday, April 30, Rollins and Carisi speak with a few of the girls about testifying and they seem willing to help.

Back at SVU, Benson meets with Ariel and her mother Martha Thornhill and she wants to prepare them to testify.

At Sing Sing, Amaro speaks with a ragged looking Selena who thinks if she testifies she will be dead. He assures her they will protect her but she doesn’t believe him.

Also at the prison, Benson and Fin speak with Timmer who seems over-anxious and says Johnny D will go down, telling Benson he will take care of that for her, calling her babe. Fin calls him on it but she tells him it is okay. She explains that Barba will prep him and advises no embellishments. Timmer says he’s got this and then says he meant no offense. She says none taken but Fin looks skeptical.

Outside, Fin tells Benson he thinks Timmer is working them and doesn’t trust him. Benson comments he doesn’t have to trust him, the only way he lives to see summer is if Johnny D gets sent away. Fin comments if she says so. Benson gets a message and says Amaro finished with Selena and is on his way out. Fin asks if he is okay, saying Amaro was all business about taking the Sergeant’s exam and after he talked to her, Fin saw Amaro throw his prep book into the garbage. Benson replies NYPD doesn’t want to promote him. Fin says, “Oh wow, that’s tough.” Amaro approaches and says he trusts Selena about as far as he can throw her. As Fin says the same for Timmer, Benson watches children with their parents there for visits being led into vans. Amaro sees her staring and suggests they get out of there.

In Supreme Court part 21 on Friday, May 1, Benson testifies about the investigation regarding Johnny D and Ariel and the other girls and how the girls are broken in. She said they rescued three girls and describes their injuries and they later found the girls were gang raped and tortured. Barba submits the ME reports about what the girls suffered. She said Johnny attempted to escape with Ariel as a hostage, holding her with a shard of glass but he eventually surrendered and they arrested him and read him his rights. She identifies Johnny D. Under cross, Braun brings up that Benson is a foster mother to a toddler, and Barba leaps up and tells the judge they have been over this. Judge Barth cuts him off and has Barba and Braun approach. Barba argues Benson became aware Johnny was Noah’s birth father after Johnny was in police custody, but Braun counters it was not after the investigation was completed. He adds the ME’s office confirms Benson was notified one day after the arrest which was before Johnny D was charged. Barba thinks this is irrelevant but Braun thinks the jury needs to hear about that conflict of interest and even the DA’s. He asks Barba when he first became aware of Noah’s parentage, and when Barba says that may fall under attorney-client privilege, Barth says they were both working on the case for the city of New York, so she doubts that. She suggests to spare Barba the embarrassment and ethical jeopardy of answering and he should agree to drop the objection. He agrees. As the other detectives watch in the gallery, Braun brings up that in the adoption process she noted Johnny Drake was Noah’s father. Braun tries to make it sound like there was a conflict but she tersely states her only interest is making sure that a sadistic violent sex trafficker be brought to justice. Braun says her anger seems personal, and when Barba calls out to the judge, Braun withdraws the comment. When Braun concludes, Barth tells Benson to step down. When Barba seems to want to continue, Barth calls for a recess for the day and the prosecution will continue at 9AM the next day.

As Bensons steps away from the stand, Johnny D asks how is his son. The court officer tells him that is enough. As Johnny goes on and says he has seen pictures and can’t wait to meet him, Benson stops and states that is never gonna happen.

As she walks into the court hallway with the other detectives, reporters call out to her. She comments that Johnny got to her but the detectives rally to support her. Barba says he is going to move up Timmer and Selena to testify and asks them to be transported. Fin says he will call and have them transported. Rollins adds it is still early and asks if he wants them to take them out of Sing Sing and give them a pep talk? Barba thinks this is a good idea and tells them to go – now. He directs Benson to the stairs away from the reporters.

Later, Rollins and Amato are walking out of the prison with Selena and she is worried she will live. Rollins says they will protect her but Selena is skeptical.

Meanwhile, Fin and Carisi get Timmer into the prison van and he comments he will not let them down. He wants to change his life and says he was doing some reading, citing the autobiography of Malcolm X, “Soul on Ice” and cites Eldridge Cleaver and trusting to his higher education. Rollins and Amaro bring Selena to the van and she gets in. Amaro tells her this is her last chance and she glares at him.

Later, the prison van is parked and one of the female officers is outside the van smoking as the other officer is exiting a store with coffee. He asks her how long she has been out of the van, and she asks if he is going to write her up. He is annoyed and asks that she couldn’t wait 20 minutes, and then a banging noise comes from the van. They open the van door and find Timmer dead in a mess of blood and the officer orders Selena to drop the knife. She drops it and says Timmer attacker her and she had to fight back, she thought Timmer was going to kill her.

At the ME’s office, Barba races in with Rollins and Carisi and asks how did this happen? Carisi explains one officer pulled over for coffee and the other a smoke break and they figured since Selena and Timmer were testifying that they were on their team. Barba comments “Or not” and asks for a complete investigation on both officers.

Inside, ME Rudnick is doing the autopsy and said Timmer’s carotid and jugular were severed and be bled out in less than a minute. He thinks Selena used the element of surprise and sliced his throat from ear to Adams apple before he knew he was under attack. Selena has some cuts on her hands and arms but absent video proof it is hard to know the sequence. Rollins thanks him and she and Carisi leave. Rudnick asks Barba how the trial is going, and Barba replies better before this happened. Rudnick comments Johnny D is a monster and mentions the victim’s injuries and asks if the jury understands the significance of his report. He states every one of those girls had left ribs 8, 9, and 10 broken, commenting it is a strange coincidence unless one man has a pattern to his beatings. Barba says they will be calling him to testify to that. Rudnick adds it is horrible to think a man could do that to a woman, and even worse he might get away with it. Barba stares at him and says sarcastically, “Thank you for your faith in me, doctor.”

In jail, Selena insists to Benson and Rollins that Timmer pulled out the blade and came on her and told her she is never going to testify and he would kill her first. Rollins challenges that just grabbed it and slit his throat, and she says that is right. Benson comments she is half Timmer’s size and asks how did she grab that blade, did she have help? Selena states Timmer threatened to kill her son and she found the strength to fight back. Rollins looks at Benson and rolls her eyes and shakes her head. Benson says she will still have to testify, and Selena refuses. She does not care what happened to her but worries for her son, saying they don’t know Johnny like she does.

Meanwhile, in prison, Amaro and Fin speak with Johnny D and Braun and accuse him of having Selena kill Timmer. He and Braun deny involvement and Johnny D says Timmer would never testify, asking if they bought Timmer’s Eldridge Cleaver line. Fin says they are done. Braun brings out a teddy bear which Johnny D says is a present for his son. Amaro laughs and tells him they will make sure he gets it, and he and Fin leave without taking it.

Back in Barba’s office, he shows Benson the Ledger headline “Blood Witness” and says the female CO was dating one of Johnny D’s pimps and she slipped Selena the blade. Benson informs him they have doubled security on the four girls – Jesse, Nina, Pilar, and Ariel. Barba thinks Johnny is already in their heads. Benson wants to keep going and Barba asks that the longer they wait, the more spooked the girls get? Benson nods. He tells her to make sure they are ready to take the stand tomorrow.

Later, Rollins and Carisi bring Pilar into the empty courtroom to rehearse. Carisi reminds her Johnny D will be in the courtroom and they want to make sure she is prepared for that. She will look him right in the eye. Barba enters and thanks her for coming in and they begin practice. As Barba begins rehearsal, the scene changes to the trail. She talks about meeting Johnny D and then begins to waiver. She looks at Johnny and then says he offered her money to clean his apartment. Barba is stunned and reminds her she is under oath. But she says Johnny was not a sex trafficker who beat and raped her. Benson and the detective watch from the gallery. He brings up her grand jury testimony and she states she said that because she was illegal and did not want to be deported. She says Johnny D never hurt or raped her; he loves her and she loves him. Benson looks frustrated and Johnny looks satisfied. Barba tells Judge Barth he needs to confer, and she grants a one hour recess.

During the recess, he confronts Pilar, with Benson, Rollins, and Carisi present. Pilar says she told the truth. Barba tells them to get Pilar out of there, and Carisi and Rollins take her out. Braun walks in with a satisfied smirk and tells Barba the deal he shopped is off the table as Barba’s star witness is dead and Pilar reversed her testimony. Reasonable doubt is now very reasonable. Barba replies whatever he is selling, he is not interested.  Braun lays a file folder on the table and says they might be interested in this. Benson picks up the folder and she sees that Johnny D is requesting an emergency appeal to reinstate his parental rights and stop the adoption of his son – Noah Porter…Drake.

Later, over beverages with Barba, Benson tells him that Tucker said this would be a bad week. Barba comments he has been calling in favors to make sure the right judge rules in the appeal. She says that Trevor Langan, Noah’s attorney, says the best move is for Barba to get a conviction. Barba says that is a good idea but these girls are just so scared of their live and they are scarred and he is afraid they will fold too. She says there is somebody who knows exactly what they went through.

At the Church of Saint Andrew safe house on Monday, May 4, Benson speaks with Ariel and gives her the “Fearlessness” necklace that she wears all the time, saying it works. Benson pus it on Ariel and Ariel thanks her. Afterwards, Benson explains the situation with the four other girls about Timmer and Pilar and they she needs them to tell their story and what they suffered and let the jury see the monster Johnny D is and they will send him to prison for the rest of his life. She asks Ariel to speak and she talks about how Johnny D treated them so he could make money. She lived in fear and she cried every day until she couldn’t cry any more. Then she just became numb, like all of them. They are free now and Johnny D doesn’t control them or own them. They don’t have to be afraid any more. Benson says to testify is the only way to prove that and to promise themselves and each other that they will get on the stand tomorrow and tell the truth. They all promise.

In Supreme Court part 21 on May 5, all the girls give compelling testimony.

Later, in Benson’s office, Amaro tells Benson the girls did great today, Barba too. The judge had to adjourn before Braun could cross. She thinks the jury is not sleeping tonight. Amaro comments between what Johnny had done to them and what he is doing to her…Benson says he is not going to do anything to her. He says he was wrong to add to her stress about being a Sarge and was sorry he put her in that position. She says she knows how hard that must have been for him to hear and she is sorry. She says they will get through this, and he says yes we will, and then says he will see her in court tomorrow. He ask if she saw the look on Johnny D’s face when those girls testified, then adds Johnny knows he is done.

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

In Supreme Court part 21 on Wednesday, May 6, Ariel is on the stand under cross, and wearing the “Fearlessness” necklace. She admits she was not kidnapped by Johnny but he held her prisoner as did others. She has not testified against those others. He asks if Benson personally prevailed on her – he corrects to say pressured her – to testify against Johnny? Benson nods to her and mothers to go ahead. Ariel states Benson asked but she wanted to, he is a horrible man and he raped her repeatedly. But several women stand up and yell out that Ariel is lying and the judge calls for order. Barth says one more outburst and she will clear the gallery, and Pilar shouts that Barth can’t tell her to shut up. Barth says that’s it and calls the officers to get them out. As the officers move to take out the girls, other men in the gallery also interfere and the detectives move in to help. Johnny uses the distraction to flip the table in front of him and grab a court officer’s gun and holds it to the court officer’s head. Benson and Amaro pull their guns and Amaro shouts “He has a gun!” and yells for Johnny to drop the gun and let her go. Johnny fires at another court police officer who falls to the ground and then at Judge Barth who also drops. Johnny heads out the door and Amaro follows as Benson yells for him not to. He proceeds into the hall and tells Johnny to drop it and as the door closes, the flashes and sound of gunfire ring out.
Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC 2015 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Afterwards, Amaro is on a stretcher being taken to the hospital. Rollins tells Benson she will ride with Amaro to Bellevue. Benson races in and Barba tells her the judge is okay, she got hit it the shoulder. Ariel tells Benson she thinks she is alright. Benson races into the hallway and sees Carisi crouched over the court officer and she is dead, a point blank shot through the temple. Fin tells her Johnny D is dead, two in the chest from Amaro. He asks if Amaro is going to make it, and Benson replies he is en route to Bellevue.

Benson, along with Carisi, race into the hospital and Rollins tells her that Amaro is in surgery. A bullet hit his liver and they have to do an emergency laparotomy and now they are working on his knee. Carisi says the liver can heal itself but a bullet to the knee…Rollins, sounding annoyed, says she knows that. He says he is sorry and moves to get them some coffee. Tucker approaches and asks if Amaro is okay, and Benson says “Considering.” He asks about Johnny D and Benson explains he is dead, the court officer too and a judge and a CO got hit. Rollins asks what was Johnny D thinking grabbing a gun and shooting a judge, adding no way he was getting out of that building alive. Tucker thinks that is exactly what Johnny D was thinking. Benson nods.

Later, Benson gets home and Lucy is there with Noah and Benson thanks her for staying. She says Amaro is out of surgery and his mother is with him and it could have been worse. She takes Noah and Lucy says Noah did not want to sleep without his mom. She hugs him and repeats several times, “Mommy’s home.”

In the family court meeting room on Wednesday, May 20, Benson is there with Noah and Trevor who brings the judge up to speed on Johnny D and they can’t locate any living blood relatives. The judge asks Benson if she is willing to raise Noah as her lawful child, and she says yes. The judge asks that this child will inherit from her and will be treated no differently than a biological child, and Benson says yes again. Linden says she knows it has been a long year and a hard process, but everything seems to be in order. Benson smiles and the judge congratulates her and Noah Porter Benson. She signs off of the adoption. The judge wishes Benson and her family the best. She says they did it, smiling and calling him Noah Porter Benson.

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

Afterwards, there is a party at Benson’s apartment and Fin, there with Carisi and Barba, congratulates her. Benson says Amaro is on his way. She adds that he is only two weeks into PT so it is going to be a long road. Amaro arrive with Rollins and he is walking with crutches. He brings her flowers and she thanks them for coming.

Later, Amaro tells Benson he will be hobbling around for 3 months and maybe a cane. She says he will be on desk duty for a while and they will work it out. But, he tells her he hasn’t told anyone else yet but he has been talking with his delegate and with his knee injury, they are going to try to force him out. She tells him to hold on, they are going to fight that; he is young and in good health. But he counters he is not going anywhere in the department anyway and he can retire now with ¾ pay tax, free, and start over again in California. She looks stunned and asks if he is sure. He says Zara is in LA and Gil is in San Diego – he is sure. She seems to get choked up and says she does not know what to say. He says he knows he wasn’t what her old partner was to her. She says, “No, you weren’t. I grew more in my last four years with you than I did in the twelve years that I was with him. You know that relationship - whatever it was – didn’t allow for anything else. But with you – with your support – I have a family. “ Amaro comments, smiling, “Yes you do.” She adds, whispering, “You helped me grow.” He says, “I appreciate you saying that.” She goes on to say, “Wow. So, whatever happens Nick Amaro, friends for life.” They both get teary eyed and Amaro says “Friends for life.” She hugs him and sadness comes over his face.

Afterwards, Fin makes a toast “To family” and they all raise and clink their glasses. As they all take a drink, Amaro looks to Benson as she cuddles to Noah as we fade to black.

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Alex said...

This episode would have been great if not for the fact that it was Danny Pino's last. Not just because I'll miss him or because they tainted his last scene mocking Elliot, but because it also infuriates me that even a major character's final episode is still more about Olivia than anyone else. If Nick was leaving, it should have been all about him. Period.

Juda Martinez said...

hey chris i wrote to you on youtube but iam gonna repeat myself thank you thank you very much for giving us fans the best recaps you spend 23 shows thats alot of hard work so i want to appreciate what you do for us before i post a comment you been doing a great job for about 7 years now and i thank you for accepting me as part of 1 of your fans like i told you the 1st time i introduce myself if there is ever a law and order hall of fame you belong in it by the way what do you think of a law order hall of fame in newyork

felejim said...

Good episode. The Stabler diss was the best part of the episode. LOL!

Juda Martinez said...

now for my comment this was a well done episode we had a feeling amaro was gonna be gone i knew it was gonna be johnny d that died cause i paused the video and saw the color of jacket i wasent an amaro fan at 1st i hated when he pulled a gun on cassidy but after him going to jail last year and munch saw good in him and i started watching coldcase i started likeking him i wish him the best in his future roles as far as the comment liv told him about the 4 years she was with him and 12 with stabler that was taken out of proportion i know what she meant by it i rate last nights episode a 9.5 out of 10 now cpd to me was a perfect 10 i think they both ended the same it actually felt at end of episode like that was the last svu episode ever seen everyone happy at livs place well cant wait til season 17

gayle said...

Exactly how did Nick help Olivia "grow?" He wasn't even her day-to-day "partner." So she decided to adopt a baby...that was because of Nick's influence? Sorry, I don't get it.

empxth tbh said...

i'm not gonna ask for logic or complain, i'm just gonna enjoy the "bittersweet" scenes at the end :D

Chris Zimmer said...

Juda, thank you for your kind words! It would be nice to have a place to honor all the Law & Order brand shows, and New York would be the likely place!

Lisa said...

i think Olivia had no choice to disclose she knew who Noahs parentage was do withhold that could have spelled danger for her and the adoption..well if this was the real world.

the episode was ok, i was sadden to see Danny go but them turning him into Stabler Lite wasnt working

I hope now Fin will change his mind and take the SGTs exam and be Olivias second he deserves it.

I just hope now we see less of Noah and Olivia mommy agnst is at a end.

Juda Martinez said...

do you have any imformation chris if warren lieght is gonna be back next year as far as benson as sargent i posted before i felt the episodes where a little better when you had donal logue or peter gallagher incharge it adds that there been rough not to say liv hasent done a good job as sargent i wonder next season on opening credits of course hargitays name is gonna be 1st but will giddish be 2nd or ice-t only reason i ask i dont remember any law and order having the 1st 2 names be a womens name unless they bring someone else in from been a huge oz and wire fan i would love to see kirk acevedo or idris elba on svu just a few guys i could think of it would be funny if lee tergesen came in who knows if there adding or keeping same cast

Nikki said...

When were Benson and Amaro that close? I don't recall it.

It's sad that Amaro's 4 years were condensed into one 20 second moment about Olivia's life.

In the moment it looks like a sweet scene but when you actually think it back it has no real basis, they were barely onscreen together.

Icy said...

It wasn't meant to be a diss on Stabler, what Olivia meant by that was that unlike him she actually got a chance to say goodbye to Amaro and have closure, which she never had with Stabler.

Amaro was needed to help her move foward post stabler. He did, especially after the lewis saga.

Both Stabler and Amaro are two completly different character whom have helped olivia in different stages of her life in different ways .

That is all she meant, yes Olivia will always love Stabler but he's not there anymore for her. This also shows how much Olivia has grown character wise it makes for good character developement. Characters need to change and develop/

As for the episode, I liked it. Glad Olivia got to adopt Noah, I think this her being a mother is much better storyline then her failed numerous love interests.

Juda Martinez said...

icy i just thaught of something remember liv told amaro we will be friends will keep in touch in the last 4 years there has not been any indication if liv has even talk to stabler so it will make no sense that she will keep in touch with amaro but not with stabler

gayle said...

Of course the show has had "sudden" departures of characters before. Who saw it coming that Munch and the Captain would sign off without much advance info?

Nikki said...

It was definitely a diss. I'm not mad about it at all. Who really cares. But it still was a diss. Crystal clear.

HerbaceousHaven said...

I dunno what to of the show I liked but parts were kinda lame?Like do they really transport prisoners of the same sex in the same van?
Anyone find the ME creepy? God at one point I was wondering if he was gonna slice and dice Barba or if he was going ask him out on a date!
Sad Danny Pino is leaving the show I think he has a big fan base and leaving probably will hurt show ratings. I guess the big cliff hanger is whether they will replace him and with whom.......

Linda F said...

It didn't bother me because I have no feelings one way or the other toward Stabler, having never seen him. But I see both sides of why people are or aren't angry about "Casting-Shade-Gate."

However, I have come to the conclusion over the last four years that WL has some sort of hangup about it. I wonder if Amaro will eventually be the target of some of his digs, because he does seem to get nasty to fans who bring up things he doesn't want to discuss. Although I'm guessing DP didn't choose to leave, unlike Chris Meloni.

Luckily, I won't be there to see it because I won't be watching or following anyone associated with the show (except Danny) anymore, but I'm sure I'll check in with this blog once in a while to see how things are going with Rollins, Carisi, and Fin.

Me and my anger over how WL and the writers ruined Nick Amaro's character and then shoved out his portrayer are retiring from SVU duty. I'll buy the Season 16 DVD when it comes out, and be happy with my four years of SVU 2.0.

Laurie Fanat said...

Yes that was a clear slam against Stabler. Benson was wrong to blame him for her lack of growing. She was the one who seemed to pine after him. Benson was the one who was fixated on finding her father and then when she found her brother she got wrapped up in that. She went undercover in jail and was assaulted – not Stabler’s fault. I could go on and on. She didn’t grow much in those 12 years because SHE held herself back. Mind you, I always though Stabler was a loose cannon and had issues, but Benson was far from perfect. For her to make it sound like Stabler was to blame for her not growing is her refusal to accept responsibility for her own actions. It’s the same thing with her getting all upset with Barba when Barba wanted to cut a deal with Johnny D. Had Benson kept her mouth shut, Noah’s parentage would have not been used against her at trial. This entire sequence of events were HER FAULT. (ME Warner should also have kept silent.)

When Benson said “You know that relationship - whatever it was – didn’t allow for anything else. But with you – with your support – I have a family” it implies that her relationship with Stabler held her back and was a negative influence. When Amaro said he wasn’t like her old partner was to her, she could have simply said, “Yes, that relationship was different but I still value yours just as much.” Was it Amaro’s magic wand that he waved to give Benson a promotion and a baby? Based on what we’ve seen on Benson’s personal life, she didn’t socialize with her staff much outside of work and she tried to keep her private life private. The writers made Amaro bring up Stabler for the only purpose of Benson saying that she could not grow as quickly with Stabler. She’s completely wrong. I think she grew more with Stabler in 4 years than with Amaro in 4 years. She was just lucky that both Cragen and Munch retired to make a hole for her promotion. She was lucky Noah was picked up by SVU during an investigation and a judge surprised her with foster care. Amaro has NOTHING to do with her getting a family.

I could care less that Stabler is gone but I do get annoyed that the SVU writers, Warren, and Julie seem to want to get their 2 cents in on the issue whenever they can. I lost a lot of respect for them in that last scene.

Speaking of growing, I think over the last few years with SVU, as Benson has “grown” with Amaro, the quality of story telling and acting has gone downhill. I could be growing out of this show; there are much better dramas out there. Depending on who, if anybody, they pick for Amaro’s replacement, I may not watch next year.

I never warmed up to Danny but I think he did fine with what they gave him. I also wish him well.

I didn’t feel any suspense in this episode because the promo tipped off a lot and we knew Noah was going to be a major issue. Can someone please give this show a bigger budget so they can get some better writers? I know they work hard at their craft but this past season has been soap-opera quality writing.

One last rant about Benson – I am tired of her holier than thou attitude. I would have had more respect for her had she taken the risk and kept silent as others had told her. She also made a huge error by consulting with Barba on the issue with Johnny D a while back. Had she spoken to a lawyer outside the prosecutor’s office, she would have had attorney client privildge. THAT is when she should have roped in Trevor Langan. I agree that Benson shouldn’t have dumped the bad news on Amaro about the promotion in a better way. Her management ability sucks.

Oh yeah, ME Rudnick. That dialog with him and Barba was worthless filler. He was very creepy, too.

I know I will have more to say but for now that’s it.

Jeannette said...

I do think Olivia and Nick got close during his 4 years on the show. Nick did stay with her and Brian Cassidy for a few days- Elliot never did that (sleeping on the couch), Nick has saved Olivia in his first season, he stood by Olivia, aided and escort her during the William Lewis saga. I'm sure Elliot would've done the same but since he wasn't, he didn't even sent flowers or a text to know if she's doing okay- surely that was on the news and he would've known her ordeal. Although Olivia did date while partnered with Elliot, she was never in a serious relationship until she was partnered with Nick. She was with Harry Connick's character for a while- despite secrecy and was with/lived with Brian for a year or two. She had a LIFE while with Nick than she did with Elliot. That's what I got from Olivia and Nick's tender scene.

CLA said...

In the last four years SVU reached seldom 2.0 in 18-49 demo. And in season 16, the final episode was 6:39 million viewers and 1.6 mo demo. The last episode of this season has had more than 7 million viewers.

I think Amaro output will not mean much for the series. In fact, the character never wowed fans. Most calls still to Stabler. Would you like a new commander, Liv doing double with Carisi with Fin and Rollins. All acting like detectives in the field. Less Noah and more crimes. Everything would be perfect.

Cardinal said...

Sometimes, for various reasons, I have to sort of watch what I say. However, an observation: Orlando Jones left "Sleepy Hollow" after its season finale this year. Wouldn't it be very interesting if he left that show for SVU?

While I don't think that's the reason, the timing is interesting. Jones would be a cool addition to the cast, IF that were the case. ;)

Alex said...

M.E. Rudnick is a total creeper and one of these days he'll be on the other side of an investigation, I am convinced of it!

gonzalo garcia said...

This season has been very weak in general. Predictable stories, no plot, no action. I regret the departure of Danny Pino.. He and Kelli Giddish were the best in these years.

Njtoocool said...

I totally agree about Rudnick.

Laurie Fanat said...

Jeanette - don't forget that Benson got a new apartment when she lived with Cassidy. Stabler likely never stayed with her in the old place because it was very small. Stabler was also married most of the years he worked with Benson. We don't know what Stabler did or didn't do with the William Lewis thing because again the Warren Leight writers have a thing about putting Stabler in a good light. They did have a deleyed scene that had Benson getting a small note from Stabler. The scene was deleted probably because it was so poorly done! She didn't really have more of a life with Nick BECAUSE of Nick. He had zero to do with her hooking up with Cassidy or Harry Connick's character. This is the thing that annoys me to no end with that last scene. It made it sound like Olivia did better because of Nick being in her life and because Stabler was out of her life. We've never seen anything to indicate Nick had that much influence on her achieving happiness.

HerbaceousHaven said...

Hey Brian Cassidy character might come back since Battle Creek was cancelled.

Guest said...

Laurie Fanat, both of your comments are so on point and the most accurate of anyone's I've read. Like everything you said.... from sentence one to the last period.

I like Nick Amaro and I like Elliot Stabler, but like most of the episodes and interactions (along with the horribly written breakup with Cassidy) that final scene with Olivia and Nick was so poorly written no wonder people don't understand it for what it really is.

Guest said...

@HerbaceousHaven If Cassidy comes back for anything other than a colleague to Olivia,then that is the end of the #SVU fandom. It's fickle as it is, but with that horrible pairing being forced again will surely cause war and they'll regret renewing for s17.

Petra S said...

Well season 16 was such a letdown for me and the finale was far from what Mariska described as 'the best we've ever done'
I was over the Benoah drama before it started, I could've handled a ltl bit but it got far too much focus & SVU lost that touch of weaving in personal drama in to the cases they are currently working on. I dunno what the writers were thinking putting that much time on Benoah & just wasted such an amazing cast.

My biggest problem with the Liv/Nick farewell scene was that again Liv stole most of it. That moment should've been about Amaro not about Liv & Stabler. I can get how Stabler/EO fans took that as a dig & I'm a ltl surprised MH agreed to saying all that. Not cool & made no sense to me either.
I wish they could've done a proper Rollaro send-off, WL had teased about it factoring in to the finale, like where? The pat on the arm? Hate to be WL's wife :/
A Rollaro goodbye scene would've paid for all the teasing they've done with those two & scenes left on the cutting room floor, and it could also have given Nick the focus he deserved.

I'm super sad to see DP go, he's such a sweetheart & a brilliant actor but the SVU writers have given him, & the rest of the squad, crumbs to work with this season. I can only hope S17 will improve but I'm so sad that it will be w/o Nick :(

It also does sound like the show actually canned DP which I can't understand. They wrote him in to Stabler lite, they didn't have to go that far with his character only to say oops & fire him instead of correcting it.

I'm so bummed at the show right now. I don't blame fans for packing it up & saying goodbye, S16 was not good at all. I'll stick around to see them do justice to Amanda & her rape storyline, they can't drop that.

Erika said...

We've seen Nick help out with Noah, especially during emergencies. Even his mother got involved, which speaks to Nick's level of involvement. Without family members of her own, keeping Noah, tending to his needs during the rough patches, would have been extremely difficult otherwise, and I'm sure Liv is grateful for that. That said, I didn't interpret what Liv said as a criticism of Stabler, but more of a reflection on how she herself was with Stabler. He was her whole world, and that didn't leave room in her heart for much else. Nick has been a friend to her in the more typical sense. She appreciated the friendship, but didn't otherwise obsess about him. I'd say she was closer to Stabler, but had a healthier friendship with Nick, and that simpler kind of support was what she needed in the past few years. That said, I can see how the comparison rankled some fans, and it did seem unnecessary to even bring up at this point.

Juda Martinez said...

amaro was more like rey curtis than anything same story moving to california stabler was there for liv so many times remember the episode philadelphia where liv met her brother and at end of show they had rebecca hendrix asking questions and cragen said should i split them apart she replied if you want to lose your 2 best detectives then yes also in season 1 the episode stalked he made shour she was ok cause there was a stalker after her also now i wonder this been a big lee tergesen fan and the episode savior letting us down with the reunion of tergesen and meloni anyways when stabler told liv about the baby that we dont know what decision liv made at the end what if this was noah and is rediculos with everyone having cellphones if liv hasent talked to stabler in 4 years she help kathy give birth to baby elliot now that i think about it is discusting all this 4 years stabler been call my old partner not by his name might as well call him chris keller meloni is amazing how he could play a cop that hates rapist and child molesters to playing chris keller iam not gonna blow this page anymore right now just agreeing with petra s

Cath T said...

I have so much I want to say but will have to wait for a quiet moment on the weekend as I simply won't have time at all today.

Briefly I will miss Danny Pino profoundly but the Amaro he became was not the man nor the cop he started out as being. His character had been diminished and never returned to where he started.

There were roads untaken with Amaro and the talents of Pino weren't utilised fully.

It does really sadden me that Pino's departure doesn't appear to have been his decision and that the character was written out as the writers had hit a dead end with Amaro.

On a positive note I thought it was a terrific episode and that scene between Liv & Nick to me was so heartfelt and real that I believed it was Mariska & Danny talking not their characters.

I never believed for a millisecond that Olivia wouldn't end up with Noah so the title was a furphy.

I also agree that Amaro's final scene should have been about him and it was to some extent but it really ended up being about Benson. Still I cried my broken heart out.

There was a bit of dig in there about Stabler. I didn't take it to heart but then again I never liked Stabler anyway so I'm not objective in that respect.

Needless to say I hope that Danny Pino won't be absent from our television screens for long. I'd love to see him do something on Netflix, something non-network. That's where the best, most compelling shows are these days.

More to come.

Juda Martinez said...

ok reason i comment alot iam a stabler guy and if this was warren lieghts last episode as well he wanted to rub it in our faces about how svu made it 4 years without stabler ok good job law and order made it without briscoe the show always goes on now is crystal clear there is bad blood between warren and meloni for 12 years meloni gave it his all just like briscoe did for 13 years every single detective in all law and order history has been a hot head for the most part logan,curtis,goren,stabler,green,amaro so i give props to meloni for never guest staring he did do the no more campaign his gone on interview to say he hasent seen 1 svu episode since he left like most of you it would of been nice to have had a scene with stabler and amaro lets be a little mad to that since meloni left all the other people left with him judith light joanna merlin david thorthon barely any ned eisenberg is like warren wanted to do it with all new members xcept liv no way the show will still be running if liv wasent around and yes there have been alot of great episodes without meloni but why get rid of the other staff like the actors actresses i just name

ladybug81 said...

I loved this episode. I think it was a great end to a very good season. Yes there were episodes that were not their best but overall it was a good season. I do have to agree with Mariska in that it was probably one of their best finales. I know I'm in the minority here but I liked the Noah storyline, for personal reasons as well as the fact Olivia has always wanted a child, and loved the scene in Judge Linden's chambers. I do like the fact that Peter was in the scene. The look she gave him after the adoption was final was, in my opinion, Mariska looking at Peter. In all honesty this had the feel of a series finale which surprised me considering they knew they were renewed in February.

When it comes to the scene between Olivia and Nick I didn't see it as a diss. To be fair I've never been a fan of Stabler. I was in the first season or two but I liked him less and less as the series went on. The two relationships (Olivia/Nick, Olivia/Stabler) cannot be compared as they are completely different. I viewed the statement as Nick saying he knew he couldn't be to her what Stable was, he couldn't fill his shoes. I think Olivia was saying that she was so focused on Elliot, she had no one else and he was her world, that she didn't grow and change as a person. With him gone she had the chance to grow and change. Elliot did say that he would support her when she told him she had looked into adoption in season 9 but aside from that he put her down a lot. I don't intend to make people mad but he was always throwing it up to her about not having children and he always had something to say when she dated someone. No Nick didn't like Cassidy but it was due to the fact that he didn't trust him. When it came to Noah Nick was supportive and his Mom even stepped in to help when he was in the hospital. I think Nick was what she needed at that point in her life though. I think it was a true friendship.

I will miss Danny and I wish him all the success in his future projects.

I'm looking forward to season 17 and how Nick's departure changes the squad room.

Claire S said...

I have openly admitted that I am not a Stabler or EO fan or as someone wisely stated to me before a fan of the BS show. But even I was in shock that Warren and CO would go there and throw Stabler under the bus like that. That comment was such a low blow and so unnecessary. What a cruel thing to do. As for what was said @Laurie Fenat I totally agree with everything you said about Olivia and have nothing else to add to that. Very well put. Olivia was the only person holding herself back, she needs to grow up and take responsibility for her own actions.

I also have a huge issue about Liv giving Ariel that necklace. I get that it was a sweet gesture but for me it screamed bribery. Like Liv was trying to butter her up so that Ariel would not only testify but also encourage the other girls to testify. I found it a tad bit manipulative and unprofessional. It would have made more sense and had more meaning for her to give her the chain after the case. Don’t get me wrong I am glad the girls got up and testified about that beast. But to me Liv gave her that necklace for personal gain and it could be perceived as pressuring.

I am in shock that the big show down of the season was a door getting closed and hearing a couple of shots. Then just a glimpse of Danny on the gurney as he was rushed into the elevator. It seems if Olivia couldn’t be in the scene then the scene was cut. Really can’t blame Danny for leaving if that’s what he was giving for his farewell episode. And that finale scene again was more about Olivia that Nick. But seriously I don’t know how that surprises me. This whole season just focused on Olivia and her stupid drama.

This season was such a let-down and I really hope season 17 is much better. I honestly can’t see how it could be worse. I also hope that if Olivia gets her promotion she and Mariska takes a step back and allows the other incredible cast a chance to shine. Maybe then the writers can actually address Amanda’s rape which @Petra bothers me immensely too. I would also love to find out how Fins son and his Fiancé is doing after that attack and if they are still going to get married/are married. I find this storyline will be a stretch for the writers as it actually means giving Fin a proper episode and not a farce like that gaming one. It would also be great to get more info on Carisi’s background and maybe show us how he is getting on in Law school. I don’t think I can take another season of Olivia playing everyone’s role and if I have to hear that victim whisper that she loves to use all the time, I think I will go crazy. I really wish I could give up SVU as it is clearly not good for my mental health but at the moment I am just not ready to say goodbye to the show and in particular Amanda. She is honestly the best thing to happen to SVU in a long time (IMO) and it is a shame that they don’t use her more. Hopefully season 17 gives me a reason to stick around because even my love for Kelli/Amanda can’t make me stick around for another awful season

On my last note I want to wish Danny Pino the best of Luck. He was part of the reason I started to re-watch the show and it saddens me that he is leaving. I really wish he could have gotten a better goodbye :(

Diane Hartling said...

I will miss Danny Pino so much. I loved it whenever the episode was about him. I hope I have the pleasure of seeing him in something else real soon.

empxth tbh said...

@Alex I know, I don't trust him at all. Maybe he'll be the perp in the season premiere next year? :D

Vim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vim said...

1. I quite like that Amoro is leaving - he was my favorite in 13 and season, but right know he turned in worse version of Stabler
2. That said, If he is leaving, the episode should be about him not Benson.
3 I very liked, that they dind't allow to promote Amaro - it would be totally unrealistic. Truth to be told I don't know whether he should be even detective
4. I actually agree that Benson have major conflict of interest in this episode. She (and her squad) shouldn't be allow only to testify, they shouldn't be involved in any protecting witness, trying to persuade them to testify etc.
5. It is definitely confirmed - WL hates Stabler

Tonya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MartinaFan87 said...

Jeannette I agree with you. I took that scene similar to how you did.

I think a lot of people are over reacting to the comment in the last scene. I read an interview where the writers explained what the meant in that scene and i feel i understood it that way when watching but it seems most people didnt.

Also you can't really compare Nicks departure to Cragen and Munch because their characters were there longer and higher ranking so of course they would have a send off. Overall I really loved the fianle

Cath T said...

I've read a few articles now about the finale and have a better understanding of the scene between Liv & Nick that has caused some controversy.

Was it a dig at Stabler? Maybe a little. Could that scene have been done just as beautifully and affectingly without the need to mention Stabler? I think it could have been. Still regardless of the various interpretations, that moment between Liv & Nick was emotional and heartfelt.

It seems that Danny Pino had decided to leave and answers my own question about why Carisi was introduced to the squad. It was a preparatory move.

I see Rollins being the Sergeant now. Will there be a new detective? I don't see why. They managed most of last season with only four main actors in an episode. They can stop with the rotating detectives business now.

I will miss my weekly dose of Danny Pino but Amaro's character had been tarnished beyond the point of repair. Makes me wonder if that factored into Pino's decision to bid adieu.

I adored Amaro at the start. He was smart, empathetic, intuitive, had sharp instincts, was great in interrogations. He was like a breath of fresh air.

After he shot the unarmed kid he went off the rails a bit which was to be expected. I thought we might get some good exploration of a cop coping with PTSD and depression after such an incident but that didn't happen. A road not taken.

His marriage breaks down, he can't control his anger, starts an intimate relationship with Rollins, loses the plot.

I understand that all these changes add to the complexity of a character and to the drama of the show but I think it was over done.

Despite all this I still liked Amaro and lived in hope of redemption for his character and he was on the road back but the damage to his reputation as a cop had been done.

I guess his character had been backed into a corner and there wasn't much of a choice but to write him out.

I loved the relationship between Liv & Nick but when Liv became Sergeant that faded away to some extent so to have that final scene between them was very moving and both Mariska Hargitay & Danny Pino were brilliant. I cried.

I choose to remember Nick Amaro as the cop and man he was in Seasons 13 & 14.

As for Danny Pino he is a wonderfully talented actor who no doubt will move on to bigger and better things. I look forward to continuing to follow his career and wish him all the best.

Juda Martinez said...

also in last few years after stabler not only judith light joanna merlin david thorthon those where more recurring roles than anything they have pushed tamara tunie away b.d wong has been like in 3 episodes i know there is gonna be a season 17 but will it make it to episode 400 so that means there has to be a season 18

Cath T said...

I was recalling a review of mine in relation to a previous episode (can’t remember which one now) where I was lamenting the character assassination of Amaro and in it I stated that I believed he would “go out heroically” in a too little, too late attempt to redeem his character. How prophetic that belief turned out to be.

He didn’t die as I expected back then but being shot in the knee and more or less invalided out is the next best thing. It leaves the door open for him to make a “guest star” return like Cragen or Munch but unlike them Danny Pino isn’t intrinsically linked with one character so it might not appeal to him. In fact, why would he want to revisit the character based on what happened to Amaro during his time at SVU.

The contrast between what happened in those four years for Benson and for Amaro is stark. As Benson said in that moving moment between them she had grown a great deal. From detective, to sergeant, soon to be a lieutenant and also becoming a mother. She had to deal with a lot of pain but there was sunshine at the end of her tunnel.

Amaro on the other hand started out as a happily married man and father. A good cop with a distinguished record (grade two already to echo Rollins, took down a dangerous drug gang.) Fit, healthy and emotionally stable.

He ended up divorced, separated from his kids, his reputation as a cop pretty much destroyed, an emotional mess and to top it off physically damaged and unemployed. I don’t think ¾ of a pension is going to help with child support. He might have to collect tickets at a movie studio gate after all.

Alas poor Amaro, I knew him well.

hailey lewis said...

how old is noah anyway? when was he born????

hailey lewis said...

how old is noah anyway? when was he born????

Zachary Clein said...

Chris, first I want to say I really enjoy your reviews and recaps. There have been times I would completely miss something in an episode but you would pick up on it. However, I do want to talk about that scene everyone will be talking about. I know a lot of people are going to be furious with that last scene dealing with Benson and Amaro because it seems like a jab at Stabler. I can see where that is coming from but honestly, I never read it that way. In the conversation she doesn't take a jab at Stabler but she does point out something important about their relationship. Stabler and Benson were basically glued to each other but it was difficult to understand exactly what that relationship was. Her relationship with him made it difficult to grow beyond it. That was her life but now she has something else. With Nick, she was not as dependent on the relationship as she was with Stabler. Her and Stabler had a relationship of codependence except without the growth. However, it is true we have seen Benson do more growing in the last four years than we have in the previous twelve. These last fours she has dealt with a tremendous loss (Stabler leaving as well as others), a traumatic event(s), as well as new gains (becoming sergeant and a mother). Her final conversation with Amaro was about her going out and fully coming into her own. Something that Amaro helped her do. So again, to me it doesn't seem fair to automatically say this was a riff on Stabler but instead a riff on what their relationship was, which was something that could not be defined and did not leave room for growth. Which seemed like a fair assessment (as well as more proof of growth) from Benson.

Chris Zimmer said...

RE: Noah's birth date - as far as I know the actual date was never listed. BUT, I had a screen grab on my recap of "Granting Immunity" where Benson filled out a form on 3/30/15, stating that Noah was 15 months old. That puts his birth date sometime in December of 2013. Here's the link to that recap so you can see the photo:

eb37db56-b893-11e4-b793-5b0e99ab6b63 said...

So it has literally taken me till now to process this episode and finally be able to formulate some kind of response.
Before I get to Amaro, I just quickly wanted to comment on the Stabler line. I was a big Stabler fan, but I understand that it was his choice to leave. I feel that ending scene with Amaro and Benson could have been written a little differently while still conveying the same sentiment. There really was no reason to bring up Stabler at all. It could have purely been a nice moment, so I don't know why the writers felt the need to throw shade. It did, however really upset me that Amaro's final scene was more about Liv. This whole season was about Liv. Amaro couldn't have a send off that was all about him?
Moving on to Nick...Nick and Amanda were such a breath of fresh air. They were interesting and dynamic and brought a great new angle to the show. They were SVU 2.0 for me, and now that half of that duo is gone, I don't know that the dynamic will ever be as strong. I was watching some episodes from S13 and S14 and was reminded of what a good cop Amaro was. He came in as an intuitive second grade detective who was great with interrogations and investigative work. He was passionate about his job and always wanted to do right by people. He left the department a broken man and I mean that in more ways than one. He certainly deserved better.
As soon as it was officially announced that Danny was not returning, I started trying to find out why/whose choice it was. WL said that it was a mix of Danny wanting to "spread his wings" and the writers' decision, but I would not be at all surprised is that was WL trying to be political and spin what was really happening. Also, interestingly, I read an article (maybe E! or EW) saying that Danny was moved from being a show regular to a reoccurring in S16. I didn't realize this was official. I just thought he was missing episodes due to the rotating cast. It does seem like he missed a lot more than others now that I think about it. Was this a power move intended to force him out? I don't have the answer to this, but it does make me wonder.
I got so angry when I read another WL interview where he said that they really had no where else to go with his character. He was damaged goods in the eyes of the department and couldn't go anywhere else. Hello! Isn't it their jobs as the writers, to see the big picture? If you destroy someone too much, how can you ever redeem them? Seems like someone didn't think it through OR they have had this in the works since last season. Maybe Zara moving to LA at the end of S15 was just another calculated move by the writers so they could fully write Danny out at the end of season 16 if he wanted out or if there was no money in the budget to keep him. Moving Gil there and then the brass shutting down his move to sergeant were the last (and very rushed) pieces of the puzzle to get put in place.
I also thought WL saying they were going to "tie up a lot of threads" was misleading. What was the loose thread? Gil's move? We all knew Benson was going to keep Noah. That was obvious from the finale last season. We knew there would be drama, but eventually all would be well for them. And speaking of things that never got tied up--I might have been in the minority with this one, but I was a Rollaro fan. It could have been such an interesting arch (if they actually explored anything else besides Benoah this season). They promised we would get an idea of where that was going by the end of the episode, but of course we got nothing concrete. We are meant to assume that whatever they had is gone because he is moving. They clung to each other for a whole year while things were going sideways and the writer's couldn't even give us a sentence explaining things. As usual their ending was left as ambiguous as their beginning and everything in between.

eb37db56-b893-11e4-b793-5b0e99ab6b63 said...

I feel like the writer's completely failed Amaro fans this season. In my opinion, he was one of the strongest characters they had and instead of having him rise from the ashes, they buried him further and sent him packing. I had hopes that this season would have dealt his redemption and eventual promotion, but instead Amaro left us. I am glad he went a hero, but it seems like it wasn't enough for everything they put him through.

Danny will be greatly missed. I wish him well in all his future endeavors. He is a strong, talented, and hardworking actor with great things ahead I'm sure!

Blue Damsel said...

PREDICTION: I can’t believe all of you are missing the obvious!! Why else would the writers/show bring back and mention Stabler? Especially in the season finale? I think they are setting up a return by none other than Stable himself! Think about it, Amaro is leaving, so now Benson is left without a “Number 2.” Benson has everything going for her now…family/son, high ranking position…who better to throw a wrench in her life other than Stabler!? And they set it up nicely with a bit of foreshadowing…in the 12 years I spent with HIM, I didn’t grow, aka he screwed everything up…so let’s watch him come back in and try to screw everything up again! :) I’m all for it! Tension...old dog trying to come in and run a new show, but everything has changed. None of the newbies (Rollins, Carisi, Barba) like Stabler and Benson is again, caught in the middle. Let’s see!!! :)

Cath T said...

I doubt very much Stabler would come back if no other reason than the budget wouldn't allow it.

Meloni's not going to come back for less dollars than he left on.

The show seems to be under budget constraints so unless they find a pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow I wouldn't be counting on "Stabler, The Return."

Cath T said...

Amaro's exit may be a blessing in disguise for Danny Pino.

The television landscape is completely different now. There are a lot more options for actors now, many of them less restricting than mainstream network shows.

When WL said that Pino wanted to "stretch his wings" I believed him. DP strikes me as the kind of actor who likes to play varied roles and a part on SVU would certainly do no harm to his profile.

I know I wasn't happy about how his character was diminished but the storylines did give him something to get his teeth into and show his acting range.

I think it's just disappointing and sad that Amaro didn't get the chance to turn things around before leaving.

That scene between him and Benson was beautiful and I'll always cherish it but he did leave the squad a broken man physically, emotionally, psychologically.

I know we don't always get happy endings because that is a reflection of real life but Amaro really hit rock bottom.

I hope if Amaro makes a "guest" re-appearance he returns a much happier, grounded person.

Petra S said...

I don't think I've fully accepted he's gone yet, I'll be in denial for a while longer but will hopefully have worked it out before fall gets here.

As for why or how DP left I've been nosey too as I thought it really sounded like he was canned and it upset me. I've read the articles you mentioned and just this weekend another one showed up on the SpoilerTV site. It won't let me copy & paste for some reason but I'd recommend you go there and read it, has some tidbits about the Stabler dig as well but Warren says "it was in the wind" for Danny to leave last year already. He has his home in LA and has been commuting for a long time w Cold Case and then SVU.
Also states that they didn't know until the last 4-5 episodes just how he was going to go out. Warren says he wanted Amaro to go in a heroic way as it's in Amaro's DNA to be a hero. I dunno, I think they could've done a better job with it. As most of you are saying, he went out a broken man. Almost felt as he gave up and I can't help but fear Nick will get bitter after the move :/

I'm still pissed about that goodbye scene but only cause Liv took the spotlight. Not cool writers. He should've gotten a proper goodbye scene with Rollins. For all the teasing the writers put us Rollaro shippers through this past season, with nothing to show for it, I feel it would've been the decent thing to do. It would've also given closure to their 'thing' as I'm pretty sure the slight touch of Amaro's departure we'll see in next season will only be about Liv yet again.
Sigh I take that back, Amaro isn't the one going bitter, I am :(

JustSomeOne said...

I hated the finale. Hated.

First off, it was Danny's last episode but yet, the focus is on Olivia and Noah, AGAIN. As if they didn't take up 70% of the season with those two already.

Second, we all knew Noah would be adopted by Olivia. It was not a shocker. Idk why we even needed an episode on that. Could have used the first 10 minutes to announce that he's adopted now. The other guy, Johnny whatever his face is, getting custody of Noah was highly unlikely from the beginning with everything he's done. I'm glad Olivia didn't keep it a secret that Noah's father is JD because then that would make the writers stretch that boring story line to the next season, as if they aren't losing viewers already now that the show has turned into Baby and Me: Olivia Benson and Noah version.

It was Danny's last episode. His LAST. YET, the writers focused on Olivia and her life. Even the goodbye in the end was focused on her and that snide remark she made of Elliot. Mariska lied. This finale sucked badly. I guess it's touching to her because it was all about her character. The best finale for SVU 2.0 right now is still Season 13's finale. That was action packed, unexpected, thrilling, etc. I'm upset the show was renewed because I think the quality of the show will just continue to decrease. I'm not watching anymore unless Rollins has a big episode. Maybe Carisi. I like him a little.

Nick's ending is depressing. Exes took his children to other side of the country with no consideration for him then he gets shot in the knee and has no chance of moving up in ranks so he leaves someone he could have potentially loved (Amanda) and start over. If that's not depressing, idk what is. I was expecting him in a wheelchair and not being able to recover from it. That would have killed me so I'm glad he didn't end up in that situation.

Next season is going to be all about Olivia again. They need to hire new writers who aren't overly infatuated with the woman...but then again, since Danny left, I don't care what SVU writers do now.

Juda Martinez said...

chris going of topic a little i know your from cleveland are you a cavs fan iam going for warriors but if cavs win ill be happy for you for all your hard work you deserve a reward at end of year we should all fly to cleveland and take you to a nice restaurant if your ever in miami let me know i do all tourist things here

Chris Zimmer said...

Juda - yes, I'm definitely a Cavs fan and everyone here is hoping they go all the way. But we still have some games to win so I am trying not to get my hopes up. Have been to Florida (but not yet to Miami) so if I ever get that way I will let you know!

CLA said...

"Next season is going to be all about Olivia again. They need to hire new writers who are not overly infatuated with the woman .."

It makes me laugh. I think Mariska Hargitay should really have in his personality something that fascinates people. Except for the declared enemies, some frustrated fans Meloni and macho, this woman can literally let people passionate about their work. Neal Bear, the previous writer, never denied his preference for Mariska. And WL and Julie Martin also.

I recently read a comment from a person who worked with Mariska on SVU, making a supporting role: She said I loved filming with her. Mariska is unassuming, almost no ego and love the city of New Iork.

The fact is that Mariska has not only talent. She has charisma, personality and an indescribable leadership among their peers. In my country, the channel where SVU appears, spend another 10 successful series. Olivia Benson, with expressive voting, was voted the most loved character of the channel. So I understand the WL ratio concentrate so many scenes around the beloved (and hated by spiteful) Olivia Benson. I think the people who love them far outweigh those who hate it. This is indisputable. Anyone who doubts invite to read comments on SVU site on facebook. If here we have 50 comments there are 2000. Of these 90% are favoráveia to Olivia Benson.

Sorry for my English.

Cath T said...

Obviously Olivia Benson is the main character and Mariska Hargitay has portrayed her wonderfully from day one but she can't stand in a squad room on her own and talk to herself.

The supporting cast are important and their stories matter.

It does surprise me that there was very little follow-up to Amanda's revelation that she was raped by her former commanding officer. A remark to Benson about a yoga retreat and no discussion between her and Nick at all (who she still seemed to be in an intimate relationship with although it was hard to know where that stood) hardly seems adequate.

There was such well thought out build up to that moment in Forgiving Rollins and then pretty much nothing. Weird.

Same with Amaro. The seeds of his childhood with a violent father planted long ago culminating in the superb episode Padre Sandunguero and then once again nothing.

It was like they were both tick and flick moments. Right we've finished with those stories now even though there wasn't any real closure particularly with Rollin's story.

As for Rollaro well what was that about? It really was like the writers thought better of it, swept it under the carpet and hoped it would go away.

If I was to hazard a guess I would say Rollaro didn't go anywhere because it was a romance that didn't involve Olivia and that wasn't allowed. I'm speculating of course but it seems plausible.

I've really enjoyed SVU over many years both 1.0 & 2.0 and I hope I'm objective when it comes to commenting. I just feel though that this last season has been below par particularly for the supporting characters/actors.

Petra S said...

Your comment is spot on Cath T, I could not have put it better. All those dropped storylines and missed opportunities for the supporting cast made season 16 a very dull one.

I will not argue with the fact Liv/Mariska is the star of the show but people are catching on that the show can't revolve around just her. Go to any other forum than Twitter & Facebook (although you can see the comments on FB these days too) and you'll see that viewers are getting fed up with the show formerly known as SVU, you know the one that used to be about the cases and not 1 single character?

And the reply "well just switch the channel" won't work in the long run cause then there won't be any viewers left. I love SVU and I tune in to see SVU. Unfortunately viewers ARE tuning out, and I can't see losing DP helping with that fact either. The writers seriously messed up SVU in S16, question is if they can get back in good form with the same head writers still on? I do hope they can but for me the loss of DP will be hard to overcome so they better do a hell of a good job.

Cath T said...

Look I'm happy for Olivia and the fact that she is now a mother. I don't have a problem with Noah. There were certainly Stabler family issues over the years.

I do feel though the "ball was dropped" with other characters and that the stories throughout Season 16 weren't as compelling as they have been.

The slow burn approach to both Rollins & Amaro's stories was so well conceived but the conclusions were disappointing.

It could be that Rollin's story isn't over and there will be more to come but Amaro's story is certainly done with. We can only assume after the events of Padre Sandunguero he eventually reconciled with his mother and sister. His mother was at the hospital with him after he was shot but of course she would be. Was their relationship back on track though? Will he ever let go of that anger towards his father and find peace? We will never know.

Will DP be back for a "special guest star" appearance? I doubt it but anything is possible. It would be nice, my fingers are crossed.

I hope in Season 17 Fin gets more to do than mouth wise platitudes from his desk.

There will be some interesting stuff in S17. Who will be Liv's Sergeant? I think it will be Rollins. Will there be another detective? I read there might be a rookie come into the mix. That could be interesting but please no anger issues and I hope he/she isn't so green they're painful. Inexperienced doesn't mean stupid.

Before we know it S17 will be here. I look forward to it although not as much as I would have if Danny had still been with the show.

Tonya said...

This is just my opinion and I'm definitely in the minority here, but I think it's time to lay SVU to rest. All good things must come to an end. It's had a good run but it's just not good anymore. Again, just my opinion.

Petra S said...

@Cath T - I've only seen a few poster who actually dislike the characters of either Liv or Noah, but I think for most of us it's the writing of Benoah that's dragging the show down. For Liv to have a kid is in character for her so that's all good. The focus on Benoah and how they constantly put Noah in peril is what's wrong & that has all to do with the writers not Liv/Mariska/Noah/the kids who play him.

As for S17 I also hope they'll give Fin/Ice more to do. Hopefully they'll stop with the rotation. From what I've read people/guest stars might come in and out of the squad room but I guess all is subject to change, I've learn not to trust anything Warren says.
I'm hoping Rollins is not up for Sarge though, I think she needs to deal (or not deal) with her rape & that should be her storyline for S17 and nothing else.

If the writing picks up & they can find their way back to SVU.02 I can see the show last for more seasons to come but if they are determined to let this be the Olivia show then I won't be around to watch it. And if S17 will be its last then I hope DP will return & we can have a happy ending for Rollaro, that's all I wish for but with WL in charge I know it's close to impossible for a happy ending for anyone but Liv.

CLA said...

I agree part comes with Tonya. I think SVU must end. Only for another reason. I want to see Mariska Hargitray doing another role. She is a fantastic actress, has a lot of fans who truly love. Mariska has beauty, charisma and talent to raise other flights.

As for fans of the romance between Amanda and Amaro, excuse me but I never saw it in the series. A unique Amaro scene wrapped in a towel does not mean romance. As Amanda has a vocation to promiscuity probably what happened was just sex without menhum romantic involvement.

Petra S said...

@CLA - what do you base your statement "Amanda has a vocation to promiscuity" on?

Juda Martinez said...

when rey curtis left law and order after season 9 he got a hug from van buren and briscoe was almost in tears he told rey my phone will always be available that was touching thats how amaro should have exited by the way chris your cavaliers need 2 more wins to be champs iam cheering for warriors but ill be happy for you if cavs win ill be 1st person to congratulate you

Juda Martinez said...

cavaliers 2 more wins right chris

Chris Zimmer said...

Juda - yes, we need two more. I have my fingers crossed!

Juda Martinez said...

by the way i thaught that episode which was 2 shows to end season refuge along with aftershock which was season 6 season finale was my 2 favorite law and order episodes ever from that squad from svu my favorite episode ever is wrath as far as season finale for svu cause mariska said this was gonna be best season finale ever i think season 1 finale was the best cause you didnt know if stabler or jeffries where gonna get fired

Rosebud583 said...

Did anyone else notice the random girl at the very end when Fin was giving the Family toast? Was she with Barba?!? Also am I the only one who really wants Barba and Benson to get together. Finally, did anyone else see that Nick looked at Amanda (whom smiled back, given their personal affairs), but then he held a longer gaze for Benson. Did it also look like he was slightly upset when Benson subtly friendzoned him by saying that they would be friends for life? Maybe I am projected my own feelings onto what I was interpreting, but what are your thoughts?

Mangaanimefanno1 said...

Actually, I can understand why Olivia made that statement. While during the start of S14 they had some trouble. After that, Amaro and Olivia were very close, borderline sibling-like. During Lewis fiasco, Liv explicitly stated that Amaro was the only one in the squad who treated her normally, during her IA investigations, Amaro was the only one who was disobeying Murphy's commands and defending her and many more. While Stabler did all that too in earlier seasons, here's the deal - Amaro supported the Noah situation, helped raise him. In the statement she explicity states Amaro helped her build a family. Stabler never had a stable (LOOOL Stabler-Stable, hilarious) relationship with his children, Amaro did, which helped Liv grow. And if you compare Liv from then and now, she has developed very much. So it made sense very much.