Thursday, November 12, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Melancholy Pursuit” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Melancholy Pursuit” was a dull, lifeless episode, the weakest of this season so far. And, based on the emails I’ve received from viewers, some were quite annoyed with the way the episode was promoted. The promo showed that Noah went missing while he and Benson were in the park, implying something sinister occurred. Of course, being very experienced with the years of misleading SVU promos, I knew there was never any danger. I don’t blame fans for being upset at this clearly cheap ploy to get viewers to tune in to what turned out to be a non-event and something that added zero to the overall story line. Noah wasn’t kidnapped, he just wandered off and was playing with another child. I found myself wondering how such a little child could have wandered so far in such a short time, especially since we hardly ever see Noah walk; Benson always seems to be carrying him.  (He’s also very quiet – almost too quiet. I suspect they have to pay the child actor more if he dares utter a word.) Think about it: in the apparent short time Benson had her eyes off him, Noah covered a lot of ground, so much that Benson was running quite a distance in the park to find him. Granted, we didn’t see what happened the whole time Benson was talking to the woman stranger (who was a little too friendly) so it is possible more time could have passed where Benson didn't have eyes on him than it appeared. It does make one wonder how Benson allowed herself to get so distracted, seeing that she seems like she can't go a second without holding Noah.

The case itself plodded along,  very much like a normal investigation would, which can potentially involve a lot of suspects. While Dodds seemed very affected by this case, taking it too personally, I  couldn’t feel anything for the victim, the family, or Dodds. Seeing Lily’s body in the morgue, Dodds almost reacted as if he’d never seen a dead body before. Yes, Dodds is kicking himself for making a mistake in misjudging the case, but he acted like he never realized bad things can happen to kids. I can’t put my finger on it, but this whole story line felt forced. Unlike Dodds, I felt nothing.

I know I have mentioned this in past recaps, but why is it that when detectives/cops approach a suspect that they call out the suspect’s name while they are very far away, giving the suspect a head start to run? This is not just an SVU thing, it’s a crime show thing. Dodds and Carisi were just plain stupid to call out to Gary while they were such a distance away. Gary clearly was in the middle of making a delivery so the they would have plenty of time to walk right up to him and prevent him from getting that head start. Yes,  I know it is done to set up an action scene, but all it does is make the detectives look foolish.

It was great to see Tamara Tunie return as ME Warner. But no Raúl Esparza, again. What gives? That's the only mystery in this episode that is worth solving.

Mariska Hargitay – Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Andy Karl – Sgt. Mike Dodds
Tamara Tunie – Dr. Melinda Warner
Ali Wentworth - Shari Parker
Angelica Page – Mrs. Evans
Ross Gibby – Patrick Evans
Brian Avers – George Marino
Jonathan Judge-Russo - Gary Ryan
Joanna Bonaro – Camille Marino
Nick Cordero – Robby Marino
Alice Barrett Mitchell - Stella
Pilar Witherspoon – Helen Ryan
David Dean Bottrell – Stan the Homeless Man
Lorenzo Pisoni – Brendan Cahill
Carolee Carmello – Brendan’s Birth Mother
Pedro Morillo Jr. - Diego
Matthew Schechter - Peter Best
Tony White – Cleon Johnson
Sam Gedymin - Kyle
Bradley Dubow – Noah Porter Benson

Here is the recap: 

Benson is in the park playing with Noah and another woman comes by and begins to chat with Benson. The woman asks Benson if Noah is “her only” and Benson states “for now.” Meanwhile, Fin and Carisi speak with Mr. & Mrs., Evans, in their home, about their daughter Lily, 15, who is late coming home from school. The principal had told the parents that Lily was out today. Her cell phone is going right to voice mail. They last saw her when she left at 6:15 in the morning for the swim team practice at Asphalt Green, who confirm she was there but left around 7:30. They have called everyone and no one has seen her.

Back at the park, the woman is still chatting with Benson who realizes the time and that she has to get Noah home. But when she looks for him, he is nowhere to be found. Benson calls out his name in a panic and the woman, whose child is still in the park, walks with Benson as she screams out for Noah.

Back at the Evans house, the detectives find that Lily’s friend Peter has also not seen or heard from Lily all day. Carisi sees her iPad but it is password protected, and asks what is her cat’s name or her birthday.

At the park, Benson, in full panic mode, races around calling for Noah, and the woman chatting with Benson asks if he wants her to call the police. Benson, breathing hard, puts her hands to her head,. But she turns and sees Noah sitting on the ground nearby, playing with another child. She races to him and picks him up, saying he gave mommy a scare.

Back at the Evans home. Dodds has arrived and asks Fin that SVU gets called for missing teens now, and Fin says the lady is a clerk at the DA’s office and she didn’t want lights and sirens. Dodds seems to blow it off, saying they made a courtesy call and unless there is contact with an older male…Fin states if it a junk case they will kick it back to the precinct. Carisi shows Dodds photos Lily had on her tablet in provocative poses. Carisi asks the parents if Lily ever talked about someone named Diego, and they state Lily does not know a Diego. Carisi explains she was texting him photos this morning. He shows them a photo of Diego and they don’t recognize him, saying he is no one Lily knows. Dodds states they will track him down and ask.

Back at SVU, Benson races in and Dodds tells her that email was just an update and she did not have to come in. But she chides him for not calling her earlier, asking how long the child has been missing. Dodds states maybe 12 hours, and she is not a child, she is 15, probably a runaway, and explains she was sexting to Diego. There is no trace of her cell phone. Fin is retracing her steps and Carisi is talking to the parents, implying they are in denial about their daughter. Dodds explains all the other things he has checked and done so far, and states she has been acting out. They found cigarettes and condoms in her bedroom and Dodds comment she doesn’t want to see the selfie. Carisi comes in with Lily’s friend Peter Best who is concerned for Lily.

Later, in the break room, Dodds speaks with Peter who says Lily has been weird lately, cutting class and leaving at lunch and coming back. She smelled like cigarettes or pot a couple times.

Meanwhile, Carisi and Benson speak with the parents in another room who says Lily is not moody and is always smiling and singing and she likes cats and swimming. Mrs. Evans is upset they haven’t sent out an Amber Alert and Benson explains they have to be certain it is an abduction.

Peter tells Dodds that Lily said she could not talk to her parents, and she has been hanging out with a new squad and she said she wanted to go from a pool girl to a cool girl. The cool girls have been crashing frat parties at Tompkins Square.

At the Tau Omega Fraternity House at 39 Stuyvesant Street on Tuesday, October 6, Diego enters the frat house and his friend Kyle asks if he is here to party. When Diego sees no one else is there, he wonders what is up. Fin enters calls out he is NYPD and for Keith to put his hands up. Keith asks Kyle if knows about this and set him up, but Fin tells him not to talk to Kyle, talk to the detectives. Carisi finds no weapons but did find some weed. Fin shows him a photo of Lilt and asks where is she, and Keith claims he does not know who that is. Fin shows him another photos of just her body, and Keith says anything she says about him is a lie. Carisi asks when was the last time he talked to her, and Keith replies when he found out she was 15, 15 will get you 20. Carisi tells him he’s got that right, and it makes the pictures on his cell phone child pornography. They take him away.

Later, Keith is in interrogation as Fin and Carisi continue to question Keith who says he doesn’t know what happened to her. Benson watches from her office and Fin walks into Benson’s office, saying Keith claims he was at work all day and asks if anyone checked his alibi for that morning. Dodds replies that Keith was teaching extreme combat class all morning. Dodds confirms Keith has no connection to where Lily swims, and that is upper east, and Keith is in Brooklyn. The police checked his apartment and there is no sign of the girl. Carisi exits the interrogation room and tells the others that Keith swears he was in Brooklyn since last night and only came into the city when Kyle asked him for weed. He adds Lily is not the only girl sexting him; Carisi doesn’t think Keith is good for this. Benson says they have enough to hold him, and asks Fin to see if Keith can think of anyone Lily would be hanging with. She shakes her head, saying that 16 hours – she could be anywhere. Carisi comments along with all the other teenage girls that slipped out tonight. Dodds adds that his dad has a saying: little kids you find, elderly you find, teenagers you solve. He thinks she’s hooked up with someone she knows, they just have to find out who that is. Benson counters that, no offense to his father, but the longer this goes on, the less likely that scenario is. Carisi, looking at his phone, comments that he has something – a homeless guy just tried to use her debit card and said he found it when he was looking for cans and bottles, and the unis are with him.

At 2347 12th Avenue on Tuesday, October 6, Carisi and Dodds speak with Sam the homeless guy who shows them where he found the debit card. They see what is likely Lily’s bag.

Back at SVU, the Evans confirm that is Lily's bag and Benson explains they are bringing in the homeless man.  Mrs. Evans loses her cool and Benson and Mr. Evans try to calm her.

At 791 West 135th Street on Wednesday, October 7, Carisi, Fin and Dodds are on the scene with a group of officers and dogs scanning the area and Carisi sees a foot peeking out under a moving blanket. He calls the others over and he carefully opens it as Fin says he will call Benson and the ME. They see it is Lily and she is dead. Dodds is taken aback.

Back at SVU, Dodds tells the parents the bad news and Benson adds they are sorry for their loss. Dodds shows them a photo of the body and Mr. Evans confirms it is her. Dodds explains they are talking to the homeless man who is a bottle and cans guy. Benson moves the photo away from the parents and states the man has no history of violence. Mrs. Evans says she has to see her, ad Benson explains as soon as the ME is ready.

Meanwhile, Fin is with ME Warner who says Lily’s cause of death was epidural hematoma from blunt force trauma to the back of the skull. She died from a slow bleed to the brain several hours after the initial blow. There was no evidence of sexual assault but her clothing was torn and she found DNA under her fingernails and semen on her thigh. She sent the sample to the lab. Dodds walks in and Fin introduces him to Warner and he asks if there is anything he can tell the parents. He looks somewhat distraught. She says time of death was before 4 and 8 PM. Dodds asks so when they were are the parents’ the day before at about 6, she was still alive, and Warner explains she can’t say with certainty.

Carisi is questioning the homeless man, Stan, who says he was in the St. Luke’s ER and someone stole all his cans so he was lucky he found the debit card. Carisi leaves the interrogation room and later the man is put in the holding cell. Carisi tells Benson his alibi is confirmed.  Fin says their guy is still out there. Dodds says they go back to the pool and re-interview everyone, someone saw her. But Warner enters and says they usually don’t do this in New York but she was so frustrated she asked the lab to do a less stringent familiar search. There was no match the CODIS but there was a partial match in the database, a 15% overlap. Benson comments that is closer than a stranger. Warner says both samples have a dropout on the Y chromosome; the DNA in CODIS shares the dropout. That and the overlap together – if she had to guess -  the DNA in CODIS is a close male relative to the killer, maybe a half brother. Benson asks what is his name.

Later, in an office, Fin and Dodds speak with Brendon Cahill who claims he has nothing to do with this. They explains the familial hit on the DNA and ask for a list of all his male relatives. They find out he is adopted and has no idea who is birth father is. He has a name and address for his birth mother but he never contacted her. Dodds asks for his mother’s name.

At the Lobster Box Restaurant at 34 City Island Avenue in City Island, NY on Wednesday, October 7, Benson and Carisi speak with Brendon’s mother and she is reluctant to talk but says the father passed away 5 years ago, his name was Ray Marino. He had two other sons, George and Robby Marino, both would be in their 30s. She says the boys and his widow are still in City Island and thinks she may have his home number but asks them not to tell Camille about her and Ray. Benson says there is no need. She asks what is her son’s life like, and Benson says he is successful and has seemed to have found his way.

Back at SVU in interrogation with Fin and Dodds, they get a DNA sample from George Marino. He is a lawyer who was in his office and was in his car driving in at the time of the death. He does not recognize Lily and denies killing her. They ask about Robby.

Robby is in another interrogation room with Robby who also denies involvement. He said he crashed at his brother’s office who lets him sleep there when he works nights. Robby is a roadie and Carisi asks him if he uses equipment like what the body was wrapped in when he works, and he says yes and everybody uses those. Carisi brings up Robby’s arrest 2 years for aggravated sexual assault, and he states he was acquitted on all charges. Carisi asks if his brother defended him on that.

Meanwhile, Fin and Dodds discuss this with George who says the jury believed Robby but he is silent when they ask if HE believed Robby. He then explains Robby does things the stupid way and Dodds continues to try to work George that he is protecting his brother. George admits they have a cover story and told Robby whenever he gets taken to say he is with him. Fin shows him Lily’s picture and asks if Robby is capable of killing this girl and George says he hopes to god he isn’t. George begins to cry. Benson, watching, nods.

Later, Carisi and Dodds continue to work Robby who denies everything, mentioning George gave him up. Robby gets more upset with the questioning. Benson is watching with Fin who says it’s been 6 hours and Fin says CSU is checking on the moving van and blanket. Benson says they have no blood, no hair, nothing. She tells him to call Warner and put pressure on her.

As Dodds continues to question Robby, Robby seems like he is going to break and says he just wants to sleep. Carisi enters and adds more pressure and then Robby says yeah, she got into his van. Dodds and Carisi keep the pressure on Robby and he sounds like he is going to admit it. There are three knocks and Dodds keeps pressuring Robby and the knocking happens again, more insistently. Dodds and Carisi leave the room and Dodds tells Benson Robby is right on the edge but Benson tells Dodds to pull him out, they are done with him. Fin says he is not their guy, and Warner adds that the DNA on the body doesn’t match either of the brothers. Dodds and Carisi look shocked. Warner says it matches none of the brothers. She thinks the three are all related to the killer and there may be another half brother. She can’t be sure Ray Marino fathered them all. Benson shakes her head in frustration as Warner adds she needs Ray Marino’s DNA. They have to exhume his body.

At the Holy Trinity Cemetery on City Island New York on Friday October 9, Marino’s casket is extracted as Fin takes a photo for Rollins, saying she will be pissed she missed this. Fin sates she is on bed rest and bored out of her mind.

Later, Benson, Carisi, Fin and Dodds visit Warner who confirms Ray Marino fathered Brendan, George, and Robby who are all cleared. Somewhere there is another half brother. There is nothing definitive to go on. She did look at the semen on the body and can guess the age of the person as the last born of the 4. He is closer to 20 than 40 and it could be from a second or third marriage. They suspect he had another affair. Fin says they are looking for the illegitimate son of a dead man.

At 15 Eastchester Street in City Island New York on Saturday, October 10, Benson, along with Dodds, walks with Mrs. Marino and George. Benson apologizes for what she did to her boys. They explain there is a bad guy out there who assaulted and killed a girl, and it may have something to do with her husband. Benson thinks Ray took a secret with him, thinking there is another son. Mrs. Marino is in denial and says she will sue the NYPD. As Mrs. Marino races into the house, George walks them to the car and admits his father had an eye. Ray was a charmer and there was always a pretty woman. He recalls a woman, when he was 12, that his father met at a Labor Day carnival. She had twins, a boy and a girl, and how his father won a prize but gave it to the boy twin. He doted on these children and in hindsight, maybe he wanted them to meet the half siblings. Ray made the kids not  mention Stella, who worked in the museum, and probably still does. George adds that nobody ever leaves City Island.

Later, at the museum, Benson and Dodds speak with Stella who mentions her daughter Nina who is 30 and said her twin brother Nicholas died in a motorcycle accident 10 years ago. She wonders why they are asking about him and Dodds mentions his father came up in an investigation. Stella uncomfortable mentions his father is also dead. She is surprised they know about Ray but they continue to press her, and find Ray was cheating on her too. The other woman was her best friend from high school, Helen Ryan, who has three boys, and Helen was married too.

At the Adrien & Beau Boutique at 422 West 14th Street on Saturday, October 10, Fin and Carisi speak with Helen about Ray Marino and she denies a relationship and blows them off.

Back at SVU, they recap they know Ray has fathered children with 4 women that they know of. They think Helen is covering as she is still married. There are no records for Mark, Gary, or Daniel Ryan and there is no DNA in the system. Daniel and Gary work in Manhattan and Mark is a psych major in East Harlem. Dodds thinks City Island is a closed loop and suggests they get a warrant for DNA for every male between 20 and 30, and Carisi reminds him about civil liberties and that no judge in the county will sign off on that. Benson tells them to keep investigating, to canvas Asphalt Green, Lily’s school, and see if anyone can ID the Ryan brothers. She emphasizes to double check security cameras. Dodds suggests they pick them up and find an excuse later, and Benson tells him not until they know what they are doing. Fin tells them to hold up, they don’t have to go to them, they go to their mother’s house every Sunday. Benson nods.

At an NYPD checkpoint on City Island Avenue and Bridge Street on City Island, NY on Sunday, October 11, Dodds and Carisi have Gary pulled over under the guide of a sobriety check. They look in his van and do a breathalyzer test. He has items like those found with Lily’s body. As they let Gary go as he is sober, Carisi asks Dodds, as they have all three brothers, why did Dodds want him to check Gary twice. Dodds wanted to be sure, Gary had ratchet ties in his van. They do a few more checks, just in case anybody is watching.

At the ME’s office, Warner asks whose idea was it to get DNA off the breathalyzer, and Fin starts to explain it was him, but Benson cuts him off and tells him they can take the victory lap later. Warner says the DNA on Lily’s thigh and fingernails is a straight match for Gary. Benson says “Proof. Finally.”

At Hudson Beverages Distribution Center at 842 Washington Street on Monday, October 12, they speak to the manager about Gary and ask where is his next stop.

Dodds and Carisi catch up with Gary who is making deliveries, and they call out to him as they are several feet away so he starts to run. They chase him and eventually Dodds tackles him and throws him to the ground, getting rough. Carisi alerts Dodds that bystanders are recording this so Dodds turns it down. They take him away.

Back at SVU, Fin tells Benson Gary hasn’t lawyered up yet but they don’t need his statement. Carisi says they know it’s him, they have his DNA, fibers from the moving blanket, and ratchet straps in the van. Dodds comments that they don’t know why. Fin explains there is never a good answer to that question. Benson tells them nice work, and she will call Barba. But Dodds thinks a confession can’t hurt, and Benson explains it can, if it is coerced. Dodds insists he will do this by the book. He says Lily went missing and he jumped to the wrong conclusion and they lost a lot of time. Benson stops him and explains that he can’t put this on himself. He thinks Lily may have been found alive, but Benson counters that Lily was gone the second Gary pulled her into the van. Dodds wants to hear that from him. Benson nods and says okay.

Benson and Dodds speak with Gary and they explains what they know. Gary said Lily got into the van and sat right up front next to him and he gave her a soda. He had seen her before outside the pool. He just wanted to talk to her, he loads soda at the complex every day and he sees her and she is cute. He was hoping they could be friends, they smiled at each other. He did not grab her or scare her, she got in all on her own. He asked her if he could drop her someplace and then he tried to kiss her. She said no and started yelling. He thought someone would hear so he covered her mouth and pulled her in the back. He cries and says he shook her to get her quiet and hit her head against the floor and she went out cold. He was scared so he started driving fast. After a while he parked the van and got out, he was going to let her go. But it was too late, he doesn’t think she was alive, she wasn’t breathing. He couldn’t feel a pulse. He waited a long time until it got dark and then he wrapped her in a blanket and left her there under a ramp. It was only an accident. He knew no one would believe him, he has been sick about it ever since. He sobs as Benson leaves the room and Dodds stares at him.

Later, at the Evans home, Benson and Dodds explain what happened. The Evans are stunned. Dodds says he is so very sorry, and Benson looks at him.

Back at SVU, Dodds is at his desk staring and Fin says he is glad it is over, that was a brutal case. Carisi asks Dodds if he is okay, and he says he is, but asks how the Evans and other families come back from something like this. Benson explains they got the guy and that is as good as it ever gets. Fin asks if she is going to see Rollins, and Benson replies yeah. Carisi says Rollins has been living on takeout, suggesting they all go out there and he will cook them a real meal. Fin replies he is with that, and Benson adds “Me too.” Carisi asks Dodds if he wants to join them, but he declines, citing paperwork. Benson whispers to Carisi she will meet him out there. Benson approaches Dodds and says paperwork can wait. He comments that Lily’s parents will never get over this. Benson agrees they won’t. Dodds comments that Benson has a kid and that has got to make this job harder, She admits it does. She says she will tell him something that somebody told her after her first tough case: “Go home. Talk to somebody you love. And don’t make this job your whole life.” He nods and Benson leaves. Dodds closes his laptop and looks at the file on Lily, and after looking at her photo, closes the file. He stares off as we fade to black.

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BrokenRose said...

For what it's worth, the writers and producers were every bit as irritated as the fans with the promo for yesterday's episode. Apparently, they have little to no say in how the network decides to promote the show, and they had no idea that's what the promo would focus on. If you look at Rob's timeline from last night, you'll see he was especially peeved.

Anne said...

Andy Karl is a wonderful actor, but the way the Dodds character is written confuses me. He looks to be in his mid-30s, he's a sargeant, so obviously has some experience on the force. Yet, he often acts like a total rookie -- things like suggesting they swab all males of a certain age on City Island for DNA? Being rattled by sad parents? He's NYPD, even though he's new to SVU, he must know kids sometimes get murdered? I'm interested to see how they develop him, but so far he's a wink link.

Anne said...

Uggh, "weak link"

Ana Andrade said...

Chris, I completely agree with you about the way the episode was promoted. The promo was so misleading it wasn't even funny. I think they did that to boost ratings, which I think was unnecessary because SVU was after The Voice last night. That alone should be enough and there was no need to do anything else. I don't mind scenes with Noah, but using them like this is wrong.

I found this episode just OK. I did like the twist and turns that occurred during the investigation. However, Dodds being that affected by the case seemed a little forced to me. Maybe it would be better if explain why he felt the way he did. For some reason I never really like episodes where it ends up that the crime was a result on an accident. My favorite part was the last line that Liv said to Dodds about talking to someone. I also liked how at the end everyone went to visit Rollins. I liked seeing Warner back, but I wished Barba was there as well.

I don't get the negativity on here about Noah on here. First of all, he's just a toddler and it seems petty to hate on him. Second, the scenes with him are short. People act like he takes over the entire episode when he's on, which is not true. Fans have wanted Liv to be a mom for years and they are finally getting it. If it's because he adds nothing to the storyline, well, I just find that silly.

On a sidenote, my two favorite shows are SVU and The Voice, so every time they air on the same night is a great night :) This tends to happen twice during the season. Last season it was when Chicago Crossover (ep 7) and Granting Immunity (ep 19).

Vim said...

1. Ok, one thing: how the hell semen got on leg of that girl?
2. I liked, that they mentioned Rollins few times and showed that squad interact with each other outside the work
3. Promo was crime itself

Anne said...

Ana Andrade, I like Noah too -- he gets very little screen time and Liv as a mom adds to the character for me.

Anne said...

Vim, I agree -- they completely dropped that. They made the death seem more like an accident, when the girl was obviously sexually assaulted -- that's how they had the DNA. I also thought it was implausible that the initial subject -- whose brother was a lawyer that had defended him -- was interrogated for so long w/out him invoking counsel. I loved all the squad stuff, Liv looked great, but the story was pretty weak I thought, and the puzzling way they write Dodds added to the weakness.

Will Serrano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Zimmer said...

@BrokenRose - who is Rob?

@AnaAndrade - I don't hate Noah. I just think for a two year old, he doesn't talk (which would be cause for worry in most cases) and it always seems like Benson is holding him, so we never see him move around like a normal toddler. I can understand, though, why some get tired about the show's focus on him, at times to the detriment of the main story line. This episode was the perfect example of how the show pandered to some fans by including a scene with Benson and Noah that was so detached and unrelated to the actual special victims case.

@Vim, they never really answered that question. Warner said she wasn't sexually assaulted but Gary had to "whip it out" at some point!

Ana Andrade said...

Chris, I never said you hate Noah, just that there seems to be a lot of negativity about him on here. Maybe he doesn't talk because he's nervous around Mariska? Rob is one of the executive producers of the show. Look him up on Twiter @RobertBCohen

Phil Smith said...

Chris Zimmer I agree that this episode was a bore and misleading with the promo as you said. I also thought that how it was built up about Dodds' emotional toll was over stated. The case obviously got to him, but I felt he handled it okay over all.

I thought also it was unlikely that a judge would grant an order to exhume a body with flimsy DNA, 15% come on!

I hope that the next week Hodda episode doesn't disappoint, I'm looking forward to it.

On a side note good to see that Wolf and NBC is bring back one of my favorite stars S. Epatha Merkerson in Chicago Med, can't wait!

Chris Zimmer said...

Thanks for the info Ana. I didn't see a Rob or Robert in the credits so I was confused! (IMDB lists him as a writer but I don't think he worked on this episode.)

empxth tbh said...

at first i thought it was kinda funny that it was just one hour of finding someone through DNA relations but i guess it's pretty boring :D

BensonFan said...

Whoever is in charge of set design needs to learn how to make a family tree. The Ryan family tree on the white board showed the middle brother was married to each of his brothers. A horizontal line between two people denotes marriage. OOOPS!

Kyleigh said...

I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought this episode was a bit lifeless. To be honest, I found myself tuning in and out while watching it. Also, I thought the part where Noah went missing was misleading because I thought somebody stole him, but it didn't turn out that way.

Hopefully next week's episode will be a little more lively than this one. I was not feeling this episode this week.

Suzanne Meade said...

Does anyone know what episode coincides with the episode airing next week, Nov 18? The promo said it was following up on Liv's biggest case and I'd be interested to watch the prequel...

Anne said...

@suzanne, the episode is Manhattan Vigil. Season 14. Great episode.

Phil Smith said...

@ Suzanne Meade The original episode they are following up on is Manhattan Vigil Season 14, Episode 5. A child abduction case brings back haunting memories of 13 year old cold case from the same neighborhood, and the two cases may turn out to be related.

In the new episode the male arrested in that episode Lewis Hodda will be tried after 3 years of delays is finally on the docket.

Petra S said...

@Ana Andrade - I don't agree with you re Noah. I haven't seen any hate directed towards him on this site (I have on other sites though & I despise it as he's a kid & he really didn't make the decision to be on screen - his parents did - so he can't really be blamed for anything). What I've seen on this site, & what I myself come back to, is the poor writing for Noah/Benoah. It's a big difference. I hate - really hate - the writing for Benoah. For Liv to be a mom was written in the sky, I would've loved to see Calvin stay with her, but they did such a poor job with it. Noah went through everything in S16, got way too much focus (we battled measles I mean c'mon!?) & many of us stopped caring about him because of it. So it is not Noah, or the twins playing him, it is the writers who is to blame here.

And now also the promotion team. They should've never aired the preview during the end credits of last week's ep, of course viewers would think it was a promo when in fact it should've been labeled a preview just like it was on YouTube

@Chris - thanks for the recap. I don't think I'll bother watching this ep. I'm no fan of Dodds Jr as it is so I think I'm better off missing it. I wanted to watch because of Tunie but I really think I'm better off. We'll see if Wong can pull me in next week, & of course there will be some Kelli/Amanda but I can always watch those tiny clips on other forums so I will let your recap for next week decide if watch it or not.
Thanks for being frank & unbiased as well, I get a feeling some sites butter up to WL & Co to get retweets on their recaps, and even though I might not always agree with you, I appreciate you putting it out there like you see it.

Phil Smith said...

@ Anne Jinx :D we posted that at the same time

Chris Zimmer said...

Since the topic came up, my recap/review of "Manhattan Vigil" is at this link, in case anyone needs a memory refresher:

Chris Zimmer said...

BensonFan, you are correct, those brothers should not have been connected by the straight lines between them. They must think the audience needed a little help to figure out they were brothers (wink).

Erica said...

I didn't think the episode was lifeless. Agreed: the promo was a dirty trick, and no Barba yet again was perplexing. What's the point of having him billed as one of the stars?

I kind of liked the complex web of "which son is it" that led the squad from one family to the next. And I liked Dodds' reactions; I found them moving. I see him fitting in more and more.

And yay to Warner returning!

Phil Smith said...

@ Petra S In all due respect I think you should give Andy Karl a chance. This is only his third episode. I wasn't a Carisi fan at first, then he grew on me. I realized he was a good character for the show. There were many SVU detectives in the past that I grew to like, Rollins being another example. Also many others that I gave a chance that my negative gut was right about, but I always held my judgment back for at least several episodes.

No offense meant but I seen your fiery post when someone on here trashes Rollins, so why not give Dodds a chance ?

Chris Zimmer said...

@PPetra_s - thanks for the feedback! Believe it or not, I did hear from more than one source that WL et al were purposely ignoring my stuff because they don't like the criticism I give on some episodes. Of course I have no idea it is true and feels good to say it doesn't matter if they are. I get so much traffic from other sources like Facebook, Google search, and my feeds, plus from my normal Twitter followers, that I don't need their stamp of approval. (I don't like sycophants, which is probably most of the standard entertainment media, who would sell their soul to get a scoop.) What I find interesting is that the recaps still get tons of traffic when the episodes re-air on NBC and on USA and in other countries, and many times I get feedback on a recap YEARS after it was posted. So while the people running or working on the show may not like it, the recaps stand the test of time! The best thing I like is feedback from the fans. I know there are differences of opinions out there, but at least this is a place where all opinions can be heard.

Phil Smith said...

Chris zimmer how I found your blog, months ago I was doing a Google search on the L&O franchise and your blog was at the top!

BensonFan said...

@Chris I definitely saw the resemblance between Munch and Dodd once you mentioned it. They have similar noses. Seeing that was about the only interesting thing about this episode.

Chris Zimmer said...

@PhilSmith - that is good to hear!

@BensonFan, I'm glad it's not just me! Andy Karl also seems to be channeling Munch's smirk of sorts too.

Nancy R said...

Maybe the reason they tacked on the scene in the park at the beginning of the episode was to givel Ali Wentworth, Mariska's friend and Joyful Heart supporter, a role. Ali is the wife of George Stephanopoulos

Roselynn Finch said...

The fact that Noah was the main focus of the preview for this episode screams just how much the show has declined in quality. I am so sick of him and his unrealistic storylines. Oh, Olivia may lose Noah, oh, Noah is sick, oh, Noah has measles, then he had fun on a playground. Jeez. Enough already. Bring back the old SVU. As for the episode, every minute felt like ten and it was basically a ten minute plot stretched over an hour. It was awful.

Chris Zimmer said...

@NancyR - I agree that Ali was probably given the role because of her relationship with Mariska. That kind of stuff annoys me but it's not an uncommon occurrance with SVU or other TV shows or movies where people get work because of connections. My only hope is that, because the character was almost too friendly that it was a set up for some other story down the road. I'm not sure at this point that I can give the show that much credit for having the ability to create something out of a nothing scene. In retrospect, I think this scene ruined my ability to like the episode, mostly because it was promoted as such a big part of the episode and then turned out to have zero impact on it.

Laurie Fanat said...

It was pathetic how NBC promoted this episode. It was shameful. The fact that the Noah-goes-missing scenario wasn’t mentioned in the episode synopsis made it obvious that it wasn’t going to be a big deal so there was no suspense. The promo is confirmation that Law & Order SVU has been dumbed down to appeal to viewers that are foolish enough to be roped in by the promo and being so thankful that nothing happened to their precious Noah or Benson that they wouldn’t notice there wasn’t much of a story after that.

It’s a good idea they brought in Dodds because with Kelli being gone even for a small number of episodes, they had to fill the gap. It would have been REALLY interesting if they would have brought in a woman as Sergeant instead. Maybe if Daddy Dodds had a daughter instead of a son… I guess with Mariska and Kelli in the lead female roles, we’ll never see any threat to their standing on the show. Back to Dodds – I like the character and actor but SVU needs to stop with these kinds of stories where the character is so easily affected by their cases. Fin called this case “brutal” and I thought the case was routine. I didn’t see anything here that should have made Dodds so affected, except that he had a bruised ego because he was wrong. If he’s going to get this morose every time he makes a mistake, he needs to get off the force entirely.

The fact that TV detectives call out the name of the suspect when they are miles away from them is an overused ploy by lazy writers who need an action scene because the dialog is so dull.

SVU blows hot and cold – one good episode, then one or two lousy episodes. They are not very consistent. The SVU people were patting themselves on the back for the good viewer numbers, and in my opinion they should be worried that more people tuned in, only to be turned off by a bore of an hour. Their viewer numbers blow hot and cold too and I don't think that would be comforting to potential ad buyers.

On the case, Warner did say Lily was not sexually assaulted but then there’s the little detail of the semen on her thigh. The perp did try to blow it off as an accident but at some point he had to have ejaculated on her. If she was unconscious when this happened, isn’t that still some sort of sexual assault? Did Warner mean that Lily wasn’t penetrated by force? Is this another case of bad writing?

@BensonFan I noticed that too on the family tree! Another example of sloppy work, or they think the audience was too dumb to get the connection.

And Chris, your blog is great. I’ve been coming here for a long time (starting as a lurker) but I also appreciate you telling it like it is. There are so few Law & Order fans sites these days and on places like Twitter and Facebook the show people don’t like to hear anything bad about their beloved shows. I followed you way back to when you started and from what I see, the Law & Order people took your comments seriously and the show had a stellar final two years because they listed to fans and they made changes. WL and his crew only want to listen to fans who bow down to them. It’s very obvious they take things too personally. Maybe they are listening to the wrong people? Assuming SVU goes for another season, I am looking forward to a new showrunner. I hope it’s not Julie Martin. She has been drinking the Warren Leight Kool-Aid too long. I want someone with a new perspective.

Last rant: No Raul Esparza! WL always comments about how they are doing the show at or under budget, but it's dumb to load up the show with a lot of useless characters (this episode had many) so you can't pay for a lead. I miss the days when they had a solid lead cast and they were used in almost every episode. That's would brought in the viewers. At this point. Mariska's salary has to be eating up a massive amount of the budget and so they have to cut costs elsewhere. SVU has become a low budget show and it shows.

m gomes said...

chris i love ur blogue, u hit nail 99% of the time and u give credit when credit's due,

this is one of those few episodes that we didn't see eye to eye, i thought the ep was well written, except for the phantom semen, and i thought Tamara Tunie contributed for a good episode

WL ignores ur stuff because u called him out on kissing MH ass. but u keep doing what ur doing 'cause ur good at it

Suzanne Meade said...

Thanks Anne and Phil!! Watching now!

Petra S said...

@Chris - you are very welcome. You do run a very good blog & I love coming here. I do like to go back to your old posts and your tags/labels makes it easy to find what I'm most interested in.
I've seen WL & Co retweet some of your things and I get that they don't retweet negative stuff but you don't really come across as over the top in any way, you just put it out there what you like & what you don't like, you are obviously a fan or you wouldn't run this/these sites so I really wish they would listen to you more than some of those yay-sayers. Constructive critiscm is a good thing.
And I agree with what you wrote about this @Laurie Fanat, I know a lot of ppl that they have blocked on Twitter just because they critized certain aspects, I'm a ltl surprised I wasn't blocked cause I'm rather outspoken *cough* but WL's childish behavior made me unfollow him along with the rest of them. I'm also looking forward to a new showrunner, & although Julie seems one of the sweetest of the bunch I too think she's too tied to WL so it wouldn't be bad to get a brand new one in the mix. Preferable one who isn't afraid to face every fan of the show.

@Phil Smith - I hear you. And I've put it in writing on here and other forums that I'm fully aware me missing Amaro probably is influencing my dislike for Dodds. I do promise I will never become one of those Stabler fans though and I would never ever just post hate in comment boxes. I feel the urge to at times but so far I've been able to restrain mystelf and I don't think I can ever become that bitter actually. There's too many shows out there so if the negative outweigh the positive I will just move on. S16 almost had me packing but so far this season has me hooked. But I'm still not sure I'm gonna watch this ep though ;P
And don't worry about offending me. I'm a kind "if you get in the game..." person, if I give it I have to be able to take it as well, might hurt but that's just the way it has to be. I've spent too many years being quiet, that didn't work for me either so I decided to be in the game ;)

Chris Zimmer said...

@m gomes - Oh dear! I don't recall doing that but it wouldn't surprise me if I did! (wink)

Cappi said...

Regarding Noah. It has been stated that Noah was developmentally behind because of his early life. The little boy is cute and it doesn't matter to me if he talks or walks, Mariska being a mom is a good thing. I agree, a poor story. My main gripe as others have-- No Raul Esparza. I'll ask again- is he being phased out. Everyone of these episodes would have been enhanced by Raul's presence. Thank you Chris for the time and effort you put into this site- it is appreciated a lot.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Cappi - Many thanks for your support! The feedback is always appreciated.

Ana Andrade said...

@Petra - I get what you're saying about hating the writing vs hating the little boy. I guess I just find it silly to get upset over that. You have to blame the network for that "promo". Not even the writers were aware that was going to happen and they were mad too. And thank you for trying not to be like the Stabler fans. They are the worst. All they do is hate on Warren, the writers, and the show for no reason at all. If they hate the show so much, why bother looking up any information about it after saying you're never going to see it again. I'm a Stabler fan by the way :)

@Roselynn Finch - If you don't like the quality of the show, just stop watching. No one is forcing you to. Why watch something that you really dislike?

@Laurie Fanat - I've read several of your other comments on this blog and I feel like you're implying that the current fans of the show are dumb, which I find insulting. It's not like we force the writers to "dumb down" the show for us. They choose what to write. I'm sure viewers would appreciate a much more thought-provoking, insightful episode as well as the ones that are "dumbed down". I'm sorry if I am way off base but I am sick and tired of constantly reading about how people my age are stupid and immature (I'm 20, by the way). I knew as soon as that promo aired how misleading it was. And regarding viewers, having The Voice air right before certainly helped, and in reality, the ratings and viewer numbers are actually quite steady if you look at them.

@Chris Zimmer - Let me start of by saying how much I appreciate you taking the time to do this blog. We hardly ever agree when it comes to the show. I do like how you point out some things that are wrong with the episodes. I have a problem in how often you do it. I know that is not my job to tell what to write. I believe that in your blog posts you come out as someone who is forced to watch the show rather than a fan (which I know isn't true). I'm sure if this wasn't the case you'd get tons more comments, page visits, etc... I know someone who doesn't read you posts because she believes they're too negative. I'm not saying that you constantly say that every episode was great. I myself have found things to criticize. However, I think there is a line between giving constructive criticism and nagging/whining, which are the only words that I can think of to describe your posts. And while I do like that you say you love this show and say what you say so that the quality improves, maybe try focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

In regards to Warren and the writers, I think that they just want to focus on the positive, which isn't bad. I think it is when people are overly critical that they take issue with. They can take criticism when they want to. I'd rather have Julie become showrunner rather than bringing in someone new, to be honest.

All of this is just my opinion and I honestly don't mean to offend anyone. I hope I didn't come across as too harsh.

Laurie Fanat said...

@Ana Andrade: I've watch SVU since it started and I think this show is nowhere near as intelligent and thought provoking as it used to be. We used to have discussions about the legal aspects of the cases and there is virtually none of that now. We used to get a full main cast almost every week with interesting dialog and interaction between them, now we're lucky if we get all of them in one episode along with meaningful dialog. There isn't much to talk about with these episodes any more. I'm not trying to insult the fans, I'm saying that fans deserve MORE that what they are getting: cheap, misleading promos, one-dimensional dialog, and one-dimensional stories where they have to resort almost weekly to ripping the story from the headlines. The fans ARE smarter than that and loyal fans should be insulted that the series is more focused on meeting their budget that putting out a quality show. I still watch the show because I hope for the days that it will be great again like it was just a few years ago. I am so sorry that I ever said anything bad about the previous show runner Neal Bear. Even though SVU started to get a little silly toward the end of Neal's run, it was still an entertaining hour. Now I have a hard time staying awake to watch it, and I am finding myself DVRing it instead. I know there are a lot of fans out there who are still fans but now they hate watch the show instead. Not a good sign.

There is a reason why SVU isn't getting Emmy nominations any more, even for the guest stars. The show has lost its edge and there are lots of other shows out there that are doing drama better. Dick Wolf's Chicago shows are getting so much more good press and compliments and I'm finding them more compelling than SVU (especially Chicago PD). SVU has it's die hard fans, but it is a struggle for them to keep their numbers up.

Roselynn Finch said...

@Ana By the same token, if you don't like this blog, don't read it. I have no problem with SVU. I have a problem with the focus of the show. Ever since Leight took over, we've gotten crap such as #thehand, and #whosbangingbenson turned out to be a one night stand from over a decade earlier. It became all about Olivia becoming a mother and getting laid. That's the definition of pandering to a lower demographic.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Petra - I am not worried about more page visits. Even though there aren't hundreds of comments here, my unique visitors number in the several thousand PER DAY (page views are even more as many visitors often go to more than one page). As far as the person who won't read what I post because the posts are too negative, then maybe they are missing the posts where I say good things. They are there. I'm just not someone who gushes too much over the actors unless I really see something great. I guess this is part of the problem that I have with the series - I'm not sure if the overall quality is there any more in writing and in acting. I do like some of the new people like Peter Scanavino and Andy Karl, I think they will bring some new life. And I enjoy Raul Esparza but he's not been in many episodes.

I'm glad that you give me this feedback. It does help bring a little perspective back to me. I've been thinking about this episode since I wrote the review and I've come to the conclusion that the initial scenes with Benson and Noah and how that was promoted wass such an annoyance to me that it may have colored my opinion of the episode. Based on the direct emails I got from viewers, I may not have been alone in that. One fan said she was so angry that she refused to watch the rest of the episode and had a hard time sleeping that night because of it! I may have simply taken my frustration out in my review (wink).

Dipali Essof said...

Can you please help explain the half brother mess? Was the girl adopted or did the mother have an affair?

Anne said...

I like this blog a lot, and I also love the 2.0 version of the show. Because I don't follow Instagram or anything, maybe I've missed the promotions focused on Benson and her personal life, or the fans' focus on Mariska (who I think is incredibly talented) because I don't feel like the series itself is over focused on her. She's a great character and has been w/ the show since the outset; it's natural she'd get some extra attention. I LOVED the mothership, but I also like SVU's more serialized, character-driven shows. And I think they've focused on some very serious legal issues (and I'm a lawyer); I've especially liked the story arcs on trafficking. I think it doesn't get much Emmy attention, because very few shows that are on this long do, and the cable dramas, which can push the envelope in other ways, are the critical darlings these days.

The promo was silly, and I knew Noah wouldn't get kidnapped -- I think the scene was written just to add a little bit of "now Liv REALLY understands what it's like to be scared your kid is gone, and what can happen in an instant" and maybe to tease her getting another kid? I'm not sure, but w/out the promo, I don't think the scene would have gotten so much attention; every mom has probably experienced something like this.

All that said, I really miss Amaro, who I think was such a strong, fleshed-out character. And Danny Pino is a marvelous actor. I don't think they are writing Dodds well at all and so far for me, he is not a positive addition to the show. But in general, I think 2.0 SVU is very strong, and I will definitely keep watching.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Dipali Essof - I hope I can explain the half brothers! Brendan Cahill was adopted. His mother, who worked at the Lobster Box restaurant, had an affair with Ray Marino while he was married to Camille Marino which produced Brendan. Camille, Ray’s wife, had two sons, George and Robby. There was also Stella, who has twins Nina and Nicholas who were also Ray’s. Helen Ryan, Stella’s friend, also had an affair with Ray while he was married to Camille, and had 3 sons, all believed to be Ray’s – Gary (the killer), Mark, and Daniel. Ray was a serial philanderer who left a lot of kids in his wake! As far as Lily is concerned, she is the legitimate daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Evans.

Dipali Essof said...

@Chriszimmer. I am still confused. How does the half brother DNA tie to the girl who was murdered. What am I missing?

Chris Zimmer said...

@Dipali Essof - ME Warner found DNA on Lily's thigh which showed a faint familial match to Ray Marino, whose DNA was in CODIS. This is what sent them on the search for half brothers, which eventually led to Gary.

Dipali Essof said...

@chriszimmer. I finally got it. No need for further details. I recently your blog and find it very good. Please keep it up!

ladybug81 said...

I was not a big fan of this episode. It was slow and felt like it was dragging on forever. At one point I wondered how they were going to solve it because it was almost 10 pm, I looked at the time and it wasn't even 9:30 yet. I think it showed how DNA while helpful can also cause a case to become even more difficult, but it took up to much of the episode. The bright spot for me was when the woman who had given her son up for adoption asked how he had turned out. I'm sure that's something all mothers who give up their children think about. I also had a problem with the DNA that was found on the girl not being addressed. If it was an accident like he claimed how did it get there? I guess it's little inconsistencies like that that bug me.

When it comes to Dodds he's growing on me. I wasn't sure about him in the beginning but wanted to give him a chance. I think this episode could've showcased his talents better than what it did. I liked the talk between him and Benson at the end but wish it had been longer. I was hoping to see more of an emotional struggle for him. I feel like he went in with preconceived notions of what SVU would be like but it's completely different than he expected. The emotions was one of the things I loved about the scene is season 1 when Cassidy realized he couldn't handle SVU.

The Noah promo was clearly just bait to draw in viewers. From what I saw on twitter from a few writers/producers they had no idea, and from what I've read they really have no say in the promos. It was just a ploy by NBC. While I'm glad the episode received good ratings I don't think they are accurate. If Mysteries of Laura had been the lead in and not The Voice I think they would've been lower. However the ratings have been consistent this season and the show even beat Criminal Minds the week before last. While it may not be the ratings SVU received years ago I think they are still good for a show in its 17th season.

When it comes to Noah and Olivia being a Mom I'm thrilled it finally happened. I like that he's included and it showing Olivia trying to struggle with her demanding job and her role as Mom. Do I think the way their scenes are written could be better? Sometimes but overall I like the addition of Noah. I think I have wanted Olivia to become a mother about as much as Olivia did. I was not a big fan of the Calvin story line but at the same time that was when the show was starting to decline for me. I felt sorry for Calvin and felt that Olivia would've been good for him but, just like people feel about Noah, I think it could've been written better. My biggest problem with the Calvin story was how Elliot acted. He made little comments about her 'playing Mom' and sent off the DNA test after finding it, but when he heard Vivian say that if Olivia let her go Calvin would be hers he offered to back her. Now, I have not been a fan of Elliot since probably season 2 but I felt like that just made the story even worse.

Chris I have enjoyed reading this blog for years. Every Thursday afternoon after a new episode has aired I make sure to check in even if I don't post a comment. While I don't always agree with your analysis I do like reading it. I've actually found things in your recaps that I missed while watching. So even when I completely disagree with you on an episode I'm still gonna show up and read the next one.

Chris Zimmer said...

@ladybug81 - yes, they did leave that little tidbit hanging RE: the DNA on her thigh. I would have thought that would have been pushed a bit more in the interrogation. Maybe because they knew they had Gary's DNA match and Dodds was only looking for why Gary did it, they left his explanation go without challenge, even though it had that gaping hole. Benson did seem worried about a confession being coerced, so maybe they were just being too careful? But it did seem like they dropped it a little too much!

Thanks for the feedback and for coming by the blog. I always appreciate hearing from viewers! Believe it or not, there are many times I have to go back to my own recaps to try to recall certain details; sometimes fans ask questions many months or years later and the answers are buried there (wink)!

BensonFan said...

I agree that the writing is not as smart as it used to be. I think they, like many writers/producers of current TV shows, assume that people aren't smart (or maybe don't want to think that hard while they watch TV).

Love Drama said...

This case is the copy of Yara case

Felicia Angel said...

I am so glad I caught up! I will admit this was a weak episode, and while I know Dodd feels...young...I think a lot of that is familial getting him higher up, and also possibly 'safe' jobs, so that he probably hasn't dealt with cases where he was called in for a lost girl and realized him leaving it alone would end the way it did. Dodd seems to have a lot of general knowledge, but not actual applicable knowledge. It makes him a good foil for Bensen, as she has to watch out for him (because of who his dad is) and also makes it so that Dodd doesn't feel quite like part of the team yet because of that issue. A lot of the new people who start out have some issues - some fewer than others - and it's good to see that it takes a bit. Still, this was very weak and I think it should've been handled better.
....also maybe Barba isn't around because it's a conflicting schedule or something? I miss him, he's awesome and I just love him and his snark.

Unknown said...

I know I'm late but I'm just now catching up on my DVR episodes. Is it just me or they spend an hour to find a DNA familiar match and didn't mention anything else about it. Were they related?...was Gary her brother? I thought for sure they would tell him he murdered his sister after he told his long story about what happened. Maybe I gotta watch it again.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Unknown (Pamela) - the DNA was mentioned extensively in the episode. The details are in the recap. ME Warner did a "less stringent" DNA search and found that it was a familial "match" to someone that they already had in CODIS. This eventually led them to Gary. It IS complicated but to save you time, it may be quicker for you to read the recap as the answers are there! I hope this helps a bit.