Thursday, March 3, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Manhattan Transfer” Recap & Review

“Manhattan Transfer” is the first part of a two-episode arc which involves the SVU, the Catholic Church, One PP and various members of law enforcement, politicians, and a member of a DA's office. It was a hairball that only got hairier as the episode progressed. It was an excellent story filled with drama, tension, and uncertainty, making for a nice set up for the next episode where hopefully the case will be solved. Benson pays a huge price for her efforts. Despite Benson telling her squad that she is "out," I’d say it’s likely she will be restored to the SVU in the next episode, the only questions being how this will transpire, or if there are other casualties down the road.

Benson’s relationship with Tucker comes out at the worst possible time, making their involvement with this case appear questionable to some. When Barba realizes those two are romantically involved, he acts as if Benson has just put a knife into his heart. He seems hurt that Benson didn’t confide in him about it, and possibly angry that she let Tucker get so involved in the SVU part of the case that it now appears tainted. Clearly Barba can’t honestly think Benson would have any involvement with a sex trafficking ring, but as he doesn’t know Tucker that well, he may not trust him. During the dialog between Benson and Barba, Barba brings up all the questions the fans have raised about why Benson would get romantically involved with Tucker, considering their past history. That scene felt slightly awkward as I felt that it was the writers speaking to the fans; it didn’t feel like Benson and Barba discussing the issue as colleagues. But the questions about the relationship had to be raised and answered. This episode belonged to Robert John Burke, who perfectly showed Tucker's dual personality as a likeable guy and a suspicious, raging hot head.

Sister Nina went from being in interrogation and holding to being completely free. How did they conclude that she had nothing to do with the operation? The two Vice detectives have the (lame and likely fabricated) excuse that they were working undercover, but I would think that just because Nina is a nun who said she infiltrated the group to help the girls should not give her a free pass. The SVU was too quick to take her at her word. Maybe I missed something? Tucker, on the other hand, assumes the worst of his cousin, the priest, who wasn’t even at the underage sex party and whose only fault was that he knew the name of a young female rape victim who was later (likely) murdered. Sister Ida also seems to be getting a free pass so far. While I don’t know how this story plays out, in this episode it implied that nuns/women aren’t capable of heinous crimes but clergymen are automatically suspect. (I attended an all girls parochial high school taught by nuns, priests, and seminarians, and I could tell you lots of stories about ALL of them. But I won’t! I will say is there were quite a few that were far from saintly.)

It was inappropriate that Benson, as a Lieutenant, would allow Nina, a person who was part of a sex trafficking arrest and investigation, to stay in her home and be alone with her child, especially if there had been concerns about Nina’s mental state. I understand Benson may have been concerned that the system was compromised, but I can’t believe they don’t have other resources to guarantee Nina’s protection.  Benson makes another error by bringing Tucker to her apartment and having Nina discover that he was related to Father Eugene. Was anyone besides me worried that Nina, in her panic, was going to fling Noah out the apartment window? I felt a little uncomfortable as Nina kept backing up towards it. This is one of those cases that Benson should have recused herself, or Tucker should have recused himself,  once his cousin Eugene was suspect. Benson has a big heart but that trait is sometimes her downfall.   Her handling of this case so far leads to her packing up her personal belongings from her office at the end of the episode. Had she handled Nina through the normal channels, and had she kept Tucker out of the SVU part of the investigation, maybe it wouldn’t have looked like there was a cover up.  It's obvious that someone doesn't want this case to go any farther.   It's also possible that Deputy Chief Dodds has found an opening to weasel his son into a promotion.

I was amused when Tucker commented that he is loathed by half of the NYPD. I think he was being too kind. He's probably loathed by MOST of the NYPD.

And breaking news: Noah finally utters a word! At least, I think this was the first time he spoke. Pretty soon he well be demanding a larger salary (wink).

Again, another episode without Ice-T and no explanation has been given for Fin's absence.

Here is the recap:

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
Robert John Burke – Captain Ed Tucker
Jonanthan Cake – Mosignor Mulregan
Michael Potts - Sergeant Cole Draper
Michael O'Keefe – Father Eugene
Joniece Abbott-Pratt - Marissa
Abigail Savage - Sister Nina Kelly
Maggie Borlando - Margaret Kenswick
John Ales - Det. Tom Russo
JD Williams - Det. Anton Jefferson
Mary McCann – Didi Denzler
Sahr Ngaujah – Father Akintola
Karen Tsen Lee – Medical Examiner
Jeb Brown – Captain Gerbic
Richard Topol –ADA Wynne
David Cale - Judge Wheeler
Camila Perez - Cara Gutierrez
Karen Christie-Ward - Sister Ida
Camilla Perez – Cara Gutierrez
Larry Bull - John Townshend
Yainis Ynoa – Natalia Diaz
Rebecca Gruss – Danielle Backerly
Jack Nawanda-Braunwart – Noah Porter Benson

The SVU is staking out a party with underage girls. Carisi is undercover at the party while Benson and the others are in a surveillance van nearby. On the video feed, Benson sees Judge Wheeler and Dodds notices a Bronx ADA, two assemblymen and a councilman. Rollins wonders if the nurse who tipped them off knew what she was onto, and Benson thinks maybe, the nurse said the girls were scared and she wouldn’t give up any names. Dodds is anxious to move in but Benson tells him they need to wait until they do something more incriminating. Dodds worries how close she wants to cut it, as Judge Wheeler has his hands up that girl’s skirt. The girl seems ill and asks to use the bathroom, and as she coughs, Carisi asks if she wants some water. But a man doesn’t like Carisi’s interference, and, pushing him, tells Carisi to mind his own business. This starts an altercation and one man brings out a gun. Benson sees this and orders Dodds and Rollins in. Benson and the detectives storm inside and order all to get their hands up. Benson holds her gun on a few of the guys and asks them if they are going anywhere. She then orders some officers to get them out of there. Benson shouts that she is Lt. Benson and orders the guns down, and one man pulls out a badge and says they are on the job from Vice. The other Vice cop does as well. Rollins says they are from SVU and Dodds asks the color of the day, to which one man answers “Yellow.” Rollins comments, “Son of a bitch” while the Vice detective states they just derailed a two year operation. They all look stunned.

At SVU, Rollins tells the girls she needs to know how they found out about this party and how they got there. On girl says they were friends, and another clarifies they weren’t really friends, they met them at a Wiz Khalifa concert. Benson is watching Rollins talk with the girls and Barba approaches, and he asks her what fresh hell awaits. Benson states they responded to a tip that underage girls would be at a sex party and in attendance was Bronx ADA Wynne, two assemblymen, a retired DA investigator, a councilman, and she tells Barbs she is sure he recognizes…Barba finishes that is it Judge Wheeler. He comments why is he not surprised. He asks if the girls are taking, and Benson said no, their pimps have them completely under control, and haven’t even bothered to send a lawyer and no one will admit to knowing whose party it was or who supplied the girls. Barba says it is par for the course. Benson goes on, saying it gets worse: Detectives Russo and Jefferson from Vice were working the case from another angle and they pulled their guns and badges as they made the bust. Barba thinks they must know who threw the party, and Benson says if they do they are not saying. They claim they ruined their UC operation, but tells Barba not to worry, she called their Captain. Barba quips, “You mean he wasn’t there too?” Barba asks if there was anybody at this party that wasn’t a public servant, and Benson points out a woman in another room, saying her name is Nina Kelly, and her ID says she is a nun and they are trying to verify this.

Carisi is in interrogation with Nina as Benson enters the room. She questions why a nun would be at a sex party. Carisi tells Benson that Nina is not comfortable with him in the room so he makes a quick exit. Nina explains she is not comfortable with male cops, and Benson comments that as a madam, she is sure Nina has had a lot of run-ins. Nina denies being a madam, saying she is a nun. She spent months trying to infiltrate the ring to save the girls, thinking it is rigged. Benson says she isn’t part of the good ol’ boy network, and asks Nina to work with her and tell her about who throws the parties and procures the girls and she will get the girls to the shelter. Nina believes if they think she is cooperating she will not be able to save anybody else. It took a long time to earn the trust of a lot of people. When Benson asks who hired her, Nina tells her to ask the johns that. Benson explains they haven’t been forthcoming. Nina says they know they will get away with it.

Meanwhile, Dodds is in interrogation with Russo and Jefferson who say their cover story is that they are dirty cops. “They” like to have them at the parties to keep everyone in line. When Dodds asks who is they, saying there is no record of their UC op, Russo says their captain told him not to put this into DECS, too many other johns have access. Captain Gerbic enters and, after some small talk, he and Dodds leave the room. Gebric enters Benson’s office. She says the timing was bad and knows their cover was blown, and he says they have to get new guys in there and it sets them back. He asks what her people were doing there and Benson explains it was an anonymous tip and they are all in this together. He says he wishes he could help, but they are playing the long game here. He comments she has seen the pedigree of the johns and asks if anybody is talking. Benson states not yet. He tells her to ask herself why, who are they protecting? He is going out on a limb even acknowledging this. Benson appreciates this but explains underage girls are still be raped and trafficked. Gerbic says where SVU sees victims, he sees willing participants and these girls are not exactly Madonnas. Benson looks appalled and Gerbic says to never mind that; they care just as much as they do and they are going to nail these guys. Benson starts to argue that SVU is better equipped, but he cuts her off and says he hears her; they are already inside and if SVU moves in now, the carnival just picks up and moves to a different lot and the games just keep getting played. He says he will get his guys out of her, but when Benson says she wants to run this by the ADA first, he tells her to call the Deputy Inspector and see what he says. Benson looks stunned.

Afterwards, as Gerbic walks out with Russo and Jefferson as Benson and the detectives watch from the break room, Rollins asks if that is it and if they are shut out, but Benson says if they are deep UC she gets it. Carisi comments it is a UC investigation they can’t investigate because who they are investigating, saying it is a mobius strip. Dodds wonders that his father may have some intel, and Benson suggests it is worth a try. As Dodds walks off, Benson asks if the girls are with social services, and Rollins says she will take another run at them tomorrow. As they walk off, Carisi asks Benson if they are just going to let these johns go, and she replies for now, she will call Barba – or not. Nina, in the holding cell, calls out to Benson, and Carisi asks is something is the matter. She says she doesn’t understand, asking if they are just going to let those bastards go. Benson states that is none of her concern. But Nina says because they have badges it means it is okay for them to assault 16-year-old girls? She explains this has happened multiple girls, multiple times, saying they are not cops, they are rapists.

At Bernadine’s Halfway House for Women at 570 Sutter Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn on Tuesday, March 1, Benson speaks with Sister Ida about sister Nina who says she is doing God’s work. Benson explains the circumstances of Nina’s arrest, Sister Ida says if that is what Nina said happened, it happened. Benson stats Nina gave her a name of a girl she brought to her, Cara Gutierrez, and Sister Ida says Nina brought her there about 6 months ago; she was a troubled girl but she believes she is healing. Benson asks if she can speak with her, and Sister Ida says she won’t say a word unless Sister Nina is with her. Benson understands and thanks her. Sister Ida says it is good to see her again, asking about Noah. Benson confirms she adopted him and he is thriving. Sister Ida says they still say the rosary for Ellie every year. Benson thanks her and leaves.

Later, Benson and Rollins speak with Cara with Nina present. Cara picks out Russo as one of the men who was at all the parties and was grabbing and touching them and making them do stuff. She says his partner is too, picking out Jefferson. Benson looks shocked and asks Cara to tell them exactly what happened. Nina tells Cara it is okay. Cara says the 2 men were always there first and made her and other girls go down on them. They had to pretend they liked them. The last party, somewhere on Edgecombe Avenue, they got really drunk and they forced her into a room and kept raping her, She cried but they didn’t care. She didn’t tell anyone right away but Sister Nina looked out for her. Nina explains Cara was skeptical but eventually they established a bond and this is why Cara disclosed to her and she took her that night to the ER. No rape kit was done, Nina said Cara would have run away and they would have lost her. Cara said Nina took her to the halfway house. Benson asks who took her to these parties, and Nina cuts in and says no, Cara will not talk to her about this, it is too dangerous.

Later, in Captain Tucker’s office at IAB, Benson and Dodds explain the arrest and the situation and that Cara claims Russo and Jefferson raped her while they were supposedly on the job. Dodds does not believe they are undercover and their whole story is BS. Benson adds their captain did confirm it to her. Dodds states obviously Gerbic is in on it too and asks Benson if he gave her details and a target. Tucker tells Dodds “easy” saying if they are really investigating high level corruption it would be on a need-to-know basis. Dodds sternly asks if that gives them permission to rape? Benson affirms that Cara seemed credible. Tucker states there were no witnesses, outcry, or rape kit, and this is not going to be easy. Benson asks that Tucker will just look the other way and she has to go back to Barba and tell him that IAB is not investigating? Tucker comments that he thought they were friends and didn’t say he was passing on these two. He has dealt with these two cops before, last time about a year ago. Benson and Dodds look at each other in surprise and Benson asks testily when was Tucker going to mention that? Tucker explains nothing stuck and an accusation against vice cops are a dime a dozen. He says if he gets them in here and they are part of a high level investigation, they will have to give that up to save their shields. Benson smiles at him and she and Dodds leave.

Later, Tucker, along with Sgt. Draper, question Russo who is there with his rep Didi Denzler. Draper is skeptical at Russo’s explaining that they are targeting a street gang. Russo says they are low-hanging fruit and the roots of the tree they can’t discuss. Draper questions that the investigation is so critical that they allowed underage girls to be sex trafficked, and Russo replies that as tragic as it might be, that is the job. Tucker says he is not so sure that is. Russo’s rep asks if they want to quarrel about policy, they should take it up with Russo’s superiors. Tucker states phone calls are being made, and asks if raping 16-year-old girls while undercover is also part of that policy? Tucker and Draper are now questioning Jefferson who says these girls aren’t dumb, saying they don’t engage the sexual activity they make them as cops and that is why they are coming after them. Draper says they are not coming after them, the witnesses are scared. Jefferson argues it is because their families will find out they are living the life, and Tucker states that is not the case here. Jefferson says their pimp bought her something shiny and put her up to it, saying it is preemptive, He adds that they are just trying to create reasonable doubt since SVU busted them. Tucker dryly asks Jefferson to give them the names and they will run that angle. Jefferson says if One PP won’t give them the target, maybe that should tell you something. Tucker sits back in his chair and says nothing.

Back at SVU with Tucker and the detectives, Benson says that Vice says that BX9 is pimping these girls out to cops and politicians, saying it doesn’t sound like the M.O. of a street gang. Dodds thinks these cops aren’t undercover, they are the muscle or they are running it themselves. Tucker comments that either way, they called his bluff, saying the Russo and Jefferson would rather risk a morals charge than name names. Benson, frustrated, says they hit another brick wall. Carisi asks Rollins that she talked to the girls at the party again, and Rollins says Danielle went back to the shelter and Natalia and Margaret were picked up by their foster families. No one is cooperating. Benson questions what about friends, classmates, somebody knows how these girls got caught up. Rollins says they can ask; Natalia and Margaret both went to St. Fabiola’s, and so did Cara. Dodds explains this is an all-girls parochial school in the south Bronx. Tucker says he might know somebody that works there – his cousin Eugene is a psychologist and the last he heard, he was a counselor up there. Carisi cracks, “The last you heard? He’s your cousin.” Tucker explains Eugene is a priest; their interests diverged. Dodds wisecracks, “Estranged Irish relatives – how rare.” Benson asks Tucker if he minds talking to him, and Tucker says he can do that. As Benson and Tucker walk off, she asks Tucker that he never told her his cousin was a priest. He says she never asked. Benson laughs.

At St. Fabiola’s Academy at 391 East 146th Street on Wednesday, March 2, Tucker speaks with his cousin Father Eugene about the raid and Natalia and Margaret. Eugene says he checks in with the girls every day and has taken their confessions. When Tucker asks for details, Eugene explains the seal of the confessional and HIPPA laws. Tucker emphasizes the girls are being trafficked, and Eugene says it’s because there is no home or parenting. Tucker asks if Eugene has noticed any other girls late for school or falling sleep in class, and Eugene says many, unfortunately. Tucker asks if Eugene knows Cara, and Eugene explains she dropped out 6 months ago, drugs, asking if she is caught up in this. When Tucker says her name came up in the investigation, Eugene calls her a poor soul, saying an addict in foster care and these gangs know who to prey on. Tucker asks which gang, and when Eugene sees Mosignor Mulregan enter, Eugene makes the introductions. The Monsignor says he knows why Tucker is here and wants him to know that they are good girls. Tucker says he is just trying to find out who led them astray and that Eugene is hiding behind the collar. Eugene counters if he betrays their confidence, they are lost to him, to us. The Monsignor says Eugene is right; they can’t talk about their students. Tucker asks about Sister Nina Kelly, and both clergymen look surprised. The Monsignor says Nina has never worked at the school and believes she is still on medical leave. Tucker asks if they heard about the kind of work she does, and the Monsignor says no and is concerned to hear she has been in contact with students. Tucker questions why is that, and the Monsignor says Sister Nin’s medical leave is for psychiatric reasons. The Church learned the hard way they need to be proactive, they can’t sanction her being around children. Tucker nods his head.

Benson, Dodds, and Rollins are in Barba’s office who asks that they think detectives from Vice are involved in trafficking and their key witness, the nun from the party, has mental health issues? Benson suggests it could be the word they put out to discredit her. Barba says the word it out and asks if there has been any help from the johns. Rollins asks if he means the judge, and ADA, and thinks that someone, maybe at Vice, told them this is going away. Dodds thinks they are probably right; Russo and Jefferson stonewalled IAB. Barba says okay, the johns are out, the cops are out, the nun is out, and asks about the girls. Benson explains there is one rescued vic, Cara, who is taking, and she alleges the Vice cops raped her but is way too scared to testify. Barba suggests one step at a time, asking them to find out if she’s willing to come in and talk to him.

Back at the shelter, Sister Ida tells Rollins and Carisi that Cara has been in her room all day and hasn’t even come down for supper. Rollins explains their DA wanted them to reach out. Sister Ida doesn’t think Cara will be up for this. Carisi explains if she tells them that, they will leave. When Cara doesn’t answer the knocks on her room door, they enter and find her dead from an apparent drug overdose.

Later, as they walk outside heading to O.C.M.E., Benson asks Carisi and Rollins if they know where Cara got the heroin. Rollins says they have no idea and Sister Ida says Cara was in her room all day. Carisi adds as it is a halfway house, any of those girls could have smuggled it in. Benson comments that they all swear that they didn’t.

Inside, they speak with the ME who confirms the cause of death as acute drug intoxication. Rollins asks if it was an accident or suicide, and the ME asks them to tell her when was the last time this girl used drugs? Carisi explains Cara has been clean for 6 months. The ME explains sometimes when addicts go back to drugs after they are sober they use the same dosage. Rollins asks if it is possible someone gave her a hot shot, and the ME explains she can’t prove that but if this concentration was going around they would see a lot more overdoses. Benson asks if the ME is leaving the manner undetermined, and the ME replies pending their investigation, yes. She explains it was a humane death; Cara would have been fast asleep by the time her lungs filled with water.

Later, Benson and Dodds break the news to Sister Nina ho thinks this was not an accident. She sobs, saying she should have never brought her to Cara and “they” killed her. Benson asks who are "they” and Nina is upset they didn’t protect Cara. Dodds says they can’t protect them unless she tells SVU who to protect them from. Nina gets upset, asking who knew Nina was at the shelter, saying it was someone in their squad. Benson dismisses this idea but Nina thinks someone tipped them off and she is next. Benson thinks she is right to be worried and this is why they don’t think she should stay there. Nina says she has nowhere else to go and they will find her anywhere. Benson says she knows a place where she will be safe.

Meanwhile, Rollins and Carisi speak with Sister Ida about Cara who says Cara has not been outside in 3 days. She last saw her midday yesterday, a priest said he would take her confession up there. Every Wednesday the priest takes confession and they go to Mass on Sundays. She left Cara alone until the detectives arrived. The priest was Father Akintola, he is East African and fills in sometimes. Usually it is Father Riley but he was called away yesterday to St. Fabiola’s.

At St. Horatio’s Community Church on 23 East 2nd Street on Thursday, March 3, Rollins and Carisi speak with Father Akintola, who says Cara was struggling and the arrest of her classmates brought it all back. The priest seems upset and Carisi asks if he is alright. Father Akintola replies he should have never left her alone. Rollins asks if he thought she was jonesing, and he thought she was just anxious. Rollins asks if Cara mentioned any new friends or if he saw anyone come into her room? He states not while he was there, saying Sister Ida has her hands full keeping a house full of runaways from giving in to temptation. Cara was an addict and they always find a way. As Carisi and Rollins thank him and move to leave, he asks if they think he can talk to the girls and see what they know. Now that Cara is gone they may want to come forward. Carisi says that would be great, and gives Father Akintola his card.

Back at SVU, Benson states that Sister Nina told them that Cara was in a very good place and wouldn’t start using again. Rollins says that is not what Father Akintola told them. Dodds agrees with Nina; someone gave Cara a hot shot to shut her up. Carisi says he is all for paranoia but asks who knew Cara was cooperating besides them? Benson mentions Sister Nina and Sister Ida, Barba and, pointing to Tucker, adds IAB. Dodds mentions the Vice cops, saying they had motive and NYPD computer access. Tucker says this is why he was sure not to put Cara’s name in the system; he didn’t even tell his partner. But Benson gets a look of realization and stands up, looking at Tucker and commenting that Tucker did ask his cousin about her. Tucker looks stunned and whispers, “Son of a bitch.” Benson looks shocked as Tucker walks off.

Back at the church, Tucker, along with Benson, confronts Father Eugene, asking with a raised voice “What did you do, Eugene?” Eugene says he doesn’t know what he is talking about, and Tucker mentions Cara, saying things are a lot worse now, she’s ice cold in the morgue. Eugene says he knows, he heard, saying it is horrible, these drugs. Tucker says Eugene thinks it was the drugs, and Eugene asks what else it could be. Benson says they don’t know, Cara could have overdosed or she may have been murdered. Eugene says, “Dear God” but Tucker says with sarcasm not to give him that, he’s locked up better liars than him, asking who did he send after Cara. Eugene tells “Eddie” he is not making any sense. Tucker yells that he told Eugene they were talking to Cara and Eugene knew what that meant. Eugene says all he knows is Tucker is acting like a madman. Tucker screams, asking if Eugene is on the Vice cops’ payroll or are they on his payroll? Eugene screams back neither, he was Cara’s guidance counselor, and asks how could Tucker even contemplate something like that. Benson tries to step in between them and moves Father Eugene away, asking him to step away with her for a second. She asks him if it is possible that he may have inadvertently let Cara’s name slip. He says no, he would never make a mistake like that. Tucker yells why was Father Riley called away from St. Bernadine’s last Wednesday, and Eugene explains he needed as many shoulders as he could get for the girls to cry on. He says they can’t possible think this is some sort of conspiracy. Benson asks how well Eugene knows Father Akintola, and Eugene says he is a good man and a good priest. Eugene tells Tucker it is the Bronx; Cara was involved with a gang and if she was cooperating they would find out. Tucker yells that Eugene was the only person he mentioned Cara’s name to, and pointing a finger at him, saying now she is dead. Eugene looks to Benson and states his cousin has been at IAB too long and he thinks everybody is corrupt. He yells at Tucker and says that reflection he sees in his eye is Tucker’s soul. He moves closer to Tucker, not his, pointing at Tucker. Benson tries to step between them again as Eugene says it was Tucker who turned his back on God, not him. Benson pulls Tucker away, suggesting they go. Tucker points at Eugene and says they have something on him, and Eugene says Tucker is unbelievable and they should leave now. Benson pulls him away and says they should go, but he pulls away from her and moved to Eugene who is walking away. He grabs Eugene and pushes him against the wall and he gets in his face, saying he knows it was him. Benson tells Tucker "enough” and when he doesn’t move off, she grabs him and pushed him away, yelling “ENOUGH!” Tucker tells Eugene he’d better get himself right with that God he loves so much, because he is coming for him and He is not going to help. Benson pulls him to the exit.

Outside the church, Tucker tells Benson that Eugene, calling him a pious little snake, is lying. Benson says Eugene didn’t kill Cara, he was at the school all day. Tucker thinks Eugene set her up. Benson wonders that Eugene just didn’t let her name slip. Tucker says Eugene wouldn’t do that, he’s a politician and every word out of his mouth is calculated. Benson asks if Tucker really thinks Eugene is running an sex trafficking ring, and Tucker wonders if he is protecting it. Tucker wants a warrant for his phone, his financials and his computer, everything. He is going to tear into his life until he finds out what he is hiding. Benson says no he is not, Eugene is his cousin, not a cop. If he is a suspect to let SVU pursue it, it is not Tucker’s case. She repeats “Not your case.” She tries to calm things and says she will ask Barba for the warrants. Tucker mentions that Nina has to come inside, and Benson says she is safe, and Tucker states so was Cara.

Benson, with Tucker, arrives in her apartment where Sister Nina is staying. She says she fed Noah and Benson introduces her to Tucker. Nina looks very comfortable and asks why is he here. Benson explains he is investigating the vice cops, and Nina says the ones who weren’t charged. Tucker says he is working on that. Benson tries to assure Nina that Tucker wants them off the force and in jail, and Tucker states he needs Nina’s help to do that. Benson says they already know that most of those girls were students at St. Fabiola’s and Tucker questions if there is someone at the school that they should be looking at? Nina, looking uncomfortable, says she doesn’t work there. Benson begs her, and Nina says sometimes the guidance counselors at the school have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on. Tucker, stunned, asks if she is saying they should be talking to Father Eugene, and Nina asks if he knows him. Benson says yes, they do, and Eugene is Tucker’s cousin. Nina moves over toward Noah and picks him up as Tucker asks if any of the other girls mentioned Eugene was involved, saying no one will know where it came from. Nina tells Noah they should say goodbye to Mr. Tucker, and Noah says “bye.” Nina, saying, says Tucker needs to go right now. Benson steps toward Nina and Tucker says Nina is right. He will go and let the two of them talk. Tucker leaves. Benson tells Nina she needs to put her son down and Nina backs up. Benson says Tucker is gone and she knows she wants to help those girls and it is not what she thinks. She asks her again to put her son down, right now. Nina complies. Benson thanks her as Noah goes back to playing. Benson picks him up and suggest Noah go play with her iPad. She takes him into another room and Nina races to pack her things. When Benson comes back, Nina says she thought Benson was on her side, and Benson tries to assure her she is despite Tucker being Eugene’s cousin. Benson says there is no love lost between Tucker and Eugene and if Eugene is involved, she and Tucker will go after him. Nina says everyone said she could trust her: Sister Ida and Jen, she should have known Benson would sell her out. Benson insists she would never do that. Nina asks if Benson is going to have her committed again and have more shock treatments, and Benson insists no. Nina screams she is not crazy. Nina screams that Benson brings Father Eugene’s cousin here, wondering that either Benson is in on this or she is an idiot. Benson asks her to take a breath and listen to her. She says she can’t even imagine what is going through her mind right now but asks Nina please don’t leave here, it is not safe out there. Nina says what is going through her mind is that she thinks Benson brought her here to kill her. Benson, shocked, says, “What?” Nina says Benson doesn’t have to, she doesn’t know anything about her trafficking ring and she is not talking to anyone about this ever again. Nina races out, leaving Benson standing in her doorway. Benson steps back in her apartment and shuts the door.

Later, the Monsignor Mulregan is in Barba’s office, saying he knows he has put a heavy burden on Barba but he has faith the DA’s office will do the right thing. Barba says of course. The Monsignor asks that this has to end and he wants to spare these girls any more exploitation. Benson and Dodds arrive as the Monsignor is leaving, and he recognizes Dodds. Dodds says it is nice to see him and introduced Benson.  Mulregan thanks her for rescuing his girls and when she says she is sorry they lost one, he says he was there when Cara was confirmed, saying she was a pretty young girl. He makes the sign of the cross. When he leaves, Benson asks Barba what the Monsignor was doing here, and Barba explains he is still trying to figure that out. Dodds explains they are waiting for warrants for Fathers Eugene and Akintola, and Barba says a lot of judges are reluctant to hand out financial and cell records for priests. Barba asks if they are making a wrong turn here, asking where is IAB on Vice? Dodds explains Tucker is keeping that investigation active but they have reason to believe that priests are involved in Cara’s death. Barba asks if they are getting this all from Sister Nina, and Benson says Sister Nina is no longer involved in this investigation. She explains when she and Tucker spoke to her, she mentioned Tucker was Father Eugene’s cousin, and she had a bad reaction. Barba asks if it was a panic attack, but Benson explains it was more than that; Nina became convinced that Tucker was in on the whole thing and they were going to have her committed or killed. She was paranoid and she completely shut down. Barba asks if she can blame her, saying Vice and god knows who else have been trafficking girls to elected officials and somebody leaked that Cara was cooperating. He asks who besides Tucker knew about Cara, and Benson says her squad, Barba, Sister Nina, and Father Eugene. Barba asks Dodds to give them a minute. He leaves the office. Barba tells Benson that if she is sure Father Eugene knew, and Benson says yes, Tucker told him. Barba gives her a suspicious look and asks what does she really know about Tucker? Benson explains they go way back and he’s a straight shooter, intense, no-nonsense. Barba asks if he abuses power or overreaches, adding Tucker almost destroyed both her partners. Benson admits yes, adding Tucker arrested her too but they are way past that. She asks what is this about? Barba explains Monsignor Mulregan’s visit was not a social call, he is made some very serious allegations. Benson thinks it is against Father Eugene, but Barba states it is against Tucker. Benson is flabbergasted and asks what did the Monsignor say? Barba said the Monsignor and Father Eugene went to Tucker a year ago and they had information that Vice was running some of their students and that Father Eugene even violated the seal of the confessional to provide evidence. They named Russo and Jefferson and Tucker buried it. Benson questions that the Monsignor is telling him this now, saying this is about protecting Father Eugene. She states she was there at that church when Tucker confronted him and she thought he was going to rip his head off. Barba wonders if that is what he wanted her to think. Benson says Tucker is not capable of that. Barba asks since when, he thought SVU hated this guy, he’s gone after each and every one of them. Benson replies that’s his job, he has to be relentless. She insists Barba is wrong about him, saying to trust her. Barba looks at her with a look of realization and asks if she is involved with him. She takes a breath and tells him not to ask her that. She turns toward the door and Barba asks when was she going to tell him? He then says sternly that he is informing her that a captain at IAB may be involved in a sex trafficking ring and angrily asks that Benson didn’t mention they were sleeping together? Benson walks right up to Barba and says he is wrong about Tucker and to bring him in here and ask Tucker himself. Barba glares at her and says, “You and I are done talking.” Benson looks like she wants to say something but doesn’t, and she turns away and leaves.

Later, Benson and Tucker meet at a restaurant and they hug, and Tucker thanks her for coming. He asks if anyone saw her coming and she says no. He asks what she has heard. She explains that Group 1 is investigating him for sex trafficking, corruption, and murder. He admits he has been invited to come in early tomorrow morning. He adds that cousin Eugene really set him up good. He asks if she got the warrants, but she explains they are stalled and doesn’t know if it was before or after Barba found out that she was…biased towards Tucker. He says, “Oh. Okay.” He takes her hand and says she knows how this goes, telling her not to stick her neck out, it will look like she is covering for him. He says they can’t prove anything because he hasn’t done anything and he will be fine. She ask if they just let these guys skate, and Tucker asks that she wants to go after The Church, City Hall and Albany for an IAB investigator who is loathed by half of the NYPD? He tells her to stay out of it. Her phone buzzes and when she looks at it, she says it just might be too late; One PP wants to see her immediately.

Later at SVU, Dodds tells Rollins and Carisi that whatever is going on Barba won’t talk about it in front of him. Rollins asks if he talked to his dad, and Dodds says his father is not calling him back. He thinks someone high up in the chain is starting to sweat, and Rollins thinks it is because they are taking on the Catholic Church. She says “sorry” to Carisi, but he says he gets it; 99% of these priests are good guys and The Church has brought this one themselves. He comments at least the Monsignor came to Barba on his own, thinking that is a good sign. Dodds says they finally realized transparency is their only salvation. Rollins says with cynicism, “If you say so.” Benson enters the SVU and tells Rollins and Carisi to get her some evidence boxes and she calls Dodds into her office. He asks if everything is alright, and she says she is fine. He asks what is going on, and she says he would know better than her. He asks if something happened, and, as she collects items off her desk, she asks if he is telling her he didn’t know? As Carisi and Rollins enter with the boxes, Dodds asks “Know what?” She replies, “That I’m out. Effective immediately. Carisi, Rollins, as of now, Sergeant Dodds is acting commander of SVU, so, congratulations. That’s it.” The others are stunned as Benson packs her belongings, and she adds, "You’re dismissed.” They leave her office. Benson picks up her nameplate and packs it into a box. As we look through her office blinds to watch her pack, we fade to black.

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Ana Andrade said...

Really enjoyed this episode. I’m not worried about Olivia. She’ll be back. :) I can’t wait for the next episode :)

kat said...

What bothers me is that Tucker really laid into Benson for dating a fellow coworker (Cassidy) yet he has no qualms sleeping with her? Talk about a hypocrite

Also Raul Esparza killed that last scene!

Miss Kitty Fantastico said...

Mighty fine episode. Robert Johnson about heat...whoa...this guy is a tremendous addition to the cast. Tucker's automatically assuming his cousin had something to do with the sex ring makes me think that there is more to Tucker's backstory. Cannot wait for the next episode.

Miss Kitty Fantastico said...

Mighty fine episode. Robert Johnson about heat...whoa...this guy is a tremendous addition to the cast. Tucker's automatically assuming his cousin had something to do with the sex ring makes me think that there is more to Tucker's backstory. Cannot wait for the next episode.

Ashley W said...

Wasn't expecting the cliffhanger; I didn't even realize the full episode time had passed. I hate that it's a two-week gap!

I read Barba's offense at her being in a relationship with Tucker as a professional one, not personal.Curious to see the direction on that, though. They seemed to just recently get over their last big professional clash.

I'm also wondering if this leads to Barba's absence from E19, or if that's completely unrelated.

Ashley W said...

Oh - and the willingness to believe Tucker would ever bury something is a little ... off ... to me. Dude takes his job very seriously, I don't think there is anything he'd compromise it for.

empxth tbh said...

Benson bringing the Nun to her apartment was so strange and obviously not realistic...

juda O said...


Anonymous said...

I find it very odd that Fin is absent yet again and no one from svu even mentions him or why he is absent. :(
That is the real cliffhanger/mystery of this show! :D

Laurie Fanat said...

This was a good episode. While Tucker has used to annoy me a lot and I still can't completely warm up to him (mostly because he act so cold), i think Robert John Burke is fabulous and he was Emmy worthy in this episode. What a great job.

What on earth was Benson doing letting this woman into her home to be alone with her son? Maybe if Lucy was there with her I could look past the poor judgment but without someone else there with Nina, it is inexcusable. Benson better take off those rose colored glasses she is wearing.

This was an interesting case, yes predictable. It's a sure bet that the monsignor is in on something. It would be a nice twist if he wasn't. I don't think that Eugene is.

One question is who ratted out Benson to One PP? Was it Barba, the monsignor, or Daddy Dodds? Daddy Dodds has motive.

For the life of me I have no idea why they have made no mention at all about Fin. At least they could have written in something like "he's working undercover" for another operation or something. Saying nothing is an insult to fans.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

loved the ep! Lots of drama, shed light on tuckson. 2 things, Olivia letting some stranger stay at her apt with noah...and yes I thought Nina got way too close to the window! Crazy, and then telling her Tucker is priest cousin...Benson decision making sucks PTSD?? She never went for help after townhouse incident. I LOVE how Tucker tries to protect Olivia, telling her to stay away from his case. This relationship has soul to it. I'm all in. BURKE brings intensity to the show, his scenes were great. WHERE'S FINN?? When he finds out about Tucker....look out! I'm looking forward to part 2!!

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

loved the ep! Lots of drama, shed light on tuckson. 2 things, Olivia letting some stranger stay at her apt with noah...and yes I thought Nina got way too close to the window! Crazy, and then telling her Tucker is priest cousin...Benson decision making sucks PTSD?? She never went for help after townhouse incident. I LOVE how Tucker tries to protect Olivia, telling her to stay away from his case. This relationship has soul to it. I'm all in. BURKE brings intensity to the show, his scenes were great. WHERE'S FINN?? When he finds out about Tucker....look out! I'm looking forward to part 2!!

charisma said...

Thank heaven Fin will be back in the next episode. To bad we have to wait 3 weeks for it.

BensonFan said...

Anyone else think it's the monsignor, not the cousin, who is running the prostitution ring?

Chris Zimmer said...

@BensonFan - my guess is *everybody* thinks he is involved somehow at a high level. the "creepy" factor with him is just too high! (wink(

kat said...

I don't think Barba ratted liv out but idk I might be wrong

kat said...

I definitely think he's involved but I also think Tucker is hiding somethibg

Caroline Rohe said...

To be honest the majority of the episode went by rather lackluster until the last ten minutes with Barba's reveal of Tuckson and Benson's transfer. @LaurieFanat you are right about Benson having rose colored glasses on, cause she was endangering her son by leaving him alone with Nina. Her head must be in the clouds with her relationship with Tucker, cause she also shot herself in the foot while hiding info from Barba.
As for Barba, the guy looked like a child witnessing a puppy being run over when he figured out Benson and Tucker were an item. And while he did maintain a professional demeanor throughout his conversation with Benson, especially by ending the conversation before further jeopardizing information, he did appear personally hurt. It will be interesting to see where the writers go with Barba and Benson in the future, cause something is clearly up with Barba.

Lisa said...

Ice tweeted he will be back next week to clean up the for Nina Benson is very boss's for females victims and perps it seems she only sees women as victims even when they are clearly not.

Bonnie Newville said...

I totally agree!

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

Yeah. Benson made one bad call after another in this episode. Not like that's a totally new thing for her, but why in God's name would she let Nina stay with her and HER SON if there was even a chance that someone was out to get Nina following Cara's suspicious death?

As for Barba, I think you have to go back to the deleted scene from "Depravity Standard" for the source of his anger. Benson essentially froze him out for weeks. He stuck to the story that he protected her during the grand jury proceedings, and Benson's unspoken reaction was like "don't do my any favors." Now, because of Tucker, she is putting him in that position all over again, and the man is NOT supposed to be furious? That being said, I don't think that he was the one to rat Benson out (Dodds Sr. seems the more likely suspect).

And yes, Fin's absence hurt this episode as he has served with Benson the longest and would have taken her dismissal/transfer the hardest. Hope he really is back soon!

mary brooks said...

A really great episode which brought up a lot of issues with and between the characters. To me it appears that the Monsignor is part of this ring though he may not be the head, but just a pimp. Tucker's cousin, is most probably the Monsignor's confessor which brings up the question of his responsibility. If he knows a crime is being committed, if he says nothing is he as guilty. Of course this brings up the sacredness of the Confessional. As a Catholic I understand its' precept, but its' use in these circumstances should not be condoned.

I can understand Benson's thinking that having the nun stay at her apartment was safe. Who could you be safer with?

Tucker's outburst so reminded me of Stabler. Maybe that is part of Olivia's attraction to him. Not sure it their relationship can be the same after Olivia gets back to SVU. I hope it does.

Now to the question with Barba and Benson. Olivia is a very forgiving person, and she had a deep friendship with him. He maybe in love with her, but knows it is hands off because of the Haden affair. I don't think there will be any nightcaps in his office in the future, and I don't know this is the beginning of his departure.

This ring has tentacles in the political arena and I wonder if Barba's friend Munos is in this, along with Hank and other members of 1PP. Where is morality in all of this.

How this all resolves is going to be interesting. Waiting three weeks is torture. Hopefully it gives Benson an opportunity to rethink how she handled all this. She has to rethink where and to whom her loyalty lies.

Victoria Everwood said...

I've really had it with Leight forcing bad pairings into Olivia's bed. No self respecting woman would even date someone who had repeatedly threatened their job. Then we find out they've already slept together? EWWWWWWWW. My god. I am so sick of this bad porno. Oops, I mean crime show.

malifact said...

Chris, I'm a long term reader of your blog but this is the first time I'm posting. Thank you for all your hard work. Although I watch every episode of SVU, it's useful to read your posts as sometimes I miss things.

I was hoping this episode would sell me on the Benson and Tucker relationship, but if anything it further convinced me that it doesn't make sense. I thought it would have been more believable for Olivia to get involved with the African-American lawyer she became friendly with a few seasons back (perhaps the show was afraid to go there). Their friendship seemed genuine, whereas with Tucker there would be too much bad blood.

Ashley W said...

Ah, yes, I think you're completely right about Barba.

Chris Zimmer said...

@malifact - glad you're joining the discussion! I agree with you about Benson and Bayard Ellis (played by Andre Braugher). They had great chemistry. Braugher is a great actor too and I would have enjoyed him staying on the show.

Vim said...

1. Tucker was great
2. Benson made one mistake after another - truth to be told, she should be forced to change her postion - she made too many mistake already
3. My bet is than Tucker cousin Eugene is innocent and the one who is in charge is Monsigniour
4. For me, the best scenario would be if Cara wasn't killed, but she overdose by accident because stress caused by Benson:)

mary brooks said...

Thinking about the way the show ended with Barba's pouncing on Olivia, I think that is the beginning of Barba's leaving the show. Their relationship can never be the same. No more late night recaps of the day over Bourbon. The Haden affair had made it impossible for them to have anything more than a close friendship unless one of them transferred. Neither is willing to do that.

kat said...

Barba's still set to appear for the rest of the season so we'll see

Agape and Zoe Naturals said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Agape and Zoe Naturals said...

If Barba is ever out...bring back Cabot!

I'm with Victoria Everwood. For someone who repeatedly tried to take Benson down, she now seems head over heels. The hand holding and the hands on his chest and her trying to calm him and the fact that she jumped when he called in the middle of the night tells me that they have been seeing each other a long time.

Really, Olivia? Crazy, paranoid nun taking care of your son?ni also thought she would keep going backward and end up out the window.

I am glad they got a new kid to play another. The other one had the personality of a wet sponge.

I, like many, just don't like him, and never have. Olivia is a classy professional and should date accordingly. I feel that she is lowering her standards after all he has done to her and treated her.

Yes, Fin would definitely be affected by Benson's situation.

And the pronunciation that they all had of Gutierrez throughout the episode had me cringing..."goo-Dee-air-ez".

I also agree with Olivia and Bayard Ellis. He really seemed to be intelligent and attracted to her, in my opinion. There was a sweetness there and possible comradery.

Oh, well...maybe once Stephanie March gets back f m her lengthy travels, she'll come back to SVU😉

Victoria Everwood said...

They really need to bring Diane Neal back. Casey has the highest success rate on the show (stated in Haystack) and is the best ADA.

Unknown said...

I think Benson is working from behind the scene. We never saw her being interviewed so don't know what was said. She has to make everyone believe she is out.

Anonymous said...

Olivia just annoyed me in this episode and her though process leaves a lot to be desired.

@Victoria Everwood I think SVU claimed that both Cabot and Novak have high success rates. Either way I would love to see both of them back.

L J said...

Why did the nun at the shelter say "We still say a rosary for Elliot every year."
WHY?! What happened to Elliot that he needs a rosary prayer?!?

Chris Zimmer said...

@L J - She didn't say they still say the rosary for Elliot every year. She said ELLIE. That is Noah's biological mother (Ellie Porter).

L J said...

Ahhh that makes more sense! Thank you!

Lucia Gallardo said...

Actually if the confession included an intention to commit or to continue committing a crime, then there is nothing to protect the priest from being prosecuted. The confidential part only applies to past crimes (as is the case with lawyers and psychiatrists/psychologists)

OhSusannah said...

I read an interview with showrunner Warren Leight after this Manhattan Transfer episode aired. He suggested that Barba is actually jealous and hurt that Benson would become romantically involved with Tucker. He's certainly been with SVU long enough to know their troubled history, even that Tucker arrested Liv on that banged-up murder charge.And still Liv defended her choice by saying "Tucker was just doing his job".Warren suggested that Barba 's anger is more a betrayal of their working relationship , though they've never even been close to being romantically involved. Barba and Benson have shared a few after dinner drinks .I have noticed a number of times that Benson will make sarcastic remarks to the others in the squad about Barba; his style of dress. I think she thinks he's a diva and though very good at his job as their department's ADA, he thinks too highly of himself. Perhaps its a class issue or an educational bias Liv has- Barba is far from a working class stiff with his matching suits and tie combos.I won't be surprised that when the new season begins, when showrunner Warren Leight is gone, so will be Raul Esparza. He's a wonderful Broadway actor.I wish them both every success. PS I so wish they had kept Bayard Ellis on the show. Mariska and Andre Braughe had mad chemistry !

Anonymous said...

@malifact-Every time I saw Bayard Ellis, character on the show he was wearing a wedding ring and I didn't feel any romantic chemistry between him and Benson.