Thursday, March 24, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Unholiest Alliance” Recap & Review

“Unholiest Alliance” completed the story which began in the previous episode, “Manhattan Transfer”.  There were no big surprises here, with certain members of The Catholic Church being involved in a sex trafficking ring. If there was anything that bordered on a surprise for me, it was Tucker’s cousin, Father Eugene, having any involvement in facilitating the criminal activity.  It appears not everyone can be as squeaky clean as his often-sanctimonious cousin, Captain Ed Tucker. I admit I had hopes that Tucker would be wrong about his cousin but sadly his instincts about Eugene were correct. Despite the predictability, this episode was well written and visually interesting, with lots of location shots beautifully lit and framed.

The story highlighted Sonny Carisi’s faith and his Catholic upbringing that he used to convince Father Eugene to do the right thing, despite Tucker's skepticism that Eugene would do anything to help. Sonny was capitalizing on Eugene’s weak spot, but it worked so well because Sonny truly believed what he was saying.

Deputy Chief Dodds is becoming more creepy and unlikeable with every episode, and I wonder if anyone – maybe even his own son – will eventually turn up some dirt on him. I fully understand that the higher one goes in an organization, the more political a person can be, but at least it is comforting that his son can see right through him.

Fin is back, although there was no explanation given for his absence.

Finally, there is some acknowledgement that Benson may be drinking too much. While Tucker doesn’t actually say she's having too much, he was quick to make a subtle note of her wine refill which indicates he has a concern. Benson getting in over her head with alcohol will probably come to a head sometime down the road.  She and Tucker do seem to spend a lot of time sitting at the bar.

And while on the subject of Benson and Tucker, while I have no problem with the relationship, it lacks a romantic spark. In one scene, Benson takes his hand and kisses it, which seemed more friendly than romantic.  The relationship has a cold, clinical feel to it.

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:
Robert John Burke – Captain Ed Tucker
Andy Karl – Sgt. Mike Dodds
Peter Gallagher – Deputy Chief William Dodds
Robert John Burke – Captain Ed Tucker
Jonathan Cake – Monsignor Patrick Mulregan
Michael O'Keefe – Father Eugene O'Hanigan
Abigail Savage – Sister Nina
John Ales - Detective Tom Russo
JD Williams - Detective Anton Jefferson
Frank Vincent – Bishop Catalano
Sahr Ngaujah – Father Akintola
Jason Cerbone – Lorenzo Desappio
David Cale – Judge Wheeler
Brock Yurich – Lance Woodstone
Amanda Bishop – Heidi Aronson
Melinda Tanner – Sister Antonia
Yainis Ynoa - Natalia Diaz
Karen Christie-Ward – Sister Ida
Dru Johnston - Father Joseph Leahy
Rebecca Gruss – Danielle Backerly
Maggie Borlando – Margaret Kenswick
Emily Cramer – Deanna Walsh
Derek Kelly – Trooper
Rick Zahn – Inquisitor #1
Victor LaMantia – Billy the Gravedigger

The episode opened with a recap of events from the previous episode; the full recap can be found here: Law & Order SVU “Manhattan Transfer” Recap & Review

In the squad room, Deputy Chief Dodds tells the squad he knows having their Lieutenant transferred abruptly is unsettling, but “ours is not to reason why.” Fin asks how long Benson is going to be gone, and Dodds replies that best hope, temporarily. The detectives look on, warily. Dodds adds that for now to keep doing their jobs. Putting his hand on his son’s shoulder, he says they are in good hands with the Sergeant. As DC Dodds walks off, Sgt. Dodds comments that first off, he was blindsided by this as all of them. He adds that second, he is going to need their help. Carisi stands up and say, “Copy that, Sergeant.” Rollins questions what are they supposed to do? Dodds explains that leads to his third point: the Lieutenant was recused because of the allegations against Captain Tucker. Fin wonders what that has to do with Benson? Dodds replies that he can’t speak to that, and neither should any of them, but this is still their case and since charges have been made against Tucker, Barba has been pressuring them to follow up on them. He says, “So start following up.” He walks off.

At the Internal Affairs Bureau at 315 Hudson Street on Saturday, March 5, Captain Ed Tucker is being grilled by the Group 1 panel about any involvement in a sex trafficking ring. He states Detectives Russo and Jefferson, who are making allegations, are lying and they are dirty, and SVU had busted them in the raid and whoever is running this told them to blame him. Ed is questioned about Monsignor Mulregan and Father O’Hanigan’s confirmation of the story and if Tucker is saying they are in on the conspiracy too, and Tucker replies he does not know. He explains Father Eugene is his cousin so some of this might be personal. He adds that Sister Nina Kelly suggested to him that Father Eugene was somehow involved and asks if they have spoke to her yet.

Meanwhile, Sister Nina is feverishly packing her things. Later, in a van, she picks up Natalia who asks if anyone else is coming. Sister Nina says not today and they drive off.

Elsewhere, Benson waits outside and as Barba approaches, Benson calls out his name to stop him. He continues to walk, saying they are not supposed to be talking. She asks if he knew she was getting transferred, and Barba states that One PP doesn’t keep the DA’s office apprised of its byzantine maneuvers. Benson angrily replies to let her fill him in, stating he told them about her and Tucker and a few hours later she’s getting pep-talks about what a great asset that she would be to women in Community Affairs Barba calmly states she is seeing someone he is investigating and One PP had to know. Benson insists Tucker is not a sex trafficker. Barba firmly replies then the investigation will clear Tucker and until it does, stay out of it. Benson counters that whoever is behind this murdered Cara and while he and One PP is chasing their Trojan Horse, other girls are in danger. Barba shakes his head and states they can’t talk about this, and he quickly walks away from Benson. She is dumbfounded. Her phone rings and it is Sister Nina calling from the van. Nina asks if Benson told them she is not cooperating any more, and Benson asks where is she? As Nina sees another vehicle following her, she tells Benson to just tell them she is leaving town and they don’t have to worry about her. Benson tells her to wait, asking for Nina to listen to her, but Nina says she has to go and she ends the call. Benson continues to call out to Nina but it is too late. A van pulls up to Nina’s and pushes Nina’s van off the road. As Nina and Natalia sit stunned and injured in the van, a man walks up to the driver’s side.

Later and still outside, Benson walks up to a waiting Tucker, who has just tossed down a cigarette. She asks him how he is holding up. He replies that Group 1 has been grilling him since 8 AM, Benson comments they can’t think he is in on this, but Tucker thinks they can. He asks what does she have? Benson urges that he needs to be careful; somebody is after Sister Nina and Tucker might be next. He asks what is she talking about? Benson explains that she called her this morning, spooked, and now she can’t reach her. Dodds is tracking her phone. Tucker says, dryly, “Great. Alright, keep me posted.” Looking at his watch, he says he is due back upstairs. Holding onto her arm, he says there are more questions about him and his cousin Eugene. He lets go and walk off. Benson sighs.

Back at SVU in the squad room, Rollins questions Father Eugene, who says he became concerned that the girls were being preyed upon by two vice cops and he suggested to the Monsignor that he talk to his cousin in Internal Affairs. Rollins asks when was this. Carisi speaks with the Monsignor who says it was a year ago, March 14; that is the date of the letter he sent to Tucker outlining the crimes. It was a hand-written letter and he gives Carisi a copy. Carisi asks if he is sure he got his and if he heard back from Tucker. In interrogation, Fin speaks with Detective Russo who is there with his lawyer, and says Tucker called him and his partner on March 16 last year saying he wants to meet. His attorney gives Fin a print out of Russo’s calendar. Russo says his lawyer or rep was not with him and that Tucker said it was off the record and strictly for intel. Before Russo can continue, his lawyer says he wants to make clear that anything Russo says to implicate Tucker cannot be used against him. Fin tells him to go on. Russo says they go down and Tucker is there without his partner and says he knows about them and the girls and that it can go one of two ways: they lose their badges and they do some hard time or they cut him in on their action and he closes the file out. Fin asks if they have any way to verify this, or if the meetings with Tucker recorded, and Russo says no, it was Tucker, his partner, and him, and he told his Captain about it. There is a knock on the interrogation room window and Fin asks for a few minutes and leaves the room. In Benson’s office, Fin tells Dodds that Russo has his story down. Rollins adds that if Jefferson and Russo met with Tucker, then IAB is sure to have a record of it. Carisi enters and shows Dodds the copy of the letter the Monsignor gave him outing the vice cops. Fin comments that either Tucker is dirty or someone is setting him up good. Dodds puts the letter in a folder on his desk and states he will give this to Group 1. He adds that the next problem is the Lieutenant called; Sister Nina might be in trouble and her burner phone is going straight to voice mail. Rollins observes that the burner phone has not GPS, but Dodds counters TARU just triangulated the last call from Saxon Woods. He has an emergency exception to put a trigger fish on her phone and if it is on, they will find it.

Later. Fin and Rollins are at the scene of Sister Nina’s accident with a trooper. They hear the last call was made less than a mile from there. The van belongs to an Episcopal Church in Yonkers and he has left word. Rollins asks the trooper to call again. Fin observes someone ran Nina off the road and Rollins, noting the drag marks, thinks Nina was taken to the other vehicle. They find two suitcases in the van; one is Nina’s and realize the other belongs to a younger girl; there are two vics. The trooper returns and says the church lady says the van us driven by their revered, Father Joseph Leahy.

At Saint Swithens Episcopal Church at 235 Ashland Place on Yonkers, NY on Saturday, March 5, Dodds and Carisi speaks with Leahy who says he lent the van to Nina who said she was in trouble. He gave her the keys to his family’s lake house in Vermont. Leahy states he used to be a Catholic priest and admits he and Nina were in love. He asked her to marry him to start a new life together but she turned him down. She said she had too much work to do; girls were being abused and Nina is dogged, she never quits anything, not even the church. He thinks she was trying to get the girls out of town.

Later, outside the church, Carisi ends a phone call, telling Dodds that Margaret is at home and Danielle is at the shelter and they said Nina called them but she wasn’t making any sense. Dodds is also on a call, asking the caller if they know what hospital she went to. He ends the call and tells Carisi that Natalia’s foster mother said Natalia left early this morning and didn’t say where she went to. She is at the hospital - she OD’d.

At the hospital, Fin and Rollins speak with Natalia and she thinks they are there because they found Sister Nina. They haven’t found Nina but Fin plays along. Natalia says the driver of the van was black and dressed like a priest and had an African accent. He forced her and Nina into a van and drove to a dead end. He made them walk into the woods and if she ran, he would shoot Nina. Then he raped Nina and when he was done he shot her anyway, and told her to tell the other girls that is what would happen to them if she talked. She said she didn’t score, he drove her back to the Bronx and loaded that needle and put it in her hand. He said the Lord is her shepherd, and she woke up in the hospital.

Later, Dodds and Carisi are there as a search is conducted in the woods and Nina’s body is found. Dodds tells the officers to call it in, and Carisi makes the sign of the cross. Dodds then tells the officer not to worry, he has it. Carisi looks upset.

The next day, outside, Dodds walks with Benson, giving her the news. Benson comments that Nina wasn’t paranoid at all, she was right. Dodds explains the ME confirmed what Natalia told them; Sister Nina was raped and shot point blank. Natalia picked out Father Akintola from a photo array and said he was wearing his priest’s collar. They think he is in the wind and nobody at St. Fabiola’s is returning their calls. Benson suggests he go and sit outside their offices for as long as it takes.

At St. Fabiola’s Academy at 391 East 146th Street on Sunday, March 6, Carisi speaks with Sister Antonia who says the Monsignor won’t be coming in today after all. When Carisi complains he thought she said he was already here and he has been waiting since 9AM, she says he must have misunderstood. The Monsignor is in seclusion and praying for Nina.

Meanwhile, Rollins is with Sister Ida who says the Monsignor finally called her back and he thinks that Father Akintola is out of the country. He believes he had a family emergency 3 days ago.

Meanwhile, Carisi asks Sister Antonia about Father Eugene, and she asks isn’t he in school today? Carisi says he is not and says this is about getting justice for Sister Nina. She says she understands but they have been told by the Monsignor that, for the good of The Church, it is best not to answer any questions. He reminded them that God’s plan will be unveiled with time. She walks off.

Rollins, meanwhile, asks Sister Ida if the Monsignor knows how to get in touch with Father Akintola, and Sister Ida says no, but Bishop Catalano might know more.

Fin is waiting outside the residence of the Bishop, on the phone with someone saying that he has been there all day and there is no sign of the Bishop. A car pulls up and he ends the call. He shows his badge and finds Father Eugene and Bishop Catalano inside and Father Eugene says this is not a good time. When Fin says he is looking for Father Akintola, the Bishop tells him to call his secretary and she will take care of him. When Fin asks to talk to them for 5 minutes, Father Eugene says they have a funeral mass to attend to. The Bishop looks shifty and Father Eugene rolls up the car window and the car drives into the gated area.

Back at the SVU with the squad, Barba looks at the cover of the Daily News with the headline “Devil’s Work, Nun Raped, Murdered,” and comments this is horrifying. He asks that no one at The Church knows where Akintola is, and Carisi says they are in seclusion, Fin calling it full lockdown. Dodds says they are not available, not returning calls, and he assumes Barba doesn’t want them to bust down the rectory door and haul them in. Barba states they assume that too. Rollins says the Monsignor did send word through Sister Ida that Father Akintola went back to Cameroon 3 days ago. Barba asks when they met with him did he mention anything about a flight? Rollins replies she is not sure he actually took one; ICE has no record of him leaving the country on a commercial or private flight. Carisi adds there is no record of Akintola coming into the country, they are out to the FBI and Interpol but this guy could be anyone and anywhere in the world right now. Barba asks that identity issues aside, he was the priest that met with Cara right before she OD’d? Fin replies yes, and Natalia told them when he drove her to the Bronx, he gave her the syringe that she OD’d with. Rollins states that whoever the players are in this, they are closing ranks fast, and Fin adds that killing Sister Nina like that sends a message. Dodds asks Barba where is he at on the warrants for the priests’ financials, and Barba replies that as of last count, he has 3 judges not getting back to him. Fin asks what does he expect; no judge wants to take on The Church. Carisi asks what about Judge Wheeler, and Barba smiles, saying that Wheeler still maintains he thought the sex party was a fundraiser. Carisi reminds them they still have surveillance photos of Wheeler groping a 16-year-old girl in his lap.

Later, Fin and Carisi show the photos to Judge Wheeler who says this is blackmail, but Fin says it is a courtesy call. Carisi says with the death of the nun, the pressure is all over them and if that were to leak out…The judge denies having contact with a nun, but Fin shows him a photo of Nina serving the judge a drink at the party. Carisi wisecracks that maybe the judge didn’t know her with that girl on his lap. When the judge balks, Carisi asks only for warrants on 4: Akintola, Eugene, the Monsignor and the Bishop, putting his list right on top of one of the incriminating photos. The judge asks if they are joking but by the stern look on Fin’s face the judge realizes they are not. The judge says it is his signatures on those warrants, but Fin comments not his, they want one of his judge friends to do it for him.

Back at the squad room, Carisi says there are no financial records on Akintola and he may not be a priest, the Archdiocese has no record of him. Fin says there are no extra accounts, car leases or credit cards for the Monsignor and thinks he is good on hiding his profits. Carisi wonders if he is just a good priest who has nothing to do with this. Rollins finds that Father Eugene is paying $600 a month for a Bronx walk up and also has a loft in Fort Greene for $3,500. Carisi says with his salary that does not add up but Fin thinks it does if Eugene is part of the ring. Dodds wonders if the loft is another party location and asks Rollins to keep digging into his accounts and instructs Fin and Carisi to check out the loft.

At the apartment of Father Eugene O’Hanigan at 15 North Oxford Street in Fort Green, Brooklyn on Monday, March 7, Fin and Carisi gain entry to the building pretending to have a UPS delivery. At the apartment, they find a man, who says he is Lance Woodstone, scantily clad in a cowboy outfit. They come inside to see all sorts of sex toys and bondage equipment but Lance says he is Eugene’s personal trainer. When they ask him to come down to the station he balks but Carisi says most good citizens like to cooperate when the police seek their help.

In the interrogation room with Fin and Carisi, Lance says he has been living in the loft full time and chips in for expenses. Meanwhile, in Benson’s office, Dodds tells Rollins and Barba that Lance is 25 and has an outstanding DUI warrant and claims to be a personal trainer. Barba asks if he has any other clients, and Rollins says no, but he does seem to spend over $1,000 a month on liquor deliveries plus another $500 a month on gift items from “The Pirate Booty Treasure Chest.” Barba stifles a smile and says “Oh.”

Meanwhile, Lance says he has been “training” Father Eugene on and off for a few years. He asks if he can call his girlfriend who is a lawyer.

Later, a woman walks into Benson’s office and Barba asks if she is Lance’s attorney. She says she is Heidi Aronson and says she is a real estate attorney, then says she is a broker with some legal experience. She is also married and reminds them Lance is her client and wants to know why they are holding him. Dodds explains and Heidi asks if this is about Father Eugene, saying Lance hasn’t had anything to do with him for over a year. She told Lance if he kept up that sick relationship they were over. Rollins breaks the news about Lance and the loft and Heidi calls Eugene a son of a bitch and said she emailed the Monsignor about Eugene 2 years ago. She said Father Eugene was stealing money from the church to fund he deviant lifestyle. She shows them an incriminating photo with Eugene in it. She asks if this answers their questions.

Later in a bar, Dodds shows the photo to Benson and Tucker, the latter commenting he knew Eugene was hiding something. Dodds says Eugene pays for Lance’s loft and credit cards and S&M purchases. Tucker asks if Eugene is getting the money from trafficking but Dodds explains this is their working theory but they haven’t been able to track the cash. They are sure the Monsignor knew and it turns out Lance had a sugar-momma who found out about Lance and Eugene and shows them a copy of the email she sent to Monsignor Mulregan two years ago. Tucker thinks this gave him leverage over Eugene and Benson thinks the same for the vice cops, Jefferson and Russo. The Monsignor knew they were raping his girls so he gets them and Eugene to frame Tucker. Dodds states the problem is Tucker met with Jefferson and Russo last year, and Tucker said he did, on a completely unrelated matter. A pimp accused them of shaking down his girls; he didn’t record the conversation as the pimp has accused half the NYPD and it was pro forma. His partner was out sick that day. Dodds says it is Tucker’s word against Vice and The Catholic Church. Tucker states at least they know why Eugene is lying and suggests they bring him in and show him those pictures. Dodds comments that is easier said than done; everyone at St. Fabiola’s has gone underground. Benson counters that she assumes that Eugene doesn’t know they have his “trainer.”

Later, Eugene arrives at the loft and Lance complains Eugene is late. Eugene apologizes, saying there is a lot going on. Lance demands Eugene get in a submissive position and as Eugene begins to beg, Fin and Carisi enter and Eugene looks accusingly to Lance, who says they made him, they were going to give him a year on that DUI. Carisi orders Lance to put on clothes and Eugene expresses his outrage. Carisi explains they think he has been using Church finds to pay for the loft and Eugene asks if he is under arrest. Carisi says they have some questions for him, or they can call his Monsignor and let him know they caught Eugene in a honey trap. Eugene asks them not to do that.

At the SVU in interrogation, Dodds is in the room as Rollins shows Eugene an incriminating photo. He says those are from his past but Rollins reminds him they just caught him getting dommed by Lance. Eugene thinks that is a private matter but Dodds says not if he is paying for it with funds from a sex trafficking ring. Eugene tries to deny it but Rollins brings out Eugene’s personal financial information. Eugene said he sold family heirlooms to pay for his sessions and he is struggling with some demons. Dodds tells him to cut the crap and brings up the rapes and murders of the girls and nun from the school. Eugene continues to deny it, trying to blame Tucker.

Meanwhile, Barba is observing with Carisi and comments that he can’t believe Eugene is still blaming Tucker. He thinks Eugene and the Monsignor are in this up to their eyeballs. Carisi wonders if the Monsignor really is, but Barba reminds him the Monsignor came to him unsolicited to dirty Tucker up and the Monsignor then handed Carisi – the good Catholic – a photocopy of a hand written letter. Carisi comments he could have backdated it and he knew that was a possibility. He just didn’t want to let himself believe it. Barba adds that the Monsignor came to his office full of righteous anger and lied to his face and he doubted himself for doubting him and has no idea how he sustains his act. Carisi says it is all for the good of The Church. Barba says, “excuse me?” and Carisi explains that Sister Antonia told him the Monsignor told everybody to stonewall, and Barba finishes “For the good of The Church.” Barba thinks maybe for the good of The Church they should give the Monsignor a heads up that Fathers Eugene and Akintola are about to be indicted.

Later, in Barba’s office, Carisi and Barba confront the Monsignor about the email from Heidi Aronson. When the Monsignor says it was over 2 years ago, Barba comments then he read the part about Father Eugene skimming money from the school uniform fund to pay for his altar bondage play. The Monsignor says yes, and he was deeply disturbed by it. Barba asks if he took any action, and the Monsignor states he confronted Father Eugene right away and he went on sabbatical to deal with the sickness and he asked the Archdiocese to investigate Miss Aronson’s allegations that he misappropriated funds BUT that claim proved to be baseless. Barba looks at Carisi who asks the Monsignor if he is sure about that. The Monsignor says yes, he even forwarded her email to the Bronx DA’s office and he assured him nothing criminal had taken place. Barba counters that the Monsignor continued to let Eugene guide students, and the Monsignor asks why wouldn’t he? He says Father Eugene confessed his sins and did a rigorous soul search and…Carisi finishes the sentence, saying Eugene is still paying $5,000 a month to be disciplined by his naked cowboy. The Monsignor seems stunned and says he is at a loss for words, adding if this is true…Barba interrupts and says it is true and he knew it and that is how he got Eugene to procure girls for him to traffic and frame Tucker for the Monsignor’s crimes. The monsignor denies this, saying they’ve got this all wrong. He stands up and tells Barba he knows what they think about the Catholic Church but it’s the NYPD officers who are trafficking these girls. He storms to the door and Carisi calls out to him, asking him please, that these girls’ lives are being destroyed and if he knows something about this to come clean. The Monsignor gets in his face and says with a raised voice, “Come clean? How dare you say that to me? I have been to a Bronx ADA, IAB, SVU, and the result? Sister Nina and young Cara are dead. The cancer isn’t in my church, it’s within YOU. And I will not rest until it’s been excised.” He storms out and slams the door. Carisi looks to Barba.

Meanwhile, at a bar, Benson and Tucker are having a drink. Tucker asks Benson what was the name of the Bronx ADA to whom the Monsignor sent the email. Benson replies it is Joel Wynne who was a regular at the parties. The picked him up on the initial sting. Tucker says that’s how the powers that be have survived thousands of scandals over hundreds of years, there’s not a move in the playbook they don’t have a dozen defenses for. Benson gets a message and says here is another one, asking the bartender to turn on the news. They see Monsignor Mulregan, with the Bishop standing behind him, giving a press conference. He says he is making public a deeply disturbing scandal that involves a member of their own parish, Father Eugene. As Benson and Tucker watch, stunned, the Monsignor says Eugene has betrayed his vows by committing sins of the flesh and they believe members of the NYPD vice squad and IAB, after becoming aware of his transgressions, blackmailed Eugene into helping them traffic troubles girls from the school. Benson calls this the scorched earth defense, adding she almost feels sorry for Eugene. Tucker replies coldly that he doesn’t.

Meanwhile, Barba watches in his office, hearing the Monsignor say they believe one of the police officers is responsible for the death of one of the girls and also of Sister Nina Kelly. The Monsignor adds that the rings’ hooks run deep, saying is also goes to the Bronx DA’s office, city council, and the state assembly as well. He turns things over to Bishop Catalano, and as they watch in the squad room, the Bishop says they are asking the Federal government to step in and take the investigation away from the city’s corrupt judicial system. He says they will cooperate with complete transparency and their goal is justice for these girls. He adds that words cannot express his sorrow for the abuse of their precious children of God have suffered.

Dodds has been watching the coverage in his father’s office, who tells him he is lucky, as of now Dodds is not bloodied up and to quit while he is ahead. Sgt. Dodds is stunned his father is saying they should stand down, saying the Monsignor is running this ring and his own priest put a hit on Sister Nina. But DC Dodds says they will just say he was a rogue thug. When Dodds asks his father what happens to the vice detectives, DC Dodds says no judge, cop, or ADA is going to jail for seeing a hooker, they will plead out. He adds the Church will send Father Eugene to some sanatorium to work on his anxiety issues. When Dodds asks about Tucker, his father shakes his head and calls it collateral damage. Dodds comments that DC Dodds does know Tucker is clean, and DC Dodds counters that Tucker went to see his cousin by himself and told him the name of the girl who is cooperating and she’d be alive if he wasn’t so stupid. Sgt. Dodds raises his voice, saying so Tucker is under the bus too; the hierarchy calls and everybody backs off and it’s all just taken care of. DC Dodds asks his son if he had any idea how much heat there was before this? He adds it is a career killer. He tells his son to walk away. His son glares at him, saying nothing.

Later, Dodds arrives at Benson’s apartment: Tucker is also there. Dodds explains, in the spirit of transparency, his father has made it clear that he is willing to throw them both under the bus. Tucker asks dryly if Dodds is driving it. Benson reminds Tucker that Dodds called them. Dodds explains they said Tucker brought this on himself by meeting with the vice cops and Eugene without his partner. Tucker counters that has been Dodd’s father’s greatest strength; no one else knows how to cover their ass like he does. Benson asks how about focusing on where they go from here. Dodds states he is open to anything. Benson comments when they met with Eugene, she saw a man that was close to his breaking point. Dodds says that was before the press conference and maybe he will save himself. Tucker counters Eugene will never turn on The Church, it’s the only employer Eugene has ever had. Dodds says he doesn’t know what to tell them and to enjoy being on the rack at Group 1. Tucker cracks that they have to love the irony; all these years telling cops to put in their papers before charges get filed, stating “Now it’s my turn.”

Back at the SVU, Dodds explains to the detectives that the bottom line is Tucker takes an early retirement, the vice cops take a misdemeanor sexual misconduct plea, and with any luck, Benson gets her office back. Rollins asks what about the priests and the Monsignor, do they just get away with it, asking if he is alright with that. Dodds states no, the Brass says this is over and so is SVU if they keep looking into it. Fin asks what about Sister Nina’s murder; they have an eyewitness that saw her get shot. Dodds says Interpol is looking for Akintola and there is a warrant out for his arrest. Father Eugene is aware of the severity of his wrongdoings and is repentant and they are making plans to send him far away. Carisi is upset, saying they hung this guy out to dry and the least they can do for these girls is to take one more run at him. Dodds explains Tucker says there is no point; his cousin doesn’t have a soul to save. Carisi picks up Eugene’s photo and stares at it.

Later, at St. Fabiola Church, Carisi approaches Father Eugene who tells Carisi to get out, he has nothing to say to him. But Carisi says he is a Catholic and has something to say to him. He explains his own Catholic faith and that he has two cousins who are priests. He still goes to Mass every Sunday and during the case, twice a week. He asks him to think of Eugene as a kid and why he wanted to be a priest in the first place. Carisi reminded Eugene that he still believes in God and that God is here, but Eugene thinks God is damning him to hell. Carisi to continues to work Eugene, but Eugene is clearly conflicted and has regrets. He sobs as Carisi reminds him that God is here now and he sees him, telling him to look up and tell Him how truly sorry he is and He will forgive him. Eugene sobs.

Later, on the Church property, many file boxes are dug out of the ground as Dodds and Fin watch.

At the DA’s office, Barba walks in as Dodds, Fin and Rollins are going through the file boxes filled with incriminating photos of girls in compromising positions with priests, cops, and johns. Barba comments that the photos of the johns are good for blackmail but wonders why take pictures of themselves? Rollins thinks they get off on it. Carisi enters, saying he found Eugene’s psychological profiles of the girls they trafficked and it looks like a tip sheet for predators. Rollins finds guests lists for every party, meticulously accounting records of rental receipts and alcohol purchased. Barba asks how much are they making, and Fin replies nothing, it doesn’t look like they charge anyone. Dodds asks then what is the point? Rollins thinks they want to humiliate the girls and control them and force them to service their powerful friends who in turn owe The Church. Fin asks why keep all this, and Carisi says because they are Catholics, they don’t get rid of anything, they just bury it.

Later, Barba conducts a grand jury where girls explains what heinous things the Bishop and the Monsignor did to them over the many years and how they forced them to have sex with other men. Father Eugene used to bring the girls. Father Eugene also testifies and explains his involvement. Once the Monsignor found out about his relationship with Lance he made it clear that his life in the Church would be over unless he found vulnerable girls and procured them for him. Detective Jefferson and Russo both testify about their involvement with the ring while with Vice, including setting up Tucker, confirming Tucker didn’t know anything about it. Sister Ida testified about Cara’s death and Father Akintola’s involvement, and Sister Antonia bought Akintola’s plane ticket under a different name.

At John F. Kennedy Airport holding room on Saturday, March 12, Carisi and Rollins arrest Akintola, who claims he is a Nigerian national under another name. Carisi says he is no priest, and Rollins says he is coming with them.

At the church, Dodds walks the Monsignor out in cuffs while Barba follows and Sister Antonia looks on.

Fin, meanwhile, is at the residence of the Bishop and they have searched the whole place and the Bishop is not there. Fin is on the phone with someone and tells them to call the airports.

Back at the SVU, Dodds is walking to his desk with a box of his personal items, and Fin sees this and asks if Benson is coming back. DC Dodds enters and tells them she will return first think tomorrow morning and that their long nightmare is over. Rollins says it wasn’t that bad, looking over to Sgt. Dodds. DC Dodds thanks them for a job well done, but says he would be remiss if he didn’t also warn them that they went after some big guns who have long memories and a lot of friends. He suggests they keep their noses clean. He walks away. Rollins asks Dodds if his dad is always that supportive, and Dodds says he has been his whole life. Carisi walks in holding his phone, saying that was Barba; the grand jury is on a roll and as of 5PM today they have indicted 3 assemblymen, a councilman, two judges. When Fin asks about the Bishop, Dodds says that is the bad news; The Vatican recalled him yesterday and he is en route to a treatment center then run on an island off the cost of Chile. They are stunned and Carisi asks that they knew to get the Bishop out but let Akintola fly back to JFK even though they had a warrant out of him, and how does that happen? Dodds replies it is on purpose; Akintola was a hired gun and it was a trade – a pawn for a bishop.

Elsewhere, at a bar, Benson and Tucker are having wine and Benson comments that Tucker gets to keep his job. Tucker says she gets hers back. She holds up her wine glass and says “Congratulations to us.” They toast their glasses and Benson swigs her wine glass empty and signals for more. As the bartender pours more, Tucker looks away and Benson asks, “What. “ Tucker replies, “Nothing. It - it’s just I thought, you know this has been stressful and everything. Thought we could take it easy tonight.” Benson, looking surprised, says, Oh, okay. I thought we were celebrating.” Tucker replies “Oh we are. It’s just…” Benson cuts him off and says “I get it, You’re just looking out for me. “ He replies, “Always.” She takes his hand and kisses it and smiles at him.

Carisi walks into an empty St. Fabiola’s church, genuflects, and makes the sign of the cross. He steps into a pew and kneels, pulling out a rosary. He looks up toward the altar. He kneels alone in the church as we fade to black.

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ladybug81 said...

I thought the acting was terrific, but there was a little too much going in at once for one episode for me. Peter Scanavino did a phenomenal job. We all knew it was going to be the high ups at the church, as well as political figures, involved. I too was a little surprised at Eugene's involvement. My only question is, did Tucker ever day why he feels the way he does about his cousin? I didn't catch it if he did. It made me wonder if he knew about his hidden activities & didn't approve, or what it was.

The drinking does seem to be getting out of hand. I did catch Tucker's mention of her taking it easy but that doesn't do much when they're frequenting bars as much as they seem to be. I do hope her drinking is addressed & not brushed aside like other topics have been. I think that would be something good for Munch to address.

I have to agree with you Chris on the relationship. There's just no spark there. I'm no 'shipper' but it's fake & it's not worth he getting worked up over. I'll tolerate it. I wasn't a David Haden fan but at least there was chemistry there. The hand kiss made me cringe, it just didn't seem like Olivia.

Anonymous said...

Chris I agree about the chemistry between Benson and Tucker! It fell flat with me and unbelievable that they are in more of a relationship than just friends! Other than that, the episode was predictable but interesting.

My only other nit pick was that Dodds Jr. didn't seem very self assured in his leadership role of the squad. And why was he talking to Tucker and Benson on more than 1 occasion? Especially Tucker since he was being investigated and nothing should have been said to him until he was cleared.

Ana Andrade said...

I thought this was a good conclusion to the storyline. I was also hoping that Father Eugene wasn't involved. I'm glad, though, that it wasn't because he wanted to be. However, I know that caving in to blackmail isn't a good reason ;) As for Tucker and Benson, I'm completely indifferent. The only thing that I didn't like was that they never showed the squad learning about Tuckson. I would have loved to see their reactions. As far as we know, Barba and most likely Dodds know and Fin, Carisi, and Rollins don't. Or maybe they all know and they just didn't show how they found out.

@ladybug81- they never did give a good reason why Tucker doesn't like his cousin.

Abby said...

I also agree about the Tuckson relationship. It's very flat and non existent in a romantic way. I can see them as friends but nothing more.

Okay on to Sonny. Peter killed it in this episode. He was phenomenal. This whole case hit Sonny hard. Finding Nina's body in the woods, the talk with Barba about not wanting to believe that the priest was lying, confronting Father Eugene about his involvement with the whole scandal, and that last scene of him praying in the church, Peter played it all perfectly. I felt for Sonny in this episode.

I loved it when Sonny expressed how he realized that he didn't want to believe that the priest was guilty to Barba. The best part was that Barba was sympathetic. He could see how much this bothered Sonny and instead of putting him down he shares his own doubts. No insults, jokes, or sarcasm. Just understanding. It was sweet to see.

I love watching the squad work together. Especially when Olivia is not front and center.

Agape and Zoe Naturals said...

OK, so thebar scene at the end. My three thoughts of possibility as to why Tucker had that reaction about her refill on vino are:

1) He is concerned and has seen her drinking in excess that past "stressful" week
2) He wouldn't be able to "perform" later on, as he said they should "take it easy", meaning, chill Olivie...we need some resting time, Babe...
) Heis getting ready to break it off with her.

She had a certain look on her face, like maybe she knew it might be coming. After all, her luck with men has been less than stellar.

I agree with the lack of chemistry. I, at least, have been expecting some closeness...maybe a or hug with feeling or at least nuzzle of a nose or arm around each other while walking. Something. It seems like, if they are in a telephone ationship, it is a very flat one. No chemistry at all.

Did anyone else catch him stubbing out a cigarette before Liv walked up?

Cappi said...

Good episode-Peter was great as was Raul. There has been a lot of discussion as to why Fin was missing in so many episodes. Perhaps he arranged for time off to enjoy daddy time with his newborn baby girl.

NM B said...

My theory is, Tucker raped Eugiene as a child and is the ring leader. He knew Eugiene was weak and be the perfect person to take the fall. Or made Eugiene become a priest to gain access , Why he's so messed up in the head. He became IAB to shut down any digging around their operation. He probably was trying to get Liv fired by starting a relationship with her . Because now , he's being distant and back to asshole tucker , like he always has been. You'd think Liv wouldn't be so damn naive still, fuck it's season 17. Does she not have any gut feelings , bad vibes or anything anymore ? Last season, they were all over her ass for not being with Noah . This season, she can date late at night , be at crime scenes at 2 in the morning , and drink every night ? Think they focused on Noah a little too much last season, because now it's like he's not even here. And the babysitter watches other kids , how the whole townhome episode happened! Think she's drinking too much wine or the writers gave up.

The way sister Nina reacted to tucker , did not raise ANY flags Whatsoever?! And then getting those allegations , still didn't ?! And Barba didn't report the relationship , who else could do that with the nypd who knew ? Liv is just getting frustrating at this point . She doesn't even investigate anything anymore , or listen to allegations . She just makes up her mind now and takes a side .

Liv was giving updates to tucker , while he is still being investigated ! Why isn't tucker not in the church at all, with a priest in the family? Look at Carisi . And shit always goes down, after Liv talks to tucker , but she doesn't question him for a second! She acts like she was married to him for 25 years! It's so frustrating seeing her act like she's 14 with her first boyfriend ! The way she defended tucker when Barba was making clear examples of tucker is not who you think. She got her "son", why is she so desperate on dating when she JUST became a adoptive mother to a child with all sorts of health issues , was abandoned as a baby , and works a ton as it is! I can see her desperate before Noah from just being lonely , but she has Noah . Just wtf! And you'd really want to continue dating someone , with a child you just adopted , who was a suspect in this whole mess . For a minute, thought maybe Liv was on it. Affording a 24/7 nanny , in New York, as a single mother , must be expensive .

Overall, they're making this show way too complicated, characters rotate like no other now , Dodds seem shady, Dodds jr showed how sneaky he could be with that video leak . That dude who tried raping Amanda episode . Idk, never felt so weird about the main characters . The only one that even is a cop at this point is Carisi.

Oh! And another theory with those 2 ICE cops. Tucker was getting drugs from them and giving them girls in return. Probably why Nina freaked out. OH! YOU SEE A GLIMPSE OF THE MAN WHO GETS OUT OF THE VAN, A WHITE OLDER GUY!

This is getting sad how much I'm dissecting this . Haha bedtime

Anonymous said...

@NM B I agree with you about the guy who killed Nina....he also looked white to me in that glimpse we got. I found myself suspicious of everyone except Carisi and Benson! I hate how naive they are making her character these days.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Agape and Zoe Naturals - I didn't notice the cigarette! I'll add that to that section of the recap; who knows, it may be important down the road.

@NM B: I don't think Tucker is that kind of guy. He may have something to hide (doesn't everybody?) but I think if he did something like that to Eugene, Tucker wouldn't be so quick to confront him. Just my thought. Nina also reacted badly to Tucker as soon as she found out he was Eugene's cousin. Guilt by association, so to speak. I agree that there was a lot of information flowing back and forth between Benson and Tucker but I think it was Dodds that was probably breaking rules by keeping Benson and Tucker informed. I think Dodds just felt strongly that Benson and Tucker were being railroaded and he wanted to help get things right, maybe making up for what he may think as his father's own agenda to help his son rise in the ranks.

@Cappi - I think everyone realizes why Ice-T has been absent but the series never addressed why FIN was absent. I'd have to go back and look at the time cards on the episodes where he has been missing with no explanation to see how long it's been but I think it's been well over a month in SVU time. That's a long stretch for them not to explain why one of their main detectives has been out of the action.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

Great story, allot going on. Carisi was the scene stealer! He struggled with his faith the whole time. I like that dodds he went to Benson, just like Olivia went to creagen when he was set up by ganzel. I'm staying with Tuckson. Hated that hand kiss...WHERE is the chemistry?? I saw Dean porter the fbi guy get more passion from Olivia & that was just to get info for her case! Get off the bar stools and get busy!!!

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

Great story, allot going on. Carisi was the scene stealer! He struggled with his faith the whole time. I like that dodds he went to Benson, just like Olivia went to creagen when he was set up by ganzel. I'm staying with Tuckson. Hated that hand kiss...WHERE is the chemistry?? I saw Dean porter the fbi guy get more passion from Olivia & that was just to get info for her case! Get off the bar stools and get busy!!!

A.J. said...

I guess it's also possible that Fin isn't actually absent from the squad/NYPD (just TV), and has been working offscreen. After all, we don't get to see every little thing they do, every case they investigate, and every allegation they follow up on. Perhaps Fin's been working on cases that we don't get to see on the show or even simply taking on different shifts due to whatever reason. So there wouldn't even be an absence to explain; only a screen absence to the viewers.

On another note, I agree with everyone else about the lack of chemistry between Benson and Tucker. And the scene in which she kisses his hand felt more awkward and forced than anything else.
Personally, I think they would be better off as friends (with benefits even, if you really want to) and not a romantic pairing. But to each their own, I suppose.

Rhaspodel said...

I love the episode. Benson really didn't do anything huge in this episode, which was a downside. It didn't stop her before. But overall this episode is surely one of the best of the season highlights.

I got to say Jonathan Cake loves playing creepy nice-shady-narcissistic roles in the franchise. First in CI as Wheeler's husband turned mob banker, then in the mothership as a former ADA turned mob defense attorney, and now a serial rapist priest. I got to say this man can play many names, but share the same characteristic.

The scene I love the most is actually when Tucker gets himself in the hot seat. I feel like this is the one time Stabler and even Amaro would love to see.

OhSusannah said...

I liked the episode Unholiest Alliance for the most part.Carisi was the standout character in the episode and Peter Scanavino was superb as Sonny,still clinging to his own religious faith against insurmountable odds. The line about trading the pawn for the bishop was pretty clever. The scene with Liv and Tucker in the bar was very telling, I think. When she gestured for a refill of her wine glass and Ed stopped her, it suggested this had not been the first time she had too much to drink in his presence.I wonder if his recent involvement with Olivia had started out as well-meaning concern as he witnessed her descent into drinking.Even when she was with Brian Cassidy , she seemed to be turning to the bottle to cope with the aftermath of the William Lewis attacks. That's actually very believable, given what she had been through. Liv had always condemned her mother's drinking,but I can see in a moment of letting her own guard down where she would turn to alcohol to cope. I hope they do explore it more next season, though I worry with a new showrunner it may fall by the wayside.I also wonder if Liv is not having Daddy issues and that's where the attraction to Tucker lies for her. We know much of her back story was trying in vain to find her own father in past episodes.Though the actors are close in age, he has a very strong authoritative air about him. I love Robert John Burke as Tucker and he was particularly good in this two-parter.I don't see any chemistry between he and Olivia. Even when she kissed his hand with the comment that he was looking out for her again,to me spoke to a paternal relationship between them.The fact that part way through this episode,Tucker he out a cigarette when Liv approached him, puzzled me. Noah has serious lung issues-surely Ed wouldn't smoke around her vulnerable child.Their personal relationship seems forced to me and I hope it ends soon.Liv has a demanding career and a young child to raise.Let the focus of the show be the crimes and the crime-solving for a change. Just my opinion.


I thought fin was on cpd conclusion just a few weeks ago in Chicago.

Chris Zimmer said...

@IRON BLACK SABBATH MAIDEN - I think the last episode Fin was on the case before this episode was "Star-Struck Victims" which the time cards say took place around mid-Febryary. So it's been a few weeks in SVU time.

ChristiRN said...

Peter Scanavino was outstanding in this episode; his performance was very nuanced and layered as you saw Carisi struggle with his faith then use his faith to help Father Eugene come forward. I find myself looking forward to his scenes now as much as I look for Barba scenes. Can't wait to see him in next week's episode.

I don't see much romantic chemistry between Benson and Tucker, either; maybe I would have thought more of them as a couple if it was a liplock rather than a hand kiss! I did have hopes for them since he seems solid and mature enough for a strong woman like Benson. Robert John Burke has also been really good in his episodes this year .

Henriete Purina said...

What an amazing catch with the cigarette at the end! Great job, i'll go look for that scene :)

MysticLady said...

First time posting here.

I have to admit that I haven't watched most of the episodes of the last few seasons. My favorites are still 1-12. The show feels different and to a point very soap opera-y. Anyway, onto this was a good episode. I did like all the performances by the actors. Very convincing.

I'm still shocked by the whole Benson and Tucker relationship. It just came out of nowhere. I have to agree that there really isn't chemistry between them. It feels very forced and if it doesn't last, I won't be a surprised. She should focus more on her son and her career especially since a lot is going on with both. Not that she can't have a relationship but she has other things to worry about.

And I do hope that the whole drinking thing is brought up. I do like that they have been subtle about it so far. Usually it is is obvious instead of it being developed at a reasonable pace. Has she ever turned to drinking before? Like when she was in Sealview? I never noticed it in earlier seasons.

OhSusannah said...

I thin the only time they ever addressed Liv having any kind of drinking problem was after the whole William Lewis attack took place. The very first time was when she was still involved with Brian Cassidy and Nick Amaro was still with the unit. There was a final scene when Nick's ex-wife Maria called to tell Liv that Nick was still calling her.Olivia had finished one bottle of red wine after work and had just opened a second one in the same scene.So two years ago it was first hinted at that she may become an alcoholic....

Chrissy said...

Oh my gosh. They have chemistry the reason they're distant right now is because that's what happens in a relationship with an addict as rock bottom comes. It's more foreshadowing.

Selina Noack said...

Well, she's a drunk, I guess she forgot it's unlike her to kiss his hand - booze and all. She did have that busted look as he called ger out on her drinking.