Thursday, May 5, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Fashionable Crimes” Recap & Review

The best part of “Fashionable Crimes” was the return of Richard Belzer as the beloved John Munch. Munch had returned to help the SVU on a current case that had loose ties to a case he worked with Fin 12 years ago involving Alvin Gilbert. (If there was an actual case mentioned in a previous SVU episode, I am unable to find it.) There were only 3 scenes with Munch in them, but the only one that had any real meat to it was the closing scene where Munch had been babysitting Noah. He explains how he felt when he first left SVU, thinking that he – and the place – would fall apart. But he has realized that life is good. He also imparts a tidbit that some rabid, obsessive SVU fans should take to heart: “Turns out there is more to life than SVU. ” I really enjoyed when Munch explains he taught Noah an important word (“Why?”) and a life lesson: “Always question authority.”  I almost got a tear in my eye when Noah said “Bye Munch” as I worried this would be the last time we’d see him on the show. I also must admit that Richard looks even more frail than the last time he appeared on the show. I hope that he is well and hope that the really isn’t the last we’ve seen of John Munch.

Otherwise, this was a tepid episode, and despite Munch commenting that he didn’t see it coming that a brother killed his brother, I thought it was obvious. The writers tried too hard to make it look like Matt would eventually kill Alvin, telegraphing this many times by Matt making several public threats. I also couldn’t really empathize with the victim. No one deserves what happened to her. But, like her boyfried, she seemed too eager to advance her modeling career and when it became advantageous for her to drop the charges, she did so in a nanosecond. I would have had more sympathy for her had she not constantly caved into her overbearing boyfriend’s demands when her modeling career would benefit.

I don’t recall Dodds ever mentioning before that he has a brother, but this information is revealed when Dodds explains how he’s had to bail him out many times and has been hiding these problems from their father, the Deputy Chief.  (Update: it has been brought to my attention - and I have verified - that it was first mentioned in the episode "Maternal Instincts," the episode where Dodds makes his first appearance.)

In the segment where Benson has arrived at the murder scene, she questions whether Maria, who found the body, was the one who did it, and Carisi doesn’t think so, saying “Her screams were real.” How can he determine, without seeing the person scream, that it was real or not? Screams can be easily faked. I thought this was a ludicrous statement and was indicative of what I see as writing that is being dumbed down to the level of a teenager.

This is just a nitpick on my part, but it looked a little too bright for “magic hour” (more commonly known by photographers as the “golden hour”) photography.

P.S. I forgot to mention this episode appears to be based on fashion photographer Terry Richardson and the allegations of sexual assault.

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:
Richard Belzer – John Munch
Andy Karl - Sgt. Mike Dodds
Fisher Stevens - Alvin Gilbert
Griffin Dunne - Benno Gilbert
Francesca Faridany - Claire Gilbert
Hari Dhillon - Counselor Sunil Varma
Tom Pelphrey - Matt Kroger
Sandrine Holt - Nora Wattan
Virginia Gardner - Sally Landry
Jack Nawada-Braunwart - Noah Porter Benson
Jonathan Bock – Counselor Jason Gruber
Errin Ruth – Maria Carla Channing
Stephen Bradbury – Judge Colin McNamara
Sadie Newman – Eva
Jandra Dee – Tilda
Mick Szal – Mai
Bethany Barber - Cintra
Germar Terrel Gardner – Security Guard

Sally Landry enters the Alvin Gilbert Studio, escorted in by Nora Wattan. She is told that Alvin is the best. Nora takes Sally to a changing room and when Sally asks to call Matt, Nora says Alvin doesn’t like boyfriends or managers around, it keeps it more intimate. As Sally undresses, Alvin enters, surprising Sally. He tells her that today they will make magic. He slaps her on her backside a few times.

Elsewhere, Benson, with Noah, and Rollins, with Jesse, are at a merry-go-round with Carisi taking photos. Rollins doesn’t think she needs this, with hundreds of shots on her phone, but Benson says Rollins can text those but she needs something she can frame. Carisi also comments about the light; she can’t beat magic hour. Rollins wisecracks that Carisi gets a camera and suddenly he is a professional, adding that he says magic hour but she says witching hour, saying she only has ten minutes. The merry-go-round begins to move and Carisi snaps photos.

Meanwhile, back at Alvin’s studio, he takes photos of Sally and when he moves in to expose her breasts, she recoils. Alvin backs off and tells Nora to get Sally something to chill. Nora brings her a drink and tells Sally that Alvin is intense but he is worth it. Sally mentions her inexperience with a shoot like this, but Nora assures her she is fresh and that is why Alvin is responding to her. She adds if Alvin is into her, it is all good. Later, after her drink, Nora is taking the photos while Alvin rapes Sally, who is sobbing. He says that is amazing, and that it worked, asking Nora if she got all of it. He looks at the photos and says it is good stuff. He walks off, telling Nora to clean her up. Nora hands Sally a towel. Sally says she didn’t want him to do this, but Nora counters that is not what the camera saw. Sally sobs.

Benson, still at the park with Rollins, gets a call about a 17 year old girl who is in with the nurse. Benson says she will be there in 30 minutes. Rollins comments, “So much for magic hour.”

At Mercy Hospital at 365 West 32nd Street on Tuesday, March 22, Benson and Rollins speak with Sally who explains what happened, including that Nora took pictures. Sally is shocked when Benson and Rollins explain that Sally was raped. But Sally doesn’t know if she wants to file charges as her boyfriend Matt doesn’t know she was there and if he finds out he will kill her.

Later, in the SVU squad room, Dodds enters with Benson, who asks him how was the training at Quantico. Dodds replies that he can neither confirm nor deny he was there. Benson says okay, and Dodds apologizes to the others if he left them in a lurch. Fin comments that they managed. Dodds asks if they caught a case last night. Benson says yes, explaining that Sally Landry, 17, who was reluctant to press charges but the convinced her to come in. Rollins adds Sally is an aspiring model, fresh off the bus from Iowa, and is there for Fashion Week. Fin says he hates Fashion Week, and Carisi adds he does too; it’s nonstop gridlock. Benson gets them back on track by saying that Sally was raped by Alvin Gilbert in his studio yesterday. Dodds asks if this is the fashion designer, and Rollins says no, that is his older brother, Benno. She adds Alvin is the bad-boy photographer that does all their photo shoots and campaign designs. Fin adds he’s a real bad boy; he and Munch caught that case 12 years ago. Carisi asks what happened, and Fin explains some big time Italian model got assaulted during a shoot, and while they were investigating, she becomes the face of their new perfume. The case goes away. Rollins is not sure this one will; Sally is green and she is very upset, and Alvin’s assistant, Nora Wattan, may have taken pictures of the assault. Benson adds the rape kit came back positive for semen so they are running the DNA now. Rollins says Sally’s blood alcohol was high because Nora was feeding her drinks. Dodds asks if the Gilberts know that Sally disclosed, and Benson replies that she doubts it, she didn’t even want her boyfriend to know. Sally enters with her boyfriend, who has his arm around her and kisses her, and Carisi asks if that is Sally. Rollins says from that chokehold that guy has on her, she is guessing that her boyfriend knows. Benson approaches and asks Sally how she is doing today. She says she is okay, and she introduces her boyfriend, who says his name is Matt Kroger and he is her boyfriend and manager. He yells that he warned Sally about that Gilbert creep, and Benson, Fin, and Carisi work to separate the two so they can talk.

In the interview room, Sally explains to Benson and Rollins that she had to tell Matt and that he is angry at her and Alvin. Benson notices a bruise under Sally’s eye and she says it must have been from the assault. She says Matt has been understanding. She does not talk to her family any more. Rollins comments that Sally is new in the business and Alvin is a famous photographer, and Benson questions if there is anything that may have happened that she didn’t want to tell them or Matt. She thinks they think she is making this up, insisting she wouldn’t, and, upset, insists that Alvin raped her. Benson explains it was just a question, they have to ask.

Meanwhile, with Fin and Carisi, Matt explains how he discovered Sally, he got her pictures and connects and goes to her with every gig until Alvin cuts him out. He says Sally is too trusting and he has spoken to her about this. But he can’t guard her 24-7. He says Alvin is not going to get away with this; if they don’t take care of him, he will.

Sally continues to explain what happened to Benson and Rollins and that Nora was shooting the whole time. As she was fighting to get him off of her, Nora kept saying how hot she looked. Dodds knocks on the door and Benson exits to speak with him. Dodds says he checked Matt in the system and he has domestic violence and assault charges. Dodds explains he knows they are supposed to take every vic’s story at face value but wonders if this gets spun that Sally consented with Alvin to help her career. Benson finishes that she could be claiming rape to avoid a beat-down from Matt. Benson states this is why they need a controlled meet. Dodds questions if this would be with Alvin, adding that he just assaulted her and wonders if Sally could handle that. Benson says no, she doesn’t.

Later, at the Howell Hotel Ivy Lounge at 78 Hudson Street on Wednesday, March 23, Sally is sitting with Nora and talks about what happened while Rollins and Carisi listen in. Nora thinks Sally will get a lot of work from this and Alvin will use her. Sally worries, as Alvin did not use a condom, that she might be pregnant, and Nora says if she is, Alvin will take care of it. Nora asks if this is a shakedown, and when Sally says no, Nora adds if Sally is going to take on the house of Gilbert, Sally’s career is over. Sally brings up the photos and that they might end up on the Internet, Nora tells her to relax, they are not on the computer, they are on a separate SD card. Carisi tells Rollins that is enough for a warrant, and Rollins says she will call Barba.

At the photo studio with a shoot in progress. Benson walks in with Fin and Dodds. Fin asks Dodds if this is art or porn, and Dodds replies that it depends on how much you pay for it. Nora Wattan approaches them and attempts to stop them, saying they are in a session. Fin comments that is good, because it means Alvin is here. Benson, Fin, and Dodds walk past her, with officers in tow. Nora says they can’t just come in here, but Benson calls out, saying “Sir!” to stop them working. A man complains that they are working here, and Benson identifies herself as SVU, adding they are executing a search warrant for the Alvin Gilbert Studios. The man says he is Benno Gilbert, his brother, while Alvin looks on, asking what the hell is going on. Dodds comments to Fin and the officers to get SD cards, computers, and external drives. Another woman, Claire, asks that the others “take five” as Benno asks what this is about. Benson informs him that a young model claims that Alvin raped her. Alvin says “Sally? That little bitch. She’s lying.” Nora tries to stop him from saying any more, and Claire enters, saying that this has to wait as they are prepping their show and they have an IPO looming, motioning to a group of people that she says are their investors. Benson states that is none of their concern. Benno gets annoyed with Claire, then tells Benson they agree to cooperate fully and asks to let them finish their work. Alvin says Sally tried to shake down her assistant. Benson points to the camera that Alvin is holding and asks if that is the camera that he used to shoot Sally. Fin says that is on the list, and when Fin moves to grab it. Alvin tells Fin to get his hands off and tells him not to touch his camera. Dodds moves in to intervene and pulls Alvin away, with Fin getting the camera. Claire says Alvin is an artist and to let him go, but Benson says Alvin is resisting arrest. Alvin says this is not what he is doing. Benno asks for them to let Alvin go, they are hurting him. Benson says he needs to stop talking now or he will be under arrest as well, asking if that is understood. Benno agrees. They take Alvin away.

Back at SVU with Alvin in the interrogation room with Counselor Sunil Varma and Fin and Carisi, Benson observes with Barba. She explains that Alvin lawyered up en route, it is not his first time at the rodeo. Barba adds there are stories about Alvin all over town; the guy preys on young models and his brother Benno is the fixer. Benno is sitting down to talk with Dodds in the squad room. Benson comments that the assistant, Nora, facilitated and took photos and TARU is going through his camera and SD cards. Barba sees Nora in the interview room with Rollins and comments he is surprised it has gone this far; the House of Gilbert are masters of image control.

Meanwhile, Benno tells Dodds that Sally is a sweet kid and her manager-pimp controls her and slaps her around. Sally is Matt’s meal ticket and he sees her slipping away…Dodds comments that Benno means Alvin had sex with her. Benno replies that photographers and girls, it happens and if the mook boyfriend finds out…Dodds finishes, saying the girl cries rape, asking if that is his take. Benno chuckles, saying his brother dates supermodels, he doesn’t need to rape a go-see.

Alvin is in the interrogation room, explaining to Fin and Carisi that photosgraphy is seduction of the viewers eye of the camera, and even of him. Varma states that Sally is legal and they have her license on file and she signed release. Alvin comments that Nora was there the whole time, asking if they think he would rape somebody right in front of her. Carisi says he does, and Alven gets up, saying he doesn’t need this but Carisi orders him to sit down, Alvin is in their custody.  Varma questions if it is for revisiting arrest, stating that is a lawsuit waiting to happen. But Fin tells Carisi to hold on, and let Alvin tell his side of the story. They all sit back down. Alvin states that Matt accosted him at a bar and showed him Sally’s photos and brought him over to her. She shows up at his studio without him. She knew his work and she came ready to play.

Benson and Barba are observing, and when Barba hears this, he says they just came up with their defense. He asks where are those photos, and Benson replies she will ask again. Barba walks over and listens to Nora being questioned. Nora says Sally just clicked but Rollins counters that is not how Sally is describing it. Nora says now, because she wants something from the family. Alvin was just responding to what Sally put out and what she wanted from him, but Rollins disputes that Sally didn’t want this. Nora states this is not what she saw. She saw a girl who knew what she was doing, and Rollins thinks Nora knew what she was doing, getting an underage girl drunk. Nora question Rollins if she knows what these girls put in their systems. Barba is outraged upon hearing this, saying this woman sets up models to be raped and wonders if she gets off on watching. Dodds enters the room and says the pictures are in, handing a tablet to Benson. They look at the photos and Benson comments that Sally looks terrified. Barba counters they will say that is the campaign, “when fear becomes obsession.” Benson looks at him and says, “Seriously?” and Barba asks that he has to tell her about rape culture. Dodds states that is not an ad campaign, that is a girl being assaulted. Benson says Barba is right, they will claim this was staged, asking if this is enough to arrest. Barba would like more, and if they don’t indict, Alvin hops on a jet to France until Sally gets paid off. Benson moves over to the window of the interrogation room and knocks on it 3 times, causing Carisi and Fin to move to arrest Alvin. Benson asks Barba if they can book Nora too. He nods. Benson enters the interview room and announces to Nora that she is under arrest. Nora looks stunned, asking if it because she gave a girl a drink. Rollins says for starters, ordering Nora to turn around so she can be cuffed. Benson states Nora facilitated Sally’s assault, adding that in new York, that is rape in the first. Nora is shocked.

At arraignment Court, part 12 on Friday, March 25, Alvin is being charged with one count first degree rape and his lawyer pleads not guilty. Barba asks for remand as Alvin has a family jet and residences in 5 countries. Benson and Dodds watch from the gallery, along with Benno, Claire, and Nora. The judge doesn’t buy the defense’s arguments and states that Alvin must surrender his passport and sets bail at $500,000. Alvin questions Varma who tells Alvin that is good. Nora is called up to be arraigned and Benno and Claire make a quick exit. She sees this as Varma states they are arranged for separate counsel for Nora. Benson looks at Nora, who looks very worried.

Afterwards in the courthouse hall, Barba tells Benson and Dodds they have 120 hours and tells her to get him more for the grand jury. Dodds explains that Fin is trying to track down the model that accused Alvin 12 years ago an Barba comments to tell Fin to hurry it up. Benson asks how about if the go back to Nora; the Gilberts aren’t even pretending to be worried about her. Barba says yeah, then sees Alvin’s lawyer Varma and calls over to him. He asks him if he found separate counsel for Nora, and he replies that he has his hands full. Barba tells him to empty them, he needs a word with her.

Later, Benson and Barba are in a courthouse meeting room an Nora enters with her new, young lawyer, Jason Gruber. Barba jokingly asks if he passed the bar exam, and Jason explains that he and Mr. Varma have worked on several cases who led him to believe that Barba wants to discuss a deal. Barba states they do, and Jason says clearly the charges against his client are an overreach. Barba says if Nora will testify about Alvin’s assault, they can talk about withdrawing the rape charge. Nora insists that was not an assault, it was a creative collaboration. Benson glares at her as Nora adds that fear, lust, and release, capturing primal emotions…Benson stops her and says they get it, Nora has been Alvin’s muse. Jason states Nora is Alvin’s associate, but Benson counters that Nora is not seeing Alvin for who he is. Nora tells Benson not to patronize her. She adds that Alvin is a genius, and she would never betray him, and neither will any model in this city. Benson comments that she hopes Nora is right, because they are going to be talking to all of them.

Meanwhile, Carisi and Rollins, and Fin and Dodds, speak with various models who worked with Alvin and hear similar stories to Sally’s. One models, at SVU, tells Dodds she would never testify against Alvin as she would never work again and she quickly leaves. Benson comments to Dodds that was fast, and Dodds comments at least she came in, but the others…Fin comments that Munch came through, he found Alvin’s vic from 12 years ago. She changed her name and owns a modeling agency and she sends girls to Alvin.

Later, at the Maria Carla Modeling Agency at 498 Broadway on Friday, March 25, Maria comments, “You two?” and asks why bring up something that happened 12 years ago? Munch replies it’s because it’s happened again 3 days ago. She asks if they are the ones going after Alvin, adding that girl is not so innocent, and she was not one of hers. Fin comments that she sent Alvin other girls. Maria counters that this is a business; Alvin is the best and he is a career maker. A girl becomes Alvin’s muse and every door is open. Munch questions the word “muse,” saying that Maria tried to kill herself. She brushes that off, saying “Poor me,” and says she was a gamine, young and naïve, 18, posing half naked for a man twice her age. She knew she was turning him on. When he started to touch her, she could have walked away but she didn’t. Munch stares at her as she asks herself what did she think was going to happen.

Back at SVU along with Munch, they have all the models faces posted on the board and Benson says in 3 days, 2 dozen interviews, at least half of these models admit to being pressured into sex. Fin adds that none of them will testify. Barba asks about the vic from 12 years ago, and Munch replies that story has a happy ending; she is pimping for him now. Dodds comments that no one wants to bite the hand that made them. Barba states the clock is running out and the grand jury is tomorrow at 9AM, Dodds asks if they should take another run at Nora, and Barba replies not a chance, she thinks she is part of the family. Benson comments that all they have is Sally, and Barba tells them to prep her and make sure she is good to go.

At the apartment of Sally Landry and Matt Kroger at 468 West 48th Street on Friday, March 25, as Rollins and Carisi prep Sally, Matt comes home and get upset when he sees Carisi. Carisi tells him to take it easy and it is police business, and when Matt sees Rollins he settles down, saying he didn’t see her. He is upset that Sally didn’t tell him and he sits down between Sally and Carisi, saying he is here now and tell them what she has to do.,

The next day, Benson, Rollins and Barba wait outside the courthouse and Sally is late. Barba questions if Sally was okay when Rollins left her. Rollins says yes but that Matt was draped all over her. Benson spots Sally arriving with Matt and they approach her. They are shocked to hear Sally will not testify, she is worried about total strangers and others at home seeing the photos. Despite their efforts to assure her, Sally will not budge. Matt says if it were up to him he would put a slug in that guy but this is what Sally wants. Benson begs her not to do this but Sally says nothing.

Later, and still outside the courthouse, Barba gets off the phone and says they are screwed, there will be no continuance. If the grand jury doesn’t indict by 5 tomorrow the bail automatically reduces to one dollar. Benson comments that Alvin will not stick around, passport or not he will find a way out. Rollins asks if anyone believes Sally is making this decision, thinking Matt is pulling the strings. Benson comments that Sally is his meal ticket and the Gilberts made Sally an offer Matt couldn’t refuse. Barba says witness tampering is tough to prove. Benson states that unless he has a better idea, this is all she has.

At the Gilbert Studio, Fin and Dodds speak with Benno about witness tampering, and he says he has zero contact with Sally. Dodds asks about Matt, and Benno says Matt came to see him yesterday and pulled a gun on him and Alvin. He wanted $50,000. Alvin walks in and complains that the beer is warm, another model on his arm. Alvin asks if they came here to apologize, and Fin asks because Benno paid off Sally’s manager? Benno explains there was no quid pro quo; Matt pitched a couple lame-ass ideas and he pretended to like them and he gave him some seed money. Dodds challenges Benno, saying Matt pulls a gun and Benno writes a check and he didn’t call the police? Benno states he is a businessman and they are about to go public, his brother is 100% innocent - Alvin interjects “1000%” - and Benno says if he can make this go away…Dodds counters that he is no lawyer but Benno is admitting to paying off a witness. Benno states he did this to help Sally; he thought if that cheap suit Svengali got a taste maybe he would leave the poor girl alone. Alvin adds that the detectives saw Sally’s bruises; this boyfriend is the one who rapes her and when he simulated violence, Sally got off on it. Benno looks less that happy that Alvin made those comments. Alvin tells Benno to stop worrying and lighten up.

Later, in Sally and Matt’s apartment, Carisi and Rollins speak with Sally and Matt about Benno’s comments, and he says the gun was part of his pitch. Alvin likes guns, asking if they saw Alvin’s series with girls sucking on gun barrels, adding they hired him to consult editorially. Carisi questions if that was for $50 grand and that it had nothing to do with Sally dropping the charges. Matt orders Sally to tell them he is protecting her career, and Sally says he is, if she testifies she is back at the creamery making Fudge-Anas. Matt says that is not going to happen to his baby. Matt’s phone rings and he tells the caller she will be there, asking if they will put him on the list. He tells Sally that she is closing the Gilbert runway show tomorrow. She is thrilled, but then asks if Alvin will be there. He tells her not to worry, he will not let her out of his sight. Rollins looks concerned, and asks if it was Nora who called and made that booking. Matt says Nora is gone, Claire, Benno’s wife, is running the show now. He tells them his baby needs her beauty rest.

At Barba’s office at 1 Hogan Place on Monday, March 28 with Barba and Benson, Nora, there is Jason, says Claire is taking over for booking Alvin’s models. Benson asks if Nora is not involved in tomorrow’s fashion show. Jason replies that it’s all on the advice of counsel. Barba asks if it is his or Alvin's, then says that hers is paid for by his family. Jason comments when there is no case, there is no case. Benson reminds them Nora has admitted to serving Sally – a minor – drinks. When Jason says, “Oh please,” Barba adds that what should be more troubling to their legal team is that Nora has admitted to taking photos of Sally having sex with Alvin. Jason states it was consensual, but Barba counters Sally is 17 and while New York may not be able to press charges, according to the Feds, that constitutes child pornography. Nora, shocked, asks Jason if that is true and when Jason waves it off, Barba tells Nora that Jason knows it is, adding it is punishable by 5 years for each image. Jason tells Nora is it just a tactic, but Benson tells Nora that the Gilberts gave Matt $50,000 to “consult” and Sally is in the runway show. She asks what did they do for her? Benson asks when was the last time she spoke with Alvin, When Nora says nothing, Benson asks if Alvin is taking Nora’s calls. Jason says there has been no contact on the advice of counsel. Benson scoffs, asking since when does Alvin listen to anybody? Barba asks Nora if she thinks Alvin will visit her in prison, maybe do a spread on models behind bars? Jason says they are done and they move to leave. But Benson continues to work Nora about Alvin and that he will find a new muse. Benson continues press Nora, saying that the Gilberts will protect their own; Nora is not his wife or family, she is the hired help.

Elsewhere, Fin, Rollins, and Carisi are walking to the fashion show with Dodds, who concludes a call from Benson and tells the others that Benson said Barba amended the arrest warrant and added 10 charges of rape. It turns out Nora kept videos. Rollins says they can pick up Alvin ASAP. She adds that if Nora turned on the lawyer that the Gilberts supplied, they have to know about it. Fin asks if they think Alvin is even here, and Carisi says it’s a big show with models and a corporate IPO – he’s here. Dodds thinks they have the jet warming up on the tarmac. They approach the entrance to the show and Matt is arguing with security to get in to no avail. Matt is very upset his entry is being rebuffed, and as Dodds flashes his badge to get in, Matt screams the guard should tell Benno to come here now. Carisi tells him to take it easy, but Matt screams to screw Benno and Alvin, he is coming back for them. He leaves.

Inside, the fashion show is underway. They can’t find Benno, Alvin, or Claire. Dodds tells Fin to go out front and Rollins and Carisi to take the dressing rooms and he will hang back stage. Carisi and Rollins see Maria and one of the models they spoke to before, Eva,  who has not seen Alvin. Carisi says he will check upstairs and Rollins radios they have no eyes on Alvin yet. The fashion show goes on and Fin radios nothing is there either. Dodds radios he sees Benno with Sally, who is telling her to go. While Benno pushes Sally to the stage, he asks why Dodds is here. Dodds asks if security didn’t tell them or his lawyer hasn’t called him, Benno doesn’t know where Alvin is. Claire rushes up and tells Benno he is on in 20 seconds, and he asks where is Alvin. Claire says she doesn’t know, and Dodds asks when was the last time they saw him. Benno doesn’t know, and Claire asks him to focus, ands sends him out to the runway as all the models walk down to much applause. Claire joins Benno on the runway with Sally. Fin radios he has Claire and Benno but no Alvin, and Rollins radios back no one has seen him. Carisi, racing down the steps, saying Alvin is not here, he’s disappeared. They hear a woman scream “Alvin! Oh my god” and they race to an exit and find Alvin, laying dead on the ground outside. Maria explains she came out for a smoke and found Alvin lying here.

Later, with the medical examiner on scene, Benson arrives and asks what happened. Dodds explains that Maria found him, one shot to the groin and one to the chest. Benson asks if there is any chance she did it, and Carisi thinks not, her screams were real. He adds the body was still warm and the blood hadn’t congealed yet. This must have happened in the last half hour. Dodds adds no phone or wallet or gun has been recovered but they are searching the area. Benson tells them to get TARU tracking the phone, and adds a nearby camera she sees above the door. She asks if everybody is still inside, and Dodds replies yes; Fin and Rollins are keeping the place locked down. Benson enters the building.

Inside, Benno and Claire are with Fin and Benno asks who would do something like this? Fin asks them to tell him, and as Benson and Dodds approach, Claire says she knows exactly who. She suggest it is Matt and Dodds explains to Benson that Matt was at the door when they came in and was pissed he wasn’t on the list. Benno admits he was supposed to be on the list and Matt must have called him 9 times but Benno didn’t want to risk it as Sally was closing the show. He should have just let him in.

Meanwhile, Sally speaks with Rollins who explains Matt was making threats and he owns a gun. Rollins tells Sally to call Matt but to make an excuse but to find out where he is. Rollins explains if Matt didn’t do this, this all goes away. Sally makes the call.

Later, at SVU in interrogation, Matt admits he lost his temper at the runway show as they kept him off the list. Sally needed him and wants to know what they are accusing him off. Dodds explains that Alvin is dead, Fin adding he was gunned down. Matt is shocked and denies doing it, he left his gun at home, he was heading home to get his gun so he could go back and scare the crap out of those SOBs. Benson is observing with Barba, who asks with sarcasm if that is his alibi. Benson says Rollins and Carisi are searching is apartment, and then she answers her phone. She concluded the call and tells Barba that it turns out that Alvin’s phone and wallet were in a drawer in his office, and Barba comments there was no robbery. Benson says the ME thought the shot in the groin was first, and Barba says somebody wanted Alvin to have a couple seconds to think about who shot him and what life would be like without his pecker. Benson gives him a surprised look and Barba mentions Vonnegut and “Slaughterhouse Five”. Benson answers her phone again and it is Rollins; they are at the apartment and they found Matt’s gun, a 9mm berretta. Carisi doesn’t think it has been fired. Sally says this is the only gun she’s seen Matt with, he sleeps with it under his pillow. She asks if that means he didn’t do it, and when they don’t answer, she asks them to please please don’t let him know she led them to him.

Back at SVU, Dodds tells Benson and Barba there was no GSR on Matt’s hand and it’s the wrong gun, asking if they just let him go. Benson says no, not until she talks with Sally and gets and OOP for her. Barba thinks Benson is worried what Matt will do, and she says she knows what he will do. Barba explains he will hold Matt on the gun charge and make sure he does time on that. Benson thanks him. Fin announces he has security footage from the courtyard. They view it and the killer is not visible but it is clear Alvin knew the shooter. Fin gets a message and explains a 357 magnum was found on the roof. Benson thinks that is old school, and Fin says it is just like Alvin’s, holding up a photo of the gun from a photo shoot. Barba wonders if Alvin was shot with his own gun. Benson thinks maybe – and by somebody he knew, someone he was happy to see. Dodds thinks they have this all wrong; it’s not the guy who was shaking him down, it was the guy cleaning up his messes.

Later, Benno and Claire are at SVU in the squad room with Benson and Dodds. They show them a video of Alvin during the show with a model, and the same spot 5 minutes later where Claire is there and Alvin is gone. Benno says Alvin goes out for a smoke. Benno explains all his own work with the show and Claire says he is the best. Benno claims Alvin was not a rapist and Benson reminds him Alvin was never convicted and Benno make it go away. Claire wonders, if Alvin is dead and Matt killed him, why they are talking about this? Benson explains Alvin was shot with his own gun and Matt didn’t do it. Benno thinks Matt stole it from the studio, but Benson explains the absence of gunshot residue on Matt and that it gets everywhere you touch.   Dodds says that if Benno shot Alvin, and then he hugged Sally as shown in a photo from the show, that gunshot residue would be on her dress. Benson says CSU is going to pick up the dress, and Claire comments they can’t believe Benno did this. But Dodds can, recounting his own younger brother who has been in an out of rehab so many times he has lost count. Every time he gets in trouble, he tells the cops to call his brother as he is a cop and he will take care of it. When he goes to pick up his brother, his brother asks him not to tell dad. He is his brother and he loves him but he can’t tell him how much easier his life would be without him. Benson brings up Alvin being arrested and going to trial just as they were to go public, and Benno says they would have lost everything. But Claire stops him, and says they will find gunshot residue on the dress – from HER hand. Benno tries to stop her from talking but she goes on, trying to take the blame. He says he did it and she says she did and they are not going to say another word about it until the lawyer comes. Benson and Dodds look like they can’t believe this.

Later, Claire is in interrogation and Barba tells Benson their lawyer says they were never Mirandized, asking if they were in custody. Benson says they came in voluntarily. Barba says that goes away but the problem is they both confessed. Rollins comments each one is creating reasonable doubt for the other. Carisi comments that the Onion Field meets Fashion Avenue. Barba states the question is: who is lying? Dodds thinks she is and Benno did it, adding that look on Alvin’s face right before he got shot – he knows that look. Benson asks that the story he told Benno about his brother..and Dodds says it wasn’t a story. He walks off.

Afterwards, Benson arrive at her apartment and Munch is there babysitting Noah. She thanks Munch, who comments they finally got Benno to take a plea. He adds it was worth the wait; brother killing brother, he did not see that coming. Benson comments that Dodds did, and Munch asks if that is the “new new” guy. Benson says yeah. Munch says that Fin said she has a good squad working for her, and she asks, “Fin said WHAT?” Munch explains he was worried when he left that he would fall apart without the job or the place would fall apart without him. Benson adds she was too. Munch says “But it’s been good; turns out there is more to life than SVU”, and Benson smiles, saying “Hmm, ain’t that the truth.” Munch adds, “Well, I’m glad we both found that out.” As Benson holds Noah, Munch says he had a great time with him today, adding he “taught him a major life lesson: Always question authority.” Benson laughs, saying “Ah what a surprise!” When she asks how was that, Munch asks Noah to show mommy and say “why?”  Noah squeaks out a “why” and Benson and Munch laugh. Munch adds, “You can thank me when he is a fully functioning anti-dogmatic atheist. “ Benson laughs, saying she will do that. Munch states he should get going, and he tells Noah goodbye and tells Benson to take care of each other. She says they will, adding, "You too.” He grabs his coat to leave and Benson asks Noah to say “Bye Munch” which he whispers. She kisses Noah and smiles and tells Munch goodbye. He smiles and looks back at them and with a nod of the head, leaves. Benson walks away with Noah as we fade to black.

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Alex said...

I was underwhelmed by this episode. I am either apathetic to or actively loathe all of the protagonists except Barba. Sometimes it seems like Raul is the only actor on this show who can actually act. The actors make their protagonists boring, and the writing makes them either stupid or something worse. I truly hope that next year, Rick Eid can salvage my interest in this show.
The opening scene was cute but cringeworthy; I honestly felt embarrassed watching. It was such pandering. It makes no sense for Rollins and Benson to spend a weekend together at the carousel after the writers have written them at each other's throats for years. Hell, I wouldn't want to spend a weekend with my boss who I DO get along with!
That said, that ending scene was cute, and Barba's awkward recovery from that Vonnegut line was hilarious. The snark master can't get them all right!

Ana Andrade said...

Chris, this case was never mentioned. I think they just said it so that they have a reason to bring back Munch, just like last season when they brought back Cragen.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Alex - I agree, Raul Espartza brings a spank that is otherwise absent in the others. I think Peter Scanavino has possibilities too. I thought maybe it was just me on that carousel scene but it seemed..weird.

@Ana-Andrade - I figured as much but I wasn't completely sure, sometimes these episodes all blur together over the years and I can't recall the details of all of them (wink)

Anne said...

This episode

Anne said...

Apologies -- I sent my comment too soon! I did not think this episode was anything special, but it was an enjoyable hour. Does anyone else see changes in Mariska's performance lately? I love her professional and personal work, but this season her acting has seemed very one-note to me, whereas it used to be very nuanced. She has the same pained expression on her face all the time -- you can even see it in many of the promo pix -- and she has adopted this verbal thing of not using contractions, which really changes her line readings. It's jarring to me. I think part of it is her character trying to demonstrate more control since she's a Lt. and squad leader. I agree that Raul is the only one bringing any kind of spark these days -- Ice has always been chill, and that hasn't changed, but the rest of them, the chemistry is lacking for me and has been since Danny left.

Cardinal said...

I'm pretty sure why Belz appeared "frail" as you mentioned, Chris. He flew into NY and *immediately* 'hit the ground running' with a wide variety of projects, some of them popping up (like SVU, actually) once people caught wind he was in town.

Judging from the number of people who contacted me with requests for his time, he was pretty booked up straight through until the first week in April, when he hosted Jerry Lewis' 90th birthday party at the Friar's Club. After that took place, he flew back to France for some much-deserved R&R.

FWIW, he's doing well.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Cardinal - thanks for the info. You know I love The Belz!

CLA said...

About Belzer: Lí, long ago, he wages a fight against cancer.

ladybug81 said...

This one was a little boring for me. I was so excited for the return of Munch but was disappointed we didn't get to see him more than we did. I did love the scene between he, Olivia & Noah. Chris I also have to agree with you that maybe some fans should listen to his words, there's more to life than svu. I've been a fan since the beginning, but there's more important things to do than obsess over a TV show all day.
I agree with others here, Barba was great last night. He also seemed to be the most animated, everyone else just seemed tired. Mike finally having a little bit of a backstory makes me feel like he'll be biting the dust at the end of the season.
I love Carisi, but did anyone else think the opening scene felt a little creepy? Not him taking their pictures, but the way it was shot. The camera click then the black & white shot, felt more like it does when they're shooting a scene with a perp & a victim. I did find it odd that Olivia & Amanda are hanging out like friends when just a few months ago Olivia didn't trust her & they were at odds. Based on early numbers it didn't fair to well in ratings. Granted they have a dud as a lead in & were up against Criminal Minds finale.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I feel like I'm losing interest in this show. So while Im a little nervous about what changes the new show runner will make I'm excited as well. Maybe a breath of fresh air. This has happened before, around season 7/8 I started losing interest but continued to watch. In my opinion this hasn't been the best season of the Warren years. 14,15 & 16 were the best by far.

CLA said...

@ Alex

"It makes no sense for Rollins and Benson to spend a weekend together at the carousel after the writers have written Them at each other's throats for years. Hell, I would not want to spend the weekend with my boss who I DO get along with!"

Olivia never had anything personal against Rollins. She disapproved of their irresponsible actions. If today they are in a good great relationship. It is a sign that people have the ability to change.

Margot Undercliffe said...

In 'Maternal Insticts' Fin mentioned Dodds was the Chief's eldest son and his issues with his brother explain why he was sympathetic to Rollins and told Olivia to go easy on her as families are complicated.

Quantico training? Seems his Dad hasn't given up on him moving to joint terrorism. I'm now not sure he is the one who will be killed as it is too obvious. Amaro was shot and nearly died at the end of last season. I do wonder if it will be Tucker which is why Olivia will struggle.

As for Carisi. Are they establishing a storyline where he comes out of the closet? Never mentions any girl. Focused on his family and sisters and babies. Barba has mentioned a number of ex girlfriends so if they want to go that way ...

It was hard to be sympathetic to anyone. Barba seems to care more for victims now than some of the others. Feels like a 'filler' storyline until we get to the finale.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Margot Undercliffe - I just checked my recap for that episode and didn't see that detail in there. It's possible that I missed it while recapping, but can you tell me who Fin mentioned it to so I can recheck? Thanks!

Margot Undercliffe said...

It is when he walks first into SVU. Rollins and Carisi are talking about Rollins' mother. Fin is sitting there when the 2 Dodds walk in. He says it to Roliins and Carisi

Chris Zimmer said...

@Margot Undercliffe - thanks! I found it. It WAS in the recap (whew!). I think after doing a recap and trying to read another one, my eye skipped over it. I'll update the review on this episode to note where it was first mentioned. Thanks again!

Margot Undercliffe said...

I should add I think it will be Tucker or someone's relative (but unfortunately not Kym). I have the feeling these are the type who go after those around you. Could be Dodds brother which is why he is mentioned now. They can leave Dodds role open and just goes to anti terrorism

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

That opening scene didn't bother me....this squad seems alittle more social than in the past. I think this is due to carisi wanting to cook for them. I have to admit I like police chases, esu break not enough action for me. I loved the closing scene with munch. The new noah is adorable. I thought the "pecker"line was hysterical. Guess I would rate it ok ep...which sucks since we waited a freakin month for it! We haven't had 2 duds in a row so..I'm looking forward to next week!

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

That opening scene didn't bother me....this squad seems alittle more social than in the past. I think this is due to carisi wanting to cook for them. I have to admit I like police chases, esu break not enough action for me. I loved the closing scene with munch. The new noah is adorable. I thought the "pecker"line was hysterical. Guess I would rate it ok ep...which sucks since we waited a freakin month for it! We haven't had 2 duds in a row so..I'm looking forward to next week!

Charliejamezz said...

I liked this episode but was really upset that we did'nt see Barba and Benson reunite again. Last time they talked, Barba walked away on her. Feels weird to see them work like nothing happened.

I loved having Munch back but would have wanted him to be more involved in the case.
Looking forward to next week!

HerbaceousHaven said...

This episode, for me was lukewarm. Usually I find myself caring about the victim but in this case I did not.
I didn't find it weird that Benson and Rollins were spending some time together with Carisi since, people do sometimes spend time with their bosses and sometimes their families. Backyard BBQ's, golf outings, lunches, baseball games, etc., so why not a day at the park with their kids? It's a good way to get on the good side of your boss by spending some time with them outside of work. ;)
Anyway, someone said it sounded like the characters in this episode were tired?, I'd say more like sleepwalking through their lines. Very sad to watch a show and the chemistry between characters is just not there.
I enjoyed Munch too little in this episode, as he had very few lines and a very small part.
The only other thing I will say is that I was surprised it was the guys brother who shot him. Since being shot in the groin first, it seemed to me a crime of passion and a woman did it. I actually thought it would turn out to be the brothers wife instead of the brother.

Logan Ross said...

What was the Vonnegut line and Barba's response or reaction?

Chris Zimmer said...

@Logan Ross: my recap said "Benson says the ME thought the shot in the groin was first, and Barba says somebody wanted Alvin to have a couple seconds to think about who shot him and what life would be like without his pecker. Benson gives him a surprised look and Barba mentions Vonnegut and “Slaughterhouse Five”. " That's really what was said in a nutshell, almost word for word. Benson gave him that look, and all Barba said was "Vonnegut" and then "Slaughterhouse Five." In case you are not familiar with the book or movie, here's the reference, a quote from the movie version: "That corporal. He'll get back home after the war. He'll be a big hero. Dames'll be climbin' all over him. Couple of years go by, and one day there's gonna be a knock on his door and there'll be this stranger. "Paul Lazzaro sent me," the stranger will say and then he'll pull out a gun and shoot his pecker off. Stranger will give him a couple of seconds to think about who Paul Lazzaro is and what life's gonna be like without a pecker. Then he'll shoot him once in the guts and walk away. Yes."

Hope this helps!

Logan Ross said...

That was amazing @ChrisZimmer! Thank you! I'll remember this reference for sure!