Thursday, September 22, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Terrorized” Recap & Review

It was an action packed season 18 premiere of Law & Order SVU with a story that involved terrorism, rape, locked phones, and feuding in the workplace. It gave viewers plenty to absorb and to talk about.

Benson is still stinging over the death of Sergeant Mike Dodds and the guilt is weighing heavy on her. Her boss, Chief Dodds, is clearly blaming her for his son’s death, and Benson thinks he’s not wrong in doing so. Benson seems to be trying to move on from the ordeal, but Dodds clearly has a long way to go. During an argument about the direction they should take with the case, Dodds explodes with anger and blurts out his true feelings that he blames Benson for his son’s death. After the words come out of his mouth, he seems to regret them. Maybe hearing and realizing the ugliness of his own words is his first step in acceptance and forgiveness?

Benson has always taken her job seriously, including her advocacy for the victims. One has to question if she took it a little too far in this case. Did Benson make an error by interjecting herself in proving the defense’s allegation of rape? Benson’s continuing to pursue the case after being told not to could create a rift between her and the DA’s office and with her superiors at One PP. The question that is asked throughout the episode: Is Ana a victim or is she playing them? Benson only sees Ana as a victim, while Barba and Chief Dodds are either highly skeptical or are willing to look past her rape claims and the evidence because of the terror threat and the murders.  I found myself agreeing more with Dodds and Barba's approach than I did with Benson's on this one. It’s not that I didn’t think Ana was assaulted, but I think it was up to Calhoun, not Benson, to prove this point as part of her affirmative defense.

It’s unclear to me as to why Barba was prosecuting the murder case as I thought his focus was special victims.  Also, it appeared that SVU was running point on tracking down the terrorists, something I don’t think would happen in the real world,  considering the amount of weaponry found in Luka and Ana’s apartment and the potential threat to the public.

Did Carisi make a mistake by taking Armin’s phone and attempting a phone call to Luka with Armin present, allowing Armin to tip off Luka?

Fin is now not only responsible for the comic relief (“Oh, your people came here on the Mayflower, huh?”) but he also serves as the muscle, breaking into an apartment door using his shoulder. Every time I see how easy it is to break down a New York City apartment door, I wonder how anyone can feel safe in their own homes.

The relationship between Benson and Tucker is going strong and they both seem to be very happy with how things are progressing. Tucker is now working for the Conviction Integrity Unit, and I suspect he will have an opportunity in the future to work with SVU.

Should Benson have taken Noah with her to check on the boy in the park when the call first came in? It initially sounded like a simple case of a lost boy but it turned bad quick.

A possible continuity error or an odd scene transition: At the park with Noah, Benson was sleeveless when her phone started ringing; she moves to answer it and is now wearing a jacket.

All in all, a great start to season 18!

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:
Elizabeth Marvel - Counselor Rita Calhoun
Robert John Burke - Captain Ed Tucker
Peter Gallagher - Chief William Dodds
Thom Bishops – Armin Sidran
Yvonna Kopacz-Wright - Dr. Darby Wilder
Natia Dune - Ana Kapic
Sharon Washington – Judge Hayes
Max Von Essen – Mr. Gilman
Robert Kirk - Brian O’Malley
Marc Damon Johnson - Agent Dan Conley
Taso Mikroullis – Sam Kariakis
Joel Brady – Officer Nolan
Mark Jacoby – Judge Stephen Kerry
Barbara Miluski – Judge Lisa Peck
Tino Tsutras – Luka Terzik
Eileen Weisinger – Rahima Babic
Edelen McWilliams – CSU Tech Martin
Tara Lynn Wagner – Reporter
Jack Nawada-Braunwart - Noah Porter-Benson.
Azhy Robertson – Ali
Dave Adams – ESU
Danny Schoch – Off Duty Officer

A woman is walking in a park with a young boy. As the boy runs off toward a group of people with balloons, the woman is hit by a bicyclist. The boy is drawn in by the balloons and does not see this.

Meanwhile, in another park, Benson is playing with Noah, spinning him around, commenting that he wants her to fly him like the plane they took to Paris. He laughs and she puts him down and as he runs off to play, Benson takes the last sip of her coffer and then pitches the cup in a trash bin. She notices that the cup is now resting on the top of a newspaper which features a large photo of the slain Sergeant Mike Dodds. She looks away and her phone rings and she moves to answer it. It is Carisi and she asks him what’s up. She tells him she will take care of it, adding she is in the park right now with Noah. She comments “Playground at 84 Street, Office Nolan? Got it.” She tells Noah to come on.

Later, at that playground, Benson watches a young boy playing, and Office Nolan explains he found the kid about 20 minutes ago. (It is Ali, the boy who was separated from his caretaker when she was hit by the bike.) The boy didn’t seem to speak English and his sergeant told him to call SVU. She tells him she has it from here. Benson approaches the boy playing in a sandbox and cheerfully says she is Olivia and introduces Noah. She asks where is his mommy, asking if she came to the park with him, or maybe his daddy, grandma, or nanny. The boy begins to speak in another language, hitting his pile of sand and saying “boom!” Olivia repeats “boom!” and laughs, trying to make a connection with the boy. She asks if his mamma or dadda is her, pointing around the park. The boy says nothing, and, motioning. she then asks the boy to come with her and she will help him find his mamma and dadda. The boy moves back and reaches for a backpack, pulling out a gun. Benson, stunned, moves Noah behind her, telling him to get down. Trying to be calm, she asks the boy to put it down, and when Officer Nolan moves in closer with his gun drawn, Benson tells Nolan it is okay, she has this. She calls out to the watching crowd that she has this, and, raising her hands and showing her badge, she asks them to step back. As the crowd moves away, the boy raises his gun, looking as if he is aiming for Benson. She tells the boy it is okay and to look, dropping her badge, saying she is not going to hurt him. She asks him to put it down, trying to explain it is okay and she is not going to hurt him. The boy appears to be taking aim. Benson, trying to speak in a calm and reassuring voice, moves in closer to the boy, grabbing the gun and disarming it. She breathes heavily as she relaxes and Officer Nolan moves in and takes the weapon. Benson moves towards Ali and then tries to reassure Noah, hugging him and telling him it is okay.

Later, at the hospital where the boy has been taken, Benson speaks with Dr. Wilder who says the boy is fine, he has a few bruises but there is no sign of sexual abuse. She adds there are some signs of psychological trauma. He said a few words in English but his native language may be Russian or eastern European. Benson explains social services is trying to locate a translator and they are trying to track down any family. Wilder asks about the loaded gun, saying he is lucky to be alive. Carisi, Rollins, and Fin arrive. Carisi explains the woman in the bike accident didn’t make it, and Rollins adds that the police found witnesses in the park who put her and the boy together. The woman is Rahima Babic, but they can’t establish her relationship with the boy. Fin states the Glock is unregistered, they are tracking the serial number. When Rollins asks if they should turn this over to the precinct, Benson replies she wants to keep it for now – the kid got the gun from somebody. She tells them to run prints, touch DNA, and go to Rahima’s address and see what they can find.

The detectives arrive at the apartment of Rahima Babic, 25-72 18th Street in Astoria Queens on Wednesday, July 27. Carisi and Rollins find no other weapons and  but see signs the kid was staying there.  Fin is checking with the neighbors. Rollins finds luggage which has the boy’s name as Ali with a photo of a woman who is likely his mother. There is a detailed schedule of what to do with Ali. There was a note for the boy where the writer - presumably his mother -  tells Rahima to tell Ali that no matter what happens, she loves him more than anything in the world. Carisi thinks it sounds like she did not know when and if she was coming back. Fin arrives with a neighbor = Brian O’Malley – and he knows Mrs. Babic and has also seen the woman in the photo. He assumed Babic was a relation and there was a lot of arguing. When he says there is always something with these people, When Fin questions “these people?” Brian answers, :Immigrants.” Fin comments, “Oh, and your people came here on the Mayflower, huh?” Rollins explains they need to find the boy’s mother, and he thinks she worked as a waitress but doesn’t know where. As Brian leaves, Rollins notices the leftovers in the fridge are all from the same place – a diner, The Parthenon.

Later, at the Parthenon Diner at 29-23 30th Avenue in Astoria, Queens on Wednesday. July 27, Carisi, with Rollins, speak with the manager who identifies the woman as Ana Kapic, one of his waitresses. She hasn’t shown up for three days, saying she comes and goes. He didn’t know she had a son, calling him a poor thing, explaining that a lot of times Ana would show up with a black eye or bruises, he guesses from a boyfriend. Carisi asks for her address and phone number, and the manager has it. He asks if she is in trouble, and Rollins says yes, he can say that.

Afterwards, Carisi and Rollins are at the address – 2792 Broadway - and it is for Crown Services, a repair business,  and there is no residence there. The store owner does not recognize Ana or her name. Her phone looks like a burner. Carisi summarizes they have a fake address, a burner cell, and a boy with a loaded gun, and a goodbye note from the mother; he thinks she is either involved with a dealer or is a prostitute. Rollins wonders if her son is better off with social services. Carisi thinks the note she left means she loves her son, and Rollins comments dryly that sometimes that is not enough.

Outside the precinct, Benson speaks with Tucker, telling him it has been 10 hours and they are no closer to finding the boy’s parents. She says she feels so…Tucker finishes the line, saying “Responsible? Because you found him?” He reminds her Ali held a loaded gun on her and she says he didn’t know what he was doing. Tucker thinks this is even more dangerous. Benson gets misty eyed and says all she could think about was Noah, and Tucker stops her, asking if she is alright. But she says it is okay, and ask they continue to walk on, she comments about Tucker’s new job at the Conviction Integrity Unit, saying it is impressive. He thinks it could be interesting working with the DA’s office, kicking the tires on cases, like an in-house innocence project. Benson gets a phone call and before she answers it, she tells Tucker it sounds great. She tells the caller she is on her way up, and she tells Tucker that Fin has a lead. She gives him a peck on the check and says bye, racing up the stairs. Tucker sighs.

As Benson walks into SVU, she sees Chief Dodds. She stops and says hi, she didn’t know he was coming in. He comments that it is Comstat crap and he just had a few questions. Benson says she is sorry, she wasn’t aware there was a meeting. He counters it is because he didn’t tell her; they have things under control and there is no need to bother her with a bunch of administrative nonsense. She stammers and says she gets it, but as a Lieutenant, it is probably important…Dodds cuts her off and stares. Saying coldly that he said they’ve got it under control,  Benson smiles uncomfortably and says, “Okay… you’re the boss.” He looks over to her right, and then walks away, saying nothing. Benson turns to where Dodds was looking and sees a large photo of Sergeant Mike Dodds that was posted there in memoriam. She looks back towards where Chief Dodds had been standing with a look of realization for his cold attitude.

Benson is then briefed by the detectives in the squad room. Fin mentions that the lab picked up a partial print off the Glock, a match for Luka Terzik. Carisi adds he is 26, born in New York, and was arrested in 2014 for possession but the charges were dropped. Benson asks if he was related to the bike victim Ana or the little boy, and Carisi comments there is a resemblance, he could be the kid’s father. Rollins states all they know on Ana is that she is a Bosnian national, here on a student visa. They are trying to track down her parents and they are still waiting on the boy’s DNA. Benson asks if they have a last known for Luka, and Carisi replies yes, an apartment in Queens. Benson comments she is not going to hold her breath, but to take a look. Fin states they have it covered, but Benson says no, she wants to talk to this guy herself and ask him why his Glock was in the backpack of a four-year-old.

At the apartment of Luka Terzik at 34-39 35th Street in Astoria, Queens on Wednesday, July 27, Benson is there with the detectives. When there is no answer at the door, Carisi comments that there is an abandoned kid and the mother is missing, and Rollins adds it sounds like exigent circumstances. Benson tells Fin to go ahead, and he pushes the door in with his shoulder, announcing “NYPD!” as he does so. Carisi find a photo indicating Luka and Ali may be together and Ali is their son, and a laptop has the hard drive removed. It appears they left in a hurry. Fin finds a room filled with guns and bomb materials. Benson tells them not to touch anything There is writing in Arabic. Benson tells them to call ESU, Joint Terrorism, and the bomb squad.

Back at SVU, Benson confers with Dodds, saying Luka is an American citizen and Ana is a legal immigrant from Bosnia. Neither is on the watch list or has any connection to radical groups. When Dodds asks if they are interrogating the kid, Benson reminds him he is 4 years old and doesn’t speak any English. Dodds tells her to get a translator; the boy might know something. She says Joint Terrorism is tearing apart the apartment and the Feds are already here. The SVU squad room is full of people. Dodds calls for all of them to listen up, explaining the situation, saying they have reason to believe Luka and Ana are planning a mass casualty event. They have no ideas of potential targets, Benson adds they have their photos out to all media outlets, every precinct in the city as well as outer boroughs. NYPD will coordinate with JTTF, state police, and the FBI, adding they are all in on this with around the clock shifts until the crisis is resolved. After this, Dodds comments that he assumes they are talking to anyone and everyone who might know what they are planning, and Benson explains they are interviewing Ana’s co-workers, her neighbors, and trying to locate any family and connection overseas. Carisi approaches with Rollins an Fin, saying they caught a break. Rollins says they tracked down the man who has been covering the rent of Terzik’s apartment; it is Armin Sidran. Fin adds he is not in the system or on any watch list. Rollins shows Benson that the address on the check is the Midtown office of an insurance company. Dodds tells them to go NOW.

Later, at Manhattan Equity Insurance at 268 West 45th Street on Thursday, July 28, the detectives, with full backup, arrive. They enters Armin’s office and Carisi pushes him to the wall to frisk him and Fin, shouting, asks if Armin knows Luka. Armin says he is his half brother. Carisi asks, also shouting, if he pays his rent and Armin admits yes, it is because Luka is broke and needs help. He identifies Luka from a photo and says Ana is Luka’s fiancée. He does not know where they are. Carisi grabs Armin’s phone and when Luka refuses to call Luka, Carisi tries to make the call himself from the records of his last call. As Carisi connect the call, Armin shouts out to Luka and Carisi yells to Luka not to hang up, saying they can help him, just tell them where he is. But it is too late. Carisi gives the phone to someone and tells him to triangulate the location of the last call. As they take him away, Armin says his brother is innocent and he wants a lawyer.

Afterwards, Carisi and Rollins are at the location where the phone was found in a dumpster; the phone is cracked and it is locked. Rollins comments that TARU says the number Carisi called Luka on is registered to Armin. Carisi says that Armin in paying Luka’s rent and his phone bills, wondering what else. Rollins replies that Armin is sticking to the party line that his brother is a hapless buffoon and has no idea why the weapons were in the apartment. Carisi concludes that Luka realizes it is not his brother calling, he dumps the phone and trashes it, he is trying to hide evidence, just like his computer in his apartment in Queens. Rollins says they give the phone to TARU but Carisi says they will not be able to unlock it without a pass code. Only the company can decrypt it. Rollins asks what do they do now? Carisi says, “Call Barba.”

At the chambers of Judge Stephen Kerry at New York Supreme Court on Thursday, July 28, Barba explains to Judge Kerry they are not investigating something that already happened, they are investigating something that is about to happen. They can prevent it. He adds that these people represent an imminent threat to public safety and he needs an emergency court order to compel the manufacturer of the phone to unlock it immediately. Judge Kerry counters that this is a highly unusual request; first, Barba needs to get an order to gain access to the personal information. Barba interjects there isn’t time for any of that. The judge asks that there are no other means to unlock the phone, and Barba says no; the registered owner of the phone is in FBI custody and isn’t cooperating. His brother, who was once in possession of the phone is at large and nothing has been backed up to the cloud. The judge asks if Barba believes that this phone is the only place this evidence exists, and Barba replies yes. The judge, in a scolding voice, says Barba’s office has been down this road before. Barba admits his but says there are hundreds of locked phones awaiting decryption. The judge states these are all cases with court orders and all cases are on appeal by the manufacturers. Barba explains that he understands but this is different; he believes the company is trying to protect its position on privacy for PR reasons but, given these unique circumstances, if court ordered, they might cooperate. The judge pauses, then says he will grant the order, and Barba thanks him and quickly stands to leave. The judge adds, “Godspeed getting the company to comply.” Barba sighs and exits.

Back at SVU, Benson updates Dodds about the judge granting the order. The manufacturer is not cooperating. When she explains they are trying, Dodds tells her to try harder. She states they have Luka’s location at 11:20 when he got the call from his brother’s phone, they implemented a grid search block by block in the surrounding area. Fin announces they have something; Carisi says that facial recognition got Ana and Luka on a traffic cam 20 minutes ago. Rollins says they were entering Central Park on the west side at 72nd Street. Dodds worries they are thousands of people in the park and tells them to check for concerts, plays, or events. They race off.

In the park, an event is in progress and Luka and Ana are there. The SVU team with a huge back up arrives at the park. An off duty officer sees Luka is carrying a gun and the officer moves to his gun, his badge showing, saying to Luka “excuse me.” Luka grabs his gun and shoots the officer. The crowd screams and disperses and Luka continues to shoot others. Benson and the team hear the gunshots and race to the location. Luka continues to fire as he flees with Ana. Benson yells for the crowd to stay down. They know Luka and Ana have gone up nearby stairs. Luka comes out with his gun drawn and is shot by a police sniper. Benson races up the stairs with the detective and Ana is there, who begs them not to shoot and to help her.

At the hospital, Dodds explains to Benson there is one dead and four wounded, two critical. Tom Flannery, NYPD officer, was DOA. Special Agent Dan Conley arrives and says Ana isn’t talking, all she cares about is her son and since Benson found the kid in the park, he thought Benson could speak to her ad let her know the boy is safe and maybe she will open up. Benson agrees.

At the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Thursday, July 28, Benson explains to Ana about her son and the gun. Ana left him with her Aunt, Rahima. Benson explains that Rahima had an accident and is dead. Ana begs to see Ali but Conley thinks this can be arranged but presses for details on who else was involved and asks if there are other targets. But Counselor Rita Calhoun enters and tells Ana not to say another word. Benson asks Calhoun that she is representing terrorists, and Calhoun reminds Benson it is a suspected terrorist and everyone is entitled to a defense. Conley says she is not going anyway and Calhoun asks that he wants to deny her client her right to counsel? Benson states they need to know if other lives are at stake, and Calhoun says she wants to talk to Ana alone and she understands the gravity of the situation, trust her. Benson and Conley leave the room.

Back at SVU, Benson asks if they’ve found anything yet and Rollins says not yet. Benson also has not found much; Calhoun claims that Ana was in the dark and just along for the ride. The Feds don’t know a lot, and when Conley arrives, Benson asks if he has anything. He says the brother of the shooter – Armin - is connected to a controversial mosque in Queens. They had to let him go; Carisi correctly concludes Armin is more valuable on the street. Conley explains it gives them a better chance to pick up some chatter. He knows Calhoun trusts Benson and he asks that Benson take another run at Ana tomorrow, after they formally indict her on murder and terrorism charges. Dodds approaches and says it is too late; the DA’s office filed charges 10 minutes ago. Conley says in all due respect...but Dodds tells him to save the phony deference, the DOA is NYPD, and Dodds knew Tom Flannery very well. Dodds walks off and Benson follows him.

Meanwhile, Barba is outside the courthouse, swarmed by reporters shouting questions. He states that the investigation is on-going and the NYPD, FBI, and JTTF are working together to collect information and right now all they know is that a decorated NYC officer was killed and 4 other citizen were shot and critically wounded. Regardless of the defendant’s motivation and her affiliations, what this woman did is called murder in the State of New York.

At arraignment court part 11 on Thursday, July 28, Ana is arraigned for one count of murder and 4 counts attempted murder. Benson watches from the gallery. Calhoun says Ana pleads not guilty. Barba requests remand but Calhoun thinks she should be released on her own recognizance. The judge is incredulous and asks why. Calhoun says Ana is a victim and says she was raped and tortured hours before the event by her fiancé and his brother and she was not at the crime scene under her own free will. Calhoun says if Ana did not cooperate, she herself would have been murdered.

Back at SVU, Benson steps out of the elevator with Barba, who argues they have Ana at the scene and she had an AR15 around her shoulder and the shooter was 5 feet away. He can’t believe that somehow she is the victim. Benson asks if he thinks Calhoun is making this up, and Barba thinks she is desperately looking for a defense. Carisi walks up with an affidavit from Ana stating that Luka and Armin repeatedly raped her for the last 5 years. Barba thinks that Calhoun is covering her tracks and laying record and it mean nothing. but Benson thinks it is a disclosure and it means something. She adds that just because she is a murder defendant doesn’t mean she is not a rape victim. Barba testily says Benson is playing to the defense and the more she investigates this, the more she legitimizes Ana’s story. She asks Barba if he is telling her to ignore it, and Barba tells her to be careful, this case is too big and too important. He adds that given what has been happening lately, citing San Bernardino and Orlando, Dallas and France, saying people are fed up. When Benson says she understands that, Barba cuts her off and says Ana has to go down – hard – no matter how heartbreaking or tragic her story might be; right or wrong, that’s just how it is. Benson counters that he may be right, but no matter how it is, she would still like to speak with Ana. Barba and Benson stare at each other.

Later, Benson speaks with Ana with Calhoun present. Ana explains that she came here 6 years ago and wanted to be a nurse. She lived with the aunt in Queens and met Luka and he was nice and she fell in love. But then things changed and he changed. He was angry all the time and hated everyone and then he started to hit her. He made her have sex even if she didn’t want to, and with her brother, together. This lasted for years. She told no one, she was too afraid, they said they would kill her and she would never see her son again and she would die a whore as they had video. They would make it look like she was having fun and send it to her family. They last assaulted her two mornings ago, early, it was still dark. She remembers hearing the garbage truck outside and remembers the sound of the truck and focused on that. Ana shows the bruises on her body. She hit Armin in the face and he and Luka got mad so they beat her with their belts. She wanted to do something, to call the police, but she was afraid for herself and Ali and didn’t want anyone else to die. She asks that they please forgive her, and she begins to sob. As Ana sobs, Benson tells Calhoun she wants to do a rape kit and Calhoun agrees.

Later, Benson is in Barba’s office with Dodds and says the rape kit confirms vaginal and anal intercourse and tearing, there was semen and they are running the DNA. Benson says she was brutalized, and Dodds says that doesn’t mean she didn’t kill Flannery and that college kid. He explains he got a text about Sophie Lewis, 21. Barba agrees with Dodds, stating that the rape claim has nothing to do with the criminal charges. It can make her more sympathetic in the eyes of the jury and raise the question if she really was a willing participant. Dodds tells Benson to put the brakes on the rape investigation for now until the trial is over and let the defense claim rape all they want. Testily, Benson says she understands there is something bigger here and she gets it but she is not sure that should matter. Dodds looks at her with disbelief and asks if she is serious. She forcefully says that with all due respect, she can’t not do this, she is trying to do her job. Dodds shouts that with all due respect, doing her job cost his son his life. Benson is stunned and Dodds immediately gets a look of regret on his face. He begins to stammer, sounding like he didn’t mean this, and he quickly leaves Barba’s office. Benson stands there in shock, and Barba says he didn’t mean it. Benson states "Sure he did. He’s not wrong either.” Barba tells her not to do that. Benson comments she knows they want someone to pay for what happened, but that person is not Ana. Barba tells her she is wrong. Benson emphatically says Ana was beaten and raped less than 48 hours before the attack. Barba argues it is irrelevant; she is just as guilty as Luka. Rape or no rape, she is a killer and that is what he going to tell the jury. Benson gets a message and tells Barba that the DNA came back on Ali; the father is Armin, which mean he has paternal rights, Barba starts to say he understands, but Benson cuts him off and says “You understand? If Ana is going to prison, right, if the Feds can’t come up with a case against Armin, then that monster is gonna get custody of that boy.” Benson puts on her jacket to leave and Barba asks where she is going. She angrily says she is going to investigate a case everyone wants her to ignore. She slams the door.

Later, Benson, with Rollins, has Armin in SVU interrogation and he denies having sex with Ana. But when they confront him with the fact that he is Ali’s biological father, he admits he had sex with Ana a few times. He says she is a whore, and when Benson says that is not a nice word, he says Ana is not a nice woman. He claims she is a manipulator and a user and she ruined his brother’s life and turned him into a killer, a radical. He states he wasn’t at Luka’s two mornings ago and he did not have sex with her. They mention the bruises and the scars on her and when Rollins asks if that was the belt he used on Ana, Armin says he wants a lawyer. Benson tells him okay but that he is going down, with or without a lawyer. Armin claims Ana is a terrorist and a tramp, asking if they think anyone cares about her. Benson says she does and so does Rollins, and trust her, that is enough.

At Motions Court part 11 on Monday, August 1, Barba argues that Ana’s claims of the sexual assault are legally and logically irrelevant to her culpability to the murder of Tom Flannery and Sophie Lewis. He adds the that introduction of this type of unsubstantiated, extraneous and salacious evidence is more prejudicial than probative and it should be excluded. Calhoun argues that Ana was repeatedly beaten, raped and tortured over a period of five years and was a prisoner in her own home, unable to exercise her own free will or personal autonomy for fear of losing her son and her life. As such she was acting under extreme duress and they will use for an affirmative defense. Judge Hayes does not want to turn her murder case into a rape trial and she can’t just take Ana’s word for it. Calhoun says she understands she needs the word of someone objective and knowledgeable, like Benson. Barba looks annoyed.

Later, with Benson on the stand, she testifies that the allegations are credible and thinks beyond a doubt that Ana is a victim of a brutal and forceful sexual assault. Barba shakes his head at her.

Back at SVU, when Benson returns, Dodds asks if she is a cop or a defense lawyer. Benson explains she did what she thought was right. He asks if she is aware their goal is to win this case, and she says she is, asking what did he want her to do, perjure herself? Dodds states he just got done talking to the Chief, the DA, and the Mayor and they are livid and already looking for a head to serve up on a shiny silver platter. He shouts that they stuck their neck out with the Feds just to get this case. Losing is not an option, so he tells her to please pretend she is on their side, not theirs. He leaves her office and as Benson shakes her head, Barba walks in and Benson asks if he is looking for a fight too. He explains he understands what she is doing and it is admirable – she says “But” – and Barba finishes, saying it is stupid, self-centered, idealistic. Benson replies that rape is rape, they don’t get to invent their victims or their perps. They hear the evidence and they investigate, unless of course you are a Muslim woman accused of murder and then we just throw you under the patriotic bus and live their merry lives. Barba explains he came here to tell her the judge ruled in their favor, but Benson corrects him, saying not “our” favor but Barba’s favor. Barba states that either way, the rape testimony is not coming in. He says like he keeps telling her, this case is different. He walks out, leaving Benson sitting at her desk to think about it.

At another time, Benson approaches Calhoun on a street and Benson  tells Calhoun she will not win, the case is too important to too many people. Calhoun asks if she is saying the fix is in, but Benson says it is time to cut a deal for Ana’s sake. She adds that Barba will listen today, now. Once it goes to trial he will have no choice but to max her out. Calhoun says that is not a reason to cut a deal, but Benson says this is, handing Calhoun the information that Armin is seeking full custody of Ali. Benson says if Calhoun cuts a deal and the murder and terrorism charge it will give them more leverage to pursue the rape case and be sure Armin never goes near that little boy again.

Later, Calhoun, with Ana, meet with Barba and he explains the charge has to be murder one. Calhoun says the will accept this on two conditions: One, at sentencing Barba will advocate for 20 to life and keep the possibility of parole on the table, (Barba nods yes) and two, that Barba use his best efforts to prosecute Armin with rape. Barba states he can’t agree to that, but Calhoun thinks on the record he can’t but off the record he can look her in the eye and nod. He says Benson is investigating the case and if she finds sufficient evidence…Calhoun thinks he will be told by his bosses to bury it because Ana is evil. Barba gets up and moves to leave, and Ana says she does not want her son to be raised by that man; he will ruin him and turn him into a monster, a killer. Barba explains that Benson is investigating the case and if she find sufficient evidence…Calhoun gets up and says for god’s sake, the good guys already won, he can fly the flag and declare victory. She gets it. But deep down he knows the truth, Ana is not evil or a killer, she is a rape victim. He looks over to her and then tells Calhoun he will do her best.

Later, Benson walks into Barba’s office and asks what does he mean there is not enough evidence. He says, “And hello to you” and when he begins to talk about the evidence, Benson cuts him off and says it is overwhelming. She explains they have Armin’s semen, there is vaginal and anal tearing and bruises and Ana’s testimony. Barba said he told her usually that is enough, and Benson reminds him he told her he would do his best to prosecute this case. Barba says he is doing his best. The defense will claim Ana is a whore who craves rough sex; she is a convicted murderer and terrorist. Benson says okay, so he needs more. She asks what about a video of Luka and Armin raping her, and explains that Luka used to record the brutality as a way of maintaining control, the problem is…and Barba comments it is on the locked phone.

At Supreme Court part 28 on Monday, August 1, Barba explains to the judge they believe video of the rape exists on Luka’s phone and evidence of a terrorist threat on the device as well. He adds that they believe this is the only place this evidence exists. He cites the All Writs Act, this court should grant an order compelling the manufacturer to unlock this phone. The company lawyer, Mr. Gilman, states that the All Writs Act was written in 1789 and it does not contemplate nor permit the court to force a private company to assist the government in a criminal investigation. As Barba shakes his head, Gilman says the reason why their company is so popular is their customers know their products are secure. If they were to create software that would unlock one phone, they would be creating software that unlocks all phones. It would create a wider crack in the overall security for all their customers which would in turn result in a far more substantial threat to national security.

Back at SVU, Barba tells Benson the good news is that they won. The bad news is they appealed within seconds. It is back to square one – Barba adds for a while. Benson explains she knows Barba wanted more but they have a strong case. Barba is unsure the DA would support moving forward, given the political climate. Benson says she knows that a monster just shot up a gay club in Orlando and another one killed five police in Dallas; it is horrific. They are under siege and nobody knows what is going to happen next, but Ana deserves justice for what happened to her and all she has left is her kid, she just wants him to be safe. She is going to arrest that son of a bitch, She walks out of her office.

Later, as Benson, Carisi, Fin and Rollins arrive at Armin’s home, they see that the Feds have already arrived. Agent Conley explains they picked up chatter last night – Armin has been talking to known radicals in Afghanistan. Benson explains she has a warrant for Armin’s arrest, and Conley tells her that will have to wait. Rollins asks for how long but Conley does not know. Benson asks where are the taking him, and Conley says to a very special and secure hotel. As they walk out with Armin in cuffs, he glares at Benson.

At the Metropolitan Correction Center on Monday, August 1, Ana is meeting with Ali for a last visit. Benson tells her she does not have to worry about Ali. They contacted her sister and she is on her way to New York. Ali will live with her in Bosnia. Ana thanks Benson and Benson tells her it is time to say goodbye. Ana embraces her son as Benson looks on.

Later, Benson is in the park with Noah, and Tucker approaches. He comments is has been a long week. Benson says yeah, but the funny thing is, she has never been happier. He asks why is she crying? Benson replies she is scared that it won’t last. Tucker says that is not true, not if he can help it. He touches her hair and she touches his arm and she smiles at him. He suggests they take a walk, it’s a beautiful day. They both smile and walk off with Noah between them, holding his hands, as we fade to black.

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Margot Undercliffe said...

I think Benson was a better detective than Leut. She is not a big picture person and that annoys Dodds and also Barba.

I agree it was for Rita to deal with. Benson was ruining the case and yet another officer shot and she didn't pick up on that with Dodds. The show is becoming Benson's crusade and she totally believes everything a victim says without due consideration. There was not really enough evidence. The other actors have little to do.

The show is missing the strong counter voice in the squad room, not Dodds Snr or Barba but the squad room devils advocate.

How SVU ran this over JTT is totally unbelievable.

I actually felt for Dodds. He just snapped but clearly regretted it.

Laurie Fanat said...

This episode seemed to have a lot more energy than some of the episodes last season. I liked it but at the same time something was odd about it. I blame it on Benson being so blinded by Ana being the victim. She jumped on that bandwagon too fast and went out of her way to undermine Barba and Dodds. I agree Chris, SVU should not have been running the terrorist investigation either. It was too high stakes for SVU to handle. The episode DID give viewers a lot to talk about, which is more than can be said for some of the previous seasons so I will give the writers credit for that. I felt like I had something to "chew" on.

No detective/officer, etc. should ever bring their child on a call about a potential victim, even if it is just a little lost child.

Is Mariska's personal involvement with victims of sexual assault influencing the show too much, and not in a good way? I am starting to think so. Benson sees victims everywhere. I agree with Dodds and Barba, Benson should have kept her nose out of the rape allegation. Or, if Benson felt she HAD to investigate it, she shouldn't have given any info to Rita Calhoun. I am not blaming the victim here, all I am saying is that Ana was on trial for her involvement in the murders, and it should have been Calhoun who investigated Ana's claim for her affirmative defense.

Roselynn Finch said...

Tuckson needs to go. And Noah never should have existed. Olivia's desperation for her lover and child make her blind to logic. That is all.


First of thank you Chris for recap and it feels so good to see your recap and talk SVU, and very quickly congratulations to your Cleveland Cavaliers on winning the title I was very happy for you more than anyone. Now on the episode, first with the title of episode it seems they are no longer doing the same amount of letters in the season as in the previous 5 years which is something I just caught up on. As far as show it was very good how they did leave the storyline of Dodds death as a reminder but not going over the top and also the relationship between Benson and Tucker still there not just not knowing what happened like with Cassidy, I did think NBC tried really hard again to try to get Mariska an Emmy since she was only character involved in last 30 Minutes of the show. I was looking more forward to CPD for the storyline with Hank how it ended but SVU won last night's round, hopefully we get to see more of the cast in every episode get more airtime.

Amy Majdalani said...

I'm still not a fan of Tuckson, and that the fact that Tucker now works for the Conviction Integrity Unit makes me wonder of that in itself is a ticking time torpedo for Olivia's relationship, lest we all forgot how Benson/Haden ended.
Loved Rafael Barba in this episode, I liked his scenes the best over Benson's (aside from her scenes with Noah, I love seeing Olivia and Noah having fun bonding moments.) Gogogo Barba, keep up the awesome momentum this season. Barba best ADA.

Caroline Rohe said...

I enjoyed this fast paced episode. Though I did find myself siding with Barba over Benson from the very beginning. She needs to listen to Barba rather than fighting with him, after all he usually does stuff in her best interest and wont throw her under the bus like Dodds Sr would. I found the Tucker/Benson (Tuckson) relationship kinda dry this episode. Heck, the banter and arguing between Barba and Benson seemed more romantic, especially with Barba's soft spoken words to Benson.
Also cant wait to see Barba and Carisi's friendship develop, partners in crime, or just lawyer buddies.

Cath T said...

I thought this was one of the best episodes in a while.

Of course there were some angles that stretched credulity but it's television not real life and suspending disbelief is necessary.

SVU taking the lead in what was ostensibly an investigation of terrorism was difficult to believe but it didn't bother me that much.

The whole break down the door with just a kick or shoulder charge is very much an American cop show thing. Strong cops in the USA it seems. British tv cops like to use a heavy metal ramming device & Aussie tv cops are a mixture of the two.

I was on Benson's side in this episode. Her comment that "unless it's a Muslim woman accused of murder then we just throw her under the patriotic bus" summed up for me societal attitudes now to Muslims. They are guilty of everything until proven innocent. Just being a Muslim means you're to blame for something.

There was a delicious irony in Barba not wanting to jeopardise the terrorism case by not pursuing Ana's allegations of rape. In any other situation he'd be wanting to prosecute the rapist. That alone highlighted for me how terrorism has become a more heinous crime in the minds of lawmakers & citizens than any other & investigating it takes priority over anything else.

I disagree that it should have been Calhoun's job to investigate the rape allegations. It is Benson's job and that of SVU to investigate allegations of rape & sexual assault no matter who is making the allegation. Benson is the investigator, Calhoun is the lawyer.

I felt for Ana. She too was a victim and she was subjected to extreme duress.

The episode demonstrated that no matter what the circumstances might be there will be no quarter given to those who commit or abet a terrorist act.

As for Tuckson well I'm not on that particular train but they are a better fit than Benson/Cassidy and I believe in the affection between them. There is at least some chemistry there.

All in all a very good start to Season 18.

JSlayerUK said...

An allegation of rape occurring in the district of Manhattan was made, it is SVU's job to investigate. I have no idea why anyone can say that because the victim is also suspected of another crime, that the previous crime doesn't warrant prosecution. If anything, it would have beefed up the case against Armin. I genuinely did not see why Ana was being prosecuted - she didn't shoot anyone so none of the bullets or shells would have matched the gun that she was carrying (did she even draw the weapon at any point?!)... I'm guessing that at least one of the witnesses in the park could testify she was being dragged by the shooter. If they really wanted it to be a debate point, then they should have included more evidence of Ana's complicity. The way it was filmed, there was very little to point to her being anything other than a hostage. I was so disappointed by everyone in this case (Olivia excluded). "People are sick of it" is now a reason to bypass due process?! Damn it, I am so sick of people willing to sacrifice our values and integrity in the face of terrorism.

It was a good episode because it got you hooked, even if I didn't like the perspective of the characters. I can believe that NYPD would take the case over the FBI after the shooting because of Dodds' sway and the victim being an off-duty officer, though it would have been taken by Homicide not SVU - they could have brought in Cutter! When was reference to the mothership last made anyway?

Great start to the season, glad to see Mike hasn't been forgotten with an excellent performance by Peter Gallagher.

Laurie Fanat said...

Ana was charged as the perception was that she was part of the terror conspiracy. When Ana first arrived at the park with Luka, she wasn’t being physically dragged by him. She could have fled. Who knows how many times she wasn’t with her husband that she could have taken off? It is not like this woman was tied up to her husband 24 hours a day for the 5 years she said she was with him. She had a relative that could have helped her flee. Would it be risky for her to do so? Sure. But that is no excuse for her to keep going on with his plan of killing people.

On the affirmative defense issue, it is the defense’s responsibility to prove any claim they present. The defense has the burden of proof. In Manhattan, SVU may still have to investigate the rape claim but that does not mean that SVU should go behind the backs of the DA’s office and help the defense which is what Benson was doing. She should have been reporting all her findings only to the DA’s office and Barba should have been relaying the info to Calhoun. If Calhoun were to press Benson for details, she should have told him all her findings have been delivered to the DA’s office and that Calhoun needs to discuss the matter with them. This was a complex situation yet Benson thinks about these things in a very black-and-white way, and that is if you have been raped, you get a free pass for any other crimes committed. The whole thing is complicated because the legal trial was in progress when the affirmative defense was made. I bet there are rules in how these matters are handled including how information moves between the defense and the prosecution and vice versa. I do not think Benson followed any rules.

Amy Majdalani said...

I also found myself siding with Barba over Benson this episode.

Amy Majdalani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BensonFan said...

Chris, I proclaimed at the end of last season that I was giving up on SVU after 17 years. But I'm still here to read your reviews, and I am curious about your thoughts on the new show runners. Does SVU have a different feel to it now? Or is it indistinguishable from the Warren Leight years?

Nikki said...

Wasn't a fan of the episode. Have definitely seen worse though. I have no feelings towards Tucker/Benson either way but if they are not gonna use the rest of the cast then I have no intention to continue with the show. Benson alone can't keep me here.

Chris Zimmer said...

@BensonFan - it's only one episode and it's hard to judge the new showrunner yet - but - generally I liked what I saw, at least when it came to the pacing of the story, the location shots, and the camera work. Based on where the season finale left off, they almost had to loop the Tucker and Dodds characters back in. I only hope this is not a theme that comes up in every episode. Dodds said they were looking for someone's head on a silver platter, and who knows, maybe it will be him and the whole Dodds story line will go by the wayside. My guess is Tucker's new job will somehow later connect with SVU and Benson, and who knows, maybe that will end that relationship. I guess we are stuck with Noah but I can only hope the new showrunner will downplay that a bit. If there was anything that didn't feel right was how they under-utilized the other detectives in this episode. All in all, it may take a few episodes before we can tell which direction this show will take and whether the he will make a shift in the feel of the show (as there was when Warren Leight took over for Neal Baer)!

xohr x said...

"Did Carisi make a mistake by taking Armin’s phone and attempting a phone call to Luka with Armin present, allowing Armin to tip off Luka?"

YES that was so dumb omg!!

Anonymous said...

@xohr x: Exactly! Carisi is an incompetent cop. He is responsible for escalating Luka´s behavior who did find out that cops are on him and acted out. Carisi is still a rookie who acts like an experienced cop and that´s very dangerous. Nobody call him out on his mistakes anymore. I don´t understand adoration of this character. Is it looks the only thing people care about?
To an episode: I liked it to a point. It was a mess at times, Olivia´s anger at everybody who happens to disagree with her is very annoying. Dodds and Barba were right. Ana could slip something into Luka´s drink, call the police, show them room full of guns, tell them about their plans, about what they were doing to her, do anything but she didn´t and therefore she is responsible for those crimes.
Otherwise it was a solid start of the season.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

Great fast paced ep...I love that the victims are flawed...that's the way it is..SVU has always made me think, take sides and this ep did that on many levels, i would like to see Olivia in a normal, stable relationship and believe tucker is that guy. And btw nobody has to TRY and get Harghitay an Emmy. The woman does more talking with her eyes than most actors do with their mouths. I love that this show keeps evolving....can't wait till next wed and thank u for your recap! I always enjoy reading it!

Unknown said...

Benson's got one track mind. She thinks no woman lies about rape.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Sorry but Benson can't seem to see beyond a suspect's victim status. It's making her look like she can't be objective.