Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Imposter” Recap & Review

There was one line in this episode that summed it all up: “this whole case has been a big waste of time.” There are so many things wrong with how Benson handled this situation that I am not sure if I have the time, or the energy, to write them all down.

It was stated more than once that there was no law in the New York criminal code that stated what Tom did was illegal. I love the increased legal focus on SVU as of late but it is worthless unless Barba grows a spine and tells Benson he will not prosecute a case just because she wants him to or just because she finds a person’s behavior repugnant. Her logic that because Tom lied about who he was and that he didn't use his real name would negate Laura’s consent makes no sense. Using Benson’s logic, any time a person had consensual sex with someone who misrepresented their identity, or without knowing their sex partner’s real name, it would be rape. How many one night stands occur between consenting adults where names are never exchanged? Does that make them all rapists because they don't know who they really are? Her logic would make a rapist out of a married person who cheated on their spouse and had consensual sex, without telling their sex partner they are really married, not single. Her logic would mean that prostitutes, who likely don’t use their real names, would be rapists, as would be the people having sex with the prostitutes, who likely aren’t using their real names or identities either. Maybe in Benson’s world, she would prefer if people showed two forms of identification – a driver’s license or birth certificate or passport – to verify the person’s name before consenting to sex. (Maybe they should sign a contract too while they are at it.)

Clearly what Tom was doing was despicable, but as it was not illegal, Benson should have dropped the issue. I sensed that even Fin had concerns about how Benson was handling the case. It’s too bad there isn’t anyone on her squad that is willing to forcefully stand up to her. Her staff and Barba are becoming her enablers, and she is sending them all on wild goose chases.

I thought the defense case was handled well, with attorney Nikki Staines highlighting that while the prosecution presented the case as rape, she saw Laura’s behavior as prostitution. Staines was not wrong, with Laura admitting that she did consent to sex in order to get an edge in her son’s entry into Hudson University, which was something of real value. Both Benson and Barba should have seen that coming and realized, in addition to Tom not doing anything illegal, that it could be Laura who was engaged in the illegal behavior.  The judge was right in challenging Barba on  his motivations to present the case, and he was right to "encourage" Barba to make a deal.  This case may have put Barba in a bad light not only with this judge but other higher ups.

As for the apparent suicide of the young Justin at the end of the episode, I put some blame on Benson. She knew what Tom did was not illegal, she knew that Laura’s marriage was headed for divorce, and most of all, she knew Justin was having a very hard time dealing with the humiliation that the case brought to him and the family. This poor kid was already a victim of his mother’s obsession with him going to Hudson University, and Benson hanging out the family dirty laundry was just another burden that this stressed out kid had to bear. Benson was more concerned with catching her “white whale” – the rapist of the week – than with the damage to the Collett family.  She wanted to make a statement.  Her statement was punctuated by Justin's suicide.   Benson has yet to realize that her actions have consequences, however unintended they might be.

It was also mentioned early in the episode that Noah's language skills are underdeveloped for his peer group. This should be no surprise to SVU viewers.

I’m not sure what I was supposed to be feeling watching this episode. All I know is I felt angry and disappointed about how poorly both Benson and Barba handled the case.

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:
Wallace Langham - Tom Metcalf
Callie Thorne - Counselor Nikki Staines
Vincent Curatola - Judge Al Bertuccio
Paula Marshall - Laura Collett
Steve Rosen - Public Defender Guthrie
Conor Proft - Justin Collett
Chris Henrey Coffey - James Collett
Tiffan Borelli -Erin Dowling
Juney Smith - Stanley Korva
Andre Blake – Alden Kessler
Mac Brydon – Gary Bell
Paul DeBoy - Bill Sullivan
Tiffan Borelli – Erin Dowling
Julia Veron – Woman One
Lauren Hooper – Woman Two
Alan Barnes Netherton – Man One
Joey Mintz – Man Two

The Colletts - mother Paula, husband James, and son Justin get ready for the day. James and Justin are heading out of town.  Laura gets a phone call and tells the caller she will she him soon. Later, Laura and the mystery man are kissing and he asks if she is sure she wants to have sex. She says absolutely, asking why does he think she is here?

Afterwards,  she is in a bathroom, the tub is filling, and she is drinking a glass of wine with a concerned look on her face.

Later, Carisi and Rollins are at a scene. The victim is Laura Collett who is on her way to the hospital with an apparent overdose. There was no note. Maintenance found her at 2:00 AM; the tub started overflowing and leaking into the room below. Carisi asks if she checked in alone, and Rollins says they aren’t sure, they are trying to pull video but the room was in her name. They key card was last used at 9:56 PM. No witnesses and nobody heard a peep. Carisi notes the room looks romantic and Rollins says they will check the wine for narcotics. Fin is also there and says there is an outcry witness – the suspect, via text. He has no name; he called the number a few times and there is no answer and no voice mail. Laura’s last text was 11:56 last night. Carisi reads the message which states “He raped me. Burn in hell.” Carisi thinks this is clear but Fin counters that Laura sent a text to the same guy 10 minutes earlier. Carisi reads that text which says, “Incredible night. Just gotta say it – best sex ever!” Carisi questions that in 10 minutes Laura went from the best sex ever to “you raped me”, wondering how the hell does that happen?

Rollins, Carisi and Fin return to the SVU and they bring Benson up to speed. There were no drugs in Laura’s system and the doctor did a full tox scan and there were no “date rape” drugs. They talk about Laura’s “change of heart” and Fin wonders what turned this into rape? Benson asks that TARU said the texts went to a burner and Rollins confirms. Benson recaps the info they have on the victim and Rollins adds Laura is 42 and has a son. Carisi shows Benson a screen shot from her phone. Rollins says it is just another perfect family. Carisi says it is too early to be that jaded, and Rollins jokes next time she will wait until noon. This husband is at the hospital and Benson tells them to head down there and see what he knows

Later, at Mercy Hospital at 365 West 32nd Street on Thursday, September 15, Carisi and Rollins speak with James Collett. He is surprised they are investigating her for an overdose of pills. When Carisi says they are trying to understand what happened prior to that, James is confused. Carisi explains the text message rape accusation, and James still is confused. Rollins says they are trying to figure out who she was with. James explains he last talked to Laura in the late afternoon; he and Justin were in Boston visiting colleges. Carisi asks if James knew she was staying at the Luxembourg hotel last night, and James and he looks stunned and says nothing. Carisi questions if she had any idea how Laura was with and maybe it was somebody at work, and James says Laura doesn’t work. She is involved with various charities and they were happy, at least he thought they were. All she thinks about is college admissions for their son who will be going next year. Carisi knows this is overwhelming for James but asks to consent to a rape kit. He nods in agreement.

Back at SVU, Benson asks the detective what do they have. Rollins and Carisi review the hotel security footage: At 6:14PM Laura walks into the lobby and she says hello to a tall white man, early 40s, decent looking and well dressed. They will run him through facial recognition. Benson tells them to take the image to the hotel and show it to guest, doormen, etc. Rollins asks Carisi if he wants to take a ride to the hotel but he explains he can’t; Barba set him up with an interview with an ADA from Brooklyn . Rollins asks if he will have to grow a beard and start making artisan pickles. She laughs and he says he is just seeing what is out there and for the record, he likes artisan pickles. As they step into the elevator, he asks her how he looks, and she replies, “Like a cop.”

Sometime later at SVU, Benson is on the phone with Lucy and asks how did Noah do and, looking disappointed, asks if she talked to the teacher. She looks sad and when she gets off the phone, Fin asks if there is a problem with the little guy. Benson explains that Noah’s language skills are slightly underdeveloped relative to his peer group. She insists she has been doing her best – reading, talking, singing. Fin asks if he is not getting into the fancy school, and Benson says she doesn’t know yet. She asks for an update on Laura, and Fin explains that the rape kit came back with no semen or bruises or abrasions but she did have sex; they found traces of condom lubricant. Nothing on facial recognition and nothing on social media. Fin shows her that Laura DM’d her son some time before the incident and Laura tells him she is sorry and to call her, and he replies that she makes him sick and he hopes she dies. Carisi, who has returned, says maybe the kid found there was somebody else and he will go back to the hospital and see what he knows. Benson asks how it went with LaRosa, and when Carisi stops dead in his tracks, Benson asks if Carisi doesn’t know she hears things. He smiles and walks off without answering.

At the hospital, Carisi speaks with Justin who says she is still unconscious but the doctors are optimistic, wondering if he is trying to placate him. Carisi shows him the photo of the man and Justin doesn’t know him. Carisi mentions the text Justin sent and Justin explains she kept bugging him about Hudson and she really wants him to go there, thinking it is so prestigious. Carisi explains his mother didn’t even know he applied to college and two days before classes started he asked if he could borrow $400 for books, he just got into St. John’s. Justin says his mom has been on 4 campus tours of Hudson, sat in on 6 lectures and had 3 lunches with some guy from the admissions office. The other day she asked Justin to have lunch with him and it might be the difference maker, and he snapped. He states he is sick of her stress over it, He is the one applying. He hopes that is not the last thing he ever said to her. Carisi asks if she ever mentioned the name of the guy and Justin replies no. Justin worries Laura took those pills because of the fight and Carisi says no, telling him to put that out of his head. He thinks she loves him very much and because of that she will make a full recovery.

Back at SVU, Carisi smacks the printer to get it to work, and Fin tells him he has to hit it hard. Carisi complains that wireless is overrated – that and putting lemon in water. Carisi tells Fin that Justin said his mother was working with someone from admissions at Hudson. Carisi has 27 males and 18 women in that department. Fin wonders that it takes all those people to look at applications and say yes or no. Rollins approaches and says nobody at the hotel recognizes the man. She did get a name = Laura signed it at 6:33 PM and a guy named Alden Kessler signed in at the exact same time, and Carisi says that name is on the top of his list – the director of admissions.

At Hudson University at 504 Riverside Drive on Friday, September 16, Rollins arrive at the office of Alden Kessler and it is a black man. Carisi shows him the photo of the man and Laura and he does not know them. Rollins explains why they are there and shows him a paper with a signature, asking if that is his. He says no, adding he never set foot in the Luxembourg hotel. Rollins explains there is a rapist out there pretending to be him. They think someone is using his name and that Laura’s son Justine applied to Hudson. Kessler bring up Justin’s information on h is computer saying Justin’s info is exception but they get two thousand with similar credentials and they only take 400 and the others go to international students and athletes. Carisi asks if he is saying it is tough to be a rich white kid with great grades and Kessler says at elite universities. Rollins says that must make him pretty popular, and Carisi asks if any of the rich parents try to influence his decision. Kessler replies no, never, that would be unethical. Rollins asks if any offer sex, if he wanted to exploit his power in a sexual way. He says he has been offered outrageous things and there have been sexual advances, Rollins gets a message and tells Carisi Laura just woke up and Benson is on his way to the hospital. Rollins thanks Kessler and says they will be in touch.

At the hospital, Laura explains to Benson that she met the man on campus at the café and he said he worked at admissions. Benson mentions the text about best sex and then the rape text. Laura explains he figured out he was not Alden Kessler as the man mixed up a few statistics and she got suspicious. She had looked him up and he was on some professor’s Instagram page. She was stunned and she called the man she just had sex with and she confronted her and laughed at her and he hung up. She called him again and he didn’t answer. She sent the text as she wanted to know how disgusting he was. She didn’t mean to hurt herself, she was trying to numb the pain, she would never abandon her family. Benson thinks out loud that Laura did not know his true identity so she never consented to have sex with him. Laura looks confused and asks what is Benson saying, was what he did a crime? Benson replies she is saying that what he did to her was rape.

Back at SVU, Fin comments that Laura screwed some guy trying to get her kid in college, and, acting  like it is funny, he says Laura got played. He adds that lying to have sex is part of the game. He mentions that back in the day, he pretended to be Melle Mel’s cousin and ask Benson if she is saying that is rape. Benson replies that things have changed, and Fin counters not that much, everybody is lying in the club, trust him on that. Benson states Laura consented to having sex with Alden Kessler, not some stranger pretending to be him and that’s rape. Benson says to find the guy and asks if they have any leads. Carisi says the wine bottle came back negative for prints and he found a few notes written to Laura on Kessler’s stationery. Benson thinks if the stationery is legit, the guy has access to Kessler’s office, adding it is time to take another college tour.

Back at Hudson University at 504 Riverside Drive on Friday, September 16, Rollins and Carisi walk the grounds and Rollins brings up that guys have been lying for years. She thinks it is disgusting but where do you draw the line? She brings up a few hypotheticals but Carisi thinks this guy is different, he is a predator. Rollins says this is gray; they are cops, not lawyers. Carisi tells her to speak for herself. She laughs and says she keeps forgetting, and Carisi jokingly asks if that is an insult. She says it is a compliment.

Inside, they find someone who ID’s the man as Tom Metcalf, campus security. He hired him two months ago as they had extra security during application season. He punched out at 5:12 and Carisi asks if they can call Tom to find out where he is and pretend he has to talk to him about work or something. The man agrees and makes the call.

Later. Rollins and Carisi are in a bar and hear what sounds like people lying about who they really are. They find Tom giving a woman a line of BS and Carisi sits down and asks how he knows all that. When the call him by his nameTom,  he feigns confusion but Rollins shows her badge and asks if they can go back to her place.

In SVU in interrogation with Carisi, Tom is surprised to hear about Laura’s overdose. Carisi brings up Tom’s lie and he is contrite. He admits he lied but said he told her he worked in admissions but omitted it was as security guard and that Laura assumed. As far as he knows that is not a crime. He looked it up. Trying to get Tom to talk, he brings up a story from college, saying someone thought he was a foreign student and it was the best sex he ever had. Tom says that the foreign thing works with some. Meanwhile, Benson and Rollins watch the interrogation and Benson comments "he" thinks he is clever. And Rollins, motioning to Tom, jokes so does this guy. Benson chuckles. As Carisi continues to question Tom, he asks what is the point of the meeting. Carisi says he wants his side, and Tom says he met Laura and they had a few dates and that is that. Carisi presses if he has veer impersonated other people, and Tom says it is not against the law. He says it is a brilliant strategy, like taking advantage of the tax law and finding loopholes. He admits he’s impersonated other people, but he plays sophisticated angles. He states he worked security in a medical building and he heard all this lingo; the next thing you know, the neurologist is in the house. He goes through one of his speeches and says it is all part of the humble brag. He is writing a book about this. Carisi asks if Laura ever said yes to Tom before sex and he asks if he under arrest. Carisi says no, and Tom says he is out of here. As he leaves, he says he will send Carisi a copy of his book and if he is nice, he might even autograph it for him.

Outside the courthouse, Barba comments to Benson that it sounds like rape by fraud but the problem is that doesn’t exist in New York criminal code. Benson states she knows but they can’t just let this guy walk, adding there must be some kind of statute or theory that they can use to prosecute this kind of vile behavior. Barba cites a case from 1994, the People vs Hough. A twin tricks his partner’s wife into having sex with him. The court rules there is wrongdoing but no crime is committed since the law doesn’t cover that type of behavior. Benson thinks it is time to update New York law into the 21st century. Barba comments there have been rumblings about a new bill in the legislature and the case could kick start things. He asks if the woman is willing to testify, and Benson replies she will talk to her. Barba questions if their repugnant ladies man has done this before, and Benson replies it sounds like it. She explains Tom told Carisi he was writing a book about his various conquests. Barba thinks if they can establish a consistent pattern, it would help sway the jury. Benson asks for a warrant to keep digging. He nods.

At the apartment of Tom Metcalf at 341 West 38th Street on Monday, September 19, Rollins and Carisi search and the man who let them in – Stanley – asks them if he needs to stick around for this. Carisi says it is better he stays. Rollins says Tom is a person of interest. Carisi finds information on a Dr. Michael Mandelbaum from Stanford University Medical School. Rollins comments that Tom definitely backstops. Rollins finds a book by Stephanie Dowling called “My Mali Journey” and Rollins says Tom has desperate moms submitting their works to him. Rollins reads a cover note from Stephanie’s mother Erin thanking “Alden” for reading this and that Stephanie is a special young lady and to see him tomorrow afternoon at the Strathmore, which is a new luxury building in Soho. It sounds like another con. The note was from yesterday and the day is today. Carisi thinks they might be able to stop this and wants to call Benson.

At the Strathmore on 77 Grand Street on Monday, September 19, Benson arrives with Fin who says Erin’s phone is still going to voice mail. Benson, flashing her badge, shows the photo of Tom to the doorman who works there who says their tenants are private. Fin explains it is an emergency. The man identifies Tom as Mr. Kessler and he just clocked in, he hasn’t seen him. Benson asks if he lives there, and the man says he stays in Mr. Zang’s place sometimes; 24B. Benson races to the elevator and as the door opens and she enters, Tom walks out. He laughs and recognizes her, and Benson asks if Erin is up there. He said yeah, she is probably catching her breath now. Fin steps in his way and comments about Tom’s stupid smile, and Tom asks if he is threatening him. Fin glares at him and Benson tells him to let him go.

Later, in the room, they break the bad news to a shocked Erin. Benson says she knows this is traumatic but Erin says it is humiliating; she and he husband spent over a half million dollars on her daughter’s education and they want a return on their investment but the college admissions process is brutal. He daughter is smart but normal, not prodigy smart, and is not a minority or an elite athlete. As Erin primps her appearance, she states she met Tom at the café on Hudson’s campus. Her daughter was there and he approached Erin. She admits she thought he was Kessler until now. Benson says she is sorry but she wants Erin to know they intend to prosecute Tom for what he has done and they hope they can count on her to cooperate. Erin asks Benson if she is joking, asking if Benson wants her to tell the world she was sleeping with the admissions director to get her daughter into college? Benson replies that Erin didn’t consent to having sex with Tom Metcalf, he defrauded her. Erin says they were two adults playing a game and the hustler got hustled; lesson learned. Benson looks crestfallen and Erin walks off. Fin asks what now, and Benson says a crime was committed and to process it like any other case. Fin says he will call CSU but seems skeptical.

Back at SVU in her office, Benson is on the phone and when Fin walks in, she explains that was the owner of Metcalf’s sex pad. She adds that it is cloudy in Hong Kong. The owner never heard of Tom. They don’t know how he got into the condo. Fin says CSU found something good: their imposter is a film maker too. Fin shows Benson a photo of a video camera hidden in a drawer.

Later, in Barba’s office, Benson shows the video of Tom and Erin to Barba and the video then shows Tom and Laura. CSU is running the camera for touch DNA but Benson thinks Tom is clearly running the clubhouse. There are 5 women on the video, all mothers trying to get their kids into Hudson. They have ID’d all the women but none are interested in filing a complaint. Barba thinks this is understandable, and Benson thinks this is why he keeps doing it. Barba says there is no question Tom is revolting but the victim isn’t exactly perfect. Benson agrees, saying she made a horrific decision, but this case is about something bigger than Laura. She asks how many men and women are they gone to let this guy victimize? Win or lose, they need to make a statement here. Barba says okay, she wins. He tells her to pick him up. As Benson moves to leave, she turns and tells Barba they are doing the right thing. He says he knows, that is what he is worried about.

At a later time, Benson leads Tom into SVU interrogation with Barba in tow. Tom says he never recorded anything. Benson says he can’t con them. He asks what is he even doing here, he has done nothing wrong, asking since when is having sex a crime. Benson says what he did wasn’t sex. Tom counters if they arrested every guy who lied to get women, she’d have 50 million men in prison. Barba says they won’t debate the ethics of his behavior but they are there to discuss a deal if he is willing to plead guilty to sexual assault in the third degree. Tom asks if he is kidding him, saying these chicks are begging for it, if anything they assaulted him. With a blank face, Barba asks yes or no, and Tom say to kiss his ass. Benson reads him his rights and cuffs him, arresting him. She leads him out of the room.

Afterwards, Benson is at Laura’s and they discuss Barba’s filing of rape charges. Justin walks in and heads upstairs, not responding to Benson question how he is doing. Laura says he is having a hard time; he is terrified this is going to become public. Laura asks if they can win this case, and Benson thinks they have a decent chance and will need her to testify and to stand up there and tell them the depth of Metcalf’s deceit. Laura says her family is ashamed and Tom saw how weak and vulnerable she was and her obsession with getting Justin into Hudson. Benson understands it is very easy to get lost in this private school madness. Laura feels stupid and pathetic and he made him hate herself more than she already does. Laura says she wants him to feel the humiliation and pain she felt. Benson promises to do her best.

In motions court part 14 on Tuesday, September 27, Counselor Nikki Staines says there is no proof Tom made the recording and only Laura filed a police report. The other women have not come forward and refuse to cooperate with the prosecution, making the tapes irrelevant and more prejudicial than probative. If the prosecution wants to talk about the sex tapes, they should charge Tom with unlawful surveillance. Barba replies they intend to. Judge Al Bertuccio states they are here to try a rape case, so the video pertaining to Laura is admissible and the rest of it stays out. Barba leaps up and says there is a pattern of conduct here, but the judge reiterates his ruling. Staines give Barba a satisfied look.

Afterwards and outside, the judge catches up with Barba and he tells him being a prosecutor isn’t enough, Barba wants to be a legislator too. Barba looks stunned, and walks up to the judge and says “Excuse me?” Judge Bertuccio replies to correct him if he is wrong, but Barba’s job is to bring cases that are actually crimes under the New York criminal code. Barba states they presented the facts to the grand jury who deliver an indictment. The judge says he once indicted a ham and cheese sandwich for triple homicide. Barba says the defense filed a motion to dismiss. The judge asks Barba if he wants him to kick a rape case in this political climate without hearing all of the evidence? He takes Barba’s arm and walks with him, asking him what is really going on here; does he want press and is he laying a bed for a political run? Barba tells the judge , with all due respect, he is out of line. The judge tells him to be careful, just because he prefaced it with all due respect doesn’t mean it is not disrespectful. Barba explains he didn’t intend to... and the judge coldly tells him not to use his courtroom for his own agenda, asking if he hears him. Barba asks if he is asking him to dismiss the case, and the judge says no, he would never ask a prosecutor to dismiss a case that he believes is worthy of the court’s time, that would be an abuse of judicial power. The judge walks off.

In Supreme Court Part 14 on Wednesday, September 28, Barba states his case about what Tom did with using Alden’s identity to have sex. He says it is rape. Staines counters the argument saying Tom exaggerates, saying they used to be called playboys and pick up artists. She says Barba is trying to advance his personal political agenda.

Later, Laura testifies that she did not agree to have sex with Tom Metcalf if she knew who he was, her only objective was to help her son get into Hudson. It was more of a business transaction. Staines asks if that is like a prostitute, and Barba objects, the judge overruling. Laura says she didn’t think of it like that, he didn’t give her money but she supposes she is right, she was giving him sex and he was giving him something of value in return. James and Justin watch from the gallery. She is not proud of what she did, she was just trying to help her son and she knows this sounds silly but she dropped out of college after two years. She wanted him to have better and enjoy all the things a prestigious college offers and she was willing to do anything. They have money, but not enough to buy their way in so she thought this would help. Staines says using sex to influence s a decision based on merit is a hell of a way to help her son. The judge comments that they get the idea, telling her to move on. Staines mentions that right before Laura overdosed she sent Metcalf a text saying that it was incredible and it was the best sex ever but now she is saying she didn’t consent to having sex. Laura states she sent the text before she knew who he was and she was pretending. Staines says she lied, and Laura says yes. Staines asks what else is she lying about. Barba objects and Staines withdraws the question. Under cross, Barba brings up the other text she sent to Tom saying her raped her, saying that when she found out who he was she said he raped her and she hoped he burned in hell. Benson, sitting in the gallery, looks down. Barba rests his case.

Staines then calls Gary Bell and Barba asks to approach. Barba says Gary is not on the witness list. Staines explains he is the doorman at the Strathford and he just recently came forward. The judge asks what is the crux of his testimony, and Staines states that he heard Laura refer to Tom Metcalf as Tom – not Alden. She knew who Tom was; after the third or fourth time they had sex, Metcalf came clean and told her who he was and she kept sleeping with him anyway, adding, “So much for no consent.” Barba looks stunned.

Outside the courtroom in the hall, Barba confronts Laura that Tom says she knew his real name and had sex with him 3 or 4 times. She says that is a lie; they had sex once at the hotel and she never knew his real name until then. She asks why would she put herself through this if she knew who that pig really was. Her son can barely look at her and her husband is going to file for divorce. Benson says they believe her, and asks if she remembers seeing this man – showing a photo of the doorman – Gary Bell, where they had drinks one night? She says she doesn’t know, asking what difference does it make, she never called him Tom. Barba gives Benson a look and Laura comments that Tom is going to get away with this and this whole case has been a big waste of time. She asks Benson why did she tell her to testify, and looking like she is ready to cry, walks away from them. Benson looks stunned.

Back at SVU, Benson asks the detectives what do they know about this doorman, and Fin says he and Metcalf went to the same high school and Fin found a picture of them on line in shop class. Benson comments that they know each other buy why is he willing to lie for him and give him access to a luxury condo. Rollins replies it is about more than friendship; she spoke with Bell’s supervisor at the last hotel he worked – Carisi says he was the night manager at the Mapleton – and he got fired for setting up a camera in the women’s rest room. Benson says “there you go”, adding that he is a watcher. Fin states no wonder they never found any sex tapes on Metcalf ‘s computer. Rollins adds that Tom wasn’t filming it, his friend Bell was. Benson said there was no prints or evidence on that camera, and Carisi says the doorman doesn’t know that.

Later, Gary Bell is in interrogation with his lawyer who says he is not sure what they are doing here, Bell’s testimony is not going to change. Barba brings up the video camera and Carisi says his fingerprints were all over the camera. Barba calls it unlawful surveillance is a felony and that means prison and they will be filing those charges soon. The only question is will he also be filing perjury charges. Carisi says Bell agreed to lie for Metcalf because Metcalf threatened to out him for the sex videos, but now that they know he has no reason to lie. Barba says telling the truth will be better for him in the long run. Bell starts to explain but his lawyer tells him to stop talking, adding if for some reason his client thinks he made a mistake, will Barba take that into account when it comes time to plead out the illegal surveillance charge? Barba nods.

In Supreme Court part 14 on Thursday, September 29, Staines says they now won’t call Gary Bell and they won’t call any witnesses. The judge asks if she is resting her case before presenting it, and she says correct. She moved to her closing argument, saying that Tom is not perfect and he is not decent. If he tried to date him she would laugh at him or punch him in the face, adding he is disgusting but not a rapist. He is a sad frustrated man who longed for success but never found it so he creates successful, respectful characters in his own mind like an actor or undercover detective might do, and under the course of these identities he meets women and sometimes has sex with them. It is not an ethical or moral way to conduct a romantic life but it is not criminal either. She says Barba wants to pass judgment of Tom for lying to women, but being a jackass is not a crime under New York law, adding that the jury has a legal obligation to find him not guilty.

Afterwards, Barba and Staines walk in the hallway with the judge who says it was a compelling closing for Staines and he is sure the jury found it persuasive as well. He asks Barba what was his take, asking if he found it illuminating. Barba says he stands by the evidence. The judge, now sitting at his desk, says he does not care about the evidence, he cares about the law or the lack thereof. He says Barba is a talented prosecutor with a bright future and if he was him he would take Staines out for a cup of gourmet coffee that everyone drinks these days and beg her to accept a plea to a lesser charge. The judge is sure she will accept it because she is a reasonable woman and notes that her client is a repulsive human being. He adds that judges and prosecutors are supposed to enforce the laws that exist, not the ones they think should exist, and when they lose sight of that, they run the risk of getting their pants pulled down in public and having their sterling reputations sullied. Barba looks at the judge and nods.

Later, Benson is shocked that Barba has agreed to criminal impersonation in the second degree, a misdemeanor. Barba explains it is the best he could do. The judge was prepared to overturn the verdict. Benson asks if he said that, and Barba states “in so many words.” He has not told Laura, he called hew a few times but does not know where she is. Benson says she will find her and break the news to her in person.

When Benson arrives at the Collett home, she sees an ambulance there. She races to James who is standing on the steps and she asks what happened. James says nothing and drops to sit on the stairs as Benson asks if it is Laura. She runs inside and tells the police to watch him. She heads into the back yard and sees Justin on the ground, surrounded by police and with Laura crying out. Benson sees blood on the ground at Justin’s head and it is clear he is dead. Benson puts her hands to her head in shock. She looks up to the balcony from which Justin has jumped. As Laura clings onto Benson and sobs uncontrollably, and Benson looks stunned, we fade to black.

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ladybug81 said...

I wasn't overly crazy about this one. I love that we're getting more courtroom scenes. That seemed to be lacking in the last few seasons. I keep wondering how much of the way Benson's behavior now is related to Mike's death. It's almost like she's determined to make everything right,no matter what it takes. And sometimes, you just can't right every wrong in the world. I like that this show is willing to tackle difficult subjects & gray areas, but it feels like it's become a little too political. I feel like Warren began pushing a more political agenda several seasons ago, and the writers are simply continuing it.

One thing I did like was the conversations we overheard in the bar. It showed not everyone is truthful in that situation. Chris, I liked your point about is everyone considered a rapist of they're not honest. I think what would've made this episode more interesting is had the roles been reversed. Instead of a mom sleeping with a school official, it was a dad sleeping with a female school official to get his child into school.

I do agree though, someone needs to stand up to Liv. I love the character, but I feel like she's pushing to hard. Wonder if this will lead to an eventual breakdown or questioning if she can do the job?

Mirror said...

This was definitely the weakest episode in a very, very long time. I was bored.

Kyleigh said...

I agree. Tonight's episode was quite weak. To me, it didn't seem like a rape until Olivia brought it up. No wonder Barba was reluctant to try to the case and even the judge alluded that it was a waste of time.

Hopefully, next week's episode will be much better because this was definitely one of SVU's weakest episodes.

Roselynn Finch said...

The episode was boring. I had to watch it twice to even learn the characters' names. Also, more Noah problems? And people say this isn't all about Olivia's family. Just remember: Olivia only has him because his birth mother was gang raped and set on fire.

Lisa said...

Lying about who you are is not rape what kinda crap are they passing as a episode. The entire writing should be ashamed of themselves

Roselynn Finch said...

@Lisa The reality ship sailed about 5 seasons ago, I'm afraid.

Lisa said...

Agreed they jumped the Shark for sure tonight ... everything is Rape to Olivia next weeks episode a man winks at a lady in the coffee shop , Olivia convinces her she was raped.

Margot Undercliffe said...

I have always loved Olivia but Unfortunately she doesn't consider the consequences for the 'victim' and her family in pushing cases like this that are unlikely to win or be overturned on appeal. The mother came out looking terrible and the son's humiliation made public. She has lost the cop's perspective since Lewis and needs to listen to the more pragmatic. However, even last season she was shutting down conversations in the squad room. This reminded me of the Misunderstanding episode where they tried to create law and the consequences for the girl was lost ignoring Fin and Dodds. The questionable behaviour of the mother seemed to be irrelevant. I think the other mother was right: she tried to play the system but she got played and she wasn't going to advertise her disgrace. Benson should have taken the cue.

I love Barba in many ways but he has gotten himself into so much trouble following Benson. I'm sure this isn't the only judge concerned at the agenda and he is losing credibility. I wonder if he will be leaving at the end of the season because he will be in the same position with the judges as Novak. I am missing Cabot's standing up to SVU more and more each episode. I feel that it is the guilt of Lewis slipping through the court system that plays heavily in the Barba/Benson dynamic.

If there was a meeting with the teacher about Noah's issues at school, why the hell wasn't she there. Given his mother's life when she was pregnant, no doubt there will be some mental or psych issue there. Why can nothing be normal in her life.

Margot Undercliffe said...

Should read 'the pragmatic Fin'.

Lisa, you crack me up.

Alicia Gavin said...

I think this episode, while on many levels went way too far, also posed a very interesting question. Should it be legal for people to assume another's identity and use that identity for sexual consent. Maybe I'm the only one, but I found myself siding with Barba and Benson.

It's not everything is going to be completely accurate. It needs to be sensationalised for people to watch. So with that in mind, I think this episode was an important way to start a conversation. We'd all get sick and tired if it was the same case over and over, everything was 100% accurate, etc. The writers are trying to get more nuanced and I think that's great.

There were definitely weak points in this episode; Olivia should have been more careful...but ultimately, the mother made the decision to testify--therefore the death of her son is based on her actions and the suspect's...not Benson's or Barba's actions.

Like I said, it's television; but it's compelling television that is talking about a subject that most never breach. Maybe it's not perfect, but I think it's pretty great.

Laurie Fanat said...

Terrible episode. At least it gave us something to talk about.

Benson was very clear that she wanted to make a statement. So this was all about BENSON, not about the "victim." Her job is to uphold the law, not make political or legal statements. This is also why the judge came down on Barba. Even though Barba used the excuse that the grand jury indicted, a grand jury doesn't know the law and can only base their decision on what Barba presents. I assume that Barba never told the grand jury that what Tom did was not considered rape according to New York criminal code. Barba's problem is that he bought Benson's argument that she wanted to make a statement and he should instead have told her he would not pursue it because it was not illegal as far as rape.

Does a person give consent to another person for sex, or does one consent to a name? In my opinion, the person's identity is irrelevant. If anything, Alden Kessler or Hudson U could file a lawsuit against Tom for taking his identity and for damages to their reputation, but that's it. Laura had a clear case of buyer's regret. The other woman - Erin - said it very well. She was hustling Tom AKA Alden and he hustled her.

I think about Captain Cragen, and he would never allow a case like this to be pursued. He was able to step back from his personal feelings and look at the realities of the law. Benson is starting to see rapists everywhere and is willing to bend the rules just to make her statement. That is wrong. We saw Laura happily agree to the sex, and the defense attorney was right, Laura was prostituting herself to get her son into college.. I wonder how much the SVU writers are being influenced by an agenda by Mariska and her Joyful heart Foundation? How much of what we are seeing of Benson is bleeding in from Mariska's own opinions?

Barba should know better than to take this case. I would have created tension or drama in the episode by Barba standing up to Benson, not by him caving in to her. Because he didn't push back, the issue went to trial and the family was further humiliated and young man who was already on the edge emotionally took a physical walk over the edge. Benson's pushiness to make a statement helped kill that boy.

Yes Tom was a creep and it was horrible thing what he was doing. He was later charged with criminal impersonation, which is about the extent that it can be handled in criminal court.

Vim said...

- Behavior of judge - at least some judgewith personality and someone who has guts to tell Barba&Benson that they are full of BS

-Everything else

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

I agree with you and I felt we were supposed to feel this way about Benson. Why? IDK, but maybe this will be clear in the next episode, but I'm sure they won't follow up of reflect on Benson's actions this episode.

After I finished watching the episode and before I read your review I felt the same. I felt that all the mess that happened is Benson's fault because the victim says to her "Why did you make me testify?" and honestly because Benson was trying to punish a man for an nonpunishable crime that does not exist yet in the books, disregarding the effect of testifying in open court to a disgraceful thing on the victim and her son who ALREADY feels guilty and that he made his mom go to such extents. Someone really needs to stand up to Benson and show her how the real world works. and professional conflict between the characters is not a bad thing. it is actually good and will keep the element of drama in the show, without the resorting to pathetic story lines for characters, like Rollins's sister .. yuck.

I think the issue presented in the episode is interesting and could've opened good conversations and discussions between the characters in the episodes, like the show used to do before, but it didn't happen here. For example, if a person took another person's money to give him a service or a product and he did actually provide it, but it wasn't as good as the person expected it to be, like a product sold online and it looks different in person, would that be a crime?? I'm not sure if this is actually a crime according to New York law, but why this comparison wasn't made? at least as a discussion between the characters.

Jane said...

How on earth do you prosecute someone when no law was broken? I'll watch Barba anytime but this case was a waste of time. I also think it was an indictment against private and elite schools. Upper class New Yorkers are famous for doing whatever it takes to get their kids into the best schools, but moms prostituting themselves.....haven't heard that one!

Caroline Rohe said...

I feel for Barba, poor guy is getting thrown under the bus more and more with cases. And if he stands up to Benson he gets an earful from her. Looks like Barba really needs to look out for himself or he could look at his career doing down the tubes.
Though I did like the Barba/Carisi interrogation scene, could use more of those two teaming up with "team lawyers" :)

Lisa said...

Actually this is one show that needs to be accurate much as I disagree with using TV as a crutch in your personal life many women do so with this show. So them protraying lying about yourself and seeking sex making you a rapist , how many impressionable women are going to scream rape now when some man lies to them to get laid. This show has made a lot of people face their trauma , they shouldn't be inventing new avenues of trauma .


I am glad you made your recap since living in Miami Beach we might be with no service for a few days. Anyway it was good to have an episode like this be brought up it just could of been handled better, we could just go back to episodes from before say Fallacy where she was really a male should she had told her boyfriend she was a he and since he committed suicide over it should she not have been charged with murder? Just trying to compare the two since on this episode I was cheering for the defense which is not a good thing and not because I am a fan of Callie Thorne but because she was right. Sometimes the writers or producers forget they had made other episodes in the past that we could all compare cases to. By the way lasts weeks episode I haven't seen recap but it reminded of my favorite episode ever Wrath.

Anonymous said...

At this rate, Benson will have Barba fired by the end of the season at the very latest. Sadly, Barba can't stand up to Saint Benson because when he does, he's usually the designated bad guy of the episode. I mean, we all saw Terrorised, they didn't bother to write his side one good argument (even though there were several he could've brought). Anyway, at least this episode didn't let reality bend itself out of shape to support the protagonist's point of view, and it does get an interesting discussion going, so I'm willing to treat it nicely. Also, the ending was hilarious. That overblown writing, man.

Whatever happened to Barba's death threats, anyway? Oh wait, I gotta watch more episodes about Rollins' crazy sister instead. Because that's a fresh plot.

Chris Zimmer said...

@korax9 - would rather see any story arc about Barba than about Rollins' sister! (wink)

@Iron Black Sabbath Maiden - I forgot about that episode! Good memory.
Be safe, I hope the hurricane slows down before it hits Florida!


Thanks so much Chris and we are not going to get hit here in my area but unfortunately Palm Beach County that is 80 miles north of here is going to get hit hard, is moments like this that I am happy to have something like this to keep distracted from real life events. Back to the episode like I said I am glad it was made to show how there are always cases that should be taken more serious than a case like this that we or most of us actually agree this is a case that was a waste but it had to be made, also when Rollins told Carisi if a guy tells a girl he makes $200,000 a year but only makes $100,000 how is that rape if the other person agreed whether is a male or female. I write down every episode and I always remember a case from before to see what mistakes were made, I did like how 1 of the ladies said the hustler got out hustle by a better hustler. Here is something I am surprised no one has mentioned that in my opinion I think Dodds should of been in this episode cause I don't think he would have allowed to waste time on something weak and more also since he lost his son and now with how Liv pushed this case I wonder what is going to happen there, also I love when someone like Dodds or Murphy have control or power over Liv. Before I forget your Indians play my red Sox in playoffs, may the best team win.

petroa said...

Where have all the rapists gone? It used to be that the criminals pursued on this show were actual criminals. I think of villains from earlier seasons like the child pornographer in "911" and the fake psychic/real serial killer in "Pure" and then compare them to villains like this one, and I am extremely disappointed in how banal and petty it's all become. Seriously, it makes me yawn.

Alexander J said...

Benson is an angry man-hating feminist with an agenda who sees rape where there is none. This episode really shows the contempt that she has for men. Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer men are dating, getting married, and having kids? The risks are too high and the benefits are too low. We now live in an insane feminist dystopia and have a legal system which is rigged against men.

Thank god I'm gay.

Roselynn Finch said...

@Alexander Wow. How discriminatory of you. I actually see the opposite problem. They are sexist by insisting that Olivia cannot be happy without an unrealistic bed buddy and a baby from a dead mother. To me, that is sexist. It is the opposite of female empowerment and domination if she still relies on men to be happy.

Roselynn Finch said...

@Petroa Quickie is an awesome episode, too. Peter was not a rapist in the technical sense. But, unlike this one, he actually was committing a crime.

Other ones without technical rapists but still criminals:
Thought Criminal

And so forth. Each of those episodes did not have a sex crime in the technical sense. Well, Authority partially did, but that was not the focus of the episode. But SVU made it plausible and made us think. What happened to those days? When did SVU, my former favorite show (now replaced by OUAT) become more scummy than the crimes it purpotedly analyzes?

Roselynn Finch said...


Cath T said...

Stupid episode. Nothing more to say.

DarQ DawG said...

Police overreach and prosecutorial misconduct happen all the time. Not sure why people think this is unusual. Remember disbarred Mike Nifong? Police make up crimes to charge people with all the time. However, in real life the judges ususually side with the police. There's been numerous cases where police charged people with non-existent crimes. In one case, the court threw out the case because the crime didn't exist, but ruled that it was functionally equivalent to another crime so ordered a retrial. It's retarded how often stuff like this happens.

Draven Long said...

I'm one of the only ones siding with Barba and Benson. Impersonation to lure someone should be a form of rape. However, when Laura left the court, she roasted Benson in my opinion, and you can tell by the look on Benson's face.

The judge IMO is repulsive, and Callie Thorne was an excellent defense. Hopefully we see more of her in Season 18.

The episode was very meh, right until the very end. That was the scene that saved the episode for me.

The editing that Matthew Cassel did was better than any other episode of SVU's life, I believe.

Lisa said...

Really? So if I tell someone I am a super model and we have sex and he later finds out I'm just a poor government worker he can now say I raped him. You seriouly think that should be rape? People lie all the time to get laid it's morally wrong but not a crime and never should be.

Nadoosh said...

I sided with Benson in Terrorised because Ana WAS actually raped, she was a battered woman, the rapist threatened they would kill her, and her son, and they threatened that they will release a recording of her being raped, which means that her own family might kill her if they find out (as in honor killing). So yeah I truly believed she shouldn't have been prosecuted like Barba wanted.
But this episode, the guy is a serial con-artist and a creep with a clear pattern, yes he is taking advantage of women, but the law doesn't think what he is doing is wrong, so Benson must've accepted that and moved on, or Barba should've shut her down and did his damn job.

DarQ DawG said...

Not to mention, women don't even get prosecuted and can't be sued in most cases for lying about the paternity of a child. Men have married such women and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars raising children that weren't theirs. These men can't sue and they can't get justice in most cases. By your logic, such women would have to be guilty of not just rape, but fraud, grand larceny, forced marriage (by deception), and perjury if any testimony or court documents filed contained the lie. Yet no one will ever attempt to hold these women responsible for these deplorable acts. And we're supposed to be up in arms because some women don't bother to vet the people they sleep with? We are supposed to be guaranteed equal protection under the law. But it seems that's just a slogan.

JSlayerUK said...

I have to agree with the judge. It's not currently a crime. If you want to make it a crime, talk to your political representatives. I think rape by fraud could have merit, but that's a debate for the legislature. I'm surprised that Barba went along with it.

Amy Majdalani said...

Lesson learned here, infidelity just to get your kid into college is a sure fire marriage breaker. Surely, Laura must have known that coming forward that she was being unfaithful to her husband just to get her kid into Hudson (when tbh, Hudson has been the scene of many episodes. I wouldn't enroll my kid there.) And guess what, the so called admissions director she thought she was sleeping with was simply a security guard with a damn good pickup game.

As much as I love Barba, I do hope that he is more careful with the cases he brings forward just cuz Benson says it's the right thing to do.

And Benson needs to book an appointment with Dr. Lindstrom, cuz she's losing her game as a player/coach ever since Dodds died.

Nancy R said...

Just a correction: the defense attorney played by Callie Thorne is Nikki Staines, not Katherine Drexler as listed in your cast list. The judge calls her "Ms. Staines" several times.
Look forward to reading your recap & review every Thursday. Thanks.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Nancy R - thanks so much for the correction. I couldn't figure out where I got that name from until I went back to the original release of the photos by NBC and she was credited there as Katherine Drexler. Strangely, I never heard anyone mention her correct name, likely I did and thought I misheard what the person was saying. Sometimes even when listening to the episode with earphones and typing at the same time, things get lost! I think I fixed it in all the places - thanks again!


Unknown said...

Was it just me or did Rollins, Barba and Carrise's hair look really good tonight? That was really the only upside of this episode. 😃

Liesel said...

Chris, I agree with everything you said. Barba and Liv handled it all terribly and I'm annoyed that it's a crime to lie about your identity when having sex with someone but lying to a suspect (we have your fingerprints) is okay.
Also, didn't Laura "rape" Tom because she only slept with him to get her son into Hudson? Why was she portrayed as the poor victim, but the fact that she used sex to get her way is ok?
And since when is Hudson an elite school? Didn't Elliots daughter go there? Wtf? It seems like there's only one school in New York...
I think Justins suicide is part of a dramatic build-up concerning Olivia. She blames herself for Dodds death, Noahs speaking developement and so many other things. I hate that girls get raped (Townhouse Incident) and kids kill themselves just so Olivia has more guilt on her shoulders. We get it: She feel responsible for people.

I'm glad Fin has finally left the desk and is saying more than one sentence again. Throughout last season I was beginning to think he's having problems with his language developement.

Sorry for the long rant.

Amy Majdalani said...

I just had a thought, well, I've been having the same thought when I watched this episode.
Laura tries to get her way by sleeping around. And when she finds out that the so called admissions director was actually a guy pretending to be the actual admissions director, she cries rape and sends Benson and Barba on a Fool's errand. It irks me that Laura using sex to get her kid an edge into getting admitted to Hudson when there are other college choices than Hudson for someone of her sons academic level. By crying rape when clearly she had simply not bothered to do a Google Search Tom BEFORE SHE SAID YES TO HAVING SEX WITH HIM, shows just how blinded she was by her desperation. It's not the faults of Benson and Barba, it was Laura crying rape and wasting their time.

malifact said...

This was a horrible episode for a lot of reasons. The perp was repulsive but the victim was one of the most unsympathetic they've ever had in SVU. Barba's behaviour to take the case to trial was bizarre. He's stood up to Olivia before (Community Policing springs to mind) so why not here. I did laugh at Lisa's comment about Olivia persuading a woman who's winked at she was assaulted.

The Dreamer said...

I was hoping he'd get jail time. Rape by deception is a real thing & im glad they tackled the subject they also showed that the law has a way to go in some states. There are states that make this illegal. I know everyone on here is saying how it was a waste of time & all of that because everyone lies about sex but it's an actual crime just not one in NY.

Ryan Johansson said...

Probably the worst episode in the history of the show. Was utter BS and I agree with the people who argued that if this was rape then where does it end? Married men cheating and saying they aren't married would be rape, 2 people hooking up at a bar would be rape. Almost anything could be considered rape unless you have ID and a contract drawn up before sex. This episode was a joke and Benson (and Barba's) behaviour is ridiculous. Benson is hell-bent on sending anyone and everyone to jail and neither Barba or her team even disagreed or stood up to her. In past seasons especially with Stabler they would disagree about a lot of things. Nowadays no one has a thought of their own.

Margot Undercliffe said...

It would also mean under cover cops such as Amaro who had a relationship would be a rapist. Consequences not thought through hence it is for policy makers. The judge was wrong to approach Barba but right in what he said.

Jervon Louis said...

It's quite amazing that most people don't see this act as Rape. He totally masked his Identity and impersonated someone to get sex. So I can put on a literal face mask of some famous person and go about having sex with women? They didn't have consent with me, they had consent with the person I am pretending to be. Which makes it rape. But then again, when it happens to you or someone important, it would then be considered rape.

vickie field said...

Sorry NBC...Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Episode 3, Imposter...a real insult to real rape victims...disgusting. He did not force them to have sex, take away their power, they chose to prostitute themselves to get their kids into school, that is NOT RAPE. I am SO Surprised MH agreed to this episode. If the women were under age I could see it, but they are grown women, makes me vomit in my mouth that this woman feels raped, basically if he had been the Dean it would have been OK? Worst episode EVER! Minimalizing REAL rape victims...SAD!!!!!!

Chrissy said...

I feel like you guys are missing the point. You're mad at what happened in the episode. How Liv and Barba handled it. IT WAS WRITTEN THAT WAY. It's not all hero hero hero

mottie said...

Not rape, the guy clearly asked her if she was sure about having sex and she said yes. She just got played! I am a woman and I can't see as being raped! I'm pretty sure her son would rather worked his way through college than to see his mom act as a prostitute to get him in college. Very sad!