Thursday, January 19, 2017
Law & Order SVU “Decline and Fall” Recap & Review
“Decline and Fall” was an average episode, predictable and, for some reason, very familiar. I feel like I’ve seen the same premise on a previous episode from either SVU or one of the other Law & Order incarnations. Maybe it was just a mash up of a few “ripped from the headlines” stories? I had strong déjà vu throughout the episode.
The case was fairly cut and dry; the detectives didn’t have to look far to find their perp. In fact, the detectives seemed a little lazy on this one. Case in point: the search or Eric’s bedroom, which was half hearted at best and stopped once they found a small bag of pills. I would have expected a more thorough search. As they didn’t know what kind of pills were in the bag they found, I would have expected them to continue to search the room to look for more pills.
It is clear that Lawrence and/or Cynthia were using a possible mental defect as an excuse, but there were actually signs that Lawrence may have had some sort of developing mental problem. He invited Rollins to a party that already happened, and he also called Sarah “Monica”. Also, the others at the meeting the in the board room were rolling their eyes at what Lawrence was saying; was that from his admissions that he had sex with Sarah or was it because they know Lawrence was a little off in the head? I am in no way defending what he did to Sarah, only that had Cynthia formally questioned his mental capacity before this case, Sarah may not have been raped and Cynthia may have found herself in charge at the company. Of course, some action should have been taken against Lawrence when he drugged and likely raped Larry's wife, Eric’s mother. Families and their secrets – they always come back to haunt.
I usually don’t discuss the promo for the next episode during my review but in this case I am making an exception. As of this writing, the next new SVU episode to air will be February 8, 2017, “Motherly Love”, billed as the 400th SVU episode. Those of us that can count know that, as they are running reruns the next two weeks, this will really be the 399th episode in the airing schedule. This is one of those screw-ups that just make me, and other serious SVU fans, a little crazy. I don’t think they can even use the excuse that it’s the 400th in filming sequence, as “Unstoppable” was filmed months ago and has yet to air, if it airs at all. I’m not going to lose any sleep over this error, but admit it doesn’t give me a lot of confidence on how the show is being run.
Update January 27, 2017 - a deleted scene from this episode is at the end of my recap.
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.
Bob Gunton - Lawrence Hendricks Sr.
Sarah Clarke - Cynthia Hendricks
Ariane Rinehart - Sarah Morrissey
Ian Nelson - Eric Hendricks
Raphael Sbarge - Atty. Harold Timmons
Jim True-Frost - Lawrence Hendricks Jr.
Jackie Debatin - Sue Ann Daly
Kathryn Kates - Judge Marlene Simons
Andrea Burns -
Helmar Augustus Cooper – Judge Reginald Flowers
Gail Bennett – Justine
Annika Pegament – Newscaster
A birthday party for Lawrence Hendricks Sr., the head of Avalon Stores, is underway, with company employees and his daughter Cynthia, son Larry, and grandson Eric attending. There are also beautiful young women. He makes a speech and says his daughter will eventually take over the company. His girlfriend Sue Ann is also there, and Eric asks Lawrence is she is okay with all those girls. Sue Ann hears this and says it is Lawrence’s birthday and he deserves to have a little fun. When Eric asks if Lawrence can introduce him to one of them, Lawrence says he will do him a favor and not, he should do it on his own and build his confidence. He also tells him to go easy on the spirits, and to always stay sharper than your targets. Eric’s father, Larry, glowers at Lawrence. Eric decides to hit on the bartender, Sarah, but she tells him she is working now.
Later, as everyone is gone and Sarah is cleaning up, he continues to hit on her and offers her a drink and she agrees. She moves to pour him a drink but instead he wants to pour her some 100% agave from his flask. She drinks a shot.
In the morning, Sarah wakes up, finding her pants pulled down and her blouse open. She pulls up her pants and buttons her blouse, then grabs her purse and phone and races out of the apartment.
At SVU, Benson is signing some paperwork as Carisi and Rollins arrive. Carisi asks if Fin is staying home to cram for the sergeant’s exam, and Benson says yes. Carisi says he should go over there later. Rollins tells him no, that Fin said he had a sleep learning system; he plays tapes with a speaker under his pillow. Benson smiles as Carisi asks if Fin is kidding, and Rollins replies she doesn’t know. Benson sees a woman - Sarah - enter the squad room and Benson walks over and introduces herself. Sarah says she is not sure; she thinks she has been raped. Benson asks if she can tell her what happened, and Sarah explains she can’t, she doesn’t remember…anything.
In the hospital, Sarah explains she was bartending a birthday party for an old guy who owns Avalon stores. Benson states Lawrence Hendricks, and Sarah says yeah, she started working as a cater waiter to pay for school; his apartment was huge and the view…that’s all she can remember. Benson asks that she doesn’t remember having sex, and Sarah answers no, but when she woke up this morning on a couch in the middle of the living room, she could tell. Her pants were down and she was sore, and she just ran out of there. Benson explains her rape kit turned up semen and a little bit of bruising. Sarah says she knew it, she must have been drugged or something. Benson explains they are doing her blood work and urine tests right now, and asks if she had anything to drink, adding not that it matters. Sarah says she doesn’t know, but she isn’t supposed to drink at work, and even if she did, it wouldn’t make her like that. She doesn’t recall talking to anyone earlier in the evening, it was just a bunch of old guys ordering drinks. She recalls there was one young guy who talked to her, she does not remember his name but he was around her age. He smiled a lot, that is all she can remember.
Back at SVU, Rollins tells Carisi and Benson that if they are looking for a young guy, it’s not Lawrence Hendricks, he’s 75. Carisi quips: don’t you get to subtract 10 years for every billion dollars you have? Rollins replies he’s down from his peak and Avalon stock is sinking, and Wall Street is saying Hendricks is staying on past his prime. Benson states he still has the energy for “bunga-bunga” parties with Italian models. Carisi explains wife #4 disapproved and got a divorce and there was a nasty lawsuit over the prenup. Rollins adds that his current live-in is Sue Ann Daley, a freelance communication consultant. Benson recaps they have a probable rape at the home of a geriatric playboy billionaire and all their victim remembers is a young guy who smiled a lot. Carisi asks where does she want them to start, and she instructs them to start at Hendricks' office and get a list of every guy under 20 who was at the party.
At Avalon Stores headquarters at 629 Lexington Avenue on Monday, January 9, Rollins and Carisi speak with the receptionist, Justine who explains the Hendricks household handled the party invitations. Justine was not there, wryly stating she had a “head cold.” Lawrence Sr. exits a room and calls to Justine, who announces the detectives are asking about his party. Lawrence points to Rollins, calling her “sweetheart” and saying she should come, she’d have a good time. Rollins comments they were under the impression the party was last night. He says of course it was. Carisi states they would like to talk to some people who were at the party last night, Lawrence says he was there, and Cynthia is passing by and introduces herself. Rollins holds up a photo of Sarah and asks Lawrence if he recognizes her. He says she is a pleasant looking woman, and when Rollins shows the photo to Cynthia, Cynthia says she may have ordered a drink from her and asks why. Rollins explains she may have been assaulted, and Cynthia is shocked this would have happened at the party in front of 100 people. Carisi comments they are still investigating, asking if there were any young male guests. Cynthia replies it was mostly friends, company executives, and older crowd. Lawrence adds there was Eric, but he is sure he didn’t assault anybody; he lives with him and is a fine boy, a real up and comer. He is his grandson and Cynthia’s nephew and works there as a trainee. Rollins asks if he is here now as they would like to speak with him.
They show the photo to Eric who says that is Sarah and they hung out for a while. He asks if something is wrong and Carisi explains she said she was assaulted. Eric is surprised and Cynthia explains he does not have to talk to them. But Eric comments it is alright, saying this is crazy and asks what happened. Rollins questions what he and Eric did when they hung out, and he explains they went up to his room and did have sex but it was totally consensual. Cynthia interjects she thinks this is a case where a girl is confused or perhaps she sees a rich target here. Carisi states that anything is possible and they are not jumping to conclusions. Rollins, who gets a message on her phone, adds not yet, something did come up, saying they would like to talk to him down at the station and help them clear this up. But Cynthia says no, telling Eric he does not have to go. But he gets his jacket and says it is alright, he didn’t do anything wrong, he swears.
At SVU in interrogation, Eric has heard from Carisi and Rollins that Sarah was on Quaaludes. He does not know how she got them. She only took two tequila shots from his flask but he drank from that too. They just started talking and she asked to see his bedroom but he did not take that to mean she wanted sex at first. Eric explains they started making out and she was into it, but when Carisi and Rollins press on whether she said the word “yes”, Eric comments he guesses his grandfather was right, you do need a signed contract to kiss a girl. Benson enters the room and brings in Larry Hendricks, Eric’s father. Larry tells Eric he is leaving with him and not going home to his grandfather. When Carisi says he and his wife can sit in, Larry says his ex-wife is in Italy and he is sure neither of them want to be there. Larry pulls Eric out of the room. After they leave, Benson comments that she takes it his grandfather’s house is more fun than his dad’s and asks if they got anything. Rollins says consensual sex and Sarah denied the drugs. Benson states Barba is getting a search warrant.
At the residence of Lawrence Hendricks at 147 West 54th Street on Monday, January 9, Sue Ann Daly wonders if she should call a lawyer as Carisi and Rollins race up to Eric’s room. When Sue Ann asks what is going on, Rollins explains the complaint made by Sarah and when Rollins shows her a photo of Sarah, Sue Ann does not recall her, adding she went to bed early. When Carisi finds condoms and some weed, Sue Ann runs off to call a lawyer. Carisi then finds a small pack of meds that Rollins thinks are Quaaludes. She says she will send them to the lab and they leave the room.
Later at SVU with Benson, Sarah has heard they found Quaaludes in her blood and she does not know what that is. They walk into her office as Benson explains that is Methaqualone which induces a euphoric, hypnotic state and cause memory loss. They were found in Lawrence Hendricks’ apartment. Benson has Sarah look at a photo array and she picks out Eric. Benson explains who Eric is and Sarah thinks Eric was the man she spoke to. Benson explains Eric said they had consensual sex, and Sarah gets upset, saying she does not recall that or anything else. When she gets up as if to leave, Benson explains there is one more thing: the lab results found semen from two men in her rape kit. Sarah freaks and then gets angry, telling Benson to find the men who did this to her. She storms out. Benson whispers that they will.
At a later time, Eric is in SVU with his attorney Harold Timmons who, when he hears Rollins and Carisi are asking if Eric saw Sarah with anyone else, realizes they have another suspect. They mention the Quaaludes in his room and ask him to cooperate. Eric says no one else was there, she was just tending bar before that and he fell asleep after. He had more tequila than she did and when he woke up she was gone. He denies raping her and does not remember. Meanwhile, Benson and Barba watches from her office, and Barba comments that this kid has amnesia. Benson counters he could know more than he is saying. Benson gets a message and tells Barba it is the final report on the DNA – one is Eric’s and the other is a familial match. Barba wonders which of Eric’s male family members were at the party, and Benson explains it was Lawrence and Larry; Lawrence, pushing 80 and a serial philanderer, and Larry, who shut down the first interrogation. Barba wonders if it was to cover his own ass.
At the Hendricks Foundation at 162 Greene Street on Tuesday, January 10, Carisi speaks with Larry who explains he runs that family’s charitable foundation. He likes to be away from the business side. When Carisi brings up his son living with his grandfather, Larry says that is under discussion, adding Eric should be in college and his father doesn’t see the point. Carisi asks what time he left the party, and Larry states he saw the cake, had his picture taken and he left and was home by 9:30. Carisi shows him the warrant for Larry’s DNA and Larry wonders if this means they cleared his son. Carisi states they are still investigating and Larry complies with the warrant.
Meanwhile, Rollins serves the warrant to Lawrence, handing it to Cynthia, while Lawrence is in the board room in a meeting. Cynthia is annoyed at the timing and when Rollins asks Lawrence to open up, he tells her he will save her the time, he had sex with Sarah. While the others in the meeting look appalled, he continues to blather on until Cynthia says that is enough. But he goes on, and when Rollins mentions Quaaludes, he says he has no idea what she is talking about. Rollins continues to question him and Cynthia stops him again and says Rollins can take her sample but he doesn’t have to answer any of her questions.
Later, Sarah is back in Benson’s office and explains that sometimes memory comes back in pieces and Benson wants to show her photos to jog her memory. As they go through the photo, she does recall some things and that Eric wanted to show her some photos from Africa and she went to his room. He recalls that they did have sex and she wanted to. She is sure and is sorry, asking how much trouble she got him in and Benson says none if that I the way she remembers it. She does. There is no way the other man was consensual and asks if they know who it was. Benson explains they do and shows Sarah a photo of Lawrence. Sarah looks repulsed and says that has to be a mistake. She freaks. Benson explains that Lawrence said they did have sex and the DNA matches, but Sarah is disgusted, saying there is no way she would have sex with him. She does not recall having a drink with him and thinks he was the one who drugged her. Benson suspects the drugs were planted but they don’t know. Benson explains there is a way Sarah can help them.
In Carl Schurz Park on Wednesday, January 11, Sarah meets up with Lawrence and Cynthia is with them. Sarah comments Lawrence was supposed to come alone, but Cynthia comments that anything she can say to Lawrence she can say to her. When Sarah tries to cut it off, Cynthia and Lawrence want to go along and Sarah says she wants an apology. Lawrence says the morning after regrets are so tacky and when Sarah mentions he drugged her, he says she needed to relax and he should be thanking her. Cynthia chides him but he goes on and says she enjoyed it. He calls her Monica and says it is not a big deal. Cynthia tries to stop him again and says they are leaving but it is too late, the SVU team arrives. Hearing all of this, Benson tells Lawrence he is under arrest while Carisi cuffs him. Benson reads him his rights and Lawrence tells Cynthia to call Timmons.
Back at SVU, Carisi leads Timmons into the interrogation room where Rollins and Lawrence are waiting. They explain what Lawrence said on tape but Timmons says Cynthia disputes this. They continue to question Lawrence and Timmons tried to imply that Sarah sleeps around and is a drug user and they will be posting bail.
In the courthouse hall, Barba hears this is his defense and Benson says Lawrence feels Sarah is a drug using party girl who likes old men. Benson adds he is a billionaire with unlimited resources and will go after Sarah hard. Barba thinks they have a strong case, he practically admitted to drugging and raping her on tape and they found Quaaludes in his apartment. Benson hopes that is enough, but Barba thinks no jury is going to look at Sarah and then Hendricks and believe this was consensual, adding it is a slam dunk. But Barba gets a message and groans, saying Cynthia just filed a motion to have her father declared mentally incompetent. Benson is stunned and Barba smirks and nods. Benson says he doesn’t have dementia; he may be revolting but he’s as smart as hell. Barba says that is why he is pretending to be incompetent.
In Civil Court Part 14 on Tuesday, January 24, Barba is present while the two parties, Cynthia and Lawrence and their attorneys, argue his competency. Barba interject that this petition was brought in bad faith to undermine a criminal proceeding. As they all start to argue the motives for the petition, the judge shuts Barba down. As the attorneys argue competency, the judge allows a hearing on the issue to proceed.
Later, Timmons gives Judge Flowers a court order appointing Cynthia as guardian of her father due to his mental incapacity. Barba is present and he answers “So?” to this order, explaining that this is not civil court it is criminal and there is a different standard and different issue. It is no more relevant to the rape charged than if Mr. Hendricks was charged Miss America. Timmons says they are changing their plea to not guilty due to mental defect so it is relevant.
Back at SVU, Barba explains this to Benson who says there is a lower burden of proof for civil court and doesn’t understand how this can be used for Lawrence’s defense. Barba explains he made the same argument and the judge disagreed, who said it was up to the jury to determine its probative value. He explains they prove their case based on the evidence just like before and they chip away at Hendricks’ new defense and make the jury see it for what it is – a sham. Benson thinks it is a family conspiracy; the daughter gets what she wants – control of the company now – and Lawrence gets a free pass on a rape charge. Barba says it is not going to happen, and when Benson comments he seems pretty confident, he says it’s more like angry. Benson thinks this is even better.
In Supreme Court Part 14 on Thursday, January 26, Sarah is on the stand and Barba plays back the video they took where Lawrence admits what he did. Sarah explains she still has no recall but that Lawrence admitted it and tried to buy her off and tried to excuse it. He was rational. Under cross, Sarah states that what Lawrence did was sick and Timmons focuses on the word “sick.”
Afterwards, Barba, Benson, Rollins and Carisi discuss the testimony and Benson says Hendricks’ trick is to make sure the drug wouldn’t allow Sarah to remember. Barba suspects that with Lawrence’s attitude on the tape he has done this before. Rollins says no one has come forward, they’ve looked. But Benson sees Sue Ann and thinks she might know his tricks. Barba wonders if she would testify against the billionaire she is sponging off of. Benson thinks maybe if they give her a reason to.
At a later time, Sue Ann is in Barba’s office along with Benson. Benson accuses her of planting the Quaaludes and that her prints were on the bag. Barba says either be arrested or show up to testify at 9 AM tomorrow. She is outraged and leaves. Barba asks if Sue Ann did plant the drugs, and Benson says if she shows up at 9 AM she did. Benson admits to Barba the prints on the bag were inconclusive. Barba tells Benson she is very good.
In Supreme Court Part 15 on Friday, January 27, Sue Ann is on the stand and admits she planted the pills. She says Lawrence likes to use them when they have sex, not with her consent. He tries to hide it but she knows. Under cross, Sue Ann explains that Lawrence likes movies and they all seem from the 1970s.
Later, Lawrence is on the stand and is reluctant to tell Timmons what year it is. He admits to the Quaaludes, calling them thigh-openers. He says Sarah was already partying with Eric and afterwards it was his turn. He sees nothing wrong with it. Under cross, Barba tries to make it clear that Lawrence knows exactly what year it is buy using many current examples, even the growth of the company. Barba questions him about his age as well and Lawrence deflects. When Barba asks if Lawrence is aware drugging and raping women was illegal in 1975, Timmons objects and Barba withdraws the question and ends the questioning.
Afterwards, Barba, along with Benson, explain to Larry and Eric that Lawrence’s insanity defense seems to be working. Benson chides Eric for not telling them he and Sarah had a late night drink with his grandfather and Barba explains if it is true, that is important information. Eric thinks Lawrence is a good person but Larry says he isn’t. Eric thinks Larry is mad because Lawrence fired him and that his loser mother had a crush on Lawrence. Larry is stunned and Eric adds that his grandfather said his mother was a party girl who liked to have fun. Larry lunges at Eric and grabs him and Benson tries to step in. Larry gets in Eric’s face and tells Eric not to say that about his mother. Eric refused to testify against his grandfather. Eric storms out, and Larry then asks if they need help putting his grandfather away, saying to put him on the stand.
At a later time, Larry is on the stand who testifies he thinks his father just does not want to go to jail. Under cross, Larry thinks his sister just wants to take over the company. Larry says his father did not boot him out of the company, he walked away. Timmons brings up a newspaper article from 1996 and has Larry read it out loud. He reads it back, and the article mentions his wife Monica. Larry admits he was happy there. Timmons mentions two months later, Larry was out and exiled from the company. Larry admits it is no secret he doesn’t like his father and when Timmons says Larry wouldn’t mind seeing him go to jail, Barba objects, saying this is argumentative. Timmons withdraws the question but says it is clear why this witness is here. Barba re-directs, asking Larry why he is here, and he says to tell the truth.
Afterwards, Benson stops Larry as he exits the courtroom, and asks him if he told the whole truth. She mentions his ex-wife’s name is Monica and then explains on the tape from the part, his father called Sarah “Monica.” She asks why he would call a woman he just raped by Larry’s ex’s name, and Larry clams up, saying it was a mistake. She presses and asks why they got divorced, and he says it is none of her business. But Benson says it is Sarah’s business, Lawrence raped her and god knows how many others and it is all of their business. She doesn’t know if he is embarrassed or guilty or trying to protect the family name, but she is pretty sure Eric is trying to protect his grandfather and it’s time he told his son what kind of man Lawrence really is. Maybe that will convince him to tell the truth.
Later, in Barba’s office, Barba and Benson, along with Larry, speak to Eric and explain the situation. Eric says his grandfather made a mistake but Barba says Eric lied to the police and he can charge him with obstruction. Larry tries to convince him to tell the truth, and Eric is surprised Larry wants to put his own father in jail; adding he would not do that to him. They continue to argue the point and then Larry explains what his father did: when Monica was just pregnant with him, she was beautiful. Lawrence had a party at the penthouse and Larry got called away to the office. Lawrence gave Monica a “special drink” and while Eric continues to be in denial, Larry says that his mother and he never got over it. He adds this is why they got divorced, and that is who his grandfather is.
In Supreme Court Part 15 on Monday, January 30, Eric is on the stand and testifies that when he and Sarah left the bedroom. Lawrence was by the bar. He already made a few drinks and proposed a nightcap. Eric reached for one of the drinks and Lawrence said no, not that one, and he gave that one to Sarah. His grandfather is aware of the current year and Lawrence always says he likes having Eric around the office because he understands the new generation and asked him last month to come up with a promotion around Pokeman Go. On the night he gave Sarah that drink, he winked at him, and said that he misses the old days. Eric apologizes to Sarah, saying she should have known. Lawrence leaps up and yells at Eric that he is soft like his father, and as the judge tells him that is enough, Lawrence shouts he was just trying to show him how to be a man. Despite being told to sit down, he continues to shout. Eric is stunned. Barba ends the questioning and Benson shows Sarah her support.
Back at SVU, Benson, Carisi, and Rollins are watching the news story about Lawrence Hendricks being found guilty of rape. Carisi comments that he guesses this the end of Eric’s career at Avalon, and Rollins adds Cynthia’s too. Carisi’s phone rings and he answers it. Rollins asks Benson if she thinks Eric’s generation is any better than his grandfather’s or just different. Carisi comments that he has another rape in a bathroom at Murray Hill Bar. Benson replies she doesn’t think it is any better or different, it’s just…younger. Another phone rings and as Benson answers it, we fade to black.
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