I thought the writing was solid, made good use of the cast, and the theme was well carried through the episode. The issue with whether the job makes the person or the person makes the job is something relevant to Benson, Carisi, and to Tom Cole. The job amplified the “dark side” of Tom Cole and I don’t think that point was lost on Benson and Carisi.
I didn’t care too much for the opening office scene; they seemed to spend too much time on a boring business discussion. I am sure they were just trying to establish some of the key players in Quinn's circle but it would have made more sense to have the work argument in the bar scene and instead show Ryan breaking his glass and getting thrown out, rather than keep that fact hidden until later.
I enjoyed the line where Fin, questioning someone in a church, asks one person to tell him what time “the damn meeting” ended. That was typical Fin.
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.
Robert John Burke – Captain Ed Tucker
Chris Bauer - Sgt. Tom Cole
Annie Monroe - Quinn Berris
Zach Appleman – Ryan Engel
Ben Cole - Ray Wilson
Enid Graham - Linda Cole
Bret Lada – Jack Price
Shaun O’Hagan – Rev. Harold Parson
Lee Garrett – Nate
Nathan Chang - Brad Kinjo
Manini Gupta – Drew Howard
Emma Ramos - Madeline
Benson and Tucker are having dinner at a nice restaurant. Benson comments that the food is fantastic and comments that is Korean/Mexican fusion. Tucker laughs and states he lives three blocks from this place and never knew it existed. Benson says it takes time to explore. Tucker gets a serious look and comments, “Exactly” and when Benson asks if something is wrong, Tucker explains no, just the opposite. He adds that everything is just right; he’s healthy, he’s reasonably sane, and he is having dinner with an amazing, beautiful woman. When Benson adds, “But…”, Tucker comments that he thinks he might put the shield down. Benson is shocked that he is considering retirement, and asks to do what. Tucker replies it would be to do nothing, to smell the damn flowers, hopefully with someone like her. She takes a breath and picks up her phone and glances at is as Tucker explains he has been doing this a long time and at a certain point, you know enough is enough. He adds that the job will swallow you whole if you let it. She tells him, “So don’t let it.” He asks if she is saying she is not ready. She replies that she is saying she just had a great dinner with a great man – he comments she is deflecting – and she says maybe. She reaches over to hold his hand and says, “We both know this hasn’t been quite as easy as they both thought it would be.” Tucker says he knows, but asks her to be honest, asking what does the future hold – for her, for them. She looks at him and doesn’t answer.
Meanwhile, Quinn Berris is at a work meeting with Ryan and Brad, and afterward, they head to a bar. She focuses on another person in the bar and when Ryan asks what is it, Quinn replies nothing, adding she thought she saw someone that she knew. She calls to Nate the bartender for another round for everyone.
Later, she is nervously walking home. She opens the gate and walks through the courtyard toward her home, opening that door as well. But before she steps in, someone walks up behind her and puts his hand over her mouth, pushing her in the doorway. She screams.
Later, Benson arrives on this scene and Fin is there, apologizing for the late call. Fin explains the victim is Quinn Berris, she is 27 and lives alone. She called 911 at 11:25 and said a guy in a mask jumped her, pushed he into her apartment and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. He is already on getting surveillance footage and talking to the neighbors. Benson and Fin enter the apartment, and Benson speaks with Quinn. Quinn, still in shock, says the man wore a black mask, and he was of medium height and build. She could not tell if he was black or white, but says it doesn’t really matter, she thinks she knows who did it. His name is Ray Wilson, and he has been stalking her since college.
Afterward, Benson is at a hospital with Quinn and she asks Quinn to tell her more about Ray Wilson. Quinn explains they met at Rutgers and they went on one date. She was not interested but he would not leave her alone, texting her and following her, leaving notes on her car and buying her gifts. He even followed her to her parent’s house. She got a restraining order but he didn’t care. One day after class, he was in her closet. He did not assault her but she threw her coffee at him and she ran to the bathroom and locked the door and called 911. The police came 5 minutes later. He went to prison and got out on parole last year and moved back to Paterson. He later sent a letter of apology to her office and that made her nervous so she called Sergeant Cole, he is the officer that saved her that night. They became friends; she went to college with his daughter. He is retired now but she asked him to make sure Ray wasn’t still obsessed with her. She should have called NYPD. Benson tells her the only thing she needs to worry about is herself, saying she will be okay and will get through this.
Later in the SVU squad room, Carisi explains to Benson that Ray Wilson, 27, was convicted 4 years ago of breaking and entering and attempted sexual assault and was paroled in October. There are no other priors. Fin explains he just spoke to Quinn’s neighbors and nobody saw or heard anything, and they are looking at surveillance but so far, nothing. Rollins explains there was no semen or DNA from the rape kit; the perp used a condom and they found the ripped packet underneath her bed and they are running that for prints and DNA. Carisi adds the only forensic evidence they have is a cigarette butt found in the courtyard in front of Quinn’s door. Benson hopes the lab comes up with DNA, otherwise they have a whole lot of nothing. Rollins reminds her about Ray Wilson, and Carisi asks if Benson wants them to track him down. Benson says no, adding to talk to Sgt. Cole first; the more they know about Ray Wilson beforehand, the better. She suggests to Carisi that they take a ride to Jersey.
At the residence of Tom Cole, at 204 Cooper Avenue in Montclair, New Jersey on Saturday, January 7, Benson and Carisi arrive to see Tom playing outside with a group of kids. They make introductions and move inside the house. His wife Linda comments she will leave them to talk shop. Tom explains he spoke to Quinn who says she is devastated and terrified and is convinced Ray did this. He is close to Quinn, he and his wife took her in. He spoke to Ray after he sent that letter last month and Quinn got nervous so he paid Ray a visit. It went okay but adds that Ray is screwed up and clearly still obsessed with Quinn. Tom gave him a “tutorial” on how parole works and reminded him he is not allowed to contact her or live within 35 miles of her but Ray can make a living wherever he wants. He is a chef at some French place in the city about 20 blocks from Quinn’s apartment, he thinks it is called Lafayette. Benson gives Tom her card and asks if he thinks of anything else to give them a call. Benson asks him about retirement, asking how does that feel. Tom replies that he should have done it years ago.
Outside the house, Benson is on the phone with Rollins and says that Ray works in a restaurant called Lafayette Grand Café. She tells Rollins to grab Fin and get over there and talk to Ray as soon as they can. She gets off the phone and takes a deep breath and looks at the surroundings and Carisi asks if everything is okay. She replies yeah, she’s just thinking. Carisi asks what about, and she replies “about the next chapter.” Carisi asks, “And?” to which Benson smiles and replies, “And that’s the end of this conversation.” She gets into the car.
At the Lafayette Grand Café at 380 Lafayette Street on Saturday, January 7, Fin and Rollins speak with Ray about Quinn and asks where he was last night. He says he was praying at his church group in Belmont. When they explain she was assaulted. He says he was there from 7 until about 10:30. When Fin comments that is a lot of praying, Ray snipes back and says he didn’t think there was a time limit. Rollins asks for the names of all the men and women he was there with.
Later, Fin and Rollins speak with people at the church to confirm whether Ray was there, Fin asking one person to tell him what time “the damn meeting” ended.
Back at SVU, Carisi tells Benson he’s had no luck with the surveillance footage. She tells him to keep searching and send more unis down to the scene and have them canvass the neighborhood and show them photos of Ray. Maybe he has been hanging around watching and waiting. Carisi asks if she thinks it is him, and Benson replies sometimes the answer is as simple as it seems, citing Occam's razor. Carisi wonders if Ray did find God while in the can, and Benson says it is possible but prison usually changes you for the worse, not the better. Carisi comments, “Like being a cop” and Benson stops, turns, and looks at Carisi and asks, “Who are you, and what have you done with Carisi? You really feel that way?” He tells her to talk to him in 20 years. She replies that she will, and he will realize that the job doesn’t change you, it makes you more of who you already are. Fin and Rollins arrive and explain Ray Wilson is telling the truth. He was praying – and cleaning. There is video of him doing dishes in the church at 10:50 and he would not have enough time to get to Quinn’s. Benson comments “so much for Occam’s razor.”
Sometime later, with Quinn in the interview room, Benson and Carisi explain it was likely not Ray. Carisi asks about when she was last at work or at the bar and she mentions she thought someone was staring at her. She admits she may be paranoid. She admits Ray had not been stalking her for years, since Ray moved back to New Jersey she feels like someone is watching her. She never saw anybody actually watching her, it is just a feeling and sense that there is a dark energy focused in her direction. A guy she is dating saw someone once staring at her apartment early one morning and later that day he say that same guy staring at her apartment from across the street. This was about three weeks ago. The man was white and about her age and she assumed it was Ray. Her ex is Jack Price and Carisi asks for the name of the bar she was at the night she was assaulted.
At Wise Men at 355 Bowery on Sunday, January 8, Nate the bartender tells Fin and Rollins he knows who Quinn is and she works across the street. She was there two nights ago with co-workers. He says everybody stares at her, she is beautiful, and she has honest, intense energy. Rollins comments he is starting to worry her, but he says Quinn is amazing. He didn’t notice anyone stalking her or acting weird but she did get into an intense argument with her work buddy and he smashed a beer bottle on the floor and he had to kick him out.
Afterward and Quinn’s company, Fin and Rollins speak with Ryan who says it was nothing, they are arguing about a client getting in touch with the millennial movement. He says he and Quinn have been working together four years and they like and respect each other and they are good friends. She called him the day after it happened and he told her to come and stay at his apartment. When they challenge him on where did he go after he left the bar, Ryan laughs and asks if they are seriously doing the whole alibi thing. Rollins says they look pretty serious and tells him to take his time and walk through every detail.
They then speak with Quinn’s ex Jack Price who says he confronted the man he saw outside her apartment and the man asked if he was dating Quinn and Jack told him to mind his own business. The man swore at him and pushed him so Jack hit him in the face and never saw him again. He did not tell Quinn about his as he did not want to freak her out. They show him a photo of Ray and it was not him but they show him a photo of Ryan.
Later, they have Ryan in SVU interrogation and he tells Rollins he was just doing due diligence, he just wanted to know if Quinn was dating Jack. He wanted to invite Quinn for a weekend in Aspen but insists he was not stalking her. He thought he and Quinn were connecting and one night they kissed but she shut him down,. He could not let her go and he couldn’t stop thinking about her with some random guy. He begs Rollins not to tell Quinn about this as she will never forgive him but Rollins gets him back to him and the night of the assault. After Jack hit him he never went back to that place but he did call her after he left the bar to apologize but she did not pick up. When he called, he was outside a Korean deli right near his apartment. He bought chocolate almonds and a pack of cigarettes, admitting he smokes occasionally. Rollins reminds him it is bad for his health and causes cancer, even for millennials.
Meanwhile, Benson and Fin are watching from her office and she says out loud for Ryan not to put the shovel down, to keep digging. Fin says Ryan is annoying but his gut says he is not their guy. Benson says that is good but DNA is better. Carisi walks in and breaks the news that the DNA on the cigarette butt is a match for Ray Wilson. Benson is surprised as Ray has an airtight alibi. Benson wonders how his cigarette butt got there.
Later, Benson and the detectives review the facts and Carisi adds the lab said the butt was too pristine to be in the rain. The think someone followed Ray waiting for him to drop the butt and then planted it. Benson suggests they go back to Ray to see if he recalls someone watching or following him. Rollins thinks the stalker was being stalked.
At 53 Franklin Street in Paterson, New Jersey on Monday, January 9, Fin and Rollins stop Ray as he is getting out of his car and say they believe him and they think the butt was planted. He says he did notice a car parked near the restaurant – a black Cadillac – and he was taking a smoke break and the car was double parked and the engine was running. This was the day before they accused him of the assault. He did not see a face or a plate, he is not a cop, he’s a chef – at least he used to be. After the detectives showed up at the restaurant, he got fired.
Back at SVU Fin and Rollins have surveillance footage from outside the Lafayette restaurant and they see the black Cadillac that Ray mentioned and they see a person run to the restaurant and then quickly back to the car. Carisi explains the car is registered to Linda Cole – the wife of Tom Cole. Benson realizes Tom planted the evidence and Rollins wonders if it was to cover that Tom was the perp. Benson think it is the latter as the butt was taken before the assault occurred. Benson tells Rollins to go back to Cole and see if he admits to parking his car outside the restaurant and catch him in a lie. She tells them to be careful; he may be retired but he is still a cop.
At Jake’s Diner at 414 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair New Jersey on Tuesday, January 10, Fin and Rollins speak with Tom and explain the cigarette butt had Ray’s DNA on it but the timeline is spotty. They use the excuse that they have to rule out every man Quinn spoke to. Tom says he had a nice dinner with his wife and then went downstairs to work on his new wine cellar. Rollins says Ray got fired at the restaurant and Fin asks if that is where he spoke to Ray. Tom says he never went there, he spoke to him in Jersey outside his apartment. They thank him for his help and as Rollins and Fin walks off, Rollins mutters to Fin that Tom is lying his ass off.
Meanwhile, Benson and Carisi speak with Linda at the school where she works they make up a statement that Quinn said she was at their house. Linda denies this and she gives the same alibi as Tom. But as they press her and Benson says Tom is a suspect, Linda gets upset and caves and says Tom was in the basement for a while but he was angry and distracted and then he left and said he was going to Home Depot and didn’t see him until the morning. He told her to say he was home all night if asked. Benson encourages Linda to stay somewhere else and they will be in touch.
As Benson leaves the school with Carisi, she is on the phone with Rollins and tells Rollins that Linda blew Tom’s alibi wide open. She instructs Rollins to call Barba and have him issue an arrest warrant and to track down Quinn, she thinks she is staying at the Park Milano with her mother and tell her what is going on.
At the Park Milano Hotel at 90 West 56th Street on Wednesday, January 11, they find that Quinn left 20 minutes ago with a man. Fin shows a photo of Tom but the desk clerk isn’t sure if it was him. Rollins tries to call Quinn and leaves a message to call her or Benson as soon as she gets the message. Fin states he will call Benson to let her know what is going on.
Benson and Carisi arrive at Linda’s home looking for Quinn and pressure Linda to find out where is Tom. She admits that his brother has an old farmhouse is Harding and he is never there and Tom has been doing some renovation work for him. Benson asks for the exact address.
Afterwards, as Benson and Carisi drive to the house, Rollins, on the phone, explains that there are no hits on the BOLO. Benson explains they are checking on the lead at the farmhouse and then will head back to the city. Rollins then explains she got and EZ Pass photo from the GW Bridge which is 45 minutes old and it clearly shows Tom and Quinn. Benson tells Rollins to call the state police and FBI now and they need all the help they can get. Rollins does so.
Benson and Carisi arrive at the house and they look around, putting on their gear. Benson stresses to Carisi to be careful. They approach the house carefully and see the black Cadillac. They see Tom at a window who has a gun, and Benson says “gun” and pulls Carisi down behind the car. Benson calls out to Tom and Quinn screams. Carisi calls in for backup and states the situation. Benson gets a call and it is Tom. He tells her to leave but she wants to talk this through. She tries to get him to let Quinn go but he refuses. She continues to try to talk him down but he calls it psychobabble. She explains that SWAT and FBI are on their way, and Carisi tries to get into the house. Tom has a gun to Quinn’s head and he rages on the phone with Benson about how Quinn refused to take his calls and canceled dinner. She continues to try to talk him down as his rant continues. Meanwhile, Carisi gets into the house and Tom walks away from Quinn to watch for someone else entering. Benson continues to talk and brings up his wife and daughter. But he is not having it and puts the gun to his head and then back at Quinn’s. He is upset and says to tell them he is sorry. Benson presses on but Tom ends the call. Carisi comes up the steps and enters a room and sees another door. Benson moves to the house and to the entry. Carisi kicks down an under construction doorway and sees Quinn on the floor, bound and her mouth covered with duct tape. He turns and finds himself face to face with Tom and Tom’s gun. Benson is now in the house and Tom tells Carisi to drop his gun. Carisi complies and begs him not to do this. But Tom says it is too late for that. Gunfire sounds out and blood splatters on Carisi’s face – Benson has shot Tom. Carisi is badly shaken but nods he is alright. Benson tends to Quinn and Carisi moves to the floor and moves the gun away from Tom. Quinn sobs as Benson consoles her.
Later and outside, Fin, now on the scene, asks Benson how she is holding up, and she says fine. Rollins tells her that she will be with Benson when Benson makes her statement. Benson approaches Quinn who is sitting in a squad car and she explains they will take her to the hospital for precautionary purposes. Quinn says Tom said she was ungrateful, and says she appreciated him but she doesn’t understand. Benson stresses that this is not her fault, and that guys like Cole are predators and they look for light and goodness and they try to steal it. She asks Quinn to promise her she will not blame herself for this. Quinn nods and thanks her. Benson shuts the car door and as she walks off, Carisi asks how is Quinn doing. Benson replies Quinn doesn’t understand why Tom would do this and Carisi says neither does he. He wonders if maybe all those years on the job dealing with the worst of the worst, wondering how you come out of that clean. Benson says no, being a cop didn’t change him, he was always bad, it just took time to come out. Carisi thanks her for helping him out back there and he owes her one. He adds that he hopes this doesn’t want to make her retire. She replies, “Nope, the exact opposite.” As they walk off, we fade to black.
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