Thursday, February 9, 2017

Law & Order SVU “Motherly Love” Recap & Review, The 400th Episode

Law & Order SVU celebrated its 400th episode, a huge milestone in television, and there aren’t many prime time scripted shows that have reached this number. (It’s technically not the 400th episode in airing order, but I’ll save that commentary for later in my review.) The episode was directed by Mariska Hargitay, and she had an excellent story to work with. A teenager shoots who he believes is an intruder raping his mother. But, as the story unfolds, we see it’s the mother who is the real rapist, preying on young boys, getting one of them killed by her own son when she misrepresents her raping him as him raping her.  The heartless mother later fabricates a story to take the blame off of herself and place it on her innocent son. Viewers had the advantage of seeing the immediate events that lead up to the shooting, so it was obvious that when “mommy dearest” changes her story, we know she’s lying. It would have been interesting to see how viewers would have perceived her change of story had we not seen what actually happened. It could have created more doubt in the minds of the jurors - and viewers - and she may have gotten away with it.

The story was well crafted (written by Executive Producers Rick Eid and Julie Martin) and, coupled with Mariska’s directing, brought out the best in every performer. The guest stars added an extra punch to the episode; Sarah Wynter was excellent as psycho-rapist mom and Delaney Williams was in perfect pompous form. I particularly enjoyed the face Buchanan made when he moved to hold Nicole’s hand while Luke was testifying, and she yanked her hand away. It was almost comedic. There were also splashes of humor in the delivery of some lines: Fin’s comment about “definitely more wrong here than dirty socks” and Barba’s “thanks so much for sharing” wisecrack.

My only annoyance – the whiny Luke. Clearly he had anxiety issues as his mom indicated, but he just grated on me in the worst way.  This is one kid in need of a psychiatrist, and not one from his own dysfunctional family.

Now, about that 400th episode thing. I’ve been saying for weeks that this wasn’t the 400th episode in airing order and this was no surprise to regular viewers. I am not sure if it was the 400th episode in filming order but I suspect it wasn’t that, either. My understanding is that two episodes were filmed in 2016 before “Motherly Love,” both of which have not yet aired.  “Great Expectations” and “Unstoppable” were scheduled to air in November but were yanked. (“Great Expectations” will air on February 15, 2017 and “Unstoppable” may never see the light of day.) Only those that know the production schedule can answer the question if it was #400 in filming schedule, so this is one mystery with this episode that remains publicly unsolved. It was NBC’s decision to alter the airing schedule so I don’t think we should blame anyone at the show for the fact that #400 is really #399.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the show for this amazing milestone, and know that fans appreciate your tireless work!

Note: 4 videos of deleted scenes have been added after 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:
Sarah Wynter - Dr. Nicole Keller
Delaney Williams - Counselor John Buchanan
Daniel Cosgrove - Dr. Daniel Keller
Aaron Sanders - Luke Keller
Jason Bowen - Det. Marcus Perry
Jenna Stern - Judge Elana Barth
Benton Greene - Charles Franklin
Chantal Jean-Pierre - Regina Franklin
Olivia Sargent - Alexandra Handley
Donald Dash -Trey Franklin
Patrick Boll – James Miller
Gage Polchlopek – Ethan Miller
Diedre Madigan – Allison Avery
Lauren Noble – Carmen
Marc Lavasseur – Attorney Alan Schwartz
Salma Shaw – Jury Foreperson
Tim Pettolina – Male Patient

Here is the recap:

Luke Keller is on his way home, calling his mother from a car but she doesn’t answer. He leaves a message, wondering why she is not picking up on his repeated calls. He says he and his dad had a fight. He arrives at home and calls out to his mother. He hears strange sounds from her coming from another room. He gets on the phone then goes to his room and pulls out a rifle and carefully moves to the kitchen where the sounds come from. He sees his mother bent over the counter and a man – his face is blocked by the kitchen cabinet – is penetrating his mother from behind. She looks stunned, and Luke looks stunned, and she screams “Help! He’s raping me!” Luke raises the rifle.

Later, Benson arrives on the scene with Fin, Rollins, and Carisi. and Benson introduces herself to Detective Perry from homicide. He explains the DOA is Trey Franklin, 15, it was a rifle shot to the head at close range. When Benson comments that he said the shooter interrupted a rape, Perry comments it was Luke Keller, also 15, who saw Franklin assault his mother, Dr. Nicole Keller, 45. Rollins asks if he kept them separated, and Perry answers yes the secured the scene and the weapon and took the kid’s initial statement. He adds that the kid is upstairs and his mother is in the living room. Benson comments they will take the disclosure, and Perry explains this is why he called them. Benson calls Rollins to come with her and Fin and Carisi will take the son.

Inside, Carisi introduces himself and Fin to Luke who is being swabbed for evidence by a CSU tech. Luke said he had to do it because he was raping his mom, Fin tries to calm him, telling him to just breathe, they just want to know what happened. Luke explains he was supposed to spend the night at his dad’s but they got in a fight so he came home. Still upset, he states he left his dad’s about 9, saying he really wanted to talk to his mom. He tried calling but she wasn’t answering. He whines that his mother was staying home to do paperwork, she is a psychiatrist. He explains he got home about 10; it was dark and he heard a noise downstairs and he thought someone was breaking in so he called 911 and went to the closet to get his rifle. Carisi seems surprised about the rifle and looks at Fin, and Luke explains his dad gave it to him, his dad likes to go hunting. He walked into the kitchen and he was attacking his mom; she was staring at him and was so scared then screamed, “Help, he’s raping me” so he pulled the trigger. He didn’t think he was going to actually hit him.

Meanwhile, Benson and Rollins are speaking with Nicole who says she wants to see her son as he can’t handle the stress; he has a lot of generalized anxiety. Benson says she understands but right now they need to speak to both of them separately. Nicole, looking frazzled, agrees. Benson states she needs to know exactly what happened, from her perspective. Nicole explains she was in the kitchen getting some wine and she turned around and he was right there. She tried to get away but he overpowered her. Rollins asks if it was a break in or may be followed her home, and Nicole says no, she let him in. Benson and Rollins glance at each other and Benson mentions that Nicole let him in so she knew him. Nicole explains yes, he was her son’s best friend.

As Trey is being zipped into a body bag, Benson explains to Detective Perry that Nicole let Trey in voluntarily as he was Luke’s best friend. Perry comments this is why there is no sign of forced entry. When Carisi asks why, if Luke wasn’t; home that Nicole let Trey in, Benson explains that Nicole said Trey asked to come in and do his homework; apparently he is having a rough time at home. Perry asks that Trey just hung our while she was upstairs working, and Benson states that is what Nicole said. Carisi recaps that Luke unexpectedly walks in, hears his mother scream that he is being raped, and he fires, asking that they are not hearing premeditation at all. Perry comments that Luke called 911, and the rifle was locked up and registered to his father – technically not legal but the shooting sounds justified. He adds that Trey’s parents are on the way to the ME’s office and suggest he meet one of Benson’s guys over there. Benson agrees that is a good idea.

At Mercy Hospital at 365 West 32nd Street on Tuesday, January 24, Benson speaks to Nicole while she gets dressed after her medical exam. When Benson comments that Nicole said she knew she should not have let Trey in, Nicole said she had an instinct something was wrong, the way he looked at her. It made her uneasy. She is okay with him being friends with Luke as she felt bad for him as his family life is unstable. She said Trey came around 9 and she put her work away for the night and he asked where Luke was as they were supposed to study. Nicole told him there must have been a mix-up as Luke was at his father’s house in Westport. He asked if he could come in anyway and do his homework and she said yes and went upstairs to get ready for bed. She already had her nightgown on and had already started getting ready for bed when he rang the doorbell. Benson asks that she was in her nightgown when she answered the door and then went back up her upstairs and Nicole confirms she was already for bed and went back upstairs for about an hour. It started getting late so she went back downstairs and told Trey it was time to go home. Benson asks why she didn’t pick up when Luke called her, and Nicole claims she did not get the message or any messages; when she works sometimes she doesn’t even look at the phone and Luke was with his dad. Benson comments she was not working then as she said she wasn’t working then; Luke started to call at 9:30 to 10:00 and she had already put her work down for the night. Nicole agrees she had, she’d gone downstairs for a glass of wine to relax; that’s when she felt his presence behind her. She turned around and Trey was right there and he put his hands on her. She tried to stop it and tell him she understood sexual impulses and urges. She is a psychiatrist and she has dealt with this issue many times. He put her up against the kitchen counter and lifted up her nightgown and he forced himself inside her and she tried to scream but he put his hand on her mouth. There was a kitchen knife and she cries that she tried to reach it but it was too far away so she just closed her eyes and tried to survive and she thought about her son and she needed to stay alive for him. She looked up and saw he was there and she yelled help. The she heard the gunshot. She knew Luke had a gun in the house in a locked safe, it was a gift from his father, a hunter. Luke is not a hunter; he is so sensitive and hated the idea of having a gun in the house. He went hunting and there was a deer in his sight and he couldn’t even pull the trigger. She adds it doesn’t make sense and says she wants to see Luke.

Luke is at SVU in the interview room with Carisi and Carisi says his mother is being checked out at the hospital. Carisi asks Luke to go over everything again and outlines what Luke already told him. Carisi asks if he said “stop” or “get off of her” before he fired and Luke doesn’t think so, he just reacted. He did not know it was Trey until after, he thought it was a man who broke in. He cries that they were best friends, adding he killed his best friend. Carisi suggests a break and Rollins enters the room and says Luke’s dad is here. Dr. Daniel Keller races in to comfort his son who cries. Daniel asks if he needs a lawyer. Carisi replies they are still investigating but it seems Luke fired to save his mother from a sexual assault but these cases can get tricky. Daniel comments that he appreciates his honesty but they are done talking and he hugs Luke and tells him it is going to be okay.

At the office of the Chief Medical Examiner at 421 East 26th Street on Tuesday, January 24, Fin and Detective Perry speak with Trey’s parents, Charles and Regina Franklin, and explain what happened. They don’t understand as Luke and Trey were friends and wonder if it was an accident. They are shocked when Fin mentions Nicole’s claim of sexual assault. Charles is angry when he hears Luke is not under arrest, saying it is a white kid and it has to be the black kid’s fault. Fin states it is not even close, they are still trying to figure out what happened. Charles says me too, as Trey was a good kid – a GREAT kid. Regina wants to see Trey and they allow her. As they view his body, the parents break down.

Later, in ADA Barba’s office, Barba asks Benson, with Fin, Rollins, and Carisi present, what they know about Trey Franklin, and Benson explains he is the only son of Charles and Regina Franklin, the father is an English professor and his mother is an oncology nurse. He has no priors and is a good student and he started high school at Manor Hill in September. There was no semen in the rape kit and there were a few minor abrasions. Barba asks how long did the mother know Trey, and Benson states a few months, Nicole didn’t mind her son being friends with Trey but she had a bad feeling about him from the beginning, whatever that means. Barba asks if that is because he is black, and Benson replies she did not get the sense that it was racial. He asks if they believe Luke’s story, and Carisi says he does; he’s taken this hard and had no clue the alleged rapist was his friend. Barba asks that firing the rifle was the old way to stop the assault, and Carisi replies that Luke panicked, he was trying to scare whoever he thought was away. Barba comments so they were friends, then wonders if there were any recent problems. Fin replies not that they can find. Barba asks that Trey came over to study with Luke but Luke wasn’t there, wondering if Trey knew that Luke wasn’t going to be home, that would work to establish his mindset that if he went to Nicole’s house, knowing that she would be alone. Rollins counters that they already checked Luke’s phone and there were no texts or emails between him and Trey. Benson suggests they dig into their social media account and talk to the friends and see if they can find anything out. Fin suggests they search his locker and bedroom too. Barba says he will get some warrants. They all get up to leave.

At the residence of Charles and Regina Franklin at 419 Riverside Drive on Wednesday, January 25, Fin and Rollins serve them a warrant for all Trey’s electronic devices and conduct a search of his room. Charles is upset they haven’t arrested Luke yet, saying they are acting like their son is the killer, and Regina tells Charles to let them go, they won’t find anything.

In Trey’s room, Fin comments that 15 is a crazy age – testosterone and impulses. Rollins comments that you don’t just wake up one morning and decide to rape your buddy’s mom and thinks something else is going on here. Fin reaches under the mattress and finds some selfies hiding in a paperback book – of Trey and Nicole, naked in bed. Fin comments that there is definitely more wrong here than dirty socks.

Later, Benson and Rollins are back with Nicole in her home with the photos. Benson comments “imagine our surprise” and Nicole retorts to imagine her surprise; she had a sense Trey was stalking her but now she knows. Benson is surprised to hear this, and states that is very different than having a bad feeling. Nicole states she wasn’t sure, but she is now. Benson asks if that is her in the photo, and Nicole replies yes, eyes closed, asleep, and unaware this addled teenager was taking pictures. Benson asks if Nicole minds that they take a look around, and Nicole says of course not. As they move up the stairs Benson comments that, just to be clear, Nicole is saying Trey walked up those stairs, hopped onto her bed while she was sleeping, and took those photos. Nicole replies that is the only thing that makes sense. Rollins counters no, there are other plausible explanations.

In the bedroom, Benson asks Nicole if she always sleeps naked, and Nicole replies sometimes, and sometimes in a nightgown or a Rollins Stones t-shirt. She asks Benson is she is suggesting she had sex with that boy, and Benson tersely states she’s not suggesting anything, she is simply asking why she and Trey were in bed together naked. Nicole explains Trey was obsessed with her and snuck into her bed. Rollins asks that she didn’t wake up, adding she must be a sound sleeper. Nicole explains she is, the last few months she’s been on sleep medication. Benson sees the meds on Nicole’s dresser and picks up a bottle while Rollins asks that Nicole thought Trey was stalking her and if that was true, why did she give him so much access to their house and invite him in a 9 PM. Nicole states that she was trying to help him. Rollins, stepping up very close to Nicole, asks about the trouble home life excuse, explaining that they talked to his parents and there is no evidence of that. Nicole turns and looks to Benson and states that some of patients are victims of rape and the first things she tells them is don’t blame yourself, and that is a lot easier said than done. Benson says that Nicole didn’t answer Rollins’ question, and Nicole asks what question was that? Benson says okay, then asks her about the night of the shooting she was upstairs here in her bedroom in her nightgown; Trey was downstairs in the family room and nobody else was in the house. Nicole says that is correct, and Rollins asks that Trey didn’t try and sneak up here into her room. Nicole says she thinks it is best that Benson and her colleague leave, she is sensing some underlying hostility and is making her very uncomfortable. Benson, smirking at Nicole’s attempt to avoid the question, brings up naked selfies of Nicole and Trey - holding up two photos - saying they are making her uncomfortable. Benson glares at her then walks past her, while Rollins also gives Nicole a look before she walks off.

At Manor Hill Academy in Riverdale, Bronx on Thursday, January 26, Carisi speaks with Ethan about Luke and Trey and hears they were close and Luke idolized Trey and thought he was a god. Ethan thinks it’s crazy that Luke ended up killing his god.

Meanwhile, Rollins speaks with the principal who never heard about a relationship between Trey and Nicole. Trey is a good kid for the most part. Rollins asks what she means by that.

Back at SVU, Ethan’s father walks into Benson’s office with Ethan, along with Carisi for a follow up. Ethan says there have been no issues between him and Trey. But Benson says he and Trey got suspended a week ago for getting into a fight a week ago. Benson reminds him how serious it is to lie in a police investigation, Carisi adding serious enough to derail his lacrosse scholarship. His father pressures Ethan to tell them what happened but Ethan wants his father to leave the room. His father says he is not going anywhere, and Ethan says he can’t tell him the reason they fought. His father tells Ethan to tell the truth now, and Benson says his father is right. Ethan begins to cry.

Later, Benson and Fin are at Nicole’s home and when she opens the door, Fin says they need to talk to her down at the station. She claims she already told them everything she knows but Fine brings up Ethan. Benson states that Ethan claims she sexually assaulted him 10, maybe 11 times, and Nicole thinks this is preposterous. Benson thinks Nicole moved on to Trey and Ethan got upset and punched him and they both got suspended from school. Nicole says they are kids fantasizing about older women and it is natural and healthy, but Benson counters no, there is nothing natural or healthy about statutory rape. She tells Nicole let’s go, she is coming with them. Nicole steps outside and says this is ridiculous, storming off.

In SVU in interrogation, Benson asks Nicole if she was having a sexual relationship with Trey prior to the night he was shot and killed. Nicole says he was obsessed with her, and Fin asks if that is a yes. She says it is an absolute, unequivocal NO. Fin asks if it is an it is an absolute, unequivocal no about Ethan, and Nicole replies correct. She states Ethan is lying. Benson explains when Ethan told his father he cried and begged him not to hate him, and they have a believable 15 year old boy who is claiming that she sexually assaulted him and Trey. Fin adds that making things worse, Trey is dead. Benson states that Nicole told Luke that Trey was raping her but SHE was raping him. Nicole thinks they are making this up, but Benson cautions that the sooner she tells the truth, the better it will be for her, and for Luke. Nicole angrily tells her not to presume what is best for her son, and Benson counters she is not presuming anything, just stating facts. Nicole retorts that if she understands the law, unless she is under arrest, she is free to go and as she gets up to leave she says she is calling her lawyer. Benson states that is her right and keep in touch, she is sure they will have a lot to talk about. Benson glares at her and Nicole glares back. As Nicole exits the room, Fin comments she is a stone-cold liar, and Benson comments a psychiatrist is abusing teenage boys, emotionally damaging her own son, saying that is “deeper than lying, man; that’s pathological.” Fin asks that they just let he walk out of here, and Benson explains she wants to track her phone and vet Ethan’s story. Fin thinks Nicole is smart and covers her tracks. Benson adds that is why they need hard evidence she cannot lie her way out of, but first the need to make sure that Luke had no prior knowledge of what was going on with his mother and Trey.

Later in the interview room, Luke, there with a lawyer, tells Carisi and Rollins that this is crazy and Ethan is lying and that his mom said they would tell him this. But Rollins explains that they also believe Trey and his mom were having a…and Luke leaps up and says his mom said they were going to say that too. He is in denial and says his mom would never do that. Rollins walks out of the room into Benson’s office where Luke’s father Daniel is waiting there with Benson. She comments that Luke is being honest and his father says of course he is, he is a good kid. He adds that Nicole is complicated, adding she is a malignant narcissist, probably borderline, adding he too is a psychiatrist. Benson thinks this lying and manipulating has been going on a long time, and Daniel states since he met her. She is like the best and worst woman wrapped in one. When they first met she was charming and brilliant but later her illness revealed itself. Nicole truly believes she is special and deserves constant admiration; she lacks compassion and empathy and at the same time she is remarkably fragile. She has no true sense of self and he couldn’t take it so he left her. He tried to make it work but couldn’t. Rollins questions that he let Luke live with her knowing she has all these issues, and Daniel says he fought like hell for custody but the judge sided with her as she is incredibly charming and persuasive. He looks at Luke through the glass and comments he didn’t think she would destroy her own son. He asks them to tell him they are not going to charge Luke with a crime. Benson replies that Nicole is the criminal here and they will speak with the ADA.

In the office of ADA Rafael Barba at 1 Hogan Place on Friday, January 27, Benson, there with Carisi and Rollins, tells Barba she does not think Luke intentionally shot Trey and truly believes his mother was assaulted. Carisi agrees, saying he had no clue his mother was using his friend sexually and just happened to walk in. Had he not gotten into an argument with his father that night he never would have been there in the first place; Nicole is the one who is lying, not Luke. Rollins, who got a message on her phone, says this proves it, and explains the lab results are back; traces of fresh semen were found on a towel in Nicole’s bedroom upstairs and the DNA matches Trey’s. Benson tells Barba they asked Nicole point blank about Trey being upstairs that night and she denied it. Barba instructs them to arrest her, and when Benson asks for statutory rape, Barba counters he is thinking a lot more than that.

Later, in Nicole’s office, Benson arrives with Fin and interrupts a session. They arrest Nicole for third degree rape of a minor – Nicole interrupts Benson and says she is the victim – and Benson continues to add murder. Nicole claims she didn’t murder anyone, but Fin tells her to turn around and as he cuffs her, Benson tells him to get her out of here. Nicole is stunned.

At a later date, Barba is on the courthouse steps with Trey’s parents, with Benson and Fin nearby. He is mobbed by reporters. He states the only goal was to follow the evidence and bring the person responsible for Trey’s death to justice, and that person is Nicole Keller. He shouts that to cry rape when she herself was sexually assaulting a teenage boy with her son 10 feet away holding a rifle shows such depraved indifference to Trey’s life that the DA’s office feels compelled to punish this woman to the fullest extent of the law. He thanks them and walks off as Trey’s parents speak to the crowd. But Counselor Buchanan is also there and makes his own speech defending Nicole, saying she was the victim of sexual assault and had Luke not been there she could have been killed. He claims she was trying to help Trey and is devastated by his tragic death. Benson and Barba look on with skepticism and walk off as Buchanan states to suggest she had anything to do with this is outrageous.

In Supreme Court Part 21 on Monday, February 6, Benson is on the stand testifying that the towel found in Nicole’s upstairs bedroom and that fresh semen was found on the towel was a match to Trey. She adds Nicole specifically stated – twice- that Trey was downstairs the entire time. Buchanan does not cross examine so Barba calls Luke.

Luke testifies to what he saw that night. He did not know it was Trey and his mother called out for help, that Trey was raping her. She made eye contact with him but Buchanan objects when Barba asks if she saw the rifle, calling it speculation. The judge sustains it so Barba rephrases and asks if Nicole looked down at his hands. Trey says yes, he thinks so. Trey states he pulled the trigger but he was just trying to scare him away and save his mom. Under cross examination, Buchanan tells Trey that must have been traumatic and because he is young and does know a lot about sex and to him she must have looked frightened. He agrees it looked bad and said he believed her at the time Trey was raping her but that Benson told him about what they found. Buchanan says at the time, Luke thought Trey was assaulting his mother, and Luke replies yes but it was happening so fast he just reacted. Buchanan agrees, he reacted to what he saw, a man attacking his mother. Barba looks back at Benson who is sitting in the gallery. Buchanan adds Luke doesn’t know if his mother saw the rifle and doesn’t know what her eyes were focused on. Luke says he guesses, and Buchanan adds especially since she was being raped. Barba objects, and Buchanan withdraws that comment. He asks Luke if Barba made a deal with him including no jail time if he testified against his mother, even though Luke was the one who killed Trey. Luke cries and says yes. Buchanan ends his questioning. The judge tells Trey he can step down. Benson and Daniel take Luke out of the courtroom while Nicole looks on.

In the hallway with his father, Luke tells Benson, Barba and Carisi he tried his best and this is all his fault, he didn’t have to pull the trigger. Benson tells him it took a lot of courage to get up on the stand. Daniel suggest to Luke that they go and Carisi walks them out. As they walk past the other door to the courtroom, Nicole steps out and sees them and Luke hugs her. As he walks off, Nicole glares back at Benson and Barba. Barba comments to Benson that the poor kid doesn’t know whether to hate her or love her. Benson adds that is hard to give up on your mother, no matter how sick she may be.

In Supreme Court Part 21 on Tuesday, February 7, Nicole is on the stand and recounts what happened. She said Trey grabbed her hard and she told him to stop but he pulled up her nightgown and put his penis inside her. She started to scream and he put his hand over her mouth and told her to shut up or he would kill her. A few minutes later she saw Luke and she screamed help, she is being raped. She did not know he had a gun and was in shock. She heard a loud, horrible gunshot then it was over. Under cross examination, Barba questions why she let Trey in at 9 PM when Luke was not home, and she testifies she felt empathy for his turbulent home life, but Barba counters Trey’s parents are happily married and he is a straight A student. Nicole counters that grades are not indicative of psychological or emotional problems. Barba retorts they is not interested in her psychobabble for the moment but thanks so much for sharing. He brings up her statement that Trey stayed downstairs all night but brings up the semen on the towel in the top floor bedroom, asking how it got there. Nicole suggests he snuck up to her room and masturbated that night. Barba suggests and initial sexual encounter in her room and brought him down to the kitchen for more sex. Buchanan objects but Judge Barth allows it. When Nicole says that is not what happened, Barba counters that is exactly what happened; she let him into her home late at night, wearing lingerie. Nicole states it was a nightgown, and Barba says they are not going to argue about semantics, and picks up the photo of what she was wearing and shows it to her in front of the jury. She says she was ready for bed, and Barba counters she was ready to sexually assault a 15-year-old boy. As he shows the photo to the jury, he adds she let him into her house wearing only a nightgown and an hour later her son interrupted her and Trey in the kitchen. Even though she saw a rifle in Luke’s hand, she cried rape to cover up the fact she was abusing his friend. Nicole states Trey raped her, but Barba says no, she raped him. Buchanan stands up ad objects, and Barba withdraws it. Barba glares at her and then walks off. Nicole looks at the jury who is giving her a cold look. Nicole looks to judge Barth and states she would like to testify again, she needs to change her defense. Buchanan stands up and says, “what?” Barba also stands and Benson looks shocked. Nicole says she has been lying, she just wants to tell the truth – the real truth. Benson’s looks back at Rollins with surprise. Barba asks to discuss the matter in private and Judge Barth agrees, ordering them to her chambers now.

In Judge Barth’s chambers, Buchanan says Nicole has had a change of heart and wants to tell the truth. Barba questions what the hell does that even mean; you don’t get to suddenly tell the truth because the jury isn’t buying your lies. Buchanan says he has the right to re-direct the testimony of his witness and in the course of that re-direction, his client will offer a new defense. Judge Barth asks what he is talking about, and he explains that Nicole’s testimony will contradict her prior testimony. Barba asks if she is willing to admit to the jury and the judge that she perjured herself. Buchanan says she is, she just wants to clear her conscience and let the chips fall where they may. The judge agrees in concept but first wants to know what is the new defense.

In Supreme Court Part 21 on Tuesday, February 7, Nicole testifies that she and Trey were in the kitchen having sex and Luke walked in on them and shot Trey in the head. Benson puts her hands to her face and Luke looks crushed. She says she did not yell help he is raping me. She states she did not make eye contact with Luke before he pulled the trigger. She realized she didn’t want Luke to go to prison so she told the police that Trey raped her and that Luke shot him to protect her. Benson is appalled and Luke looks devastated. She admits that was a lie, and says Luke knew she and Trey were involved. She says once Luke was watching them having sex, and as Luke looks like he is going to freak out, Benson suggests they leave the room. But he tells her he wants to hear it. Nicole says Luke was in the doorway, masturbating. The gallery gasps and Benson whispers to Luke that he doesn’t need to hear this. Nicole suggests her son has a romantic attraction to her and that is not as unusual as you might think. Benson tells Luke says that is enough and as he cries, she takes him out of the room. Nicole calls out to him that it is her fault and she should have taken better care of him and never gotten involved with Trey. She adds she takes full responsibility for this, even though her son shot and killed Trey. Judge Barth says that is enough; Barba objects and she sustains. She asks Buchanan if he has any more questions, and he says nothing else. The judge adjourns but Barba counters he wants to cross examine Nicole NOW, today, while the jury is still…she cuts him off and says that is enough for today and they will resume tomorrow at 9 AM. Barba fumes and Nicole looks away.

Later, in Barba’s office, Benson, there with Carisi, comments that Nicole is burying her own son to create reasonable doubt. Carisi thinks she just might get away with it, but hopes the jury has to see what she is doing here as much as they do. Barba thinks maybe, but a few skeptical jurors and she walks on a murder charge, Barba’s assistant enters the room and Barba sees that Daniel is there and asks he to show him in. He enters and tells them Luke wants to plead guilty of murder but asks Barba that Luke can’t do that as Barba gave him immunity. Barba states it was qualified immunity, and Carisi comments if Luke changes his story now and lies to protect his mother, that deal goes away. Barba adds the judge may very well accept his plea. Benson thinks this makes no sense, asking exactly what is Luke saying. Daniel replies that Luke now believes he deliberately shot Trey, that deep down he knew his mother was screwing his friend. Benson thinks Nicole is spinning him upside down. Barba questions that she wants Luke to go to prison, and Daniel comments in Nicole’s deluded mind, Luke is responsible for her shame and he is the enemy so taking him down will make her feel whole again. Barba wonders even if it means convincing her son he is responsible for a murder he didn’t commit. Benson adds they can’t let her do that, and asks Daniel where is Luke now, she’d like to talk to him.

Later, Benson meets with Luke and suggests they take a drive and when they get in her car, she suggests they get something to eat. Luke says he is not hungry and doesn’t want people staring at him so they talk in the car. Benson knows he wants to help his mother, but he can’t plead guilty. She tries to convince him he was trying to save his life. He says Nicole liked Trey and was always talkative with Trey but admits he never saw them together physically. He also says it is a lie what she said about him watching, and Benson assures him she knows. He questions himself that he really did know but Benson says what Nicole did to Trey and Ethan is a crime called statutory rape. He says he was trying to save her and Benson says she knows and that he is a good son and a brave person, but he thinks he is a killer. Benson reminds him he didn’t intend to kill Trey and he knows that, she knows that, and his mother knows that. Benson brings up the hunting story and that Luke could not shoot a deer because he couldn’t kill a living, breathing animal. She adds that who he is, and it is not his job to sacrifice his life for his mothers. She puts her hand on his shoulder and he gets tearful.

In Supreme Court Part 21 on Wednesday, February 8, Judge Barth asks if Barba is ready to begin his cross examination, but Barba has decided to recall Luke instead. Benson walks in with Luke and Buchanan looks displeased and Nicole stands up in shock. Luke gets on the stand and Buchanan takes Nicole’s hand to get her to sit back down. Barba asks Luke if he intentionally shot Trey because he was angry at him for being in a sexual relationship with his mother. Luke looks to his mother, and then to Benson who is nodding in reassurance, and after a pause, testifies no, that is not true. He shot Trey because he was raping Nicole. When Barba asks why did he think that, Luke says Nicole looks him in the eye and yelled “help, he’s raping me.” Buchanan reaches for Nicole’s hand but she yanks it away from him.

Later, the jury delivers a verdict of guilty on the counts of second degree murder and third degree rape of a minor. Nicole looks completely stunned. The judge adjourns and Nicole calls out to Luke and races toward him but is stopped by Buchanan and a court officer. She tells Luke she loves him and forgives him as Daniel leads Luke out of the courtroom. Nicole yells out that she is still his mother and will always be his mother. Nicole looks at Benson and angrily tells her congratulations, she convinced her son she is the devil. Benson counters no, Nicole did that all by herself. As Nicole is being led away and the courtroom clears, Barba asks Benson if she is okay. She doesn’t answer. He tells her Luke is a strong kid and he will be fine. She asks if Barba really believes that. He sighs and asks if he can buy her a drink. She declines, saying she has got to go home and see Noah, tearfully saying she just wants to be with her boy. Barba nods and leaves the courtroom, now nearly empty. Benson turns around and looks around, then leave the room as we fade to black.

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Great Recap As Usual Chris I Really Hope There Will Be 400 More Recaps Still Left. At First The Episode Since I Compare To Others From The Past Reminded Me Of Mother From Season 5 And The Episode From Season 10 Where Fins Son Friend Was Involved With A Pychitrist Also. Now I Am Glad It Was Not Same Rehash Story. I Was Thinking When Liv Sat Down With Luke In The Car How Before Elliott Used To Always Be The One Trying To Convince The Kid,This Shows How Livs Character As A Mom Has Changed Her As We Saw With The Final Scene. My Only Complain Is That They Should Of Gave A Little Extra Story At The End With Treys Parents Since They Were Victims Also And A Quick 30 Scene With Either Luke Or Liv With Treys Parents Would Of Been Nice. Again As I Said Before If Their Is Ever A Law And Order Hall Of Fame You Deserve To Be In It.

Margot Undercliffe said...

A number of episodes recently feel like Benson is becoming increasingly torn between work and her son. This show can't survive without her but I am starting to wonder if they are working towards an end. The last scene with Barba was very emotional. The hours and the emotional toll of this job are enormous and I wonder at her strength to still get up in the morning.

Best episode of the season. It wasn't one character centric. Love Barba and think he is at his best against Buchanan. I'm glad to see Fin getting more involved than last season.

Charles Morrison said...

I did not really enjoy this episode.

I was really let down considering this was the 400th episode.

I agree that the performances were good, great even, and that the direction was basically good. But I was SOOO hoping for a plot twist!! I thought there MUST be a plot twist coming! It can't just be that the person fingered for the crime in the middle of the show was actually the sole, lone criminal!

The story was excellently set up for a twist, perhaps something like the mother and son were actually in it together for some reason (you know, incest - how perfectly Freudian that would have been!), or that will-o-the-wisp father was actually in on it somehow. There were so many "false clues" and misdirections already set (such as the father explicitly saying the mother "has always been crazy.") That sort of thing historically on this show has been a clue that somebody else really was guilty.At the final break when the mother said she was lying, I was on the edge of my seat!

But then in the end, it really was only the mother!!!?? I was soooo disappointed!! Where was the twist!? Where was the unexpected? It was a great script otherwise. It was a perfect Agatha Christie who-dun-it, and then nobody but the expected guilty person did it?

I think they should re-do this script with the same actors and the same direction, but re-write the plot.

I actually just don't get it. Were we just supposed to be outraged at the mother's behavior?I love good performances, but I actually watch Law and Order for the plots and to be surprised.

I mean was the point of the entire story that we were just supposed to be shocked that the crazy mom (and we know she was crazy because she was a psychiatrist, who are crazy almost by definition), who was divorced, and thought she was alone in the house, was actually gettin' some???? I knew the instant I saw her that she was gettin' some!! What? Are we supposed to believe that women are so pure? That the motherly instinct is everything and so surprised when women slip? Yes, it's morally horrible and criminal, but I wasn't even surprised mid-show that she was arrested. Of course she was doin' the 15 year old friend! Yeah, it's horrible, but it would have been even more horrible if she and her son were in on it together or something and conspired to knock off the son's friend. How is it that the son hit his friend square in the head on one shot?? He hated guns (the clues kept telling us over and over!). I thought for SURE that is a red herring -- that he hated guns. We should have found out that the son was out practicing at a rifle range or something! One shot! He could have hit the mother, but instead he hit's the friend right in the face??? I thought they MUST be in on it together!!!

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

Love your recap!! I bet I can not see the ep and be able to see the whole thing by reading your blog. Great performances by all, had the one liners. Cool camera angles orchestrated by M. Loved it!

sidewinder said...

This episode just bored me to distraction and seemed nothing special at all for a "landmark" episode. Previous landmark eps did a good job of giving all of the main characters a chance to shine and be in the spotlight, to celebrate the ensemble as a whole. But once again for this season, all we got here was the holy all-knowing, all-doing, Saint Olivia Benson Hour. I thought MH's acting was especially painful and over the top in the courtroom scenes (must we keep having her sitting there grimacing and making faces?) and in that uncomfortable scene of her in the car with the woman's son. I wanted to give this season a chance, with the new producer and all, but so far I've only found 1 or 2 episodes at all memorable and worth the time invested in watching them.

Chris Zimmer said...

2 deleted scenes have been added after the recap!

Laurie Fanat said...

With the 400th episode I would have expected something with more action but Mariska doesn't strike me as the kind of person who could direct in a heavy action environment. Her directing has improved. I also thought they'd have the number 400 mentioned in the episode somewhere as a subliminal message about the 400th episode (not just the 400 episode "bug" in the lower corner of the screen). I was thinking on the order of an address like "400 Milestone Ave."

The episode was good. I expected some sort of twist too but it wasn't critical to me in the telling of the story. Delaney Williams was great in the episode, and finally some Barba action. He is so underutilized.

I don't get the ratings though. I would have expected higher numbers. It was better than it's been but since they promoted the heck out of this episode I would have expected a lot more.

I DID like the writing.

malifact said...

Chris thank you for another recap. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on the episode and others comments. I thought this was a decent episode, especially towards the end when things seemed to ramp up a gear. I was rather taken aback when Dr Keller turned on her own son and I thought Benson's sadness at the end was touching. Very good performances from almost all the cast. I'm glad that the writers made it clear that what Dr Keller did to her son's friends was abuse very early on. My one question is why Barba never considered calling Ethan as a witness for the prosecution. Surely it would have shown a pattern in Dr Keller's behaviour? By the way Chris, I also found the son annoying. I also found his acting limited to making a face like his puppy had died.

Chris Zimmer said...

A third deleted scene has been added - enjoy!

OhSusannah said...

I congratulate the whole #SVU cast and crew for the 400 milestone. I can't say I loved this one though. So many stories and scenarios seem far-fetched to me even though they are ripped-from-the-headlines in many cases. It goes to show that truth really is stranger than fiction. I agree with an above comment made that there seems to be a lot of work-home conflict for Olivia as the show grinds on, as one would expect in such a demanding profession .The fact that Liv is essentially a single parent-with not much support other than her work colleagues is essentially the reason she was denied the right to adopt in an earlier season. I am pleased to see she has young Noah but I feel her impartiality is now being clouded.From the get she and Rollins seemed convinced this horrible mother in the episode was lying- they weren't wrong as it turned out. Her instincts are still sound but I guess she is erring on the side of caution. I think so much of the whole tone of the show was to show that even though Liv was raised by an alcoholic single mother, Liv herself turned out to be an exceptionally caring and involved single mother. I have read hints she has a new love interest coming up. I wonder if it might be the former husband of Dr Nicole Keller. I think I saw a spark of interest

Amy Majdalani said...

Unless he's in the FBI.
Olivia is getting another FBI dude as a love interest.

Ana Maria Câncio Brandao said...

I really enjoyed the episode. Mariska has turned out to be a great director. I love the whole cast and I see, this season, a very big union between the members of the squadron. Olivia overcame the distrust she had with Rollins. And he has commanded his Unit with great competence. SVU is a milestone on television, and of course, this is very due to the performance, on and off the screens, of this talented, dedicated and beautiful actress named Mariska Hargitay. She is an icon and an inspiration to women of all ages. I'm the biggest fan and I do not lose SVU for any of this world.

Chris Zimmer said...

yes another deleted scene has been added at the end of the recap - it's with the whiny kid, though (wink).

Logan Ross said...

Who is the former husband of Nicole Keller?

Kre8ive said...

I have to agree with Charles Morrisson & sidewinder. This episode did nothing for me. It was all just too predictable

Infact this whole season has been so....blah!
I cant believe I'm watching SVU anymore. The only reason I'm sticking around is because of my preference for the characters, but this season each character has been stretched to their extreme. So you have a Olivia who just is always right & of course too loving & motherly (in every freaking episode!). A Barba who is too tough, a Rollins who is too dumb & a Carissi who is well...too whatever he supposed to be. They have been reduced to predictable caricatures of their former selves.

Either the show has gone in a different direction or my tastes have.
Can anyone recommend any other good crime show which SVU fans generally like?

Chris Zimmer said...

@Kre8ive - I've been watching a lot of British crime shows on Netflix and Amazon. Some are much more intense, like "Broadchurch" or "The Fall" just to name a few. If you stream any TV, I recommend checking out British crime dramas, you may enjoy them. Law & Order UK would be great but I don't think it is streaming anywhere.

Draven Long said...

I'm still catching up on last Wednesday's episode with the rapist who thinks it's in his genes. But I have watched this episode and I have to say it was quite wonderful. You can feel the atmosphere that it's the 400th episode.

As I said, it's a wonderful episode, with some humor sprinkled into such darkness. I couldn't believe the mother, how she could be so monstrous to her son and have sexual relationships with his best friends. In the ending scene, I couldn't believe she had the audacity to call herself a loving mother.

Chris, I agree with you, Luke and his anxiety got to me before we went to the first commercial break. But I commended him for finally going up against his mother and seeing with Lieutenant Benson's help what a monster she really was.

All in all, this was a very great 400th (FILMED) episode. In my opinion, it is one of what I like to call the highlight episodes of Season 18.