Thursday, April 6, 2017

Law & Order SVU “Know It All” Recap & Review

I have mixed feelings about “Know It All”. On the plus side, it was a fast paced story that is very relevant to the current concerns of the lack of privacy and constant surveillance from technology. On the minus side, it was somewhat predictable and the “meatier” story could have been the serial rapist/murderer case, of which they quickly disposed.  This had the possibilities of a great two-part episode: first part: serial rapist/murders, second part: copycat.  Instead, we get one episode and a story that felt incomplete.

Was it a mistake that they tried to get a confession from the serial rapist/murderer on Jennifer’s murder right away? If that murder didn’t quite match the MO, they shouldn’t have brought it up during that first interrogation. I would think that all they needed right away was a confession on the first one or two to continue to hold the guy, giving SVU more time to check out Jennifer’s murder before they included her with the photos of the victims shown to the suspect. I know hindsight is always 20/20, but it seems that Benson got too greedy to solve them all at once,  and ultimately it put the whole confession in question. We never do hear how the case for the rapist/murderer worked out. What happens to the confession if he admitted to one murder he did not do?

It was mentioned that David Willard was too smart to leave any traces of blackmail, yet he apparently was dumb enough to leave in her apartment Jennifer's own rope that he used to bind her.  That rope in Jennifer’s apartment was so contrived. Lucky for David that she kept such a heavy duty rope, similar to the other murders, right in her kitchen. (I wonder what on earth she would use it for.)  When they confronted him on the fingerprints in the kitchen in her apartment, why didn’t he just say he was there a lot so it would not be odd to find his prints there? For someone who professes to know everything, it turns out he really isn’t very smart.

On Barba’s big secret: I expected something much more salacious. Such a disappointment. I suppose he can still remain a good man in our minds if, in trying to convict a double rapist/murderer, he gave a strung-out junkie witness some money, knowing she would use it to get a fix and be able to testify, even if she did OD later. The DA will likely give him a pass, thinking that the end justified the means. I’m not saying what he did was right, just that he DA may be more forgiving in something like this over something like a corruption or sex scandal.

A missed opportunity: there was zero reaction from Rollins when David said that Jennifer’s sister Laura was in AA and had slept with her sponsor and went on a downward spiral. Seeing how this was similar to Rollins’ own experience, I would have expected some reaction from her.

We got a few personal tidbits; Rollins is from Loganville, Georgia and Carisi is a graduate of Tottenville High, Princes Bay. We also discover that Carisi may be seeing someone who Fin calls “Miss 34B” because of a bra ad that popped up on Carisi’s computer. Carisi said his friend was using his computer; as it is NYPD property, I would think it would be inappropriate for anyone other than someone in SVU (or NYPD) to be using it. Maybe Miss 34B is NYPD?  Regardless,  Carisi erred in letting someone else use his work computer.

This episode's original air date was delayed due to unavoidable production issues. This means we went backwards in time from the previous episode, “Net Worth.” The timeline for “Know It All” started on February 9, and “Net Worth” began March 20.

Here is the recap:

Mariska Hargitay - Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T - Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Chris Diamantopoulos - David Willard
Jason Bowen - Detective Marcus Perry
Megan Murphy - Laura Knowles
Meredith Travers - Jennifer Knowles
Bill Dawes - Alex Ryan
Max Baker - CSU Tech Colin Bennett
Mary E. Hodges – Judge Anita Wright
Jamie Effros – CSU Tech
Megan Leung – TARU Tech
Marianna Garcia - Ashtonja Abreu
Tim Ewing – Attorney Richard Banner
Gianna Yanelli – Young Woman
Bill Kocis – Reporter

At a group task force meeting at the Special Victims Unit, Benson states that these three victims are the work of their “Pattern 23” rapist. Detective Perry states that this is the one that the papers are calling the “Second Avenue Strangler.” His victims were all last seen near bars on Second Avenue. Rollins adds that witnesses reported seeing a gold TLC car near two of the victims and they checked Uber, Quick Ride, and other services and it doesn’t match any of their cars. Fin says it could be a guy working off the books. Benson states that no matter who he is, he is a serial rapist murderer who has struck every two weeks for the last month. She adds that for those just joining them now, this is going to be a joint investigation with Homicide and Detective Perry. Perry comments that it started as an SVU case, but the others will be their feet on the ground. Carisi points to the monitor and explains that the MOs are all the same; the victims are all between twenty and thirty, long-haired brunettes, they had secondary trauma from the struggle, and they were dropped off at a construction site. The cause of death was asphyxiation. Rollins states all the victims were found naked from the waist down, their hands were tied with rope, and they all had a chunk of hair shaved on the back of their neck. Perry comment that is his trophy and his signature. Fin says he picks easy marks, they are drunk and walking home alone. Benson holds up and handful of the sketches and tells them to get the sketch out there and be their eyes and ears. She hands someone the sketches and tells them all to go. As they group breaks up, Benson tells Perry 3 days in and they have a week and a half if he stays on pattern. Perry comments he can’t handle another one, CompStat counts these against homicide and he has three unsolved over his head. Benson says they will flood the streets and flood social media and get the sketch out there to make sure everybody knows. Perry nods and walks off.

Meanwhile, at Attention, Inc. at 132 Varick Street on Thursday, February 9, David Willard is meeting with his staff, along with fellow employee Jennifer Knowles. They are talking about their app and all the valuable information sitting out there in cyberspace, there to be discovered, analyzed, and exploited. He admits there are concerns where some are using their advance data mining for targeted propaganda, but he says they are selling a tool. Jennifer adds like a gun or drugs, it can be misused and that is not on them. David says if everyone knows everything and nothing can be hidden, the truth shall set them free. As the group disperses, David approaches Jennifer and embraces her from behind, and she pulls away telling him no, but he kisses her and says he can’t wait. He wants to go somewhere private, and she comments now he is worried about privacy. He says he can be with her tonight and she counters she knows but she wants to talk but she told her sister she wants to meet her so she suggests dinner after. David asks what time she can meet him, and she says she will be home by 7 and asks to meet him there. He tells her not to be late, he’ll track her cell. He walks off.

But the next morning, Jennifer is lying dead at a construction site, Rollins and Carisi are on the scene as Benson arrives. Benson asks “is it?” and Rollins confirms it looks like it - #4, same victim profile, same staging, same binding, same rope. Perry adds he took his trophy and shaved a chunk of hair from the base of her neck. Carisi comments there was head trauma and no pooled blood; she wasn’t killed here. Benson states if he follows pattern, there won’t be any DNA. She tells them to check security cameras and tells them to hold everybody back. Rollins comments they owe her that much and moves to clear the gawking construction workers. Perry thinks this is their guy and he is early; Carisi adds by over a week. Benson believes he is accelerating, which means it’s only going to get worse from here. She looks at Perry who is concerned. We see the injury on Jennifer’s head and the rope binding her wrists.

As they remove the body, Benson, on the phone,  tells the person to keep her posted. Perry states they found her purse near the body, exactly like the others. Carisi mentions the cash was gone, the rest intact; her name is Jennifer Knowles, she has an ID from a company called Attention, Inc. Perry says they are working on the credit cards to get a timeline. Rollins says the next of kin is Laura Knowles, a younger sister, and she has been notified and will meet them at the morgue. Carisi comments they are going to grab the video footage, canvass the neighborhood, and double down on the community outreach. Benson adds to get all that evidence to the lab, the perp’s gotta screw up sometime. As Carisi and Perry walk off, Benson tells Rollins she needs anything that can give them a lead. As she and Rollins leave the scene, a reporter asks if this is the Second Avenue Strangler, and as others shout out questions, Benson climbs into her car and says, “no comment.”

At the office of Chief Medical Examiner at 421 East 26th Street on Friday, February 10 with Benson and Rollins, viewing the body, Laura Knowles says that is Jen. She cries and says she just saw her last night at maybe 6. They met at a bakery on Second; she was going to her place to meet her boyfriend, David Willard, who is also her boss. She told he she was going to break up with him. Rollins says they will talk to him. Benson says they are still investigating, but they think the man who did this is someone they are tracking who is a serial rapist. Laura asks that she was raped, and Benson replies she is afraid so. Laura asks if it was the one who killed those other girls, and Benson comments she is so sorry. Laura doesn’t understand; she thought he went after drunks outside bars and Jen wasn’t like that. As they exit the room, Benson states that nobody is saying that she was, and asks if it is possible that the two of them maybe went and got a drink or before they broke up, maybe she changed her mind. Laura shakes her head and says no, Jen doesn’t drink. Their father was an alcoholic and she is also in recovery, she doesn’t think Jen ever tasted alcohol. She didn’t like going out. She did not speak to her after they left each other, she was supposed to text her. She asks if she can go, she has to call her mom. As Laura walks off, Benson has Rollins to have them get her blood alcohol, and when Rollins comments she never drank, asking Benson if she believes that. Benson doesn’t know what to believe, maybe this guy is changing his pattern. Rollins suggests she was a target of opportunity. Benson says it could mean anything and it could mean nothing. Rollins asks if she should talk to the boyfriend, and Benson agrees, telling her to take Carisi.

At Attention, Inc., Carisi asks what do they pay attention to, and Rollins explains that according to the website, everything. She adds that you do a search for flights to Chicago and you start getting ads for warm gloves and Cubs hats. Carisi asks if these are those bastards, and Rollins replies yeah, they data mine your internet usage and then sell it to advertisers; “truth through transparency” is their motto. They want to world to be able to see everything, no privacy. David Willard approaches and comments he thought the police would like that, stating if nothing can be hidden, there can be no crime. He asks if he is right, and then comments that Rollins is from Loganville, Georgia, and Carisi is a proud graduate of Tottenville High, Princes Bay, Staten Island. He asks how he can help them, and Rollins questions if he always does background checks on his guests. He says he gathers information, that’s what he does. Carisi asks if David is a professional Googler, and David replies that he is a little better than that. He states that he collects data – ALL data. He comments that knowledge is power, and his knowledge tells him he knows why they are here, it is about his app. Rollins wonders why he would think that. David replies he has been visited by Brooklyn and Bronx detectives already this past month and he will tell them what he told the others: if some degenerate wants to use his app to stalk women, that is on that person, not him. Carisi asks if guys use his app to stalk women, and David states that is not what it was designed for; it’s not the problem, it is the solution. Rollins explains that is not why they are here, and Carisi explains they are there about Jennifer Knowles, asking is she is his employee. David replies yes, she is not in today, she might be working from home, calling her a “creative type.” Carisi comments he thought David was with her last night, and David says yes, asking why. Carisi asks until what time, and David replies until 10, then asks if they want to tell him why they are here. Carisi explains Jennifer was raped and murdered last night. David is shocked, saying that is not possible, asking if they are sure if it is her. Rollins explains her sister made the ID, Jennifer was found at a construction site. David comments it is all over the feeds, asking if that lunatic serial killer did this. Rollins says it is possible, and Carisi asks that David said he saw Jennifer at 10 PM. David, shaken, replies maybe 10:30. Rollins states they understand Jennifer was breaking up with him. David admits yes, they decided to call it quits, asking what that has to do with…Carisi cuts him off and asks that it was mutual and there were no hard feelings. David replies no, then asks if this is from Laura, adding she is a nice woman but she is not exactly in sync with reality, she is paranoid, especially about men. He comments it doesn’t help that she drinks too much. Rollins counters she said she was in AA. David confirms she was, until she slept with her sponsor and began a downward spiral. He then says he is sorry but this is overwhelming. Carisi asks if he talked to Jennifer after he left her apartment, saying it was 11, but David corrects him, saying it was 10:30, adding no, he went home. He didn’t call her and she didn’t call him. Carisi questions if he has any idea why she went out after he left, and David says he doesn’t know, maybe to rescue her screwed up sister…again. David explains this is why he does what he does; if everything was transparent, the detectives would already know what happened, wouldn’t they?

Back at SVU, Fin tells Benson there were no calls or texts between Jennifer and her sister or anyone else after 6. If Jennifer made a date to meet with Laura, she did it with ESP. Carisi is at his desk and Rollins enters and informs them the labs came back; all the victims had matching rug fibers and there were none on Jennifer. They are waiting for the ME’s report on blood alcohol and cause of death. Carisi says nothing is on her social media; she kept it professional but they are still looking. Benson gets a call and walks off. Carisi brings up a web site on his computer and a bra ad pops up and Rollins quizzes if he is searching for brassieres. He says no, a friend was using his computer. Fin asks that his friend is a 34B. Rollins says there are no secrets any more, every web site and search you do, they know. She asks if his friend has a name, and Carisi, looking sheepish, doesn’t answer. Benson comes in and says to the caller “86th and East End” and Benson tells the others the precinct just picked up a suspect and they think it is their guy. Carisi wonders that it’s been 24 hours and he is back out there already, and Benson doesn’t know as they race to the scene.

As police are on the scene, a woman says the man offered her a free ride, asking if he is the one. As an officer brings the suspect to a car, the suspect says he was trying to help the girl and she should have let somebody rape her. Benson asks Detective Perry of this is their serial and he replies it looks like it. The vic got into a fight with her boyfriend at a bar and she stumbled out drunk and broke her heel. A gypsy cab driver offered her a ride. Lucky she was not as drunk as he thought and she recognized him from the sketch. She realized she was locked in and in trouble so she texted the picture to the tip line. A precinct car pulled him over and searched the car. His whole tool kit is there and there is also blood, Rollins says she will check to see if the fibers match the vics. Benson wants this sewn up, instructing them to get him to the squad and hear him say that he did it.

Back at SVU, Carisi and Perry bring him into interrogation and he quickly and proudly admits to the killings, plus some in Boston. But while he says he did Jennifer too, he didn’t say it with the pride as he did the others. Benson, observing, realized this and suspects that he did not kill Jennifer. She and Perry disagree on this. Rollins enters and advises that there was no alcohol in Jennifer’s blood and the semen and cause of death does not match the others. Perry is not convinced, saying the suspect confessed. Benson thinks this is a copycat but Perry says those details were not released. Benson asks if it hurts to be sure, and Perry comments that Benson outranks him but one doesn’t make friends at One PP by unsolving homicides. As far as he is concerned, he considers the cases closed. Benson counters that as far as she is concerned, it’s not. Perry leaves her office.

Later, Benson explains to Laura about arresting a suspect but Laura still thinks David did it. Benson explains the breakup was amicable and he went home but Laura doesn’t believe it, saying he is a controlling, twisted prick and he has a temper. That is whys she is breaking up with him. Benson wonders if Jennifer went to find her in a bar and she denies she would be in a bar, she is in AA. But Rollins questions still, saying they heard she dropped out. Laura thinks David told them, saying he has been spying on her and Jennifer thought he was spying on her too. No one knew she left AA, not even Jen, wondering if David hacked her phone, saying there are ways to turn it on and eavesdrop and he could be listening to them right now. She knows what they think what David told them but she is not crazy. Benson explains no one said she is, and Laura says they may not care if they arrested the wrong guy, but she does, Jen is her sister.

Benson and the detectives are in the break room discussing Laura’s issue and Carisi said David said she is paranoid. Rollins says women should be, it's a survival skill. Benson wonders if he is casting shade to cover for himself, and Fin says he did put himself with the victim in her apartment the night she was killed. Homicide gave her apartment the once-over and no sign of struggles but CSU hasn’t touched it. Benson tells them to get CSU over there first thing in the morning, they need to be sure.

At the apartment of Jennifer Knowles at 430 West 28th Street on Saturday, February 11, they see zero prints on a glass coffee table and cleaner residue but the CSU tech finds a tiny spot of diluted blood on the edge and takes a swab. Rollins explains that Jennifer taped over her laptop camera lens. Benson says Laura was not the only one who is paranoid, and Rollins adds that the Director of the FBI and Mark Zuckerberg cover their web cams. Benson tells Rollins to get the laptop to computer crimes and see if there is spyware on it and take the router and see what IP addresses it was communicating with. Fin finds a toolbox under the sink with freshly cut rope, asking if it looks familiar. It looks like the rope Jennifer and the other vics were tied with, and Benson suggests Fin take it to a friend who is a rope expert.

Later, back at SVU, the rope expert, Bennett, explains that the rope that bound Jennifer was not the same as the rope used on the other victims.

Afterwards, David is taken into SVU interrogation with Benson and Fin. He is not thrilled to be there and Fin tells him where to sit. Benson and Fin question him about what they know about him and Jennifer. He says their relationship was one-dimensional; they were only good at sex. They decided to call it quits to not jeopardize their work relationship or friendship. They had sex before they slip and it was beautiful. It was a mutual decision o break up but Benson says Laura says it was Jennifer. David explains that Laura says his golden retriever is a Russian spy but he wouldn’t take that to the bank. Benson says being flip isn’t going to make that – or them – go away. David says nothing. Benson questions if he looked under Jennifer’s kitchen sink that night and he asks if that is a sexual metaphor. Benson informs him they found his fingerprints on the handle on the cabinet under the sink. He has no idea what she us is talking about. Benson says she is obviously not speaking clearly enough, and says with more force that she is talking about David killing Jennifer and also hacking into the NYPD so he could impersonate the Pattern 23 rapist, and him finding rope underneath the cabinet, tying Jennifer’s hands and dumping the body at some construction site. She asks if that is better and more clear, and David says she has a vivid imagination and it is impressive. He says the truth is he is far too smart to do something that stupid, and Benson testily counters he is far too stupid to do something that smart. He says he is done talking and wants a lawyer, and Benson says he is free to go but this is not going away. As he slams the door, Benson tells Fin, “and neither are we.”

At Forlini’s Restaurant at 93 Baxter Street On Saturday, February 11, Benson meets with Barba and Benson explains the serial rapist/killer didn’t do one of them. Benson explains about Jennifer's controlling and emotionally abusive boyfriend whom she broke up with that night, and the proximity of the construction site. Barba says it was the exact MO of the Second Avenue Strangler and that information was private and David could not know those details. Benson suggests he hacked into NYPD as he is a technical genius. She explains the rope was not what the Second Avenue Strangler used and it was found in her apartment. Barba says that is Benson’s only actual piece of real evidence. She thinks it is a damn good piece. Barba says if it matches Benson gets her man and upsets a large apple cart in the process. Benson gets a message and gets quiet, and Barba asks what is it?

Afterwards, Bennett tells Benson and Fin he made an error with the rope, saying that there was a misunderstanding. The lab assistant thought he wanted the rope from her apartment but he wanted rope from the crime scene. He brought him a second sample from the apartment. Benson asks if he is saying the rope used to tie Jennifer matches all the other victims but not the rope they found in her apartment. He says yes, that is where it stands, and excuses himself to make sure nothing else was misfiled. Benson gives a skeptical look to Fin and asks if he is buying this. Fin says the guy is solid and hasn’t made a mistake in 20 years and why lie now, why protect Willard? Benson wonders if this is Willard protecting himself. She says Laura thinks he hacked her and they think he hacked the NYPD which is how he got the MO, maybe he hacked Bennett as well. They need to know what he found out.

Back at SVU, Rollins says computer crimes ran a deep systems check and someone did hack Laura and Jennifer Knowles email accounts and it looks like the same intruder hacked the NYPD, and Bennett’s email accounts and work. Fin wonders what kind of dirt they dug up; Bennett is into ropes, ties, paints and solvents. They think it was Willard but Rollins says computer crimes can’t prove it. Benson wonders if it was Willard and he dug up something on Bennett, that explains why he suddenly changed his story with that lame excuse about mixed-up samples. Benson said to go back to Bennett for a longer conversation, but Fin says he is not returning their calls; he left his office at lunch and he hasn’t come back. Benson tells Fin to track his phone and find him.

Later, Fin and Rollins have found Bennett sitting on a park bench by the river, in the snow. He said he should have thrown his phone in the river. He said he kept thinking about people that he’d want to send a final message. He has a gun in his hand which Fin tried to talk him out of using. Rollins and Fin try to convince him to tell them what happened, and he explains he got a call with no name. The caller told him to change his report and say the ropes don’t match and in case anyone checked to get rid of the rope. If he didn’t do what they asked, there would be shame, a lot of it, something embarrassing, something very wrong. He looks ready to use the gun but Fin continues to talk him down, eventually taking the gun from his hands.

In the hall to his office, Barba tells Benson it doesn’t matter what Bennett does now, he could bring the rope to court on a golden chariot, his credibility is shot and the evidence is tainted and the chain of custody is broken. Benson thinks that Willard is blackmailing himself out of trouble and that is that, and Barba asks if they have anything else on him. Benson testily replies nothing, less than nothing because someone else confessed. Barba said she did get something and he will get her warrants – Benson asking for his computers, his car, and his apartment. She adds they need to move fast because David can be covering his tracks. He tells her to go to his office and he will get the warrants and email them to her by the time she gets there. As Benson walks off, Barba’s phone buzzes; there is a call from an unknown caller. He answers it, and, as Benson runs off, Barba gets a look of worry on his face, and asks, “What about her?”

At Attention Inc. at 132 Varick Street on Monday, February 13, Fin walks in and tells everyone hands off the keyboards, showing his badge. Benson tells David to tell his employees not to touch a thing. David says he doesn’t see a warrant and Benson says it is on its way, but then gets a call from Barba, She asks if they are all set, then says, “What? Why?” When she gets off the call, she explains that Barba is off the case, he has to recuse himself, she does not know why. David suggests somebody realized this investigation makes no sense and told SVU to back off. Benson says that is not going to happen. She leaves with the detectives in tow.

Later, outside the courthouse, Benson catches up with Barba asking what happened. He said he had to recuse himself and he can’t tell her why. He says she has to trust him but she said he doesn’t trust her, how does this work? He says it is not personal but she raises her voice and says it is now. She asks him what happened and he says nothing. She says she has a viable suspect for a brutal murder and pleads that she needs those warrants. He motions to a nearby building and asks her is she sees that building over there, telling her there is a whole floor of ADAs and to ask one of them; right now it is the best he can do. He walks off and Benson is flabbergasted.

Later, Benson is able to serve the warrants to an outraged David, and Benson thinks his outrage is because he didn’t see the warrant on an email, it is and old-fashioned written one. Fin tells him officers are searching his car and apartment right now. He thinks they are wasting their time, and Benson barks orders for the employees to get their hands off their computers and they will need access to all their hardware and servers that they are linked to. She adds NYPD will be transporting them and they will be returned to them when their search of the contents in complete. David comments that is quite a speech, asking if she rehearsed that all the way over there. He asks if she got the warrant from her friend Barba, he thought Barba was smarter than that. She looks at him with realization and then to Fin, then tells David he needs to step aside, now. He moves away and she storms past him.

Back at SVU, Fin mentions all the data TARU has to go through, and Rollins adds that CSU says nothing in David’s car matches anything found in any of the victims, including Jennifer. Benson says they know this guy knows how to clean up his messes. Fin mentions that Willard referred to Barba as her friend and wonders how he knew that. Benson states they have to assume he is reading their emails. They suspect he is blackmailing Barba because suddenly he would get the warrant. Benson thinks they need more information, and Carisi mentions that a uni found a burner cell in the garbage outside Willard’s apartment and the outgoing calls show one call to Bennett’s office and then one call to Barba’s office. There were also a bunch of calls to a number in the Bronx, Ashtonja Abreu. Rollins wonders who is that.

At 596 East 152nd Street, Bronx, on Tuesday, February 14, Benson and Carisi speak with Ashtonja who says she already talked to the other detective. She says it was the one looking into that DA, and she didn’t do nothing, she is keeping her life straight and is not like her mom. The other detective said the money was for sex but she’s not like that. She tries to close the door but Benson keeps her from doing so, and works her way in to the apartment, asking for her to slow down. Ashtonja says she is not supposed to tell anyone, but Benson says it is okay. She said the detective said it was some corruption thing and it was a cover up. Carisi explains the man wasn’t a real detective, and they are. Benson adds if she doesn’t want to get into trouble, start talking.

Later, Benson meets with Barba in the bar, and she tells him he needs to speak, now, about what he did and how Willard got to him, and mentions Ashtonja Abreu. Barba looks away and asks if she talked to her, and Benson replies yes, and Willard talked to her too, he seems to think he is paying her for sex. Barba picks up his work and says he knows, he told him, and Benson says right before he called off getting her those warrants. He says yes, then moves to a booth to sit down. He explains that Willard got it wrong; he knew Ashtonja’s mother who was a heroin addict. She was a witness in a case of a guy who raped and killed two women. She was the only witness. The day of the trial she showed up so strung out she could barely talk. The judge would not give her a recess and when she asked for a loan, admitting he gave it to her knowing she would buy heroin. She bought what she bought and did what she did and she got on the stand and buried the guy. She sent a really bad man to prison for the rest of his life and died of an overdose 8 hours later. Benson sighs. Barba adds she left behind her 10-year-old daughter. Benson concludes he has been given money to her ever since. He adds she lives with her grandmother and they are broke and he helps out and Willard must have hacked his bank account and tracked down Ashtonja. Benson asks why didn’t he tell her this, and Barba explains he didn’t want to compromise her case, she might have been accused of having a vendetta against Willard. Benson states she could still be accused of that, but Barba adds he wanted to talk to Ashtonja first. If this goes public, she is right in the middle. Benson asks how bad is this going to be for him, and Barba explains it depends on the District Attorney, he told him everything. They might have seen their last case together. Benson shakes her head and asks if there is anything that she can do. He says what she always does; go after the son of a bitch.

Back at SVU, Benson, Carisi and Rollins discuss this and Benson says nobody is dropping the case. Rollins mentions they lose the rope evidence and Benson asks what else do they have. Rollins states not much, Willard is too smart to leave any traces of blackmail. Carisi says they did find that Willard is more of a perv than they thought; he was using his laptop camera to record his and Jennifer’s extra-curriculars. Carisi plays a video and Benson gets the idea. They wonder why he did that, and Carisi comments that Jennifer was not in on the game. He re-starts the video and Jennifer notices the camera is on, and she shuts it, calling David a son of a bitch. Benson says it confirms Jennifer’s sister’s claim that David was spying on her. Rollins says the flakey sister is the most reliable witness in this case. Benson says, “Let’s go.”

Benson and Rollins find Laura in a bar, drinking. She asks that her sister was raped and murdered and she is not allowed to drink. Rollins says this may not be the best time, but Laura says there is no best time, claiming Willard killed her and they still not have arrested him. Benson says they are working on it, and Rollins says Laura was right, he was spying on her and recording her. Laura asks why didn’t they believe her before, because he told them she was an alcoholic? She says she has eyes and ears. Benson states that they know that. Laura says he killed her and Jennifer said she had it covered, she kept telling her that. She adds that in case he tried to fire her for dumping him she would be fine, that she covered her bases.

As Benson and Rollins leave the bar, they discuss this revelation and Benson wonders that if Willard had video of Jen, maybe she did the same, Rollins adding in case the breakup got out of hand. Benson instruct her to get TARU back to her apartment.

Benson and the detectives are at Jennifer’s apartment and Fin says the camera on the computer was taped over. A TARU tech said they checked the victim’s cell and there is nothing there. Carisi says they are surrounded by things that are always listening; and friend and he were talking about going to the show and the next thing he is getting pop-up ads for Broadway musicals. They never searched it, they just talked about it. Fin dryly comments if that is his friend Miss 34B. Carisi doesn’t answer and says all he is saying is things are always listening, asking Siri the temperature and Siri replies. Fin asks if they are looking for a talking toaster. The TARU tech says she found something, then, walking to the TV, says, “TV on.” The TV switches on and she explains this TV can record video. Fin comments he does not see a lens, but the TARU tech points out it is behind the black border and it should save all the videos. She opens the video files and a recording from the night of the murder is there, time stamped 9:33 PM, set to be voice activated. They play the video and see Jennifer and David arguing about what she texted to her sister about him being an arrogant, controlling. Machiavellian narcissist. He admits he reads her texts and emails and listens to her phone calls. She says he is sick and he calls her a slut and she slaps him. He hits her – hard – and she flies to the ground. He yells at her to get up, they are not done, then realizes what he’s done. He goes off-screen and Benson tells the detectives to arrest David, now.

At Arraignment Court Part 15 on Wednesday, February 22, David pleads guilty, saying it was an accident, not murder. The judge tells him to save it for his trial, then sets the bail at $1 million cash or bond. She calls for the next case, and David looks angrily back at Benson who is sitting in the gallery with Laura, Rollins, and Barba. Detective Perry is also there, and he jokingly tells Benson good work, he is glad he told her to keep digging. She smiles and Rollins comments with sarcasm that he was a real inspiration. He walks off. Benson looks to Laura who said Benson believed her, and she got him. Benson said “we” got him, looking back to Rollins and Barba. Barba nods.

Walking outside, Barba tells Benson that word is Willard’s attorney is already scrambling to make a deal. Benson says unless he pleads to murder, she says try the case. Barba agrees but he has no input, he is off the case. Benson shakes her head and says "I am so sorry about all this, Rafael." He admits what he did was wrong but the truth is he would do it again; not everything done in the dark is shameful. Benson asks now what, and he explains he has a meeting with the DA in 5 minutes and he will tell him what happens next. He adds, “You know, I love this job, oh I really do, but sometimes…” Benson says she knows. As he walks off, Benson stands watching him. He turns around and looks back at her, and she puts her hand on her heart. He turns away and walks to the entrance, as Benson looks on. As we look from a high vantage point to the DA’s building, we fade to black.

All Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) Copyright © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


Nancy R said...

It only took 5 years, but Benson finally called Barba "Rafael" (in the last scene)! Barba called Benson "Liv" at the end of the first season.
Since he appears in the next episode and the 2-part finale, it looks like he didn't get into too much trouble.

Liesel said...

Yes!! She called him Rafael FINALLY!

Js McFail said...

FINALLY! ITA! RAFI...This was one of the best episodes in a while...I do think they should've made a 2 parter though...The first case was never resolved, which left me wondering how it ended!
I'm a Barson shipper so I loved all the the B & B 'feels' & scenes...

Another 2 week gap coming up...NBC get your act together, will ya!

Loved the acting, writing, etc. on this one!
Thanks Chris...

Margot Undercliffe said...

Wonder what size Amanda is. Sorry, just can't help myself but say it.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

Not a barson shipper but can't deny how great their scenes together are! Def one of the best eps to date - that closing scene....

Laurie Fanat said...

This episode was a step in the right direction. More subtle on the personal things, unless it really mattered to the story (Benson and Barba). I don't understand why the story of the serial rapist was pushed aside so quickly. A two episode story as you suggested Chris would have been very satisfying. I don't know if this is a showrunner issue or with the exec producers overall, but I feel like they are not thinking big on this show any more.

The very last scene at the end with Benson and Barba didn't affect me as it did some others. She calls him by his first name earlier and then immediately later, looks like she is going to give the pledge of allegiance. It was cheesy. If they are such close friends, I would have expected her to do something like touch his arm before they parted as a sign of support. But the hand to the heart move - very juvenile.

Otherwise, it was a good episode. It too bad that the show is slipping in viewership. I'm starting to worry about renewal.

Draven Long said...

One of THE best episodes of Season 18. Except this should have made two parts, the first case felt like window dressing.

From this episode on, remember that Fin is now SERGEANT!! I'm so excited to see him take more of an authoritative tone with the detectives, especially IF Liv ever does miss an episode.

I thought it was hilarious when Fin called Carisi out after catching that bra ad on his laptop. I think the excuse Carisi made was a bit out there. And I'm sad that he isn't going to be dating Rollins, but it does loo as if he feels towards her like a sister, and not a girlfriend. Maybe we'll even get to see Miss 34B...😂😂

Rafael? That took less time than I thought, only about 5 entire seasons. He was calling her Liv before Season 14 ended. Maybe, just maybe, Barson shippers could soon find themselves lucky.

Don't worry, Barba is fine. You know how Dick Wolf is. He is slated for the next episode as well as the season finales, so I think it's safe to say he's not in too much trouble.

Overall, this was a fantastic hour. I give it 8 out of 10.

Get your heads out of your asses, NBC. You have four weeks to air seven to eight episodes. What is with you?!

The Newsroom airs April 26, and sounds pretty good.

Julia Volovoi said...

I feel terrible admitting this, but somehow I completely missed the fact that Fin is the new Sergeant (I mean, Christ, it's about time!)
One thing I'm almost positive about is that Miss 34B is his sister, or some other family member. I mean, I'm hoping. I really do not want him to be with Rollins (please God!)

In fact, the only one I'm okay with him being with at the moment is Barba, but that's just me personally.

I think the episode was alright, I do agree with you in that Barba's secret should have been, well, better. Barba's line about "everything done in the dark" pretty much summed the situation up, and I doubt he'll be kicked off the show.

I'm also glad that his relationships with other characters have started to pick up, especially that adorable moment with Liv (though I think of them more as friends, sorry!!) Same with Rollins and Carisi, I love their characters but I think of them as siblings or good friends way before thinking about them romantically.

Something that kinda bugged me about the episode was the loose ends by the end of it. I have so many questions!!

Great review as always!

Martin Jessie said...

Why does it feel like Rollins is the 34B which would make it ok if SHE was using Carisi's computer. Also if Barba do get into trouble then that opens the dooe for Carisi to movw in his spot. I mean he did pass the bar and got all offended when he felt Barba was not doing a good enough job 2 episodes ago. Also I must have missed when Fin became sergeant, but I hope it's true as its been along time coming. Should have been happened I mean he does have tenure on the show and all.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Martin Jesse - you didn't really miss that Fin made Sergeant; it was in a deleted scene. I have it at the end of my recap for "Net Worth", the episode from which the scene was deleted.

Alex said...

Just thought I’d point something out re: Barba’s secret.
Ethically, yes, giving money to someone so they can buy heroin is wrong. But legally the issue is that he gave a witness money in the middle of a trial. That is a big no-no and could easily be interpreted as bribing a witness, opening up every single case of his to scrutiny. That is why it’s potentially career-ending.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Alex - good point!

Ana Andrade said...

@Chris - they have already mentioned that Rollins is from Loganville, Georgia in season 15. The episode was called Gridiron Soldier. It's not exactly new information. Maybe you forgot?

Chris Zimmer said...

@Ana Andrade - yes, guess I did forget!

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Wouldn't it be great if Barba had brothers named Donny, Leo, and Mike :)

Jennifer Eken said...

Haha! My mind immediately went there too.