Thursday, April 27, 2017

Law & Order SVU “The Newsroom” Recap & Review

“The Newsroom” could have easily been titled “Life at Fox News” as it mirrored the recent happenings at Fox News with founder and former CEO Roger Ailes. Maybe SVU didn’t want to mirror Ailes too much as they selected Christopher McDonald to play the pervy CEO role. Mind you, he played his character with perfect lecherousness, although I would have expected Harold Coyle to be older and far less attractive.

It was fabulous having Peter Gallagher reprise his role as Chief Dodds, allowing him and Benson the opportunity to close the loop on Sergeant Mike Dodds’ death. They deftly wove this into the story via Harold Coyle alleging that Dodds died and the case closed quickly as a result of  both Benson’s incompetence and some sort of NYPD corruption. Those threats only made Chief Dodds angry and not only strengthen his resolve to pursue a case against Coyle, but also to patch things up with Benson. I believe that Chief Dodds is one of the few people that we’ve seen in years that Benson actually has some real chemistry with. (I attribute that to Peter Gallagher, who always is so likable no matter what role he’s playing.) Too bad he is her boss.

We also find that Barba was on suspension as a result of the situation he mentioned in “Know It All” where he gave money to a junkie witness in a previous case.

I found this episode highly enjoyable and fast paced. But something gnawed at me while watching it live and that got even stronger as I recapped it: the victim(s) were completely unsympathetic. Of course, Heidi was not to blame for being raped, period. Heidi did, however, allow Harold Coyle to sexually harass her for years and while she complained about it after the rape, she never seemed to say no to Coyle as long as it benefited her career or her bank account. Once it came to rape, the line was drawn and she was clearly traumatized. The same thing for Margery, who didn’t turn on Harold until she herself was close to being raped. These women were willing to look the other way as long as they were being compensated. Again, there is no excuse for rape but I find it inexcusable when women (or men) allow harassment to continue over long periods. This only emboldens the harasser.

I was surprised that Benson suggested Heidi may have a better chance with her case in civil court. Had Heidi formally taken that action before Barba turned down the criminal case, it could have torpedoed Barba’s case and made it look like Heidi only made the rape claim for money. She was fortunate she was advised later not to go that route.

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:
Peter Gallagher - Chief William Dodds
Christopher McDonald - Harold Coyle
Bonnie Somerville - Heidi Sorenson
Mark Moses - George Thanos
Peyton List - Margery Evans
J.C. MacKenzie - Counselor Richard Pace
Beth Chamberlin - Gwendolyn Gates
Jenna Stern – Judge Elana Barth
Paloma Guzmán - Davina Delucci
Joanne Baron - Counselor Diane Schwartz
Stephen Bradbury – Judge Colin McNamara
Danny Wolohan – Steven Turner
Jacob Ware - Mark James
Mellissa Miller – Christine Davis
Joanna Howard – Diane Douglas
Christine Jones – Alana Reed
Heather Girardi – Counselor Allison Bell
Amber Owens – Female Anchor
Michael Chenevert - Reporter #1
Dawn Yanek - Reporter #2
Jack Nawada-Braunwart – Noah Porter Benson
Tyree Simpson – Desk Sergeant

On the set of an HNT Morning Live, Heidi Sorenson thanks Benson for appearing on the segment. Heidi comments she hasn’t seen Benson “forever” and when she asks Benson how is she, Benson says she is good, just a little nervous. Heidi tell Benson not to be, she is a pro. Co-anchor George Thanos asks who they are waiting for, a damn actress,  then the actress - Davina Delucci – arrives. She has been escorted to the set by Harold Coyle, who says he practically kidnapped her. He kisses her while Heidi and George look on with mild annoyance and discomfort. The show then opens and introductions are made. The hosts explain Davina alleged she was raped on the set of her 2007 film by her co-star in the film’s infamous sex scene. Heidi first asks Benson to tell them about workplace sexual assault. Benson says it happens all too often and is one of the least reported crimes as women are afraid of not being believed or losing their jobs. Davina explains she was scared if she said anything she would never work again, her rapist was her co-star and director. While Davina explains how she was assaulted, Heidi seems to feed her comments as if she knows exactly what Davina is going through. Benson picks up on this and gives Heidi a questioning look. When George says he can’t imagine what she is going through, Heidi hotly counters of course he can’t because it never happened to him. George gets a strange look on his face and the producer Steven Turner motions for them to cut the interview and George does so. When they cut off the air, Heidi quickly excuses herself and Benson follows. She asks Heidi if she is okay and what just happened.  Heidi blurts out that Harold Coyle raped her in January on a couch in his office. Producer Steven Turner suggests that Heidi get some air, but she says she is fine, she is just tired. Benson counters she thinks they need to speak, and Heidi backtracks and said to forget what she said, she didn’t mean any of it. She races off and Benson watches, stunned.

Back at SVU, Benson and the detectives replay the segment. Benson asks the detectives if they all saw that, and Rollins asks if that was an on-air disclosure. Fin comments they were watching live, and they couldn’t cut away fast enough. Benson states then Heidi told her that Harold Coyle raped her. Carisi adds he’s heard a lot of rumors about that guy; he’s paranoid and he is a predator. Rollins asks Benson how well she knows Heidi, and Benson explains they met at a women in New York panel year ago and they stayed in touch. She doesn’t see Heidi making this up. Rollins questions if Heidi gave her any more details, and Benson says no, she backtracked and is now not returning her calls. Carisi asks what is their move now, and an officer nearby interrupts and has a man with him who says it is urgent. Benson asks how can she help them, and he says he saw her on HNT this morning and asks if Heidi was talking about Harold Coyle. Benson questions why does he ask, and the man explains that he assaulted his wife. Benson appears stunned.

In the interview room, Mark James explains to Benson and Rollins how his wife Amy was raped by Harold Coyle. They did not go to the police as Amy said Harold made a tape which made it look like they were having an affair and Harold said if she went to the police, he would release the tapes. After that, she was depressed and committed suicide 6 months later. He wants them to go after the network as they knew about Coyle and didn’t do a damn thing. Mark adds that Harold did not threaten her directly, it was the producer, Steven Turner, who said if Amy went after Coyle, it would be scorched earth and HNT would destroy them.

Later, Fin and Carisi approach Steven Turner as he enters the HNT office building. He tries to blow them off but they say they are there about Amy James. He suggests they talk to the lawyers but Fin says they will ask them to turn over the tapes of Amy that Harold was blackmailing her with. Steven says they are off base. Carisi says now they have two allegations of assault and that a publicist who is mentally unstable is easy to discredit but the star of the network, not so much. Harold arrives in the building, surrounded by reporters. Harold, there with Margery Evans, and he explains Heidi was emotional after hearing Davina’s story and that is why they love her here. When asked what is next for her, Margery states she hopes to follow in Heidi’s footsteps and she considers her a mentor. As Fin and Carisi watch, Steven said the real reason why Heidi had her breakdown is because she is trying to renegotiate her contract and she found Margery Evans is being groomed to replace her. Carisi asks groomed by who, Harold Coyle? Steven explains this is a brutal business for women, there is a shelf life, no matter how much plastic surgery they get.

At the apartment of Heidi Sorenson at 472 East 51st Street on Thursday, March 16, Heidi opens the door to find Benson, and Heidi states she told her she didn’t want to talk. Benson says please, it is important. Heidi sighs and as she walks away from Benson, Benson follows and asks if it is true that she is renegotiating her contract with HNT. Heidi explains she is exploring her options. Benson questions if that is why she doesn’t want to tell her the truth about what happened this morning. Heidi states she should have never said his name out loud like that. Benson asks why, because it isn’t true or because she is scared of getting fired. Heidi gives her a look but doesn’t answer. Benson says okay, let’s say it is true. Heidi counters that she is not ruining her career because she had a weak moment; she fixed it and apologized to Harold personally and he knows it won’t happen again. Benson questions if she knows Amy James, and Heidi replies she had “problems.” Benson comments he had tape on her, and when Heidi reacts strangely, Benson asks Heidi if he had tape on HER as well. Heidi insists no, but Benson says they can fight this. Heidi tells Benson not to judge her and don’t worry, she is not going to kill herself. Benson suggests to Heidi when she is ready to have a serious conversation, Heidi knows where she is. Benson quickly turns and storms out. Heidi gets a look of worry.

Back at SVU, Benson is at her desk and Rollins enters her office and announces that Chief Dodds is there. He enters Benson’s office, greeting her and Barba, who is also present. Dodds explains that One PP got a call from Steven Turner at HNT, and asks if they are investigating Harold Coyle on assault charges. Benson states it is very preliminary, and Dodds questions who is the complainant. Benson emphasizes it is really very preliminary, and Dodds says that is what Turner said, adding that her detectives are basically throwing spaghetti against the wall. Barba interjects that, with all due respect, he is hoping Dodds is not instructing them to stay away from HNT. Dodds states of course not, a powerful, bombastic news organization with a penchant for suing law enforcement who go after enemies on Twitter and who have friends in the current administration. Benson says that she hears him. Dodds adds that if they have reasonably there individuals in such organizations that may be guilty of sexual assault, of course she has to investigate…just have a damn good reason. Benson acknowledges that she hears him. He states he will leave them to it, and he exits her office. Benson comments to Barba, “So, happy to be back at work yet?” Barba replies, “After that, it almost makes me miss suspension.”

At home, Benson puts Noah to bed and he wants one last story. But she says no more stories, they have to go to bed, it is late. She tells him to close his eyes and she turns off the light and says she loves him. There is a knock on her apartment door and it is Heidi who is sorry for bothering her. Benson says it is okay and tells Heidi to come in. Heidi explains they are replacing her with Margery and officially Heidi is on vacation. She tells Benson she was right; when she went to Harold to apologize he forced her onto her knees and said she had to show him how serious she was. She actually thought that would work and she would get her job back. It’s one thing he screwed her in private but now he screwed her in public. Benson comments that Heidi is ready to go after Coyle now, and Heidi states she knows what it looks like, that she is doing this because she was fired. She says this is not the reason. Benson says she believes her, then says, “Let’s get this guy.”

At SVU in the interview room, Heidi explains to Benson and Rollins that its started day one in her job interview. Coyle said to her that she was beautiful and bright and she could be a star, but he interviewed 5 other women that are just as qualified but he’ll hire whoever shows him she wants it most. He put his hand inside her blouse and his tongue in her mouth and she was shocked and frozen but she did not run out of the room and she got the job. The behavior continued – touching, kissing, groping. He would demand she wear lacy panties and thigh-high stockings and before she went on air she’d have to put on a private fashion show and pretend to seduce him and he would tape her. This went on for years and she didn’t think it would get any worse until January when it did. The ratings were high and her contract was up and she told Coyle if he wanted her to stay at HNT she wanted a promotion. He locked the door, threw her onto a couch, pulled up her skirt and raped her. She fought him but she couldn’t get away, and he said if she complained he would release the tapes or worse, and if she wasn’t happy at the morning show, he would hire Margery. She didn’t report it; she straightened herself up and walked out and went back to work, like a good girl – like a good, stupid girl. Margery was the one person she told, she was trying to warn her.

At HNT Studios at 1311 Sixth Avenue on Friday, March 17, Benson and Rollins speak with Margery. Her lawyer is present. The lawyer says Margery wants to cooperate but they want to protect themselves. Benson says she is not a suspect. Rollins asks how does she describe her relationship with Heidi, and Margery considers her a friend and Heidi and Harold’s relationship has been good but they’ve have had dust-ups on occasion. She says she doesn’t remember Heidi telling her about the assault or warned her. She asks if that is what Heidi is telling the police, and when Benson says yes, Margery says Harold is like a father to all of them. The lawyer ends the interview, saying that constitutes full cooperation. Margery wonders why Heidi would say something like that, and Benson asks if she thinks any woman would go public and subject herself to that kind of public scrutiny if it weren’t true. Margery doesn’t believe it is true; that is not the Harold Coyle she knows.

Meanwhile, Fin and Carisi are in a restaurant speaking with George Thanos. He says Harold values three things in a female anchor: high cheekbones, long legs, and how willing she is to get down on her knees. He is a paranoid egomaniac who has intel on everyone; internal investigations dead-ended. When Carisi asks if this includes Amy James, George said it is a shame about Amy. Off the record, he suspected Coyle was harassing her. He is sure Heidi had her fare share of unwanted attention, asking if she is making a criminal complaint on the sexual harassment, Carisi says no, she is saying Coyle raped her. George is stunned, adding so that what it was about yesterday. When Fin says Heidi states it happened the morning of January 3, and that if George and Heidi did a show that day, George says yes but she didn’t say anything to him. When Carisi asks if her demeanor was different, George admits she has been “off” the past few months with crying jags and snapping at the crew. He was not surprised she melted down on camera. Fin asks if George would be willing to tell that to their ADA, and George says he hates Coyle but his contract expires in 6 months and if he gets on his bad side, he can’t walk around his office in his underwear and make it all go away. Fin and Carisi give each other a look.

Back at SVU, Benson speaks with Dodds and Barba, Benson explaining that everyone at HNT knows Coyle but are not willing to talk about it. Dodds says this is par for the course, and Barba states he was hoping for one corroborating witness. Benson explains they have Heidi’s story and once she came forward she has been consistent. Dodds asks about texts or emails to Coyle but Benson says there is no communication saying “why did you rape me” and there is nothing from him to her. When Dodds asks about the timeline, Benson explains she got to work at 6 and she was in with him from 6:20 to 7:10, Barba adding behind closed doors and no witnesses. But Benson says Coyle was there, thinking it is time to get his side of the story. Barba comments there is no evidence for leverage, but Benson counters that Coyle does not know that, and he is notoriously paranoid. Dodds suggest he and Benson will talk to him. Benson asks if he doesn’t think she can handle it alone, but Dodds explains that he does but he wants Coyle to know how serious the NYPD is taking this. Benson smiles and nods.

At HNT Studios at 1311 Sixth Avenue on Friday, March 17, Benson and Chief Dodds arrive, led in to a conference room by Harold Coyle. Coyle introduces his attorney, Richard Pace. After Dodds introduces himself and Benson, Richard asks why they are all here. Dodds explains they would like to talk to Harold about Heidi Sorensen. Harold calls her a “wonderful talent” who has been under a lot of stress lately. Benson asks if he can tell them about his relationship with her, and Harold replies it is very good, mutual respect, appreciation. Dodds gets the appreciation, he gets that; she is very attractive. Harold admits she is. Benson asks if she has ever been in his office alone together, and Harold states of course, yes. Benson questions if on January 3 they were alone together, and Harold states it is possible, she will have to ask his secretary, asking why. Benson explains that Heidi is alleging that he raped her on that morning. Harold calmly states he is shocked to hear that and he is stunned. Benson asks if that is a denial, and Harold replies absolutely. Dodds adds that he can assure Harold these allegations are credible. Harold counters that he can assure them there is no merit to the story. Benson comments she does not see the upside of her making something like that up, and Harold states that Heidi is aging out of the demo and is obviously looking to leverage HNT. Benson adds that Heidi has not hired a civil attorney, she came directly to Benson. Harold question WHEN did Heidi come to her, after she found out she was being replaced by Margery Evans? Benson says nothing, and Dodds replies that they just want to hear his side to know what they are looking at. Harold curtly states that any sexual assault claims are baseless, more than false, and from where he sits, defamatory. Benson asks if he is threatening to sue the NYPD. Harold counters that he just wants to remind them that this organization is in the business of uncovering and exposing the truth. Dodds scoffs, calling the network’s truth a matter of opinion. Harold states that the point is, if there is anything to find, they will find it, like who was responsible for Sergeant Mike Dodd’s death. Benson glares at Harold and Dodds looks shocked. Harold goes on to say “and why the internal investigation was closed in less than 24 hours.” Dodds gives a cold look to Harold and say’s “Okay. We’re done here.” Richard says he thinks they can all agree the meeting has ceased to be productive, and Dodds states he thinks he knows that they are looking at here and rest assured they will continue to investigate. Harold says good, so will they, and he knows the NYPD’s year hasn’t been as disastrous as Chicago’s but no one at One PP wants stories about incompetence – maybe corruption – dominating the news cycle. Dodds gives Harold a cold glare and as he and Benson turn to walk out, Harold adds with a grin that the thing about digging is that you never know what you will find. He laughs as Benson and Dodds quickly exit the room.

As they exit the building, Benson comments to Dodds that what Harold implied about Mike’s death…and Dodds cuts her off and says that’s what they do at this network – stoke fear and paranoia. He doesn’t think Benson is responsible. He knows a few months ago he said some things, things he didn’t mean and he should have apologized.. Benson looks teary-eyed and says it’s alright. Dodds counters no it’s not, he is her boss and he was out of line. The only thing he could say was the wound was still fresh. Benson replies she knows. Dodds explains that they don’t give up this fight; if you stop fighting, the bullies win.

At Heidi’s apartment, she and Benson watch Margery speak on another news show defending Harold saying she did not see what Heidi is alleging. She adds Harold is incredibly hurt and he has treated Heidi with nothing but respect. Heidi turns off the TV and says Margery is a real pro and Coyle knows what he is doing. Benson states they knew this would happen and Coyle is playing hardball. Benson explains if they want to take it to court, they need more for the jury and asks if Heidi told anyone about the assault and she said Margery was the only one she confided in. Benson wonders if Heidi may have more leverage pursuing a civil case. Her phone buzzes and Heidi says this isn’t about money, Benson asks if she knows a Gwendolyn Gates. She does; she was an anchor at HNT 10 years ago. Benson states she is on her way to SVU and she said Harold assaulted her too.

At SVU, Gwendolyn explains to Rollins and Carisi how she heard Margery spouting that inane defense of Harold and she couldn’t stay silent any longer. As Rollins asks her to tell them what happened, Benson and Dodds observing from her office, Gwendolyn tells them they will need more paper. Dodds comments that HNT is doing their job for them. Benson says the more audacity they have with their denials, the more it is backfiring. Fin enters the office and explains they have two more women who say they were harassed by Coyle, and Benson instructs him to get their statements.

Later, Carisi and Rollins present info to Barba on 4 women who have made complaints about harassment by Coyle, going back 15 years, but they are allegations of misdemeanor assault, outside the statute of limitations. Barba comments that Heidi’s rape is a he said/she said. Rollins mentions one allegation of attempted rape was made by Alana Reed who quit right after the incident. She did not go to HR but she was George Thanos’ assistant and he hates Coyle. Barba comments this gives him one more reason.

Afterwards, Fin and Carisi speak with George about Alana and wonder why Alana did not tell him. The detective speculate Alana did not think George would believe her and back her up, like Heidi. George explains he and Heidi have been behind the desk in the “foxhole” for 7 years and nobody has her back more than he does. Fin tells him to act like it and testify how upset she was after the rape, they need somebody to back up her story. He says he wants to but he can’t. Carisi brings up George’s own daughter and George explains it is a kamikaze career move. Fin tells him to think of it as going down as a hero. George signs in apparent agreement.

At Arraignment Court part 12 on Monday, April 10, Coyle is being arraigned and Judge McNamara presides. The plea is not guilty and Barba presses for $10 million bail, but the judge grants bail at $2 million and Coyle must surrender his passport. As Coyle walks out of the courtroom, he tells Dodds and Benson he hopes they know what they are doing, and he walks off. Dodds says it is good to see him. As Barba approaches, Dodds tells him good luck, be careful what you wish for. As Dodds leaves, Benson asks Barba now what. Barba explains he files a motion to include the testimony of 4 of the victims and the defense files a motion to exclude. Benson asks if he knows the other women are pursuing a civil case, and Barba he does. He already asked for the depositions and he hopes to hell the judge agrees to the pattern or they are looking at a he said/she said with a man who has no compunction about lying.

Later, Barba watches the video depositions of Alana Reed, Diane Douglas, Gwendolyn Gates, and Christine Davis, all who explain the harassment they had to endure from Coyle. He also had them on tape.

In Motions Court Part 21 on Monday, April 10, Judge Elana Barth presiding, Barba presents his case to use the depositions as part of an on-going pattern of behavior, but Judge Barth rules that the allegations are more prejudicial than probative and denies his motion. Benson is in the gallery and Barba tells her it is not the ruling he was hoping for and it leaves them with two witnesses – Heidi and George. When Benson asks if that is enough to go to trial, Barba says if he is willing to go out on a very high, very shaky limb. Benson comments she assumes that is a yes, and Barba says “Damn right it is.”

At a later day, in court, Benson is on the stand as the news clip where Heidi and Benson were on the morning show is played. Benson testified that Heidi was triggered and traumatized and exhibited symptoms of a sexual assault. Heidi had an emotional reaction and then she back down, which is not uncommon. She confirms two days later Heidi said Harold assaulted her. Under cross examination, Richard comments the disclosure was well timed while Benson was in the studio and Benson states she believed her. Richard says it is Benson’s experience to believe most victims at first disclosure and Benson agrees. He brings up that Heidi reversed herself and later when Benson pressed, Heidi denied them. Benson explains at that time she did not want to cooperate. Richard said she only cooperated when she found out she was being let go from HNT. As Harold smirks, Benson testifies she does not think Heidi was financially motivated then or now. Richard states Heidi was losing a $12 million a year job but Benson is a believer. Barba asks if there is a question and the judge mentions his name to stop Richard and he says nothing further.

Later, Heidi testifies about the assaults over the years and how it escalated and how he said he controlled her career and no one said no to the boss. She explains what she had to do while he recorded her. He went along with it because of the underlying threat of being fired. She outlines how he raped her and that she did not report it as she was in shock and afraid for her job. She explains how it affected her personally and that she couldn’t keep it in any longer. She will never work at HNT again and her future is uncertain.

Under cross examination, she is asked if she was in contact with a civil attorney and she admits she spoke to someone but decided not to go that route. Richard brings up the other four co-workers and their civil suits and other complaints and high payouts. In the gallery, Carisi gets a text message and shows it to Benson and Rollins. Heidi states she is not pursuing that route but Richard wonders if she isn’t waiting until after the disposition of the criminal trial, saying that would be a smart strategy. Barba objects and Judge Barth sustains it. Richard ends the questioning. Barba also sees a message and then looks back at Carisi who shakes his head. When Judge Barth asks for Barba’s next witness, he asks for a recess and she grants it, saying they will resume after lunch. Barba races to Benson and the detectives to hear that George Thanos is not coming, no explanation. Benson thinks Coyle got to him. Barba tells Carisi to find out.

Carisi and Fin speak with George who says Heidi will be fine and get paid; corporate wants this to go away. Carisi reminds him Harold is guilty. Carisi continue to press and George admits Coyle is going after his daughter who has a juvie record and they are threatening to go public. Fin mentions they can subpoena him but George counters they know how that goes; he has to protect one woman in his life from Coyle – his daughter. He storms off.

Back in court, Margery is on the stand for the defense and speaks highly of Harold. She never sensed an issue with Heidi and she never complained and loved her job. Barba objects to the speculative line of questioning and Judge Barth overrules him but tells Richard to move along. Richard brings up January 3 and Heidi did not indicate any change in demeanor. Under cross, Barba brings up Margery replacing Heidi after Heidi accused Harold of sexual assault and also negotiating for a new salary and job at the time. Barba mentions $10 million a year, and Margery is silent.

Afterwards, outside the courtroom, Heidi is upset the jury has to decide whether to believe her or Margery. She sees Margery and despite Benson’s attempts to keep them apart, Heidi races over to Margery and confronts her to ask her why. Heidi asks her why defend Harold and Margery explains she believes in loyalty. Heidi says not to her or the other women he harassed. Margery states that is not her experience. When Benson suggest to Heidi that they go, Heidi says Margery needs to hear this: he promised Margery her job and asked what else he promised her, adding there is a cost. Benson tells Margery she may think she has to do whatever Coyle asks – perjure herself on the stand, let him treat her like she has no value and discard her when he is through – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Margery insists he would never do that to her. She tells Heidi she is sorry for whatever happened to her, but she is not Heidi. She walks off, leaving Benson, Rollins, and Heidi there, stunned. Margery walks into the elevator and holds her head high.

At the residence of Harold Coyle at 95 East 74th Street in Tuesday, April 11, Margery has arrived, saying she in there to check in. As they walk upstairs, he says she is happy she came and he wants to celebrate. She asks that he knows the trial is not over yet but he thinks it is, saying the jury will see Heidi as a cold, calculating, aging career woman with dollar signs in her sights. He pours them both a drink and she asks that he did rape her. He says the truth isn’t important, it’s what you can get people to believe now. He asks how about that celebration and what she has in mind, and she replies she can think of a lot of things. He comments he likes the way she thinks. She says first, she’s been a good soldier all these months defending him and taking the stand and wants a show of good faith, asking for her tape back. He says he would never use that tape against her, he has too much respect for her. She counters that respectfully, she would like it back, wherever he keeps it. She says she will wait. He states wow, now she is demanding, and she says she is serious, now that she has the position they can start over and have a real, professional relationship. He puts down his drink and says he has another idea; he’s been a gentleman and been patient. He touches her face and says there is no dancing away tonight; if she wants to keep that job, it’s time to show him how much. He leers at her and tells her to take off her clothes and get on her knees. She does nothing, and then he forces himself on her. But Margery is recording all of this.

Later, at SVU, Benson and Rollins watch the recording as Margery tells her she managed to fight him off and run out. Benson tells Margery she took a huge risk, but Margery explains she had to find out for herself. She thought she was different but she wasn’t. She realizes she perjured herself and is will to re-testify. She is sorry for everything. She asks what happens now, and Benson explains they get this to the ADA.

Afterwards, Barba shows the recording to Harold and Richard Pace, the latter asking what is on the table. Barba says with Margery it is misdemeanor touching at least and he is confident about aggravated sexual assault, a D felony. Or – he gets the judge to admit the tape at Heidi’s trial and the jury sees that plus Margery’s testimony, he would be convicted of rape 1. Harold claims entrapment but Richard tries to silence him. Harold calls her that damn bitch, and Barba replies he will see him at trial. Richard suggests they start talking.

At 122 Lafayette Street on Tuesday, April 25, Benson visits Heidi who is setting up a business using the few million from HNT, it is the new office for “Step Up” which will mentor and empower teenage girls. Benson thinks this is an incredible use of the settlement and she was not sure Heidi would take it. Heidi admits Margery convinced her. She will also have time to travel and figure out her next move, maybe she will write a tell all. She won’t miss the business; for too long she has been beholden to Coyle, ratings, and corporate mandates. She finally feels free. She thanks Benson and Benson congratulates her and wishes her good luck.

Benson returns to her office and Chief Dodds is sitting there waiting for her. He wanted to congratulate her; HNT is back on their financial heels and Coyle will do 18 months. Benson comments the guy just couldn’t help himself. He says, “the tortoise and the scorpion.” He explains the story of the scorpion asking the tortoise for a ride across the lake; the tortoise worries the scorpion will sting him and the scorpion asks why would he do that, they would both drown. They start off and halfway across the lake, the scorpion stings the tortoise and when the tortoise asks why…Benson finishes and says the scorpion says it is in his nature. Dodds realizes she knows the story Dodds says it is the scorpions that keep them in business and Benson agrees. He gets up and says he barged into her office enough for one week, and Benson replies “Please, any time.” He then says he has been avoiding SVU; every time he walks in the place he expects to see Mike sitting at his desk. He asks if that is crazy and Benson replies no, not at all. He says he will see her and she nods and smiles and says nothing. He smiles back and turns and leaves her office. She says, “I will see you, Chief” as she watches him leave. He quickly walks away, turning back only slightly with a wave. She sits back down at her desk and as she opens her laptop, we fade to black.

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Margot Undercliffe said...

Thanks Chris. I agree that it was good to see Dodds. I have always liked him. I'm glad that they dealt with the fallout from Mike's death. I did get the feeling this was the last time we will see him, just from the goodbye and her watching his back as he exited. I had wondered about the investigation into the shooting. The incompetence statement certainly hit a raw nerve as Benson took the blame for not searching at the time. Of course, Bill Dodds knew that Mike also accepted responsibility.

It was certainly one of the better shows this season, more tightly written. It is good to see these powerful people who abuse their position taken down.

The Twitter #renewsvu for the running commentary was interesting,

Laurie Fanat said...

As this season goes further along, I see it becoming a lot more like the old SVU when it first started or maybe even Law & Order. There is more focus on the case and the personal issues are addressed more meaningfully. Bringing in Dodds and then having Sgt Dodds’ death thrown in his and Benson’s face was unexpected and handled well. I generally like the direction this show is headed and the overall production is finally finding its footing. I worry that it may be too late as the ratings are dismal, in my opinion. They might be good enough for NBC to renew them and that may be our only hope.

Could they have made those “victims” any more unlikable and disgusting? I was appalled when Heidi described all the stuff she did for Harold when he demanded it. When she got the big bucks she went along with being demeaned and degraded. She wasn’t much different from a hooker who gets paid to dress up in kinky outfits. Even after the rape, she continued on the job and contract negotiations. Had she not blurted out that she was assaulted, I think she would have continued to take the salary and keep the job. A salary does not give a boss the right to rape anyone, but she made it seem that everything leading up to that was part of her job and what she was being paid for. Same for Margery. She thought that she could buy her tape back by perjuring herself for Harold. These women were an embarrassment to women all over.

George was also a piece of work. I get that he was worried about his daughter but he was full aware of the type of man that Harold was before Harold threatened to expose her. It’s hard to imagine there are work places and people out there like Harold and George and if it were not for Fox and Roger Ailes I would have never believed it could be this bad.

Eldridge said...

Not a bad episode. Good to see Dodds again. Really controversial subject matter to cover with everything going on over at Fox News but this is the show that likes to cover stories that are 'ripped straight from the headlines' so this should be expected. I'd like to see more episodes like this and less of the soap opera like L/O SVU ones that we have have seeing as of late. Also great to see Barba and Fin getting more screen time.

JSlayerUK said...

What bothered me throughout the whole episode was that they didn't seek a search warrant for the tapes. Every time they were stressing about the lack of supporting evidence, I thought they were about to go and find the tapes corroborating the women's stories. But no. The tapes would have probably found them more victims, probably help them increase the charges against Coyle and put him away for longer. Not to mention, when he gets out in 18 months (9 for good behaviour), he'll still have the tapes! Weird.

Chris Zimmer said...

@JSlayerUK - good point. If they didn't have enough to get the warrant, it would have been helpful for them to at least cover them trying to get the warrant. I guess they can only cover so much in 40 minutes...especially if they wanted to squeeze in a Noah scene (wink)

Ana Andrade said...

From all the information I've gathered, it looks like this season was supposed to have 22 episodes and they're only airing 21 since the finale is 2 hours. Unstoppable is the 22nd episode. I wonder what the show's chanced at renewal are, especially taking into consideration the potential writers strike that's suppose to start next week. It could still be renewed, but if the strike goes on for too long, production will be delayed and next season might start later. I'm just glad that this is happening after all network shows have finished production and are taking a break for the summer. It's a much better position to be in than last time. I was too young but I heard it was in the middle of production.

@Chris - I'm also glad Heidi didn't go to civil court.

Fefe Yo said...

I thought this episode was extremely annoying and demeaning to the integrity of women. These women are fortunate to be living in a first world country, where women's rights are supported. I was constantly rolling my eyes while hearing about the desperate and pathetic things they did to make money. Now that they are no longer making the money, they are coming from left to right...even to pressure others to be an advocate- when they themselves haven't been their own advocate. The happiness of the "victim" after the settlement just solidifies the idea that it is all about money.
The show should focus on powerless women due to their societal disparities...not these privileged, opportune women who decide to make claims when things don't go their way.
I used to be a great fan, however, this show is down in the dumps...the attempted rape was a jump the shark move and very unrealistic. Olivia is super annoying and whether she wants to realize it or not, she is very responsible for Mike's death. I am tired of Mariska...enough is enough...time for her to leave the show and new characters to arise. The show is just too lame now. The episode before this one was probably the best episode all season. The worst was that ridiculous case where Olivia convinced the helicopter mom she was raped because the guy she had sex with lied about his position in the university. Boo!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to see that Warren Leight co-wrote this one!

Ana Andrade said...

@Chris - I was wondering if you could tell me what your experience was like during the last WGA strike. I was only 12 at the time and didn't even know it had happened until after. From what I gather, we as viewers are in a much better position than last time. Shows in the major networks have basically finished production for the season. Those shows on cable and streaming services are the ones affected right away. However, if the strike happens and it last long enough, the major networks will be forced to push the start of the fall season until October, maybe even November. In other words, there's some room were the strike can happen and the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW) won't be affected.

From what I gather, last time the strike was midway through production (November through December). It lead ti shows having shorter seasons, some because they they were only able to make a handful of episodes after the strike and some because they didn't bother going back into production for the season after the strike. Some shows were cancelled either right away or the following season that shouldn't have been, some suffered creatively (some recovering, some not), and some actually benefited in the long run for whatever reason.

Ana Andrade said...

*November through February is what I meant. My mistake

Chris Zimmer said...

@Ana Andrade - the first thing that popped into my mind from the 2007-08 strike was a lot of protests and a run-in that Rene Balcer had on the picket line (link here: ) that I think was fodder for a later ripped from the headlines L&O episode. (At least I think it was a L&O episode!) There were A LOT of protests. I think reality TV got stronger during that time (unscripted) and some scripted shows had shortened episode orders. A really good summary of all of what happened in that strike is at this link:

C Looong said...

I never thought SVU fans would engage in such brutal victim blaming, since the show educates against that. But every comment here shows no sympathy to these victims. Just because they don't show a violent assault doesn't mean what happened to them was okay. Jeez.

Laurie Fanat said...

@C Looong - I knew someone would bring up victim blaming at some point. I don't think anyone blamed the women for being raped. These women should NOT get a free pass for tolerating Harold's behavior because it was beneficial to them financially and in their career. They allowed themselves to be demeaned for money and fame. Their behavior was contemptible!

Draven Long said...

This was better than the previous episode, however with a bugging issue: Heidi seemed to tolerate her boss's harassment, as long as she was still getting her money. Now, I'm glad SVU nailed him, and I'm not condoning the assault(s) in ANY way, but I felt on the network's side. She didn't come forward with her rape statement until AFTER she found out she was being replaced. All in all, I'm glad she mustered the courage to take a stand, and with the money from the settlement she got, she opened up a building for teen girls to come in and be mentored by respectable role models. I thought it was a wonderful use of the settlement money.

Of the replacer, Marjorie, she took a HUGE risk in putting on that camera and going to Harold's place as she was almost raped herself. I honestly thought that the plot had leaped and she had on a wire for the detectives, but it turned out she put on the camera so that Barba could use as evidence when Marjorie retestified and told the truth this time.

That suspension that Barba had must not have lasted long. For him to be suspended in "Know It All", the previous episode, and come back a week or so later, seemed a bit odd to me. I thought he would have had to stay out for at least two episodes.

Chris, I know I'm a but late to the party as I sometimes have to watch on the NBC app, but I thought this episode was based on Bill O'Reilly's harassment allegations. SVU aired an episode called "Decline and Fall" in January and I thought that one had been inspired by the CEO scandal. Maybe I'm wrong, but didn't this episode air after Bill got accused of sexual harrassment?

Back to the episode, I'm glad they closed the loop on the former Sergeant Mike Dodds' death. While I was surprised on how they brought it up, I was glad Liv and the chief got some closure in the death.

Another wonderful episode from this season. I need to catch up on just two more and I'll be ready for May 17, the "Conversion" episode!

I give this episode a 9.5, it was just that good, especially considering that Warren Leight came back for this episode.

Chris Zimmer said...

It was hyped as a Roger Ailes RFTH story as Ailes, who was CEO (as was the fictional character) resigned in 2016 because of harassment allegations. While there were complaints about O'Reilly as well, that didn't come to a head until this episode was done (or well into production).