Thursday, November 9, 2017

Law & Order SVU “Unintended Consequences” Recap & Review

I’m on the fence about “Unintended Consequences”. Overall I enjoyed it; the story line was a welcome break from the constant “rape of the week” theme and the interesting case moved at a fast pace. What detracted a bit was too much focus on the Benson-Noah-Sheila story line and one completely unrealistic scenario.

When the episode opens, we see a young girl being abducted, and then another girl is found sexually assaulted and dead of a drug overdose. The investigation is speedy, starting with a visit to Narcotics by Fin where he identifies the drug dealer - Andre “Hackapulco” Johnson. Fin and the detectives quickly arrest him and bring him to SVU interrogation. This is where we get Benson’s comment “I’m the bitch that’s gonna smack your pretty face next time I hear you say “ho”, which sounded absurd rather than threatening, coming from her. They quickly find the identity of the dead girl – 15-year-old Natalie Curtis – who was also pregnant and was supposed to be in a drug rehab facility. The parents haven’t seen her in 3-4 months. (What kind of parents put their teenager in rehab and then don’t see him/her for months?) The parents explain that Natalie broke her ankle and the doctors gave her oxycontin and she quickly became hooked, then switching to heroin after the doctors cut her oxy off.

We later discover that the kidnapped girl at the beginning of the episode was Kristi Martin, the kidnapping arranged to get her into rehab.

The detectives uncover that Dr. Dennis Barkley, the head of the rehab facility Lux Residential Treatment Center, is taking advantage of "Obamacare's" improved coverage for addiction issues and Barkley is inflating medical bills and medical procedures to bilk the insurance companies. In tandem with the Altbrook Sober House, the addicts find themselves bouncing back from the sober house to the treatment center, creating a easy way to keep the “customers” in the system, generating more opportunities for more (fake) charges to the insurance companies. Later, Barba comments the “unintended consequences” is what will happened as a result of the doctor gaming or cheating the system; the doctor will find himself in violation of the RICO statutes – racketeering, drug dealing, insurance fraud.

The unrealistic scenario: Rollins goes undercover (this means wearing a skirt and dowdy clothes) by attending an opiate addiction seminar at Lux, headed by Rosemary Taylor, Lux’s social worker and “den mom”. Rollins strikes up a coversation with Rosemary, and Rosemary hires her on the spot to be her assistant. What person would hire a stranger to be their assistant – without a background check or even a drug test, considering this is a rehab facility - and give them virtually immediate access to patient records?

When Benson hears of what Rollins found in accessing and downloading some records,  she’s livid that Rollins conducted an illegal search. I'm a little confused here as it almost sounded like Benson had no knowledge of Rollins' undercover situation.  If Benson didn't know, how did Rollins explain her absence at SVU to work the job?  If Benson DID know of the undercover operation, did Rollins disregard any ground rules Benson gave her?  Rollins explains that the insurance companies are being raped, using Kristi Martin’s records to show the inflated medical billing. Benson reminds her the records are inadmissible but then she thinks of inevitable discovery.  Rollins and Carisi eventually get to Rosemary’s previous assistant, and discover Lux's connection to Altwood Sober House. The sober house is also where they find a 19-year-old in charge there - Anthony Parker – who appears to be trading sex with him for drugs, and he’s the father of Natalie Curtis’ baby.

Rollins confronts Dr. Barkley on the billing issues, his lawyer and Benson present. Benson also brings up the sober house connection and states they will prove it in court. But Barkley’s having none of it, storming out after saying that these drug addicts won’t make credible witnesses. This eventually leads them back to Rosemary, and when they clue her in on the connection between Barkley and Atlbrook sober house, she seems in denial. The detectives later see on surveillance video that Anthony Parker helps move the girls from one facility to the other. After they see this connection, Rollins gets a phone call from Rosemary and when she and Carisi get to Lux to meet with her, they find Rosemary sitting there calmly with Dr. Barkley laying on the floor. He’s dying from a drug overdose of fentanyl, with Rosemary admitting to administering it to him. He dies, and Rosemary says they can arrest her.

The Benson-Noah-Sheila story line seemed to break some great momentum that the SVU case was building, and I found myself wishing they’d left these scenes out of this episode. Benson is giving Sheila more time to spend with Noah, allowing her to read Noah a bedtime story. Sheila reciprocates later by giving Benson a child’s baseball mitt that belonged to her daughter, and Noah’s mother, Ellie. At the end of the episode, Benson brings Sheila back to her apartment, telling Sheila that in this town, “a good babysitter is hard to come by.” Noah hugs Sheila and calls her grandma and Sheila is thrilled. Benson gets a mixed look on her face, first smiling and then looking a little sad. (By the way, what did Benson give Noah for breakfast? I couldn’t quite make it out. It looked like broken up…something.) Now all we have left with this story line is to wonder when Sheila will “kidnap” Noah. The way Law & Order SVU works, we can only assume this is where the story is headed!

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:
Brooke Shields - Sheila Porter
Peter Scolari - Dr. Dennis Barkley
Annie Corley - Rosemary Taylor
Gus Birney - Kristi Martin
Christiane Noll - Sarah Curtis
Robert Eli - Glen Curtis
Kathryn Kates – Judge Marlene Simons
Noah Gaynor – Anthony Parker
Logan Rose Nelms – Isla Danby
Jason Cadieux – Brett Erikson
Antino Crowley-Kamenwati – Andre “Hackapulco” Johnson
Angela Oh – Katherine Lee
Joshua Pagan – Tom Higgins
Anthony Cason – Henry Gold
Ella Cardelfe – Debbie
Anna Dale Robinson – Blanche
Khadija Griffith – Martha
Charles Techman – Owen
Danny Schoch – Male Nurse
Ryan Buggle - Noah Porter-Benson

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Dawgdays said...

Pancakes for breakfast

Roselynn Finch said...

Still not regretting my decision to stop watching SVU. I haven't seen a single episode from this season. I hate everything about the Noah storyline. The adoption, the fact that Olivia only got him because she sat in court, his b.s. issues over and over again...

I'm also not going to watch a show that made an episode to bash the President and can't shut up about their politics.

SVU fan♡ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margot Undercliffe said...

The Noah storyline definitely has the "kidnap and leave the country" feel to it. It is annoying me the amount of time Noah's story gets. Although there have been family storylines in the past, it hasn't been a weekly thing. Last week when we had the "face time" with the Nanny, I just wondered why there wasn't something more case related that could have been in the show and was annoyed when I saw the deleted Carisi scene.

Otherwise, I didn't mind the episode. At least another character got major screen time.

I love this show, but I am increasingly disappointed at the lack of good quality scripts (or poor editing which I think has more to do with it). This show and the actors deserve better.

J Renoir said...

Hi Chris, long time reader, first time poster. A few comments about this episode, the season premiere, and this season in general.

I would agree with your criticisms of the show’s realism. But I wonder whether it matters all that much, since there are very few aspects of the show that are entirely realistic. Perhaps it might be more accurate to criticise the Rollins undercover situation as having a number of plot holes, which I think are in any event minor. As for the Noah-Sheila storyline, I think that most viewers would agree that the show would be better without it. But unfortunately, we are here because of Warren Leight. It would be odd for the show to simply forget about Noah. In any event, I thought the Sheila developments fit very well with this episode’s investigation. We see Benson deciding to give this woman a fair go because of her interactions with the victim’s parents. Overall, I thought this was one of the better episodes this season.

Quick note about the season premiere. As much as I enjoyed Barba’s closing, it felt like déjà vu, since a very similar closing was made by McCoy in the episode ‘Thinking Makes it So’ (season 16 of the mothership), which Chernuchin also penned, and which also featured Peter Jacobson as Randy Dworkin. (Side note: this name is obviously based on Ronald Dworkin, the legal philosopher.)

As for this season in general, it seems that Chernuchin is still feeling his way around the show, and I appreciate that this episode wasn’t another rape victim of the week. He’s doing some experimenting, and figuring out what works, which will naturally result in some episodes that miss the mark. Based on the episodes of the mothership he scripted, I remain hopeful that he will grow into his role as showrunner. I found season 18 to be quite terrible and trite, and I’m glad that Rick Eid is no longer running the show.

the late phoenix said...

powerhouse performance from Annie Corley

Elaine Hodgson said...

I'm not a big fan of the show anymore, maybe that's due to the fact since chris Meloni departed from the show, but also the storylines were far better. However i continued to hit & miss episodes,and the episodes i did watch i didn't get that omg, i'm on the edge of my seat.
I'm a big fan of Mariska Hargitay & her character Olivia Benson is the heart and soul of the show.I love the character,but i also love the Benson & Stabler partnership. When they were together they were like the mama & papa bear of the show.
As for season 19 i've watched every episode so far. Whether i continue to watch it, i don't know. Whatever happens and if the show is renewed for a season 20, i have a funny feeling the Olivia Benson/Sheila Porter/Noah Benson storyline will be the season 19 finale cliffhanger

Chris Zimmer said...

@J Renoir - thanks for joining the discussion!

OhSusannah said...

Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast....Or so it looked to me. I agree, Chris it is only a matter of time before Sheila makes off with Noah.You really have to question LIv's instinct some time. Huge alarm bells should be going off in her head by now....

Laurie Fanat said...

I thought I had commented but I guess I forgot. I feel the new show runner is trying to bring back a faster pace to the cases and I like that. The problem is that they move into the realm of disbelief. The Rollins undercover thing was too easy and not believable one bit. It was silly.

I know that Mariska is the star of the show but people DO tune in to see other people besides her. EVERYONE will be shocked if Sheila isn't weaseling her way in with Benson in order for Benson to drop her guard. My bet is Sheila will either take Noah or use what she sees in Benson's life to make a case that she should get custody of Noah. If the story stays as Benson and Sheila being such fast friends, then most fans will be bored. If Sheila takes Noah, most fans will say they saw it coming and complain about how they dragged out the story. They painted themselves in a corner with the story and no matter what they do, people will hate it.

The show seems to be losing viewers (or at least not gaining any) and even long time fans like me are considering bailing on it. Let's see some episodes based on the other detectives and/or Barba and really give the show some depth!

Draven Long said...

I've FINALLY made my way around to this episode, and found it to be rather enjoyable, but the Noah storyline in the middle of the case grated on my nerves. Without going into detail, I give this episode a 7.5/10.

Tusha S. Hashim said...

Who was the girl that carisi talked to in the sober home?
He called her name and she grunted a reply.