Thursday, January 4, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Gone Baby Gone” Recap & Review

Let’s cut to the chase. It was just as many had suspected: Sheila Porter – Noah’s biological grandmother - was behind Noah’s kidnapping. While Sheila’s shock and horror seemed genuine that Noah disappeared on her watch, she certainly changed her tune at the end of the episode. Brooke Shields did an excellent job of playing both sides of her character: the panicked grandmother and the possessive, obsessed grandmother. Even though the outcome of this case was predictable, the episode was action packed and moved at an exciting pace.

Benson is crazed at hearing her son has been kidnapped – who wouldn’t be? – and she refuses to back away from the case when Fin tells her that Chief Dodds doesn’t want her working it. When Benson realizes that Sheila planned this, her resolve only becomes greater as she worries that Noah could be gone forever. When Benson questions herself out loud, asking “How stupid am I?”, I found myself answering her: really stupid. Sheila previously tried to get custody of Noah in a contentious legal battle with Benson and when that didn’t work,  Sheila played on Benson's soft spots to find another way in. Benson’s desire to create a family for Noah had her welcoming the fox into the hen house.

Finding Noah was a bit too easy, despite first missing the obvious by looking at the surveillance video outside the store’s doors. Had someone been working on that right away, they wouldn’t have needed the detectives and the cops running around the store questioning random people to track Noah. After that, everything falls in to place; they track the hapless sucker who took Noah from the store at Sheila’s bidding. Sheila had bamboozled this guy into thinking that Benson was a child abuser and there was plenty of money and a family life together if he helped her.  What a loser.

Rollins does something that seemed out of character and highly inappropriate: she slaps the kidnapper in order to get him to talk. I guess when the crime affects one of their own, it’s easy for them to lose control and throw the rule book out the window.  The leads they get takes Benson to an out-of-state cabin where Sheila has taken Noah. Not knowing what to expect there, Benson goes there alone, not a smart move coming from a Lieutenant. Sheila could have been armed, there could have been another accomplice there, etc. Benson could have been walking into a dangerous situation. Oh wait, she DID walk into a dangerous situation!  Benson enters the cabin and stands too long in the open doorway, a rookie mistake.   Sheila easily attacks Benson and disarms her, giving Sheila control of Benson’s weapon.   Lucky for Benson, Noah walks in and distracts Sheila, giving Benson the opportunity to gain control over the situation and get Noah to safety. It's sad to think that Benson's lack of caution in entering the premises, in addition to her going there alone, put her and Noah in a dangerous situation, one where Noah had to unwittingly create a needed diversion.

Benson and Barba have a few moments together where it implies their friendship has gotten stronger. Barba shows concern for Benson not just as a colleague but as a friend and Benson appears to be comforted by his support. But I suppose that there is still a respectable distance between them, as, at the end of the episode, everyone with SVU is already at Benson’s home when Barba shows up but she doesn’t immediately invite him in. In fact, he has to ask if she isn’t going to ask him in. What was she worried about that she didn’t let him in right away? What kind of good friend doesn’t immediately welcome someone into their home?  Was she worried that her colleagues would think that there was more to her relationship with Barba?

My favorite line – or shall I say word - of the episode goes to Fin, who, when at SVU, Chief Dodds tells him “Well I’m glad you’re on our side, Detective Tutuola” and Fin responds “Count your blessings, Chief” then calls him a “dick” under his breath as Dodds walks off.

The final scene where everyone is together shows that Benson knows who is her – and Noah’s – real family.  The family is not Noah’s biological grandmother, it’s her SVU family. Had Benson realized this much earlier, and not allowed her desire to give Noah a semblance of a family life, this kidnapping would likely have not happened, or at least not been so easy. After all these years working in Special Victims and seeing the worst of people, Benson still has a streak of naiveté when it comes to the people in own life.

I suspect most fans are grateful that Noah is safely back with Benson, but I do know many fans are suffering from Noah fatigue. Hopefully this will bring to a close any Noah-centric story lines, at least for a while. I think that well has run dry.

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 Gallagher - Chief William Dodds
Frank Pando - Juan Ortoli
Maureen Mueller - Susan Janet
Domenica Feraud – Maria Ortoli
Kevin McGrue – Raymond Greem, PI
Brian Berrebbi – Vince Mazanno
Collin Meath – Brad
Lawrence Clayton – Matt Wyatt
Gannon McHale – George
Nesha Ward – Nathalie Washington
Kelly Feltjhous – Cyndi
Olivia Luna – Rhonda
Logan James Hall - Brett Hagen
Marvin Bell – Bus Driver
Julia Garrison – Mall Patron
Rowan Vickers – Ridgewood NJ Cop
Ryan Buggle - Noah Porter-Benson
Charlotte Cabel – Jesse
Vivian Cabell - Jesse

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Js McFail said...

I for one, LOVED this episode! It was VERY fast-paced & had my heart pounding with excitement most of the time...I LOVED the hug & soothing hair scenes...BUT I'm a Barson shipper so that was right up my alley (or canal/waterway)! LOL
This was the best episode in a long time in my estimation, great writing & acting!
But I do think it's becoming a little too much Noah-centri...
All in all, I think it was almost a 10...

Dawgdays said...

Amanda went all Voight on the kidnapper!

Nancy R said...

I see the review but no recap ??

Chris Zimmer said...

@Nancy R - I've been mixing my commentary in with the overall highlights of what happened in the episode. It's been too difficult for me the last few months to do the extensive, almost word for word recaps. So I tried this new format a while ago which allows me to explain the high points of the episode and my general opinions.

Nancy R said...

Thanks. I understand but wanted to check. I always look forward to your commentary every Thursday.

Jane said...

Please.....No More of sweet boy Noah. No more frantic trips to the ER, no more Noah being shot at in the park, no more custody battles, no more kidnappings....Enough with Noah. We get it, Olivia is a Mom, now let her be a police officer and leave Noah to the nanny.

Jessica F. Norick said...

The way they built this up, left us hanging on the cliff for six weeks, I was really expecting a twist. For Sheila to be behind the abduction was just too friggin' obvious... This is no way to do a cliffhanger.

John Cargo said...

To be fair, I thought the kidnapper was someone from Olivia's past. She has no shortage of enemies from every walk of life including wealthy (ex-) CEOs and international criminal groups. At one point, I thought Sheila was some kind of mole planted by a wealthy enemy (like Winstein's employment of Black Cube).

Personally, I wouldn't fault Olivia for letting Sheila into their lives. She is one of Noah's living relatives and Olivia was thinking of Noah's well-being. With the exception of not having backup, all the stupidity is on Sheila. From not stepping forward when the State of New York and a high-end law firm were searching for any living relatives, to kidnapping Noah when Olivia had already wanted her in Noah's life.

I suppose after this Olivia will be incredibly wary of anyone else showing up and will definitely be doing background checks (which she would be totally justified in doing).

Js McFail said...

John Cargo^^...
I agree with the parts about Liv being too open to try to give Noah access to his 'blood' because she never really had that in her own life growing up...
Today's world if VERY different from what it was 40 years ago & we have to be leery of anyone & check things out before we open our hearts, homes & kiddos up for them...
Hopefully she will investigate anyone popping up in the future claiming genetic links...JMO

Laurie Fanat said...

Sheila as the kidnapper was the easy way out for them. It's a shame. They could have made it someone more interesting and that would have increased the suspense. In a way I am glad to see Sheila go. Please NO MORE NOAH STORY LINES! Rollins slapping that guy and yelling in his face made me laugh. I thought it was comical, not dramatic. When the crime happens to ONE OF THEIR OWN, all bets are off!

Fin calling Dodds a "dick" behind his back was fantastic. We need more of this in the show. This is how real people behave!

Brooke Shields was very believable and she did a far better job than Mariska. Mariska's standard shocked/upset/frustrated faces are getting too "canned" and they don't seem real any more. I know this aggravates some people and it's wearing on me: Mariska's whispering her lines when she wants to be dramatic.

Did they ever issue and Amber alert? I don't recall them mentioning it. The surveillance video should have been their first order of business. They knew what time Noah disappeared, and it should have been easy for them get a few people to look at the videos around that time to get an ID on who took Noah. Also, I thought many stores had surveillance inside the store as well, was there no cameras near the department where Noah was taken?

What is the deal with Benson and Barba and why did he have to ask to be invited in? Benson's behavior was odd.

Despite my criticisms, I think Michael Chernuchin is bringing a spark to the show, which is a great thing.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

I loved the epi- fast paced - I agree with u on the dick line with fin- I was hysterical when he said that! Love the new show runner- can’t wait to see warner back next week- Mariska’s performance was top notch- didn’t understand why fin didn’t go with her to cabin- she never has back up! I think your new format is great!

Erin said...

I have so much Noah fatigue I half hoped Sheila was going to get custody.

malifact said...

I thought it was a pretty good episode - well paced and some of the acting from Brooke and Mariska was good. I also liked the moments between Barba and Benson and the humour from Finn. I was disappointed they took the easy route of making Sheila behind the kidnapping. It would have been much more interesting if she was the prime suspect and then it turned out somebody from Benson's past was the perp. The part where Rollins threatened the gardener and his daughter was interesting. She's always had a dark side and it would be interesting if they explored this further

Liesel said...

Hi guys so

if you ask me this was one of the best episodes ever. We saw each character in all of their true, raw forms: Barba being completely helpless and wanting to make things better for Liv and somehow ending up a bit clumsy? Fin swearing and being loyal to Liv, Amanda losing control - that's what her character is all about and Sonny was just THERE like literally he was just a super detective in this episode.
And honstely Olivia Benson is the only character in all of the fictional worlds, who would comfort her son's kidnapper and say "mind your feet" when she arrests her and puts her in the car what the actual f***.
But I can live with that because that is who Olivia is.
As for the Barson-friendship, @Chris, I interpreted the scene completely differently: They ARE friends, everyone knows that. In Know-It-All Fin blutently states it "How does *randompervsname* know you and Barba are friends?"
It's a given that they're close and have been close for a long time, but they never actually DO anything about it. They used to get drinks, but they only mostly spoke of work-realted topics and now he shows up at her door (FINALLY) and her taking the time to invite him in is I believe just her way of finally admitting that they really are close friends and I really hope more comes out of this.
Anyway, awesome episode.
I love the fact that Barba sat by her through all of this and when he said "well...maybe you were pushing the Sheila thing too hard" I personally thought didn't she say to him that her instinct tells her that she shouldn't let Noah have a relationship with Sheila?
And Noah is too guillable. Honestly that kid is too nice to literally everyone he meets. He reminds of that boy Owen who was also kidnapped in season 16 or 17.
"Dick" was the best line @Chris, you're absolutely right.

chillicothe20 said...

I was very disappointed the they took Sheila in this direction. I thought despite getting off on the wrong foot that it was touching that Benson was letting her into her grandson's life. Sheila didn't really seem like the crazy type, just hurt by losing her daughter. Noah really is her only family. It is sad they had to destroy her character to give Benson another hero episode. It is getting very old.

I found Benson to be a little to harsh in the earlier eps toward Sheila. Benson overall is a little too aggressive and selfish, to her detriment. We see that again when she doesn't leave the case in this ep (she absolutely should NOT have been in charge of investigated her own child's kidnapping!).

I am not sure why Dodds is set up as a straw man villain/barrier. Fin's calling him a dick was in very poor taste. I see on this forum this is not the majority view, so don't cut my head off. I am merely sharing my view of the incident. Yes, the SVU folks are like a family, but bending rules for family has been nothing but trouble for these folks (Amanda's sister, Finn's son, among others). How was Dodds too busy or too dense to get involved and make sure Olivia wasn't still leading the case. Won't he realize when he reads the case reports? Maybe he will give her a talking to later on.

Honestly, if it wasn't the Mariska Show, Benson would have been given a nice retirement and shown the door long ago. Between the Lewis stuff and now the Noah stuff, not to mention the undercover with Marcia Gay Harden stuff.

I guess at this point, at least Noah isn't going to be kidnapped again (we can only hope) and there shouldn't be a need to waste 3 to 5 mins of every ep watching him eat oatmeal or whatever now that Sheila is gone and we don't need Noah scenes to establish he still exists.

Shari P said...

I agree, Benson's police work was sloppy, charging into the cabin without back-up, etc. I'm not impressed with her mothering skills, either...the whole bruise/abuse allegation thing wouldn't have happened if she had kept a closer eye on her kid and not let him wander into traffic ... you don't have to be a police officer to know enough to watch out for children near a busy street.

Carlo said...

While some could argue it was predictable I am happy that the culprit was Sheila so we can have her out of the way (I was always queasy about her relationship with Noah).

I want to say thank you to @Chris Zimmer for these timely reviews. Been reading for years but this is my first comment. I find a sort of comfort in seeing what you and others have thought of the show after I watch it myself. Hope you keep it up for years to come!

Chris Zimmer said...

@Carlo - you are welcome and thanks for your feedback!