Thursday, March 1, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Chasing Demons” Recap & Review

Whenever Brian Cassidy appears, mayhem ensues. In “Chasing Demons,” Brian can’t control himself on the witness stand, causing the mistrial of a doctor who had been sexually abusing young boys. But that’s only the start. It’s always great to see Dean Winters reprise this role as it usually means the episode will be filled with trouble, which seems to follow Cassidy wherever he goes. He’s the SVU version of the Charlie Brown cartoon character “Pigpen” where a cloud of dirt and dust follows him everywhere. In this case, most of that trouble is of Cassidy’s own making.

The episode takes a different, and welcome, approach by opening up with a trial already in progress. It looks like Stone has things under control, but Cassidy blows up on the stand and then gets suspended, just minutes into the story. Of course, Cassidy, who has horrible impulse control, makes the dumb mistake of visiting the pervert doctor who is later found dead. As the story progresses, Cassidy sucks Benson into his mess, and explains he found the body and was then knocked out, getting blood on him. Benson decides to allow Cassidy to stay at her place while they investigate. Did Benson make the right choice here? I suppose that she knows Cassidy well enough that she felt comfortable in risking her career for him. Then again, why let someone who is drunk AND bloody into your home where your young, recently kidnapped son is sleeping? And what kind of security does Benson’s building have that someone can just walk in and get access to her apartment door? I suppose Cassidy still could have had a key to the door or pass code from when they lived together.

I enjoyed the barroom scene with a drunk Cassidy whose voice is dripping with sarcasm when he told Benson she has to “do her thing” because she “is the best”. It’s as if Brian Cassidy is channeling all the fans of the show who get annoyed that Benson must always be perfect.

We discover that Cassidy has been “chasing demons” his whole life as he was the victim of sexual abuse by his little league coach. His father beat up the coach when he found out. (We don’t hear for sure but I suspect the coach was never brought up on charges.) Cassidy explains this is the reason why he left SVU years ago - he couldn’t handle it. Long time viewers knew Cassidy couldn’t hack the type of SVU cases, and now we know why.

Cassidy also tells Benson she is the love of his life but that she was never going to bare her soul to him. Benson seems to be happy only when she is with Noah; maybe at this point in her life she feels that a relationship with a child is “safer” for her than a deep, meaningful relationship with an adult? She never struck me as a person who could open up completely to anyone but at least she admits she wasn't going to do so with Cassidy.

I found Rollins' outrage over the situation amusing. She comments to Benson that Cassidy is “notorious for making really bad decisions” which describes Rollins perfectly as well. Thankfully, Cassidy calls her on this issue when Rollins says that Cassidy is covering his ass and to hell with everybody else.  Rollins still doesn’t get it, saying her situation was different. Rollins and Cassidy, in my opinion, are cut from the same mold.

While Cassidy was hiding at Benson's, Rollins was tasked by Benson to take Noah to breakfast and then to school. I wonder who was watching Rollins’ child while she did this? It seems like Benson’s child care needs take precedence over everyone else’s, which I know annoys the Rollins fans.

We also get two tidbits about the new ADA Peter Stone. He explains he played for the Cubs for a very short while until an injury permanently sidelined him and this deeply affected him.  He also says that he took this ADA position as something came up after his father died that he “didn’t see coming.” I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in a later episode.

Detective Holiday was mildly annoying, maybe because she was so quick to assume that Cassidy was a racist,  plus she seemed to have a major chip on her shoulder.

It may be my imagination, but I think we had more yelling between characters in this episode than in  any SVU episode in a long, long time. The only people that seemed to keep their cool were Fin and Carisi (who apparently needs to find a new dry cleaner).

Note: this is the first appearance of Philip Winchester in the title credits.

Update March 4, 2018 - an extended scene with Dean Winters and Philip Winchester has been added after the recap highlighting an extended "confession" from Brian Cassidy.

Here is the recap:

The episode opens on February 13 with a trial of Dr. West in progress, who has been sexually abusing boys. Peter Stone is prosecuting; he got the case two weeks ago from Barba. Benson provides compelling testimony, but when Brian Cassidy gets on the stand, the defense brings up sexual relationships that Cassidy had with prostitutes while he was undercover. One was murdered and one accused him of rape, of which he was cleared. The attorney brings up a beating that West received when he was arrested and Cassidy explains West resisted. The attorney said Cassidy smashed West’s face on a desk and called him a monkey, and Cassidy says this is a lie. The attorney continues to press his buttons and Cassidy becomes so enraged that he leaps up and begins to yell about what West did to those boys and all the other ones, saying West is lucky he didn’t put him in a goddamn body bag. The defense moves for a mistrial and gets one and the defense gets lowered bail for his client. Cassidy says he is sorry.

The families of the young boys are furious that Cassidy has created his setback, not to mention new ADA Peter Stone, who can’t contain his anger with Cassidy and suspends him.

Carisi and Rollins, and separately, Benson and Stone, speak with the parents of the abused boys about this setback to try to calm their upset and give them hope for a new trial. Understandably, they aren’t taking the mistrial well.

Later, Benson gets a message summoning her to McCaffree’s Pub to calm down a very drunk Cassidy who is in a fighting mood. She tells Cassidy that he doesn’t think, the doctor might walk because of Cassidy’s “epic tantrum” and she doesn’t think the families can handle another trial. He tells her she has to talk to them and “do her thing” because she “is the best”, saying this in a sarcastic tone. She tells him to go home but he says he IS home.

Later that night, Benson is startled awake by a banging on her apartment door. It’s Cassidy, still looking drunk but is now bloodied. He says he needs her help.

It doesn’t take long before the doctor is found dead, the victim of a brutal stabbing. Carisi and Rollins are called to the scene, Rollins noticing that Carisi is wearing the same suit from the day before. Carisi’s explanation is that his dry cleaner shut down. They begin to direct the crime scene investigation but are quickly stopped by a homicide Detective Devin Holiday, who boots them out of her crime scene, but not before she refers to Cassidy as a racist.

Afterwards, Rollins is at Benson’s apartment, tasked with taking Noah to breakfast and then to school. After Rollins leaves, Cassidy is still there and he and Benson argue and discuss his dire situation.

While Rollins is at breakfast with Noah, he mentions his mom’s sink was broken and also draws a picture of large boots that he said were in the kitchen that morning. Rollins is suspicious.

Meanwhile, Cassidy denies killing the doctor, saying he went to his home only to tell him he was watching him and warned him not to intimidate those kids like the other victims,  but when he got there the front door was open and it was dark. He went in anyway and someone hit him from behind. He woke up laying next to the doctor’s body, covered with his blood. She tells him he needs to get out in front of this but he does not agree. He was blitzed and can’t recall much. But he did found a small ring-like object in his boots. He gives it to her and it is covered in blood.

At SVU, Benson hears that Holiday is handling the homicide case, and she is the daughter of the deputy commissioner of corrections. At least Carisi got photos of the crime scene. When Benson takes the photos into her office, Rollins uses this as a chance to ask Benson what is going on and Benson finally admits that Cassidy is there and it is not what Rollins thinks. Benson explains what Cassidy had told her. Rollins argues that Cassidy needs to come in but Benson is reluctant. Rollins mentions how Cassidy gets when he drinks, and thinks he is playing Benson. Benson snaps back, asking for Rollins to give her just a little bit of credit. Rollins forcefully argues that Cassidy has a short fuse and “he is notorious for making really bad decisions.” (This is funny, coming from Rollins.)  For now, Benson wants them to work the case. Rollins is worried about what will happen if Stone finds out Cassidy is hiding out in Benson’s apartment, as it means not only Benson’s ass but hers as well.

Later, Benson discusses the murder with the detectives while they are in the break room. She wants to pursue the case to rule out the families, with minimal intrusion. She tells them she will check in with Cassidy.

Fin and Carisi speak with Kayla and are introduced to a guy who lives down the hall, Glanville. Kayla flashes a wad of money, saying the $5,000 was slipped under the door with a note that says, “more if you don’t go back to court.” It seems like hush money from the doctor, and, as he’s now dead, Kayla says she’s keeping it.

While Rollins speaks to Hector’s father, Felix, Holiday steps in and diverts Rollins away, ending in Rollins telling Holiday she should be less of a bitch about it. Holiday is still looking for Cassidy.

Back to SVU, the detectives discuss what they know and Benson suggests to bring Felix in. Stone barges in, upset that Holiday said they were working Dr. West’s murder. Benson takes Stone into her office and explains that she should have told him and she thinks she is better equipped to run the case. She tells him what happened to Noah and she can’t sleep at night. She stares at Noah while he is sleeping wondering if he is going to be okay. She mentions that damages West did to these boys, and Stone states that doesn’t justify murder. Benson says her point is this case, no matter how it plays out, has to be dealt with sensitively and since the trial was botched…she admits she’s spoken with Cassidy who is upset. Benson suggests they go through his trial prep as West had other patients and other victims whose families were affected by the mistrial, He says whatever she uncovers She has to tell Holiday. He tells her no more surprises.

Later, Rollins lets herself into Benson’s apartment and finds Cassidy and they have words and she tells him Stone was at SVU. They continue to argue about how this affect Benson. Rollins tells Cassidy his ass is covered and to hell with everybody else, and Cassidy snaps back that this is rich, coming from Rollins as she has skeletons in her closet, asking who bailed HER out. She thinks this is different. He says if she thinks he killed West to arrest him, but she says she would never go against Benson. She adds that if Cassidy ever gave a damn about Benson, he would man up and turn himself in.

Meanwhile, Holiday visits Stone in his office and shows a surveillance video outside of West’s home which clearly shows Cassidy and it looks like he is tossing the murder weapon.

Stone later shows that to Benson and says it was a blood encrusted hat in the sewer. Stone is not happy with this and brings up Benson’s relationship with Cassidy. He adds that Holiday went to arrest him but he has not been home and asks Benson if she knows where he is. Cassidy walks into her office with his clothes from that night with West’s blood on them. Benson offers to take Cassidy to interrogation room 1 but Stone overrides her and calls Fin to do it. He tells Benson to call Holiday.

Later,  in interrogation room 1, Holiday question an argumentative Cassidy. Benson, who is watching with Stone, thinks she could have done this. She explains that Cassidy was staying at her apartment and Stone is livid, saying it looks like she was obstructing justice. She claims she was trying to get it. Cassidy explains to Holiday why he went to West’s and she isn’t buying it. She continues to press him and when Holiday brings up Benson, Cassidy gets enraged and leaps up, saying Benson had nothing to do with that. Stone gives Benson a knowing look. Cassidy then asks for his PBA rep and a lawyer. When she says he is going to hide behind a bunch of white suits, Cassidy says she is the one making this a race thing. Benson barges in and stops the discussion, reminding Holiday that Cassidy asked for a lawyer. Of course, Benson has no other suspects. Benson says the next time Holiday has a problem with her to at least have the balls to talk to her face to face, cop to cop. Stone comes in and tells them to arrest Cassidy for murder.

As Stone storms out of the SVU, Fin tells him not to come down too hard on Benson and when Stone asks if he is a part of this, Fin states if she asked him to, he would have been. Fin adds that when he sticks around long enough he will see - Stone asks if he will see they are all criminals? Fin explains when he first got to SVU he was a hot head and more times he’d like to admit he’d put a bullet in one of those sicko's head. Benson saw he was spiraling and she send him home to get his head together. If she thought Cassidy was guilty, she would have brought him in. Stone asks if she is supposed to ignore that Benson lied to him, and Fin explains he has been around the block a couple of times and to trust him on this. Holiday walks out with Cassidy who is in her custody. She asks if Fin wants to join the perp walk in central booking, and Fin replies hell no.

Fin later tells Benson it does not look good for her. They then hear that there was other trace DNA which belonged to a fish. Fin recalls something from Stone’s prep files. Sammy Price went to the doctor because he had his arm sliced by fish hooks and he got 4 stitches. He thinks where there are fish hooks there are fish knives. Carisi recalls Kayla had two wineglasses in the sink.

Fin and Carisi speak with Kayla who says Glanville takes Sammy fishing. They check his stuff and the knife is missing. They later arrest him and Benson and Rollins speak with Sammy and Reggie and Benson sees Reggie’s fidget spinner. She sees a small ring in it is missing.

Later, Reggie is in the SVU holding cell and Stone speaks with him. Stone, trying to get Reggie to open up, asks if he is a Mets fans and then tells him he used to play for the Cubs – just for a cup of coffee – he blew out his UCL and had to quit. It was a bad time for him; his whole identity was wrapped up in being a ball player and when he felt that ligament rip, it robbed him of who he was and everything he could be, kind of like what West did to Sammy. This gets Reggie to open up, who admits that West also abused him as well. Benson and Kayla are listening and Kayla is stunned. Reggie did not want West to get away with it and had to do something. Kayla cries, wondering how she missed this.

Later, at “La Diagonal” on Monday February 19, Stone and Cassidy commiserate. Cassidy heard that Reggie confessed and wants Stone to cut Reggie a deal. He says after what West did to Reggie, he will be chasing demons away the rest of his life. Every relationship and every time Reggie looks into the mirror, there will be a looming shadow there. Stone says Benson didn’t tell him, and Cassidy says she doesn’t know. He says this is why he left SVU all those years ago; he couldn’t handle SVU. He explains it was his little league coach and only went on for a couple months. His father found out and beat the crap out of the guy. Stone says he will see what he can do about Reggie. Cassidy thanks him and leaves.

 As he is leaving, Benson is walking up to the bar door and they meet. He tells her he talked to Stone and then says he is sorry about what happened. She thinks he would have done the same for her. As she walks toward the door, he says that about Noah , he wasn’t airing her dirty laundry to the DA, he was airing his. He was trying to explain to Morrison what happened between them and he had no idea she was under investigation. He would never ever do anything to intentionally hurt Noah or her and she is “the love of my life.” She looks surprised to hear this. She doesn’t know where this is coming from, they broke up a long time ago. He explains they had good times together and mutual love and respect, but she has to admit she was never going to bare her soul to him. She pauses and then says he is right. They embrace and he tells her to go inside, it’s cold. Inside, she looks back and sees he is gone, and we fade to black.

Mariska Hargitay - Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T - Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.
Philip Winchester – ADA Peter Stone

Guest stars:
Dean Winters – Brian Cassidy
Kylie Bunbury - Detective Devin Holiday
Pernell Walker – Kayla Price
Dominic Colón - Felix Ramos
Karina Arroyave – Sylvia Ramos
Dov Tiefenbach –Fitz
Kathryn Kates – Judge Marlene Simons
Daryl Edwards – Dr. West's Attorney
Stephen Hill – Glanville
Brett Gray – Reggie Price
Molly Jobe - Natalie Roberts
Anthony Grasso - Lorenzo
Barrett Shuler – Sergeant Ryan Klypla
Jeff Panzarella – Detective Frankie Turano
Jonathon Ruckman – Sully
Lorenzo Scott – Dr. Markus West
Ryan Buggle - Noah Porter-Benson.
Asher Talty – Sammy Price
Camrin Delvalle – Victor Ramos

Law & Order SVU – Cassidy’s Confession – Extended Scene

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Jodi Stephens said...

In real life, the number of times this group has been involved in "close relation" cases is tiring. It seems they all think that the law pertains to everyone but them. They insert themselves to the point of possibly destroying cases. Holiday may have her own nepotism, but she was right in separating the case from SVU. Starting way back with Stabler being involved in his daughter's DUI, then her robbery, his son (Dickie) missing; Liv and her brother; then Fin involved with cases his son is part of; Amanda and her sister; even Carisi and his sister's fiance; and then Liv all the time. Next week is Carisi's niece. This season is almost finished filming (they are probably filming Episode 18 or 19 at this point) is almost over, and suggesting to the writers they correct this will not happen for this season. But, please, go back to real cases and get it out of these people's personal life. Do I like Cassidy? Everyone knows he's a hot head (great acting by Dean Winters), there, again, going off grid for personal righteousness. Do I miss Barba? Yes, of course. Do I like Stone? Not yet; too many tangents back to what made Barba successful. SUGGESTIONS to writers: stop with the signature "Barba" look back at Liv. And please, don't even try to make Stone witty; his father wasn't, and no one will match Barba's unfiltered wit of intelligence. That's because we know the wit was part of Esparza's own personality in interviews and Warren Leight writing directly for Esparza (based on his own knowledge of personality).

Laurie Fanat said...

I picked up on the yelling too. It was a cheesy way to ramp up the drama. At minimum it gave the actors a chance to emote for a change! Benson still had to speak in her whisper voice in that one scene with Rollins. She needs to give that a rest.

I like Cassidy even though they've dumbed him down over the years. He does bring the "mayhem" element so I am grateful for that. Benson being the love of his life? Puh-leeze! I agree with you Chris that Benson can relate more to Noah because kids mean a "safe" relationship for her. She said that she can't sleep at night because she worries about him but then she lets a bloody drunk Cassidy into her home in the middle of the night? Where are her brains?

I did like the episode and I like what Michael Chernuchin has been doing. There is life in this show now. Philip Winchester will be a solid addition but please please don't let Benson ruin him like she did Barba.

Draven Long said...

This was just one hell of an episode. You hit every nail on the head, Chris.

But can I say that PETER STONE IS ANNOYING ME TO DEATH? What happened between Chicago Justice and SVU?!

At this rate, in my opinion SVU is destined for Season 21, especially with Michael Chernuchin as EP.

Sharon Polikoff said...

So Liv can't sleep for worrying about Noah. She should have thought about that when she took on the responsibility of caring for another human being as a single parent in a high-risk job. If anything happens to her, the kid will be an orphan again. I have nothing against children, but like a lot of the viewers whose comments I've read here, I think the Noah story arc really drags the show down. And now Benson is getting tied up with that jerk Cassidy again! I dislike him even more than Tucker. If only our harried heroine could find a soulmate like Stabler..

Chris Zimmer said...

Please note: an extended scene with Dean Winters and Philip Winchester has been added after the recap highlighting an extended "confession" from Brian Cassidy.

la214la said...

They should have kept in the extended confession. That was a good scene.

Kevin and Alicia San Miguel said...

"Whenever Brian Cassidy appears, mayhem ensues." This was the PERFECT sentence!

That being said, I feel like Ben Stone is going to be a good point of tension for Benson. She honestly needs it, as the squad and DA's office was getting a little too Kumbaya.