Thursday, March 15, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Dare” Recap & Review

(This is an abbreviated recap and review today as I’m under the weather again. I’ve peppered my comments within the recap.)

Law & Order SVU “Dare” was one of those episodes that was both enjoyable and irritating. I enjoyed the quick pacing and the interaction between the lead characters, but found the preaching off-putting, some of it coming from Olivia Benson herself.  I have very strong opinions about organ donation: I believe that a person – or whoever that person designates as their next of kin – has the right to chose whether or not to donate their organs. Hospitals do not perform transplants out of altruism, they make a lot of money on these procedures but the families of the people who made that hard choice get ZERO. And when it comes to money, most hospitals will do all they can to squeeze every penny out of every patient, either through insurance bills or procedures like transplants. People are not cash machines for hospitals and as far as I am concerned,  like the doctor in this episode, their decision making regarding transplantable body parts can be clouded by their desire to make money. A doctor or hospital should not be making that decision, unless the patient left no instructions and/or there is no next of kin.

It’s interesting that Benson, such a champion for rape victims, doesn’t see that stealing someone’s body parts without permission is a physical assault of the most heinous kind. If anything, this episode will give viewers something to talk about.

This episode begins with what first appears to be a kidnapped child. We quickly find that the young girl, Zoe, has not been kidnapped but is the victim of an accident that occurred while she and her friends were playing a game of dares called “Red Parrot.” Benson and the detectives make the assumption, based on what Zoe’s friends have told them, that Zoe has been taken off the school grounds, as a result much time is lost searching for her elsewhere when all this time, Zoe is found (by Benson, of course) laying injured on the floor of the gym by the bleachers. If the detectives would have had officers or school officials check the school buildings and the grounds simultaneous to the detectives’ investigation, maybe there would have been a better chance to save Zoe’s life.

Unfortunately, Zoe dies on the operating table, and operating doctor Lorraine Franchella takes Zoe’s organs to use for transplant, without the parent’s permission. This is only discovered when Zoe’s mother wants to see Zoe’s body and sees a massive scar on her torso (which was not the area of Zoe’s injury) and they find - to the parents’ horror - her organs have been harvested. All the organs are still inside the hospital except the heart, which is in a helicopter on the rooftop ready for takeoff to Buffalo for a transplant. Benson successfully stops the helicopter from leaving, but not without the helicopter pilot’s pleas and Benson’s long pause to think about the life that this heart could be saving.

While I do not fully understand the entire process of harvesting organs, the removal of the organs and sending the heart on its way seemed awfully quick to me. I know that time is crucial with transplants but the process of Zoe's surgery, matching the heart to the proper recipient, and prep work seemed unrealistic.

Benson does have the time to speak with the parents to give them the chance to make a choice. Zoe’s mother is dead set against it.

Benson questions the doctor at SVU, and when Benson reminds her what she did was against the law and it was not for her to decide, the doctor asks Benson if she would bend the law to save a life, adding that Benson doesn’t strike her as an absolutist.

The detectives later find that the doctor has forged signatures for 32 other patients, going counter to the parent’s wishes. Initially, the doctor doesn’t appear to be benefiting financially from these transplants. She is arrested. There seems to be disagreement with Carisi and Rollins regarding the doctor’s actions; Carisi thinks she is a saint, Rollins doesn’t think a hospital bureaucrat should decide. I’m with Rollins on this one.

Peter Stone pursues the multiple forgery case, and this is where the preaching gets thick. Zoe’s mother testifies about what happened, and the defense attorney Nikki Stains trots out the boy who was the heart transplant recipient to tug at the heartstrings. This clearly moves Zoe’s father, who, after the court session, apologizes to the boy and his parents.

Dr. Franchella testifies in her defense, and her words drip with sanctimony. Clearly she thinks that she is in a better position to decide.

In a discussion with Benson at a bar, Benson tells Stone she thinks she made a wrong call on the hospital rooftop with the helicopter. She thinks this was not police business. Stone explains that when he first came to New York, he spent every day with his father at the hospital but was getting coffee when his father died. When Benson said that was hard, Stone counters it would have been harder if the doctor had harvested his organs before he got back to his room. He thinks she did the right thing (by stopping the heart from going to Buffalo). I’m with Stone on this; in effect, the doctor stole Zoe’s organs and Benson’s actions stopped that theft, or at minimum, gave the parents a chance to make a choice.

The detectives then discover that the doctor has been making large donations to the Children’s Heart Procurement Fund and has dedicated those donations in memory of her son, coincidentally named Benjamin (the same as Stone’s father), who died from a congenital heart condition. Stone challenges that the doctor did not try hard enough to save Zoe, and if that was her son on the table, would she have done what she did? Of course, the doctor has no answer to that question.

At closing arguments,  Stains argues that the law excuses a criminal act if it based on necessity. This is a legal argument I’ve never heard of before but it is legit but I question if one can use this to commit a crime multiple times. Stains thinks those 32 transplant recipients are the definition of necessity. Stone thinks that each person should make their own choice about their own body. He calls the doctor a zealot, motivated by her own personal tragedy. She broke the law and imposed her own morality. He describes what the doctor did and that she tried to hide it. She is playing god. (I’m with Stone.)

Credit Stone with another win, as the doctor is found guilty of forgery in the second degree on all 32 counts.

Later, Stone visits Benson in her office, he explains the sentencing, saying they need to set an example. Benson thinks the doctor is a progressive minded pediatric surgeon and that Stone is a bully as the doctor will lose her license, which Benson thinks is the worst punishment. In my opinion, Benson is wrong here; the doctor losing her license AND going to jail is the worst, which is what the doctor deserves for blatant theft. Stone does not want to look like a pushover but she thinks he is overcompensating for Stone note being there when his father died. LOW BLOW Olivia. When Rollins enters and tells them that the boy who was to receive the transplant has died, Stone looks at Benson and the episode ends with a look at her heartbroken face.

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:
Janel Moloney - Dr. Lorraine Franchella
Callie Thorne - Nikki Staines
Jenn Gambatese - Meredith Bergkamp
Alfredo Narciso - Dylan Bergkamp
Tom Titone - Judge Joshua Goldfarb
Eloise Lushina - Lily Winterburn
Lillian Ellen Jones - Lisa Dixon
Nicollette Pierini – Zoe
Kittson O'Neill - Vivian Winterburn
James Mount - Neil Dixon
Harriet D. Foy – Gwen Jackson
Stacet Raymond – Coach Clare
Adit Dileep – David Gidumal
Allan Walker – Felix
Fisher Neal – Marc Salazar
Robin S. Walker – Callie Lydell
Vanessa Schanen – Foreperson
Joey Curtis-Green - Harry Lonegan
Matt Golden - Mr. Lonegan
Mary Theresa Archbold – Mrs. Lonegan
Mario Ficarra - Batender

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Js McFail said...

I kinda liked the change in the topic last night. I really do think after 30+ times of this occurring, somebody would've noticed what was happening sooner. Everything was pretty good, acting, writing, etc...(I just don't want to Olivia be made into a cougar please NBC!) JMO

Js McFail said...

Oh yeah, I forgot, I hope you get to feeling better quickly Chris!

Jessica F. Norick said...

Olivia Benson is a murderer. Plain and simple.

Jessica F. Norick said...

Yes, get well soon, Chris!

Chris Zimmer said...

Hey all - I've powered through the recap & review and it's up! Thanks for the well wishes.

David Dudovitz said...

While I personally think objections to organ donation are silly (it's going to rot otherwise anyway), I think a fair compromise is to change New York's law from opt in to donation to opt out. That said this doctor violating the on the book law in so brazen a way is wrong and I do think she should go to prison for it.

Jessica F. Norick said...

Benson should go to prison for murdering Harry Lonegan in cold blood. She could have, ahem, gotten to the roof too late to stop the helicopter. She's done this sort of thing in the past. In fact, what she did last night (not letting the helicopter leave with the heart) was so out of character for her that this is potential "Jump the Shark" territory for me.

Jane said...

Organ donation should never be left to the doctor...and I hope we don’t live in a world where that happens. Law and Oder had an episode about a doctor who was in it for the money and removed a woman’s organs when she was still alive....Doctors motives can never be known, only the family has the right to decide.

Sharon Polikoff said...

Don't understand why Zoe's disappearance was an SVU case in the first place. Doesn't a case like that go to FBI first, as we saw so many times in 'Without A Trace'?

Jessica F. Norick said...

So Jane, it was right to let that sweet, adorable little boy die? I know it's just a TV show, but I gotta be honest, I had trouble sleeping last night after watching this program and the fate of that little boy.... My personal ethics are, if a CHILD is in danger, and it is within my power to save that child's life, I'm going to do it, and the devil with the consequences.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Sharon Polikoff - the only thing I can think of is because it happened right after the kids got back to the school from that trip to the game that they thought it was a sexual predator? Maybe as a rule the police get called in first before the FBI is contacted? Just guesses...

Mending Wall said...

She is not a murderer in my opinion. That heart should never have been taken out in the first place. Every hospital has a different standard for what is considered brain dead and the family should have the right to keep the child on life support to see if there is any change in brain activity. No one should have taken out that heart while it was still beating, giving one person life while taking another. He had no right to leave the hospital with a stolen organ

Jessica F. Norick said...

@Mending Wall, in my book, you cause the death of a Minor Child, you are a murderer. Period.

Mending Wall said...

Ok and what about the child on the table whos life was stolen from her? The doctor claimed she was brain dead but there have been cases where peoples brain activity changes after a couple of weeks. You dont steal a heart from someone to give to another person. The parents have the right to their choice and happens to their childs body part. You wont get any sympathy for organ donation by stealing. The parents have the right to chose as well. This episode taught me one thing. Say NO to organ donation. You never know what lows people will go to in order to take someone elses parts.

Jessica F. Norick said...

@Mending Wall, so it's better to destroy two families on the microscopic chance that the one child might have been able to continue existing as a vegetable?

Chris Zimmer said...

@Jessica F. Norick - this is the problem - one life shouldn't be worth more than another. The doctor's judgment was affected by what happened to her own son, so maybe she didn't try hard enough to save Zoe's life. Zoe deserved to live too. Let's say Zoe never had the accident and there was no heart to give to that boy, he would have likely died in the same time frame. The other problem with the doctor is that it wasn't just one child, it was many. Benson didn't murder anyone, she was upholding the law. The doctor could very well be a murderer if she didn't do all she could to save Zoe.

Sharon Polikoff said...

Should be up to the parents. There might have been a religious objection on their part, or maybe they'd choose to keep their daughter on life support for years, despite the cost, in hopes that some future medical breakthrough might come about to restore her brain activity. At least in their case, there was no family conflict involved, as with Terri Schiavo's husband and parents, and the warring adult children of Ted Williams.

I hope the parents won't have their grief over their own loss compounded by people blaming them for the little boy's death. And anyway, there's no guarantee with any organ transplant that the recipient will live - organ rejection and other complications can occur.

Jessica F. Norick said...

@Sharon Polikoff, Don't even get me started on Schiavo. He pulled the plug on her so he could marry the gal he'd been slipping around on Terri with for years, even before she had her illness.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

First- get better soon Chris- I loved this episode- break away from the rape- so many opinions- benson did the right thing but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when harry dies

Jessica F. Norick said...

I guess what bothered me was really the fact that, throughout the series, Benson had developed a near-perfect track record of doing what was right, irregardless of the law. The episode, "Legitimate Rape" comes to mind, among others. That track record was broken last night.

All I know is that, every season has an episode or two that I just cannot bear to ever watch again beyond the first viewing. This will be one of them. Last season's "Impostor" is another one. Incidentally, both have Benson causing an innocent child's death as plot points.

Jane said...

The only thing that caused that little boy’s death was his illness....Sadly people die every day waiting for organs, that doesn’t give doctors the right to make decisions to harvest organs without the families permission. . If anyone advocates for that than do you advocate for doctors deciding when to end life support...would you have that right taken away from the family too.

Jessica F. Norick said...

I believe that being an organ donor should be "opt-out" as it is in Europe and Canada..... That is, ALL otherwise healthy people's organs should be harvested upon death unless they have previously filed paperwork indicating that they do *not* want to be a donor.

Douglas Trapasso said...

I liked the grey areas in this one; where you can feel empathy for all sides and you realize that The Law (TM) has not caught up to all aspects of our society today. I was a little nervous, going into the last break, that our accused would turn out to be some kind of Kevorkian in disguise, but it turns out her motives were pure and selfless, even if outside what the law currently allows.

Mending Wall said...

We cant say for sure that she would have been a vegetable. There are cases where rushed decisions are made and the person could have recovered. Some people have been pronounced brain dead and recovered weeks or months later. Every hospitals standard of brain dead is different. Even if its a microscopic chance, Zoe has the right to fight for that chance. One life is not worth more than another. There are shady practices in this billion dollar industry and parents have the right to wait it out. You are not destroying anyones life by fighting for your own loved ones rights dead or alive. That boys life was already destroyed when diagnosed with that illness. His right to live is no more valuable than anyone elses. No one has the right to use someone tragedy to further someones life without permission. That father owed no one an apology. He found put in a split second his daughter is dead, her organs illegally harvested than in a split second have to make a decision in that state. If anyone is a murderer it is the doctor. Maybe of she asked for permission in the first place, he would have had the heart if done the right way. She could have been placed on life support and maybe the family would have said yes a couple of days later. But they have the right to those few days to see if anything changes. In this episode they showed a rushed decision.

Mending Wall said...

Exactly. Thanks for saying this. Im tired of people taking matters into their own hands and rushing decisions. Families have the right to fight for their loved ones without a guilt trip

Mending Wall said...

Good point. People should be able to fight for their loved ones without a guilt trip. There have been cases where people supposedly brain dead fully recovered. Every hospitals standards for declaring brain death is different. It is not your fault that people are dying while waiting on a organ list. Zoes family was also going through a tragedy and one life is not worth more than others.

Mending Wall said...

What right do they have to make decisions for a family. They should be asked just in case they want to monitor the progress. No one has the right to steal. You shouldnt have to sign paperwork before hand. Do people have the right to do what they want with my body while alive unleas i sign paperwork first? The same respect should be shown for people who are supposedly brain dead.

Mending Wall said...

I dont blame Olivia for her decision. If anyone is a murderer its the doctor. She took that girls heart out while it was still beating. She was alive and the parents should have the right to keep her one life support. For all they know her condition could have changed. There have been cases where doctors made mistakes. One life is not worth more than another. You dont have the right to steal someones organs and make their tragedy your gain without permission. But for some reason the doctor didnt want to take the chance the person will say no, which is their right

Sharon Polikoff said...

I agree with the earlier comment that the episode's basic premise is faulty, as it's unlikely that the doctor could get away with what she did over 30 times before anyone noticed.

JSlayerUK said...

So much of SVU is based on the notion of consent. I think organ donation is a wonderful thing, but it has to be done with consent. My body, my choice.

The idea of necessity was interesting. It wouldn't have fit into the episode, but I would have been interested to know if the doctor had made any attempt at alternative actions before going down this road. Had she written to her congress representatives? Had she joined any campaigns to get the law changed? Had she attempted to get more patients to join the donor registry? You can only argue that she had to do these surgeries out of necessity if you demonstrate the lack of other options. It's also difficult to argue necessity 32 times. This wasn't an emergency, this was a pattern of behaviour.

It was a great episode though. Always fun if an episode makes you think. Heartbreaking and good television.

winner675 said...

I can't call Olivia a murderer. She tries her best to do her job and as we all know, she can be flawed. It was not her fault that the doctor committed a crime, and it was not her fault that the boy was ill and needed a heart. She didn't kill that boy, his illness did. If anything, it's the doctor's fault for getting anyone's hopes up - she did NOT have permission to get that heart! Olivia is NOT a saint, but NOT a murderer.

Jamie Leigh Littlewolf said...

If you start making laws "well, I don't think this law is fair so I'm not going to follow it", OK, then we're gonna have a big problem. Bottom line is that doctor broke the law over 30 times. Yes, it is an awful, sad, occurence that parents and others are so afraid of death, so unable to think that their child "could" die young, that they don't fill out organ donor cards. Adults are just as guilty and some don't even make wills for themselves or Advance Directives either! I have a friend in her mid 40's who has 2 teenage girls who just now is going to make our an Advance Directive. My point being that ultimately that doctor, while what she was doing WAS saving other's lives, she took away a basic right from others...parents, AND what if? What if even subconcsiously she WAS so sure a child was going to die that she did hurry through a procedure because she just "knew" the organs would save someone else's life. We don't know do we? And no one, out of those 32 families, who you've got to figure had their child's eyes, livers, spleens, hearts, lungs, kidneys, and whatever else could be harvested, well there would just be no way to EVER know if that doctor sped along the initial so called "donor's" death because it "seemed" immienent in this doctors eyes. I can see how Benson would be torn up. I mean so would I!! What a horiffically hard position to be in. I mean COME ON!! What use was that heart to ANYone any more? And the fact is Benson is NOT by any stretch of the imagination a saint. I can think of at least 2 or 3 times when she has looked the other way in cases. The very first episode of the series as a matter of fact, and then at least one other one..But this one, for her I can see how hard that would be; however, not her choice to make. The doctor put that horrific decision in her hands, and if it were me, I probably would have told the brought the heart back downstairs and before I told the parents what was happening I would have thrown the container at the doctors feet and the smacked in the face for putting so many lives in so much turmoil, whether it be for the "right" reason or not.

I mean take a look at the episode "Contrapasso" Right? Remember Barba's speech? That woman cut off the guys privates? Shouldn't that have been enough? NO? He raped her and by LAW he should STILL be punished for that.

This doctor broke the law more times than I can count, and she was so so stupid, because all she needed to do was to tell the parents when their kid was being brought in, just how dire their situation was, and could she, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could she harvest their organs??? She might have lost the battle with some. But I would bet that out of the 32 patients whose body parts she stole, at least half of those children's parents would have said yes.

Jamie Leigh Littlewolf said...

Oh and about Olivia and Peter...Why the hell not???? Why is it not even looked at twice if a 53 year old man goes for a 36 year old woman, but a 53 old woman can't be in a relationshihp with a 36 year old man?

I say more power to her!! To me they'd make a better paid then her an Barba since to me Rafael and Liv were like family and friends. Stone is tallker than her first of all. Considering the woman loves her heels, thats a nice thing to see, and I think that the way it's been set up already is that Stone will NOT become Liv's lap dog that way so so so so so so sadly the writer's effed up and did to our lovely REE. <3

Mandy said...

Totally agree with Chris's assessment - Benson has never had a problem understanding and fighting for the sanctity of someone's bodily integrity before, regardless of whether she would have agreed with the choice they or their guardians made. Several seasons ago, she was ready to call child protective services on parents who were cryogenically freezing their disabled daughter's eggs because they wanted another child.

I think the doctor in the episode, Europe, and Canada have it wrong. People have a right to their own bodies, and that right doesn't end with their deaths. Should we decree by default that a person's money and property go to needy strangers, rather than to that person's loved ones, because that would be the "nicer" thing to do, or because it would be more "useful" that way? Organ donation is a wonderful thing - I have the heart on my driver's license that Stone talked about - but no one is owed your body parts or anything else that is yours upon your death, and that should never be the default assumption.

All that said, this was a great episode, the kind of juicy "ethical quandary" stuff that used to make SVU engaging television on the regular. Heck, characters who aren't Benson even got to do things! More of this and less of Benson's personal life/savior complex, please.

Lestrange said...

I could be wrong but don't the countries that have Opt Out have less problems with shady harvesting practices?

Jessica said...

As someone who received a life-saving organ transplant 2 years ago, this episode had me weeping. Reading these comments has me crying for a different reason though. I find the cynicism around, criticism of, and downright ignorance about transplants in this comment thread highly disturbing.

DarQ DawG said...

People claiming this is far-fetched don't know what the hell they're talking about. This type of stuff happens all the time. Here's just a few cases:

When you agree to be a donor, doctors become eager beavers to pronounce you dead and harvest your organs:

They're even pushing the envelope to allow this to happen far more frequently than before:

People jumping on a high horse to claim organs should be taken by default are so full of themselves it's ridiculous. As the reviewer pointed out, everybody BUT the family of the donor is making boocoo dollars off of organ donation. If you're so desperate for more organ donors start paying for those organs that you want on the market. Over night much of the problem will evaporate.

Darryl de Castro said...

I think there is a lot of confusion here. There is a different between being "brain dead" and being in a "persistent vegetative state." When you are brain dead, you do not have the option of keeping your loved one on "life support" as they are clinically dead. At most, the doctors will give a few days if organ donation is agreed upon. What some people are thinking of here is when someone is in a persistent vegetative state where there is still brain activity but they are unable to wake up and consistently unconscious. In this case, the patient is not dead and the family can choose to keep them on life support.

Anyway, while I can understand why the doctor took the body parts in this episode, I think it was absolutely wrong and disrespectful on her part. Yes she was saving a life but she was doing it the wrong way. There are so many other things that need to be considered. What if the family had a religious reason they do not want the parts to be donated? By taking the part without their permission, you are completely disrespecting and violating their rights. If I needed a body part, I would not want the part knowing that it was taken from someone else without their consent. In this instance, people are being too emotional and disregarding the rights that these our laws are meant to protect.

Fefe Yo said...

I think the comments on here are quite selfish and inconsiderate. If the patient is actually medically dead and it has been verified by several medical doctors, why not make use of the organs and save lives? There is too much attachment, when in actually, when a person is dead, they are dead. Being over-sentimental over the body parts is very selfish, as there are so many sick and dying people who could make great use of the organs. You should hope you are never in the receiving end when you or your loved ones may need a transplant and the potential donor(s) refuse bc of one reason or another. Another thing, doctors generally are in the business of doing good not all this "anti-establishment" talk about the medical field is really unfair. To undermine all the school, stress, debt, dedication, sacrifices, and hard work doctors and scientists undergo is absolutely ignorant. I think this episode was very heartfelt and shame on those parents and the system for finding the doctor guilty. It was sad the little boy ended up dying when he could be living today, had the girl's parents thought about saving another person's life. Olivia should have let the helicopter go with the organs. What a pity. In addition, it appears a lot of people do not understand the difference between "medically dead" and in "vegetative state". If someone is medically dead, their brain damage is irreversible...opposite of vegetative state.

Domenick Michael said...

As SVU ages, it’s tough keeping things fresh and avoiding lazy gimmicks like over relying on Liv in danger storylines which have gone from exciting to rather tedious eyeroll inducing melodramas. The Shiela Porter story arc is a perfect example. What could have been an interesting look at family/custodial issues turned into the typical predictable over the top psycho bitch from hell nonsense. That said, just when you’re about to give up on the whole enterprise an episode like this comes along which challenges you emotionally and ethically to think harder and deeper about a really complicated societal situation. Yes, the doctor broke the law. Yes, she deserves to pay for it. Does the law on this issue need to be revisited so we move towards more of an opt out consent system versus opt in? - yes it should. Does that reevaluation and revision of that law need to take into consideration the various ways it can be abused or manipulated for financial gain or unethical purpose? - absolutely.

So bottom line is that it was a thought provoking episode that encourages a wider debate on an important topic. This proves that the old machine still has some gas left when it really tries hard and avoids the easy way out by relying on lazy gimmicks and endlessly recycled plots.