Thursday, March 22, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Send In The Clowns” Recap & Review

I swear that the only people that like clowns are…clowns. But “Send In The Clowns” focused more on family that it did on actual clowns. While I found most of the episode predictable, the fast pace and twist at the end made it a worthwhile watch.

This episode began with seizure-inducing scenes at a circus-themed dance club where 16-year-old Haley – a musical prodigy - parties with a guy in a clown mask and then she disappears. At first it seems her chaperone, James Turner, hasn’t done his job in keeping an eye on her. I immediately think he did the job TOO well; the minute I saw the chaperone, I felt he was behind her disappearance. My suspicions only grew when the detectives quickly nab a suspect - Vincent Drago, who worked for a butcher - early on and the evidence against him was too staged. Of course he denies killing her. After seeing Haley perform on the piano in a news story, Stone decides to arraign Vincent for murder 2 charges and before one could blink, we went from arraignment to Vincent on trial.

The biggest problem with Stone’s case: there is no body. I am fully aware of the compression of time in the SVU universe but in reality the timing of the murder trial is ridiculous. The detectives nabbed Vincent on March 14, Haley was missing 3 days when they searched the garbage dump on March 17, and by March 20, the trial was in progress and they were already on the trail to apprehend James Turner. I know Stone is supposed to be good but I would think he’d need more prep time and/or there would be more arguments from the defense about the “no body” issue.  It would have made more sense to have the arraignment and delay Vincent’s trial and instead move on to investigating and finding James Turner. I suspect they wanted to give more screen time for Peter Stone, something to which I would not object!

Despite my gut feeling early on that James was behind Haley’s disappearance, this didn’t mean this episode had no surprises. With Haley’s father’s over-the-top reactions to his daughter’s disappearance, I felt strongly that Haley had left her smothering father Chris of her own free will. This was confirmed when the detectives catch up with James in an Oyster Bay house that belonged to a “colleague” and find Haley and James in bed together and she professes her love for him. The BIG surprise comes when they are all back at SVU when Haley is reunited with her parents, and Haley’s mom Anna is the one who has an over-the-top reaction. She quickly announces that 17 years ago she had sex – only once - with James, and Haley is HIS daughter. James had been sleeping with his own biological daughter and he didn’t know. Later, Benson has to explain to Stone about genetic sexual attraction: it can happen when a father and a daughter don’t grow up in the same household and they meet as adults. In a weird-feeling segue, Stone uses this father-daughter situation to bring up fathers and sons, mentioning that he wishes at times his father was someone else. Benson agrees – for reasons we all know regarding her own father.

Benson worries that this case will put Stone back on the next train to Chicago, but Stone explains that he made a promise to his sister Pamela, who has schizophrenia and lives in Bayview Mental Health Facility in South Salem, New York. He is handling the weekly visits there, now that his father is dead. At the end of the episode, he visits her but she doesn’t seem to know who he is, thinking he is her father. Stone gets the closing scene as he exits the building and appears to sadly reflect on this situation. Maybe because Peter Stone was an established character with Chicago Justice and his father was a member of the Law & Order universe, it seems that Stone is getting a faster, more detailed back story that Rafael Barba ever did. This was something I would have loved to see for Barba but I am glad that they are moving so quickly to give Peter Stone some depth.

Another plus is that Fin finally gets some much needed family attention. He gets a visit from his son Ken and Ken's spouse Alejandro, who bring a birthday cake for Fin decorated with a clown. Alejandro quickly blames Fin’s grandson Jaden for picking the cake.

The Benson/Stone dynamic continues to build, and hopefully soon Stone will realize that he shouldn’t be so quick to take Benson’s lead. I laughed when Stone asked Benson “Are you always this persistent?” to which Benson replies, “Wait ‘til you get to know me.”   Later, Benson says to Stone “Well I hope you’re not sorry I talked you into taking this to trial” and he replies “Not yet.” My advice to Stone – run away from her as fast as you can or you WILL be sorry.

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:
Will Sasso - Chris Sadler
Erik Jensen - James Turner
Wendy Hoopes - Anna Sadler
Ernest Waddell – Ken Randall
Migs Govea – Alejandro Pavel
Eric Tabach - Vincent Drago
Mallory Bechtel - Haley Sadler
Molly Brown - Jenni Hanson
Helmar Augustus Cooper - Judge Reginald Flowers
Don Stephenson – Alan Hubert
Jillian Louis - Charlotte Cooke,
Ernest Wadell - Ken Randall
Valeri Mudek – Did Turner
Jillina Louis – Charlotte Cooke
Cyndi Melendez – Gina Feliz
Amy Korb – Pamela Stone
Kendra Farm – Dateline Reporter
Michelle Won Park – Reporter # 1
Azia Celestino – Reporter # 2
Michael Dennis Hill – Reporter # 3
T.J. Meyers – Leo Trozze
Gordon Silba – Sal Balzarini
Max Mackenzie – Mike
Tyree Simpson – Sergeant

All Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) Copyright © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


Js McFail said...

Great recap Chris!...I feel like 'somebody has been in some of the social media sites reading our posts'! Barba was here 6 years & we only had 1 episode where we kind've met his mom & wellita...We heard him saying he & his father apparently did not have a loving relationship...BUT Stone has been on SVU for 3 episodes & we find out all kinds of things in his back story! I for one feel robbed in that we hardly know anything of Barba's...
I don't hate/dislike Stone BUT he's NO BARBA! I miss Raul's Barba with his sharp dressing, sexiness & snarky attitude that ONLY Raul could've created...I just wish NBC would bring back Raul as his awesome Barba ...I miss BOTH so much! JMO
I also hope NBC decides NOT to pair Benson & Stone (Benstone) in a romantic way because Liv is NOT a cougar & I don't think that would be canon or even fly with fans...I read that Dick wolfe's intention was to pair them romantically in SVU & when SVU ends move them into a new show he hasn't even written yet! Pair? Maybe...Romantically? No! LOL
Okay now I'm stepping off my SVU soap box...(No applause please!) LOL

Chris Zimmer said...

@Js McFail - it's funny but I make a point never to look at the comments on social media or any forums until after the episode airs. I don't want to be influenced by any other opinions! It is so obvious they like the character Peter Stone, and in a way, I can see why. Philip Winchester has a very large fan base and I think they are trying to capitalize on that. Anything that brings in viewers can only help them improve their renewal chances. I can't see a Benson/Stone romantic pairing. I don't think it's a good match...for him!

Sharon Polikoff said...

Kind of suspected halfway through that there would be something significant involving Mr. Turner. Always suspicious of guys with wide foreheads and scruffy beards on SVU!

Chris Zimmer said...

@Sharon Polikoff - Ha!

Laurie Fanat said...

The legal aspect of this episode was all wrong. Stone says he will have Vince arraigned but then they cut right to the trial. We should have seen the arraignment and the argument from the defense that there was no body. Stone sees the girl playing the piano and suddenly he wants to go for murder 2? Already they are making Stone too soft. I like Philip Winchester on this show but I don't want Stone to be someone that Benson can influence so easily.

Chris, I picked the chaperone out right away too and thought the dad was too clingy and Haley wanted to get away from him but that ending with Haley's mom was perfect.

I don't think the Barba fans are too happy with how much attention Stone is getting.

Good episode!

Sharla Madewell said...

The episode was very well written. Peter needs to run away from Olivia. He shouldn't tell her all his personal lives. Plus, she needs to spend time with Noah. Peter was relaxing at the bar and Olivia is coming and bother him. Leave him alone. Stop bother him. She did with Barba. I don't enjoy watching Olivia this season. She bugging me. She needs to take care of Noah and leave Peter alone.

Sharon Polikoff said...

I want the show to get back to its roots as a police procedural, you know, about 'law and order.' As the comments about the trial in this episode indicate, 'SVU' is getting a little sloppy about legal details, and I still don't buy the concept in 'Dare' that body parts could get secretly harvested from 32 people before anyone caught on.

The upcoming (apparently) story arc about Stone's schizophrenic sister won't interest me in the least. I hope the show isn't going to start overdoing the characters' personal lives as it did with the Noah/Sheila business.

The worst episode in the original L&O series, in my opinion, was the one in which Claire Kincaid died in a car crash because she gave a ride to Lennie Brisco because he couldn't drive because he had been drinking because he was upset about his daughter because she was involved with drugs, etc etc (run-on sentence intentional!)

Good fences Make good neighbors said...

Im tired of Benson too but people make their own choices. I dont blame her for everything that happened to Barba or anyone elsd for that matter. I would like to see her paired with someone, its about time a relationship works out for her. And perhaps they can bump her up to captin so she can spend more time delagating like Cragen did rather than getting directly involved.

Doreen Chiapparelli said...

Good recap! Loved the epi- Sasso was great- stone has sass but plays it stiff and straight- I like him- but no bueno with benson- I agree with Sharla- she needs to stay outta bars and go home to Noah!!

Sharon Polikoff said...

I watched this episode on a huge-as-Montana widescreen TV instead of my trusty 19-incher at home, and some of those extreme close-up, oddly-angled shots of Fin and Carisi made them look as creepy as the clown mask!