Thursday, April 19, 2018

Law & Order SVU “Sunk Cost Fallacy” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Sunk Cost Fallacy” brought Alexandra Cabot back, but she’s not doing legal work. She’s helping people escape situations where they are being abused and she’s finding very creative ways of doing it. NBC released an episode preview a week before the episode aired where we saw Benson finding out this news, which essentially spoiled about the first half of the episode. Benson thinks what Cabot is doing is against the law and Cabot doesn’t really care as she believes she is protecting these women. It’s a quick moving episode with compelling dialog and a nice balance of SVU work and legal action. It leaves us with unanswered questions, though: Will Cabot be charged as an accomplice to kidnapping on this case or in others? Was the car accident that killed Jules arranged by Nick and who investigating this? What will happen with Nick’s lawsuit for $50 million (which would not have happened had Stone arrested him based on evidence, not Nick’s “attitude”)?

The episode marked a total shift in Alexandra Cabot’s focus, who went from a crusader for justice to a vigilante for abused women. I think I liked the hero for justice version of Cabot better, as this new Cabot seems a little too angry and unhinged for me. Benson, of course, has become even more rigid when it comes to the law. Oddly, that is something that she should have kept in mind in Nick’s case and she should have encouraged Stone NOT to arrest Nick as they had NO BODIES and NO EVIDENCE a murder took place. Both Benson and Stone reacted based on emotion. Benson is just as biased as Cabot, only on a different side of the fence.

Why, with all the hype on Cabot’s return that we had to open with Peter Stone having to deal with a problem with his sister is beyond me (more on this later).

Nick Hunter, along with his elderly helicopter mom, are at a party at his home when Nick gets a phone call that seems to be from his wife Jules, but it is from someone who appears to have abducted them who says he will kill Jules and their daughter Ruby. The SVU are called in and quickly Jules’ car is located and there is evidence they had tire trouble and there is blood in the car. They find her phone and purse nearby but cash and credits cards are gone. It seems to confirm the abduction. As the SVU continues to investigate, the focus turns to Nick, who is a cheating abuser “scumbag”, who could be behind this. Stone makes the decision to charge Nick with murder, despite the fact there are no bodies and no evidence of murder, thinking some time in Rikers should make him talk. (Nick gets beaten up while there.)

The detectives see Jules’ car on mall surveillance video but it was driven there a by man who threw away Jules’ purse in a trash bin. The SVU realizes this man had the tire temporarily repaired and find the store nearby where he bought tire sealant. The man used a credit card which tracked to Caleb Pierce. They track Caleb down and follow him to try to located Jules and Ruby. While Benson and Carisi tail Pierce, they see him stopping at a home and picking up another woman and children. Soon after, they see Caleb drop them off in a parking lot where another car waits. Much to Benson’s shock, the woman in that car is former ADA Alexandra Cabot.

An argument ensues when Benson realizes that Cabot is using creative ways – like faking someone’s death – to help women escape from abusive spouses. Benson thinks this is against the law but Cabot blames the assumption that Jules and Ruby have been killed and Nick’s arrest on the cops’ misreading of evidence. Cabot says the law can’t protect these woman but Benson firmly tells her that makes her a criminal.

As the story progresses, Benson hears Jules tell her stories of abuse and even sees one injury – a bad burn – that was cause by Nick throwing hot coffee on her. Later, Cabot continues to explain the situation to Benson and Carisi and that Jules and Ruby will stay in a safe house until they can establish their new IDs. Benson explains she can’t allow Nick to continue to be held or stand trial, and Cabot begs for a little more time to get Jules and Ruby established. Cabot suggests Benson reduce the charges which will buy some time and stresses that Benson would not be breaking the law.

Stone gets the charges reduced and is not happy that Nick made bail. He’s especially angry as Nick is now suing Benson, Stone, the department, the DA’s office, and the city, for $50 million. Nick is claiming false arrest, negligence, intentional affliction of emotional distress, and violation of his civil rights. He made a motion for accelerated discovery which was granted; this means they will be deposed immediately and Benson is first up.

An Friday, April 13, at Biegel Griffen Kimbell, Benson is deposed and Nick’s attorney realizes Ruby and Jules are alive, and Benson has the “deer caught in the headlights” look. Later, Cabot is apoplectic that Benson didn’t lie. Cabot goes off on Benson, saying the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” thing is a “load of crap” to make people think the criminal justice system gives a damn. When Benson wonders what happened to Cabot (I am wondering too), Cabot explains that she opened her eyes wide and saw for 12 years she “was a cog in a holier-than-thou wheel.” As they continue to argue, Cabot says she prefers to avoid the wheel altogether. But Benson stops Jules from leaving with Cabot and explains that Nick knows she is there and Jules will also lose Ruby. Benson tells Jules she must fight for divorce in court and get custody of Ruby and that Cabot will defend her and when they win, she will be free to go anywhere she wants and Benson will help her. NOTE TO BENSON – don’t make promises you know you can’t keep.

On April 16,  they are in family court and Jules tells her story but must admit she never filed any formal complaints. Afterward, Benson asks Carisi to get Jules and Ruby settled at a hotel and Benson has unis assigned there. But while Benson and Cabot discuss the matter at a restaurant, Benson gets a phone call with bad news: the SUV that Carisi was driving was hit by a car that blew through a stop sign and the driver is in the wind, the car was stolen 2 days ago. A shocked Carisi is injured but Jules is dead.

Of course, Cabot is crazed that this happened and thinks Nick got Jules killed. Rollins gives Benson a report stating there were no car skid marks and the other SUV was moving faster than 55 mph. It looks like a hit job and Benson wants to focus on Nick. Cabot wants Benson to put Nick away.

Later, Stone is deposed and says it was his decision to charge Nick with murder, based on his attitude. (Not a good reason, Peter. It should be based on evidence.) Stone meets up with Benson at a bar and Benson explains that Nick has an alibi and he may get away with it. Stone thinks that Nick may get his $50 million but it’s a civil matter and those courts are not quick and the city attorneys know how to delay. When Stone mentions Benson bringing Jules back, she says she did what she needed to do; it’s easier if you take yourself out of the equation.

Sidebar: The episode opened with Stone hearing that his sister is now suffering from tardive dyskinesia as a result of her medications and Stone must make the choice whether to increase or stop her meds. Near the end of the episode, she is taking her meds, so he decided to increase the meds.

At the end of the episode, Benson is meeting with Cabot who is picking up another woman for rescue. Benson hears that Nick has custody of Ruby. Benson says, “And the wheel goes round” to which Cabot notes that is what SHE has been saying. Sherry, Jules’ sister, is fighting for custody. Benson asks if she has a chance and Cabot asks back if she wants to know the truth. Benson tells a story :

Benson: You know, today on the…I was on the subway platform and I saw these two cockroaches and they were pulling at different ends of crust of bread. And then the bread tore and it fell onto the tracks, and neither bug got their dinner.
Cabot: Are you proposing we work together?
Benson: I could never do what you do, Alex.
Cabot: And I can't stop.

They share a long hug and Benson tells Cabot to take care and Cabot walks off and as Benson walks off 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:
Stephanie March - Alexandra Cabot
Richard Kind - Nick's Attorney
Scott Porter – Nick Hunter
Sarah Wilson – Jules Hunter
Olga Merediz – Judge Roberta Martinez
Katie Flahive – Sherry
Brian Keane – Pamela Stone’s Doctor
Joan Porter – Vera Hunter
Kaitlin Mesh – Paisley Adams
Ceasar F. Barajas - Jorge Garcia
Amy Korb – Pamela Stone
Philip Galinsky – Mechanic
Debra Walton – Meredith Scott
Jennifer Brito – Uni
Eddie K. Robinson - CSU Tech
Bret Shuford - Billy
Raelynn Zofia Stueber - Ruby Hunter
Christopher Parker - Caleb Pierce

Here's a deleted scene with Kelli Giddish and Philip Winchester

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magix74 said...

I really enjoyed this episode for two reasons. One- what’s not to love about Benson and Cabot back on screen together? They have undeniable chemistry, which was evident again. It always disapppointed me that SVU didn’t have the courage to put them together. If Benson was male, without a doubt they would have explored it.

Second - this episode showed the reality of what many victims of family violence go through. Whilst perhaps faking a murder is going a bit far, the reality is that this could often only be the way out. Benson wasn’t wrong in wanting to follow the law, it was a no win situation for her.

Also, when can defense attorneys stop accusing victims of lying because they didn’t tell doctors etc about the violence. Isn’t there enough evidence out there for courts to know that this is typical behavior of victims?

C said...

I agree, Chris, Cabot seemed unhinged. Personally, I didn't buy it

Some random thoughts.

- I guess putting Sonny in traumatizing situations is their idea of a running gag now.

- Talking about humor: Was the cockroach story supposed to be funny? Or deep? To me it just sounded ridiculous.

- I'm sorry, but I lost some respect for Stone as an ADA. How could he be so stupid and tell them to arrest Nick without any evidence? I almost yelled at my screen. Another example of intelligent characters making illogical decisions just to speed the plot along.

- I missed Fin.

- Loved Olivia's line about all the retired ADA's chillin' down in Florida! :D

- Stephanie March is an amazing actress


Chris Zimmer said...

@magix74 - I agree, it was great to see Benson and Cabot together again. Mariska and Stephanie have great chemistry.

My issue with Benson is that she wants to follow the law - which is the right thing to do - but seems to cast it aside when it's more convenient for her. Nick should have never been arrested and she (and Stone) should have known better but their emotions and desire for someone to be accountable got in the way. At least Cabot found a legal loophole to buy some time but they all knew Nick didn't kill them and he should have been released outright immediately. I think Nick may very well have a solid law suit (we'll see it it ever plays out).

You're correct, even the defense attorneys should know by now that victims don't always admit to the violence!

Chris Zimmer said...

@C - the cockroach story I think was supposed to be deep, like it was a parable from the SVU bible, book of Benson. She's basically telling Cabot they are working against each other and then no one wins...either that or they are both cockroaches (wink)

Vim said...

While I liked this episode, there is some issue, which I have
-Cabot admitted to framing (or allowing police to misread evidence) "abusive" husbands ("" because, with exception of Nick, we don't have any evidence, that they are not innocent). So did Police or Benson check how many people are falsely accused and sentenced? Np, they, allow Cabbot her vigilanty. It would be understandably if it would 80s or 90s - but courts have gone log way since then. Now, it is balance of justice have swayed in other way.
-Stone was supposed be the one who keep Benson in check - and here he makes that stupid attitude remarks. And secondly, his remarks, that Nick should be in grief after his wife death? Of course, he will be not. Regardless, whether Nick is scumbag, his wife tried to kidnap his child and because of her action he barely escape murder sentence.

Sú Suansil said...

I really liked the episode. Yes as already pointed out had its flaws, but in my view nothing revolting, because the series is so for almost two decades.
Alex in this new phase has indicated that she is more impulsive, but I think she is sober and like when she went to Congo she is just following her convictions.
Of course if the plot were her going to Olivia asking for help would be more plausible, but doing what is not?
Olivia following the Law is becoming revolting for us, but let's face it, she has become political over time, even though at times she wants to inflame the law in her favor. I think even her actions could lead her to Dr. Lindstrom again, because it is only in this season that I remember two deaths happened in a way as a consequence of her decisions to follow the law.
I expect a continuation of at least some citation, although it seems difficult, but it would be good to see the civil process, the Carisi bordering on guilt.
Stone was new to SVU, it was where he gave that area too, because if he was a savvy person he would know without Olivia having to play the role that evidence is needed above anything, in which case Olivia hesitated to let them go to prison. Anyway perfect episodes do not exist.

Sharon Polikoff said...

A treat to see Stefanie March again (still beautiful, even with glasses that give her a harsh look.) But here we go with the Pamela Stone subplot thickening ... of course she's going to have some awful medical complications for which her brother will blame himself in dreary conversations with 'father confessor' Saint Olivia. Maybe Peter should be seeing Dr. Lindstrom....

Jessica F. Norick said...

So is Olivia Benson going to be causing the deaths of innocent people on a regular basis now?.... Dodds, Jr. in "Heartfelt Passages".... Justin Collett in "Imposter"..... Harry Lonegan in "Dare".... and now last night's episode. Olivia Benson has been one of my heroines.... but I hate where the character seems to be going.

Laurie Fanat said...

I agree Chris, that preview clip NBC released was a major spoiler. We knew that Jules and Ruby weren't kidnapped or killed and that Nick didn't do it. I enjoyed having Stephanie March back but I guess they have to make her turn bad to make Olivia look even more saintly. We know she is sooo perfect! Except when she riles up Stone so Stone arrests Nick for murder even though they don't have anything near a case for murder! Why make Stone look like such a dummy? SVU and Stone deserve to be sued. Their only saving grace will be if Nick did arrange to kill Jules. Instead they spent more time with Stone and his sister so we may never know how the lawsuit or Nick being charged with her eventual murder plays out.

The writing has been better this season as is the pacing of the story. I would have left out the Stone and his sister drama, it didn't fit with this episode.

Mending Wall said...

I understand where Cabot and Benson are coming from. We shouldnt break the law but we all know that the law doesnt always protect people. In life or death situations people get desperate. If you dont act and end up dead, at the funeral people can say "well at least they followed the law" huh? But to be fair we cant put people in jail for crimes they didnt commit. I think that was Stones fault not Alex. He is the one that jumped the gun and put the guy in jail without dead bodies or other evidence. We assumed Alex has people sitting in jail for crimes they didnt commit but she said every case is different. In this case the woman "dying" was the only way he would stop pursuing her. I see her network like a domestic violence underground railroad so to speak to save peoples lives. It may seem vigilante but like I said, the law doesnt always save your life. Either way damn if you do or dont

Catherine said...

There are so many things wrong in this episode. The blame for that goes directly to the writers.

Alex told Benson "No one was being kidnapped". She was right; there was no kidnapping in the Hunter case. So Benson's whole attitude of upholding the law was nonsense. Neither Alex nor Julie Hunter had broken any laws. That would explain why there were no charges brought against them.

This is the second time since he has come to NY that Stone has charged somebody with murder when there is no body or evidence of murder. You would think he he would have learned his lesson after " Send in the Clowns".

There are people here complaining about Nick Hunter's attorney cross-examining Julie about the inconsistencies in her story. He was doing his job and quite correctly. He exposed a witness's lies. Any witnesses who changes their testimony to their benefit should be questioned about it. But the writers didn't have Alex question her afterwards about why she lied.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Catherine - the only thing I can think of on the kidnapping issue is that Jules may be considered a kidnapper as she took Ruby without her husband's permission. Jules didn't have sole custody of Ruby. As Cabot assisted Jules in taking Ruby and disappearing, Cabot could be considered an accomplice. Just a guess.

Sharla Madewell said...

I am blaming the writers. I don't like Alex's job at all. They could do much better with storyline with Alex. That was dumb episode about faking own deaths. Peter Stone, I want to give a hug. I am glad that he didn't go to see Olivia about sister situation.

Chris Zimmer said...

A deleted scene with Kelli Giddish and Philip Winchester has been added after the recap!

Subversive Follower said...

I like this episode because Cabot was back and the chemistry between Alex and Olivia is still hot! Olivia needs to be all about the law now because she is being watched and is the LT now, so she cannot go off the script like she did as a junior detective.

Lastly, dump Stone! He has no personality and I'm tired of the schtick the ADA's cannot handle SVU cases. If they can handle murder cases, they can handle SVU cases.

michaelmuses said...

The only thing that I would have like to also see would have been Fin in the episode, which he was not. It would have been good to have a Fin/Cabot scene as well.

Margot Undercliffe said...

Cabot was my favourite ADA. But she is yet another one broken by the world SVU live in also by working with the ICC and dealing with the horrid crimes against women in countries with ethnic battles. I feel sorry for her.

Olivia has a selective memory. She assisted a woman leave with a baby so the alleged rapist father couldn’t get visitation (right or wrong he was found innocent). She is also the one who let a murderer go free letting the dying mother take the rap for the teenage daughter Whilst I understand her actions in each case, her moralising against others is irritating, I’m not sure the current writers do Olivia Benson justice. Detective Benson was someone I really admired. I’m not a huge fan of lieutenant Benson.

Jessica F. Norick said...

I agree, Margot.... Lieutenant Benson is becoming the SVU angel of death. I don't like it.

Unknown said...

Let's not forget her beating on a man who was unable to fight back, perjured herself about it, and got away with it.

Elliot said...

why is it called sunk cost fallacy?

Chris Zimmer said...

If you look at the definition of a sunk cost it explains it a bit. Here’s a definition I found: “A sunk cost is a cost that an entity has incurred, and which it can no longer recover by any means. Sunk costs should not be considered when making the decision to continue investing in an ongoing project, since these costs cannot be recovered.”

Elliot said...

thanks...i knew that (and the fallacy is when people factor in sunk costs as if they're still a relevant part of the equation)...but i don't see how it applies here. what/who is the sunk cost here?

Elliot said...

general thoughts....strongly disliked this episode. i feel like they are justifying alex's actions by having benson let her get away with it, and not demanding she release the list of people she helped and see if anyone else is falsely imprisoned for murder. benson goes all righteously indignant on her but then lets it slide b/c she's her friend. also, i find it not so believable that cabot, an ada who like all the others placed rule and morality of law above all else, would do a total 180 and become a vigilante. no examples come to mind at the moment but i'm sure if we looked back we could find a couple of instances where she gave a "you can't break the law/ends don't justify the means" talk to someone.