|Index||3 reviews in total|
Season 6 of L&O was a shot in the arm for the series - a new detective
(Curtis) and even though he was a sometimes obnoxiously conservative
addition, the show itself took a lot of welcome risks during his
tenure. There was more action and more plot twists, and the franchise's
biggest departure from its basic format in the season finale. I'm not
sure what it was, but something lit a fire under the producers and
writers starting with this season.
The season debut sets up some half baked conflict between seasoned, imperfect Lenny and inexperienced, holier-than-thou Curtis which is alright. The episode itself is about the abduction and murder of a girl who was locked in a caught despite between her parents, and features the kinds of plot twists and brief bursts of chaotic action that really made these seasons exciting for me.
This episode isn't the best example of the renaissance, for one thing it lacks the kind of character depth for such an emotional story, but it's still pretty good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode had a unique and highly engaging story, as well as several other good aspects. A young child is found dead, and it turns out she was kidnapped, and her kidnapper killed her. Her parents, though separated, are equally devastated by this, and one of them becomes a vigilante. The plot line is initially similar to that of many other TV shows and movies that have featured revenge as a theme, but all of a sudden there is a huge twist, one which I will not reveal. It is completely unexpected, and thoroughly disturbing. This is perhaps the greatest aspect of the Law & Order series; a crime that at first seems straightforward but has a shocking complication. These complications are what make criminals and their crimes unique, and in the Law & Order series usually also reveal some terrible flaw of a character involved. Another good aspect shown is the drive and tactics of DA Jack McCoy; he is one of the most intelligent characters I have ever seen on the screen, right up there with Hannibal Lecter. He is ruthless in his quest for justice, and is willingness to bend and almost break the law is a startling difference from that of his predecessor Ben Stone. He upsets his assistant Kincaid by being so brazen, at one point basically encouraging a woman he is interviewing to lie for the benefit of her family. He is worthy of his own TV series, and clearly believes in the expression "The ends justify the means." Lastly, two other characters are worth noting, the cantankerous Lenny Briscoe and the young Ray Curtis, both detectives. Briscoe does not exactly embrace his young partner, making many sarcastic remarks about him, but Curtis quickly shows his merit, alertly moving them through the investigation. An exciting plot, a gem of a character in McCoy and two fine detectives make for an outstanding episode.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A young girl is found dead of a blow to the head. Briscoe and Curtis
use some interesting means -- some of them take us into the manufacture
of antique glass -- to uncover the kidnapper and killer of the young
The presumed motive was ransom because the parents are both well off, although estranged from each other, the mother having had a drug problem and apparently filled with hatred because the husband got custody of the preppy daughter.
At any rate, the killer is brought to trial and has his head blown off by the enraged mother -- Ellen Green, of "The Little Shop of Horrors". Well, everyone can understand her reasons. The killer had a record that covered all the bases and, after all, the victim was her daughter. In light of these circumstances, the judge practically gives her a walk.
Then it gets a little more interesting, to the extent that "twisted" can mean "interesting." The mother had hired the kidnapper to make off with the daughter, just in order to harass the father who had legal custody. The daughter's death was an accident that put a crimp into the spiteful plan.
It brings up the question of mourning and revenge, which varies a great deal across particular cultures. Some cultures, as in Italy, call for blood revenge. Other cultures, like the Amish, invite the serial killer's parents to attend their services for the killer's Amish victims. Some cultures offer professional mourners who, for a small price, will not only attend the funeral but will wail most convincingly. Anyone interested ought to look up some of the work on the subject by the anthropologist Paul Rosenblatt who, in addition to being a fine scholar, is also a genuinely nice guy.
The episode might have provoked more thought if it had ENDED with the mother's murdering the perp in the courtroom. The spite motive that's revealed later seems a little tacked on and gives the viewer too easy an ending. A harder landing might have been accomplished if it had prompted us to wonder about just how far the act of revenge should be pursued. The Babylonian King, Hammurabi, about 1772 BCE, called for "a tooth for a tooth", but he used a sliding scale. Since the perpetrator was a douche bag and the mother a wealthy socialite, Hammurabi would have gone as easy on her as the judge in this episode did. The perp wasn't worth much so his death wasn't that important. That he was a human being, however flawed, doesn't enter into the equation. He was a slob and he was poor. Off with his head.
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