Law & Order: Season 12, Episode 24

Patriot (22 May 2002)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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A Desert Storm veteran who fancies himself a soldier on the War on Terror is charged with murdering an Arab man. The case becomes more complicated when evidence after the fact suggests that the victim may have indeed been a terrorist.



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Title: Patriot (22 May 2002)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Teague's Attorney
Adam Teague
Charlotte Colavin ...


Briscoe and Green believe a victim of arson was hiding his real identity and held a 'wealth' of secrets that led to his murder. A Desert Storm veteran who fancies himself a soldier on the War on Terror is charged with murdering him. The case becomes more complicated when evidence after the fact suggests that the victim's secrets may have indeed been a terrorist. Written by Anonymous

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22 May 2002 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Briscoe and Green interview a Muslim cleric outside a mosque. Behind the cleric, a traditionally-dressed couple walk out of the mosque - the man is dressed in black and the woman in orange. A few seconds later, the same couple walk out again when the shot goes back to the cleric. See more »


Executive A.D.A. Jack McCoy: [during his courtroom closing statements] How much of ourselves as a country are we willing to surrender to terrorism?
See more »


Featured in Law & Order: Profile - Jesse L. Martin (2004) See more »

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Writers undermine their own plot line
6 April 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Airing the spring after 9-11 it's clear the writers of this episode want to cast some light on the impact of the homeland "war against terrorism" and the related notion that every American is a combatant in this very irregular armed conflict.

A Special Forces veteran investigates an Arab man with a suspicious background. He's an illegal immigrant, works a minimum-wage job involving learning how to drive a 16-wheeler, has $90,000 in the bank, disguises his name and background and makes calls to Arabic countries on a throwaway phone with references to "family" coming to visit soon, yet makes no effort to prepare for visitors. The veteran takes this as an imminent danger of an attack on NYC and blows up the Arab's building by tampering with the gas line.

The building has multiple units but only the suspected terrorist is killed. Here's where the writer's undermine their own efforts. The controversy behind this episode is supposed to be the argument that every American is a soldier in the war against terrorism and therefore justified in taking action against a terrorist. The writers do throw in the fact that this guy was indeed a terrorist, although the concluding evidence is not discovered until after his killing, further hurting the veteran's defense. But the real damage is done via the means the vet takes to kill "the enemy." Blowing up a multi-unit building in Manhattan, even if he is lucky enough only to kill his target, is not an honorable way to fight. I think the writers did this on purpose to blur the fundamental ethical question of how America needs to deal with "terrorists in our midst." The jury convicts the vet of murder, after 5 hours of deliberation, leading McCoy to conclude that there were initially some votes for acquittal. IRL I think there would have been a lot better chance of acquittal if the killing had been done face-to-face by gunfire, without risking innocent bystanders, especially where the plot makes clear the deceased was indeed an undercover terrorist.

Too bad the writers didn't have the stomach to lay out the fundamental moral issue more plainly.

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