Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 10, Episode 18

Baggage (7 Apr. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 130 users  
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Stabler is forced to work on a serial killer case with an abrasive detective who has been on the case for months and would prefer to work alone. However, Stabler discovers that the detective's motivation is not glory and recognition.

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(as Chris Zalla)

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Title: Baggage (07 Apr 2009)

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Cast

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Olivia Benson (credit only)
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A.D.A. Kim Greylek (credit only)
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Dr. George Huang (as B.D. Wong) (credit only)
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Detective Victor Moran
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Mark Ocurro
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Elena Ocurro
Caren Browning ...
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Stabler is forced to work on a serial killer case with an abrasive detective who has been on the case for months and would prefer to work alone. However, Stabler discovers that the detective's motivation is not glory and recognition.

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7 April 2009 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Mariska Hargitay was absent from this episode as she was hospitalized for treatment of a collapsed lung. See more »

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Poorly written and generally unengaging story
26 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode has a poorly conceived procedural investigation and a throwaway drama. As usual with Law & Order, they try to gussy up a boring episode with gratuitous shots of murder victims and soon-to-be- murdered victims and some random self-inflicted gore posed by the initial false lead.

After the cold open, we learn that the killer's MO matches that of another recent murder. Enter a new, never-before-seen, apparently rival special victims unit consisting of a loner detective and his boss. The newcomers inform the team that the murders match the MOs of three additional murders in New York in recent months. This doesn't make sense, as the whole premise of the show is that there is a single elite squad "known as the special victims unit", not two rival squads competing for cases and childishly keeping secret their respective findings.

After the false lead they do one of those DNA tests where they put in the order to the M.E. at 10:30 a.m., and no sooner do they come back to lunch than they have up on their giant LCDs the drivers license photos of all the male offspring related to the "donors" of all the black pubic hairs they'd managed to uncover at crime scenes. Naturally, after a couple face-to-face interviews they are able to narrow it down to one single person (why so quickly do they dismiss the farmer from North Carolina?), and in a tease we see the perp about to commit another rape- murder when it turns out to be a sting operation. They arrest him, but because he has an alibi for one of the murders the judge allows him to go free. I'm sorry, did he not assault the undercover police officer just 15 minutes (11.5 without commercials) earlier? Does that no longer count as a crime? I suspect the writers were experiencing short-term memory lapses.

Thanks to these lapses, however, the writers gleefully show the perp in action on a real delivery. Stabler and Tutuola come in just in time to see a nude teenager lying hot-tied on her coffee table. Stabler attempts to rescue the dignity of the near-victim by placing his jacket over her, quickly realizing his stupidity as the jacket is not really designed with that function in mind and provides only a partial veil at best. Honestly, you find somebody hog-tied and give them your jacket? Meanwhile, the rival detective of the week kicks the perp a few times in the stomach, but then Stabler--always one to rough-handle anyone he considers a suspect--stops him (probably so that he can get a few kicks in later, when there won't be any witnesses about). Oh, and remember all that talk about what a professional the suspect supposedly is, never leaving fingerprints, etc.? He's bare-handed in this scene.

We are asked to care about our guest star, and while I admit that his character was well thought out, he would have been a more appropriate character as an arc spanning more than one episode. He does have a discernible character arc, as he becomes more cooperative with coworkers throughout this episode, but it's quite a lot for the viewer to take in. It seems as if the writers are working at cross-purposes, trying to make us care about this other detective while trying to distract us from that subplot by dropping juicy details about one victim's rectal cavity and another's secret life as a lesbian.

Overall, this is just another mid-season episode out there for viewers who care less about the procedural aspects of the show and more about the lascivious sex crimes.


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