Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Law & Order: SVU" Recap & Review - "Streetwise"

Law & Order: SVU
"Streetwise"

Original Air Date: 1-1-08

Kara - TwoCents Reviewer

Is it just me or does this episode always seem to be on? I've seen it three times now but that's all right. It's a good one. It starts out with a debutante found dead in Central Park. The M.E. identifies her as Shelby Crawford, thanks to her being in the system as a result of a DUI. Benson and Stabler go to her parents' house where her mother speaks with a highly affected tone. She speaks like she's in an old black and white movie which would be fine if she was indeed in an old black and white movie and not surrounded by people with normal New York accents. From there, Benson and Stabler head over to the debutante ball at which Shelby was supposed to be and they interview her boyfriend, Doug and friends, Anna and Other Girl. Hey, it might as well be her name with the two lines she had.

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5 comments:

  1. Law & Order: SVU
    "Streetwise"

    Original airdate: 1-1-08

    Kara - TwoCents Reviewer

    Is it just me or does this episode always seem to be on? I've seen it three times now but that's all right. It's a good one. It starts out with a debutante found dead in Central Park. The M.E. identifies her as Shelby Crawford, thanks to her being in the system as a result of a DUI. Benson and Stabler go to her parents' house where her mother speaks with a highly affected tone. She speaks like she's in an old black and white movie which would be fine if she was indeed in an old black and white movie and not surrounded by people with normal New York accents. From there, Benson and Stabler head over to the debutante ball at which Shelby was supposed to be and they interview her boyfriend, Doug and friends, Anna and Other Girl. Hey, it might as well be her name with the two lines she had.

    We find out Shelby was dating a public school boy (the horror!) on the side who is in a band called Sticky Butterfingers, which actually is quite the horrific band name. The public school boy shows the detectives a video voicemail Shelby left for him the night before in the park that includes Anna who said she hadn't seen Shelby. So, off to Anna's house Benson and Stabler go, only to walk in on a skanky makeout session between Anna and (gasp!) Doug. The two are brought in as suspects but quickly dismissed as it's the first ten minutes and one of Shelby's earrings was found at a pawn shop.

    The surveillance video shows a young girl with a hand drawn symbol safety pinned to the back of her coat pawning the earring. Through checking nearby homeless youth centers, they find out her name is Josie and the symbol stands for Phalanx, which is the name of a group of the young and homeless, also called the Family. The Family is ruled by Cole, who plays father to all of the young runaways and Cassidy, who serves as mother and wife to Cole. Benson and Stabler find the Family's home under a bridge and Cole tells the kids to run and he takes off as well. Stabler unsuccessfully chases him and almost gets hit by numerous cars. I learned that Elliot Stabler sure can run fast but he just can't catch that damn truck Cole jumped on.

    Benson does manage to catch Josie, who spits in Stabler's face while they interrogate her. Talking to her doesn't work, so Captain Cragen wisely suggests they bring in food as she hasn't eaten in days. Josie caves quickly as Benson and Stabler eat pizza, cookies and ice cream in front of her. She tells them Cassidy told Cole that Shelby called him a nasty name and that was grounds for SOS, which stands for Stomp On Sight. Josie also tells them Cole hit Shelby with what she calls a smiley chain, which is anything but a happy weapon.

    An employee of the youth center, Paige, who developed a bond with Josie, comes to pick her up and Benson and Stabler tell Josie she can't go back to the Family. Staying in the shelter with Paige is similar to being put in a safehouse on 24. Nothing good comes of it. Benson and Stabler go back to the bridge and discover a message over Josie's tent that reads, "Josie equals traitor and traitors must die." They rush to the shelter and find Paige dead and Josie missing. They read through the stories Josie had written and discover they describe the Family and the murders Cole has committed.

    Soon after, Cassidy rushes into the station demanding to see Josie. During the time they're questioning her, Josie is found dead and they bring Cassidy to the M.E.'s office, forcing her to look at Josie's horribly mutilated body. A picture of Josie's cut up face is flashed on the screen in a later scene and it's one of the most grotesque, unnecessary images I've ever seen on SVU. I was horrified enough that she was mutilated and tortured for over twelve hours, I didn't need photographic proof, thanks.

    Enter Casey Novak, who says Cassidy is just as guilty as Cole is since in Josie's stories, Cassidy's lioness character is obviously in the know about the murders. Cassidy wants a deal, which Casey gives her, in exchange for the locations of the other bodies described in the stories. We find out from Cassidy that Cole had a previous wife, Larissa who Cole killed for disrespect. That really should have been a big red flag but Cassidy's got some issues. She gives up Cole's location and off Benson and Stabler go to a warehouse. They split up (always a bad plan) and Stabler is attacked by Cole and his smiley chain, which is a heavy, I'm not-screwing-around type of weapon. Stabler does get choked for a bit but he eventually wins the fight because he's made of awesome and Cole is not.

    Back at the precinct, Cole gets the standard time to rant about how he's so right and Stabler's world is so wrong. It's required on SVU. Some crazy's got to preach about how we're crazy, usually because we don't go around committing crimes and being run of the mill psychos. At the trial, a semi-cleaned up Cassidy tearfully testifies and Cole threatens her and tells her she'll never be safe as he's dragged out of the courtroom right in the middle of her testimony. We find out Cole gets twenty-five years for each murder, which surprises me. Oh, not because of the sentence but because on every other law show, including this one, his outburst would be grounds for a mistrial. I guess there just wasn't
    time for the whole pesky retrial bit and we know he's oh so very guilty anyway. Besides, he's not important. No, really, he's not.

    This episode suddenly becomes all about Cassidy. A husband and wife walk into the station, demanding to see their daughter who they spotted in a photo with Stabler, only her name isn't Cassidy, it's Helen. Oh, the twist. Cassihelen's mother isn't a crack addict pimping her out like she had previously said. No, Cassihelen's rich and gives Benson and Stabler quite the rant about how horrible life was with the chauffeur and having rules and wah wah wah. Poor thing. Oh, but here's the bigger twist, she went to school with Shelby and they used to be friends. Shelby saw a homeless, dirty Cassihelen that night and that's why she had to die, so she wouldn't tell everyone she'd seen our dear, deluded lioness. The three person team at SVU (really, where was everyone else?) gets Cole to testify against Cassi--oh, forget it, Cassidy, by using the buzzwords, "she disrespected you." And he goes for it like a bull and a red flag because like I said, he's not important.

    Cole testifies and a shocked Cassidy wearing a headband and pearls is found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree. Yes, her life is over all because having everything given to her was just too awful to bear. In what I guess is a final show of defiance, she looks at Casey and says, "I hate your guts." Oh, yeah, that'll really hurt Casey. What Casey should have said was "Well, I'm rubber and you're glue" but, you know, she's not a two year old.

    I really have to say Mae Whitman did an amazing job as Cassidy. You may remember her from such films as Hope Floats and One Fine Day, back when she was a child actress. Now she's an all grown up actress and a damn good one at that. If you haven't already, catch this episode if it comes on again soon, which it no doubt will. Oh and don't forget, in two weeks, there's an all new episode of SVU! Mark your calendars and set your DVRs!

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  2. The weapon the 'smiley chain' made an appearance in Law and Order episode where the homeless guy killed another homeless guy for a piece of orange.

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  3. @kara

    I think you missed the point on the whole "I hate your guts" thing. It was meant to show Helen as the person she really is: a spoiled brat. "I hate your guts" is exactly what a spoiled little child would say defiantly--something that's exactly the opposite of what Helen has been trying to be when she was "cassidy."

    Perfect ending, IMO.

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  4. I've seen a number of SVU marathons (great entertainment, but you need a long shower afterwards), and the episode just finished twenty minutes ago, and was the first time I ever saw it.

    The two weak points were the bit with the photograph, and letting Josie go home with Paige for the night.

    To the first point, concluding that there were problems because Shelby had a bad facial expression in one photo is specious. All sorts of things can happen in the last millisecond before someone snaps the shutter. Ask anyone who's ever tried to take a pic. People can get distracted, not be ready yet, react to an offensive comment by someone outside of frame, etc. This is like looking at someone with their eyes closed in a pic, and concluding that they must've suffered from narcolepsy. And they drag this point out in three scenes. I would've dropped it if I wrote the script.

    As to the second point, she's a street kid! Didn't they think she'd run away? Sure, that's not what ended up happening, but it was still a dumb move.

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  5. What is this about? This young child is horribly tortured for twelve hours and mutilated and they don't even make this episode about THAT, but about some spoiled girl that just doesn't want to live with her rich parents anymore... who cares?! I couldn't let go of this gruesome torture story, which is really extreme, even for this series. And it's even worse because it was unnecessary to the story line. And then the cheap moves like showing the picture to the viewers... In my opninion it was a dumb and sensationalist episode with nothing to offer but awful violence and a weak story.

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