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Law and Order: SVU “Mask” Recap and Review

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Law & Order SVU “Mask” Recap & Review  from All Things Law and Order

[All opinions expressed are those of All Things Law and Order]

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Law & Order SVU “Mask” featured guest star Jeremy Irons but thankfully they didn’t make him the designated pervert of the week. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have problems of his own. His character, Cap Jackson, has a clinic where he treats sex addicts, and he wrote a book about his own struggle with being a sex addict. He’s estranged from his daughter, who he learns has been attacked and raped by a masked man. He’s also afraid that years ago, while drunk, he raped his daughter. All these elements provide for a solid roadblock for Stabler in solving the crime. Jeremy Irons was excellent in his role of a doctor who wants to follow the rules to protect his patients, while struggling with his own demons and trying to find his daughter’s attacker. Despite the creepy element to Cap Jackson’s past, Jeremy Irons made the character seem almost respectable and likable.

Without Irons, though, the episode would have been average. While Chris Meloni fans likely celebrated another episode with Stabler in the forefront (and that scene with him in a “wife-beater” t-shirt), the episode had a disjointed feel. Rather than have Benson and Stabler work together on the case all the way through, Stabler flitted between Fin, Huang, and Cragen, with a bit of ADA Hardwicke shoehorned in. I also don’t understand why Benson was hanging out at the hospital the entire time – did she really need to be by this woman’s bedside every minute? Which brings me to one scene that didn’t sit well with me – the attack victim regains consciousness and immediately Benson is in her face, asking her potentially upsetting questions. I know that detectives like to get information as quickly as possible but I would have expected Benson to first make sure that the patient is stable enough to be able to handle questions.

Speaking of Benson, Mariska Hargitay seems to have reduced screen time lately. She’s wearing lot of layered, dark clothes and she appears to have gained some weight. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I hate to start any rumors or speculation, but it’s almost impossible to NOT notice that something seems different. I’ve been getting a lot of emails from fans asking why there isn’t as much Mariska in the last few episodes, which tells me it is not just my perception. I also can’t explain why Richard Belzer is conspicuously absent. I really miss the social commentary – and the sometimes dark comedy – that we get from John Munch. One never knows when tuning in to SVU which members of the credited regular cast will actually appear in the episode, and this inconsistency can be annoying to fans. Thankfully in “Mask” we had Jeremy Irons to make things interesting.

Here is the recap:
Two kids with a pair of camera binoculars see Debbie Shields (AJ Cook) being sexually assaulted. Her partner, Ann Jackson, returns home and also is attacked by the intruder wearing a mask. The kids call 911.

Later, Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) are at the scene. Fin (Ice-T) brings the kids over to the detectives, who look at a photo taken during the crime and see the man in the mask.

At the hospital, Benson speaks with Debbie, who is a doctor. Benson wants to get evidence from Debbie’s hands but Debbie wants to aid doctors in treating Ann. Debbie has received threats because of her work with the Tri-State Reproductive Institute.

At Tri-State, Fin and Stabler find that Debbie has found a way to create disease free embryos by combining the father’s sperm with two mothers’ eggs. They also are given a letter where Debbie was threatened for this work. Afterwards they speak with the man who wrote the letter and he has an alibi which checks out.

Back at SVU, they confer with Dr. Huang (BD Wong) who thinks the mask may have a ritualistic or ceremonial importance.

Back at the hospital, Stabler gives this information to Benson. Benson and Stabler speak with Debbie and show her the photo of the masked man. While talking, a man rushes up and asks if they are talking about Ann Jackson. He introduces himself as Cap Jackson (Jeremy Irons) and is Ann’s father and a doctor. He also finds Debbie is Ann’s partner. He is reluctant to talk about family issues and is more concerned about Ann’s recovery. He tells Debbie if there has to be a medical decision it is Debbie’s to make. They hear Debbie made it through surgery. Outside the ICU, Debbie describes the attack to the detective with Cap also listening. She adds that the attacker said he would “cure her of Falmouth” and this phrase seems to strike a nerve with Cap.

When Cap walks out of the room, Stabler follows. Fin shows Stabler a police sketch from Richmond, Virginia from previous attacks that matches the one in Ann and Debbie’s attack. Stabler asks what the phrase about Falmouth means. Cap explains that it means he raped the wrong woman, meaning Ann was the target. Cap can’t explain any further as he is a psychiatrist and cannot violate privilege. Stabler tries to get him to help him, as a father, but Cap cannot talk about his patients. He says he specializes in treating sex addicts.

Later, ADA Hardwicke (Melissa Sagemiller), along with Stabler, try to get information from Cap, his lawyer Lorna Scarry (Mariette Hartley) is present. Hardwicke tells them they found that Falmouth is the Cape Cod town where Cap’s family used to spend their summers. Stabler tries to get Cap to say which one of Cap’s patients is the rapist. Cap becomes incensed that Stabler thinks he does not care about Ann. He insists some people get better in his program. Stabler thinks that Cap’s silence means it IS a patient who is raping these women. As Stabler walks out of the room, Dr. Huang shows Stabler a book written by Cap called “Eros Run Amok”, his autobiography, and that Cap also was a sex addict. Huang introduces himself to Cap and they have mutual admiration for each other. Huang says sex addiction will get recognized as a real disease thanks to Cap’s efforts. Huang wants to talk to Cap, not about the rapist but about his daughter Ann.

Cap talks with Huang about his own experiences with sex addiction, and that his wife killed herself. He admits his problem kept Ann at a distance for 20 years; in his book he said the estrangement started the summer Ann was 16. He is reluctant to answer their questions and he leaves the room. Stabler and Huang follow, Huang showing Cap a book of Hindu gods and goddesses and the god of erotic love has a face like the attacker’s mask. The god had a power of spiritual redemption through sex. Huang brings up the issue about the rapist wanting to cure Ann of Falmouth but Cap still won’t go into it. They follow him into the elevator and continue to press him, accusing Cap of raping his daughter at Falmouth. Cap finally shouts back that he can’t remember, he thinks he did. He breaks down.

Back at the hospital with Ann, Debbie explains to Benson that Ann does not talk much about her childhood but suggests she talk to a childhood friend, Linda. Ann begins to wake up and Benson explains what happened to her. When Benson brings up Falmouth, Ann becomes very upset and begins seizing. Doctors race in to treat her.

Back at SVU, Stabler and Huang discuss the situation and Stabler will have Fin to try to track down Linda. Stabler asks about whether Huang was just flattering Cap to get him to talk, but Huang says sex addiction is real and that Cap is a pioneer. He says most sex addicts are not rapists but that some rapists may be acting out on a compulsion. Sex addicts who rape should go to jail. Huang also says a pattern is emerging; he sent the Richmond sketch to SVU nationwide and there are more victims which match the MO. The locations are all cities with sex addiction rehab centers. Stabler wonders if the perp checks into sex rehab, hears about the women who were raped, and then rapes them again to “redeem” them. Huang also thinks the perp is a narcissist, who are prone to sudden bursts of violence when things don’t go according to plan. They can’t get the files from the clinics because of privilege. Stabler says he will stake out Cap Jackson’s center and tail anyone who walks out of there. Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) tells them there has been another attack.

Later, with Stabler and Cragen on the scene of this new attack, Holly, a stripper, describes her assault to Stabler and says that the man was wearing a mask and IDs the sketch of Ann’s attacker. She tells Stabler she was assaulted before by a professor in college. Her attacker today said she was an A+. She stabbed him on his forearm with a hidden knife. Stabler takes her knife to hopefully get a match on the blood. Cragen tells Stabler that Benson said Ann is in a medically induced coma. Cap is there and will not leave her bedside. Stabler tells Cragen to keep him off the grid for a while.

At the Jackson Clinic, there is a group session and Stabler is attending undercover – as a sex addict. He listens as one addict, Clay Gibson (Chris Meyer), talks about his addiction. The therapy leader Brett (Chandler Williams) gets on Stabler for rolling up his sleeves, telling him they have a modesty rule – long sleeves and long pants. Stabler is annoyed, saying what Clay is going is illegal yet they are getting on him (Stabler) for rolling up his sleeves.

Meanwhile, Cap is with Ann at the hospital and he speaks with Benson who tells him the rapist struck again. She tells him the rapist is using him to find other victims. Cap becomes upset, saying he spoke to his group just last week about what he did to Ann that night years ago. He describes the images of what happened which came back after 20 years. He said it kills him that he was never able to say he is sorry. But he still cannot talk about his patients, whatever they’ve done they are still human beings. As Cap talks about what his patients go through, back at the therapy session, the man who was the professor is talking, and another woman, Courtney (Lindsey Craft), and another man speak about their issues with sex addiction. Cap asks Benson if she can say some people aren’t worth saving, and she says she can.

At therapy, Stabler signs up for chores for the group and the therapy leader pairs him up with Courtney as a “big sib” until he gets a sponsor. She says Stabler is the kind of guy she’d be banging within 10 minutes of meeting him before she got “clean.” She asks him if he is a cop, but he says he is an accountant. Therapy wraps up and the leader declares it bedtime. Stabler goes to his room and is told by one of his roommates that he can’t wear his sleveless (wife beater) t-shirt to sleep. One of the guys there gives him their standard issue sleepwear and Stabler notices a bandage on his arm. The guy has cuts all over and says it is part of his addiction, he used to hire prostitutes to cut him. He shows the cut on his arm is almost healed.
Back at SVU, Hardwicke confers with Cragen, who tells her they looked into the employment records for the other clinic in other cities and they came up empty. Cragen believes it is a patient. Stabler is supposed to call in and he snuck in his phone. They speak with him while he is doing his chores, looking for evidence. Courtney walks up to him and he quickly removes the phone earpiece from his ear.

Back at the hospital, Benson comes up to Debbie who is watching Ann from outside the ICU. Debbie tells her that Cap went to his clinic to check up on the sex addicts as they are a delicate bunch. Benson quickly gets on the phone.

Back at the clinic, Courtney asks Stabler if he is on the phone and he denies it, but then it vibrates from an incoming call. When he stops her hand from reaching for the phone, she says those are cop reflexes. She pulls out the phone and sees it is a call from Olivia and thinks it is a girlfriend. She comes on to him and teases him to get back the phone. She heads into another room and he follows her in. She closes the blinds and removes her shirt and really tries to push his buttons. He brings up his daughter’s addiction and reminds Courtney that she is clean, and she pulls away, calling him a walking douche bag. She hurries to get dressed as they hear someone coming and he pleads for his phone. She refuses. Clay Gibson walks in on them as Courtney leaves, saying he was looking for his shirt and group is starting early. He’s holding his arm funny.

At the group session, Clay accuses Stabler of wanting to do “gang bang” girl and then mentions she would take him to Nirvana. But Cap has arrived, and when Cap sits down for group session, he sees Stabler and Stabler quickly “introduces” himself and says Cap’s book changed his life. Cap looks stunned. Stabler goes on to compliment Cap’s courage and do the right thing moral code and that he is the reason why he is here. Cap welcomes him and says he is glad he is here.
After the session Cap stops Stabler and is upset he is there under false pretenses, saying that he is jeopardizing everything he is doing. Stabler asks if that is including Clay Gibson, and Cap says he does not know if the rapist is him. Stabler says to call another meeting and get whoever it is to admit what they did, and Cap says not with Stabler there. Stabler thinks Cap wants the rapist for himself and in the meantime more women get raped. Stabler says he can’t let that happen.

Back at SVU, Stabler reviews Gibson’s previous record and that his DNA is not on file but be believes he is Holly’s rapist. He thinks that based on Gibson’s use of the word Nirvana he is their man. Cap comes in and says Stabler is right, everything he has done was an attempt to run away from his own crime. Stabler tells him it is time to stop running, and a woman comes in and tells Cap it has been a long time. She is Ann’s old friend, Linda (Jennifer Roszell). Later, in an interview room with Cap, Stabler and Fin speaks with Linda. She says Ann did not tell her about what happened in Falmouth but she was there and said that they were skinny dipping and Cap came down. She said Cap was drunk and he stripped and jumped in and Ann got upset and went back up to the house. Cap is surprised that Ann was not there, but Linda said Cap came after her and there was no stopping him. She said they had sex on the dock, he did not have sex with Ann. He apologizes to her and she says she wanted to do it and she did not regret it. She said Ann stopped talking to him because Linda was Ann’s first love and it broke her heart that night and she blamed it all on Cap. Cap tells Stabler they should go and find the man that attacked his daughter.

Back at group therapy, Stabler is saying forearms are his thing and pinning women’s arms. Cap says they traced Stabler’s behavior to his father, Stabler adding his father beat him up every day. He knew it was coming when his father rolled up his sleeves. Cap begins to roll up his sleeves so that they all will to help Stabler with his therapy by doing so and showing Stabler “a little love” by shaking hands or hugging. But Gibson refuses to break the modesty code, and, with prodding, rolls up both sleeves and there is a tattoo on one arm – and no cuts.

Afterwards, Cap asks Stabler what they are missing. When Stabler mentions the other locations where the rapist struck, Cap realizes there is an overlapping computer system at those locations. He does not use that system, though, because Brett Kincaid does a good job with their security. When Stabler asks if it’s Brett who does therapy who is also doing the computers, Cap gets a look of realization. He says the Brett was in the room when he talked about Ann. Cap punches the picture of Brett on the wall, and races to the women’s therapy session that Brett is supposed to be leading. But, when they get there, someone else is leading the group, and they are told Brett left because he was not feeling well. Stabler asks where Courtney is, and is told that she didn’t show. Stabler asks for Cap’s phone and he calls Courtney on the phone and calls Courtney. She is down the street at the cop bar she said Elliot suggested. He tells her to get out of there, and he did not send her there. He tells her to meet her at Rockefeller Center, but suddenly a man in the mask jumps Courtney and she screams.

Stabler and Cap run to the abandoned cop bar while the attacker has Courtney bound and her mouth covered with duct tape. The man says he is curing her and making her respectable. Stabler rushes in with Cap alongside and Stabler fights the attacker while Cap works to release Courtney. Stabler subdues the attacker and Cap pulls off the mask – it’s Brett. Cap sees the cut on his arm that Holly gave him, and says he hopes they lock him up for life. As Stabler takes Brett away Courtney comments that she knew he was a cop.

Back at the hospital, Stabler is in the ICU with Benson as Cap walks in. Stabler asks how is he, and Cap says the clinic is empty, his patients are all gone because he let a cop in. Stabler apologizes, and says some of those guys should be locked up but most of them Cap was helping. Cap comments that Ann hasn’t woken up yet, but when she does, he’ll be there. While Stabler and Benson watch, Cap walks into Ann’s room, with Debbie waiting at her bedside, handing her a cup of coffee. Stabler and Benson look on as we fade to black.

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