Friday, January 05, 2007

Real Life Scheherezade Doesn't Live Up To SVU Name

Pictures curteosy of

By Trublu
PTR Staff Writer

Click here for the NBC Recap

First and foremost, “Scheherezade” was the first episode of the new year, and yes, was the last episode that Mariska Hargitay filmed before going on maternity leave. Why the writers decided to put the episode here, I don’t know, because it doesn’t fit in any way. My initial impression after the episode ended was: Was that even an episode of SVU? The case was definitely not SVU related, and even though Elliot was asked as a favor to talk to Judson Tierney, the writers could have at least tied the case into the squad a little bit.

In true random SVU fashion, we start out with Elizabeth and Dickie’s confirmation ceremony. This didn’t serve any purpose to the rest of the story, didn’t enhance the plot in any way, and left me wondering if Elizabeth and Dickie were even sixteen yet. (The actors certainly didn’t look the part, and all the other confirmees looked much older than them. Continuancy please!) Two interesting notes on this however:

1. Saint Michael is the patron saint of cops and firefighters, or at least as designated by said cops and firefighters (in other words, it is not official by the Catholic church, just by the cops and firefighters themselves.)

2. Elizabeth’s chosen name, Clare, is probably referring to Saint Clare of Assisi, who is the patron saint of television. Coincidence?
(Above information courtesy of

After this touchingly misplaced scene, we are quickly reminded that this is pre-August footage, which means we have more Mariska-ornaments! First they tried to hide the baby bump with a black coat, which, while slimming, wasn’t quite enough at that stage of the game. So, out come the boxes! Olivia is strategically holding a box of greeting cards in front of her in pretty much the only scene where we see her entire body. For the majority of the episode, she is in Tierney’s room, sitting down beside his bed.

“I don’t know what your dad did to you sweetie, but you need professional help.” – Judson Tierney

The man may be a murderer, an adulterer and a thief, but I would give him a hug right here if I had the chance. Finally, someone on screen that isn’t Elliot said the words we were all longing to hear… or at least I was. Olivia needs to move past what her father did to her. While this is a show primarily, practically solely, focused on victims of sex crimes, not every woman who is mad at her father was assaulted by him.

That said, there was a definite parallel between Sheila and Olivia. Both were children born of an encounter outside marriage, and both were raised by mothers that (they thought) hated them. Sheila thinking so because she believed she was the child of another woman, and Olivia because she was conceived through her mother’s rape. Tierney died before Sheila could get closure; is this a sign for things to come for Olivia?

When Olivia finds the keys next to Tierney’s wife’s grave, I felt suddenly like I was transported into a Nancy Drew computer game. For those of you who have never played before: All too often a player is presented with unusual sets of keys; the catch is, there are a million locks that the keys could open. So, one must try all of them. And, according to the laws of life, it would be the last lock in the room that would be opened by the keys. In this case, Elliot was our Nancy Drew, and we were the people frantically clicking away at that mouse. At least Elliot did eventually find the trunks that were opened by the keys. Millions of dollars on the right, a dead body on the left. I’ll take the trunk on the right, please.

Elliot: Classic 70s look.
Melinda: Brings back memories.
Elliot: Of what, you in diapers?
Melinda: Bless your heart.

Now it’s time for more “Weird Facts” with Melinda Warner! Did you know? Mummification can occur within a short period of time in the right conditions. *The More You Know*

Another random fact that the writers chose to include for whatever reason. Another fact, though: notice that the name of the robbing duo was “The Fedora Bandits,” the type of hat Munch is known to wear. Just a fun fact!

Fin: Forty-eight hours and you solve 21 bank jobs, a kidnapping and a murder. What, are you trying to make us look bad?
Elliot: Well, you know, for once, Catholic guilt is a good thing.
John: I thought we Jews had a corner on that market.

Funny exchange, but unfortunately the extent of Munch and Fin’s appearance in the episode. With the return of Olivia, we’ve seen dramatically less Munch and Fin than what we were seeing in the Dani Beck era.

Casey: Legally there’s nothing I can do.
Elliot: Do something Casey!

I guess he’s suggesting that Casey do something illegal… But then later Casey flips right around:

Casey: Maybe you should tell him that Mollinax is out so that he can die in peace.
Elliot: I can’t lie to the guy.
Casey: He won’t know.
Elliot: I will.

Whoa, where did that come from? That’s incredibly out of character for Casey Novak, the ADA who risked her career early on to tell a wife and a mother that her husband had AIDS in season six’s “Lowdown.” Casey’s earlier attempt to obtain a statement from Tierney was out of character as well; as much as the guy couldn’t speak because he was coughing, Casey didn’t press him at all. Normally, Casey would have gotten straight to the point and tried to get as much of the statement as possible.

The only things this episode accomplished were portraying a touching resolution to a family feud, and pick a very appropriate name. The last scene, where Tierney died with Olivia by his side (and not his daughter) was very appropriate and worked extremely well with the rest of Olivia’s actions in the episode. The closing shot with Sheila in tears was very well done and perhaps the highlight of the episode.

Scheherezade, the name that every viewer was probably struggling to pronounce, was the best episode title in a while. As per Huang’s description (this guy knows a lot) Scheherezade was a character in the story “1001 Arabian Nights” who told a story to her husband with a cliffhanger ending each night in order to avoid being killed. (Unlike our main character in this story, Scheherezade didn’t die.) Tierney was certainly a storyteller, and a good one at that.

My big “beef” with this episode is that the characters were written completely out of character, and the case wasn’t even a sex crime. Even though it was filmed before Mariska’s maternity leave, the episode was still meant to follow “Choreographed,” but all the hostility between Elliot and Olivia has totally disappeared. I don’t mind that it’s gone, but it shouldn’t have disappeared overnight. Or, in our case, over the period of three weeks.

Unfortunately, Amanda Green, who wrote my favorites “Ghost,” “Night,” “Tragedy,” and “Counterfeit,” crashed and burned with this episode. Hopefully this was just a one time slump, and we can look forward to more Amanda Green episodes in the future.

Brian Dennehy (as Judson Tierney) provided a wonderful performance as the death bed confessor.

For next week: No preview after the episode (reason for which is unknown; as of late, “Burned” is still airing on January 9th) but from online descriptions it looks like we will at least be getting back to SVU cases. So, pass the remote!


John said...

They thing that made the episode worthwhile was a chance to see Brian Dennehy.

He is a great actor and did a great job.

evaluator said...

Bolleux to this review. This Amanda Green is one heck of a writer and this is one of the best SVU episodes I've seen yet. Change of pace, different angle away from the usual procedural. It piqued my interest enough to look up who Amanda Green was. I'm no SVU junkie but I've seen enough to really like this against the grain episode (one of the most memorable and that's saying something for a tv show).