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Law & Order – Recap & Review – Blackmail

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Law & Order

Original Air Date: Jan 15, 2010

Brittany Frederick – Staff Writer

Lupo and Bernard turn up at a vacant construction site to find the corpse of a reporter. Her name is Megan, she was strangled, and she’s this week’s Official Dead Body.

The problem is her colleagues don’t seem to know her, her apartment is clean as a whistle, and several major personal items are missing. A message on her machine leads them to a young woman whom the reporter interviewed who claims she had an affair with Vanessa Carville, the married host of a View-like TV show. Bigger problem: when they come to interview Vanessa, she’s having dinner with Jack. Jack tells them she’s being blackmailed. Awkward!

A quick roundtable discussion between Jack, Van Buren and Vanessa states the obvious: the blackmail and the murder are not coincidental. They play along with the blackmailer…who happens to be Megan’s editor. A search of his apartment nails him for blackmail, but the murder case proves a lot more shaky. They have to try him for the blackmail only, and Cutter looks like he wants to murder the editor’s lawyer with his bare hands. “This isn’t an intelligence test,” he snarks, “it’s a criminal proceeding.”

Connie digs around and finds the editor’s offshore bank account in the name of a fake company, which they find he opened with the dead woman – meaning either she was in on the blackmail, or at the very least she was still in bed with her boss. Dramatic Music Swell occurs as the defense lawyer intends on dragging out every woman Carville may have slept with for the sole purpose of humiliating everyone involved. It’s enough pressure to get her to drop the blackmail charges. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the night the guy has a book deal.

But wait, there’s more! Editor Guy goes back to his office, where he gets called up by his co-conspirator/office lackey (as both of them get wiretapped). It turns out the book deal story is a set-up engineered by Cutter. Michael, you freaking genius. At the same time the cops finally recover Megan’s laptop, which contains a video of her either being raped or murdered, which again seems all too convenient. The blackmailer is being blackmailed by his own buddy. Editor Guy says his buddy made him do it, and he’s been running the show all along.

They find all the evidence they need, but of course, just as before, the main witness becomes gutless and backs off, wanting to cover his own ass. Cutter and Rubirosa look like they want to beat him to death. “Contempt I can handle,” he says, to which Cutter replies, “Don’t worry, you already have ours.” When he realizes how well this blackmail thing works at getting people off the hook, Jack suggests they should try it, and haul Vanessa into the same room with Editor Guy. They want to ring her up for a drug charge knowing it can be used against her in a divorce or custody battle, if she doesn’t testify. Her cooperation is used to make Editor Guy cooperate into testifying against his murdering accomplice: the domino effect. It all works perfectly.

At its face value, this wasn’t exactly the best episode of the season, but by the second half, the twists and turns pick up steam. Not to mention a guest appearance by Raul Esparza as a nice cherry on top. By the end, it felt much like a worthwhile watch. I can only imagine the back half of the season will get better, especially as the show moves back into a more normal time slot. What about you? Are you as excited to see the NYPD’s finest back as I am? (Don’t get too excited, the next new episode is in two weeks…)

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