Law & Ordocki Season 3 #5 (#28): My So-Called Crotch Wound
I want to first say I have nothing against polyamory. If that’s your thing, fine. I’m pretty pro-monogamy but I don’t begrudge anyone seeking an alternate form of intimate relations as long as it isn’t harming anyone. I open the article with this because “Bombshell”, the episode of Law & Order: SVU that I’m covering for this week, is all about polyamory, more specifically swingers. Swingers (not to be confused with Swingers, the film responsible for Vince Vaughn) have a rocky history of depiction on screen; they’re variously shown as lecherous and gross as well as gross and lecherous. I think that’s due to the fact that the best swingers are the ones you don’t know are swingers, and the ones broadcasting it connote cheap polyester, stale cigarette smoke, armpit sweat stains and a definite sense of desperation. Every second his wife isn’t getting fucked by somebody who isn’t him is another second he isn’t getting off, so the swinger is loud and obnoxious. “Bombshell” not only introduces a bevy of swinger stereotypes into the already harried world of modern day Manhattan, the plot complications include an undercover assignment, incest and the military-industrial complex. It’s also a stealth sequel to the cult series My So-Called Life. No Jared Leto cameo, though, I promise!
“Bombshell” begins with one of my favorite pair of crime scene interceders, a nerdy couple about to see a midnight screening of Dawn of the Dead. She’s not convinced it’s worth seeing until he mentions the theatre serves alcohol. “Did I mention how much I love midnight movies?” The dad from My So-Called Life sets off their car alarm and he’s in a bit of a state. Here’s why these geeks are among my favorites: boyfriend decides to call 911, girlfriend suggests he “just do something” about the giant knife stuck In his crotch. He takes it out and blood spurts everywhere. “When it started spurting, the girlfriend tried sticking it back in,” the doctor tells the detectives. Turns out they saw something Tom Savini coul–well, honestly, no, Tom Savini could do crotch knife wound in his sleep. Benson asks “so what do you think, sex crime, revenge attack, botched robbery?”, to which Stabler responds “how about all of the above?” and that’s our cut to credits. Stabler is suggesting they’re dealing with a failed robbery that’s also a sexual revenge attack. How many years does he have in SVU again?
The wife also plays the mother of a kid who gets Jamie Bulger’d and the daughter will go on to portray a character who arranges for her parents to be murdered.
Dad from My So-Called Life, Jerry Bullard, is a tire manufacturer for the military industrial complex and according to his family a total prude. He didn’t let his daughter (NOT CLAIRE DANES) date until she was 15 and the wife says their sex life is great. It’s one of those “we have no secrets” families. Well, given the first paragraph of this piece, you can be assured there are indeed some details about the victim that aren’t forthcoming. I’d apologize for ruining the twist, but come on, this is SVU. This is just the first of about seven twists. The detectives pursue their primary route of inquiry, which is to find a homeless man in the vicinity and harass him for clues. They find Aldo, an Italian whose life went downhill after he chopped some of his fingers off in an accident. Now he wanders the streets in a haze of insomnia. He’s covered in blood, constantly sweaty, has trouble determining what day it is and gesticulates with abandon, which the show presents as odd but sounds like a typical Italian to me. Dr. Huang diagnoses him with Fatal Familial Insomnia, grimacing when the guy asks if he’ll cure him. Fatal is IN THE NAME! He turns out to be harmless like all hobos, and upon reflection even offers up a clue to the detectives: Jerry came out of an unmarked building that others in fancy dress use. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…The Swingset.
I call bullshit that no one even so much as dry heaves.
It gets grosser from there. They pull up the website and Ice-T reads everything out for everyone too lazy to do it themselves. Its motto is “Not Your Parents’ Playground” and advertises both a full bar and a nightly buffet. Elliot and Olivia go undercover as a swinging married couple invited by Jerry (new members need a referral from a creep in good standing) and it’s all low lighting, copious drinks and nonthreatening background music. Swingers are by nature trustworthy, given their immediate desire to fuck people they just met, so they answer the faux couple’s questions with aplomb. Jerry has only eyes for Cassandra (Rose McGowan) while Cassandra’s ex-boyfriend is the resident troublemaker. I don’t care, you can’t make the name Doug sound threatening, because all I can think of is that Nickelodeon prematurely bald teen who dreamed of being Quail Man. One confrontation between Jerry and Doug resulted in Jerry’s wife being so turned on she screwed some guy right then and there. These people talk about “energy” a lot and have to clarify repeatedly that what they do is safe and acceptable (“only danger here is having too much of a good time”), leading me to believe they’re secretly the aliens from V. “Bombshell” has no time to address that, however, and the topic remains: who stabbed the dad from My So-Called Life?
Hey, stop it! I’m off that beat’s clock, come on!!!
Those of you curious as to whether Benson and Stabler will have to fuck their way out of the Swingset to maintain their cover will be sorely disappointed. Never do they do any swinging; it’s just like the Eagleheart episode and about as funny. They interview the wife, who omitted the polyamory in her “our family doesn’t have secrets” spiel because she expects the judgment of “you and your husband swing so you must be deviants”. Again I’m told the lifestyle is great and legal and great. It’s like they’re doing fucking MLM but for STDs. The detectives return the next night in the hopes of finding Doug; Doug turns out to be Ryan Hurst, looking exactly as he did when he played Opie on Sons of Anarchy. “Bombshell” aired in 2011 so this is right within Hurst’s tenure as an outlaw biker. The episode invites the comparison since he arrives at the Swingset on his motorcycle. Kurt Sutter should’ve sued. Doug immediately picks a fight with Elliot and he’s forced to break character and admit he’s a cop. They frisk Doug and find a knife. “What happened to your old one, Doug, you leave it stuck in Jerry Bullard’s crotch?” asks Olivia. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked if I left something in Jerry Bullard’s crotch, well, I’d be rich enough to buy this shit on DVD.
There’s no such thing as a swinger with a good understanding of personal space.
Cassandra conveniently leaves the scene, so there’s not much they can do with Doug. The matter becomes moot when Jerry wakes up from his coma and immediately fingers his wife (not THAT way) as his attacker. She tearfully confuses that Jerry fucked everything up by falling in love with another woman to the degree that he was draining their savings to keep her interested. That’s less swinging and more a sugar daddy/sugar baby relationship, so it’s understand why the wife got upset. She drank a bunch, went down to the club, stabbed him in the man zone and took his keys and wallet to make it appear to be a mugging. Her defense amounts to “don’t blame me, it was the Liquor”. “I was going to beg for forgiveness the moment he woke up.” Yeah, well, you’ll be begging for a different KIND of forgiveness…in PRISON! If you think about it, prison’s the biggest swingers joint there is. Too bad she earlier stated she’s not into women.
4th place in the Sons of Anarchy fan art contest, behind a drawing of Gemma impregnated by Sonic the Hedgehog, Tig tickling Elsa from Frozen, and Clay saying something racist about Obama.
Given that all their investigative work was made pointless when Jerry woke up and accused his wife of the crime, this isn’t a good showing for the ol’ Special Victims Unit. Maybe that’s why 13 more minutes of garbage is tacked on after wifey’s confession. “It’s hard to believe it’s not that dirtbag,” says Captain Cragen of the still in custody Doug Loveless. The NYPD seems oddly insistent that a white man deserves to be at Rikers for some reason, so they tail him despite “a man walking into a swingers club after he’s been banned” by no means fits the remit of the Sex Crimes division. Doug immediately goes to Cassandra and they…kiss? WHAT?! The detectives are flummoxed that a woman would show affection for an abusive on-and-off boyfriend. They’ve never seen this sort of behavior before. It’s wild! They must be partners…in CRIME. Both are under arrest “for ripping people off”, which isn’t specifically a crime but this is barely an episode about recognizable policework. Go nuts.
Stop with this baiting bullshit, they’re not Mulder and Scully. Stabler is married to an unending Catholic family and Benson will forever be an old spinster.
To be fair, they ARE con artists, running the ever insidious “be an attractive woman and ask dumpy older men for money” grift. Opie plays the threatening ex whose presence justifies the lady needing money to get away from him. Their real names aren’t even Doug or Cassandra! She tries to seduce her way out of this jam, but Stabler is impervious. She doesn’t know he’s a hardcore Catholic wedded to the unhappiness of a marriage and thirteen shitty kids. He only gets hard watching The Passion of the Christ or when it’s time to try for another baby! There’s not much of a case here in that swingers are loath to testify in open court, though the two are wanted in Miami for killing a guy at a club named The Open Door. (Wonder how long the writers room spent pitching sex club names?) The dead body has some skin cells underneath his nails so DNA testing should incriminate one of them. Before Cassandra is about to confess something, in barges lawyer Michael Boatman. He was hired on Cassandra’s behalf by…JERRY BULLARD! I tell you, folks, this guy is making Mike look like the golden boy of the family.
There’s like four minutes left at this point and that’s when shit goes wackadoo. Miami PD sends the DNA results back and as Ice-T says they said “you’ve got to read it to believe it”. You guessed it: they’re con artist SIBLINGS. SVU dare I say predicted the rise of incest pornography with this storyline. Cassandra defends it, saying “we share a soul” since they’re twins. They try weirding out Jerry with the information. Really, the last several minutes of the episode is Benson and Stabler harassing people while they’re moving things to and from their car. Benson asks Jerry this: “But if Cassandra is banging her brother, what else is she capable of?” It’s true. Incest is a gateway drug to all sorts of chicanery. Marijuana, anal, libertarianism, ketamine… there’s a reason you’re told never to fuck your brother or sister, and it’s because that throws you into a bad crowd. Jerry is nonplussed by the revelation, especially when the detectives claim they found a condom underneath Cassandra and Doug’s bed. “I-I-I gave up my whole life to be with her” he stammers. Yet he refuses to give up on love, staging a scene so that Cassandra is led to the living room with a path made of rose pedals…whereupon her brother’s corpse sits on the couch. Jerry bailed him out of jail just to stab him to death as a tableau for his girlfriend to enjoy. She doesn’t take it well in a badly acted reaction by Rose McGowan and that’s the end of that. Presumably the Bullard daughter is entered into foster care. Presumably McGowan is free and clear since she can blame everything on poor dead Opie. Alas, poor Opie! I remember when he was killed with a pipe to the head. That was a better death than this one.
McGowan had to be extra careful not to get caught in Ryan Hurst’s beard.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this was B.D. Wong’s last episode as a regular; he appears in the opening credits for the rest of the season, but he’s not in the episodes. After that he only appears as a guest. Having a psychologist on hand for cases was unnecessary when most of the suspects’ motivations were “craves power” or “hates women” but he was still a welcome presence on the program. Wong’s calm demeanor complemented the rage-filled intensity of Stabler and the condescending moralism of Benson. His contribution this episode, determining that there’s an underlying problem with an insomniac Italian vagrant everyone nicknames “The Night Stalker”, is not going out on a high note. “Bombshell” is also the final appearance ever of ADA Gillian Hardwicke. Who? Exactly. Between Casey Novak and Rafael Barba are many, many forgettable faces. Melissa Sagemiller was the lead in the awful movie Soul Survivors and played Ben Foster’s girlfriend in Get Over It!, in case you’re curious from where you might recognize the actress. A subsequent episode states Hardwicke is at a conference in Miami and then she’s never heard from again. My theory is she ran afoul of one of Miami’s many serial killers, be it the Bay Harbor Butcher, the Trinity Killer, the Doomsday Killer or whatever Jimmy Smits was nicknamed.
“Bombshell” is typical late Stabler era episode of SVU in that it makes no sense, is barely a Special Victims case, goes off on multiple tangents and crams in as many twists and turns as possible in the back half of the hour. There’s fanservice (Benson and Stabler having to pretend to be a married couple) and the only courtoom scene is an arraignment that lasts about a minute. At one point this show did resemble actual police work and featured cases with a foot in reality that could serve as awareness creating or advocacy for victims of sexual assault. This is the equivalent of Homer Simpson getting tangled up with jockey elves. If Munch revealed he’d been an elf or similar magical creature this whole time (including Homicide) it wouldn’t be a shock.