Above Suspicion (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode|
|Episode no.||Season 14
|Directed by||Michael Slovis|
|Original air date||September 26, 2012|
"Above Suspicion" is the second episode of the fourteenth season of the police procedural television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the 297th overall episode. It originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the United States on September 26, 2012, after the episode "Lost Reputation". In the episode, continuing after the previous one, the case against Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) sets in motion after he is arrested for the murder of escort Carissa Gibson (Pippa Black), meanwhile Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has to keep her partner calm, deal with Detective Brian Cassidy's (Dean Winters) shooting, and prove to ADA Foster (Paget Brewster) that Cragen was being set up.
The episode was written by show runner/executive producer Warren Leight and Julie Martin and was directed by Michael Slovis. The episode is the third part of the storyline from "Rhodium Nights" and "Lost Reputation".
"Above Suspicion" earned generally positive reviews, critics praising the continuation of the storyline, with Paget Brewster's and Adam Baldwin's guest appearances, as well as praising stars Mariska Hargitay and Danny Pino. According to the Nielsen ratings, the episode's original broadcast with "Lost Reputation" preceding was watched by an average of 7.19 million total viewers and received a 2.1/6% share in the 18–49 age demographic, up slightly from the season thirteen finale.
The murder case against Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) sets in motion as more evidence accumulates suggesting Cragen had killed Carissa Gibson (Pippa Black). Delia Wilson (Brooke Smith) and her attorney meet with Detective Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Bureau Chief ADA Paula Foster (Paget Brewster) and blames Cragen for Carissa's death, saying Cragen saw more of her girls. Believing otherwise, Benson goes to see Cragen at Riker's, where he admits to using the escort service after realizing how lonely he was during his undercover operation last year.
Meanwhile, Detective Cassidy (Dean Winters) continues his work deep undercover in Bart Ganzel's (Peter Jacobson) prostitution ring. After discovering a bug in his home, Ganzel wonders whether Cassidy, the police, or Delia planted it. Ganzel then arranges to have Cassidy murdered using two rookie cops on his payroll.
Benson is frustrated by her new captain, Harris (Adam Baldwin) and Internal Affairs, trying to investigate a good undercover cop versus two rookies. Benson and ADA Foster turn Ganzel's attorney (Reg E. Cathey) against him by playing taped recordings of Ganzel criticizing him behind his back.
Benson learns that Ganzel isn't the only one involved in the setup on Cragen; Foster is on Delia's payroll, having started taking bribes to pay for treatment for her sick daughter. Benson has Foster and everyone taking bribes arrested, including congressmen and prosecutors. Cragen is released from prison, the charges dropped, but he says that reputation is still damaged, and that he won't be back at SVU yet due to the lengthy reinstatement process.
"Above Suspicion" was written by executive producer/show runner Warren Leight (with Julie Martin), who is promoted to executive producer, replacing Ted Kotcheff, as of this episode. The episode was directed by Michael Slovis. Ed Zuckerman, who was co-executive producer on the original Law & Order, replaces David Matthews. Ice-T announced on Twitter that filming on the fourteenth season began on Monday, July 23, 2012. Leight said of the two episode premiere, "Where we got lucky was, quite by chance, NBC called and said they wanted two episodes for our first night back. They didn’t necessarily mean a two-parter, they just meant two separate episodes. Now we more or less had permission do a three-episode story, which is unheard of in the "Law & Order" world. So basically by the end of the day, we’ve essentially made a movie, a three-act movie."
Including the guest stars from the season thirteen finale, "Rhodium Nights", Paget Brewster was first cast in the season premiere openers as Bureau Chief ADA Paula Foster, who is the prosecutor on the murder case against Cragen. Brewster hires the SVU squad's interim captain, Steven Harris, portrayed by Adam Baldwin. Sue Simmons plays herself in this episode. Leight said, "It’s a big scandal within the world we’ve created, there’s a dead hooker in the captain’s bed, and we go to a newscaster to help us understand the story," said show runner/executive producer Warren Leight, "Sue opens the episode doing a news standup from outside 1 Police Plaza. We’ll bring her back for the second episode of the two-parter."
Dani Bradford of TV Equals managed to see the premiere episode prior to the episode's original airing and left a mixed advance review, saying the premiere was "underwhelming". He criticized the storyline involving Cragen: "I have to admit that I was not a big fan of this premiere. [...] I thought that the plot was too focused on conspiracies and less upon what draws me to the show." He also criticized Detective Amaro's (Danny Pino) involvement in this episode. "Another thing that bothered me was Nick. Forever an Elliot Stabler fan, I guess I am still getting used to his "replacement." These episodes made me long for Elliot even more. Nick seemed too rogue and brooding. He did not interact with anyone and for most of the episodes, I focused my suspicion on him. That is not good when it involves one of the main detectives." Bradford added that; "Law & Order: SVU has long been one of my favorite shows and I am not giving up on it just yet."
On Huffington Post, novelist and former sex crimes prosecutor Allison Leotta said that "SVU opened its season with a roller-coaster of a double episode." Leotta gave the episode an "A-", saying "Perhaps the least plausible part of the story, however, was that Cragen hired those prostitutes just for their conversation and companionship. Still, it was a strong episode, well-written, compelling and grounded in authentic details. I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season brings!"
In its original American broadcast on September 26, 2012, both "Lost Reputation" and "Above Suspicion" aired as a two-hour season premiere on NBC, viewed by 7.19 million viewers and acquired a 2.1 rating/6% share in the age 18–49 demographic. "Lost Reputation" and "Above Suspicion" were the most watched programs on NBC that night, beating new episodes of its lead-ins Guys With Kids, and Animal Practice. "Above Suspicion" was the second ranked program in the timeslot under the season premiere of CSI on CBS and a recap episode of Revenge on ABC.
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- Bryant, Adam (July 22, 2012). "Exclusive: Law & Order: SVU Casts Adam Baldwin as Cragen's Replacement!". TV Guide. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
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