law & order: criminal intent collective (12/23) 22.00–23.00
The third franchise of the stylish crime drama starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe continues tonight. This episode sees the detectives drawn into the world of fantasy conventions as they track down the killers of a female con artist.
Police officers respond to a commotion at the apartment of Arnold Pierce. Hearing a woman’s cries and what they believe to be gunshots, the cops storm the building and are confronted by Pierce who seems to be holding a gun. After he refuses to drop the weapon, the officers are forced to shoot him dead. They realise that any hostage being held in the apartment must have fled via the fire escape. They are shocked to discover, however, that the firearm Pierce was brandishing was merely a toy gun.
Goren and Eames arrive on the scene and swiftly ascertain that Pierce was a sci-fi obsessive who collected rare memorabilia. They find bubble wrap that had contained the toy gun on the floor, and realise that the ‘gunshots’ the cops heard were actually the sound of a woman stamping on the packaging before fleeing. They begin to consider the possibility that the shooting could have been a set-up, engineered by whoever escaped down the fire escape.
The detectives learn from Pierce’s brother that Pierce spent all of his time and money collecting toys from sci-fi programmes of the 1950s. According to his brother, a rare toy robot head that had taken pride of place on the shelf in his apartment, is now missing. The detectives realise that the missing woman must have stolen the robot with the intention of selling it on for cash. Pierce must have realised what she had done and confronted her about it, leading her to engineer his accidental shooting by the police officers.
After further investigation, cops locate a PO Box that the missing woman was using and find dozens of flyers for sci-fi and fantasy conventions. “That’s what this woman does,” concludes Goren. “She trawls these conventions looking for men like Arnold Pierce.” “These robots had more heart than the woman of his dreams,” retorts Eames.
The detectives find that the woman had costumes specially made for her so she could entice men at the conventions she attended. The designer, who knows the woman as Jocelyn Shapiro, had recently made a costume for her for a forthcoming convention celebrating the work of vampyric horror writer Carlotta Francis. Goren and Eames visit the convention undercover, where they are treated with suspicion by the organisers, Ronnie and Parker. The detectives cannot find their woman and suspect that she was supposed to be at the party. They eventually trace her to a hotel room, where they find her locked in a coffin-like box, dead from asphyxiation. The box was inspired by a Carlotta Francis novel and was designed to be an erotic toy. However, the box is normally fitted with a safety device preventing any serious harm – somebody, it seems, had tampered with this one. The woman had been locked inside with a block of dry ice, which filled the box with carbon dioxide and quickened her death.
The detectives are led to Recovered Relics, the store which made the coffin. They discover that the store’s owners are Ronnie and Parker, who ran the Francis convention. They point the detectives to Jocelyn’s boyfriend Dorian Cavanagh, who had given Jocelyn lots of money and lent her his priceless Carlotta Francis first editions. Was Dorian Jocelyn’s latest scam? And, more significantly, did he discover he was being used?