Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Saturday August 4

law & order: special victims unit
manic (2/25)
22.10–23.10

The ‘Law & Order’ spin-off following New York’s elite special victims unit continues its fifth season. In tonight’s episode, a teenager who killed two high school basketball players before attempting suicide claims that his actions were the result of side effects from a psychiatric drug.

Detectives Benson and Stabler are called to a disturbance at a high school. Two star basketball players have been shot dead in the gym, and an apparent third victim, Joe Blaine (Rory Culkin, ‘Igby Goes Down’, ‘Signs’), has been shot in the head but has survived.

As the agitated and mentally unstable Joe recovers in hospital, he attempts to help the detectives search for the killer by drawing them pictures, including one that resembles the school janitor. However, despite having access to the murder weapon, the ageing janitor is not agile enough to have escaped through the window – the only way the gunman could have left the gym.

Fingerprint evidence at the scene soon turns the case on its head, however, when Joe himself is revealed to be the shooter. The detectives deduce that he shot the two boys because they had bullied him, before turning the gun on himself. Joe is arrested and Barry Moredock (John Cullum, ‘Northern Exposure’, ‘ER’), a prominent attorney and ADA Cabot’s nemesis, takes the case pro bono.

Dr Huang examines Joe and concludes that the boy has some serious psychological difficulties. Moredock bases his defence on the fact that Joe was taking ‘aptril’, a manic-depression drug that has severe side effects, but the detectives are unable to locate any doctor who prescribed the drug for the boy. The prosecution, meanwhile, claims that Joe drew a picture of the murder scene months before he saw the psychiatrist, which would make the crime pre-meditated.

With the trial underway, Joe takes the stand and admits that he received the aptril from his mother, Sandra (Mare Winningham, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’). ADA Cabot wants to charge her with endangering the welfare of a child, but Sandra claims she was desperate. She says that her health insurance plan would not provide psychiatric therapy for Joe –but it did cover medication, and one day the drugs “just appeared” in the post.

Probing deeper into the case, the prosecution learns that the mysterious drugs were in fact sent by a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company. The drugs were part of a maverick marketing ploy that involved sending medication to psychiatric patients who were already being treated for their conditions.

The cops track down Jane Wellesley, the sales representative who sent the drugs, but she refuses to answer their questions. However, when Joe accepts a manslaughter plea, DA Branch (Fred Dalton Thompson, in a cross-over appearance from ‘Law & Order’) says that he wants someone else to face charges over the case. The prosecution sets its sights on the pharmaceutical company behind the illicit drugmarketing scheme – but can they possibly win against a powerful corporation?

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