Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Season 4 Episode 5


Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Oct 24, 2004 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
68 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When Goren and Eames investigate the death of a prominent atheist and her kidnappers, they discover that the crime, fueled by a need for sympathy and publicity as well as greed, began close to home.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • A professional atheist roughly patterned after Madalyn Murray O'Hair is kidnapped and executed, and the body of a 'napper is found dead along side her. But her grand-daughter has managed to escape and the detectives soon get to the reason why.moreless

    The producers wisely follow the Wallace wallow with one written by Sepgunta, who always mixes intricate but sound plot twists with interesting characters.

    The dead perp appears to be the ringleader and the detectives suspect the falling out occurred over a split of the ransom money. Members of the

    "Atheist Federation", which the grand-daughter terms 'sort of like a family business", maintain their leader's murder was politically motivated, but Goren and Eames still see it about the 500 grand paid-out by the deceased's son..their task is finding the accomplices.

    The always odor conscious Goren extracts from the girl (blindfolded during the event) the fact the perp in charge smelled like tar and pegs it as eczema medication, a condition of the shot criminal, so the notion he was murdered by underlings, not equals, is substantiated.

    They also find the ransom was paid in gold coins, and suspect yet another accomplice was disposed of (soon proven). A fingerprint on a ketchup packet leads them to "Mitch", an ex-con with a history of credit card fraud and now a massage therapist.

    Mitch turns out to be quite a canny dude..he has seduced the overweight and over-emotional granddaughter (she's into 'payback' for a litany of sufferings) for information and melted down the gold ingots into dumbbells, which Goren astonishly picks up and evidently assesses the composition of based on their weight. That boy's clock is always ticking.

    In the very first scene, the voice of the kidnapper (never seen) sounded so much like Danny DeVito doing his accelerated wiseguy schtick that a comic element is introduced I could never quite get past, and in addition Frank Whaley's stint as Mitch was flat out amusing,(the final scene has him changing his tune with each piece of info Goren and Eames toss's hysterical) but it was a neatly done epi, and very enjoyable.

    Note: Posters anywhere who claim D'Onofrio "wasn't hot" in season four are mindless and/or must have been watching on some very sad parallel universe.

  • Entertaining episode

    A really enjoyable episode that doesnt get bogged down in detail like many other L&O-CI episodes. The premise relies on your basic kidnap story at its heart, but goes on to reveal an interesting backstory for the motive, if the execution of the crime is fairly mundance . To be fair, the enjoyment is in the intrigue between the two main suspects. W/o this I would have found this particular setting and theme somewhat boring. The crime itself goes on to have many layers at its heart, which is great fodder for Goren to go his onion-style unravelling of the truth.

    The finale is particularly strong, even if the ending is somewhat hackneyed and full of resignation. This is one episode which Goren resolves with great interplay between the two conspirators, to reveal a novel twist at the end. Did you get the clue at the very beginning of the episode?! Definitely one to watch, if you can put up with the low-brow nature of the crime in question.moreless
Mara Hobel

Mara Hobel

April Callaway

Guest Star

Tom Riis Farrell

Tom Riis Farrell

Rev. Douglas Callaway

Guest Star

Henry Stram

Henry Stram

Wayne Callaway

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Goof: Goren asks for a picture of some evidence near a fallen tree limb at the second crime scene. When the camera zooms in, Goren picks up the evidence in his right hand. When the camera pans out to a wider shot, the evidence is in his left hand.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Ron Carver: Congratulations, you've managed to unite atheists and Christians in common cause against police harassment.
      Alex Eames: We do what we can.
      Ron Carver: What you seem to be doing is playing musical suspects.

    • Robert Goren: Kidnapping his own mother and daughter. Looks like prison converted the Reverend.

    • Robert Goren: Well, she didn't believe in heaven and hell, so how would she know the devil was massaging her neck?

  • NOTES (1)


    • The title of this episode, "Eosphoros", comes from the Greek name for the morning star. Eosphoros means "bringer of dawn," and was their name for the planet Venus when it appeared in the eastern or morning sky. "Morning Star", in Christian theology, is also one of the names of Lucifer, the archangel cast from heaven for leading a revolt of angels against God.

    • This episode appears to be ripped from the headlines of the David Roland Waters case. Waters, along with co-conspirators Gary Karr and Danny Fry, kidnapped Madalyn Murray O'Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray, and her granddaughter / adopted daughter Robin Murray O'Hair. All three were prominent atheists and Madalyn had been the spokesperson for the group American Atheists from 1963 until the three disappeared in 1995. Although it was initially believed that the three had willingly disappeared, it was eventually realised that they had met with foul play. It was five years after their death that Waters led the authorities to their bodies.

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