Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Season 1 Episode 14

Homo Homini Lupus

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 03, 2002 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
102 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When an business executive's wife and two daughters are kidnapped for a loan shark because the loan hasn't been paid off, Goren and Eames are frustrated by the man's lack of cooperation, which stymies them further when the man's released daughter proves to have been sexually assaulted.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • This one was REALLY hard to watch, but probably the best of the season.

    This one was REALLY hard to watch, but probably the best of the season. The scene where Maggie was being raped was heartwrenching and terrifying; I actually cried at the desperation in Maggie's voice and the terror in her mother's eyes. That must be the most horrible thing in the world, knowing your child is being violated in the worst way possible just feet away and there's nothing you can do about it. The actors in that scene were amazing.

    The plot was compelling and the acting was superb. I loved the scene where Goren and Eames were talking to Maggie and Goren told her that the man who'd kidnapped her was dead because Detective Eames had shot him. I like how he knew instinctively how to talk to Maggie.

    Overall, great episode.moreless
  • A vicious loan shark kidnaps a Bank Exec\\\'s Wife and 2 daughters for a debt owned. Yet, the Exec. refuses to report the crime. To prove his intent the shark rapes 1 of the girls repeatedly in front of the family while the father listens on the phone.moreless

    The Law and Order francise is know for vile criminals. I had watched the series for years. And found its shocking portrayal of the underworld element to be as close to the real thing as the censors will allow. Criminal Intent had thus far shown nothing new to me in the first season. This episode was probably the most disturbing I\\\'ve ever seen. Mainly due to the rape scene which is mostly off camera. However that voices of the mother screaming and the daughter bring dragged towards the bedroom are shocking and horrifing. My heart had leaped up to my throat and I had to remind myself that this was a tv show. I actually teared up. From that point I only wanted to see the Loan Shark arrested or killed. I was also hooked to this new criminal drama. This is the episode that made me see that this part of the Law and Order family had a lot to offer and I\'ve stayed with it since.moreless
  • A despicable but fascinating criminal, a compelling and complex victim, and a heartbroken detective who lets it all in as part of his search for the truth. This is the heart of this show. And it is all vividly present in this episode.moreless

    (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

    The crime at the center of this episode is one set into motion by various acts of carelessness. A businessman taps into money he does not have based on an assumption about the future of his business, and finds himself in hot water. One bad choice after another pulls him into a shady criminal underworld. His father scorns his pleas for help, having grown impatient with a son he finds disappointing. A loan shark deals with non-payment with the ruthlessness one would expect from a seasoned criminal.

    But none of these individuals are what this reviewer would think of as "evil." The loan shark is calculating, certainly, but his criminal behavior is the product of pure greed, not sadism. Where the evil comes into this episode is the "help" the loan shark seeks out in his effort to collect payment. War criminal Simon Matic is utterly devoid of sympathy or concern for the well-being of others. A well-drawn example of a sociopath, he embodies a very real kind of evil that one often comes up against in everyday life. Our culture rewards the ruthless pursuit of personal goals at the expense of all else, and as such, we find many sociopaths in our midst; this observation can be seen as a central theme of this episode.

    It is interesting to see the contrast between Lucas Coulter, Lucas's father Melvyn, Carl Pettijohn, and Simon Matic as examples of varying degrees of the presence or absence of the ruthlessness required to meet certain standards of success in our society. Hapless Lucas is a failure by this standard, not insensitive or cunning enough to pull off even the relatively minor crime of embezzlement, but is by far the most sympathetic character of the four. His father still has some conscience, but is more adept at cold calculation than his son, and we can see the result in his emotional distance from his own family.

    Pettijohn is ruthless and indifferent to an extent, but not to the level of Matic. Where Pettijohn is willing to employ violence and scare tactics as means to an end, Matic has learned to enjoy the experience of using force, domination, and terror as much as, if not more than, the material rewards he reaps from his extortion. A fully realized sadist, Matic brags to Lucas's daughter Maggie, whom he rapes while in captivity, that weak men like her father are "food for wolves." His cruel exploitation of the weak gives him satisfaction and a sense of mastery, power, and control.

    Maggie is taken in by Matic's views in an intriguing on-screen presentation of "Stockholm syndrome" (in which a victim of a crime identifies with the perpetrator). Maggie believes her captor that he is strong where her father is weak, and in her pain and anger concludes that perhaps Matic is just somebody who knows what he wants and knows how to get it. This take on sociopathic behavior is one that is also appealing to many adults; one can see this view in Maggie's grandfather Melvyn's disappointment in his son because Lucas is not more sociopathic and ruthless in his efforts to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of business.

    Maggie is fortunate that the detective on her case is one who is especially sensitive to such false beliefs about what constitutes real power and mastery. In his work, and in his life outside his work, Goren has seen the results of the seduction of the exploitation of the weak that many mistake for power. Ultimately, he has seen that giving in to the urge to hurt, manipulate, or exploit the vulnerable in order to get what one wants or to find some personal advantage is itself the most pathetic kind of weakness. Goren sees what Maggie sees in Matic, having arguably experienced Stockholm syndrome himself (in the episode "A Person of Interest" it is revealed that Goren identified with his father and blamed his mother, vulnerable and suffering from mental illness, for his father's running out on their family), and intimately and passionately knows the falsity of this view.

    Goren uses this intimate knowledge to get inside of Maggie's head and turn her from her alliance and loyalty to her abuser. One wonders if he does it as much because of his empathetic connection with Maggie, and his desire to free her from the false views that keep her locked in suffering, as he does it for the sake of the practical necessity of getting her to cooperate to make the case against Matic stick. Either way, it is unsettling to see Goren using his powerful interrogation techniques on a young, traumatized crime victim, but the result is ultimately cathartic and healing for Maggie and for Goren--and for the viewer as well.

    The look on Goren's face when he embraces Maggie after she finally breaks down and admits her fear of her vulnerability and of being hurt again is poignant. It speaks to a great empathy for Maggie's fear and anguish in the wake of her trauma, sadness at a world in which such things happen, and a determination to bring Matic to justice for his actions. Knowledge of the truth is freeing, but it is also a cross to bear: one must be willing to turn to the suffering of the world without the protection of denial. Goren takes in Maggie's suffering very deeply, and the viewer can see too that his wisdom about these matters runs just as deep as his compassion.

    In the interrogation room, Matic does not come across as powerful at all, but weak and even pathetic, completely in thrall to his misplaced vanity. In an inspired moment one would guess was conceived by D'Onofrio, who has shown himself to be adept at physically conveying emotional truths many times in his acting career, Goren drives this point home bodily as well. He does this by putting Matic in his place by overpowering him physically, but in a subtle and restrained way. (One can only imagine what Goren would really like to do in a room alone with a fellow like Matic, did he not keep such careful watch over his own antisocial and violent impulses.)

    Ultimately, however, Goren rightly attributes the victory over Matic to Maggie herself, whose confrontation with her own pain, fear, and vulnerability took a lot more courage and personal power than a person like Matic could even begin to conceive of, much less embody. Real power and strength are not found in exploiting others or in overpowering the vulnerable. They are not even found in the display of power and force by those on the side of "good" against those on the side of "evil" (such as in Goren's putting Matic in his place in the interrogation room). Instead, they are found in the bravery and the willingness to face difficult and painful realities and to place doing good for others and doing the right thing over one's own personal gain or comfort.

    In their shared experience as victims of exploitation by those who used their power and position to dominate and bully others, Goren and Maggie also share the same sort of heroism. What makes them both heroes is bound up in the realization that conquering, exploitation, and selfish ruthlessness are not synonymous with power, but with weakness. In their actions, Goren and Maggie both demonstrate that it is the surrender to one's fears and vulnerability, and the ability to willingly submit to the rigors required to engage in brave action for the common good, that are where true power and mastery are found. This well-acted, well-written, emotionally powerful episode aims right for the heart of some of the most penetrating mysteries and concerns of human existence, and it does not miss its mark.moreless
  • Just an amazing episode with superb acting by Vincent D'Onofrio. WARNING: Contains Spoilers.

    Ok, so at first, I wasn't sure about this episode (the first time I watched it). I thought it was just going to be another hostage-type episode that was going to end the same way everytime. I was wrong. There were so many good parts to this episode, that I don't even know where to begin.

    I've seen this episode several times now and finally decided to review it. This episode almost brings me to tears everytime...and I believe it has something to do with the acting in this episode. It was great in all accounts. Vincent D'Onofrio in the episode, IMO, was outstanding! Simple beautiful. He was so sympathetic that it was touching. The best part of the episode was near the end when Goren and Eames were talking to Maggie about her rape. When Bobby started to sit down on the bed next to her, and really talk to her. The way he did it. Wow! Just amazing. And then, when he told her that she wasn't weak. That she was strong. That she lived through it. I just thought that was a great touch but not only the writers, but from VDO for being able to pull it off. The way she started to cry, and he held her. Great stuff. Everytime I watch it, it never fails to surprise me how well it was done. Brillant!

    In all, great episode. One of the better ones of season 1 IMO. I'm surprised by the low rating of it. Great ending to it as well, by identifying the guy by the tattoo. I love the way Goren did that. Eames (Erbe) also did a great job in this as well.

  • A man embezzles from his company and then covers the money up with a loan from a shark. When he can't pay it back in time the loan shark kidnaps his family. When the oldest daughter is rapped Goren and Eames are out for blood.moreless

    Wow, what a powerful episode and a brilliant performance from both Erbe and D'Onofrio. No murder in this episode but plenty of intrigue and incredibly despicable characters.

    We have kidnapping, rape, embezzlement, loan sharks, a shooting, and drug enforcers. Quite an amazing group of scumbags. All of this rolls up into what this one kidnapper does for fun. Totally inappropriate and heinous behavior that was not at all necessary as all the loan shark wanted was the money he was owed.

    No need to go into the details but rest assured the performances from the detectives this time around was impeccable. Truly great actors at their craft.

    A brilliantly woven story with a string of leads that finally reaches the major perpetrator of the most egregious crime. Well written, produced, directed, and acted. A fine example of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Thanks for reading...moreless
James Colby

James Colby

Lucas Coulter

Guest Star

Ritchie Coster

Ritchie Coster

Simon Matic

Guest Star

Jordan Charney

Jordan Charney

Melvyn Colter

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • This is the first episode since the pilot to deal with a case that would actually be investigated by the real Major Case squad (in this case, a kidnapping).

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Robert Goren: (interrogating Simon Matic) Know why I know so much about your tattoo? I've seen it before. (grabs sketch of tattoo) Somebody drew this from memory, the dates, the letters, all the way down to the tiger's stripes. She got every detail right. (flips sketch over) You see this? This is her signature. (stares Matic in the face) Want me to help you? It's signed Maggie Colter. (Madish glares at Goren) And this, my friend, is a positive ID. You raped her body. You raped her mind, you turned her head inside out, but she got you. She. Got. You. Didn't she? (Matic begins to squirm, and Goren turns to Carver and Eames) Now he's ready for arraignment.
      A.D.A. Carver: That's a tough little girl. Mr. Matic's rambling days are over.
      Alex Eames: Ten years too late.

    • Robert Goren: (looking at photo of the prime suspect) You'd never think by looking at him, he's a sadistic monster – a man with no soul. He's just the worst kind of evil. (pauses, makes eye contact with rape victim Maggie Colter) He was in the Serbian Army, during the war in Bosnia. You probably read about that in school. (opens file) Him and his buddies, they raped thousands of women and… girls. (begins throwing photocopies of articles about women and girls raped in wartime in front of Maggie) Raped. Raped. Raped. Raped. Raped. Raped. (pauses) Now he makes a living kidnapping the families of people who owe money. (Maggie makes eye contact with Goren) He was about to kidnap another girl when we arrested him. (holds photo of girl up to Maggie) She's fourteen years old.
      Alex Eames: He's a bad guy, Maggie.
      Robert Goren: He's a coward, he's a weakling, right?
      Maggie Colter: Maybe they're the weaklings.
      Robert Goren: The victims? No. No. This guy's a sadist. He likes to hurt people.
      Maggie Colter: Maybe he just knows what he wants and goes after it. (she makes eye contact with Eames as she gets angry) Maybe he's just stronger than everybody else.
      Robert Goren: Nobody pushes him around, right?
      Maggie Colter: Yes.
      Robert Goren: You like that about him?
      Maggie Colter: Yes.
      Robert Goren: You want to be strong too, so nobody pushes you around.
      Maggie Colter: Yes.
      Robert Goren: You don't want to feel weak, like these girls… you don't want to be a victim.
      Maggie Colter: No!
      Robert Goren: Don't wanna feel helpless like you did when (Goren leans forward) he raped you. When you couldn't defend yourself.
      Maggie Colter: (begins to cry) No.
      Robert Goren: You don't want to ever feel that way again, do you Maggie?
      Maggie Colter: No. (crying) Oh my God. (hugs Goren) He hurt me. He hurt me so bad.
      Robert Goren: You're not weak. You're strong. You lived through it.

    • Ron Carver: The dominoes are falling Mr. Pettijohn, you want to get ahead of them ... before they fall on you.

  • NOTES (0)


    • Presumably the episode's title is a misquotation of Thomas Hobbes's famous "Homo Homini Lupus Est," Latin for: "man is a wolf to [his fellow] man." Hobbes's observation in turn echoes a line from Plautus claiming that men are inherently selfish.

      As it stands, the direct translation of the title is awkward and ambiguous and could be translated as: "man is with wolves as man sees it," "man is for man as far as wolves are concerned," or even "a man sees something human in wolves."