This episode is intriguing on several levels.
The first is the idea that a man (played cunningly by Charles Rocket) given a prognosis of a few short months should choose to spend his final days playing Russian roulette not just with his own life, but force others unknowilngly into his game. I don't think it a far-fetched plot at all...I am sure when bitter disappointment meets denial meets rage at such injustice, some minds could turn so deadly. Perhaps we're lucky we don't find more terminally diagnosed offering themselves up as suicide bombers, and taking out as many as they can along with them.
The second is the effect a charming and worldly man can have on a woman who has been sheltered (and bored) all her life. The Eliza Doolittle-Pygmalion motif is overdone in literature and has become a cliche in film, but for an hour tv episode, this take was both believable and well sequenced. Leading the woman from running out on a cafe bill (geez, she never even experienced the thrill of college age 'chew-and-screw'), to lifting a pricey handbag, to revving up for a full blown bank heist, the scenes were perfectly measured for a growing fatal influence. As the woman's art instructor cliched, "she was a painting waiting to be brought to life".
And finally, there is D'Onofrio's characterization of Detective Goren, and the lengths he will take it.
I don't know what other actor, in what other role, would have even considered that dance scene with the criminal at the story's end. First you have to get over the notion that touching another man is effeminate, and then you have to get over the shock of seeing an actor VD'O's size literally ragdoll another fellow as tall as he in a makeshift waltz in an interrogation room. Freaking hysterical.
The point was how does it feel to be at the whim of a madman..lol..because that is exactly what the ill fated bank robber was, puppetizing his novices into crime and death.
You gotta love it. :)
PS RIP Charles Rocket, who went to school up in my neck of the woods (RISD), and was once in a legendary local band here. He was also briefly a news reporter before going on to acting and comedy. I was shocked and saddened to learn he committed suicide in 2005.