Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Season 2 Episode 8

The Pilgrim

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 17, 2002 on USA
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Pilgrim
The detectives are called to investigate the adult daughter of a retired officer which takes them to a case of terrorism involving someone she knew that includes a shipment of explosives.

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  • A terror plot is uncovered by the detectives. One terrorist has used a now missing woman to build an identity and to ship a high grade form of dynamite into the US, and another is a young American teacher with a newly radicalized conception of religion.moreless

    Because there is a suspected homicide, (the woman)the detectives don't have to hand the case over to Homeland Security (fat chance that would occur, but the de rigeur 9/11 related episode stood 99.9 percent chance of occurring).

    A paroled criminal is the first clue leading to the terrorists, and when Bobby finds rat poison in the safe house of one of the perps, he realizes they are mixing it with shrapnel to make the mother of all urban nightmares.

    Goren suspects suicide bombing is the agenda, and an unlikely suspect turns up in the form of a scholarly substitute teacher, a young American man with a strong background in languages, and newly converted to Islam. The fresh faced baby terrorist then sends in a few tv bytes to claim his personal 15 minutes of fame. A ripped from the headlines generated storyline, for sure.

    Altho the detectives are able to relocate some of the bomb material when they (with a SWAT team)storm another apartment, (and capture the teacher), more explosives are still at large.

    At one point the usual FBI vs local cops tension sets in, but Carver is able to hold the Feds at bay, (another post 9/11 stroke of luck that defies credibility), and the chief problem with this episode is the notion that even two top notch homicide detectives like Goren and Eames would be allowed even sniffing rights over a New York terrorist cell that was working with 80 pounds of ratpoisoned, shrapneled TNT.

    But if one can get beyond that bit of preposterousness, the story flows.

    Bobby the linguist correctly recognizes the Moroccan's accent is not from the Mahgreb (no French or Berber traces in the Arabic) and places the dialect 'further east'. Good boy, Bobby, that was one of your more realistic master-of-all-lingos insights. His recogniton of the written form of Aramaic (a language still spoken in some Syrian villages, notably Ma'lula) is much more unlikely. Surely anyone could pinpoint the right to left directioned script and other aspects of the graphology as coming from the Hamito-Semitic subgroup of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages, but the writing of Aramaic is so limited, hard to believe he would instantly nail it.

    Some character development here - We find out in this epi Bobby's mother was a librarian, and he is one of six people who reads the Smithsonian's publication (LOL!), and he read the Koran in Germany to impress a girl.

    To me, the major interest here is the L&O take on the Middle Eastern/Islamic terrorist threat which of course, is of major national concern. The writers were careful to portray both mainstream Islam and the average Muslim as non-threatening, and indeed, as victims of 9/11 backlash. Having Goren quote some of the more progressive sections of the Koran to the young teacher was another example of sensitivity to the vast number of non violent Muslims.

    But again, it was hard to get past the sheer ludicrosity of Bobby's long interrogation of the young man, in his effort to uncover where the rest of the explosives were, and the final surrealistic scene in which Goren dresses in a military uni to march alongside the disguised terrorist.

    Come on, all the action would have been on Gitmo by the first commerical. :)

    But it was entertaining.moreless
  • Another episode where the crime being investigated is hiding a much more grisly situation. When a woman in her thirties goes missing the detectives begin to investigate her disappearance and uncover an even larger conspiracy.moreless

    The girls father is a retired Pittsburgh Police Detective so when the women disappears Major Case is brought in at his request.

    ***** Spoilers ***** Goren and Eames go about their usual investigation until it is uncovered that the boyfriend was involved in smuggling stuff into the country. Eventually it is determined to be about fifty pounds of explosive disguised as household cleaning products. This brings the FBI into the case.

    Now we are dealing with a possible case of terrorism and suicide bombing. The boyfriend is a converted Muslim but was raised since birth in the US. Goren catches him in some lies about his recent travels and the man then disappears.

    Through another suspect they track down the boyfriend before he can do his damage, but they only find about half the explosives. By using his psychological techniques and understanding on the mans weaknesses, Goren gets him to reveal enough information to find the girls body and to get the other bomber before he is successful.

    I was actually surprised this episode aired when it did on September 30th as 9/11 had occurred earlier that month. This was a very touchy subject to produce a show about. It was an OK episode of L&O: CI and was well done. Thanks for reading...moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Goof: When Goren interrogates Ethan Edwards (Rider Strong), there is about a 5-second period of time when the point of view switches to behind the glass window of the viewing room. During this part of the scene, Edwards' spoken dialogue does not match his lip movements.

    • Goren reveals to Ethan Edwards that his mother was a librarian.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • K-9 Officer: (inside the dock container) This corner here is positive for explosives.
      Robert Goren: Do you have any idea how much?
      K-9 Officer: Judging by the way Homer's bouncing around, I'd say a lot.
      Alex Eames: So much for sleep.

    • Ethan Edwards: I'm one of five people who actually reads the Smithsonian magazine.
      Robert Goren: Six. One of six.
      (Later in the episode, regarding a "Smithsonian" article.)
      Robert Goren: When Edwards mentioned smoke detectors, it didn't ring a bell.
      Alex Eames: You actually read this when it came out?
      Robert Goren: The magazine's the perfect size for my treadmill.

    • James Deakins: Suicide bomber. When the hell did this kid decide that's what he wanted to be when he grows up?
      Alex Eames: Doesn't look like he's planning to grow up.

    • Alex Eames: (looking at the writing on the wall) Go ahead, impress me.
      Robert Goren: It's Aramaic; it's the language that Christ spoke in. Parts of the Old Testament were written in it, but don't ask me what it means.

    • Ethan Edwards: I was sent by God.
      Alex Eames: So were we.

  • NOTES (1)

    • This is the only episode in the second season (and the third episode overall) to directly deal with a crime covered by the real Major Case squad (kidnapping).


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