Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Season 3 Episode 16

The Saint

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 14, 2004 on USA
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Saint
A man commits fraud, forgery, and murder to discredit the organization that took advantage of his mentally ill mother, impoverished his family, and ruined his childhood.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Stephen Colbert can act!!!

    Holy Cow, Stephen Colbert does knows how to act! I love him on the colbert report and think he is too funny. He's always good as an uber republican who loves america and hates democrats.

    But to put him on Criminal Intent? At first when I saw Colbert I was shocked to see him on a real show. But wow did he put on a great performance?

    He played the part of the passive agressive revenge seeker to a T. He was great in the scences with his mother, Awesome when he went toe to toe with Det. Goren. Colbert should do more serious acting after this for sure.moreless
  • A bizarre death leads to a potential, previous suicide and letters which bring question to the validity of a man furthered by a Catholic foundation as a saint.

    It is a rare show that does not reveal all its secrets at first glance. It is on perhaps my third viewing of this episode that I am inspired to offer my opinion of it. There was much here that spoke specifically to me (please note this distinction), especially those questions of falsehood that seem, in my mind, to surround the church. I consider the two family members involved in the furtherance of brother Jerome's canonization, and I see two distinct sides. The elder Sullivan seeks to build a "cult of personality," willing to take at face value highly dubious documents for the sake of this image that might draw more followers to a faith whose very fabric is contaminated by his actions. And then there is the younger Sullivan, who believes that the purpose of the charity should be considered in the good works they do, which, his father says, his son could do "from a shoe-box in Brooklyn" once the foundation was his to run. I think I've had conversations quite similar with my own parents about social responsibility, and so this conflict between these two struck a chord within me. The "villain" of this episode was the sort that I find the most mentally and emotionally stimulating. Bennett was not evil. His circumstances were human, and tragic, and in the particular way of this show, I could see his lonely path to corruption and I sympathized with him. This was one of several episodes that put forth a comparison between Goren and the villain, and in this case I find it to be subtle and artful. Bennett's mother suffered from a mental illness, a manic-depressive compulsion which prompted her to banish material things, including her son's possessions. When Goren learns of this habit, a connection is made between himself and Bennett, the sort of unique connection that is his best tool in solving cases. When he speaks to Bennett about the motivation for his crime, he is speaking from an understanding. Bennett's mother "took away his stability." But while Goren sympathizes with him, he is unable to look on him without scorn. In a sense, he admires Bennett's talent. Refers to him as extraordinary and genius: remarkable praise coming from him. But this fulcrum of empathy between the detective and the criminal ended when Bennett chose to "use the venom" that his mother gave him to commit cheat, to lie, and to kill. It is perhaps one of the most telling moments about who Robert Goren really is. A man who has channeled the sort of misfortune and disappointment that turns some into criminals, into a person that saves others from them.moreless
  • A grandma who worked at a rehab house is murdered in a most original way - a gift box houses an exploding lye-filled balloon. Goren and Eames must solve an unusual riddle involving the canonization efforts for a certain Brother Jerome.moreless

    Our boy Bobby is impressed by the novelty of the murder weapon, on two fronts - that it would pass any bomb screening and that it would affect only the opener standing directly above it. "A science background", Goren says. He and Eames learn another interesting tidbit - that the dead woman is one of the three documented miracles (in her case, recovery from polio, long ago) needed to make a Saint.

    Their investigation leads them to the dead woman's office and a poem in her mail, subject matter dealing with the consequences of becomes clear someone feels the murdered woman lied about her miraculous cure, and someone does not care to see Brother Jerome sainted.

    That person is a most accomplished criminal, a forger whose work is so impressive that he has managed to cast serious doubt on Jerome's candidacy, and even morality. Using antique materials and messing with carbon dating technologies, the faker has substantially countered the canonization case.

    Even more intriguing is the forger's motives. The detectives discover that the man's mom has had a long devotion to the parish that led the canonization effort, and had been a major donator to the cause since her child was a boy.

    In fact, mom was more than a little 'off', and stripped her own household of necessities in order to raise cash for donations in the good Brother's name. Even the boy\s toys were slated for the missions, and he developed his forgery talents by faking various documents (he could even electroplate invaluable coins into collectibles, to get his playthings back. Charity only goes so far and it ends at your Schwinn.

    Sonny's adult fabrication efforts consisted more of creating false testimonies against the Brother's character (see Eames face accompanying her 'talking goat' quip for a real belly laugh) and attacking the memories and morale of the miracle recipients. But if he could not forge their minds out of conviction, he would have to resort to lye bombs. Meanwhile mom is still packing the church auctions with the watches you futily keep giving her.

    Fascinating epi, well written and engrossing. Nice to see a nod to something resembling forensics in the treatment of how the fakes were created, and some info on those folks fortunate enough to be making their living via their 'authentication' skills.

    Bobby is suitably impressed by the (left-handed!)forger's well-honed talents, so at least in one small measure, these crimes did pay. And the finale, of course, lets the detectives display their own mastery of trickery.moreless
  • A skilled forger sells fake documents to a foundation trying to get a priest called Brother Jerome canonized in an effort to discredit the would-be saint. He is driven by a childhood disrupted by his mother's impulsive, excessive charity to the Brother Jemoreless

    A slight casting commentary: I was amused to find Stephen Colbert (formerly of "The Daily Show" fame and now with his own show, "The Colbert Report", on Comedy Central) as the villan of the show. I truly had no idea that Colbert is such a good actor, since all the knowledge I had of him was of him as a comedian. Over all, I though this episode's plot was a bit unfocused, and some major questions remained unanswered in my mind. However, I did enjoy this episode, firstly because of my interest in the unexpected casting of Colbert, secondly because I was amused that Colbert's character's mother's name is Elizabeth Bennett (the main character of the novel "Pride and Prejudice"), and thirdly, as always, because of Goren's intrinsic entertainment value. In the interrogation scene at the end, I was highly amused by Goren's irrestiable attraction to the Scrabble board ("I love Scrabble") and then of his ever-skillful manipulation of young Bennett's pride in his forgery work. All in all, not the series's best episode, but there are little things for one to enjoy that easily prevent the episode from being a complete waste.moreless
Lois Smith

Lois Smith

Elizabeth Bennett

Guest Star

Brian Murray

Brian Murray

Richard Sullivan

Guest Star

Phyllis Somerville

Phyllis Somerville

Louise Politano

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Alex Eames (about Elizabeth Bennett): If anyone needed a miracle ... she worshipped a saint, and raised a sinner.
      Robert Goren: The sinner raised himself.

    • Elizabeth Bennett: (to her son) You are nothing but a common criminal!
      Robert Goren: There's nothing common about your son. Or his crime.

  • NOTES (1)


    • This episode appears to be ripped from the headlines of the Mark Hofmann case. Hofmann became infamous for forging numerous documents purported to be historical documents from the Mormon faith, although it wasn't just Mormon history that Hofmann fabricated. The story of Mark Hofmann has been detailed in the novel Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders written by Linda Sillitoe and Allen Roberts.