Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Season 4 Episode 3


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

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Episode Summary

After he gets into the head of an insane man driven to torture, murder, and cannibalism by overwhelming despair and loneliness, Goren surprises his colleagues with a passionate plea that the man be spared the death penalty, and engineers the confession that will save the man's life through a plea bargain.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • You would think that with a story about women being kidnapped and lobotomized, that we would want to see the murderer fry. That's not the case.

    Want is one of the most well written episodes for this, or any other show I've seen. There are so many little parts of the episode that show subtly the depth of the loneliness that the murderer, Tagman feels. We pity him.

    Through discussions with Tagman, and later, with his colleagues, we get the impression that despite all he expresses, that Goren is showing bravado. He's not as self-confidence and happy as he might seem. In fact, in Want, we learn that Goren shares the same desperate loneliness that Tagman feels and that it does eat him up inside. In this way, the two are the same; yet, Tagman's one extreme, and Goren is another. A flip of a coin, and Goren could be the murderer. At least, I think that's something Goren must have thought since he tries to protect Tagman at the end by getting him Life instead of the death penalty.

    In one scene where Goren's talking with Carver, Deakins, and Eames, He goes on to state "...his actions were one knows it better than...him." He subtly fumbles the last word and I got the impression Goren wanted to say "me", again, identifying with Tagman. Then, after expressing his opinions, his colleagues leave him all by himself. ...signifying just how alone he really is.

    I was surprised at how much i pitied Tagman...and for this to be possible for such a horrific case, it only proves how amazing the writing and the actors are.

    Vincent D'onofrio...AND Neil Patrick Harris should have gotten emmies for this. They were amazing.moreless
  • Neil Patrick Harris guests stars as the prime suspect in an unusual case. A case that brings out a rather strong reaction from Robert Goren. An above average episode that will likely be a fan favorite.moreless

    This is amongst my favorite Criminal Intent episodes. Not only is the case unique and interesting, there is a subtle character study in this episode that showcases the inner workings of Goren's mind more so than any episode thus far. The case is about a desperately lonely man, John Tagman(portrayed brilliantly by Neil Patrick Harris), who is trying to create the perfect companion through kidnapping, torture, and ultimately a lobotomy. And as interesting as that is, it's not the most captivating part of this episode. The most interesting part is the seemingly emotional connection and visceral understanding that compels Goren to make a rather passionate plea on behalf of the suspect. Carver is ready to seek the death penalty, and the Captain and Eames are on board with that plan. But Bobby is against it. He's had a chance to look inside the Tagman's mind and he can see the remorse and disgust this man feels inside about what he's done to these innocent. He knows that while Tagman's actions and the ultimate results where deplorable, the man was seeking companionship, not out for murder. And in a twist that surprises Eames and angers Carver, Bobby seeks to get a confession out of Tagman knowing that if he can, Tagman will serve life in prison rather than face life on death row. But even after all of his hard work to get the confession and life sentence for John Tagman, fate has other plans, and the episode ends with a surprising twist.moreless
  • An above average, fine episode of Criminal Intent.

    This episode continued the good start to the fourth season which got more interesting as it went on, especially with the confrontation between Goren and Carver and the atmosphere which followed. I didn't really think of Doogie Howser M.D. when watching Neal Patrick Harris in Want.

    Once again, like with the other Law and Order series, the show is filmed really well.

    I've noticed a pattern over a long time with this show. It is just like Columbo when he confronts the murderer and gets the confession out of them. There's always a long, nearly 10 minute scene which looks like it's been filmed in one go, when Goren and Eames get the confession out of the culprits of the crime which has been committed.moreless
  • A ballet dancer who pays the bills by working as an exotic dancer is found murdered, and filled with anti-histamine. She is also minus a calf muscle. The detectives seem to have a Jeffrey Dahmer on their hands.moreless

    Because the club she worked at was getting shaken down by the local crime family (the mysterious Masuccis), Goren and Eames drew the case. They found the killer had kept the body for some time, as well as slicing off part of the calf.

    Goren felt the killer was not your classic sexual release style serial killer, but had some close emotional connection to the dead girl. A sleaze who had frequented the club fell under suspicion, particularly since he had been stalking her. But the creep who rescued her from the stalker was the bigger Mr Wrong, and drugged the girl at a coffee shop, took her home, chloroformed her for three days, and took the trophy post mortem. He had also punctured the skull.

    Other dancers who had dealt with the creep said he was shy, and wanted someone 'soft'..Goren's conclusion was the perp was looking for 'a girlfriend'. (in addition to the calf sandwich, I guess.)

    Then another victim appeared, wandering incoherent in a negligee, chock fill of anti-histamine and chloroform, with a few drill holes to the head, and hot water poured on the brain - a "home-made lobotomy". (clear parallel to the Dahmer case, only there were no nice policemen to send the victim back to her tormentor, maintaining "lover's quarrel").

    The 'perp'was looking for the perfect woman, or to make one - which by his lights was a zombie.

    In due course, Eames and Goren tracked him down, straight to the lair with the drill, 'adolescent as opposed to explicit' videos, and anatomy and physiology texts.

    In a restaurant scene over chilli, Goren interviewed the killer, and learned he has just recently started drinking, connecting the new habit with an attempt to block out what he was doing. And in a creeped out scene in the wierdo's apartment, Bobby watches the perp's 'intimacy' tapes with him, pausing over and over at a calf shot. The killer was so abject Goren could have drummed a confession out of him with one 'boo' - unnecessary scenes like this one smell of producer titillation motives.

    Pretty gruesome story, and a type I don't care for. But Goren's impassioned plea for understanding if not mercy was fairly entertaining, his argument being the killer was sick beyond words and deserved life, but his intention was to keep the women alive as "companions", not to commit premeditated murder.

    "Of all the people to go to bat for" was Eame's take. "Not the popular choice" answered her partner.

    I suppose if a creature like the one portrayed does not qualify as 'insane' the word has no meaning, legal, medical, or otherwise. But one can't be faulted for hoping even a fictitious monster like this would meet a Dahmer type fate behind bars.

    CI writing has been far far better, and I felt the story was aimed way too much along the shock value lines. It is possible to examine serial killing, even of this repellent a nature, in a meaningful way, but I doubt it can be done in one hour.

    The saving grace of the epi was Goren getting the confession by convincing the killer he will just go on committing even more depraved acts, so just give it up. And a little more of the Goren psyche was illuminated, particularly in the scene in which Bobby and the criminal discussed 'being alone'. A nice little temper burst at a defense attorney as well.

    Now for the important info, - V D'O looked a bit grayer in early 04 than in late 03, but his hair was luciously long and curly, and he was in great shape. A real silver fox. He played Goren still more quietly dynamic in this one, but it was hardly the storyline for levity, anyway. If only he had been unshaven to go along with the longer locks..well, that might have ended up on too many lawsuits from the heart attacks.

    CI should have him eat on camera more often, chilli, chocolate truffles, last night's take out - who cares - it's immensely sexy.moreless
Neil Patrick Harris

Neil Patrick Harris

John Tagman

Guest Star

Shannon McGinnis

Shannon McGinnis

Amanda Norman

Guest Star

Rob Sedgwick

Rob Sedgwick


Guest Star

Leslie Hendrix

Leslie Hendrix

Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Robert Goren: (to John Tagman) With all our complaining, it's women who are vulnerable.

    • (Watching one of John Tagman's soft porn videos.)
      John Tagman: Please, that's private!
      Robert Goren: Hey, don't be embarrassed. C'mon, that's classy stuff. None of that pneumatic grinding, celebrates intimacy. Is that what you like, John? Cuddling? Holding her close to you?

    • Robert Goren: I guess you've gotten used to being by yourself. Is that what you're saying?
      John Tagman: You don't really get used to it.
      Robert Goren: No, you... (pauses) No, you don't really ever get used to it.

    • John Tagman: I don't think it's possible for a person to understand himself.

  • NOTES (1)


    • The episode may also be ripped from the headlines of Edmund Kemper's case. Kemper, a serial killer, is noted for cannibalism. Specifically, cutting flesh from the legs of two victims and consuming it in a macaroni casserole. In this episode, John Tagman consumes part of the calf muscle of a victim. Goren mentions that Tagman prepared it "with potatoes and onions."

    • This episode appears to be ripped from the headlines of the Jeffrey Dahmer case. Like the killer in this story, Dahmer would drill holes in the heads of his victims and pour hot water (or weak acid) on their brains, in the hopes of making them his zombie slaves. He also ate body parts of his victims, just like this episode's killer.