Law & Order

Season 14 Episode 6

Identity

2
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Nov 05, 2003 on NBC
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Identity
AIRED:
When a man is found murdered shortly after depositing almost $400,000 in his savings account, the investigation into the source of funds reveals that the victim ran an identity theft scam which left an elderly man homeless and impoverished.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Law & Order breaks from the usual formula in this story of an unemployed executive who swindles an elderly man out of his home.

    9.3
    Episodes such as this show why Law & Order continues to win over new fans while keeping a loyal base of viewers. First of all, there is the compelling story of Lonnie Jackson, the World War II veteran who still wears a bow tie and holds the door for a lady. Mr. Jackson has worked his whole life to own his home outright, but at the point where he could actually enjoy the fruits of his labor, he begins the slow, painful slide into dementia. He has a son who dismisses him as a crazy old man, and he misses his dear wife who died in the 1970s. When Jackson is finally arrested at the predictable midpoint of the episode, this episode could have easily taken the road commonly traveled.



    But the episode's writers have an unusual twist in store, because Mr. Jackson's attorney decides the best defense may be a good offense. She seeks to have her client declared incompetent in order to prevent a murder conviction. Instead of the usual courtroom setting with attorneys grandstanding for jurors, both sides are forced to stick to the facts and the law in arguing to the judge for and against Mr. Jackson's mental capacity.



    However, it's in the episode's final minutes that the heart of the matter comes to light. Mr. Jackson's pride and independence shine through as he admits to tracking down Hitchens, the man who stole his identity and erased him from society. Mr. Jackson's assertion that Hitchens robbed him of his sense of self acts as a statement of society's younger generation and its tendency to marginalize its elders, and his eloquence captures to rage and despair it causes more accurately than a year's worth of sociological studies ever could. In the end, as it usually does, the matter gets resolved and neither side is completely happy, which is probably an indication that justice was done.moreless
  • One of the most empathetic offenders the show has yet offered, in an emotional case of identity theft that shakes up the prosecution as much as the viewer.

    9.5
    In its long history of memorable criminals, "Law & Order" has rarely offered the audience one so sympathetic that he tugs on our heartstrings. The seemingly uncomplicated murder of a young man recently terminated from his day job unearths a startling chain of criminal behavior that leads to a seventy-nine-year-old black man in Harlem. The police are convinced he murdered the man that stole his identity and used it to mortgage his house, but the charming Lonnie Jackson refuses to admit he was conned out of his property. What begins as a good-natured prosecution between his "ancient but agreeable" lawyer and the district attorney's office turns into a fierce battle prove his competency to stand trial, when his uncaring son hires the formidable talents of a popular criminal attorney to prove his father is not mentally responsible for his crimes.



    It is rare that I identify with the man on trial, but this well-written episode touches all the right strings. It presents us with the ultimate devastation of loss, of being manipulated and taken advantage of, the humiliation that comes with waking one morning to find the bailiff at your door. Even the prosecutors realize the depth of meaning behind the case, and McCoy admits publicly that he's not too keen on its nuances. If he proves Jackson competent, it only means he gets to prosecute him in court. What issues it raises revolve around identity theft but boil down to the meaning behind honor. The murder was committed because it slammed home something beyond theft, beyond deception. It went straight to the man's pride and left him stripped of dignity. Morally we know that it was wrong, but emotionally we empathize with a man who knew his son would use anything as an excuse to have him institutionalized.



    Society and the justice system have no answers for cases such as this, when a sentence of ten years in a plea bargain may just be a life sentence. The law attempts to treat everyone as equals, but sometimes that feels infinitely wrong... until we look into the faces of the victims. But it is not the face of the stricken wife that we remember, as the screen fades to black. It's the determination in the eyes of a man who sacrificed everything to regain his dignity, and it's a stirring and often disarming image.moreless
Elisabeth Rohm

Elisabeth Rohm

ADA Serena Southerlyn

Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach

Det. Lennie Briscoe

S. Epatha Merkerson

S. Epatha Merkerson

Lt. Anita Van Buren

Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Exec. ADA Jack McCoy

Jesse L. Martin

Jesse L. Martin

Det. Ed Green

Fred Dalton Thompson

Fred Dalton Thompson

DA Arthur Branch

Paul Benjamin

Paul Benjamin

Lonnie Jackson

Guest Star

Roscoe Lee Browne

Roscoe Lee Browne

Aaron Miller

Guest Star

Carl Gordon

Carl Gordon

Horace Washington

Guest Star

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Ruben Santiago-Hudson

Dr. Paul Jackson

Recurring Role

Leslie Hendrix

Leslie Hendrix

Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers

Recurring Role

Carolyn McCormick

Carolyn McCormick

Dr. Elizabeth Olivet

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Goof: When they're looking at the laptop to find the real estate records, it's evident that they used PowerPoint to fake the computer interface. As the "Searching" message appears after the map is clicked, the little grey PowerPoint Slideshow watermark control marker that is clicked to advance the show's animation briefly appears in the bottom left corner of the screen.

    • Nitpick: Cashier's checks are basically the same as certified checks. As a matter of policy to guarantee payment, banks won't issue them payable to cash (and certainly never for the proceeds of a refinance) to prevent the type of fraud that is the centerpiece of this episode's plot.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • (At a motion hearing to determine a defendant's capability to stand trial.)
      Dr. Paul Jackson: The point is I'm trying to keep my father out of jail. He's 79 years old, and he obviously didn't know what he was doing when he killed that man.
      Jack McCoy: Gee, I thought he was innocent until proven guilty.
      Shambala Green: Objection!
      Jack McCoy: Withdrawn. Answer my question, Dr. Jackson, how much money did you lose in the stock market last year?
      Dr. Paul Jackson: About 180,000 dollars.
      Jack McCoy: Makes you wonder who the incompetent one is in this family.
      Shambala Green: Your Honor, objection!
      Jack McCoy: Withdrawn.

    • Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers: No signs of struggle, no drugs, no alcohol...
      Lennie Briscoe: Gee, Rodgers, I'm really glad you called us.

    • Ed Green: Look, man, you issued a cashier's check to a Mr. Andrew Hitchens for almost 400,000 dollars, we just wanna know why.
      David Richards: Well, obviously, he must have an account with us.
      Lennie Briscoe: And obviously, we'd like to know about it.

    • David Richards: You know there are bank privacy laws.
      Lennie Briscoe: Did we get off the subway in Switzerland?
      David Richards: Ha ha.

    • Lonnie Jackson (indignantly): This Hitchens, he robbed me - of me. He stole my soul!

    • A.D.A. Jack McCoy: It's a shame Mr. Jackson, no, it's despicable, hell it's unconscionable. Andrew Hitchen stole your name, your property and your life savings. He should be sitting across the table right now but unfortunately you took the law into your own hands and made that impossible.
      Jackson's Attorney: Where are you Jack, some fairy-tale Heaven again?
      A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn: It's all on Hitchen's computer.
      Mr. Jackson: It's crazy, all your legal degrees and you still don't know what's what. No one stole anything from me. I mortgaged the property. Why? 'Cause I felt like it. Because of four decades of carrying other people's bags I wanted to get on a plane myself and travel the world. It's my money, I earned it.

    • Det. Ed Green: Is this your signature?
      Zev Mishaan: I cannot lie.
      Det. Ed Green: So what's this on the memo line?
      Zev Mishaan: Ah, it is the language of Abraham and Isaac.
      Det. Ed Green: I know what it is, I want to know what it means.
      Zev Mishaan: This Hitchens, who I never met before mind you, he was looking for a buyer and I was kind enough to offer a helping hand.
      Det. Lennie Briscoe: What did you buy from him Zev?
      Zev Mishaan: What are you, meshugeneh? Does it look like I'm selling sporting goods? Diamonds...

    • Lennie Briscoe: Nothing missing, no sign of forced entry. Both the front and back doors take keys.
      Ed Green: No witnesses, nobody heard anything, everybody was at work.
      Lennie Briscoe: That's why I don't retire.

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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