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.