Law & Order

Season 7 Episode 18

Mad Dog

1
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Apr 02, 1997 on NBC
8.4
out of 10
User Rating
36 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
McCoy becomes obsessed with nailing a serial rapist recently released on parole and pushes the cops perilously close to harassment as he attempts to connect the man with a new rape and murder matching his previous M.O.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • McCoy tip-toes the line between zealous prosecution and abuse of power in his attempts to lock up a paroled rapist after a rape-murder victim is found fitting his MO.

    10
    Season Seven was one of the show's best, and this episode is a prime example.



    In an unusual move, the episode doesn't start out with a crime. We come in on the parole hearing of serial rapist Lewis Darnell, who is in the eighteenth year of a thirty year sentence. McCoy, who came to hearing personally, asks the board to deny parole. Alas, Darnell has been a model prisoner and is released.



    Just afterwards, a woman is found murdered. Briscoe and Curtis, under McCoy's direction, investigate Darnell and come up with some peculiar facts. If I recall correctly, Darnell happens to have no alibi for the time of the murder, knows of a secret passage into the building, the MO is similar to his, he keeps sadomasochistic porn, and he just happens to shave all the hair on his body. The last part is made more interesting when you consider that a hair is what got him caught before, and that no hair was found on the body.



    However, most of the above "evidence" is either circumstantial or explainable. A fair chunk of New York probably couldn't prove an alibi for that time. Darnell's MO is not exactly a unique signature and it only matched the crime in some aspects. The porn was his therapists idea to help "relieve pressure". The shaving-hair-thing is not uncommon among both normal people and the forensically-aware rapists who would make up the alternate suspect pool, and the fact that no hair was found on the body does not mean the killer shaves. Any kid who grew up in that neighborhood, or played with kids in that neighborhood, could have known about the passage way.



    Now, it is more likely than not that Darnell committed the murder, but there is still more than reasonable doubt there.



    McCoy can't arrest him, but tries everything else in order to lock him up. He tries to get Darnell's parole revoked, he lets Darnell's criminal record be known to everyone, tries to have him involuntarily committed(!), and inconveniences everyone Darnell knows. Both Waterson and Burt Young (Darnell) are amazing in this episode. One particular scene sticks out in which Darnell is cursing McCoy, telling him to "leave me the hell alone" and McCoy responds "There are only three ways that's going to happen: you'll kill me, kill yourself, or go back to prison!".



    I only hope the writers can come up with something like this in season nineteen.



    In the end, a horrified Schiff pulls the plug on McCoy after he learns that McCoy is about arrest Darnell on a charge he knows to be false.



    However, we still get a "happy" ending. Darnell's lone supporter beats him to death with a baseball bat after she walks in on him raping someone at knifepoint. I, at first, was somewhat uneasy with the ending. I thought it was the writers of vindicating McCoy- It's okay to harass people and try to imprison them under the guise of civil committment as long as they are evil murderers. However, on reflection, it occurs to me that the ending doesn't prove that Darnell killed the girl or that McCoy was right in harassing him. It just proves what we already know, Darnell is a serial rapist. Remember that his therapy involved using porn to relieve "pressure", and Darnell was under alot of it.



    Did Darnell murder the first girl and die while on victim number two, or did his boiler explode because of all the stress that McCoy was putting on him, causing him take up his old "hobby"?moreless
  • Pushing the envelope? Not really.

    10
    Convicted rapist Lewis Darnell, despite McCoy's attempt to prevent it, is surprisingly released from prison on parole. Pretty soon another girl's body turnes up, raped and this time murdered.



    McCoy is convinced Darnell is behind it. He order Briscoe and Curtis to be all over Darnell. To some viewers it seemed McCoy was pushing Darnell to bad behavior.



    They were wrong. McCoy didn't do a thing under after the initial murder. Which Darnell indeed committed. In the end, his daughter, his lone vocal defender, kills him when he attacks her friend and she waks in on it.



    A masterful episode. Burt Young is riveting. Waterston is at his best. Instantly memorable.moreless
Jerry Orbach

Jerry Orbach

Det. Lennie Briscoe

Benjamin Bratt

Benjamin Bratt

Det. Rey Curtis

S. Epatha Merkerson

S. Epatha Merkerson

Lt. Anita Van Buren

Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Exec. ADA Jack McCoy

Carey Lowell

Carey Lowell

ADA Jamie Ross

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

DA Adam Schiff

Burt Young

Burt Young

Lewis Darnell

Guest Star

David Fonteno

David Fonteno

Mr. Munro

Guest Star

Dan Frazer

Dan Frazer

Judge Barry McLellan

Guest Star

Ned Eisenberg

Ned Eisenberg

James Granick

Recurring Role

Leslie Hendrix

Leslie Hendrix

M.E. Rogers

Recurring Role

Carolyn McCormick

Carolyn McCormick

Dr. Elizabeth Olivet

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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