Law & Order

Season 14 Episode 3

Patient Zero

2
Aired Monday 10:00 PM Oct 08, 2003 on NBC
8.1
out of 10
User Rating
38 votes
2

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Patient Zero
AIRED:
The investigation into the carjacking of a vehicle containing vials of a deadly virus leads the detectives on a search for the first person infected with the virus and a biochemist whose sinister motivations were driven by passion.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

Today
5:00am
TNT
3:00pm
SUND
4:00pm
SUND
5:00pm
SUND
6:00pm
SUND
7:00pm
SUND
8:00pm
SUND
9:00pm
SUND
10:00pm
SUND
11:00pm
SUND
12:00am
SUND
TNT
Tuesday
1:00am
Cut
TNT
DNR
SUND
2:00am
TNT
SUND
3:00am
TNT
4:00am
TNT
5:00am
TNT
6:00pm
WE
7:00pm
WE
8:00pm
WE
9:00pm
WE
10:00pm
WE
11:00pm
WE
12:00am
WE
Wednesday
5:00am
TNT
6:00pm
WE
7:00pm
WE
8:00pm
WE
10:00pm
WE
11:00pm
WE
SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Penetrating and provocative study of a woman's self-deception (but she's not a Lady Macbeth)

    9.0
    Lupinskitten nails this episode--the action, the conflict, the character--in concise, compelling prose. But in this episode, which foregrounds the elusiveness of truth (variable, ephemeral, versatile), I can't agree that the wronged wife (Mrs. Blanchard) rises to the level of a villain. She may exercise complicity in looking away from, then aiding and abetting, her cheating husband's narcissistic, bloodless treatment of younger women, but she's no Lady Macbeth.



    After her emotional breakdown on the stand and her admission that her husband was not at home on the night in question (when he was alleged to practice a "viral penetration," of the woman he had impregnated), Mrs. Blanchard says to McCoy that she suddenly realized people are less likely to take seriously the testimony of a woman who says she's been cheated on, lied to, or violated than a woman who says that jealous, obsessive anger at an unfaithful husband drove her to commit perjury (she didn't).



    Rather than plotting her husband's toxic affairs with (or against) other women, Ms. Blanchard is as much a victim as they. She had, for a those few moments of candor while on the stand, spoken from the heart, revealing to us (and perhaps herself) that she has one. But on re-examination she reverts to the cynical facade of a wife that she had she had trained herself to be (with plenty of "coaching" from her self-important, "brilliant" virologist husband). If she thought she had been immunized from his toxic actions, she's right: her acceptance of his covertly open hand, as they exit the courtroom, is ample evidence of his vaccine's effectiveness.



    The episode is a complex and layered study of self-deception--including the societal and domestic influences that promote it. It uses the "terrorism" that was on people's minds in 2003 merely as a setting, or "ruse," for its penetrating study of a "bad" doctor's wife (a brilliant acting performance) Yet she may not be as "exceptional" in her self-deception and victimization as we would like to think. After 9/11 it did not take long for public outrage to spread throughout the nation, finally leading, with the help of our government, to the "grandest deception" of all--a tragic war against the nation of Iraq (which as we would learn had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11). Or, as the previous reviewer says, Mankind is capable of magnificent deception, and we don't always get the bad guy. In 2003, we not only targeted the wrong guy but, as a direct result of our misguided actions, created a worse one--namely, IS.moreless
  • Which lie was the truth? For once, Jack McCoy doesn't know for sure... and the viewers don't either.

    9.1
    Did she tell the truth, or did she lie? Or more appropriately, which truth was actually the truth?



    "Patient Zero" follows the general formula of many cases in the longstanding history of the show. Or so the viewer thinks, as they settle on the couch to watch yet another angry lover face a prison sentence for injecting his mistress with a potentially-lethal serum. Patriotism not withstanding, the episode doesn't seem intent to surprise us with anything more than laments on bio-terrorism. But as the clock ticks toward its final moments, the writers slam us with a double-whammy. The man's empirical, icy wife, formerly of the opinion that all husbands have affairs and wives should think nothing of it, buckles beneath McCoy's cross-examination. Reduced into floods of tears, she denies her former testimony and states that her husband wasn't home the night she claimed he was. But before McCoy has time to smile over this unexpected turn in his favor, what seems to be a case of spousal remorse flies into double-perjury when in re-examination, the woman admits that she is furious enough over her husband's numerous adulterous affairs to purposefully lie to hurt him.



    Leaving the jury as frustrated and confused as the prosecution, the cold-hearted woman leaves the courtroom with her hand clasped in that of her newly acquitted husband. She beat the system, put reasonable doubt in the juror's minds, and will never pay for it, because there's nothing to nail her with. If they wanted to prove perjury, they couldn't because they would have to prove her admissions were only made to confuse the jury. Certain episodes leave the viewer with a sense of aghast disappointment, which makes them all the more believable. Mankind is capable of magnificent deception, and we don't always put the bad guy behind bars. It makes for a brilliant villainess, and a startling glimpse into the moral loopholes in governmental justice. The victim isn't always justified, but the prosecutor comes out the wiser for it in the end.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

Khrystyne Haje

Khrystyne Haje

Elaine Blanchard

Guest Star

P.J. Benjamin

P.J. Benjamin

Owen Franks

Guest Star

Daniel Gerroll

Daniel Gerroll

Dr. Charles Blanchard

Guest Star

Robert Turano

Robert Turano

Det. Ed Pachuco

Recurring Role

Mark Kenneth Smaltz

Mark Kenneth Smaltz

Judge William Koehler

Recurring Role

Mary Lou Mellace

Mary Lou Mellace

Judge Antonia Mellon

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (9)

    • (Jack accuses the defendant's wife of perjuring herself as she changed her version of the story on the stand)
      Jack McCoy: That's perjury!
      Elaine Blanchard: Prove it.
      Jack McCoy: I don't have to. You already admitted it on the stand.
      Elaine Blanchard: Right, of course, I did. But then I corrected myself. And told the truth, whatever that is.

    • Jack McCoy: Hell hath no fury like an unrequited lab tech.

    • Lennie Briscoe: Since you're strictly legit, you wouldn't mind us taking a little look around. I'm in the market for a new fender.
      Mechanic: You guys got a warrant?
      Lennie Briscoe: Ed, you hear that?
      Ed Green: Yeah, I think I do.
      Mechanic: Hear what?
      Lennie Briscoe: The sound of a woman calling for help.
      Mechanic: Ah, this sucks!
      Ed Green: Female in distress, that's exigent circumstances!

    • Lennie Briscoe: Anna Hopkins isn't on any FBI or Homeland Security watch list.
      Ed Green: Oh, I'm gonna sleep easy now.

    • Lennie Briscoe: And all this time I thought the 14th Amendment outlawed separate-but-equal car theft rings.

    • (Serena and Jack are talking about Dr. Charles Blanchard and his attorney.)
      A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn: She's calling Elaine Blanchard tomorrow.
      A.D.A. Jack McCoy: And the jury will see it for what it is, a woman lying to protect her husband.
      A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn: Why she wants him is another question.
      A.D.A. Jack McCoy: Different people expect different things from marriages.
      A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn: And I guess you're an expert on that?
      A.D.A. Jack McCoy: Before you go any further, she left me 'cause I spent too many nights like this.

    • Lab Tech: Are you kidding? The only one in love with Charles Blanchard is Charles Blanchard.
      Serena Southerlyn: So there was nothing personal between him and Anna Hopkins?
      Lab Tech: Sure there was. He made her nauseous.

    • Cop: Took one in the chest. Drove up the block like a bat out of h-e-double-hockey-sticks.
      Lennie Briscoe: What precinct are you from, Sesame Street?

    • Grocer: The city's a cesspool. Two years ago, guy comes in my shop, points a gun, I give him whatever he wants. Nothing worth your life for.
      Ed Green: Now those are words to live by.
      Lennie Briscoe: Or die for.

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • This episode is ripped from the headlines of the Dr. Richard J. Schmidt case. Schmidt infected his estranged girlfriend with HIV-positive blood under the pretense of giving her a B12 injection. This case, in Louisiana in 1998, was the first time this type of evidence (matching AIDS strains in this case as opposed to SARS strains in the plot) was used in a US criminal court. The doctor currently is serving a fifty-year sentence.

More
Less