EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Law & Order: SVU' recap: Amaro's dad is bad news

Season 16 | Episode 12 | “Padre Sandunguero” | Aired Jan 21, 2014

I am ENRAGED at SVU. Major snark has been denied to me TWICE this season! TWICE. You’re killing me here, guys! The acting, writing, and directing in season 16 is my kryptonite! And not the good kind that turns Superman evil (and hence, way cooler).

They could least bring back Kim Greylek so I have at least ONE character to make withering comments about. No offense to the actress, but Debi Mazar’s character once punched Greylek dead in the face and I was more worried about Debi’s character’s costume jewelry.

For real, though, the Mariska Hargitay-directed “Padre Sandunguero” is a searing look at familial relations, domestic abuse, and a really tragic father-son dynamic. It does what most family dramas can’t in a tidy 44 minutes (not counting the ads).

The glorious Armand Assante strides confidently into the precinct looking for his son. Nicolas Sr. is getting married to a much younger lass, and he’d like his Nicky to be there. Nick hasn’t really spoken to this dude since he was 15. The audience can infer there’s a very good reason for that. So Nick’s RSVP is pretty much “Are you out of your damn mind?”

His mom and his sister are still in contact with Dad. During a visit home, Nick is floored to learn that Cesaria is still speaking with the ex-husband who routinely beat her during their marriage. His sister Sonya only sees the boisterous, loving, big ideas-having Papi and schemes to get Nick to the wedding. She does this by apparently kidnapping Nick’s little girl Zara and bringing her to NYC to be the flower girl. That’s low, Sonya. Does Maria know where her daughter is? Someone should have issued an Amber Alert on your ass.

As Barba later notes, the Cuban community can produce “doctors, lawyers, and CEOs of major corporations.” But all the media hears about is when it gets real at a Cuban wedding. It’s a shame, but things do get real at this one. This wedding’s rehearsal, that is. Nicolas’ child fiancée Gabriella tries to enjoy her last night as a free and unbeaten woman by grinding on a guest. Her fiancé watches and registers discontent.

The next thing we know, little Zara is huddled under a table and phoning her dad for help as guests pummel each other. I’m jealous because this sort of excitement never happens when I go to a wedding. Even when it’s a boredom nightmare and I wish it would. One time a bride shrieked at the DJ from the dance floor for playing the wrong “newly wedded couple enters the reception” song. I know—zzzz.

Nick shows up at the hall and makes sure Zara and Cesaria are okay. Bloodied guests are being attended to by the EMTs. He encounters Gabriella laid out on a gurney with a skull fracture. She’s dazed, and tells Nick that his father did this to her. They exchange a few words in Spanish and she’s taken to the ER. Nicolas is arrested. Liv enters the ER in full sergeant mode, and shoos Nick home.

There’s a problem: Gabriella has recanted her complaint, and now says that it was an accident because Nicolas was protecting her from her Grindin’ With the Stars partner. Not only that, but the EMT who overheard Nick speaking to Gabriella in Spanish assumed that he was telling her to cover up his dad’s actions. He didn’t. Nick is the last person to be running defense for his fisty father.

Internal Affairs later clears Nick of any wrongdoing. In an uncomfortable twist, the angry IA dude who has tormented our heroes for the show’s entire run wants to buy Liv a drink? That’s going to cause a conflict of interest. With her detectives!

After Liv tells Barba that Nicolas Sr. has a history of tuning up on women, he’s arrested and charged with assault. They need Nick to testify. Daddy won’t take a plea, and this is going to trial. Nick’s family is rah-rah Nicolas to the point where Cesaria opines at dinner that Gabriella “must have done something” to get hit. You guys keep eating, and I’ll call the family therapist.

Can I point out here that I was convinced the defense attorney was being played by a disheveled Fred Savage? Recalling that Kevin Arnold’s best pal Paul played an attorney earlier this season, I thought this was some kind of stunt casting pattern. It wasn’t him, though. #disappointed

The trial goes almost completely in Nicolas’ favor. It helps his cause that his ex-wife, daughter, and future bride (direct from the hospital?) are sitting in his corner. Barba tells Nick that he needs to bust Nicolas’ charge down to a misdemeanor. Nick has to testify. In an incredibly painful scene, Amaro testifies to the physical abuse he and his mother endured from his father when he was a kid. He still has nightmares about it.

Not Fred Savage tears into Nick about having a grudge against his father, and points out that this is a he-said/she-stopped-saying situation is lacking a witness. Nicolas denies everything, flirts with a juror, and insinuates that his son is less than a man.

Because no one on SVU can ever catch a break, Nicolas is found not guilty. He’s joyfully embraced by his soon-to-be-even-more-battered fiancée and daughter. His only punishment is the Olivia Benson “don’t get comfy, bitch” death glare.

Nicolas shows up afterward at the precinct to talk. He confesses he lied because he’s “too old for jail” and acknowledges that he put Nick in a terrible position. He is still making excuses for his behavior.

Nick isn’t having it, and angrily ends the convo when his dad says that Nick might, too, one day hit his wife or child. His father begs him to let him back into his life, and they leave it at that. Amaro’s left broken in the middle of the precinct.

Danny Pino KILLED IT this episode. Seriously, this is the “Stabler Who?” season. It’s an L&O renaissance!

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like