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'Law & Order: SVU' fan recap: Lili Taylor, Donal Logue, and a surprise

Season 16 | Episode 15 | “Undercover Mother” | Aired Feb 18, 2015

One of the cool things about SVU is that the show has the reputation to bring in big-name actors to class up the joint. Lili Taylor is Martha, a Canadian woman who … wait, that would be telling. Suffice to say, Lili is so talented that her performance can distract us from her character’s initial costuming of a garish top with cut-outs along the sleeves. Think Jersey Shore, circa 1989. That’s acting.

Does anyone else think “Undercover Mother” is a brilliant episode title? NBC should make it into series, starring Lili as a crusading mom who dons disguises and infiltrates to right wrongdoing. The Americans needs some competition in the television wig game, and I’m picturing Lili in a variety of coifs.

Liv & Co. are staking out a party at a brothel, looking to bust some human trafficking types. New Guy Carisi is even posing as a john, and his glasses make him look sort of sophisticated and not at all like a man called “Sonny.” The party is in full sleazy swing when a car pulls up and several alarmingly young-looking prostitutes are herded into the party. And look who our shady shepherd is: Selena Cruz from the season premiere! Wait, didn’t they get her kid out of Mexico for her and she was out of the life? Unfortunately, it appears that the old adage that pimpin’ ain’t easy doesn’t apply to Ms. Cruz.

The party gets broken up, and the ladies and girls (ugh) of the evening are rounded up. One of the madams, Martha, is frantic and needs to speak to whoever is in charge. As if you had to ask who’s in charge! Liv is here, you old hooker, what’s up? What’s up is that Martha isn’t a pimp. She’s a mom! Her daughter Ariel was kidnapped at age 13 in Canada. Martha has spent the years since insinuating herself into the human-trafficking trade in a desperate attempt to find her little girl. She knows all the girls, their pimps, and their pimps’ pimps. Despite Barba’s hainty misgivings, Liv senses a fellow mama bear. Martha is given an official SVU jacket to cover up that godawful top. We learn that she (and recidivist Selena Cruz) have enough info to get SVU even deeper into the game. Surveillance of another house reveals where the new batch of girls are being held. Perhaps Ariel is there? By the way, the photo Martha shows them of Ariel is breathtaking. How did Ariel find the time while being exploited to get shot by Stephen Meisel for Vogue Italia?

SVU Lili Taylor

Stakeout No. 2 occurs during the day. There’s a light snow falling and it reminds me that I live in Boston, and Boston is currently buried under an ocean of snow. Even the newscasters are depressed. They’ve lost that perverse joy they normally take in reporting on Nation Guard–required weather nightmares. If it’s the same weather front, don’t even bother shoveling. There’s just more on the way.

This brothel might not be fancy, but they do get beer trucked in. After Amaro waylays the driver and gets the lowdown, he takes the driver’s place. This particular brothel is run by the rather bitchy mayor from The Leftovers (Amanda Warren), and she’s really let her hair down. She’s still bitchy, though, and demands to know why “you shakin’ me down on Super Bowl Sunday?” Yes, it’s Super Bowl Sunday in the SVU universe. NBC really missed a tie-in opportunity here. It’s 2015, so you can TOTALLY associate professional sports with human trafficking to get those product placement dollars. By the way, when did Super Bowl Sunday attain the reverence level of Christmas? No.

A plan is hatched for everyone to go undercover at tonight’s party to bust Timmer. He’s the upper-level pimp whom they believe is holding Ariel. And when I say “holding,” I mean “boot-stomping” her, according to rumors. Going to HR isn’t an option when you’re a kidnapped underage prostitute. Liv gets ALL dolled up in her best madam-ing outfit. Check out the drunken cougar blouse and those big-ass hoops! RRAOW.


It’s kickoff time. Liv is posing as a madam, Fin is a pimp, and Carisi is a john again. He’s not sporting the glasses, though, so he now looks like a “Sonny.” Everything’s going along swimmingly. Katy Perry hasn’t come out on her stupid robot lion yet. I hope no one leaves before Missy redeems her. Timmer shows up, and it looks like they’re going to be able to track down Ariel. That is, until Donal Logue’s Lt. Declan Murphy turns up! He’s undercover too—and at odds with Liv’s undercover operation! To keep it real, Murphy pistol-whips Carisi. For all of you out there who don’t like New Guy, that was some fan service. This is a pandemonium! They’ve drawn guns, and it looks like cops are about to shoot each other! Amaro and Rollins bust in, however, and arrest everybody.

It turns out that since he left, Murphy has been neck-deep in human traffickers. He’s in a really bad mood because he feels they’ve jeopardized his operation. He could care less who Lili Taylor is, and he could care even less about some Ariel chick. Good to see you too, Murphy.

Timmer is grilled, and we find out that Ariel is currently being held by a “Johnny D.” Johnny is a brutal pimp who turns the girls into his own personal sex slaves when they mess up. He’s super-sweet. His establishment is raided, and Ariel is found! She doesn’t look like her pic, though, but maybe her stylist and hair people couldn’t find her because she was imprisoned in a dungeon.

But wait! Your probably sensed, with all the allusions to the season premiere, that something was going to break about Noah Benson. MELINDA WARNER arrives at Liv’s apartment to deliver the bad news! Tamara Tunie, where have you been, girl? #MissYou

Anyway, you guessed it. Psycho-pimp Johnny Drake is Noah Benson’s natural father. I don’t see Liv bringing Noah to visit Mr. D. in prison, do you?

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

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