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October 13, 2015

Law and Order: Excalibur (season finale)

by Allison Waldman, posted May 22nd 2008 12:32AM
L&O logo(S18E18) Oh, boy. Jack McCoy is up to his neck in trouble now. This Law and Order season finale -- number 18 -- was a maze-like story that started with a gold merchant being murdered, wound its way through high-class escort services, and landed at the desk of the governor of New York. Any resemblance between this story and the demise of real-life New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was completely on purpose.

In true Law and Order fashion, the part about the hookers and the Governor was ripped right from the headlines. Unlike reality, though, the fictional governor was even more slimey and reprehensible than Spitzer seemingly. I'll explain it all, and go into more details about how it comes to bear on the characters on L&O after the jump.

The plot involving the murder of the gold guy, Victor Madison, is really incidental. What matters most is the fact that the murderer -- Victor's brother-in-law Frank -- is running Excalibur Exclusives, a high-priced escort service and one of the girl's clients -- you can call me Al -- is a witness to the murder. However, when the cops wire tap the Excalibur phones, Jack recognizes that the Al making reservations with Channel is actually Governor Donald Shalvoy. Skirting the finer points of the law, Jack tries to tip of the Gov, suggesting that he get things right with his family because all hell is going to break when Frank is tried.

The politics between the D.A.'s office and the Governor's mansion kicks in. A web blog about NYC politicians implies that Jack has been traveling to L.A. and dining on the city's dollars, which -- naturally -- he hasn't. The tip to the blog is traced back to the Shalvoy's PR team and Jack realizes that he's being warned. He comes clean to Cutter about warning Shalvoy, which gives Mike the chance to blast Jack to tampering with the case.

Shalvoy's refusal to come clean forces Jack's hand. He finds his conscience and decides to go after Shalvoy directly, even though the Governor has threatened Jack's status as D.A. There's a running joke about whether Jack is running for D.A. first asked by the governor, then again by Mike. In both instances, Jack answers with a question, "Am I running for D.A.?"

It looks like Mike and Connie are getting killed in court when Channel, the hooker, is crushed by the defense attorney. Then, suddenly, Frank wants to cop a plea. Cutter suggests 20 years to life and the defense agrees without hesitation. Wait a sec, that was too easy. Sure enough, Cutter, Connie and Jack figure that the governor got to Frank -- but how? A very strong, very direct political wife -- Shalvoy's wife Rita -- didn't get far convincing Jack to back off, but she did get to Frank's father. Old man Beasley responded to her appeal, to protect her sons by getting his son to bring the trial to an end before the Governor was exposed. Frank goes to jail until some time when the Governor will commute his sentence.

Jack goes to the Governor's home to confront Rita and Donald. They have him beat. They've covered all their bases. Donald tells Jack he can threaten him, or he can resign. "Or you can do like the rest of us. Bite the bullet and move on." Back at the office, Cutter reports that the Feds (who were also after Shalvoy) withdrew their request for the tapes (from the wire taps). The hooker was deported to Brazil. Her boyfriend, who saw Shalvoy at the hotel, has been put into Witness Protection. "Shalvoy tied up all the loose ends," says Cutter.

With a touch of finality, Mike tells Jack that he is now Donald Shalvoy's enemy. He walks out of the office, closing the door on Jack leaning back in his chair, feet up, wondering what he's going to do next. That's the big question, what will Jack do next? His tenure as D.A. is very much in doubt since the Governor has gotten away scott-free. He has the power to squash Jack if he chooses to run for district attorney, or put up a candidate that will beat Jack in an election. Of course, it also opens the door for Sam Waterson to leave the show. Or he could stay on the show and be demoted back to A.D.A. status.

Whatever the case, I'd like to see them bring back Thomas Everett Scott as Donald Shalvoy, and Alison Elliot as his manipulative wife. Strong character both, it would be great to see Law and Order veer more into the political storytelling. Very Machavellian and fascinating. Also, it gives Sam Waterson a real chance to shine -- as he did in this episode. I especially liked when he told off the Governor. He said to the Shalvoy character what many people would have liked to say to Eliot Spitzer: "How could you do this, to the people who work for you, to the people who elected you? How could you be so reckless with their trust? I respected you."

Other points of interest

-- One of the assumed names the Governor used was John McCoy, a.k.a. Jack.

-- When the governor went after Jack for calling him as a witness, he reminds Jack that he got Jack the D.A.'s job. "Nobody wanted you!" Ouch, is that true -- nobody wanted Jack McCoy? Why not?

-- Great line: Jack defending his decision to risk losing his job by threatening the Gov, "I'd rather be an unemployed lawyer than a well-paid pet."

-- Another great line: Mike flaring at Jack for trying to help the Gov, reminding him, "I'm not the one getting my nuts squeezed."

-- When Bernard and Lupo investigated the call-girl ring, they confronted Sara Shipley, the pretty blonde. Her specialty was "the girlfriend experience." When she yells at them, Bernard says that sounds just like a girlfriend.

-- Excalibur Escorts, "For guys with big swords!"


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When I saw that Connie had a link to that blog, I thought that she'd be reading something about Jack's past with his assistants...I figured if the Governor wanted to hurt Jack, he'd have someone dredge up Jack's past affairs with coworkers.
What a neat episode, though! My one problem, is that given how many years Jack has been in the DA's office, and given how close he was to Adam Schiff, how could he be so politically naive as they are writing him this year?
Still, Gov Shalvoy is going to be a very nifty enemy next season...I hope that Jack runs for DA, and wins despite anything Shalvoy throws at him. I suppose if Jack wins, someof the governor's Excalibur dealings will come out (Jack has, after all, in the past made use of the NY Ledger to anonymously release details of cases) and that will mean Shalvoy's downfall.

May 22 2008 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Terrific episode in an excellent season.

Thank you for the review!


May 22 2008 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for the L&O review. What a great episode. Promoting Jack to DA was the best thing to happen to rejuvenate the show, because it forced the writers to be creative about integrating Waterston into the action (more than just a couple of 2-minute confabs with his ADAs).

I love that, while I was totally expecting the scene of the governor resigning and his wife standing by fuming, they one-upped it and had her say she wouldn't do that, and she actually helped with the cover-up.

Agree that I hope they keep the political intrigue going next season.

May 22 2008 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Riley Freeman

i am happy to see tvsquad cover law and order it should always be like this.

sam waterson plays the best lawyer PERIOD. he is the reason the original law and order is my favorite and will always be my fav. svu had some more interesting stories for the last few years but i think they are running dry because this season was boring. the promos for each episode were so hyped and u watch the episode and its anti climatic.

they better bring back jack although i miss him as the lawyer i think he deserves to be in power. i like the new guy mike. he has kind of the same passion jack had. bends the rules the same kind of way.

May 22 2008 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope they keep Anthony Anderson and Jeremy Sisto as partners - I think they work well together.

May 22 2008 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did you hear this line from Connie?

"Hookers, pimps, players; sounds like rap video".

May 22 2008 at 8:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't think TV squad covered any of the Law and Orders not even the real one. So Im pleased to see the grand old dame of Network Television getting some love this morning.

Man what a great episode, I saw the preview last week, so when the finales episode started I was waiting and wondering how'd they tie it back to the Governor.

This is one of the reasons I love law and order, the good guys don't always win. Maybe that'll be an Arc for next season, the campaign of Jack Mackoy.

May 22 2008 at 7:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's too bad reviews aren't offered for SVU and CI.

May 22 2008 at 7:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was thinking that it would be hard for me to watch Law and Order without Jesse Martin. But maybe just maybe I will be able to watch a season 19.

Depends on who they put in to replace Green though. He just owned that part. To me at least, just as good as Orbach with Lennie Brisco.

May 22 2008 at 6:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No one wanted McCoy for DA because he doesn't play the political game.

May 22 2008 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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