The Execution Of Catherine Willows

Episode Report Card
Sobell: A | 2 USERS: A+
The Executioner's Stall

Okay, then. Two science swerves in the first three minutes of the show has got to be some kind of record. Now that we know why the mtDNA is such a big deal, let's get back to what's on the screen. Catherine's telling Gil, "Defense thinks DNA's a magic pill for exoneration. I doubt if it's going to change the outcome." Gil has been silent as Catherine talks, and once they enter his office, she says, "You don't know what I'm talking about." "Not really," he allows. Catherine exposits for all of us: "People v. John Mathers. Serial. Western LVU. I was a rookie." Western LVU is turning into UC Sunnydale with the mortality rate. I wonder if they're in the same athletic conference -- the DEAD 10? Gil recognizes the case -- three dead coeds, all sexually assaulted with no semen found. The women were found dead and bound in garbage bags. Catherine explains, "The strongest evidence was victim #3, Charlene Roth. Mathers, a campus security guard, got murder one for that." Gil asks when Catherine can expect the mtDNA tests back, and Catherine says only, "I put a rush on it." Gil gives Catherine his full attention and asks, "Is this your first one?" Catherine admits that Mathers is her first death-penalty case to exhaust all the appeals and head to the chamber. We find out that Gil's already had two. Gil goes back to flipping through a file and asks, "So how you feel about it?" Catherine blinks, then says calmly, "Mathers was convicted and sent to death row by a jury of his peers. I played a small part. I presented my findings --" "Non-responsive," Gil says without looking up. I admit, the first time I saw this, I thought Gil wasn't looking at Catherine because talking so frankly with her was making him uncomfortable; on re-watching, I think he's doing it to give her room to open up and talk without being studied. Gil finally looks up at her, and Catherine realizes that Gil's already mapped the circles she's talking in; she says, "Okay, I haven't figured out how I feel about it." Gil replies, "It's just about evidence. It's not up to you whether he lives or dies. Case has no face."

And on that note, we go to the credits. Roger Daltrey and friends want to know who we are, which certainly contraindicates the case-has-no-face philosophy.

Once we're back from commercial, we see a sweaty, bald man swaying back and forth; he looks to be at that point in the inebriation cycle where all you really want to do is get some sleep. The camera pulls back, and we see that the man's undershirt is covered in blood. That might explain the presence of assorted siren-blasting law enforcement vehicles nearby. Brass is telling Sara and Gil, "Cops did a welfare check on this residence. A girl, seventeen, didn't show up for work, and they found Dad passed out on the sofa in a bloodstained t-shirt." Gil asks archly, "Did he have anything to say about his daughter?" Brass points out, "Mr. Reston can't remember what day it is. Claims he was in a bar fight." We also find out that Mr. Reston's blood alcohol level is .37, which in some regions fully qualifies him for entry into the state fair's pickling exhibition. "Alcoholic," Gil says, before excusing himself from the scene. "Lucky me," Sara grimaces. Brass hunkers down as Sara prepares to process the guy, and shouts, "Hey, buddy, this is Sara Sidle of the Las Vegas crime lab. She's going to ask you some questions." Sara asks, "Sir, I need to see your shirt, and I need to see your hands." The man stares at her blankly. Brass barks, "Shirt and hands!"

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