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Is 'Trophy' The Perfect Episode Of Law & Order?

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It's possible that Jack was just drunk on love/sex, which initially mitigated his eyebrows' special ability to ascertain, judge, and condemn Diana's character.  It happens to the best of us.

 

Re: the bolded part, I am now going to think of Jack as having the Eyebrows Of Justice, so thanks for that. ;-)

 

 

Jack was a renegade in pursuit of justice but I think this show did have enough people give a different point of view to his actions that I don't think we were to accept that he was right all the time.  He was brought up in front a review board.  Schiff read him the riot act over the steralization plan.  The DA and/or his assistants did manage to talk him down quite a few times.

 

One of the Jamie Ross-era episodes is on Sundance right now, the one where a young black girl is raped and murdered, and Jack basically tells Van Buren to give Briscoe and Green free reign to get a confession, up to and including threatening to put the guy in Gen Pop and let the other inmates have at him. Later it turns out that another guy committed the crime, and when a judge who had filed a disciplinary action against him takes the case, Jack complains that he can't get a fair trial with him presiding. He said something along the lines of, "I don't question your professionalism. I question your ethics."

 

Ethics? Really? He later tells the doctor who's overseeing the girl's care to lie to the janitor's lawyer and say that she's awake and aware of her surroundings, even though she was still comatose and likely to remain that way. Then he more or less blackmails the judge into accepting the plea agreement, even though he'd been planning to impose consecutive sentences, telling him that if he insists on having a trial the voters will "associate him with Jesse Castillo and his roach spray."

 

Yes, he got the right guy, eventually, but in RL it would probably occur to someone that the reason they're always getting chewed out/called in front of a disciplinary committee is because they skirt the rules that are there for a reason.

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As for Diana, while I suppose that the 'Mah man' thing is irritating, I don't believe she did what she did entirely for Jack.

 

 

I don't know if it's the perfect Law and Order episode, but I really liked this episode a lot and while the show never out and out condemned Jack for his habit of sleeping with his assistants I thought this episode came the closest. My impression was she didn't consciously do it to please Jack and didn't really consider that motive until Clare brought it up, but that some how his desires or what she thought his desires might be wound up intrinsically bound with her own to the point that she didn't even realise it had happened. She was obviously ambitious and this was obviously an extreme case, but I always liked his last exchange with Diane where he says 'I never asked you to do it' and she says 'no, but I thought you'd be grateful and here we are' because I thought it did a good job of highlighting that while technically Jack didn't do anything wrong and they were both consenting adults, he wasn't blameless either and why getting involved with a subordinate can be a bad idea. He was basically in a relationship with someone he potentially had a lot of power and influence over and as Clare points out he was Diane's boss and then her lover and that's a significant power dynamic especially if you include an age gap too and Jack's own tendency to skirt and even on occasion cross the line to get a conviction which I think is brought up in the episode.

Edited by Swansong

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I don't know if it's the perfect Law and Order episode, but I really liked this episode a lot and while the show never out and out condemned Jack for his habit of sleeping with his assistants I thought this episode came the closest. 

This is a great point, and I sort of feel like we should have gotten a scene somewhere in there where Adam, in his understated way, basically tells Jack there's a reason you don't buy your meat at the bread shop, and to grow the hell up already.  He outright yelled at Ben for simply getting too competitive with Arthur Gold and botching a motion (Severance, where we ALSO get an extended scene of Paul asking Ben "what the hell were you thinking?"...that was a great episode) so I think he should have blasted Jack for some clearly unethical behavior.

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I don't know if it's the perfect Law and Order episode, but I really liked this episode a lot and while the show never out and out condemned Jack for his habit of sleeping with his assistants I thought this episode came the closest. My impression was she didn't consciously do it to please Jack and didn't really consider that motive until Clare brought it up, but that some how his desires or what she thought his desires might be wound up intrinsically bound with her own to the point that she didn't even realise it had happened.

But that's it. The episode never even HINTED we were supposed to consider Jack (or Adam, or anyone but Diana) in any way responsible. Diana did this all. Diana is crazy and has nothing to do with the other characters. Jack had no idea; it was the furthest thing from his mind. Jack sleeping with his assistants didn't bring this on, after all, he's sleeping with his current assistant, and she's great. She figured out the whole case and solved everything. Jack made a much better choice to sleep with this assistant, and now everything's going great and they're free to be flirty at the office for the rest of the season until Jill Hennessy decided not to renew her contract. This episode is selling Jack and Claire; it's selling Jack sleeping with his assistant. He just has to pick the right one.

That's why Adam never yelled at Jack for bringing this on himself. Adam never thought Jack was REMOTELY at fault. Adam thought it was 100% Diana being crazy. The audience, is therefore supposed to think Diana is some crazy psycho ex who has nothing to do with the main characters.

And that would be fine, except it changes from scene to scene if Diana is a talented, intelligent lawyer (Adam calls her and Jack two of his best people) or if she's some crazy stalker so desperate to have Jack love her she puts an innocent man in jail.

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I would only disagree slightly in that, if memory serves, when Jack is cross-examined the defense attorney references a note Jack left for Diana, something to the effect of "time to nail Andrew Dillard." And he implies that Jack may have really meant to frame him.

But I agree with you that this is pretty weak, and we don't get the condemnation that Jack so richly deserved, and we don't get the moral ambiguity we're used to - it's much more one-sided here. But there is at least some shade thrown Jack's way in that cross.

As to whether we're "supposed" to feel this way or that, it's an interesting question, because multiple people watch that episode and come to different conclusions on that issue. My own opinion now that we're getting into detail is that given L&O's roots and values (the case of Judge Thayer sleeping with Claire, the general concept of "even the appearance of impropriety", etc.) is that this would have been a great chance to impart an arc to Jack's character. Set him up as a playboy who crosses the line, then have his past come back to haunt him, have Adam excoriate him (and I mean he should be yelling about "you dragging this office into the gutter" or something) and it serves as a wakeup call. He sees the real damage his juvenile behavior had, and why there are rules about such things. He could become a better man.

Instead they just went with the whole "women are crazy, amirite?!" thing. They dropped the ball on that one, and they wouldn't have in the early seasons. They were all about moral quandries.

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I would also just throw out there that if anything, Ben Stone and his impeccable ethics are the real fiction here. Take a look at what really goes on here in NYC:

http://nypost.com/2014/06/04/hynes-is-the-poster-boy-for-political-corruption-in-new-york-city/

You can also google "Louis Scarcella" for some sad reading. Jack McCoy is a paragon of ethics compared to the reality. Granted Morgenthau, who Adam was based on, was supposedly great, but you have to wonder about all those lawyers and judges...

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I would only disagree slightly in that, if memory serves, when Jack is cross-examined the defense attorney references a note Jack left for Diana, something to the effect of "time to nail Andrew Dillard." And he implies that Jack may have really meant to frame him.

But I agree with you that this is pretty weak, and we don't get the condemnation that Jack so richly deserved, and we don't get the moral ambiguity we're used to - it's much more one-sided here. But there is at least some shade thrown Jack's way in that cross.

Instead they just went with the whole "women are crazy, amirite?!" thing. They dropped the ball on that one, and they wouldn't have in the early seasons. They were all about moral quandries.

But that's the point. It's THE DEFENSE LAWYER. We aren't supposed to agree with him. Like 99.9% of all defence attorneys on this show, he's pure evil. He's twisting things around to make our heroes  look bad. We are definitely not supposed to think he had a point, any more than we're supposed to think the defence lawyer in "Blood Libel" had a point where he blamed the crime on a Jewish conspiracy.  

 

And the show consistently did moral quandary episodes, throughout all 20 seasons. But they also did righteous episodes where the main cast is fighting monsters. This was an example of the latter. In was never intended to be like "Dignity" where the cast debates abortion or "Subterranean Homeboy Blues" where the cast debates vigilanteism or "Precious" where the cast debates forced sterilization.  They also did episodes where the cast has to work together to take down a mob boss or a pedophile or a white supremacist. This was that kind of episode. 

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And that would be fine, except it changes from scene to scene if Diana is a talented, intelligent lawyer (Adam calls her and Jack two of his best people) or if she's some crazy stalker so desperate to have Jack love her she puts an innocent man in jail.

 

I think she's supposed to be a talented lawyer who crossed the line to win a case. We see that happen a fair bit on law and order. Good lawyers going bad because they become too invested in winning or because they become too involved in their clients' ways of life. This is compounded by her involvement with Jack.

 

But that's it. The episode never even HINTED we were supposed to consider Jack (or Adam, or anyone but Diana) in any way responsible. Diana did this all. Diana is crazy and has nothing to do with the other characters. Jack had no idea; it was the furthest thing from his mind. Jack sleeping with his assistants didn't bring this on, after all, he's sleeping with his current assistant, and she's great.

 

 I don't really agree that Diane is portrayed as just some nut job woman or that the episodes boils down to simply 'women be crazy'. Diane possibly acting because she wanted to impress Jack is pretty much treated as something she's not even aware of doing until it's brought up and I do think their last conversation speaks to the fact while Jack didn't technically do anything wrong his influence did play an indirect role.  Diane is the one responsible for covering up a witness statement that could have prevented an innocent man from going to jail and even possibly a serial killer from killing again. Neither Jack or Adam have a hand in that. But the fact that Jack has a habit of skirting and possibly even crossing the line in other instances isn't just brought up by Diane and her lawyer, which the audience could just dismiss as them throwing shade or trying to pass the buck, but it's brought up as an issue by Clare too. She pretty much says if she was called as a witness she couldn't say that he wouldn't or even hasn't done something similar.

 

The episode definitely lands on the side that he didn't do anything wrong in this instance, but I don't think the episode entirely ignores the fact that anyone watching Jack operate might think it was ok to cut corners or the fact that a boss who gets involved with a subordinate can wield a lot of influence whether he intends to or not. And while I think the show and even episode could have come down stronger on Jack's habit of sleeping with his assistants I do think this is actually one of the rare instances where the show even acknowledges that you don't have to be doing anything specifically wrong for that kind of power dynamic to be an issue.  But the show, ultimately, always took a pretty ambivalent attitude to these kinds of inter-office affairs I always thought. My impression was this DA's office didn't have a policy on inter-office relationships which I'm guessing wouldn't be the case in real life.

Later Cutter thinks it's wrong, or at least wants to believe it's wrong to get involved with Connie because she's his subordinate, but that seems to be more about his own personal morality than because it's against office rules. Everyone else Connie, Jack treat it as just one of those things

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Just a note, spoiler tags are fine for information not covered in the episode being discussed. :)

Welllll loooook who decided to pop in! Why 'it's none other than radishcake! Finally found time from yet other mod duties?

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We aren't supposed to...he's pure evil...We are definitely not supposed to think...we're supposed to think...It was never intended to be...

Objection: assumes facts not in evidence!  If you overrule me I'll just go the Ethics Committee on this one, and you won't even be prosecuting Jaywalkers.

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My impression was this DA's office didn't have a policy on inter-office relationships which I'm guessing wouldn't be the case in real life.

 

Actually, from several friends who work or have worked in the various NYC DA's offices, pretty much the only people anyone working there meets TO date is other ADAs or cops.  So there are a LOT of interoffice relationships. They probably do try to keep it to people who are in the same level in the office, but even in the smaller DA's office where I work, there are several couples who are married or dating and who all started their relationships after meeting on the job.  And several include one supervisor and one subordinate.  They just move them around so they aren't supervising each other--when the admin knows about it.

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Actually, from several friends who work or have worked in the various NYC DA's offices, pretty much the only people anyone working there meets TO date is other ADAs or cops.  So there are a LOT of interoffice relationships. They probably do try to keep it to people who are in the same level in the office, but even in the smaller DA's office where I work, there are several couples who are married or dating and who all started their relationships after meeting on the job.  And several include one supervisor and one subordinate.  They just move them around so they aren't supervising each other--when the admin knows about it.

Lol!  So Law and Order was actually true to life. Good to know, I did wonder just because I did work for a law firm where relationships like this, particularly between a supervisor and subordinate were strictly prohibited and could even lead to termination. Maybe that's why Adam didn't make a fuss about Jack's penchant for dating in the company trough.

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