Sometimes, being conned isn’t the worst part of a crime.
After a case involving a fashion designer’s murder, Law & Order worked on the death of a consultant who had plenty of enemies.
There were twists and turns before it led to a con artist who may have graduated to murder when his lies were exposed.
But it took a turn when the defendant represented himself in court, and his charming ways could win over the jury.
Complicating matters was that the only person who could help would rather let a killer go free than ruin her reputation.
The episode was also notable as being directed by former Law & Order star Elisabeth Rohm.
That made Only the Lonely a tricky case as Maroun had to learn the hard way that you can’t always get a clear-cut victory, and someone always gets hurt.
A consultant’s final crisis
Outside a hotel, Mark Zanford (Eric Engleman) was confronted by reporters about his high-profile divorce. His consultant, Dana Clarkson, spoke on his behalf, and said Zanford was a good man.
Zanford bad-mouthed her as Clarkson said it was his own fault for an affair. It then cut to Cosgrove and Shaw finding Clarkson’s dead body the following day.
The detectives talked to Zanford with a video of his argument with Clarkson. He said they went their separate ways, and Clarkson had a reputation for rubbing people the wrong way. His soon-to-be ex-wife had confronted Clarkson at a party.
Zanford had an alibi, but his wife Gabby had a history of attacks and was seen at a club not far from the murder scene.
They talked to Gabby (Elle Rigg), who claimed Clarkson had created fake stories about her being a drunk. They found a bloody shirt in her clothing to arrest her.
Gabby revealed the blood was hers as she cut herself to relieve her stress. She was released as the DNA indicated the killer was a man.
Clarkson’s aide talked of her background building herself up and that she’d had a secret lunch appointment and had asked for the non-emergency number of the local police precinct.
They talked to Pierre Briones (Mark Feuerstein), an old friend of Clarkson’s, who joked that if he weren’t gay, he’d have married her long ago. He shared that Clarkson was worried about being stalked by an old boyfriend.
Peter Royce (Bobby Daniel Rodriguez) claimed they had an amicable breakup, but Cosgrove brought up Clarkson having been to the hospital a few times in their relationship. His wife Shannon (Alexandra Palting) entered as the cops knew he was lying.
As they walked out, they spotted a silk scarf in the garbage that matched the murder weapon. They then took Royce away.
Royce denied it as he talked of Clarkson having money problems. Sure enough, it turned out Clarkson was near bankruptcy despite her apparent success. It was shown a credit card had been used at the time Clarkson was with Zanford.
After some pressure, the restaurant manager shared that the card had been used by a man dining with lawyer Grace Pollard (Alysia Reiner). Pollard was cagy as the detectives realized she was covering for someone as a client.
A con man defends himself
Dixon warned the pair that Pollard was a well-respected attorney for female rights and to be careful. They found a video of Pollard with Pierre, whose townhouse was three blocks away.
It didn’t take long to realize this was a permanent home, not rented to a guy living in Zurich. They found a pack of different passports with “Pierre’s” photo and different names, along with Clarkson’s bank info.
As the detectives realized they were dealing with a con man, Pierre showed up with a woman. He took off running as they chased him to a parking lot to arrest him.
“Pierre” was really Devon Miller, who pled not guilty with his lawyer pointing out that the murder weapon found at another man’s home was a tricky part of the case.
Bail was set at one million dollars, and Maroun saw Miller looking to a woman ready to pay it off. Maroun asked how intelligent women could fall for an obvious con man, with Yee saying it was easy. They and Dixon briefly talked about dating, with Dixon bringing up she’d been married twice.
Dixon added how Miller had conned several women over the years for money, and they wondered if Pollard was another of his marks. However, none of his victims were willing to testify as they didn’t want to admit they’d fallen for Miller’s act.
Miller pulled a surprising move by firing his lawyer to represent himself. Price argued this was him trying to sway witnesses as Miller brought up his experience at Harvard and Columbia, even as Price pointed out he’d been expelled for cheating. Nonetheless, the judge allowed it.
Price argued Miller had killed Clarkson when she figured out she was conning him. Miller accused Zanford and Royce, and Price was the real con man faking a case against him.
When Price called for Shaw, Miller objected that he was never advised of his Miranda rights and the testimony should be excluded. To Price’s annoyance, the judge held a hearing on it without the jury present.
Shaw gave the simple testimony as Miller made it sound like the pair had threatened him and the judge agreed to suppress Shaw’s testimony.
McCoy noted Miller was playing the judge and jury just like all his victims and Price needed to pivot on how Miller planted the evidence.
Cracking the con man’s case
Maroun confronted Pollard on buying the scarf and said that she and Miller had been involved. Pollard said she’d invoke privilege if called on to testify.
Maroun said that Pollard had done so much for women’s rights and that to let a murderer go free would ruin her reputation. Pollard argued that being conned by Miller would likewise hurt her as Maroun pressed her to testify.
McCoy was amazed Pollard wouldn’t help, as Maroun noted she didn’t want to hurt her legacy. At this point, a plea deal seemed the best bet, but Price wanted her to testify.
Maroun said, “Men bounce back from scandals but not women.” McCoy still told her to get Pollard on the stand no matter what.
On the stand, Pollard was ticked off about testifying and admitted she and Miller had been in a relationship and she’d given him over $200,000. That included the silk scarf used as the murder weapon.
Miller wasted no time accusing Pollard of killing Clarkson and then trying to frame him. He then claimed he had a tape of the pair together and would prove Pollard was in a rage. To the shock of Price and Maroun, the judge let it be played.
Price offered to try and suppress the tape, but Pollard didn’t agree. She knew how bad it would look for her, and “I have seen thousands of women torn apart on the stand” over such issues. Maroun snapped that Pollard couldn’t ask so many women to defend themselves and then refuse to do the same.
The tape was played with Miller once more accusing Pollard of murdering Clarkson. Maroun took charge to say the tape just proved who Miller was and Pollard ran with it to state the man was a sociopath.
Maroun helped Pollard stand up for herself on not apologizing for a consensual act with a man and she fought for all women’s rights, even the ones that others may judge them for.
Pollard summed up that she was already humiliated, so why would she lie about murdering someone?
The jury found Miller guilty of murder in the second degree as Maroun and Pollard exchanged smiles. Maroun said this was good only for Pollard to show the front page of a paper with her half-naked and “You think this feels like a victory?”
She marched off as Price asked Maroun for a drink, but she smiled back and said she had a date. He cracked to “make sure he has only one passport” as she walked off.
It was a bittersweet ending that may have put a killer away but ruined a reputation in the process for a tough fight for Maroun.
Law & Order Season 22 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.