Law & Order recap: a cop killing leads to a powerful finale

Olivia Benson on Law & Order
Mariska Hargitay guest-stars on Law & Order with Jeffrey Donovan and Anthony Anderson. Pic credit: NBC

Law & Order ended its first season of the revival in a powerful way.

Black and Blue involved the charged trial of a cop killer so big it needed Olivia Benson to get some help.

But the issues of racism and the badge inflamed all sides for a tricky case to close out the season. 

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A cop goes down

A woman headed to the subway got into a fight with a man she felt was hitting on her. She then heard gunshots and ran into the alley to find a man dead. 

Bernard and Cosgrove were on the scene where Cosgrove was stunned to recognize the victim as Detective Jimmy Doyle, an old friend awarded for valor over his career.

Chief McGrath (Terry Serpico) talked to the press while Cosgrove pressed the witness, with Bernard thinking he was going too hard on her. 

At the Doyle home, a score of cops had gathered while Cosgrove comforted Jimmy’s wife Heather (Paula Jon DeRose), who revealed she and Jimmy had been separated for three years. Yet, she still was heartbroken by the murder, even though Jimmy had been seeing another woman. 

They talked to Jimmy’s new girlfriend, Gates, who couldn’t give any clues to the murder but still loved Jimmy. She admitted being a Black woman dating a white cop was difficult, but they were trying to make it work. 

She pointed them to someone who’d harassed the pair.

The cops found a video of the man, Scott Gleacher (Nathan Darrow), who was a Wall Street type who stonewalled them. The cops couldn’t find any motive as Gleacher was in the area for a charity event for Teen Girl Inc, a nonprofit that aids teenage girls.

They checked it out with the administrator, who didn’t recognize Doyle but admitted there were rumors about Gleacher. She pushed them toward Regina Daniels (Morgan Wardlow), who said she and Gleacher were dating.

The cops brought up the black eye and stitches Regina had, but her sister Kendra (Ashley Nicole Blake) shut down the interview.

Bringing in some help

The detectives met Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), who said that Regina had been seen at the hospital with the old “I fell” excuse, but she suspected more.

They didn’t have any more information so they were unable to follow up on the case before now. She offered any help to catch Doyle’s killer.

The detectives used the abuse to press Gleacher, who talked of Regina being “emotional and irrational.” Finally, Gleacher announced he knew who shot Doyle and wanted immunity for attacking Regina in exchange for his information.

The cops pushed Maroun to make the deal as, hard as it was, getting a cop killer was more important. So Maroun offered the deal to Gleacher, who said Kendra had confronted him to stay away from Regina. 

Gleacher protested his innocence until Kendra pulled a gun on him. Doyle saw it and interfered, Gleacher running off before hearing the gunshots. 

Kendra admitted to the confrontation but denied the shooting. Unfortunately for Kendra, they’d already searched her place and found her bloody clothes, so they arrested her. 

Dixon during a police meeting and said she was happy with the fast arrest while McGrath questioned McCoy on the trial. He pressed the city “was under siege” with bold criminals and anti-police sentiment. Thus, justice for a cop was needed for the city.

While the evidence against Kendra was strong, they still needed a motive. Kendra’s record was clean and it seemed Doyle had just gotten between Gleacher and Kendra. But Kendra claimed Doyle used a racial slur that may have set her off. 

Price asked what to charge Kendra with as “this is a Rorschach test, people see what they want to see.” McCoy told him to run with the evidence. 

At the arraignment, the police in the gallery were shocked Kendra was charged with aggravated manslaughter, and bail at $3 million. Cosgrove confronted Price in the hallway that this was murder, but Price said he had to go with what he could prove. 

Their talk had both men acknowledging in “the current climate,” no jury would convict a Black woman of murdering a white cop without clear-cut evidence.

Their argument got steamed before Bernard intervened. But then he and Cosgrove got into it about the issue, with Bernard saying he respected Price for standing up to the NYPD.

A charged trial

At trial, Gleacher testified on what he saw of the Kendra-Doyle confrontation. Attorney Brian Harris (Michael Beach) brought up Gleacher’s immunity deal and alleged abuse of Regina. He then brought up the issues of skin color, with Price pointing out Kendra was the one with a gun.

Harris called up Detective Michelle Pierce of Internal Affairs, Price knowing this couldn’t be good. Sure enough, Harris was going to argue Doyle was racist, which led him to threaten Kendra, who shot him in self-defense.

Price was upset about this approach, but the judge allowed the prior IA investigations into Doyle. Pierce testified on allegations of two suspects a decade earlier that Doyle had used racial slurs with excessive force arresting them. 

Price did his best to mitigate the damage, pointing out this was a decade earlier, no disciplinary action had been taken against Doyle and the two accusers happened to be a rapist and a child murderer, hardly sterling witnesses. 

Heather yelled at Price for letting her husband’s name be dragged through the mud. They decided to call Gates to the stand to defuse the idea of Doyle being a racist. Harris showed a video of Doyle, whose loving message to Gates ended with a joke about “Brown Sugar.”

Kendra testified she’d been raised to mistrust cops, so when she saw a white one coming at her, yelling at her to get down, she overreacted. She claimed Doyle used more racial slurs and her cousin had been beaten by cops when he tried to peacefully surrender. 

Kendra said she was trying to protect her sister and told Doyle she had a gun. When he came at her with an angry look, she reacted to fire first, honestly thinking her life was in danger.

Price gently but firmly pushed on how Kendra may have acted in “defense,” but she still left Doyle bleeding on the pavement without even asking anyone for help.

The jury found Kendra not guilty of murder, with the cops in the gallery acting in anger. They then found her guilty of aggravated manslaughter, with Kendra’s defenders upset.

Price and Maroun mused on how when both sides ended up outraged, “it’s probably a good result.” Maroun brought up Price’s old words on knowing when you tried the right way as they walked away from the courthouse. 

It was a powerful case that closed out Season 21 in a strong way to set up the wait for the next season.

Law & Order Season 22 premieres this fall on NBC.

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