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Law & Order recap: the sins of the father come to roost

Law & Order
Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) interrogate a suspect on Law & Order. Pic credit: NBC

The sins of the father often fall upon the son.

After a case of handling a dangerous serial killer, Law & Order tackled a sadly typical case of a school shooting. 

But this led to a debate on how responsible a person is rather than their parents, putting Price in a tricky position in Legacy. 

A teacher’s final lesson

At Davenport, an upscale high school, two teachers were arguing over banning Romeo & Juliet when they found the body of teacher Harry Gleason in a classroom. 

Katie Sandler (Suzanne Slade) talked of last seeing Gleason after a school play and couldn’t figure out a motive. Sadly, the school video cameras had been hacked to erase the footage. 

The hacker was Dylan West (Pierson Salvador), a student at the school. His father, Patrick, (Demi Castro), let the cops search their home. They found Gleason’s nameplate and a girl’s lacrosse trophy in his room.

Dylan claimed he’d stolen the items as part of an online challenge and erased the video to cover it. He denied shooting Gleason and provided a video of him at home during the murder.

Patrick said that “half the parents” of the school hated Gleason for things like forcing parents to sign a pledge against racism. 

While the detectives debated the issues, they found Liz Wayland (Catherine LeFrere), who had threatened Gleason. She said she was upset about what she saw as kids using a “learning disability” scam to slack off on studying. She denied killing him as she was out of town during the murder.Β 

Wayland pointed the cops to George Pratt, whose son Ethan had been expelled for singing a song violating the school’s racial policies. That led Bernard to snap at Cosgrove, “it’s never okay for a white man to use that word.”

Finding the killer but a dark turn

Pratt had a record for owning several guns, including the possible murder weapon. He denied doing it even though he had been at the school that evening.Β 

The police found video footage of the evening that showed a teen coming out of the school with blood on his clothes. He was Cooper Young (Christopher Bailey), whose mother Abby (Lianne Marie Dobbs) urged him not to talk, thinking he would get the blame on his own.

Sandler explained Cooper had been suspended for a fight, which was out of character for a good student. Checking his locker, the detectives found a drawing of a man with a gun and a note to meet Cooper after the play.

Cooper revealed Bennett Richardson had sent him the note as they got into a fight. Bennett pulled a gun on Cooper when Gleason came in and ended up being shot. Cooper wanted to help Gleason, but it was too late. 

The cops searched Bennett’s home, finding both more rounds for the gun and artwork matching the note. Bennett (Stephen Moran) was arrested as his parents, John (Darren Goldstein) and Sarah (Bonnie Somerville), called their lawyer. 

Price wanted to try Bennett as an adult, with McCoy agreeing over Maroun’s objections. Bennett’s lawyer Scott Quinn (Maury Ginsberg) pushed for bail. Bennett’s parents were willing to pay for police to watch Bennett, and the judge agreed.Β 

Bennett filed a self-defense plea, claiming he was fearful of Cooper’s “bullying” and claimed that shooting Gleason was an accident. Price didn’t buy it, but Maroun warned some jurors could be open to the idea.Β 

An art teacher showed some of Bennett’s past works, proving some violent thoughts, including burning down the school. When he told his parents, Bennett responded by slashing him with a box cutter, even while claiming it was an accident. He admitted his father paid him a hundred grand to keep quiet about it.Β 

Word came that Bennett had taken some pills, but the doctor speculated it wasn’t a serious suicide attempt but a cry for help. The Richardsons were upset because Quinn was going to use this to prove Bennett was unfit to stand trial.

A recovered Bennett said he never intended to kill anyone. He blamed his father for telling him to fight back and thought bringing his dad’s gun to school was the way to do it. Price mused on the father being more responsible for this mess. 

The sins of the father come to roost

While the shrink said Bennett was fit to stand trial, Price wanted to turn the prosecution onto John, Bennett’s father. McCoy was thrown at Price ready to charge the elder Richardson but let him try.

The entire case rested on Bennett being willing to testify against his father, which he was obviously reluctant to do unless he got immunity. McCoy pointed out Bennett was the one who pulled the trigger and they had a more solid case on Bennett. 

Price snapped that holding people accountable for disturbed kids’ actions could prevent further shootings and promised he could win the case. A reluctant Bennett talked of his father letting him have boxing lessons and other aggressive outlets rather than handling his temper.

But on the stand, Bennett finally decided he couldn’t turn on his father and refused to talk, even though it meant a contempt charge. This meant any of his testimony was disqualified. 

That left Sarah to choose between either her son or her husband in jail. She agreed to testify for Bennett, with Price then arguing John used verbal abuse on Bennett. 

Sarah testified to John and Bennett bonding over guns and hunting. She added John loved his son even as Price pointed out the man outfitted his mentally unstable son with weapons and a “stand your ground” attitude.Β 

The jury found John guilty with Sarah hugging Bennett while telling Price to “go to Hell.” He left the broken family alone in the courtroom.

It was a tricky case that continued the debate on how much responsibility a father has for his son’s dark crimes.

Law & Order Season 21 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.

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