R. Lee Ermey on Law & Order: SVU

Many of us feel that this could very well be the last, if not next to last, season of Law & Order:SVU, and with good reason. The writers have run out of steam and have to keep recycling old subplots like how many half-siblings Olivia Benson has out there and why their mothers kept them and mistreated them, and then you have folks who can somehow appoint Olivia guardian of their child without so much as an “is that okay with you, Detective Benson?”

They also have so much footage of Mariska Hargitay’s “what shocking news” look and her “I’m processing this as fast as I can” visage, that she probably no longer needs to show up for half her scenes.

Likewise Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) and his stern lectures. “Go get your psych exam.” They can just replay that footage in any given episode. But there were some good performances in Season 11: Ep “Trophy” from the guest stars at any rate.

R. Lee Ermey played a rapist, Walter Burlock, who took over his last cellmate’s life, not only in prison but he when got out.

Joseph Sikora plays Jason Gambel, the unfortunate victim of Burlock, who hunted Gambel down and commandeered his house, abusing him some more and forcing him to be an accomplice to crime. Recently in the premiere of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” he was Hans Schroeder, the abusive husband of Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) who is murdered at the behest of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi). In “Trophy,” he’s especially good in the scene where he finds out they’ve arrested Burlock.

Predictably, the initial investigation of who killed the dead body from the intro at first produces the wrong suspect. A tip leads Benson and Stabler to Jason Gambel who answers a couple of questions, then goes into his home and shuts the door. Stabler knocks loudly saying he’s not getting away so easy, and shots are fired through the door. They bust in and, after knocking Gambel down a flight of stairs, Stabler cuffs him while Benson finds a box full of women’s items that convinces her Gambel is a serial killer. Back at the station, they proceed to interrogate Gambel against the rules and are interrupted by their angry captain, Cragen.

Fin (Ice-T) takes over with an apology to Stabler and Benson: “Sorry, guys,” and finds out that Jason Gambel has the best alibi ever for at least one of the “trophies” (an engagement ring) in evidence — he wasn’t even born yet when the crime was committed!

They track down the now old woman who owns the ring but she has Alzheimers. Her daughter, Vivian (Maria Bello) turns out to be, like Olivia, the product of rape and since her mother was at the same place Olivia’s mother was when Olivia was conceived through rape, well … you know, Olivia thinks they’re related. Vivian’s mother has always been cold to her and evidently, Vivian isn’t much of a loving mother to her child, Calvin (Charlie Tahan) either.

R. Lee Ermey is of course most famous for playing drill seargeants, but particularly, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in “Full Metal Jacket” (1987). Currently, he is the unsympathetic therapist in a Geico commercial throwing a box of tissues at his hapless client, while uttering “crybaby.”

Benson and Stabler track Walter Burlock down at Meatball’s Strip Club, where all the pervs hang out and he is using Jason’s credit card. They arrest him based on what they saw in a locked room of Gambel’s house. Burlock amply displays his contempt for women when Olivia comes in, telling her to either finish his lap dance or get him a lawyer. It’s pretty creepy. When she tries to ignore the request that is supposed to make detectives stop the interrogation, he spits out: “Lawyer. Now. Bitch!” The old illegal search technicality arises and Burlock has to be released. Out in the corridor, Burlock strikes up a conversation with Calvin and Olivia comes out and tells Burlock to keep going, instead of whisking the kid away, sticking him in a room and asking him where his mom is. But that is so Vivian can show up, realize Walter Burlock is her father and try to attack him.

Later when the detectives are on surveillance at Jason Gambel’s house, they see him stumble out covered in blood, looking stunned. “He’s dead,” Jason says, “There’s blood everywhere,” and indeed there is. Stabler sees that Walter Burlock has been dead for a while and believes Vivian did it.

When they return to the station after an unsuccessful attempt to find Vivian, poor little Calvin is sitting there and tells Olivia his mom brought him there and just left. He gives her an envelope which has legal documents making Olivia his guardian. This isn’t the first time Olivia has been made the guardian of a child, and when they are not recycling plots, they are recycling guest stars.

Tune in next week when Marcia Gay Harden returns as Dana Lewis a.k.a. Star Morrison, an FBI agent who has been in a couple of other SVU episodes.

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