Law and Order – Season 23 Episode 3 Recap & Review

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Law & Order Season 23 Episode 3 begins with a woman called Celeste walking home. She’s approached by someone she knows, stops, and tells them they scared her to death by sneaking up on her. Things get out of hand, and the person grabs her by her throat.

Before she dies, the man tells Celeste to tell him she loves him. He calls her a liar and strangles her to death, snapping her neck. Her body is found by someone who saw a man running from the scene, but they can’t give a more detailed description other than he was wearing a red parka.

Detectives Shaw and Riley are on the case. They talk to Celeste’s distraught mother and ask her if her daughter was dating anyone, but she didn’t tell her mother everything about her life. Shaw and Riley track down Celeste’s ex, and it’s revealed she was ignoring him, which led him to stalk her. They arrest him and subject him to an intense interrogation. No charges are brought against him though. 

Turns out, Riley has a theory. He used to work missing persons cases in Brooklyn and a lot of missing women in that area were killed in strikingly similar ways to Celeste. However, in contrast to Celeste, who was rich, the other victims were black and escort workers. 

Riley asks the ex if Celeste was working as an escort. He claims she wasn’t, but she liked to visit sex clubs and could’ve encountered her future killer there. They follow up on the sex club theory and discover Celeste went to one on the night she was murdered. 

They watch the CCTV and it shows Celeste talking to a man before she leaves. The man leaves soon after her. They run facial recognition on the man, and he is identified as Bruce Elliot, a rich white guy. The footage shows him wearing a red parka, which they use to obtain a warrant for Elliot’s apartment. They find the red parka, but Elliot isn’t there, although a black woman claiming to be his friend is present. They take the woman out of the apartment so they can search the place properly. They find a box with Celeste’s necklace in it as well as 3 other necklaces. These appear to be Elliot’s trophies from his brutal killings.

They find Elliot walking in the neighbourhood. He spots them, pulls out a gun, and takes a woman hostage. Riley convinces Elliot to take him hostage instead of the woman and he does. Riley manages to overpower Elliot, and he is subsequently arrested. He is charged with Celeste’s murder as well as kidnapping. The judge denies bail and everything is set for court. Elliott hires the best lawyer money can buy and he turns the tables on the case and uses the sex clubs against the victim, claiming she liked being choked. 

However, Price goes after Riley on the stand and raises the issue of Riley getting suspended after first interviewing Elliot and had been drinking on the job, as the defence lawyer is claiming Riley is too good a cop to not connect the dots leading to Elliot being a serial killer.

The episode ends with Elliot being found guilty of murder.

The Episode Review

This is an intriguing episode that delves into Riley’s backstory, which is interesting. There is an interesting commentary on the way police investigate victims differently based on their ethnicity. Law and Order likes to rip from the headlines to find their stories and this one feels like it is based on a mixture of real crimes. 

It’s an entertaining yarn without going into uncharted territory for the Law and Order franchise. 

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