TELEVISION REVIEW: Law & Order: Criminal Intent’s Season Premiere Tests Characters’ Loyalty!

Goldblum & Bogosian

When the news came out that four of the five leads of Law & Order: Criminal Intent were leaving the show, it left a lot of fans puzzled and furious. The season premiere of the series, tomorrow night [USA, 10/9C], will probably incite riots among a certain faction of those fans. Although Julianne Nicholson has already gone, Loyalty, Part 1 features one of the other three departures [the other two will leave in next week’s Loyalty, Part2] and it will be a shocker.

When Captain Ryan [Eric Bogosian] pulls detectives Goren [Vincent D’Onfrio] and Eames [Kathryn Erbe] of a murder case with no explanation – and then is seen with a mysterious woman – things heat up fast. Somehow, these actions tie-into a teaser that features an unexpectedly armed yacht on a pirate-hunting safari, as they call it, which results in the destruction of a so-called called pirate ship using illegal weaponry. And in Somali waters, no less.

The case is being handled [or, not rally but they’re pulling jurisdiction] becomes big enough that Eames and Goren are soon joined by detective Nichols [Jeff Goldblum] – and a new hire named Serena Stevens [Saffron Burrows] brings her unique skill set into play [she speaks several languages including Urdu and has a wealth of well-placed contacts].

I can’t really go more into the two-parter’s plot without giving away something significant but I can say that the show’s writing has never been sharper and even with D’Onofio, Erbe and Goldblum doing some of their finest work, Burrows is right there with them. Also worthy of mention is guest star David Zayas [best known as Dexter’s Detective Sergeant Angel Batista], who fills a vital role in the proceedings.

Loyalty is a twist-filled, epic mystery that will stay with Law & Order fans for a ling time. The various elements of the tale – threads from around the world as well as in New York City – are woven together in a way that allows the audience to appreciate each character and event fully. In the end, we see characters who love their lives with loyal friends and others who only believe they do.

That is the key to the mystery, its solution and the show’s characters. Law and Order: Criminal Intent is the best of the three franchise titles and Loyalty is one of the reasons why.

Final Grade: A