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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Two ad men are found murdered in a rooftop parking garage, and the investigation leads to a potential third victim and a conspiracy between a hit-man, a defendant in a major Federal case, and the attorney in the middle. This is a marvelously intricate episode -- heavy on the law, but extremely well-thought out -- focusing on conspiracies, legal principles of severance and joinder, and a grudge match between Stone (Moriarty) and renowned genius attorney Arthur Gold, played by the late, great George Grizzard in a delightful performance.

    This episode is presented as one in which Stone's hubris comes home to roost with a stupid mistake, but what is truly ironic is that the stupid mistake comes from Gold, not Stone. The key piece of evidence in the case involving all three key players is a tape that is suppressed (due to the failure to honor the middleman's right to counsel); when Gold tries to manipulate Stone to sever the defendants (by implying that Stone has a conflict of interest with the middleman -- one which is dubious from an legally ethical standpoint, but works dramatically), it backfires since New York allows suppressed evidence against one member in a conspiracy to be admitted in a severed trial against another defendant who is not party to the severed case. How Gold misses this from a legal standpoint is unfathomable, but it makes for a very satisfying ending.

    The cast here is fantastic. Moriarty is superb fencing opposing Grizzard, Sam Groom (as the middleman) is wonderfully slick, and Ralph Bell as the judge hearing the cases is hilarious as his limited patience for Stone's and Gold's pissing contest becomes obvious. One of my favorite episodes, despite its flaws.
  • Season 2 was not a consistent season, but on the whole it was almost as good in quality as the consistently good to brilliant Season 1. In that although there are not as many great episodes as that season, all in this one are still solid or more, the best episodes outstanding and every bit as good as the best of Season 1. They, and even better came later when Briscoe was in charge, had all the reasons as to why 'Law and Order' is a personal favourite and why the show didn't feel the same for me quite post-Briscoe (sorry for anybody who disagrees).

    One of Season 2's best episodes is its thirteenth, out of twenty two, "Severance". One of the most intriguing sounding stories of the season on paper, and an idea lived to near-full potential. "Severance" is a great episode and this close to being an early season high-point, and a perfect example of why 'Law and Order' was as good as it was in its prime and also pre-prime (the latter being more the case for this episode).

    Also would have liked to have the character of Teasdale to be even more developed than he was, did think his motives especially could have done with more depth as they didn't seem as clear as they ought to have been.

    Do agree too that Gold's legal mistake was quite sloppy, especially for a lawyer as brilliant as he.

    However, "Severance" is great everywhere else. The writing and performances are top notch. While the whole episode is intelligently and deftly written, it's the whole interaction/sparring between Stone and Gold that really makes things worthwhile. It is truly entertaining, sometimes tense and never less than intriguing, it's brilliant writing and some of the best character interaction of the season (maybe even of the early seasons).

    The story throughout is compelliing and intricate with its fair share of surprises that don't convolute the storytelling. While the police investigations are handled very well and Carreta and Logan are much more settled now, the legal scenes are in a different league and a joy to watch. A good thing considering that the episode is heavier on the legal side. While Stone is a juicy character, even juicier is Gold. Just love their chemistry together. Michael Moriarty and George Grizzard give some of their best work of the show here, while Steve Rankin sends shivers down the spine. Despite having reservations about his character, any fault does not lie with Sam Groom who does a great job.

    In conclusion, great. 9/10
  • Paul Sorvino and Chris Noth catch a case where two business executives are shot to death in a rooftop parking garage and a woman kidnapped and whisked away in a van. The only way that they were able to even start the investigation was that the parking lot attendant remembered Canadian plates on the van.

    Which leads to hit man Steve Rankin, lawyer Sam Groom, and millionaire defense contractor Jay Devlin. Groom who stepped out of his role as attorney facilitated the kidnap/murder of the woman and the murder of the two men who just happened to be bystander witnesses.

    George Grizzard makes his first appearance on Law And Order as ace defense attorney Arthur Gold. Grizzard is a brilliant advocate and a smug individual. He and Michael Moriarty crossed in court before and Gold whipped him soundly.

    Rankin is a coldblooded individual and he'll freeze you to the marrow of your bones. Groom's character was left incomplete by the writers. He's a respectable sort and the script failed to give him any motivation for his actions.

    It's an interesting story based on the CBS murders.
  • rmax3048238 December 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    Up to the usual standards for the series. A young lady who is supposed to testify against a jailed defense contractor goes missing and two innocent witnesses are found shot through the head. Serreta and Logan track down the hit man as he is about to leave on the Montreal train. The hit man was hired to remove the potential witness, killed the two men who happened accidentally to be nearby, and he was obviously hired by the incarcerated contractor who is awaiting trial. There is, however, no physical evidence linking the hit man and the contractor -- except his lawyer who, as it turns out, was complicit in the murder scheme.

    The trial section introduces George Grizzard as Arthur Gold, a defense counsel known for innumerable frivolous motions that delay trials until, in some instances, the judge is worn out and gives the case away. Gold is pretty smart too. He dupes Ben Stone into making a motion to try the criminal lawyer separately from the others. Not that justice doesn't prevail, but it's a close call.

    The writers, as always, have done their homework but in this instance all that's required is a knowledge of law. No new subculture of ethnic groups or specialized businesses are examined. But a background of law alone serves the purpose of the episode more than well enough.