Law & Order Season 21 Episode 9 Review: The Great Pretender


Law & Order was at its ripped-from-the-headlines best as it took on the opioid crisis.

On Law & Order Season 21 Episode 9, Price could have caused himself another disastrous loss.

But this time, his passion was enough to sway the jury, along with the facts he presented at trial.

Although the story suffered from an opioid addiction that seemed to come out of nowhere, it was about compulsion from the start.

The cops investigated the strange case of a con artist who pretended to be a wealthy socialite throughout the first half.

She owed money all over the place, pissed off a lot of people, and ultimately ended up dead because her boyfriend lost his temper when he learned she wasn’t who she said she was.

Ella/Mary was as much of an addict as Wyatt was, though no one labeled it as that. She was addicted to the high-society lifestyle, to the attention people paid her when they thought she was rich, and to the things she could get with borrowed money that she’d never be able to pay back.

She mostly hurt herself, though her victims were out some money. And she ended up dead as a result of all of the lies and manipulations she’d been engaged in.

Wyatt got off easy with a manslaughter plea in exchange for his information about the legalized opioid trade his uncle was involved in.

If there was one weakness in this story, it was that he was more or less allowed to get away with making a connection between his drug problem and Ella/Mary’s death.

Wyatt: I loved Ella! Why would I kill her?
Bernard: Because you found out her name was Mary and she was broke.
Cosgrove: That bartender Dooley called and told you she was a fraud. She played you like a punk!
Wyatt: I’m not saying another word. I want a lawyer.
Cosgrove: Lawyer? You’re gonna need a priest.

Maybe he was high at the time of the murder, but that isn’t an excuse any more than a drunk driver’s intoxication is an excuse for a fatal car crash.

As much as Wyatt was right that his uncle needed to take responsibility for what he’d done to millions of people, he also could have done with a bit more accountability.

He didn’t get full immunity and was serving time in Rikers, but his girlfriend’s death seemed mostly forgotten now that the DA’s office had bigger fish to fry, which didn’t seem right.

Mary might have been a scammer, but she was still a human being. Her grieving parents were left to bury her — how did they feel about her killer getting off with a comparatively light sentence?

That said, the case was compelling. There have been many such real-life incidents in which doctors are arrested for prescribing opioids that their patients don’t need, and it made sense that the DA’s office would want to go after the CEO of the company selling these drugs.

I wasn’t sure this one was winnable, though, and it was surprising that McCoy ultimately greenlit it, considering the mess Price made out of his last controversial case on Law & Order Season 21 Episode 8.

And once Maroun got Wyatt the drugs he asked for, things got distinctly uncomfortable.

There was no proof other than the defense attorney’s claim that “someone” picked up a prescription for Wyatt, and Maroun had plausible deniability because she claimed she was “just picking up a prescription.”

Still, what she did was illegal. She knew it, and Price knew it.

Doing whatever it takes to win a case, even if it means breaking the law, didn’t sit well with me.

Heroin addiction is often treated with methadone to reduce withdrawal symptoms, so it was possible that that’s what Maroun got Wyatt, which would be completely legal.

But since that wasn’t made clear, the whole thing put a black cloud over the rest of the proceedings.

Don’t let his looks fool you. Charles Ackman is nothing more than a drug trafficker. The only difference is the type of narcotic he sells. Oh, and the way he’s treated by society. Heroin dealers get life. Oxy dealers get stock options.


Did anyone doubt for a second that Price knew someone who died of opioid addiction? It was obvious from the get-go that his passion for this case went beyond simply wanting to apply the law.

Price didn’t deserve the defense attorney’s demand for a mistrial over it, but it would have been better if he’d come clean with someone, even if it was only Maroun. After all, she asked about it.

That way, nobody would have been blindsided by the defense’s last-minute claim that Price was biased.

That was a bizarre Hail Mary the defense tried to throw with that nonsense.

Was Price biased because of his experience? Maybe. But other than one off-hand comment comparing drug sales to handgun possession, Price didn’t do anything the defense attorney had legitimate grounds for objection to.

Besides, if Price merely had an ax to grind and the facts weren’t there, the jury would have seen through that. And why wait until the last minutes of the trial to ask for a mistrial on these ridiculous grounds?

Despite the defense attorney’s claim that he had just learned about this, that felt like a desperate attempt by someone who was losing to get a do-over. Nice try, but the judge was too smart for that nonsense.

Your turn, Law & Order fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and share your thoughts about this strange case and whether Price should have won.

Don’t forget you can watch Law & Order online right here on TV Fanatic.

Law & Order airs on NBC on Thursdays at 8 PM EST / PST.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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