Law & Order: Los Angeles Review: "Runyon Canyon"

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Morality is tackled by the Law & Order: LA team this week in "Runyon Canyon" through the rape and murder of a college co-ed, which certainly strikes a powerful chord.

Other questionable issues took the moral lines of the show back to the '50s, as well.

A pair of thong underwear sparks the detectives’ interest in the victim’s lifestyle. It doesn’t quite seem realistic that such evidence should be of any interest or determinant of a person’s sexually deviant behavior or lacking girlish innocence.

The Detectives

Personally, during commercial breaks for the show my local 11 o’clock news was advertising a story about teenagers texting (sexting) nude pictures of one another and facing issues of distributing kiddie porn, thong underwear pales in comparison. 

Next on the moral list is “mint sinus.”

This gets a lighter blow than the underwear, but T.J.’s chest puffing threat against a person of interest involves the tobacco alternative and is later used to connect Jesse Beckman to Roger Darden’s car via a minty-smelling cup.

There was see a little sub-text demonization of the product, as related to a practice of connecting suspects to crimes by their cigarettes.

The quasi-legal smokable drug salvia also plays a role in creating a negative moral profile of the suspects, while harking back to the Miley Cyrus bong video, in which she was partaking in the hallucinogenic.  Reminders of Hollywood ...

The ‘deviant’ sex act of erotic asphyxiation and group sex probably strikes more people's sense of morality, but is a little soft to base a capital murder charge against a young promising premed college student. 

Yet, this seems to be more than enough for DDA Dekker, who takes a firm distaste towards Sylvie Lester, the main murder suspect.  The last name choice of Lester seems a bit cheesy rhyme play on molester in a rape, murder case, but is good for a laugh.

This episode also brings DDA Dekker’s character into question as he ignores possible leads towards an alternate theory of the crime, along with the beliefs of Morales and Lt. Gonzales.

His character is damaged when he breaks into a tirade against Sylvie directly after DDA Rubirosa informs him that the police have another suspect in custody.

The episode even closes with Dekker in an empty courtroom questioning his own motives of his search for justice in this case.

Once again the writers remind the audience of the show’s location as the actual killer is a former reality dating show contestant. I think they have made it fairly clear enough that this show does not take place in New York.

The constant distancing between LA and the other franchise shows in this ‘Hollywood” manner is becoming a little tiresome and unnecessary. I don’t see why they can’t stick to crimes that involve everyday people that happen to live in the greater LA area.

There is a brief, but all telling, foreshadowing of what may come in the season’s finale, although I would bet that the issue will bleed into the next season.

The viewers are shown an electronic conversation between T.J. and an unknown informant concerning sightings of Cesar Vargas, killer of Detective Winters.

Whatever rogue cop act T.J. has undertaken is cut short in this episode when LT. Gonzales comes in. I think that Vargas will be the carrot used to entice audience members to stay tuned for next season’s run.

Would you continue to watch the show in hopes of seeing Winters’ killer brought to justice? Or has the show lost your allegiance for other reasons?

Discuss Law & Order: LA below!


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (8 Votes)
William e bruce

Yes I would have liked to see them next season take down Vargas, and whoever else was involved in Winters murder. Maybe let T.J. and Winters wife take them down, she was a cop too once. Maybe a made for tv movie, lol


This Episode left me somewhat disturbed. Unless I am just missing something, it seems like even though the victim was both raped and murdered, only the murderer was punished. She was obviously raped, and yet her rapists seemed to get away scott free. It really struck a wrong chord with me, having had experiences with this sort of thing in my personal life. It took me a couple days before I felt okay again after watching her rapists walk.


I'm catching up on DVR-recorded episodes and after learning of the cancellation was dismayed that this was by far the best episode thus far. My wife and I had quite a discussion about aggressive prosecutorial conduct and the tendency for crime-victim family members to want a conviction to make someone pay, even when the evidence leaves some real doubt. In addressing these moral/sociological thems, this episode was the equal of some of the very best episodes of the original L & O, and if subsequent episodes prove to be anywhere in the same quality ballpark, it will be too bad. Just two comments on the justice-system plausibility of the plot: there was no indication that the defense was given the exculpatory evidence of the black and white dog hairs found on the victim. Surely, a skilled defense attorney would have made much of that and/or the plot could have addressed the issue of prosecutorial misconduct in the absence of that evidence being supplied. Also, it seems to me that charges of depraved indifference might have been warranted for the defendant in participating in her mistreatment and then knowingly abandoning her to likely further mistreatment by the two guys. This resulted in a half-naked traumatized young woman making her way home on foot in the middle of the night -- easy prey for any potential bad actor who might encounter her. I was originally planning to not even try watching this LA version of the show after the original NYC version was cancelled, but now I like it, so it's disappointing that yet one more of the very few remaining quality non-cable TV shows is gone forever.


Loved the episode. Would have like the ending better if it would have left with Morales looking in his daughters dresser drawer and finding a thong.


I'll keep watching it, surprised I enjoy it still after they killed off Det. Winters. I thought the killer was definitely plausible, there was a murder within the last year involving a man from a dating show, I can't remember his name offhand but the victim (his girlfriend) was identified by the serial number in her breast implants when she was found out in the ocean. He ended up running from the police, and finally was in BC, Canada where he committed suicide in a hotel room. Just think that could have been another angle they could have gone with the "ex-dating gameshow reject". Interesting episode regardless, hoping for more from this team! Lieutenant got some screentime this episode too eh.


Agree they are playing up the Hollywood angle too much.
The Closer is what L&O:LA ought to be.


Yes, I will continue to watch this fine show. I am intrigued enough each week to return for more of what they cook up to entertain us. Of course I want to see who killed Detective Winters, Skeet Ulrich was my favorite character at the time and I really do miss him. Although Alfred Molina, not as pretty to look at or easy to listen to, is beginning to grow on me as a thorough and very savvy detective too! I want more...and please keep all the Hollywood and L.A. references, it adds a little "glam" to the hour. ;)

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