- Mega (Law & Order)
Mega is the 223rd episode of the NBC legal drama Law & Order and the eighteenth episode of the tenth season.
Original air date: April 5th 2000
Previous episode: 'Black, White and Blue'
Next episode: 'Surrender Dorothy'
Directed by David Platt
Written by Lynn Mamet & William N. Fordes
Michael McKean as Elias Grace
Annette O'Toole as Valerie Grace
Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Maggie Callister
Bill Cwikowski as Walter Levin
Peter Hermann as Al Goran
Jay Patterson as FBI Agent Heckstrom
A JFK Airport shuttle helicopter crashes into the East River shortly after takeoff. All six occupants, including a couple and their five-year-old daughter, are killed. Forensics police suggest an explosion in the luggage compartment caused the crash, creating a suspicion of terrorism and resulting in the FBI's involvement. They report a crude explosive device loaded with the luggage was responsible.
Briscoe and Green investigate the passenger list and focus initially on an Albany-based businessman with tax problems who made frequent trips to Montana and Wyoming, and was not supposed to be in New York at the time. But his boss confirms the business-related nature of the man's trips. A secret affair appears to be his reason for being in New York. The helicopter pilot, Frank Naransky, becomes the next suspect. Unusually, he was running late on the day of the crash. The detectives establish Mr. Naransky was battling with an insurance company over a kidney transplant for his wife and was struggling to raise $200,000 to fund the procedure himself. Mr. Naransky had recently insured his life for a large amount. Audio recordings of the pilot's radio message as the helicopter went down reveal him saying "I'm sorry" several times.
Forensics discover the explosive device was a small box and show a picture of the remnants to the 27th detectives. Green identifies the box as coming from Madison Avenue store Koty & Sons. The store has no record of such a box being purchased by Naransky but one was sold a few days before the crash to an M. Callister. Joe Callister was a victim of the crash and the 'M' is his wife Maggie. Neighbors report recent, loud arguments between the Callisters and suggest their marriage was in difficulty. The police interview Maggie Callister at work; she cannot remember purchasing the box and denies marital trouble. But the FBI find her fingerprint on the bomb box and Briscoe and Green arrest Maggie Callister at the opulent home of her friends Elias and Valerie Grace, where she is staying. McCoy threatens Maggie Callister with the death penalty but her attorney delivers a motion to dismiss the charges on the basis that "touching a box is not illegal."
Carmichael investigates the Callisters' financial records and finds they were in the process of selling their apartment and had recently liquidated assets worth $1 million. All of the money, about a fifth of their net worth, was given to the KBG Corporation, an organization run by the Graces. A subpoena is necessary to make the Graces appear for interview. They describe KBG as 'a group of friends sharing our ideas' and use phrases such as "negotiating for power" and "maximizing your success". The group members are extremely wealthy, for which the Graces take credit; in turn, group members have been exceedingly generous with donations to them. Elias Grace even attempts to recruit McCoy. The Graces deny the Callisters' marriage was in difficulty and cannot believe Maggie was involved with the helicopter bombing.
Schiff asks if KBG is a cult. Carmichael describes it as a self-actualization group. "Self-delusional more like," says McCoy. Further investigation uncovers a six-years-old conviction against Elias Grace for assaulting his wife, but the Graces' company is operating legally. Group members hand over 20% of their income to the Graces, although Joe Callister gave only 5%. They also find the Graces pay $20,000 per month to a man living in Scranton, PA. Carmichael travels to Scranton and interviews the man, Walter Levin, who claims his payment from the Graces is a royalty. Levin states he, Elias Grace (formerly known as Karl Graz) and Valerie conceived the idea behind KBG several years earlier, as "creating our own religion", when the three worked a summer job in a quarry. They invented a series of rules (Love Yourself, Maximise Your Success etc.) and decided to target young, newly rich people (typical were dot-com millionaires such as Joe Callister) with self-esteem issues. Levin parted ways with the Graces because he "didn't like the place. Guns make me nervous."
This proves to be a reference to skeet shooting at the Grace's country estate, visited by Briscoe and Green. Searching a shed behind the house, Briscoe discovers a box of dynamite which the caretaker reports is missing some sticks. The caretaker says only himself and Elias Grace have access to the shed. Briscoe and Green subsequently arrest Elias and Valerie Grace and they are also charged with the six murders resulting from the helicopter bombing.
McCoy attempts to persuade Maggie Callister to give evidence against the Graces, alleging her husband wanted to quit the group and his under-payment to KBG had deprived the Graces of nearly $1 million, providing them with a motive. He also alleges Maggie placed the bomb at Elias Grace's behest. But Mrs. Callister refutes this scenario and vigorously defends the Graces, describing them as 'gods' and shouting "you people (McCoy and Carmichael) are Neanderthals compared to them." In response, McCoy instructs Carmichael to have the entire KBG group (about 20 people) arrested and held on remand, charged with conspiracy to murder Joe Callister. McCoy hopes to weaken one of the members' loyalty to the Graces.
Eventually one of the KBG members reports a rumor Joe Callister was having an affair and was on route to a tryst on the day of the bombing. Briscoe and Green establish Mr. Callister had a 7-hour layover at JFK. Investigating airport hotels, they discover Callister's unfulfilled reservation and the desk clerk remembers an attractive woman asked for Callister on the day of the bombing. From video surveillance tapes, the detectives identify Valerie Grace as Joe Callister's lover.
McCoy presents the video-tape evidence to the Graces and their attorney, claiming Elias Grace killed Joe Callister, and five other people, through jealousy. The Graces initially deny the story but as McCoy pressures Valerie Grace, she admits to an ongoing affair with Callister, despite continually denying it to her suspicious husband. With increasing anger and desperation, Elias Grace demands his wife stay silent, but Mrs. Grace admits she "knows" Elias made the bomb. She begs McCoy not to seek the death penalty against Elias; McCoy agrees to six consecutive life sentences.
Elias Grace allocutes in court, saying he became extremely angry when he discovered his wife was seeing Callister. Elias informed Maggie Callister of her husband's infidelity and together they arranged the bombing. Maggie Callister also receives six life sentences, but Carmichael informs McCoy that investigation of Elias's statement has shown Joe Callister and Valerie Grace couldn't have met on occasions described by Elias. The affair wasn't real, rather a deception concocted by Valerie Grace.
McCoy and Carmichael visit Valerie Grace in her home, where McCoy asks if Valerie "gaslighted" her husband to gain control of KBG's money. She says the money wasn't the point, to which Carmichael responds "Lady I don't know what the point is, but you're making my skin crawl." Valerie reveals Elias's assault upon her years earlier was motivation as it showed she "didn't have any power" and goes on to state her husband was extremely controlling and cheated on her many times. When McCoy points out six people died as a result of her lie, she says she had no way to predict how the "passionate" Elias would react to news of her (fictitious) affair. Asked why she didn't want the death penalty for her husband, Valerie says she wants him to witness her triumph. Afterwards, Carmichael says "there must we something we can do," to which McCoy responds they can't prove Valerie Grace meant anyone to die as a result of her lies to Elias.
The plot for this episode was inspired by the fate of TWA 800.
- Law & Order episodes
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