Law And Order Just Taught Cosgrove A Valuable Lesson About Trust, But Will It Stick?

Jeffrey Donovan as Frank Cosgrove on Law & Order
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of Law & Order Season 22, called “Benefit of the Doubt.”

Law & Order kicked off the bloody case of the week with the murder of a young author, and Cosgrove and Shaw (played by Season 22 newcomer Mehcad Brooks) were running into dead end after dead end until Cosgrove brought in a former mentor, Detective Jerry Ryan. He had experience in similar cases and the trust of Cosgrove, although Shaw was clearly skeptical of the man he’d just met (who also happened to be the godfather of Cosgrove’s daughter). By the end of the hour, Cosgrove learned a valuable lesson about trust and police work, and even though this is a very procedural show, the lesson needs to stick. 

The hunt for the killer was complicated by the fact that their prime suspect was a movie star, and Cosgrove, Shaw, and Ryan were going to have to watch him drive away with potentially a car full of evidence because they didn’t have a warrant. Ryan took care of that problem when he looked through the window and claimed to see blood, which gave them probable cause. He was the only one who claimed that there was blood, however, and a more intensive search later turned up no evidence of it, leading to pretty plausible accusations that Ryan had lied for an excuse to unlawfully search the car. 

Ryan’s method meant that the evidence they found inside the car was thrown out, which in turn meant that the evidence they found at the suspect’s apartment was thrown out as well. The detectives’ last shot at giving Price and Maroun a fighting chance to win the case in court was finding evidence at the suspect’s warehouse. They very conveniently found the victim’s necklace… and the find may have been entirely too convenient. The defense attorney called attention to the fact that Ryan was the one who spotted the necklace and then pointed Shaw to it, and made a very believable case that he’d planted the necklace. 

Detective Jerry Ryan in Law and Order Season 22

(Image credit: NBC)

Through some miracle, Price and Maroun won the case and the killer is going to jail, but Cosgrove’s eyes had been opened to the kind of cop that Ryan is. When his former mentor jubilantly wanted to celebrate the win, Cosgrove couldn’t go along with his claim that “all’s well that ends well.” He asked Cosgrove to leave his house, and it seemed clear that their relationship – personal and professional – was over. Even though he had no hard proof that Ryan had lied about seeing blood in the car or planting the necklace, he’s a detective for a reason, and the guilty verdict didn’t justify his suspicions that Ryan had broken the law to get it. 

Learning not to automatically trust cops that he doesn’t work with regularly is a valuable lesson for Cosgrove, especially in light of Shaw – a.k.a. his new partner – sharing his doubts. He also got a reminder that the cops need to conduct their investigations in ways that will make rather than break the case in court. It was a turn of luck that the killer went to jail this week, and I honestly thought that the jury was going to let him off after the defense attorney poked so many holes in Ryan’s credibility. 

The aftermath of this case could help Cosgrove become a better cop and strengthen the working relationship between him and Shaw. They still haven’t been partnered up for too long after the departure of Detective Bernard (played by Anthony Anderson, who isn’t opposed to returning someday). Everything that he learned in “Benefit of the Doubt” that led him to send Ryan away was important; even though Law & Order is by far the most procedural of the three L&O shows, this growth for Cosgrove needs to stick. 

This show will likely never be as serialized as Law & Order: Organized Crime or even as marginally serialized as Law & Order: SVU, but this is one storyline that should carry beyond the events of a single episode. Find out with new installments of Law & Order on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, ahead of SVU (which will say goodbye to Kelli Giddish’s Amanda Rollins within a couple of months) at 9 p.m. and Organized Crime at 10 p.m. in the 2022 TV schedule. You can also find episodes streaming next day with a Peacock subscription.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.