As a brand new resident of New York state, I admit I squealed when I read the season finale of Law & Order was inspired by the Eliot Spitzer scandal. The episode started off a little dull, but soon high class hookers appeared. The detectives had little screen time this episode, although S. Epatha Merkerson still managed to steal every scene she appeared in. I confess I haven't seen an episode since Jesse L. Martin's departure, so I still can't comment on Anthony Anderson's role as the new detective. Regardless, this episode was written for Sam Waterston.
Despite the silly plot point that only Sam Waterston recognized the governor's voice as the mystery john, the writing was superb. Tom Everett Scott was so deliciously evil as the governor, I hope he acted his way into a regular role next season. In the end, the storyline of corrupt government and seedy dealings that is so unsatisfying in reality is the only ultimately gratifying way to end the episode and set up this venerable series for an even better season in the fall.
Law & Order has long succeeded on an individual episode basis. With only a partial season to work with this spring, the writers created not just a procedural drama, but a character-driven drama of its own right. A.D.A. Michael Cutter, whom I despised in his first few episodes, was able to show depth and act as a sensible conservative counterpoint to Jack McCoy. A.D.A. Connie Rubirosa was able to have meaty storylines not involving McCoy. Detective Lupo subtly reigned in his behavior as he and Detective Green worked together.
At the end of the season, I believe it's the series best. To be truthful, however, I made the same claim this time last year. The writers took near cancellation seriously and subtly revamped the show without losing track of its center. There was not a single episode in this short season that was not excellent.