weeping willow

Weeping Willow (Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode)

Weeping Willow is an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.


The detectives are called upon to investigate what is, according to an internet video blog, apparently a kidnapping and ransom. The investigation focuses on a girl whose online name is Willow, and is apparently seen being kidnapped along with her boyfriend. The question of fact versus fiction lingers constantly during the investigation, and the fourth wall (within the show) is breached.


The character of Willow is modeled after Bree, the protagonist from the lonelygirl15 video blogs on YouTube. Originally believed to be a real-life 15-year-old blogger, Bree was eventually discovered to be a hoax; Bree was in fact a fictional character played by actress Jessica Lee Rose and created by filmmakers Mesh Flinders and Miles Beckett. Weeping Willow analyzes the concept of 15 minutes of fame during the Information Age from the perspective of the Internet celebrity, one who gains fame through the creation of or participation in popular website. Warren Leight, the show's executive producer and head writer, said of the episode, "Forget about 15 minutes of fame: there are hundreds of people who get their 15 inches of bandwidth, people making names for themselves on YouTube and others. ... This blogging phenomenon has created a certain kind of 'cyberfame,' people who don't have to do anything more than put themselves on the Web and catch a cyberwave. We now have a spate of very strange celebrities." Leight said the episode also focuses on the extent to which one will go to achieve such fame.

While the Law & Order shows routinely draw on inspiration from real-life events in an approach the creators call "ripped from the headlines," Criminal Intent producers referred to the Weeping Willow episode as "'pre-ripping' from the headlines" because the script took a real-life event (the lonelygirl15 phenomenon) and added to it a fictional dramatic conflict (the kidnapping). The so-called "cyber-kidnapping" portrayed in Weeping Willow is believed to be the first such crime ever portrayed on television. While the writers and producers prepared the episode, several district attorneys they consulted said the law was dangerously vague in what charges could be filed in the event of such a real-life cyber-kidnapping; Wright said, "They told me that this is a real problem, that there's a lag between what's on the books now and what's happening out there."

The script also includes a difficulty on the part of the detectives in coping and dealing this new form of cyber-crime and differentiating the truth from the hoax; Leight said, "Their biggest frustration is trying to understand what's real and what isn't. Does this woman, Willow, really exist, and has something happened to her? Is she playing a character and a game that's gotten out of hand? And how do you locate someone in cyberspace?"

Julianne Nicholson, the actress who plays Detective Megan Wheeler, said Weeping Willow was her favorite Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode. She described it as "really different from a lot of the ones we've done before and very exciting and current." She also said she enjoyed working with Michelle Trachtenberg and the other supporting actors, as well as director Tom DiCillo, who directed Living in Oblivion, one of Nicholson's favorite movies.


Farah Farouque of The Age, a newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, said although she feels Law & Order: Criminal Intent had largely dropped in overall quality, she described Weeping Willow as "very postmodern and very watchable. The National Post of Ontario, Toronto, said Weeping Willow had an interesting plot and listed it as a "must see. David Bianculli, of the New York Daily News, wrote, "the twist is easy to see coming, but Trachtenberg is easy to watch, regardless.

External links

  • FreeWillow17.com - The website featured in the episode containing eight video blogs starring Michelle Trachtenberg and the other cast members. It's an official site that contains more video content filmed, but not used in the episode. The mirror site www.weepingwillow17.com is no longer online.

Notes and references

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