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CI, Episode 4.03
Production number: E5407
First aired: 10 October 2004
  th of 195 produced in CI  
th of 195 released in CI
  th of 1106 released in all  
John Tagman
Teleplay By
Elizabeth Benjamin

Story By
Elizabeth Benjamin & René Balcer

Directed By
Frank Prinzi

Detectives Goren and Eames investigate the murder of a night club stripper found beaten to death with part of her calf missing. John Tagman, a shy, lonely young man, becomes the focus of the investigation.

Plot Edit

Goren gets into the head of an insane man driven to torture, murder, and cannibalism by overwhelming despair and loneliness. He further surprises his colleagues with a passionate plea that the man be spared the death penalty, and engineers the confession that will save the man's life through a plea bargain.


John Tagman is the murderer whom Goren feels immense sympathy for, although Carver and Eames cannot understand why. Tagman indeed was driven insane by immense despair and loneliness. During the entire episode Tagman is completely despondent. His feelings of emptiness appear almost physically thanks to Neil Patrick Harris's performance. Although Goren helps Tagman to procure a life sentence instead of an execution, tragically Tagman is beaten to death in prison the next day, leaving everyone shocked.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit


Quotes Edit

Robert Goren: I guess you've gotten used to being by yourself. Is that what you're saying?
John Tagman: You don't really get used to it.
Robert Goren: No, you… No, you don't ever really get used to it.

"Did you enjoy your play date?"
Alexandra Eames

"Is that what you like, John? Cuddling? Holding her close to you?"
Robert Goren

"I don't think it's possible for a person to understand himself."
John Tagman

"Of all the people to go to bat for..."
Alexandra Eames

"With all our complaining, it's women who are vulnerable."
Robert Goren

Ron Carver: What are they doing?
James Deakins: Better not to ask.

(After learning that Tagman been killed in prison after Goren helped him to dodge the death penalty)

"I guess now everybody has what they want."
Alexandra Eames

Background information and notes Edit

  • The episode, written by Elizabeth Benjamin and René Balcer, won the 2005 Edgar Award for Best Television Episode Teleplay.
  • The personality of murderer John Tagman revealed some close resemblances to the life and crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer. Dahmer was a notorious serial killer, who was convicted of 17 murders on men and boys between 1978 and 1991. His crimes also involved rape, necrophilia and cannibalism. The court found Dahmer sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder and sentenced him to 15 life terms, totalling 957 years in prison. At his sentencing hearing, Dahmer expressed remorse for his actions, also saying that he wished for his own death. While in prison, he was beaten to death by a fellow inmate. (Source: Jeffrey Dahmer at Wikipedia) Furthermore, serial killer Edmund Kemper is also noted for cannibalism, specifically cutting flesh from the legs of two victims and consuming it in a macaroni casserole. John Tagman consumes part of the calf muscle of a victim. Detective Robert Goren mentions that Tagman prepared it "with potatoes and onions". At his trial, Kemper pleaded insanity, but he was found guilty of eight counts of murder. He asked for the death penalty, but with capital punishment suspended at that time, he instead received life imprisonment. (Source: Edmund Kemper at Wikipedia)

Previous episode:
"The Posthumous Collection"
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Season 4
Next episode:
"Great Barrier"
Seasons 12345678910

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