Detective Goren is not afraid to put himself in danger while seeking justice, but the seventh season episode “Untethered” of Law & Order: Criminal Intent nearly costs him his life. At the beginning of the episode, Goren’s wayward brother Frank (Tony Goldwyn) begs the detective to investigate questionable practices at a New York state prison. According to Frank, Goren’s nephew Donny (Trevor Morgan) fears for his life after a fellow inmate recently died under suspicious circumstances. Concerned about what he hears, Goren reluctantly decides to help Donny. However, he quickly finds that he must do so without the support of his local team. As a result, Goren adopts a new identity and intentionally commits a crime that lands him in the same prison as his nephew.
Inside, Goren learns that correctional officers routinely torture mentally ill patients by strapping them to a table. In a disturbing attempt to discipline them, the guards deprive the captives of food, water, and even sleep. Goren falls victim to this horrific treatment on purpose, but even the seasoned detective struggles to survive the ordeal. The audience watches as Goren lies on a table under ultra-bright lights, repeatedly begging for water and a chance to regret his past outbursts. Of course, his colleagues come to his rescue, but the real inmates before him weren’t so lucky. Goren’s efforts end this series of crimes against prisoners, but he still faces suspension for disobeying protocol.