SVU Episode #15-3: “Internal Affairs”

Olivia’s in love! Munch is retiring! And Cassidy reluctantly kisses three women in a single episode. “Internal Affairs” was a smart riff on some seriously troubling headlines – but it was the personal drama that stole tonight’s show.

Recap: A terrible NYPD cop named West is escorting drunken young women home from nightclubs, only to rape them once they’re inside. West’s female partner, Quinn, routinely stands guard, lies to protect him, and makes bogus 911 calls for cover.

Beady-eyed Lt. Tucker of Internal Affairs enlists the help of SVU and Olivia’s on-again boyfriend, Cassidy. Tucker promises to return Cassidy’s badge and close the investigation into Cassidy’s own IAB case if Cassidy goes undercover and catches the bad cops.

Cassidy agrees, takes a break from adorably unpacking wine glasses into the new apartment he and Olivia are moving into, and becomes West’s new “partner.” Along the way, Cassidy has to hook up with a call girl in order to gain West’s trust. Poor Olivia, who is Cassidy’s backup, has to listen to her boyfriend murmuring, “Oh yeah baby, right there” to a hooker, via his hidden microphone.

As I recall, Cassidy got into quite a heap of trouble last season for doing exactly this. The man is cute, but he is not a fast learner.

Amanda hasn’t had an opportunity to wear spandex in a while, so they dress her up as a sexy drunk-and-disorderly nightclubber, who West immediately escorts home and starts to fondle. Cassidy also takes a turn, to keep West’s trust. But before anyone can get to second base, West gets a call and learns that Cassidy is undercover. West and Quinn kidnap Cassidy and prepare to shoot him on a loading dock! But our good SVU detectives arrive in the nick of time and haul the dirty cops away. Phew.

In the interrogation room, Olivia asks Quinn why she covered for West all these years. “You love him, don’t you? You’re forty years old, wondering if you’ll ever have a family – or if riding around with him will be enough for the rest of your life. Did you really think he’d leave his wife and kids for you? You spent the last five years hoping he’d suddenly turn and realize you’re the woman he can’t live without.”

Of course, Olivia is describing her own relationship with Elliott. And the truth of it hits her almost as hard as Quinn, who cries and confesses.

Olivia finally gets to go home and have that glass of wine with her new live-in lover. Cassidy kinda fumbles his explanation about the hooker, but holds Olivia so tenderly that all is forgiven.

Verdict: B+

What they got right:

The plot was ripped from the headlines of an appalling real case. Two NYPD cops were accused of escorting a petite young fashion designer home after a night of drinking. Kenneth Moreno was charged with raping her while Franklin Mata was charged with being an accessory to rape, for acting as a lookout. The woman testified that after the officers escorted her home, she passed out only to awake to being raped. Moreno admitted “spooning” her in her bed and making bogus 911 calls to cover for the numerous times he returned to her apartment. The cops were acquitted of rape charges, but convicted of official misconduct. The woman sued the city.

This episode accurately captured many of the challenges of prosecuting a case like this: credibility issues, the “thin blue line” of officer’s protecting each other, and the difficulty of cobbling together a story with a witness who can’t remember everything that happened on the night in question. Olivia’s efforts to get the victim to trust her and talk, despite intimidation and fear, was well done and rang true.

What they got wrong:

Cassidy was the worst possible choice to be the undercover cop here. Sending in a UC, you want someone who is going to have impeccable credibility, because he’ll likely have to testify about everything later at trial. But Cassidy himself was in trouble with IAB. And when Tucker promised his badge back, he handed West his defense on a silver platter. Imagine the cross-examination: “You lied about what you saw, didn’t you, Officer Cassidy, in order to get your job back?”

It was ridiculous for Quinn to be a woman. A male cop would do this for terrible but obvious reasons. But Quinn does it to protect her serial-rapist colleague because she’s in love with him? I’ve seen some serious cases of falling for bad boys, but this was too much. Chalk up another example of SVU making the perp a woman whenever humanly possible (and sometimes even when it’s not).

What do you think, SVU fans? Leave your comments!

About Allison Leotta


  1. So beyond all the reasons you already mentioned, Allison, which were all spot on, I found this to be a poorly written episode (and disappointing after the strong first few). First off, the entire 12th precinct is corrupt okay, I can buy that, but who was so powerful that they could command a SWAT team to go in and arrest the poor cop in the locker room (in another precinct, in the Bronx) and commit him to the psych ward beyond anybody’s touch? The precinct LT? I don’t think so.

    Then there was the whole safe deposit box key thing. Why didn’t Cassidy just take that to the DA. I’m sure Jack McCoy would have been able to get in to see the cop in the psych ward long enough to find out the location of the safe deposit box, since all the evidence was there for the taking. The mystery key thing is so over used anyway.

    And then, there was no reason to get Cassidy involved in the first place (even if he was the wrong person to send in as you say) but more importantly why? Out of all the cop’s in NYC, why him? Or why get Olivia and the others involved? It made no sense, but the worse of all–the IAB rat gave Cassidy’s cover up to the precinct LT to prove he was dirty, nearly killing a NYPD cop in the process. Ridiculous.

    I like this show too much to see it written like this. It just bothers me. Ok, rant over.

    Now I have a question maybe you can help me with. In the scene where Benson and Amaro are in the car and West takes the first drunk girl upstairs, and Cassidy’s waiting in the car. When would the cops be obligated to go upstairs? Benson wants to go in a prevent the rape, Amaro said its consensual as far as they can tell, if even anything is happening because they don’t know, only suspect, even if she is drunk.

    In that situation, who’s right? At what point would the police be morally or legally obligated to go in? Before a rape occurs and prevent it, or afterward, when a crime has been committed?

    And lastly, let me go on record as saying I hate Olivia with Cassidy. Anyone else feel this way?

    • Well for starters David, Jack McCoy is no longer the District Attorney in L & O continuity. According to Scorched Earth, it’s a new nameless character they have yet to reveal.

      Secondly, why do you hate Olivia with Cassidy? He’s better than David Haden 2 seasons ago.

      • David, great points about institutionalizing the first cop, the safe deposit key, and getting Cassidy involved in the first place. I had similar reactions (but only so much space to nitpick). I also thought it was silly for Olivia to be Cassidy’s backup.

        I agree about Cassidy too. Love the actor, don’t love the character. I don’t think he’s trustworthy. Too many hookers.

        Josh, why didn’t you like Haden? Just because he dumped Olivia to advance his career? :)

        • My problem with Haden, wasn’t the character but the actor playing him. I felt harry connick jr came across as wooden in the role. By season 14 it became obvious we weren’t meant to like him. ;)

          While I’ll admit Cassidy is no saint, all of his stints with hookers were either when he was single, undercover, or Benson knew about the circumstances. For me the jury is still out on him, but as long as he’s not doing anything shady behind Olivia’s back, then I’m fine with him.

          Also Benson having relationship with Cassidy 14 yrs later when she didn’t want one with him in season 1 (due to shielding herself), shows growth in her character. If the show HAS to end, I’d prefer her relationship with Cassidy, as it symbolizes how far she has come within the span of the series.

    • Carl N. Brown says:

      Don’t know about this week’s plot, but there is precedence for tossing whistleblowers in the psycho ward in NYPD:
      “An NYPD report supports the claims made by Officer Adrian Schoolcraft, the Brooklyn cop who accused the NYPD of throwing him into a mental hospital because he complained supervisors were cooking the books to make the crime rate seem lower.”
      –Rocco Parascandola, “NYPD report supports claims by Adrian Schoolcraft, cop whistleblower”, NY Daily News, 7 Mar 2012.

    • James Pollock says:

      “At what point would the police be morally or legally obligated to go in? Before a rape occurs and prevent it, or afterward, when a crime has been committed?”

      Morally is a tricky question that is complicated and which, therefore, I won’t even try to address. Fortunately, the other half of the questions is easy. Legally, the cops are NEVER required to come to your aid.

  2. Just to nag about the details a little bit: this was episode 4, not 3. Season premiere actually was 2 episodes. :)

    • Carl N. Brown says:

      Checking that, Internet Movie Database IMDb lists Season 15 episodes as:
      S15, Ep1 Surrender Benson 25 Sep 2013
      S15, Ep2 Imprisoned Lives 25 Sep 2013
      S15, Ep3 American Tragedy 2 Oct 2013
      S15, Ep4 Internal Affairs 9 Oct 2013
      S15, Ep5 Wonderland Story 16 Oct 2013

      • Toko, Carl, excellent points. I actually had it the way you suggested, and just changed the numbering last night, because, looking on SVU’s webite, they appear to count the double-episode season premiere as a single ep. Click on “Episode Guide” under and you’ll see:

        101: Surrender Benson/Imprisoned Lives
        102: American Tragedy
        103: Internal Affairs

        I’m happy to call it either way! Since you guys are two of my best commenters, I’ll change the numbering if you still think so! Let me know. :)

  3. Carl N. Brown says:

    Apparent a lot of viewers and NBC.COM think of 25 Sep 2013 as either a two-part episode or a two episode, one night story arc. Maybe the 01 and 02 at NBC.COM represent nights not necessarily seperate episodes. I’ll concede to NBC.COM (and apparently many other viewers) over me and IMDb.

  4. Rollins’ thick accent while she makes the “stick it where the sun don’t shine” remark was the highlight of the episode :). Other than that, I’m shocked that the whole cops-as-rapists story line has some truth to it. I was actually planning to comment how that was a bit far out.

  5. I didn’t think the plot for Internal Affair was that good.As for Brian and Benson relationship,that’s a joke,no chemistry,they both always look uptight and conversation seem forced when interacting.Even the cuddling between them look stiff!I still believe to this day that Cassidy is a dirty cop!His integrity has been questioned too many times,and he has a fetish for sleeping with prostitutes!He was at his best playing the dirty cop on Internal Affairs.Benson’s character was always based on her morals,professionalism integrity,and yet the writer place her in a relationship with a man who was also charged for rape,he got off but they are still a lot of doubts and unanswered questions about Brian’s involvement in that case.Benson and Amaro had serious doubts about Brian’s innocence at the time,and Olivia especially knew that something was not right,yet here she is thirteen years later with the man she could not stand in season one!Haden was a jerk for leaving her,but him and Benson look better together than her with Brian.I personally think that Stabler is the man who has Benson’s heart,on the episode Surrender Benson Lewis made sure she confronted her feelings for him,She acknowledged those feelings again in the episode Internal Affairs while interrogating the female cop!I was OH WOW!!Three years and she is still hung up on Elliot Stabler .She may be trying to move on and is SETTLING for second best,but whether all of us agree or not,Stabler is the only man Olivia Benson will EVER truly love even if he never return.

  6. Carl N. Brown says:

    OK, I must admit the title is one groaner of a pun.

  7. Allison, from my experience of defending bouncers accused of lack of capacity rape at venues around Europe, Quinns covering after the accusation was made was very believable. Also, the evidence of rape in this episode was wafer thin, so wasn’t initially covering up rapes, she was covering for her partner whilst he was having consensual sex. She lied for him after the rape allegation was made. Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata were both acquitted of rape, their convictions were for professional misconduct. I thought this episode highlighted the distinction between drunken consent and loss of capacity is vague.

    The kidnap and attempted murder were far fetched and there was no need for the sting with Rawlings but I thought overall it was a good episode.

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