SVU Episode #15-17: Gambler’s Fallacy

Whoa! In tonight’s shocking episode, Amanda performed some acts no cop ever should. By the second commercial break I was bidding her character farewell, because there was no way NYPD could keep her on the force. Then, in a fabulous plot twist, the writers turned everything its head. The episode wasn’t particularly realistic, but it scored high points for fun.


Amanda hasn’t kicked her gambling problem. In fact, she’s traded her Gamblers Anonymous meetings for gambling at an illegal speakeasy in an abandoned warehouse. She’s down $15,000 when a waitress recognizes she’s a cop.

Amanda spends the rest of the episode trying to work off her debt to the beautiful pregnant boss lady and her Irish rogue deputy, who rough up Amanda and threaten to turn her in to Internal Affairs if she doesn’t do their bidding.

Amanda’s sins grow exponentially. In sequence, she:

(1) Looks to fix traffic tickets, but ultimately demurs, saying NYPD is watching this now,
(2) Tracks a juror’s address so the bad guys can “have a talk” with her, but then has an attack of conscience and doesn’t turn the address over,
(3) Performs oral sex on the Irish guy! While he tapes it on his cellphone video! (…which is the only act on this list which, if performed correctly, would not lead to her immediate termination if discovered…)
(4) Disposes of a gun from the police evidence room, in order to set free co-conspirator Carlos and keep his DNA out of the system!
(5) After Carlos rapes the wife of an ambassador in debt to the speakeasy, goes to their home, showing the victims that their assailants have friends in the NYPD!
(6) Fixes a DNA test to exonerate the rapist!
(7) Points a gun at the pregnant boss’s belly and threatens to kill the unborn baby!
(8) Extorts the boss’s art dealer / criminal mastermind boyfriend to the tune of a million dollars and a private jet to fly her out of the country!

I thought poor Kelli Giddish’s contract fell through, or maybe she’s heading to CSI, because her character is done.


But it turned out that Amanda did not, in fact, fellate the Irish guy. The cut-to-commercial which blacked out the act itself was not the network’s attempt to keep things family-friendly, but rather to mislead us. When Amanda got on her knees, Murphy told her that he was an undercover cop and she was working for him now. Everything Amanda did after that was a good faith effort to catch the bad guys.

Amanda’s colleagues are upset that she lied to them, Olivia doesn’t trust her any more, and Internal Affairs is seriously peeved at the antics. But Lt. Murphy uses his gift of gab to keep Amanda on the force and whisper sweet Irish nothings into her ear.

Verdict: B- for realism, but A for entertainment

What they got wrong:

It would be hard for me to overstate how hard it is to get DNA samples tested even when you have perfect paperwork. There’s always a backlog. Cops and prosecutors often have to go to the mat to get testing done quickly. Plus, Amanda’s shenanigans were unnecessary. The speakeasy couldn’t tell whether she actually spoke to a scientist. She could’ve just forged some papers to bring to the criminals.

It probably won’t come as a big surprise to you, but I’ll go ahead and say it: This is not how undercover operations are done. Cops don’t go ripping shirts off other cops to see if they’re wired up. Not only is it considered impolite, but every cop knows that mikes don’t only come in the form of wires on your torso these days.

And Amanda couldn’t start working for Murphy like that. After that little meeting on her knees, she’d go directly to NYPD Vice – do not pass go, do not collect $200 – and get the green light to be part of his undercover work.

And Vice might have advised her not to go pointing a loaded gun at a fetus! Even when they’re undercover, cops can’t commit crimes. Murphy was so proud of Amanda, he told IAB that she managed in just three days to crack a case he’d worked for two years. Well, yeah. I’m sure if Murphy just pointed a gun at the lady two years ago, he would’ve gotten to her boss right quick. Amanda could no more legitimately do this than pull out the woman’s fingernails.

What they got right:

Yes, recording devices can be hidden in very small objects like the gaudy class ring Murphy wore tonight. Be alert if your partner in crime suddenly starts to wear a lot of bling. If you’re interested in catching someone in the act of … anything, check out these nifty gadgets, including a spy-cam Barbie, espionage jewelry, and secret recording buttons.

Amanda’s machinations with the gun and DNA testing had a ring of truth. DNA profiles of individuals are entered into CODIS, the national DNA database, under very specific circumstances. For a while, it was only felony convictions, but a movement has been underway to expand to misdemeanor convictions and arrests that don’t end in convictions.

NYPD weathered a scandal in 2011, where officers were charged with “fixing” traffic tickets for friends and family. One of those officers was also charged with hiring someone to kill a witness against him.

What do you think, SVU fans? Will Amanda go for Murphy or Nick? (Before tonight, I thought Amanda and Nick had as much chemistry as a bowl of oatmeal and its spoon.) Should Amanda be allowed to keep her job after pointing her gun at the fetus? And are you tempted by the spy cam Barbie? Leave your comments!

About Allison Leotta


  1. James Pollock says:

    “Cops don’t go ripping shirts off other cops to see if they’re wired up. Not only is it considered impolite, but every cop knows that mikes don’t only come in the form of wires on your torso these days.”

    Yes, but.

    He wasn’t trying to find out if she had a wire or not… he knew she didn’t. What he needed to do was to convince the others that she wasn’t wired up. So he put on a show for their benefit. Still impolite (and probably a violation of several NY statutes) but better than spooking the targets of the investigation by letting them think they were being investigated by NYPD.

    Note that they foreshadowed the big reveal… when pregnant boss-lady is demanding that Det. Rollins fix the DNA problem, he starts making excuses for why she can’t… because he knows full well what she has access to and what she doesn’t.

    My question is… police lieutenants do UC work? Isn’t their life one of endless paperwork?

  2. Rick Carswell says:

    How many IAB investigations can four officers endure before their careers are irreperably damaged? Between Amaro, Benson, Rollins, and Cassidy I think the SVU squad and their friends spends about a 1/3rd of their time either being investigated by Internal Affairs for corruption or incompetence or defending themselves against allegations of the same.

  3. I have to admit, I went back and forth during this episode, thinking “No way Rollin is that far down the rabbit hole to do THAT.” Bu then I reminded myself about her taking money from Nate the previous week and sleeping with him to get out from under. So I went “Okay, she’s as low as you can go and she’s toast.” To bad, I liked the character and the actress, but there’s no way she’s coming back from this.

    Then I figured it was a sting of some kind, especially when Benson gave her the night to turn herself in, but I started doubted myself again with the whole “I’ll shoot your unborn baby” thing. Damn, Goodbye Kelli. But they got me again with the bad ass Irish hoodlum being an undercover cop. The manipulation of the viewer was spot on IMO so a tip of the hat to the writers.
    Now I can wait to see where they’re taking the Amaro stalking story line. That could be fun.
    But the real fun will be how’s Finn gonna respond to being lied to by his partner. and did he ever get his money back or is it locked away as evidence?

  4. Jennifer says:

    I’m wondering if I’ve finally gotten too genre savvy to enjoy this show as much as I used to, since I called Rollins being undercover around the time the Irish guy got out the camera. Short of lighting up an orphanage or insulting the showrunner in public, there aren’t many reasons a network procedural would ditch a main actor mid-season without warning, so I was pretty sure Rollins would make it out okay. In the Law and Order universe, illegal activities+need for minimal consequences=undercover operation almost always. Still decently compelling though, One of their better episodes in a while.

    I’m guessing since you’re back with us, you’ve finished up your manuscript. Looking forward to reading the book!

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