SVU Episode #15- 12: Betrayal’s Climax

If Shakespeare wrote about sex crimes in New York … the result probably wouldn’t look like tonight’s SVU episode. This thug was no Romeo. Nevertheless, “Betrayal’s Climax” was a powerful episode, illuminating the tragic consequences of modern gang violence, misogyny, and misguided codes of honor.


Olivia is promoted! During a beautiful ceremony, tears well up in the characters’ collective eyes (mine too). Congratulations, Sgt. Benson. After fifteen years of compassionate and dedicated service, you deserve this.

Meanwhile, 16-year-old Avery lives in a posh brownstone on the Upper West Side and paints happy portraits of lovers holding hands. She’s madly in love with her Hispanic boyfriend, Manny, who lives in the projects and is trying to save money to buy his dead brother a tombstone. Avery’s patrician parents, of course, disapprove. This disapproval grows just a tad when a study-date at Avery’s house turns into a gang-rape, where three members of the notorious BX-9 gang hold a gun to Manny’s head while brutalizing Avery on her parents’ 600-threadcount Egyptian cotton sheets.

Turns out, Manny was a recent BX-9 recruit. Immediately before the assault, his friends called to say they were coming over to Avery’s house to “party,” and he knew what that meant. Raping Avery was the gang’s way of punishing Manny for botching the robbery of a pharmacy a few weeks back.

But guess who feels worse than Manny? Poor bruised Avery, who experienced orgasms during the rape, while Manny watched. She never came with Manny – [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-11: “Jersey Breakdown”

Olivia’s drinking! Amanda’s gambling! Nick’s possibly stalking his wife! The SVU is in serious trouble when Finn is the most functional detective in the squad.


In tonight’s dizzying episode, every law-enforcement character needed either a therapist, a twelve-step program, or a defense attorney.

The episode started in the usual fashion: a drunken girl in an alley is fondled by some shady passers-by. But that’s just the end of an extremely bad night for 16-year-old Erin.

See, Erin is a waitress at a strip club, and the owner (played by the ever-slick Chazz Palminteri) allowed one of his VIP patrons to rape her in a private room, before dumping her in that alley. Chazz won’t give up the name of the VIP – and he tries to stop Erin, too. Turns out, Chazz has some seriously powerful friends. Erin is arrested by New Jersey police and charged with credit-card fraud in Hudson County, where a mustachioed DA named Musconi and his sour ADA wife fight hard to keep Erin in Jersey custody. A Jersey judge with a samurai-sword fetish sends Erin to a horrific, privately-run juvenile detention center.

Barba decides the only way to get Erin back to New York is to take his case federally. He enlists the federal human trafficking task force, led by lovely AUSA Connie Rubirosa, who has far better eyebrows and office space than any real prosecutor could ever hope for. [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-10: Amaro’s One-Eighty

Every police officer who’s ever walked a beat knows that dangers can lurk around any corner. Tonight’s SVU highlighted the uncertainty that officers face- and the regret that can follow a split-second decision. And it showed how a good cop can unravel when everything is taken from him.


Just when you thought it was safe to go to back to Olivia’s house …

Olivia throws a dinner party where the brussels sprouts are tragically less popular than the wine. On the walk home, Nick and Amanda come across a pair of police in hot pursuit. “He’s got a gun!” shouts a uniformed officer, right after a taxi plows into him. Amanda tends to the injured cop while Nick helps the remaining officer – a female rookie – chase the bad guy.

They run into an apartment building, where shots are fired, and the rookie is shot in the leg. Nick points his gun around the corner and fires back. It’s exactly what he’s been trained to do. And it has tragic results. After the smoke clears, he sees that he shot a fourteen-year-old kid.

Despite his union delegate’s best dilatory efforts, Nick’s blood alcohol level is tested and is a .049 – close to the legal limit for intoxication.

And, it turns out, the only shots fired were from the rookie cop. The bullet in her leg was a ricochet from her own gun. The kid they chased was a minor drug dealer – but not a cop killer.
Internal Affairs quickly charges Nick with … something. (They never said exactly what.) He’s willing to plead guilty to misdemeanor reckless endangerment and retire from the force. But the evil Special Prosecutor insists he plead guilty to a hate crime. Egads. [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-9: Psycho Therapist

I’m glad the SVU writers aren’t defense attorneys. In tonight’s harrowing episode, they took an open-and-shut criminal case and convincingly turned it into a squeaker, where the jury could have plausibly exonerated the monster who kidnapped and tortured our long-suffering heroine. I tip my hat to the excellent writing – and acting – that made this a great episode.


Sporting a new limp, hypnotic facial scars, and a conspicuous hearing aid, monstrous Louis is brought to trial for all the horrific things he did to Olivia in the season premiere. [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-8: Rapist Anonymous

In a riveting riff on the Jodi Arias case, tonight’s SVU was smart, fast-moving, and got a lot right. It was also the rare episode where the real-life headlines were more lurid than the episode it inspired. A good chunk of the Arias trial was too explicit to air on NBC.


Amanda finally seems to have her act together: attending AA meetings and dating a cute guy named Nate. But scratch the surface and things aren’t so pretty.

Amanda doesn’t have a drinking problem; her addiction is gambling. She’s only attending Alcoholics Anonymous to support Nate, who is also her Gamblers Anonymous sponsor. See, Nate is not only a “double winner” – dealing with both addictions – he’s a “thirteen-stepper,” using the programs to seduce nubile newbies like Amanda. Worse, Nate is sleeping with a lovely alcoholic named Lena. He doesn’t mention this to Amanda, who unwittingly befriends her romantic rival.

Lena, meanwhile, is caught in a dysfunctional relationship with a diaper salesman named Gene, who’s engaged to someone else. One night, Lena shows up at Amanda’s doorstep, crying that Gene raped her. [Read more...]

Next week

Hi folks!  Due to prior commitments, my recap of SVU’s next episode, #15-7 (“Military Justice”) , will be posted late.  I aim to post it by 11/20.  Sorry for the delay, and thanks for your patience.  Happy viewing!

SVU Episode #15-6: Dissonant Voices

A pair of vindictive teen girls were (once again) the unlikely culprits on tonight’s SVU, in an episode that mashed up the real-life sex abuse cases involving The Voice judge Cee Lo Green (cleared of all charges), Elmo’s creator Kevin Clash, and TV host Jimmy Saville.


A music coach on an American-Idol-like show is accused of sexually abusing two four-year-old boys at the posh private school where he’s their music teacher. The detectives build a strong case, arrest him, and hold him on $1,000,000 bail.  But, it turns out, the boys were coached to lie by their pouty teenage sisters, who were angry at the coach for rebuffing the girls’ attempts to sing on the TV show.

Verdict: B-

What they got right: 

The first half of this episode showed some authentic details about how child-sex-abuse cases are built.  The boys initially gave very good disclosures: with specific details, in their own words, without appearing rehearsed.  They described things a four-year-old would not usually know, like the purple egg-shaped vibrator.  They corroborated each other, without giving verbatim stories. And many of the details of this case were exactly the kind of details that would come out in a real case of child sex abuse: like a kid mysteriously coming home without his underwear (an occurrence I heard several times in my caseload) and the suspect changing his stories.  “I was never alone with kids” became “I was alone with the boy because he fell in the toilet, and he was embarrassed, so I threw his underwear out and, uh, I never told his mom.” Often, predators do not give full confessions, but are caught in a web of lies and inconsistencies.  [Read more...]

SVU Episode #15-5: October Surprise

The fact that SVU waited until the fifth episode of the season to peek down Anthony Weiner’s trousers shows an admirable level of restraint. “October Surprise” was a fun storyline, although, like the politician it portrayed, some of the details were sketchy. The real Weiner scandal was far more interesting. I suppose it’s hard to fictionalize a true story that is itself totally unbelievable.

Recap: Handsome Alejandro Muñoz is twelve days away from becoming New York’s first Hispanic mayor, campaigning with his beautiful wife by his side. That is, until the SVU detectives are called to the apartment of a screechy blonde named Lindsey who’s fighting off a mope named Eddie. She claims Eddie was trying to rape her.

But that’s a lie. See, Eddie is one of Muñoz’s best friends since childhood and his current bodyguard. Eddie was actually at Lindsey’s place to pay her off, so she wouldn’t tell the world that she exchanged lurid text messages with Muñoz.

Amanda sets up the online equivalent of running through a park in spandex, and flirts with Muñoz by email. After a couple of “hey babies,” Muñoz texts her a picture of his hairy stomach and then (as Ice-T puts it) a photo of “the full Muñoz.”

Turns out, Muñoz sexted a bunch of different women, including a 15-year-old high school girl who reciprocated with a naked photo of herself, thus making him the purveyor of child porn.

But wait! There’s more. Muñoz’s other childhood bestie is our good ADA Rafael Barba, who, of course, is assigned to the case. Barba wrings his hands about what to do, and even tells Muñoz that his texts are under investigation. Muñoz, Nick, and Barba engage in some chest-thumping about who’s the most Hispanic alpha-male of the bunch (a competition which Barba, who I thought was Italian, clearly loses). [Read more...]