SVU Episode #16-4: Holden’s Manifesto

Tonight’s SVU ripped its story from the headlines of Elliott Rodger, the “virgin killer” who published a deranged manifesto about his misogynist rage and non-existent sex life before going on a killing spree.

Recap:

A creepy young man named Holden Chase uses his phone to film himself lurking around New York while monologuing about how much he hates women who have rejected him, men who are more sexually successful than him, and his own virginity.

Holden starts hunting down a series of pretty blonde acquaintances he obsessed over but who never noticed him. He quickly graduates from stabbing the women to killing them.

The SVU detectives go all out to find him, eventually executing a search warrant on his apartment. They find Holden’s 100 page “manifesto” detailing all the injustices he believes he’s suffered.

Our detectives compile a list of all the people he might target, and go to warn them. Defying needle-in-a-haystack odds, Amanda and Nick go to a school to warn the husband of a schoolteacher Holden once adored – and find him shot to death. Holden has taken five students hostage.

Amanda and Nick break several rules of hostage negotiation by putting down their guns and allowing themselves to be taken as hostages too. But Amanda – no shirker in the pretty blond category herself – soon sweet talks Holden into letting everyone go.

Once the hostages are released, she purrs, “May I kiss you?” – a line that’s been used by no real hostage negotiator, ever. But Holden goes for it. Moments before their lips meet, a sniper sends a bullet through the kid’s skull. The blood that spatters Amanda’s face was certainly more pleasant than kissing this psycho would’ve been.

Verdict:
B+

What They Got Right:

Truth is stranger than fiction, and the unbelievably deranged character of Holden Chase was based on the unbelievably deranged real murderer Elliott Rodger. The privileged, Hollywood-raised Rodger wrote a 100,000 word “manifesto” describing how women rejected him despite how superior he was. And so he decided to kill everyone. He wrote:

“My orchestration of the Day of Retribution is my attempt to do everything, in my power, to destroy everything I cannot have….All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy. I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair.”

A day before his attack, he posted a video to YouTube, in which he sat in the leather seats of his BMW and gave a chilling monologue, delivered in a flat voice:

“You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish all of you for it. On the day of retribution I’m going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB. And I will slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there.”

The next day, he killed his roommates in his apartment, then went to a sorority house. When no one answered the door, he killed some passers-by, then went to a deli and shot another person. He hit several people in his car along the away. Eventually, he turned the gun on himself.

The tragedy led to the usual debate about gun control and mental health in America. Congress put together a resolution condemning the day – but did pretty much nothing else. Every few months, it seems, there’s another crazed young man with too much hate and too many easily accessible guns. What will it take, America?

Twitter users responded with their own experiences with misogyny, using the hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s worth checking out this compilation of the most powerful tweets.

On to another tragic plot point – why didn’t Olivia and Nick didn’t detain Holden on his bike? They were right – at that point, they didn’t have enough evidence. And when the crowd whipped out their cell phones to videotape the argument, Nick worried about the Eric Garner case.

Eric Garner was a NY man who reportedly stepped in to break up a fight. When NYPD arrived on the scene, they inexplicably arrested Garner for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. The police put him in a choke hold, while he cried out that he couldn’t breathe. Garner died. The entire appalling incident was captured on another man’s cell phone – leading to a huge public outcry and changes in police policy. More and more, civilian cameras are capturing interactions with police – and the resulting accountability is forcing reform.

What They Got Wrong:

I couldn’t believe Olivia left her baby in the ICU! At that point, one woman had suffered some superficial stab wounds and a groping. There are 100 other SVU detectives – let them take care of it! I feel for her; as a working mom, I’ve been in a similar situation – a baby in a hospital, while work was calling. But I got a colleague to cover for me, and used sick leave. Every working mom I know would do the same. Olivia is going to have to learn how to balance work life with mommyhood.

That said, Noah’s old rib fractures were very realistic. In child abuse cases, we would often see a child in the hospital for a new injury – a broken leg, say – and in the course of examination, we would then find evidence of older injuries that were never treated. Broken ribs are a common healed injury. Bone scans of at-risk toddlers can provide a heartbreaking glimpse of a life that has already been filled with too much tragedy.

Finally, the execution of the search warrants were off tonight. Just because the police have a warrant doesn’t mean they can look through everything in the house. Our detectives only had permission to look for Holden’s knife. But they started clicking through his computer. They wouldn’t find a knife there. If they wanted access to e-files, they needed to present a judge with probable cause that they would find evidence of a crime on the computer. And Olivia can’t just shoulder her way into Holden’s neighbor’s apartment. She’d need a separate warrant for that – even if the neighbor is dead on the floor.

Lessons from a Sex-Crimes Prosecutor — by Heide Herrmann

My friend, Heide Herrmann, is a sex-crimes prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (the same job I held before becoming an author).  She has handled some of the office’s most high-profile sex-crime cases, but is known for bringing incredible diligence, compassion, and good judgement to every case that crosses her desk. Heide is leaving the USAO to work for DOJ’s Consumer Protection Branch.  Her recent Facebook post about the lessons she learned from the job really resonated with me.  In a few lines, she captured a lot of what the job is about.  Her post is reprinted below. Good luck with the new job, Heide, and thanks for making the city a better place: one day  and one person, at a time. — Allison

As I embark upon my last week as an Assistant United States Attorney, below is a list, in no particular order, of a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the last six years or so. Some more trite than others.

1.  You gotta fake it ’til you make it.

2.  Everything about being a prosecutor is scary as hell. And it’s how I now know how brave I am capable of being.

3.  When a person tells you that you can’t possibly understand how she feels, she’s right. But you should still try.

4.  I can’t fix all of the problems for all of the people I meet. But every day, there is at least one thing I can do to make one person’s life a little easier, safer or better.

5.  No means no. Unconscious means no. So drunk that she can’t walk or talk means no. If that seems obvious to you, good. Teach it to your sons anyway, because apparently it’s not obvious to everyone.

6.  If a car runs you down in the middle of a crosswalk, it’s the driver’s fault, not yours. But you still look both ways before crossing. Young women — please think about how much you drink, and whether you’ll still be safe if you have another, and another, and another. If a man assaults you it’s his fault, not yours, but I’d rather you never find yourself in that situation.

7.  Hug your children. Tell them how important they are. Talk to them, listen to them, love them, protect and appreciate them. If you already do that, good. Do it more. You’d be surprised how many children have no one who gives them the most basic care and kindness. I don’t want to tell you more, because then it’ll hurt you, the way it hurts me.

8.  There is no group of people more concerned about doing justice, protecting the vulnerable, and maintaining the highest level of ethical and professional standards than the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. I will always be proud to have practiced alongside these heroic prosecutors, and to have served the citizens of the District of Columbia.

SVU’s Season 15 Finale: “Spring Awakening”

Congratulations, SVU! Not only was the show renewed for a sixteenth season, it delivered one of its best episodes for this season’s finale. “Spring Awakening” showed some admirably authentic police details while provoking the full spectrum of emotions. Earlier this week, showrunner Warren Leight tweeted out a picture of Kleenex, warning fans to prepare. He was right.

Recap:

Nick is hauled to jail for beating up Simon, the child-torture fetishist who was acquitted last episode. Fueled by its recent Twitter #fiasco, NYPD charges Nick with a felony, and he’s locked up on $500,000 bail. Munch returns to bail Nick out and give a fatherly pep talk. Amanda, who often shows serious disregard for the law she’s sworn to upheld, saves her lover by threatening Simon’s wife. If Simon doesn’t drop the charges, Amanda snarls, she’ll make sure he goes to jail forever. Oh, also, Simon is online offering to let men rape his wife if they email him kiddie-torture-porn pictures. Simon promptly says he threw the first punch, and the charges against Nick are dropped.

Let’s hope Nick signs up for some anger management classes, Amanda signs up for some ethics training, and Simon falls down an elevator shaft.

Meanwhile, a German tourist hires a prostitute named Ellie to visit his hotel room, but is instead robbed, beaten and raped by her pimp, Tino. Murphy poses as an Irish tourist looking for love, and nabs the duo. But then the German goes to a lineup and identifies the wrong guy as the pimp. Tino is set free, and Ellie won’t testify against him. “He’s my gangster, my daddy,” she hisses through heroin-brown teeth. Even the prospect of going through drug withdrawal in jail isn’t enough to make her turn on her pimp.

That is, until DNA results show that Ellie is the mother of baby Noah, whom Olivia rescued from child pornographers a few episodes ago. Olivia has been following Noah’s path through the foster care system – and slowly falling in love with him – but now must use him as a tool to flip Ellie. When Ellie is reunited with her baby, who she thought was dead, she vows to get clean and testify against Tino, who sold the baby to the pornographers. [Read more…]

SVU Episode #15-23: Thought Criminal

“Do you want to live in a world where you can be put in prison for what’s in your head?” That’s what the outraged defense attorney asked our ADA in tonight’s episode, and it’s the real-life question raised by the horrifying “Cannibal Cop” case. As technology is increasingly used to explore our most secret desires, it’s an issue that will be debated and litigated for years to come.

Recap:

A photographer named Simon, who specializes in photos of children, secretly fantasizes about torturing and killing little boys. He discusses this extensively in Internet chat rooms, which eventually leads to police attention. Murphy and Amanda go to his showroom for an undercover chat, with Murphy posing as a rich guy who wants to participate in Simon’s activities. After they ditch Amanda, the men discuss kidnaping a boy to torture and kill. Ice-T plays a guy willing to do the kidnapping for a price. Simon is all in, and shows Murphy and Ice the soundproof torture chamber he’s built – across the street from a school – complete with restraints, butchers knives, rotating saws, operating tables, and industrial grade drains and sinks.

[Read more…]

SVU Episode #15-22: “Reasonable Doubts”

In this powerful episode, SVU captured in one hour much of the pain, controversy, and ambiguity of the decades-long Woody Allen / Dylan Farrow child-sex abuse case. The show explored how hard these cases are to prosecute, and how the effects of abuse linger forever in a child’s life.

Verdict: A

Recap:

A director named Frank leaves his middle-aged actress wife, Katherine, and takes up with her barely-legal sister, Rose. In the midst of an acrimonious divorce, Frank and Katherine’s little girl, Chelsea, tells her mother that Frank molested her. Mom takes her to a pediatrician, who loops in the police. Our detectives try to figure out whether Katherine is using Chelsea as a pawn in the divorce, or whether Frank is a serial pedophile. They conclude the latter, and charge him with sexually abusing Chelsea. Frank skips town in the middle of his trial, and, a la Roman Polanski, flies to Paris, where he publicly paws Rose. He is convicted despite his absence. Katherine takes a public victory lap, while Chelsea grimaces at the assembled paparazzi.

This story mirrored the Woody Allen scandal. In 1992, Allen left his wife, Mia Farrow, for Farrow’s 20-year-old daughter Soon-Yi Previn. The same year, Farrow’s 7-year-old daughter, Dylan, reported that Allen molested her. Unlike tonight’s show, Dylan’s charges were never adjudicated in a criminal court. The DA declined to prosecute, noting how hard a trial would be on Dylan.

Allen sued Farrow for custody of Dylan, which he lost. You can read the judge’s scathing condemnation of Allen’s conduct. That judge concluded that “we will probably never know what occurred” that day. [Read more…]

SVU Episode #15-21: “Post-Mortem Blues”

One week after SVU’s heroine survived the ultimate physical danger, the show plunked her in the middle of a legal and emotional dilemma almost as dangerous. I admit, I had doubts about the premise of “Post-Mortem Blues.” How could this heroic woman be blamed, much less charged with a crime, for the suicide of monstrous Lewis? But the SVU writers showed why they’re the best in the business, demonstrating how skeptical eyes can interpret things differently and the ambiguities to be found in facts that seemed so clear.

Verdict: A-

Recap:

In the midst of kidnapping Olivia and a little girl, Lewis shoots himself in the head. The SVU detectives are running up the steps to rescue Olivia, and are listening to her plight on their police radios, just as Lewis kills himself. His blood spatters her face.

Lewis deviously manages to haunt Olivia even after he’s dead. He shot himself with his left hand, staging the scene to look like Olivia did it. With all the Russian Roulette they played, the M.E. can’t say who pulled the trigger. The little girl was looking away when the shots were fired. Internal Affairs investigates Olivia, wondering if she actually killed Lewis.

Thereupon commences a massive legal nightmare. A sultry defense attorney is appointed to defend her. All of Olivia’s colleagues are called to testify against her; they privately discuss whether to perjure themselves on her behalf. Barred from working, Olivia spends a lot of time with her psychologist and drinking wine. [Read more…]

A Dream Visit to SVU –by Elexa Nosonchuk

SVU is on a hiatus this week, but this story will make you love the show even more.  This guest post is by Elexa Nosonchuk, one of the biggest SVU fans on the planet.  She visited the set last year via the Dream Foundation.  Here is her inspiring story.  Thanks for sharing this with us, Elexa!  You made me laugh, cry, and … breathe.

elexa mariska breathe pic

 

I have a progressive lung disease that will eventually kill me. The only things that have kept me alive for the last 2 years are experimental treatments, including chemotherapy and steroids. They each have their own side effects which wreak havoc on my body. One of the few things left in my life that I’m able to enjoy is television, and my favorite show is Law & Order: SVU!! I love the show and the inspiring, encouraging message it gives. SVU reruns are constantly on TV and I never get tired of watching them! A few years back, when asked to figure out what one thing I would like as a life wish, it was an easy answer, and thanks to the amazing people at The Dream Foundation (an organization that gives dreams to adults with life threatening illnesses) I was given the opportunity to visit New York so I could go to the filming of the 300th episode of SVU and meet Mariska Hargitay and the cast! Mariska, the driving force behind the show’s message – that sexual assault and domestic violence are never ok – is the show’s star, and my favorite TV actress! When I asked to meet her, I thought I might get to say hi to her for a few minutes and experiencing the city would be the biggest part of my trip, but the people at Dream Foundation and SVU made it so much more!

It started with a private tour of the set at Chelsea Pier. The entire way into the building I was freaking out; I even took a picture of the floor of the elevator. I was able to see each part of the set and got to sit in the judge’s seat in the courtroom. I sat in the interrogation room and watched segments of the episode film. I had multiple moments where I freaked out because I was so excited about everything I was seeing! Every time I passed by one of the actors on set they would stop and take a picture with me and talk to me! Everyone was so extraordinarily nice!! I must have been beet red the entire visit. One of my favorite parts of the visit was meeting the puppies – the actors bring their dogs to work – and I am definitely a dog person!! After meeting most of the cast and crew, there was a little party with cake and photo opportunities for the 300th episode. I was allowed to take a picture with the cast in front of the cake, during which I’m glad I didn’t pass out! I met Dick Wolf, who I didn’t realize was going to be there. I told him all about how I have seen every episode and he indulged my star-struck, wide-eyed freak out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We started walking toward Mariska’s dressing room to see if I could finally get my meet and greet with my hero, and we ended up accidentally running into her as we turned a corner. I literally ran into her. I started giggling uncontrollably and doubled over because I couldn’t breathe (remember, I have bad lungs) and she asked, jokingly, if she needed to walk away so I could breathe again. Obviously, I said no!! We were able to sit and talk for a little while and it was so amazing. She wanted to know all about my disease and she took such a real interest, even tearing up multiple times. I was in total disbelief at how amazingly well the day was going. After hearing my story, Mariska got an idea and asked us to follow her to her dressing room. On her wall she had a frame with white paper in it which had the word “Breathe” drawn on it. She told me the story behind this drawing – she made it during an incident where she had a collapsed lung, and she hung it above her door so she could see it whenever she left her dressing room. She took it down, signed the back of it (ending with, “You are a badass. Never forget that”) and gave it to me. We both cried. She also gave me the ‘Fearlessness’ necklace that she was wearing!!! She wears it in every episode, and is a symbol of her Joyful Heart Foundation – and she gave it to ME!!! Again, we both cried. It was such a surreal feeling to be anywhere near her; I couldn’t believe how perfect the day was.

elexa mariska breathe

I was also able to bring the cast some bracelets that I had been selling that say “Just Breathe.” I was sure none of them would actually wear the bracelets, or that the bracelets would break too easily because they were just made of stretchy string, but I still watched every episode after that looking for the bracelet on one of their wrists. It took me about a year – I don’t know how I missed it the first time I saw the episode – but I finally caught a glimpse of my bracelet on Mariska’s wrist in the episode titled, “Vanity’s Bonfire” from 11/14/12 (have I mentioned how much I love Mariska?!). I haven’t noticed the bracelet on any other episode, but I may have just missed it. The last thing I left with my mark on it was a Dream Foundation hat that Kelli Giddish asked me to sign for her. I was so excited that she wanted my autograph, and she said she would wear the hat in her next marathon. I’m not sure if she ever did, but I hope so!!

Elexa Nosonchuk & Danny Pino

I don’t think it’s possible to explain what that trip meant to me. I’ve been trying not to ramble while I type this because I just want to say all of the incredible things that happened in my quick-talking, excited way that makes everyone tell me to calm down. I was invited back, but since I don’t live in New York, I’ll just have to cherish the memories I already have. Danny Pino has been awesome enough to keep in touch with me on Twitter. Every time I get a message from him it makes my stomach jump and I feel the excitement of being on the set all over again. I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was way too excited to think straight. I don’t know if any of the SVU cast and crew remember that day for anything other than it being the 300th episode. I like to think someone other than Danny might remember me, but I understand that they meet fans all the time. I am so grateful for my trip and the memories I’ll always have! I wish I had a word to explain how excited I was all day, but no words exist.

SVU Episode #15-20: Beast’s Obsession

Tonight’s episode wasn’t about a realistic problem that society faces – there were no untested rape kits, no reluctant witnesses, no restitution for child-porn victims. Tonight’s episode was pure thriller. It was disturbing; it was intense; it left you clenching the edge of your seat.

Recap:

Horrible Lewis escapes from prison, and uses his freedom to torment Olivia by going on a crime spree in Manhattan. By the third commercial, he’s tortured and raped two people and killed seven more. His victims include a hospital nurse, prison guard, defense attorney, and a doctor and her two young daughters. Using the youngest daughter as bait, Lewis lures Olivia to a secluded warehouse. He makes one final unsuccessful attempt at raping her, then forces her to play Russian roulette. Lewis may be the world’s worst forced Russian roulette supervisor, because in the end, he takes the gun from Olivia and shoots himself in the face.

[Read more…]