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Utopia Talk / Movie Talk / Law&Order: SVU
Cherub Cow
Fri Feb 28 23:54:03
My SVU posts seem kind of long for the random TV show thread, so I'll keep them separate..
Cherub Cow
Sat Mar 01 00:42:04
SVU returned this week.. with a pretty bad episode (s15-e14: Comic Perversion). It was basically an attempt at the Daniel Tosh rape joke controversy
[Tosh's joke]:

SVU's spin was with a comedian who was much more direct. Tosh's joke condoned nothing, but in this SVU episode they tried to push just how far comic license could go, so the comedian actually hypothesized that gang rape would be okay (though in comedic voice). This makes SVU difficult sometimes, because the writing tries to make a point, but in distorting the details from the real event they end up showing a NewYorkCity-centric [mis]perception of reality. The perception in this case is that just joking about rape is immediately bad culture, which ends up speaking of the "language banning" of the obtusely* Politically Correct. But they ran with it. In the opening scene they leave the source reality, so it's just about the presented episode — which was still flawed.

The next step was that after this comedian gave his show, a woman was physically detained by two male college students after leaving the show. They held her arms (borderline false imprisonment, maybe) and started quoting the comedian's gang-rape joke. They cut the scene suggestively, and it's only afterwards that it's revealed that no rape occurred and that these two students could receive little more than a restraining order. At this point there's no case and no plot, but Olivia looks for ways to prosecute the comedian — which is entirely nonsensical and the A.D.A. knows it.

Still, Amaro and Benson visit the comedian and he's clever enough himself to show them their own errors, citing free speech and his having nothing to do with the assault. Since SVU has no central plot, their secondary attempt is to create a dubious rape case, where the comedian has a history of getting women drunk and raping them — the problem being that their position as comedian groupies and a lack of outcry witnesses has hurt their cases. Only one victim even comes forward and she cannot even sufficiently establish her own state of mind during the rape (not just a matter of being drunk, but of being in different states of agreement&disagreement during and after). The key evidence is that she claims to have said, "no," but it remains unproven and is buried by video establishing her intent. So even that case is a failure.

The final step is a contrived entrapment scenario where the earlier assault victim makes advances on the comedian, goes to his hotel room, and feigns a text from her boyfriend to frustrate the comedian. Luckily for the plot, the comedian takes the bait and is caught on video going past her repeatedly saying, "no," so they prosecute him for attempted rape and assault. So that's great; "entrapment is the way to do it" — never a perfect message, though it has its uses (Dragon Tattoo).

Despite the flaws of the episode (attempted prosecution of free speech, a weak case, and then an entrapment closing), bouncing all of this off of the A.D.A. at least illustrated that it was nonsense work. What makes it a bad episode is that while the comedian was explaining the role of comedy, dark music is playing as though he's saying something terrible, yet it's reasonable:

"-Life- is my material. Our screwed up culture: racism, incest, rape. If you don't joke about it, you cry. That's my job as a social satirist: to go there, to shock people, to make them think about our hypocritical Christian values that preach more than any of us could possibly practice, about our views on sexuality, about our views on dominance; that's my act."

Going back to the Tosh basis, this episode's intent then appears to be to align this idea of no-limits satire with the described reprehensible acts themselves — almost like accusing Jonathan Swift of cannibalism. To do this, SVU's writers make the comedian into an actual predator, eventually exposing through manipulation that such jokes necessarily originate from real behavior. My personal concern with this is that, yes, obviously the -actions- of this physical -character- warrant prosecution (even if entrapment is manipulative by design), but setting precedents that hypothetical or imagined insensitivity must itself be censored is a terrible idea. It's important to avoid creating "rape culture" (promoting ideas that seem to condone a disregard for the agency of others), but it's also important to create space for speech, because every system has its flaws. When speech is contained by strict Political Correctness, PC reveals itself to be the new church of repression; if flaws cannot be revealed because of excessive and empowered sensitivity, culture risks perpetuating its own weaknesses and people may revel in their own unchecked insanities, learning nothing.

In the case of Tosh, it's probably beyond reason to say that it was "harmless" given that interpretation has the ability to take a topic to dark places, but full censorship forgets what the joke does. Tosh was not relating a true story, he was not recounting desires or actual events. He was manipulating perceptions to bring audiences to a simulated experience. The result is an experience which seems terrible, but in its hypothetical, non-existent state, it also allows the cognitive space to *see* that it is not real, possibly provoking laughter in the realization of safety. This is little different than many other imaginings of violence (in movies, in books, etc.), but the difference is in the outcry, where pop-cultural sensitivity is not yet ready to address the comical imaginings of this particular topic — or so it exemplifies in citing its sensitivity. The popular mechanism is then for real victims of rape to speak and condemn, but the step after that is either to build the Fahrenheit 451 society that reacts to any affected persons by destroying all traces of the discourse, or else to recognize how easily personal experience revictimizes even in the hypothetical, instead moving through that difficult space in order to grow.

*not sure that it's possible to use any version of the word "obtuse" without it reminding me of Shawshank Redemption
Thu Mar 06 17:39:41
Cherub Cow
Fri Mar 07 00:21:41
lulz :D
Cherub Cow
Thu Mar 13 02:37:49
didn't have much to say about last week's episode ("Gridiron Soldier" s15-e15)..

The episode followed the case of a pre-college football player whose recruiting sponsors went too far after he didn't want to join. He'd already picked another team, so he was tricked by recruiters into receiving oral sex from a male cheerleader (rape by deception). Afterwards he was accused of a hate crime when he was dropped off at a gay bar and didn't realize it until he hit someone who came onto him. It was sort of meant to be a Michael Sam hypothetical future story (there was another story of a gay player who was assaulted in this episode), but it was a little too pessimistic for reality — at least in regards to Michael Sam.

Even so! It had a couple nice continuity moments, like this one where Olivia reflected on her new leadership position:
[Olivia]: "Since when did we become the voices of reason?"
[Fin]: "Sooner or later you play all the parts"
Cherub Cow
Thu Mar 13 02:41:03
Oh yeah! And Detective Rollins fell further off the gambling wagon and lost a lot of money. A fun thing is that Captain Cragen warned her that one slip and she'd be done at SVU, but Cragen is gone, so! :D
Cherub Cow
Thu Mar 13 02:58:36
next episode here:
Cherub Cow
Thu Mar 13 03:59:08
Really great episode! ("Gambler's Fallacy", listed s15-e17 on wiki, but is e16 on hulu)

It was a pure continuity episode with Detective Rollins. She ends up owing $15k at an illegal gambling club, and when a former SVU victim spots her and lets the owners know that Rollins is a cop, they make Rollins work for them. I'll stop there because spoilers :p

Donal Logue guest-starred; he was the vampire in Blade whose hand was taken off :D (he's been in other things too, of course) :)
Cherub Cow
Thu Mar 13 04:03:47
Oh cool! Just learned that Donal Logue was in that silly 90s Mtv commercial (taxi driver):
I vaguely remember seeing that
Cherub Cow
Thu Mar 20 03:57:44
Pretty good one last night.. maybe The Soup won't make fun of this episode ;D

After a Muslim is raped by two executives, she tries to hide who raped her by saying it was a hate crime by strangers. This leads to one of the best parts of the episode: when the bandwagon-representing Reverend character accuses SVU of trying to hide a hate crime.. even though the case hasn't even started and there simply isn't evidence yet. That should sound familiar from so many real-life cases..

Alec Baldwin then guest stars in the role of an award-winning journalist who undermines the investigation with hasty conclusions. His reporting on the victim has tainted the jury, but when he prints a retraction (after realizing that a rape -did- occur), a somewhat contrived moment happens when the on-duty jurors manage to get a copy of the new paper and several read it. So, a mistrial. The D.A. cuts a deal because, blah, but the lower-ranking executive gets prison time and the higher-ranking executive has his reputation ruined by Baldwin's online article.. so kind of a happy ending, except that Olivia doesn't seem to mind that Baldwin is probably dying of liver cirrhosis ;)
Cherub Cow
Tue Apr 08 03:21:16
Really great episode last week!!
S15-E19: "Downloaded Child" available here:

The main story almost seems like a flash-forward to story lines that were explored early in the show's history; internet child pornography was a 'recent' issue for SVU early on, but in this episode its long-term effects were shown. It was kind of like S12-E12 ("Possessed") in that way (in S12-E12 a former abuse victim is sought out by viewers), but the focus here is on repressed memories and restitution.

One of its strongest scenes was when victim Jenny Aschler (Meghann Fahy) gets to confront someone who is on trial for downloading her images and video. She gets to dispel the notion that voyeurs have no complicity, and she 'puts a face' on the results of that belief (the life she led due to trauma and abuse). That theme can extend to pornography in general, but there's an element of agency that makes that translation not quite complete. Even so, SVU did a good job showing that anonymous internet usage still has real-world effects.

And the bonus scene! For episode continuity, Liv and Brian looked like they were hitting a lull, but instead of it being an indication of relationship trouble, it was a chance for them both to say, "I love you" :') .. very emotional ending scene given all that they've been through :)

The wiki description for the next episode sounds like troubles though! The foreshadowing for Psycho William Lewis' eventual escape is about to be realised D:
the wanderer
Wed Apr 09 21:02:31
i saw tonight's episode... that's some fucked up shit

...ok, so i'm not a good reviewer :p
Cherub Cow
Thu Apr 10 02:29:31
watching here!:
Cherub Cow
Thu Apr 10 03:09:34
My review:

Cherub Cow
Thu Apr 10 03:17:55
(( E20 Spoiler ))

have to wonder if that's it for Liv :(
She'd probably have told the press that her statement was part of her plan, but that was a lot of publicity. And now to be re-traumatized :(

I think it's just 2 episodes left for this season, so it's entirely possible that they'd write Liv off the show. It would be dangerous for the producers, though, so maybe it's just a way to build hype for the finale ;p
the wanderer
Thu Apr 10 09:54:59
i don't see how she can stay, even if not charged she'd have to lose her job
Cherub Cow
Thu Apr 10 13:25:31
Yeah :(
This really could be it for her. And they gave her a way out in the same way they did for Captain Cragen, since she'll have her BF (Cassidy) like Cragen had his new GF.. so.. consolation prize writing?
Cherub Cow
Fri May 09 03:54:09
Wednesday's episode was okay (S15-E21: "Reasonable Doubt"). They took on Woody Allen's case, and I think they did a good job.

They started with a balanced argument where it was difficult to separate from Frank Maddox's (Woody Allen surrogate character's) claim that Catherine Summers (Mia Farrow surrogate character, played by Samantha Mathis from American Psycho and Atlas Shrugged Pt.II) was simply manipulating their daughter for narcissistic revenge, or if their daughter, Chelsea (Dylan surrogate character), had really been molested. Both seem possible until around half-way, when they establish that Frank -did- have a pattern (this was SVU's answer to Woody Allen's claim that he'd never been accused of abusing anyone before or after Dylan) — pattern in this case being that Frank Maddox had a history with young girls/women (on edge, age-wise), and SVU's prosecution attempted to establish that Maddox only hid this preference until his relationships became legal.

SVU then showed how it was still a little uncertain if the allegations were true when Chelsea admitted that her mother had helped to "remind her" of the truth, which spoke of coaching (fitting Frank's narrative). Even so, SVU seemed to blur portrayals, so that it could have been coaching or it could have been a child's confusion, with her frequent looks to her mother potentially being looks for safety -or- for instructions... Then in the last scene Benson and Amaro look on while Mia Farrow's surrogate holds Dylan's surrogate in front of the press..

[Liv]: "If he is a pedophile, at least he's out of their lives."
[Amaro]: "And if he's telling the truth, Chelsea gets to grow up with a full-blown narcissist who convinced her to lie."
[Liv]: "either way... [Satan] help that child."

And of course, because this SVU episode takes the history to the beginning, Dylan Farrow's life has actually already jumped forward ≈12 years, and things haven't been great at all..

Anyways. I think SVU was leaning towards their Woody Allen character's guilt, but it's definitely a difficult case in Real Life. Woody Allen's NYTimes article..:
Cherub Cow
Fri May 09 03:54:26
..can be convincing, but so can Dylan's open letter:
Cherub Cow
Fri May 09 03:54:44
For me it's probably tipped against Allen by way of babysitter testimony, where there was that creepy thing about his head being in her lap:

I think my default would be to believe Dylan (potential victim), but knowing how crazy parents can be during divorce colours the water. -Everything- can be ammunition, and half-truths can become full-truths for posturing. That's kind of like this episode's point, where the [alleged] victim in this case was de-centered [irrevocably?] by feud logic. Because of who her parents were, she never had a true resolution.

On a separate point, I at least don't have to worry about Dylan's "What’s your favorite Woody Allen movie?" question (which was intended to cause guilt in Allen-supporting readers), because I hate most of his movies anyways. I thought Midnight in Paris was fun, but that was kind of a surprise given that I've never liked anything else by him. I give credit to Owen Wilson, though :p

But besides, even though Allen's case pushes divides between artistic output and artists themselves, I still think that artists and work can be two separate things. If I had to agree with the lifestyles of movie actors/directors/etc before enjoying their movies, I couldn't watch anything. Following that sort of logic to its conclusions, everything would be taboo. So I think that cultural output should be unbiased; peeps can/should look to artists in their real lives to understand their work, but created space has its own life, separate from creators. Of course, with that in mind, creative output should not -excuse- real life, and -that's- Dylan's issue.
Cherub Cow
Fri May 09 03:54:57
[Onion]: "Boy, I’ve Really Put You In A Tough Spot, Haven’t I?
COMMENTARY • Opinion • Celebrities • ISSUE 50•02 • Jan 14, 2014
By Woody Allen"
Cherub Cow
Sun May 18 01:33:27
The latest SVU was okay (S15-E22: "Thought Criminal").

SVU was setting up virtual stings for internet predators (they even caught Brian Baumgartner! He played Kevin on "The Office"), and one of them, "Simon Wilkes," ended up being entirely theoretical..

SVU did a drawn-out entrapment scenario for Wilkes, but after they discovered that he had built a murder dungeon behind his art studio, they arrested him only to find that he'd never actually killed anyone. So despite not having any evidence for -that-, the D.A. decided to put him on trial for intent to kidnap and torture, which wasn't a good idea — and didn't they have material for his accessing child pornography and maybe even snuff? -That- would have been a winnable case. Oh well.

"Thought Criminal" was the episode title because it was a bit 1984-ish the way they tried to prosecute him simply for having murder -fantasies- (policing thought). SVU had messed up the entrapment phase so that most of it was their fault (they'd pushed him to act), and Wilkes had a socially acceptable excuse: being an artist. B.D. Wong stopped by to play Dr. Huang again (it's been a while since his last appearance) and mentioned that Wilkes was escalating — that was supposed to be the major threat. Still, while the episode treated him like a criminal, they could still have set him up with professional help or something. I mean, living in NYC *and* rich? That's like, the perfect recipe for being in therapy ;D

Anyways! The continuity plot for this episode was that Amaro was starting to crack again. His [ex?]-wife basically offered to start over with him again if he'd move to California with her, but he got caught in a feedback loop between work and the stress of that decision, and so he threatened her with legal action way too soon and then beat up Wilkes in the park after finding Wilkes taking pictures of children playing.

So next episode will be the season finale. Should be about Amaro fighting Internal Affairs or something, and maybe Wilkes will escalate too? I really don't care if Amaro leaves or not, so it should be fun ;D
the wanderer
Mon May 19 20:12:35
they can't possibly let another rogue cop get away with it... even though real life ones do :p...
Cherub Cow
Fri May 23 00:12:45
Yeah! About to see what happens!!
I'm watching on hulu, but it's up for streaming or downloading here:

Season finale! Last game of the year, Brent, can't hold anything back meow.
Cherub Cow
Fri May 23 00:52:53
Cherub Cow
Fri May 23 01:07:03
Really good close to the season!

(= SPOILER, in case you plan to watch )
While Amaro goes through proceedings, SVU tries to get back to work, picking up a case where a pimp and prostitute held up and raped a man in a hotel. It turns out that the prostitute is "Baby Doe"'s mother, so Liv gets a bit disappointed, since she's been quietly fantasizing about adopting the baby ever since S15-E14 when Baby Doe was recovered from a child porn ring. But.. when SVU manages to turn the mother against the pimp, she gets "green lit" by the pimp ring, raped, and murdered.. also set on fire.. In the ending scene, the Family Court judge calls out Liv on her fantasizing and suggests that Liv just adopts already.. and she does! :'D
Very sweet moment at the end

In Amaro's plot, SVU shows that it really has been getting a bit dirty. Meow it's not just Liv lying to keep a psycho in jail, meow Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish) actually blackmailed Wilkes into dropping charges.

The season ended with Amaro having one more shot at SVU, Detective Munch returning to be fatherly, Liv adopting, a mysterious pimp getting away with murder, and Rollins going thin blue line. Pretty crazies. A nice return to SVU's good writing. Hopefully this means they'll be safe from The Soup for a while ;D
Cherub Cow
Fri May 23 01:08:50
Oh yeah! And Detective Cassidy really seems to be out of the picture. I must have totally misread Liv and Cassidy's declaration of love earlier in the season. It could be that that was a goodbye "I love you" moment. I only say this because Liv's adoption seems like it would be an important time for Cassidy to be present, but he wasn't.. so yeah.. that might be over :(
Cherub Cow
Thu Sep 25 22:51:18
First episode of season 16!

Seems like this episode was mostly cleaning up the loose ends of 15's finale. Amaro was assigned to patrol work (in a uniform and stuffs) with another unit, but they included him in the plot by having him pretend to be a dirty cop to get a lead for SVU. Not sure how they'll stretch him into another story, and it seems kind of absurd that he could ever work at SVU again, but they seem to be working towards that... The writers need to stop protecting their actors.

In the main plot, Liv was trying to find Baby Doe's mother's killer, but people in the prostitution ring were being executed to keep them from talking. There were some plot issues with that.. like there was an unsuccessful prison shanking, and someone decided to try to kill one of the prostitutes with a handgun — right in front of a Police station — and also failed. Then in the ending, (( spoiler )) after someone finally gives up info on the sex-trafficker boss, Tutuola was cuffing him and managed to get elbowed by him, and the boss tries to shoot them but gets shot.. while surrounded by other officers and even a SWAT team. This fails at logic because he was portrayed to be a devious leader of some evil empire, but instead of relying on his lawyers and continuing to clean house with his resources, he just reaches for a gun like any common criminal? It was rushed writing. All they wanted to do was close off the story with Liv's new baby (which means right away having her address the idea of having her child threatened by suspects) and to do it the writers made some simple errors against show realism..

It has been strange to see them making these pop culture decisions in the last few seasons. One of the good things about Law&Order has been their portrayal of -likely- outcomes, which means dubious or incomplete endings, but a new habit has been optimistic endings and closure moments. And this episode also marks another event where they have intentionally left the door open for case continuity, because the boss they killed was one of three kingpin brothers, so it wouldn't be surprising if one or both of the other two become an issue later..

Anyway, SVU will be doing a Ray Rice episode next week, so that should be disappointing ;)
Cherub Cow
Sat Oct 04 02:04:21
Episode 2 turned out really well:

The beginning has some especially bad acting by actress Kelley Missal, but Stacy Keach's performance made up for it. In a way, he sort of got to reperform his role from "American History X" via a commentary on Donald Sterling.

Teri Polo (of "Meet the Parents[&Fockers]") also made her second SVU appearance. She had some good scenes towards the end; lots of personal conflict and emotional shifting.

Also, the new Detective ("Carisi," played by Peter Scanavino) had his first, big backstory moment — a short monologue on his experiences with Homicide. It starts out a little rough, like he's taking an acting class, but it works:

[Liv, after Carisi says something insensitive again]: "..tell me again why you work SVU?"
[Carisi]: "I worked Homicide, a couple years. It's .. it's the women who get you. I mean, they're dead, but... but their hair's clean, they're nicely dressed, they're made-up. And that means their husbands or their boyfriends did it. It's like they knew. They knew it was coming. They don't even look surprised. Just finished."

The way that was written seems a little off, but it manages to show that Carisi has an empathy for the victims (an always important SVU trait), because he sees the back stories behind the murders — the resignation of abusive relationships. His character seems to be balancing between this hidden empathy and his used car salesman look ;)

The episode gets to be a sad look at covert racism and corporate image production. There were conversations where the SVU detectives or other characters seem to [intentionally, in the show's design] avoid simply calling situations "racist," showing that the vocabulary has only changed based on new hopes and expectations.. but the ending plot point ((spoiler)) of Polo's character's decision to not keep Wilkins' child might be acting like a metaphoric indication that people still don't make the choices needed to bridge the "old" divides.

..Then Liv ends the episode with a significance-giving camera zoom following the line, "One of them is saying, 'let's start over,' and the other one is saying, 'it's too late.'" Liv's expression seems to be giving this personal resonance, which would maybe say that she's reflecting on the road she began at SVU, and how it's too late to live a different life. That's also relevant for Hargitay herself, because this show has really been the focal point of her career. Altogether, it kind of forms a wider message on how the years add up, and people can look around to find that they've lived a particular identity that never quite matched up with personal expectations or ideals.. :(
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 10 19:59:04
s16,e3, "Producer’s Backend"

SVU seems to be doing this thing where they put the bad actors (here, Stevie Jones) in the beginning of the episode but close with their good actors (here, very strong performance by Kaitlyn Bausch). From this episode it seems that that's intentional, because their starting bad actress was -playing- a bad actress (probably a Lindsay Lohan reference). Her character tried to accuse Amaro of soliciting sexual favours, but there was dash cam video exonerating him, so SVU was free to see that the actress had a history of inappropriate relationships with older men, all proceeding from an initial abuse by a movie producer who routinely manipulated age restrictions..

And a good plot around that; this episode sources dysfunctional child actors from a history of bad parents (not too surprising), but also from a history with the predatory producers who were enabled by the parents — ambitious parents/guardians delivering their children into harm. The producer had been good about manuevers around age laws — casting where the consent age was 16 — but SVU had a sort of Al Capone /Untouchables moment when they at last found a federal crime that the producer overlooked.

There was an inordinate amount of satisfaction from SVU at the end (even when they win, usually they don't seem so righteous about it), but that was quickly tempered by a cliffhanger where Liv's Baby Doe had been hospitalized and Liv rushes off to find out the details.

Anyways! That could supply some interesting continuity issues; have to wonder if the writers would kill the baby off just to make things depressing...
On another front, they managed to bring Amaro back this episode, which was surprisingly easy for them to accomplish. I'm sure they broke some realism with that, but now they have a full cast and the used car salesman shaved his mustache, so ;p
Cherub Cow
Thu Oct 16 20:29:05
lol.. okay, I'm only 10 seconds into the new SVU and I can tell that this episode will be hilarious and maybe even make next week's Soup:
It looks like it'll be an Elliot Rodger episode, complete with Rodger-style cheesy acting
Cherub Cow
Thu Oct 16 22:26:24
turned into a good episode. Whenever their Rodger surrogate ("Holden," played by John Karna) was on camera he had that silly persona, but the writers actually humanized him through Detective Rollins' late interaction with him. They also were willing to show that this character's victims (one, anways) weren't exactly perfect and even confirmed Holden's perceptions — but not, of course, his course of action. This was much better than the SVU writers' handling of their Trayvon Martin story — this one was able to draw on a classic Law&Order theme of showing that while the law itself has some certainy, the people moving into its domain have plenty of flaws on both sides of the legal crime (whereas they literally made Martin a choirboy for that story). It's good to see that SVU can still make these distinctions..

And Liv's story arc had some comical, bureaucratic thinking mixed with her attempting to be a new mother and a busy SVU Captain at the same time. In the best summation moment for this, she had the Deputy Chief (Peter Gallagher) demanding impossible productivity on the Holden case while she took a call from a social worker who harshly judged her for not being on a 24/7 watch of Baby Doe during his hospital stay. Across both situations (case and child) the message seemed to be that she was losing her ability to give a full, human touch — instead relying on others — but even so, the social worker's reaction seemed especially comical given that Baby Doe's former caregivers were drug addicted and abusive and that the social worker had only dropped in on a narrow window when Liv wasn't there. Comical, but sadly realistic — people do make those quick, idiotic judgements of limited contexts. Have to wonder if this will lead towards Liv deciding to quit SVU or if she'll make it work..

Cherub Cow
Thu Oct 23 23:48:48
Especially good SVU on Wednesday:

"Pornstar's Requiem" was mostly a retelling of Belle Knox' story, where in real life she was outed by fellow university students when they discovered that she was a porn star, though SVU's Knox surrogate ("Evie Barnes," played by Hannah Marks) wasn't just harassed but actually raped by two boys after they discovered her identity. When Detective Carisi (who, btw, appeared in the opening credits picture for the first time since his arrival)
..uses a clever tactic with one of the boys — convincing him that the lawyer that he was sharing with his friend was planning to pin Barnes' rape on him — the episode seems set because SVU has an actual confession of rape (a procedural rarity), but after the jury returns a guilty verdict, the judge uses "judgment notwithstanding the verdict" to overturn the jury, essentially allowing the boy to go free:

[Judge]: "I do not do this lightly: due to the lack of sufficient evidence, I accept the Defense's motion to set aside the jury's guilty verdict
...[argument with ADA Barba]...
[Judge]: "Young lady, I don't know if you desire the recently popular status of victimhood, or if this was a publicity stunt to jumpstart your porn career, but given the evidence, there is no way to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that your 'no' in this incident, truly meant 'no.' I hope going forward, you find the way to respect your body, and yourself."

[Barnes]: "I-I wasn't lying!"

[ADA Barba]: "What you are doing is giving men permission to assault a woman based on her sexual history — you're setting the clock back on rape law 50 years."

That dialogue has some major episode points — it served like an example of intersections between performance versus reality, popular culture scripts (both the scripts followed by the boys, acting out porn, and the victim scripts feared to exist by the judge), utilitarian-economic usage of porn (people attempting to lead normal lives while working in porn; a dual status that hasn't been reconciled in popular culture), and a commentary on the current version of victim mistrust.

Looking more at the last one: because rape discourse has been so popularized, it has been threatened by internet sensationalisms (Jezebel, SJW side of tumblr, etc.) which use buzzwords for cultural capital rather than for functional designators — kind of like people talking about their "triggers" while feigning PTSD in order to gain privilege for their voices in the self-debilitating irony of a cultural landscape which calls out the privilege of imagined enemies (feigning damage to be cool, diminishing damage). For SVU, the result becomes doubt; because culture itself is performance, where culture intersects reality, reality can be questioned. Essentially, for the judge, because his determination rested on deciding whether one video was acting and another was not, he sided with doubt.

In SVU's instructive role, the episode has no intention of saying that victims -should- be doubted (that was actually the -problem-, because their Barnes character -was- assaulted), instead, it sort of shows that where culture can be borrowed, it can be abused, and that abuse raises doubt. Even where crime statistics support a minority of false accusations of rape, those rare cases can cloud waters for the less discerning, resurfacing past injustice and leaving others to fix the damage made by poor cultural repurposing..
Cherub Cow
Fri Nov 07 21:44:42
S16-E6: "Glasgowman's Wrath"

SVU took on the story of the Wisconsin "Slender Man"-inspired girls who tried to kill their friend...

The writing for this one seemed not to have much to say. Weirdly, they didn't bother introducing conflicting opinions on the subject, like questioning creepypasta culture's effects (not that creepypasta itself can be blamed, of course), disproportionate media coverage between the sexes, friendship psychology, etc... it was an almost purely procedural episode. Being procedural makes it closer to SVU's real function of just finding out the facts and going to court, but their omission of real life details (or lack of a treatment of them) makes me wonder if they rushed the script (filler episode) or just didn't want to risk saying anything ill-advised. They did at least acknowledge some of the sinister behavior, like how the episode ended with the two girls secretly pinky shaking. That could give the episode some credit, where that gesture maybe shows that these two girls had successfully pulled a veil over the eyes of the adults or that their secret world had been overlooked entirely (which fits the script hardly addressing the Slender Man mythology).

So yeah, giving the SVU writers credit, this episode had some clever nuance. They showed that the SVU detectives can't notice or can't take into account the things they don't quite understand. Still, that type of writing is almost -uncharacteristically- subtle for SVU lately, which makes it more difficult to identify. But it was kind of nice to not have them filling in all the blanks; that leaves a lot more for interpretation.
Cherub Cow
Fri Nov 14 22:06:13
Nice! SVU did another non-political episode!

S16-E7 "Chicago Crossover"

This one was about a pornography ring that had managed to use miscellaneous net anonymity protections (like Bitcoin) to evade prosecution. They basically said that this -really- should just be an FBI issue, but of course the SVU writers like to break those realities to branch out with their story options.

They brought back Sophia Bush again (she guest-starred in the Tosh episode) and also some other peeps from Chicago P.D., which I didn't even realize was a TV show until this SVU episode. So this was part 1 of a crossover.. will have to watch their episode meow I guess, which is exactly their marketing model and I'm its victim :|

Anyways! :D
Liv got to compare Voight to Stabler, because Voight also has a tendency to be brutal with the suspects. The episode was kind of throwback that way. Kind of makes me wonder about Sophia Bush's role on Chicago, because here they tried to make her a sort of vulnerable, "damsel" character, which — if the guest performances in this episode were supposed to be a sample of Chicago PD — means that that's one of their selling points...

Probably will watch Chicago later.. wasn't prepared for more TV shows tonight.
Cherub Cow
Fri Nov 14 22:08:17
(throwback elements connect to Sophia Bush because her character and Stabler/Voight's seem classical/archetypal within the Dick Wolf realm)
Cherub Cow
Sat Nov 15 23:57:14
Just watched the Chicago P.D. crossover/conclusion episode

They wrapped up the story by showing how all the remaining people connected to the ring were being killed or were killing themselves, but after Sophia Bush's on-screen brother identified the leader, they closed everything off.

Seems like a nice show. Don't think I'll branch out, though. It looks more action-oriented, which could just be the content of this particular episode, but the directorial style had that Paul Greengrass "Bourne Identity" look (shaky for immediacy), so this might be fairly representative. Maybe if I had more time to burn, but I haven't even started watching Game of Thrones, so Chicago P.D. can wait :p
Cherub Cow
Thu Nov 20 21:32:57
I might say this a lot, but this was a -really- good episode, and with a guest spot by Chad Coleman (Tyreese from Walking Dead)!

S16-E8: "Spousal Privilege"

It was SVU's take on Ray Rice's abuse of Janay Palmer (where Rice was caught punching her in an elevator). They wrote the episode from the perspective of Palmer (played by Meagan Good from a bunch of stuff but who I remember most from "One Missed Call" because that movie was so bad ;D ), and so they were able to show how the idea of "liberating a victim" can be complicated when the designated "victim" has the agency to -decide- to stay in a relationship considered abusive by outsiders (this theme extends to a lot of subjects).

Overall I think they successfully showed that Liv was right to go after the Rice surrogate, but what the episode did really successfully was show how much emotion was invested in the success of the relationship, mostly thanks to a great performance by Meagan Good. Even with statistics and its probabilities providing that it is very unlikely that their Rice surrogate would stop abusing the family despite his wish to change, I think this episode could inspire that crazy hope, where the emotions mean so much that you want them to be right.. even if they might destroy you
Cherub Cow
Sat Dec 13 05:02:53
S16-E09 (2014-12-10): "Pattern Seventeen"

Another really good one! This episode tracked SVU's search for a long-time serial rapist who had moved city-to-city successfully evading Police.

This one was mostly to show how quickly repeat rapists can be caught when their patterns have been identified and when rape kits get processed quickly. The cities that had failed to identify the rapist's patterns had substantial rape kit backlogs, having not run thousands of kits and let cases go cold because of funding or general indifference (whereas NYC has no waitlist at all [IRL or just in the show?]).

SVU has addressed this [at least?] once before: in Jennifer Love Hewitt's guest episode (S12-E03: "Behave"). The difference in this one was mostly focus, because while the Hewitt episode was about post-rape trauma (having the rape kit done, PTSD, coping issues), this episode gave a lot of room to the backlog and its effect on the U.S. DNA database — where jurisdictional failures were enabling further crimes and making the "cost prohibitive" argument fall apart.

And! This one seems to have had a big moment for Liv's continuity. The lingering question has been whether she could stay Captain -and- manage Noah (Baby Doe), and in this one she explicitly told the family court judge that Noah would be her priority. So, unless Liv intends to be okay with a drop in her work performance, she might be preparing to end or reduce her role with SVU. But they've sort of been saying that in one way or another for quite a while, so not much telling how the writers will really handle this.

And moar! Detective Rollins' character keeps getting moar expanded. They had built her professionality issues by way of a relationship with Amaro, and now it looks like she'll have to reface her past work/relationship decisions due to her former captain inappropriately turning his attention towards her. He thinks that because of a professional courtesy that he paid her, that he can impose on her sexually. Meanwhile, Rollins has been trying to free herself from all of her mistakes (the gambling, compassion for her manipulative sister, former work relationships), but she tends to make bigger errors when her new self has to confront her old mistakes, so this could get messy..
Cherub Cow
Mon Jan 12 05:52:46
S16-E10 (2015-01-07): "Forgiving Rollins"

This episode reveals the fuller extent of Rollins' relationship with her former captain (Deputy Chief Charles Patton, played by Harry Hamlin, who I only just recognized to be Perseus from Clash of the Titans) and also guest stars Dreama Walker from Apt23 (best show evar!)

Walker's character (Detective Reese Taymor) essentially finds herself in the same position that Rollins was in — trying to stay professional despite having a sexually manipulative boss. Taymor has managed to avoid situations where Patton can take advantage, but after a conference where Atlanta P.D. and NYC SVU talk about the positive results of the last episode, Patton cajoles his way into Taymor's hotel room, explaining that his room card doesn't work but that he left his side of the shared hotel doors open so he can cut through.. of course, it was all pretext; Patton pressures Taymor into sex, and he continues despite her saying, "no" (events not shown but revealed by testimony)

I think one of the stronger effects of this episode was its explaining that despite rapists potentially avoiding the physical evidence of the rape (no defensive wounds on Patton and no defensive acts by Taymor), the rape may still have occurred. In this case, Patton's position of professional power meant compliance by Taymor — a feeling of helplessness which Rollins' understands too well..

After hearing Taymor's testimony, Rollins finds that Taymor's descriptions of Patton's manipulations line up almost word for word with her own, but having sat in on the trial details and having waited so long to come forward meant that she was not admitted into the trial by the judge. A lot of the episode has that problem — Rollins finding that her former inaction has cost her in the present. In one particular scene, Taymor testifies that one of the reasons that she (Taymor) came forward was because she didn't want this to happen to someone else. Rollins looks guilty when she hears this, because, of course, Taymor -is- the someone else that Rollins could have protected by testifying years before this.

I think they did really well to show Rollins' difficulty in wanting to be a strong person and career-focused officer but still being frozen in place by abuses. She knows the right decisions — and all too well, being in SVU — but here that knowledge meant inaction. She wants to champion herself in the workplace, but she's trapped between coming forward to do the right thing when others fail to do so and not wanting to ostracize herself from the Police family. If she had turned in her captain before, she would have had nothing but enemies in the department and could have actually increased animosity towards women officers in general. But, by not coming forward she let people think that she "slept around to get ahead." And escaping that Catch 22 wasn't even possible, because her past followed her to NYC when she changed jobs. Those power differentials were related heavily to the powerlessness in rape.. trying to survive a suffocating situation but having no ideal path to do so.. having to give up and become a passenger in one's own body...

In the episode, Rollins sees Taymor making the right decisions, and Patton faces some consequences after ADA Barba was able to trick him into admitting inadmissible but important information in front of the jury (the fact that Patton had done this to at least a few coworkers in the past — a door that had been mostly closed by denying Rollins' testimony), but the catharsis mostly rests with Taymor, who more directly faced her rapist in court. Rollins' process remains less certain; she rejects a chance to see a psychiatrist, but does decide to take time off of work.. maybe wondering how life at SVU will be now that her new coworkers know about a vulnerable moment in her past.

So a really good episode with great nuance and well-played emotional conflict. It was especially character focused, and I think Kelli Giddish showed a lot of depth. Really makes my short list of favorite SVU episodes.
Cherub Cow
Fri Jan 23 00:53:57
S16-E11 (2015-01-14): "Agent Provocateur"

This wasn't a bad episode, but not super notable for me. It dealt with fame culture and the easy abuses of meta by hack pop artists. The writers did well with that, at least. It just seems like an episode of sinking feelings given how little people care about celeb vanity manipulations :/

The episode follows "artist" Scott Russo (Shiloh Fernandez from Deadgirl and the latest Evil Dead) and his celeb friend and his manager. They interact with fan Madison Baker (played by Madison Grace of nothing important), who has been so deluded by her celebrity crush that she doesn't even care that she's just been raped and dumped in a suitcase, prefering instead to change her story to protect her idols. In that way the episode shows some of the sick complicity of victimization that follows fame — under-/un-reported groupie victimization.

This episode also gave a fair treatment to celebrity image manipulation. The main "villain" celebrity was in the middle of releasing a movie called "Wrongly Accused" (minus Leslie Nielsen) where his character finds redemption following courtroom persecution. His "real life" situation with SVU then gets to be a chance to showcase his own [false] victimization; his character carries over to real life for a façade of innocence which allows him further sway over future fans (specifically, in the ending scene it becomes clear that he enjoys uncontested access to his underage fans). And in his own respective system, his manager makes her own similar, dogmatic approach to protecting her clients despite their abuses...

So anways.. a good story that could reveal how twisted celeb culture is and how no one should interact with these people in the normal lives, but it's so systemic that even SVU's getting the message out seems like an empty gesture. Have to hope, maybe? :/

Oh, and this episode randomly had Jack Noseworthy from Event Horizon. Plus, I'm not sure but it seemed like they were trying to make the villain character (Shiloh Fernandez) seem like Orlando Bloom or something. They mentioned some mega movie that Fernandez' character was supposed to do in New Zealand, and you could maybe see physical similarities between Miranda Kerr and Madison Grace. In SVU terms that could be an indication that Fernandez' character has "appropriate" relationships with women who have legal age but who physically appear very young (kind of like the suspicion around Woody Allen). But anyways, they might not have had anyone particular in mind. Jonas Brothers? Not sure.
Cherub Cow
Fri Jan 23 20:07:53
S16-E12 (2015-01-21): "Padre Sandunguero"

..There was at least a guest spot by Armand Assante from Judge Dredd and that 90s TV mini-series version of "The Odyssey", plus April Hernandez from Dexter (she had an 8-episode part; Deb's partner for a few episodes, then disappeared).

Otherwise.. it was an Amaro episode :/
It just went into his father issues; Assante played Amaro's abusive father who was about to remarry someone significantly younger than he was (Gabriella; she was 28 though, so really not too crazy). Assante's character was quickly accused of hitting Gabriella at a party out of jealousy, but while audiences might be inclined to think that the father -had- hit her (especially given Gabriella's "genuine" reactions during outcry and then during the trial), the writers left things legally dubious until the end (unreliable/partisan witnesses and such), at which point Assante's character admitted his actions to Amaro "off the record" and after being cleared of charges.

So the episode mostly dealt with a person's want to believe that an abusive person can change and also with -not- believing that an abusive person can ever change (different characters supporting different perspectives). In this case, Amaro was right not to trust his father, but his father makes it seem possible that Amaro could have tried to reconcile the relationship — which -could- have helped his father to work through his own issues. Kind of difficult to say if that would actually work, but the SVU writers mean to leave that plot door open. Not a fan of Amaro, though. He's not bad, just not interesting.
Cherub Cow
Thu Feb 12 21:33:19
S16-E13 (2015-02-04): "Decaying Morality"

-Very- meh. The writers telegraphed the entire story within the first few minutes :/
They made it too obvious who was at fault, yet they still insisted on making his identity a major plot "surprise". That at least allowed Detective Carisi to have some development; because he's still new to SVU it was surprising to him that familial rape exists. Otherwise, whatevs
Cherub Cow
Sat Feb 14 01:33:12
S16-E14 (2015-02-11): "Intimidation Game"

Seriously hilarious :D
SVU tried to do their version of GamerGate, but it ended up showing how out of touch the writers can be with techno culture. A must watch, especially for non-fans of the show:

They ended up making a statement about how a new wave of gamers (from a fictional "Red-Chan") have lost their sense of reality so much that they're willing to carry out their online threats (mostly a matter of dramatic license). Basically they gave the threats reality, which accidentally brought the material into absurdity.

Anyways, for continuity, Tutuola (Ice-T) killed someone in this episode and seemed probably too okay about it, so I'm sure that'll end up being an issue. Or not. Ice-T's character has been immune to development pretty much for the show's entire run.
Cherub Cow
Sun Mar 01 00:42:36
My SVU reviews have gotten short. I really haven't had time for much lately :(

S16-E15 (2015-02-18): "Undercover Mother"

This one was about a mother (Lili Taylor from 1999's disaster horror, "The Haunting") whose daughter, Ariel (Danika Yarosh, who was a different character on the show back in 2010), was kidnapped while she was in Canada. Taylor's character searches for her daughter by working with a series of sex traffickers, with the episode ending when SVU's help leads to the arrest of kingpin "Johnny Drake" — who turns out to be the father of Olivia's Baby Doe (Noah, whose mother was murdered after readying to testify against another trafficker).

So yeah. Olivia's finding this out was supposed to be dramatic, but most of the conflict could be from the possibility that Drake finds out (which doesn't seem like it will happen). So the mystery behind Noah has cleared up, but that's not really interesting in itself.

For other continuity, Tutuola has not even blinked after killing someone in the last episode. They will never develop his character.
Cherub Cow
Sun Mar 01 01:52:26
S16-E16 (2015-02-18): "December Solstice"


When the SVU writers want to branch out and display their abilities beyond the show's typical format, episodes like this happen (and that can be a good thing).

In this one, SVU samples a little from the death dramas surrounding Casey Kasem, though they change details of course. So the episode features a fictional famous author whose wife ("Charmaine Briggs" played by Marcia Cross from Desperate Housewives) denies visitation rights to the author's daughters of previous marriages. The daughters get SVU involved by telling SVU that Charmaine has been crushing up Viagra to force their dementia-afflicted father to have sex (thus, "rape" in the sense that he can't consent) — a plot device thin enough that there had to be a scene where A.D.A. Barba was like.. "sure.. you can do whatever you like." Still, ignoring that SVU really has no reason to be involved, the episode did okay.

It turned out that one of the daughters was manipulating the situation because she was trying to get her bad play published.. so the episode had notes about the children of great authors not necessarily being decent authors themselves (being a good author typically comes from attributes like self-reflection of experience, not genetics, though genetics can enable the necessary intelligence).. but the stronger effect of the episode was probably the idea of aging and losing the intellect that gave a person such a strong identity. That can be a common theme, but this was a good treatment of it. Some sad moments from that :(

Oh, and A.D.A. Barba apparently has an aging mother. Aaaaand she's gone.
Cherub Cow
Sun Mar 29 20:28:37
S16-E17 (2015-03-25): "Parole Violations"

An okay episode. This one re-addresses problems of incredulity which surround the rape of a male by a female. It's played out through Detective Carisi's future brother-in-law, Tommy Sullivan (played by Michael Chernus), whose parole officer coerces sex from him by threatening him to perform at gunpoint.

Somewhat reminiscent of SVU's S15-E13 ("Betrayal's Climax") where a female victim has an orgasm during a rape, Liv has to explain that Tommy's ability to perform sex does not imply consent. That is, innate biological responses (in his case, getting an erection from physical stimulation), do not necessarily follow from some decided willingness. Still, it remains difficult for Bella Carisi (Marin Ireland), Tommy's fiancée, to think of his rape as anything but regular "[male, opportunistic] sex" or "cheating," and considering him a "victim" seems absurd to her. Only after it was continually spelled out that Tommy's parole officer was abusing her power and had victimized at least one other male parolee was Bella able to see him differently. Detective Carisi also stays resistant to the idea, but he acknowledges the need to undo his own learned prejudices, so he explains the reality with words while himself reacting viscerally against it.

A good subject for SVU to take on. Rape of a male by a female has certainly come up before, but the focus in this episode was different enough to be its own thing, and male victims and female victimizers should not be ignored any more than should classical, patriarchal templates; where there is power, there can be abuse.

Also, very good acting by Molly Price (from Third Watch and lots of stuff) in her role as parole officer Donna Marshall. Her scene towards the end was especially good, but even before then she was able to add plenty of nuance.

And a weird lol in the beginning when the episode editors decided to transition from Tommy's forced urinalysis to cannolis in the office:
.. very "subtle" ;p

And next week Laura Fraser who played Lavinia in "Titus" and Lydia in Breaking Bad will guest star, so that should be kewls
Cherub Cow
Mon Apr 06 22:50:22
S16-E18 (2015-04-01): "Devastating Story"

Really good, aktly.

This episode borrows from the story of the Virginia fraternity that was falsely accused of a gang rape (UP thread: http://www...hread=72730&time=1428375251351 ), though it naturally takes the story further.

In this case it's a fraternity within SVU's fictional "Hudson University" (basically NYU), and instead of Rolling Stone magazine failing to properly vet their sources, it's a fictional TV show called "America's Worst Crimes" (a docudrama show made to be kind of like "Unsolved Mysteries" or something). SVU responds to the TV show's interview by searching for the anonymous victim/"survivor". They identify her (Heather Manning, played by Ally Ioannides), but they soon find that her story is changing and unreliable. It becomes clear that this has been due to the "guidance" of a misguided activist professor (Jessica Dillon, played by Laura Fraser of Breaking Bad, Titus, Knight's Tale, etc.) who knows all of the rape discourse buzz words but does not understand criminal prosecution or legal recourse.

So, having taken so much terrible advice from her professor, Manning's case falls apart. She has publicly changed her story so many times that SVU cannot even move forward. Her professor even caused her to embellish details to build a narrative of a "rape culture" on campus, showing that much of the "dialogue" that the characters seek to foster in popular culture has been dismantled by the very lies that they used to raise awareness. In a way the story becomes similar to the shooting of Michael Brown or other race bait stories, where people -want- to talk about the issues but do so by making use of bad examples. In such cases, inept academic discourse craves validation so much that it will distort reality and burn the bodies it claims to protect under its own foolish machinations.

In the end, Liv interviews Manning with all of the lies removed and discovers that she was indeed raped by one boy, but not any others — a truth that could be called "small" in comparison with the "cause," but one which a real victim has now been left to face as a personal trauma, cut off from the healing process of justice — a process wherein even if she had not won her case, she would have been able to face and reveal her rapist. Instead, all of the accused go free, including the real rapist whose identity becomes masked behind salacious cultural liars.. an abuse which Liv sadly states has set them back "30 years."
Cherub Cow
Fri Apr 17 13:58:03
S16-E19 (2015-04-08): "Granting Immunity"

This one was okay, I guess. It was another example of SVU trying to cover plots that other Law&Order shows would normally cover, but because SVU is the only "Law&Order"-branded show left, they bent connections to make themselves a part of it.

In this case, SVU's entry came from a "rainbow party" where teens videoed themselves performing sexual acts. After one of the teens decides to share a video of it on social media, child pornography issues are raised. Still, while SVU knows that dissemination of the videos is heavily punishable, instead of going about prosecution bureaucratically, they at least recognize that teens shouldn't necessarily be charged with child pornography for videoing -themselves-, so they instead work to contain the videos with an almost equally questionable tactic of mass confiscation of cell phones at the school of the offending students.

SVU mostly dismisses the Orwellian implications of this privacy violation because of a need to protect the students and prevent the spread of child pornography, and instead the episode is quickly turned into the detectives having to deal with the results of an anti-vaccination movement that seems modeled after Jenny McCarthy's misinformed demagoguery. The rest almost goes without saying. All the typical issues of the debate were brought up, with the key point being that anti-vaccination people can do what they please, but when they knowingly endanger others, they lose all ground. Otherwise, the episode was another excuse for Noah to come under threat; he catches the measles from an un-vaccinated child (Noah not yet being vaccinated because of his earlier health problems), and Liv bears the burden of another health scare..

Yeps. So it was mostly anti-vaccination given a dramatic portrayal.
Cherub Cow
Sat May 02 19:28:35
S16-E20 (2015-04-29): "Daydream Believer"

This one was a long waste of time crossover episode between Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and SVU (I watched the PD and SVU episodes, but not Fire), which managed to unite these three by having a murder-rapist who had a history in NYC and Chicago and also had a new tendency to set his victims on fire. Yep. Totally not contrived to connect the shows.

Anyways, beyond the contrivance it just wasn't a good episode. It did at least guest star Milton Mamet (he was the Governor's doctor on the Walking Dead). In this 3-parter he played a Ted Bundy sort of serial killer, and one of his successes was to rid Chicago PD of a main character — that was kind of a fun development. I wish SVU were willing to kill its characters.. especially ADA Barba, Detective Carisi, even Liv... pretty much anyone, really.

Blerg. I guess there will be two more episodes in the season, and Captain Cragen will return for one or both. Maybe Liv's Noah will be murdered by Johnny Drake? I honestly don't care at the moment. The writing on this show can be severely inconsistent, and this episode was one of its low points.
Cherub Cow
Sun May 10 21:29:29
S16-E21 (2015-05-06): "Perverted Justice"

Yay! And right back to good writing.

This episode was based primarily off of Darryl Kelly's 1997 case (his daughter, Chaneya, was convinced by her mother to tell police that she had been raped by Darryl, so Darryl spent many years in prison before Chaneya was able to free him).. though it could have been partly based on Clyde Ray Spencer's case (somewhat similar situation).

For the SVU episode, their version of Darryl Kelly was Derek Thompson (played by Glenn Plummer from a lot of stuff). He had maintained his innocence in prison, and his daughter, Michelle (Samira Wiley from Orange Is the New Black), had tried to free him once before, failed, but was ready to try again as part of a 12-step program. The story goes that her mother (addicted to crack and having an affair with a police detective) threatened Michelle with violence to convince her to say that she'd been raped. As a child, Michelle had tried to tell her teacher and the prosecution that she -hadn't-, but they had buried it either due to incompetence or their own want to prosecute.

But, in modern day, the final complication comes from Michelle not being certain if she had or hadn't been raped. She seems certain that her mother had culled her into lying, but her memory isn't strong enough to argue well against the possibility that her father had similarly told her stories of "truth" via his weekly letters. Liv's former BF Bayard Ellis shows up in the episode (played by Andre Braugher of City of Angels) and gets her to frame this uncertainty in a way that speaks to her -not- having been raped, so the jury is convinced and overturns Derek's conviction..

Still, the episode ends on one of its classic uncertainties — where technical justice may not totally reflect the humanity it was meant to serve. The evidence of the episode really pushes towards the idea that Michelle -hadn't- been raped (lots and lots of evidence pointing this way), but her memory has become unreliable. Michelle really does not know the truth anymore, if she ever knew it, given that she was a child when the original event happened. The episode was a good examination of memory in that way; people tell certain stories to solidify experience, but the story may become its own removed experience, clouding the actual event. That uncertainty has its limitations of course (it would be too academic to say that the past is unverifiable), but mixing human limitations and manipulations into an event that was observed only by a child does show problems. So for Michelle it's not necessarily about what happened, but that she does not have access to what happened, even if it happened to her.

So a good episode; good trauma and memory treatments. Detective Carisi continues to be annoying and I hope they kill him, and Detective Rollins has adopted some weird superiority complex because she's no longer the newest person in the unit and because Carisi lowers the bar, but maybe they'll all die? I hope!! Two more episodes in this season (I was wrong about that before). I hope everyone DIES!! :D :D :D
Cherub Cow
Mon May 11 17:35:53
Almost forgot! There was a funny scene in the episode (S16-E21) where Liv baptized Noah as a unitarian, then afterwards ..

[Carisi]: "I didn't know you were unitarian, Sarge."
[Liv]: "Oh, I'm not, I um, actually I didn't grow up any religion, I just wanted Noah to have something that would ground him." Totally reminded me of David Cross's joke about raising an Amish kid but not being Amish himself:
"that's what you believe in" :D
Cherub Cow
Sun May 24 18:50:21
S16-E22 (2015-05-13): "Parents' Nightmare"

This episode was actually a pretty good "who did it?" where the writing sustained uncertainy for a while. The plot wasn't especially interesting, but still okay.

The short version was that a boy is taken from a playground, then SVU has to work through a divorced couple's issues to find out why. Turns out that the father had the son kidnapped in order to show the mother that she needs to pay more attention to the son's well-being, but (maybe only proving his point moreso) the mother loses her cell phone and misses the fake ransom calls, so what was only supposed to be a few hours of a couple's dispute was turned into a Police matter, with the father having to put on a show to cover his involvement. SVU then unveils the father's plan by sending the mother into his restaurant with a wire, and she realizes that she messed up.. At this point no one wants to press charges, but the father has to serve something like 6 months for unlawful imprisonment (which the mother doesn't want), so Liv gets to tell her that "it's not about you anymore," and that she has to step up and be a mother rather than hide behind the father's better parenting.

Mainly the episode was about sexism and even racism in custody issues, because the father was clearly portrayed as the better parent but had lost custody because he was Middle Eastern and because courts typically grant custody to mothers first. It ends optimistically, though, because the mother -does- sort of have her wake-up call..
Cherub Cow
Sun May 24 20:18:27
S16-E23 (2015-05-20): "Surrendering Noah"

Season finale!
Pretty good, with some nice changes to the usual format. Especially notable was that episode director, Michael Slovis (whose credits include a -lot- of cinematography for Breaking Bad), really had a defined style here. It didn't feel like a normal SVU episode but was instead much more cinematic. Slovis has directed SVU episodes before, so I can only guess that this distinction was because the producers gave him more room or something.

Anyways, the episode focused on Johnny D's (character of S16-E15) trial, where he seemed to be manipulating testimonies to escape conviction. And, after Olivia decided to officially declare that Johnny D was Noah's father, Johnny's lawyer gains knowledge of the fact (despite a separation between family and criminal courts) and uses it to build a conflict of interests case against Olivia (where her arrest of Johnny D could appear to be motivated by a will to gain parental rights).

There seem to be some really stupid people commenting on this point on Hulu..
..some apparently blame Olivia for basically anything negative that happened after this decision, even though Olivia could not possibly have known that Johnny D would act as he did in the final scenes. From her perspective, she was defending Noah's right to know who his parents were in the future (his right to have access to the full truth), and was -herself- standing up to Johnny D's attempts at intimidation (facing the legalities now so that Noah wouldn't have to later). Still, some peeps seem to be insisting that her "absolutist morality" caused the final shootout, when really, there is no indication that Johnny would have acted any differently, making "blame Olivia" narratives seem stupidly absurd.

To explain, in the final court scene, while Ariel Thornhill delivers her testimony, Johnny apparently decides that his case won't survive and that he hasn't successfully intimidated enough witnesses, so when the judge orders the room cleared (given that Johnny's pimps and prostitutes continued yelling from the seats despite her warning), Johnny charges a court officer, steals her gun, and starts shooting; he shoots the judge, two court officers, and Detective Amaro before he's killed. So, to blame Olivia for this, one would have to think..

— That Olivia was wrong to encourage Ariel to testify, in which case, also that Johnny D shouldn't have been prosecuted for trafficking
— That Johnny D somehow would have been winning his case if Olivia -hadn't- given his case an additional -advantage- with the "conflict of interests" narrative
— That somehow Olivia is responsible for the court officer not protecting her sidearm, or for Johnny D attacking, or for the judge being a visible target, or for Nick deciding to pursue Johnny...

Basically, one would have to be a total idiot to attribute that level of causality to Liv's decision to declare Noah's father. If anything, her decision made this shooting outcome -less- likely, because the jury might have been less likely to convict Johnny given the possibility that the case was manipulated for Olivia's benefit. The next layer of blaming Olivia would then fall to her having encouraged Ariel to testify, which is again absurd because it's like saying, "don't convince people to testify against murderers, because murderers might murder you for doing so." Yeah okay :|

Anyways, Detective Amaro had hoped that he'd be the next Sergeant since Olivia will be moving to Lieutenant and Tutuola wasn't interested, but IAB made it pretty clear that Amaro's history would make any upward mobility in his career impossible. Plus, the writers decided to have Amaro shot in the knee, which means he won't be a functional officer, so Amaro has been written off the show. Either Tutuola will have to change his mind or they'll be getting a new cast member to be the Sergeant — the second option seems more likely, since SVU will have to get a new detective regardless, and the SVU writers hate giving Ice-T any extra lines (which they'd have to do if he became Sergeant). So yeah.

They also decided to have Olivia thank Amaro for being an impact on her growth, and she -sort of- insults Stabler for having kept her from growing. Hulu peeps have had some problems with this, but really, it fits; Liv really didn't make any big changes when she was sort of "waiting" for Stabler. Stabler episodes were good, but their -relationship- was not healthy.

Blerg. So that's the season; Liv's adoption of Noah official, and Amaro off the show. They also made room for a creepy Medical Examiner, "Dr. Rudnick," to maybe be an issue later. Rudnick (Jefferson Mays) has been on the show a few times before, but in this episode he seemed a little bit too sympathetic towards Johnny's victims — in a non-clinical, maybe necrophiliac kind of way. It could be nothing, but his scene was given a strange attention, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the writers have plans for him.

So! No more SVU for a few months! :D
Time to maybe finish Voyager or start on GoT :p
Sun May 24 21:33:08
Yay! I mean yeah start on something else :P
Cherub Cow
Tue May 26 16:56:23
lulz, this Onion article applies to the second to last SVU episode :D

"Police Assure Residents Kidnapping Was Only One Of Those Custody-Related Ones"
[Onion News in Brief]
"PORTAGE, IN—Saying it barely counted as an abduction at all, officials from the Portage Police Department assured residents that a reported kidnapping Tuesday morning was just one of those custody-related ones. “While three young children are indeed missing from their home and their whereabouts are unknown, we’d like the public to know there’s no need to be alarmed, as this is merely an instance where a frustrated dad refused to return the kids to their mother at the end of the visitation weekend—that’s it,” said Police Chief Dexter Reynolds, adding that, while the father did drive the children across state lines before informing his ex-wife during an angry phone call that they would be living with him permanently, this isn’t one of those situations where the kids are in danger of being murdered or locked in a basement for three months. “Everybody can relax. This guy’s just a resentful father, not some sort of pedophile or serial kidnapper. Nobody’s getting molested. He definitely committed a crime and we will apprehend him, but honestly, the kids are probably fine.” Reynolds went on to say that he regretted causing such a stir with the Amber Alert."
Tentacle Rapist
Tue May 26 21:06:30
Tue May 26 22:14:11
Cherub Cow
Wed May 27 17:11:10

That's... that's why I do this :'(

Cherub Cow
Sat Sep 26 20:44:29
S17-E01&02 (2015-09-23): "Devil's Dissections" and "Criminal Pathology"

SVU is back! And with a two-part premiere:
And like mentioned in my season 16 finale review, the writers did indeed decide to use Dr. Rudnick in a villain role (an obvious decision for many viewers) :p ... It was pretty much immediately his story, and luckily it only took the first 23 minutes of the episode for SVU to go from suspicion to, "yeah, Dr. Rudnick is a serial killer" — sometimes it takes too long for the characters to realize obvious details, but on this occasion they were timely..

This also marks the second time that SVU has cultivated a killer in its lab, with the earlier one being Dale Stuckey (Noel Fisher), who killed 11-episode forensics tech Ryan O'Halloran (Mike Doyle) before being subdued (S10 finale). So when Tutuola suggested that M.E. Warner (Tamara Tunie) might be in danger from Dr. Rudnick, the earlier writer decision with Stuckey (using him to kill a main character) made it seem very possible that Tunie might be written off the show via Warner's murder. But! Didn't happen. Tamara Tunie is credited on 220 episodes, so that would have been a big decision, though.

Anyways, this episode seemed to be a dramatic retelling of Robert Durst's story through Dr. Rudnick, where for Rudnick the episode included dismemberment murders, cross-dressing (which included a funny moment when Dr. Rudnick handed off his purse to Rollins — "hold my purse" from another side), and a habit of talking to himself. I wasn't that familiar with Durst before watching, so I thought this M.O. was that of a different killer (couldn't find his name, but it was someone who killed his mother/aunt and dressed as her to give an appearance that she was still alive.. was caught because DNA was collected from an envelope he licked), but Durst's story clearly fits the episode details better anyways.

The writers also connected Dr. Rudnick's story back to the "Daydream Believer" episode (S16-E20; their Ted Bundy episode), and given their Bundy character ("Dr. Yates") helping Detective Rollins look for another killer, there was a definite Hannibal Lector tribute. At one point Yates even smells Rollins to discover details about her (like Hannibal detecting Starling's perfume) — in Rollins' case, he informs her that she's pregnant (clear to both viewers and Detective Carisi before this moment, but a shock to Rollins). Rollins confirms this with two pregnancy tests, and tells Liv later in the episode. With all the support that Liv showered on Rollins, I almost hoped that Rollins would be like, "yeah, thanks.. but I was hoping you could help me find a good place to get an abortion" :D .. that would have been fun, but Kelli Giddish (who plays Rollins) became pregnant in real life, so they intend to make it part of her character. Rollins has said that Amaro is not the father, but viewers probably should suspect that she's in denial. Still! It could also be her AA sponsor, Nate Davis (Thomas Sadoski), or even Lt. Declan Murphy (Donal Logue). They'll probably wait until later in the season before revealing that part of the continuity..

Lastly! Looks like Dr. Rudnick and Dr. Yates will be sharing prison space. Either one could kill the other, and it's very possible that Rudnick has a serial killer fan who will assist in an escape ("Bronwyn Freed," played by Sarah Bisman; she was in the courtroom during Rudnick's trial, and was the one who helped Psychopath William Lewis escape). That will be an episode or moar away, though, because it looks like they'll be doing a non-continuity episode next...


btw, has anyone noticed that Wikipedia has been removing lots of pictures of celebs from their pages? Like Robert Durst has no pic. Must be cutting down on copyrighted pix..
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 02 19:17:32
S17-E03 (2015-09-30): "Transgender Bridge"

A pretty fair update to one of SVU's older transgender episodes, 2003's "Fallacy" (S4-E21; one of my all-time favorite SVU episodes), wherein a transwoman murders someone impulsively in order to prevent them from telling people that she's trans. But where that episode dealt with the animosity towards transpersons, this one updated it as a sort of misunderstood social condition to which people have been adjusting.

In this episode, SVU cast a male actor to play their transwoman (whereas they used a female actress in "Fallacy" — Katherine Moennig, very cool actress, currently on Ray Donovan), which shows that SVU no longer has to make a transperson appear totally "post-op" in order to gain audience sympathy... but they do recognize work to be done. Then the episode was able to focus on how people may intellectually accept transpersons, but they may still react impulsively if a novel sighting occurs. So the plot was launched teenage character "Darius" (Dante Brown) bullying a transgirl ("Avery Parker," played by Christopher White) by lifting Avery's skirt and taking her camera, which led to him accidentally pushing her off a bridge. Avery later dies, but not before Darius has made his remorse clear.

Remorse and forgiveness throughout the episode were extreme, and even the parents didn't want Darius to be punished, but the conflict comes from the D.A.'s office (not A.D.A. Barba, whom SVU didn't want to villainize by arguing the case against his convictions, though they had no problem doing so with A.D.A. [Cabot?] in an earlier episode) pushing for a conviction to show that transphobia isn't acceptable (deterrent logic). The episode ends with the tragic verdict that no one except the judge and prosecutor seem to want: Darius' guilty verdict and heavy sentencing (7 years, effectively ruining his potential). This ending then acts to show that society itself is currently acting a little too harshly on behalf of transpersons — even independent of their potential wishes. This "politicization of the issue overruling case specifics" trope could be seen as commentary on Caitlyn Jenner's rabid support, but it apparently had the specific 2014 case of Richard Thomas and Sasha Fleischman in mind (after flicking a cigarette, Thomas set Fleishman's skirt on fire accidentally on a San Fran bus and was sentenced to 7 years):

So, very sad but good episode. Lots of family tragedy being examined, and it tied in with class distinctions and such (like how Avery was free to examine her gender identity because she was bourgeoisie, whereas Darius was from a lower class school and acting from systemic ignorance). "Cycle continues" and all that.
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 02 19:19:54
*So the plot was launched [by] teenage character
Tentacle Rapist
Sun Oct 04 09:36:24
If Olivia wasn;t in the show, it would be a much better show. Unfortunately, it's mostly about Olivia's quest to force her personal values on everyone around her, regardless of what the law says.
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 16 19:00:16
She's sort of coming under fire in the new episode continuity for that character flaw :)

S17-E04 (2015-10-07): "Institutional Fail"

Not much happening here. SVU finds an abandoned child after he wanders into a convenience store. It's revealed that his mother fell into drugs, most severely after her boyfriend was killed by police in a drug-related shooting, so he's been left alone in an apartment for days without food.. along with his even younger sister, who was locked in a cage for complaining, later dying from organ failure.

This episode focused mainly on Child Protective Services (CPS) being overwhelmed with case work, causing them to artificially inflate their bureaucracy successes to cover shortfalls. That artificiality meant that resources went into worker promotions rather than child services (like their need for more workers), so dozens of children in critical situations went without CPS checks... Whoopi Goldberg guest stars to play the sort of CPS villain (an over-worked bureaucrat who has given up on making a difference), and delivers a courtroom speech while on the witness stand that condemns her but that also forces the city to address the issues.

So... Good to see that Goldberg can still act, but otherwise there wasn't much happening in this episode. It was pretty similar to SVU's rape kit episode (S12-E3), where Liv gets to tell the world that rape kit backlogs have created huge prosecution issues. In both cases (this episode and that one), she ends up being a kind of city champion..

S17-E05 (2015-10-14): "Community Policing"

Was correct above! :D
"Rollins has said that Amaro is not the father, but viewers probably should suspect that she's in denial. Still! It could also be her AA sponsor, Nate Davis (Thomas Sadoski), or even Lt. Declan Murphy (Donal Logue)."

It turned out that the father -was- Lt. Declan Murphy. The proles in the Facebook comments below the hulu video for that episode were convinced it was Amaro — casuals! ;p .. they don't keep up with the show. Some of them didn't even know that Rollins and Amaro had ever been an item, which was a pretty big plot point for several episodes, so it's not surprising that they forgot about Murphy. Donal Logue ("Murphy") was also much more likely to return to the show than Danny Pino ("Amaro"), given the finality of Pino's emotional farewell episode..

Anyways. This episode takes on the theme of police killings of black youths, most specifically the case of the "Shooting of Amadou Diallo"..
.. where police kind of maybe shot an unarmed person way too many fucking times. In this episode, a task force assembles to track down a rapist described as "[black with an afro and a throwback sports jersey]," but unfortunately, another black youth (without an afro) wearing the same jersey runs away from police while they're in the area looking for the rapist. The result: three police high on adrenaline shoot the suspect because he was pulling house keys from his waist. Two officers completely unloaded 16 rounds, while Detective Joe Dumas (played by Scott William Winters; another of SVU's recurring cast who was poached from the "Oz" TV series) "only" shot three times.

SVU has done similar racial injustice episodes (like Trayvon Martin; S15-E3), but rather than play the dumb narrative (as in the Martin episode, where they chose to literally make their Martin surrogate a choir boy), this episode specifically examined how police have become too quick to draw and fire. At the critical moment, Detective Dumas admits that if he had waited only half a second, he would have realized that the suspect did not have a weapon, and thus Dumas would -not- have fired even the three shots that he did.

I thought this was a good illustration of one of U.S. policing's real and addressable issues: the idea that "procedure" can be followed in a legal sense, but that it can fail tremendously when police simply have not been taught a more functional behavior. In the episode, even if the offending officers were given total benefit of the doubt (where their lines of fire made them feel a threat of violence, even despite the angle of a sensational video), they still failed to appropriately judge a shoot/no shoot situation. Could this have been prevented? Yes. Officers currently get taught lethal-heavy behaviors, reaching and firing before thinking and evaluating, and in the case of that Birmingham detective (beat up because he didn't want to make an error), when it's a non-lethal situation they freeze, because they don't know an appropriate, non-lethal response. Do officers need to protect themselves? Surely, but not if that self-protection means judgment errors which can cost innocent lives. If the episode's officers had taken proper cover, or paused, or prepared non-lethals, then it would have been a temporary arrest for flight, yet like so many similar real life cases, war zone trigger finger mentality favors and protects procedure at the expense of judgment.

So this episode looks directly at this problem, with even Liv trying to defend the idea that an officer has to be given room to make these on-the-fly decisions... but when questioned by A.D.A. Barba, she has to admit that she has been in situations where "procedure" would have protected her error, but that she did -not- shoot. I think they're examining that the difference comes with officers who can make space for judgment, even under pressure, and that's not "talent" or some inborn state, necessarily — it can be trained, it just isn't.. at least not well.

Blerg. This episode was cut before the plot finished — they intend to have a trial episode later (and not next week), so they stopped the story after it was shown that the three officers would face steeper charges than the Grand Jury was originally asked to file. Should be fun! Seems like SVU has really recovered nuance since their season 15 writer failures.
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 16 19:05:20
Oh, and a lol: because they were side-tracked by the mistaken shooting, they seemed to totally forget that an active serial rapist was still running around :D
Cherub Cow
Fri Oct 23 16:44:56
S17-E06 (2015-10-21): "Maternal Instincts"

A pure continuity episode! :D

This one dives back into Detective Amanda Rollins' crazy family issues. Her sister, Kim, working as a prostitute, drugs a famous concert flutist/flautist, who (being drugged up) goes on a rampage which includes raping a fellow musician. During the investigation of the flutist, Amanda is the first to see surveillance of Kim selling the flutist's 50k USD flute at a pawn shop, so Amanda attempts some kind of damage control (hiding the footage), but that ends up being a mistake..

By the end, Kim proves herself as a family con-artist again, making it pretty clear that if Amanda doesn't fix things, Kim will burn Amanda and SVU, planning to use in court the fact that Amanda used her detective position to delay an investigation and also dirtying the water by saying that Amanda would have gotten a take of the flute sale. Personally I don't think that the show writers will burn Amanda like that, simply because Kelli Giddish (Amanda Rollins) just had her baby in real life, so it would be mean to drop a new mother from the cast.. at least to drop her permanently. Rollins might be suspended, or she'll be taken off the show -temporarily- when her character delivers, but I don't think SVU will remove her altogether... I'd suspect that it will be Kim who will finally go down.

Anyhow! This is the third episode of the season to leave continuity issues open, and they've started piling:
- the serial killers from the premiere still have an escape to make
- the serial rapist from the last episode was never caught
- the trial of the three Police officers hasn't begun
- the trial of Rollins' sister hasn't begun either
- the flutist case hasn't been resolved (this episode made it seem that he -was- drugged, but his victim seems to think he was sober, so .. to be seen)

..and the next episode will open a -new- story (a depiction of the real life rape of a minor by reality TV "star" Toney Converse), so these issues will be left open even longer. The SVU writers seem to be giving themselves room for development later in the season. That's kind of a new thing for them, because while there have been recurring plots in the last season or two (like the psychopath who toyed with Liv), traditionally Law & Order writers have only passingly mentioned character continuity. The show seems to be adopting the successful formulas of other shows (like Game of Thrones) by opening lots of issues early and closing them in finales... It's not a terrible idea, but they -have- sacrificed realism a -lot- in order to work in this direction.
Cherub Cow
Tue Nov 10 14:04:49
S17-E07 (2015-11-04): "Patrimonial Burden"

(This was actually based on the Duggars' "19 Kids and Counting", not Toney Converse like I mistakenly posted before, btw).

Another "who did it?"! SVU has to sort of navigate all of the usual tropes ("was it the father? the brother? the cameraman?" etc.) in order to track down an opportunistic statutory rapist who has embedded himself in the lives of a religious TV-show family. Spoiler! The main threat turns out to be the family priest, who manages to go pretty quickly from that "born again Christian" super-positive look to a creepy "I'm manipulating all of you" look. His saying the word "came" in a really weird way, 7:05 into the episode makes sense with this conclusion:
(like he was speaking in innuendo; "I *came* as soon as I could" — yes apparently so!) ;p

The main point of the show was that predators embed themselves in situations where they're trusted and can have a lot of social leeway. The family priest was only *one* of the predators; the cameraman (played by Chris Elliott from Cabin Boy! :D ) was able to get away with voyeuristic filming because it was tied in with his work (though they never really proved for viewers that it was actually more than just work-related), and the older son was also able to get away with groping and harassment because women in the family didn't have a voice. Though the story focused on a Christian group (its script basis), this kind of problem of under-representation and its enabling of the victimization of women calls back to Islam during the black power movement, where an extreme patriarchal situation pushed black women into the margins where victimization was swept under the rug or ideologically spun so that there would be no outcry. The larger issue becomes that while the benevolent sexism of patriarchy-based groups can pretend that it "protects 'its' women," the reality shows that abuse actually increases because predators can safely move in — undetected or even knowingly protected — and women lose a voice to complain about the situation (because "men will take care of it"). Detective Carisi's verbal attack of the priest then becomes comical, because Carisi participates in the same flawed religious framing, he just wouldn't go *that* far, or so he probably tells himself.

A good episode, overall. For continuity, Amanda has started worrying about her baby and her becoming a mother, and Chief Dodd's son, Mike (the new detective), seems to be getting used to the idea of Liv "always being right" — though Liv's saying this at the end could end up being a reason for the writers to destroy this expectation later ;p
Cherub Cow
Wed Jan 20 19:56:11
Have slacked on the last few episodes! Going to do mini-reviews. And probably altogether shortening the way I do SVU reviews..

S17-E08 (2015-11-11): "Melancholy Pursuit"

This episode was somewhat based on the murder of Yara Gambirasio..
..with the big theme being that police forces can potentially get too crazy with DNA profiling.

For SVU, the disappearance and found body of a teenage girl, "Lily", resulted in a DNA *familial* match, and instead of calling it a dead end and looking at other leads, SVU basically hunted down anyone in this family and pressured them for DNA in order to get a better DNA profile. The result was SVU uncovering a lot of personal/family issues which should have been beyond police purview. It made for an interesting story (the father of the killer was maintaining multiple secret families, having had children with [I think, three] different women), but it was also meant as cautionary against this kind of "cast a wide net" tactic of DNA evidence.

This episode also showed that the new detective, Mike Dodds (played by Andy Karl), tends to push suspects too much to get confessions. In one scene he was able to coax a confession out of a drug addict, but it was clear even in the scene that this addict was just trying to stop the questioning so he could sleep, being misdirected into believing he'd done something that he didn't. Luckily they disqualified the suspect by DNA before Dodds could embarrass himself further.. Kind of a shady moment.. and Liv didn't seem to call him on it afterwards, maybe because Dodds felt guilty..

And a sad ending :( .. when they finally narrow down the killer, it turns out to have been a weird "accident" involving a kind of sympathetic idiot (an emotionally underdeveloped vending machine worker who tried to give Lily a ride home, tried to kiss her, and critically injured her when trying to stop her from screaming). Dodds sits in on the un-coaxed confession, kind of blaming himself for not tracking down the right leads from the beginning.. but the confession seems to reveal that Lily died almost immediately or immediately enough that Dodds' investigation decisions may not have helped one way or the other. Then in the final scene Dodds has to explain to Lily's parents that there was not a motive or any malicious intent.. his only explanation for the killer was that "he'd seen her before."

There's a blogger who does similar reviews of SVU, but I think they really miss the mark a lot, and especially so on this one:
"a dull, lifeless episode, the weakest of this season so far" — Hardly! I thought this was a very powerful episode. The main plot spoke of police procedural abuse, and it had some really good performances by Andy Karl (Dodds), who had a really emotive, visceral reaction to seeing Lily's body and whose expressions communicated a lot of range in the critical scenes of the episode (especially the confession). The writers/director set his own reactions apart from Tutuola's, who has basically seen it all at this point and treated this as just another death on the paper stack.. whereas Dodds still sees the tragedy .. And the scene with the family:

[Lily's father]: "He ... attacked her, killed her for no reason?"
[Liv]: "I wish that we had a better answer."
[Dodds]: "I am so very sorry."

His line had enough of a tone, pause, and look that it wasn't, "I'm sorry for chasing the wrong leads," it was, "I'm sorry that there's no answer. And there's nothing I could have done — my efforts meant nothing to prevent this tragedy. This was only something that I could witness after the fact." ... basically he has to come to terms with looking in a horrible world and not being able to be a hero against it. Liv does at least assure him: "we got the guy, Dodds; that's as good as it ever gets," and tells him to look to life outside of SVU, but he still gets left to his thoughts.

S17-E09 (2015-11-18): "Depravity Standard"

Fun times!
Tom Sizemore returns to SVU, re-playing a child killer from 2012's "Manhattan Vigil" (S14-E5).

Btw, Sizemore is scheduled for something like 30 movies in 2016. It's pretty crazy. Check his imdb!! He must be trying to buy drugs again ;p

This episode was mostly a performance piece for Sizemore, who [played?] a deranged person very well. Lewis Hodda (Sizemore) managed to convince a juror that his confession was coerced and that the real killer was ignored, so they were deadlocked and Sizemore's character goes free. But! Another mother whose child was also killed by Hodda sees this and promises to testify (she had earlier abstained).

I kind of hope that they have to show another trial episode ;D .. probably not, though, because the case details seemed too strong (like, Hodda would definitely lose) for this alternate trial to be in an episode..

And! They ended the episode with Rollins experiencing serious pregnancy pains — a cliffhanger almost a month long that was diffused in a few seconds of the return episode :D

S17-E10 (2016-01-06): "Catfishing Teacher"

In the opening scene Rollins has had the child and seems totes fine. SVU was just messing with viewers :p ... they also continued with the idea that Rollins perceives Carisi as a father stand-in.. no telling how that would go in practice. Carisi tends to be super-religious about personal life and Rollins likes trouble.. but maybe they could fix each other ;)

Good episode once from that point! It started with a statutory rape story (a female teacher who has a history of sex with male "jock" students) — which was already problematic because U.S. culture considers that a male success story rather than a rape story. But, they transitioned into an episode where a male gym coach used this female teacher's notoriety to coax a vulnerable student into his NYC home — "catfishing" the student with sexting pictures that he'd acquired — drugging him and then bringing him to his secluded rape cabin in Vermont. Basically, with the gym teacher story they were able to parallel the male tendency to under-report abuses with the female teacher's actions, showing that male abuses tend to be "shrugged off" or seen as some "great right of passage" rather than as traumatic or victimizing. One of the female teacher's students, for instance, was openly resistant to having sex with her, but she made fun of his saying, "no," getting her way with this vulnerable person.

And the ending brought this to a dramatic and pretty unexpected conclusion ("unexpected" for me, at least). SVU finds itself unable to prosecute the gym coach, because none of his victims have been willing to admit their abuse. But, when SVU approaches one of the older, former victims ("Nat Dennehy", played by Noah Fleiss), he at first declines only to show up at the squad bay with a video of him stabbing the tied-up coach repeatedly in the leg until the coach names all of the boys he abused. Tutuola and Carisi leave while the video is still playing, but the coach dies from his injuries "en route to the hospital," having been stabbed the night before and left to bleed for hours before Nat reported it. Very dramatic conclusion, because Liv pities this grown victim for being so tormented by abuse that he has at last cracked (and he was "finally able to sleep" after committing the crime), but the A.D.A. makes it clear that he'll be seeking Murder-1, given that it was a pre-meditated murder.. even if a vengeful or deserved death done by a victim. Cycle of violence, people!! ;p

Bonus note! :D
SVU has been comically casting Bridget Barkan as "Lisa Everly," a one-legged prostitute (her leg was surgically removed by a weirdo who paid her for that as a service in S13-E22), who makes random appearances peripherally to the main story (this makes at least her fourth as this character, at least her sixth total SVU appearance). In this one, Carisi and Dodds show up at the principal's door to ask him where his teachers might be..

[31 minutes into episode]:
[Carisi]: "...we're NYPD"
[Everly]: "*That*'s how I know you guys! :D"
*Carisi and Dodds don't acknowledge her, trying to stay professional*

..and looking at the hulu comments and googling, it looks like no one made the connection :D ... that is: the principal had a prostitute over at his house but SVU "ignored" it for the sake of their investigation XD

S17-E11 (2016-01-13): "Townhouse Incident"

Really tense episode!! Def recommend.

This episode quickly ties of one of the loose ends I listed above ("the serial rapist from [S17-E05] was never caught"). SVU gets a tip that the rapist was prevented from attacking, and when they arrive they find him hiding on the roof, and they manage to arrest him without violence despite his *having* a gun ( too bad that couldn't happen in E05! :( ..). They list a significant amount of evidence they have (witnesses and DNA at all scenes), so his story ends... but in the main story...!!!

On the request of her baby sitter, Liv looks into an ambiguous domestic situation at one of the sitter's other houses only to find out that a mother and two children have been held hostage by a three-person gang looking for cash (apparently one of them worked for this family's supermarket chain and thought that he could get money for his mother's hip replacement via robbery). Unfortunately for Liv, the gang gets the drop on her, disarm her, and Liv gets to have her life threatened for the whole episode. Really wasn't sure if they were going to kill her character off! So again: very tense! :D

Most of that tension came from the gang leader being a drug-addicted former "drug war" special operative, who seemed to make decisions based on random impulses. Still, Liv manages to get him to behave in ways that make him feel like he still has control even as he loses it. It was kind of a fun play on the negotiator situation, with Ed Tucker (the I.A.B. detective that finally got around to seeing Liv's dedication) working outside and Liv working inside.

So! Did enjoy! :p
Cherub Cow
Wed Jan 20 20:08:27
Oops! Bridget Barkan appears with 31 minutes *left* in the episode; it was about 10:10 *into* the episode.

*This episode quickly ties [off] one of the loose ends
Cherub Cow
Sat Jan 23 23:42:18
S17-E12 (2016-01-20): "A Misunderstanding"

One of SVU's "grey area" episodes!
[Apparently based on Owen Labrie trial]

The short was that two teens tried having their first sexual experience in a school's photo dark room during a school dance, and while they both kiss, the female teen says, "wait, slow down. Not down there. Not so hard," the male student does slow down, but they continue after an apologetic pause.. and the female student later claims to have "frozen" and regrets the quality of the experience (they both lost their virginity in non-ideal circumstances). It's later revealed (and confirmed by both students) that the boy fingered the girl but otherwise came without penetration..

Basically, there should have been no case at all; freezing and *not* communicating a solid "no" while in the middle of a consensual sexual encounter should have meant no attempt at prosecuting.. External details (like the boy's potential motivation of "getting a notch on his belt," the 3 year age difference of 18 vs 15, etc.) were mostly false complications to the original, consensual act. Even the idea of "affirmative consent" was brought up, but the grey area remains, because the teen girl changed her mind **without stating anything** — how can that be prosecuted? But none of that was the point of the episode.

SVU ends up prosecuting via the episode's half-stated "Romeo and Juliet" social tragedy (they framed the story with "Romeo and Juliet" by having it as a class topic early in the episode), wherein two families (respectively to the girl and boy) pressured legal action when this should have remained a teenage learning experience. The girl and the boy still like each other at the end, but they're pulled apart by their individual families, pushed to dramatize a rape narrative or act via legal maneuvers, and eventually suffer for the system's maladies — the boy losing his college possibilities and placed on the sexual predator list (all very publicly by the court mechanism), and the girl either having to change schools or left stigmatized at her current one. So the horror story that the episode painted was that the system can cause too much destruction from a potential non-event, even victimizing its central characters (as Romeo and Juliet died for familial failures and familial separation efforts), so by the end, "all are punish'd."

Benson really dropped it on this one, too.. because she really wanted to help a potential victim, even if there was none. That was another part of the "grey area" of the episode, and unfortunately it seems that Benson defaults to protecting the female over the male when it's dubious. Still, a good meta episode, because as per the cultural uncertainty principle, simply observing can cause interference/change, so legal systems do need to be cognizant of the way that they affect or narrativize the realities brought to their attention.
Cherub Cow
Sun Mar 06 02:14:32
Still need to catch up my reviews, but oh noes!! D: ... big development for continuity in latest episode!

S17-E17 (2016-03-02): "Manhattan Transfer"

They maybe tried to do their version of the "Spotlight" movie, basically going against an upper-level governmental conspiracy where NYC's vice squad was implicated in running sex trafficking parties for NYC political figures. This transforms into the clergy being implicated too, where they may even be poaching from their own shelters and murdering to keep it quiet.

Late in the episode, Liv and her new BF, Ed Tucker (long-running Internal Affairs officer in the show), seemingly have their relationship used against them.. It seems clear that Ed and Liv didn't break the rules (aside from not reporting their relationship), but the clergy reported them as corrupt, so!! As the episode ends, Liv comes back from a meeting with the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) having been dismissed and looking pretty flustered. She cleans out her desk and says that Detective Dodds is now in charge of SVU D: D:

Very kewl! I wasn't expected anything crazy to happen on the continuity side for this episode.. it seemed like another crime-of-the-week up until that last scene. I'm guessing that in the next episode they'll just fix the situation by having SVU vindicate Liv in their free time, but I kind of wonder if they'll keep her out for a few episodes..

Based on Liv seeming *very* pissed off, it doesn't seem like this was an act before she goes undercover, but it's a possibility. She insinuated that Detective Dodds had used political leverage to acquire her Captain's chair, but I think that he's loyal to her and will probably prove himself by bringing down the corruption... maybe even bringing down his own father? That's probably the big twist, actually: that Chief Dodds (Detective Dodds' dad) was behind the whole thing, pulling strings to sanction illegal activities. If that's the case, then Detective Dodds may even leave the show after catching his father.. which I only say because they still haven't even put him in the title crawl (they usually update those immediately to reflect cast changes, but he's been on for maybe 10 episodes but hasn't been credited yet).

They also showed that ADA Barba may not actually have Liv's back after all, given that he turned against her pretty quickly when he learned of her relationship with Tucker (Barba made it sound like she was in on the corruption just because she hadn't mentioned that she and Tucker were a thing). That seems to be a recurring theme on the show: peeps turning or not turning on each other when they find evidence of wrong-doing... just two episodes ago a major character was found guilty of child porn but no one in his family believed it, so the show characters may be worried about discovering the illegal/secret lives of people that they trust. Still, not cool, Barba! He'll have lost friend points when things get sorted...

- Liv fired!
- Detective Dodds in charge!
- Chief Dodds the trafficking mastermind??
- Where is Detective Tutuola? Nowhere to be found in the last few episodes...
Cherub Cow
Sun Mar 06 02:27:15
Yeah even the Hulu hacks seem to think that Chief Dodds will be the "secret mastermind". One person also mentioned that it would be especially good of Chief Dodds to have removed Liv because having his son in charge would protect him from corruption charges (or so he probably thinks).. Anyways, the next episode won't be until the 23rd, so.. a bit of a wait on this cliffhanger
Cherub Cow
Fri Jul 17 06:22:26
I was going to post this in the "*Talk about random TV Shows* Part VIII" thread ( boardthread?id=movies&thread=66912&time=1457252835158 ), but it's kind of spammy and more about Law&Order anyways.. I feel like I'm doing a TC here with my outrage posting ;D

It occurred to me that Law&Order SVU may also have some clickbait articles attached to it.. and.. yup!:

Olivia Benson is also a bad cop! ACAB! She's part of the system and therefore awful and should be cancelled because she's perpetuating the myth of the good cop! lol.. these fucking idiots...

"Sorry, Olivia Benson Is Canceled Too
The Law and Order: SVU protagonist gets lionized as a TV “good cop.” That does real-world damage"
[Rolling Stone; June 12th, 2020]
"The truth is that, if you agree that the system is broken and great changes need to be made on all levels to fix it, you can’t pick and choose what needs to be changed. No matter how much you love Olivia Benson, you have to be willing to grapple with the fact that she plays a major role in perpetuating the idea that cops are inherently trustworthy and heroic, and that many viewers are unable to distinguish between the gossamer fantasy of how justice should be handled, and how it actually is. If cops are canceled, that means all cops are canceled, up to and including the strong and pretty ones we like to watch break down pedophiles in interrogation rooms. Revolution can’t be built on the backs of the exceptions, and those who perpetuate toxic systems can’t be deemed immune to critique just because we like them. It’s the simplest equation there is: if all cops are bastards, and Olivia Benson is a cop, that means she’s — kind of — a bastard."

I was hoping via some of the wording that maybe this author was just using Law&Order:SVU to show how absurd ACAB logic has gotten, but.. he seems like a strait-up Kool-Aid drinker. His logic is that Law&Order:SVU doesn't address intersectionality or racial disparity issues *enough*, so it's just privileged, white-centric, abuse-excusing fantasy. That means that he doesn't even watch the show (he even makes references to Detective Stabler's days, which ended *years* ago), so he doesn't know what he's talking about.

He makes incredible mental leaps and crimestop (1984) arguments to keep himself from recognizing the idiocy of ACAB. Like, he acknowledges that many people joined the police because Olivia Benson is a role model.. but he does not bother addressing the fact that **maybe those people became good cops**. Like, maybe those people want to make a positive difference like she does and take active steps to bring that kind of world about ("You must be the change..."). He also brings up the idea that Olivia would never be in a position where she would see a "bad cop" in action and be forced to intervene (like with George Floyd), yet she has done that **for years**. She has been almost *painfully* hard-line, turning officers over when they screw up and letting the Internal Affairs Bureau destroy them — even when the actions of the officers weren't necessarily that "bad".

Anyways, I felt the need to search for an article to see what kind of arguments these people make, and I was not impressed. I can't imagine being so reality-denying.
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