SVU is at its best when addressing issues related to prosecuting powerful rapists.
Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 16 was no exception.
Jackson Wright was one of the most despicable SVU villains yet. Still, he nearly got away with multiple rapes because of his powerful position as a CEO of a successful company and his ability to lie with a straight face.
This was one of those stories that seemed like it was going in a totally different direction.
Newcomer Joe Velasco is an enigma as far as SVU goes. Deputy Chief McGrath installed him as a spy, and nobody quite trusts him.
So when his date fell down the stairs after screaming at him to leave her alone, I didn’t expect anyone to believe his version of events.
This easily could have gone the way of Velasco having to prove his innocence while SVU argued about whether “believe survivors” applied when one of their own was accused or not.
In retrospect, I’m glad it didn’t go that way.
The story SVU decided to tell was far more powerful than yet another cop in trouble story or debates about whether believing a doubtful story meant cops are above the law.
Online dating. Russian Roulette.
At least now we know that Velasco has a good side. I’m not sure when he became friendly enough with Fin for Fin to tease him about his online dating life, but in any case, Valesco is far more than a spy for the brass.
That whole spying angle might have been dropped since no one mentioned it or had any reason to be suspicious of Velasco.
His plight didn’t need to be the focus of the episode, but some conversations in which not everyone believed Velasco was innocent no matter what Lisa said about it might not have been remiss.
Also weird: Rollins’ sudden absence and Benson and Carisi talking about how she was taking care of her injured mother.
I felt like I missed something! The characters were talking as if we’re supposed to know where Rollins is, but it all happened off-screen.
Hopefully, Carisi’s visit with her and her mom will be on-screen when SVU returns in April. This whole story seems pointless, especially if we never see it!
SVU more than made up for these weird loose ends with a compelling story that included a substantial courtroom sequence.
Too often, this series forgets the legal side of the Law & Order equation and makes the story solely about the cops, with only brief courtroom scenes, if any.
But this time, we got a full trial, complete with an obnoxious defense attorney.
That lawyer was so cringe-worthy. Every word that came out of his mouth was about how Lisa was lying about having been raped. Ugh.
I especially didn’t like that after the judge admonished him for saying the jury would be confused, he repeated it while talking to another witness.
That felt like he was sneaking something in through the back door that had already been disallowed, and I was irked that Carisi didn’t bother to object to it.
Cress’ outburst that Jackson raped her too was somewhat Perry Mason-ish and more dramatic than realistic, but nevertheless, I laughed aloud at the irony of the defense attorney complaining it blindsided him.
He kept slipping snarky comments into his cross-examinations that the jury supposedly was supposed to disregard. Still, the second Cress said something that made his client look guilty, he complained that it was prejudicial.
Pot, meet kettle. Sheesh.
While we’re on the subject of Cress, can we have a round of applause for Sherri Saum? This is the second time she’s been on SVU, and both times she played characters that were wildly different from Lena Foster-Adams and kept viewers guessing.
This time around, it was hard to figure out whether her character was telling the truth or whether she was using Lisa’s rape for her own purposes.
It might have made for some riveting drama if it turned out she was up to something and really had undermined Lisa’s case on purpose, but that’s not SVU’s style.
It made more sense and aligned with the SVU brand for Cress to have been raped. I guessed it when she said that Jackson was going to get away with this again.
That wasn’t a throwaway line or a reference to certain former Presidents who seem to get away with a lot of illegal activities. It was a not-so-subtle clue that Jackson had also abused Cress.
No wonder the woman wanted to commit suicide! She not only kept her own rape secret but blamed herself for her goddaughter’s rape and then screwed up that case too.
She must have felt like the ultimate failure.
Her suicide attempt made a lot more sense once the whole truth came out. Before that, I thought that Jackson had got to her, and her so-called attempted suicide was attempted murder.
Your turn, SVU fanatics. What did you think of this hard-to-dissect rape case? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.
SVU returns on April 7, 2022. In the meantime, you can watch Law & Order: SVU online right here on TV Fanatic.
Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST / PST. The next new episode airs on April 7, 2022.