With tonight’s installment of “Law & Order: SVU,” the number of episodes that have aired this season will hit 17, meaning that there are less than ten new stories to unfold before year 14 of the series comes to an end in with a two-hour finale on May 22.
This seems like a good time to look both backward and forward to what’s happened and what may happen before this season meets its expiration date.
A diverse group of six ‘SVU’ fans were more than willing to discuss their reactions to the season thus far and to converse about what makes the show their go-to for a weekly dose of drama.
The first topic that everyone was anxious to talk about was which season 14 episode has been their favorite and why.
Jim K, 28, started with, "I think that there're a lot of episodes that have been outstanding this year, but if I have to pick one, I really liked “Lessons Learned” because it was about male abuse. That’s a subject that’s hard for a lot of people to talk about and I think the show did a good job with it. And, it hit on the fact that victims wanted an apology and think this is often the case."
Vince R, 39, continued with, "My favorite was “Acceptable Loss” because we got to see Kathryn Erbe from “Criminal Intent.” I loved her in that show so it was cool to see her as Eames again. And, I liked the dynamic with her and Benson. I hope she comes back again sometime."
Karen S., 32,, added, "Secrets Exhumed' was my favorite episode so far this season too, I think because of the twist with FBI agent [Dana Lewis] actually harboring all of that jealousy and anger all those years and covering it up so well."
Marley W. 47 and Uhlee Z, 26, also voted for “Secrets Exhumed” as their favorite. “There were no big chases or anything like that, but it was so suspenseful,” concluded Marley. Uhlee mentioned, "I don’t usually notice the direction in an episode, but since I liked this one so much I watched it twice and the second time I was really impressed with how the camera moved and how that was used to tell the story. There were so many close-ups and the whole episode was very emotional."
The final panel member, Robin E., 51, said, "Deadly Ambition" really got to me. Rollins' sister setting her up to kill her boyfriend was hard to watch, but that’s what made the episode so good. I like seeing personal stories with the detectives. I know that's not really what the show is supposed to be about, being a procedural and all, but still, that's a big the part of what I like about the show."
All of the viewers interviewed were also eager to talk about both Mike Tyson as a guest star in “Monster’s Legacy” and the episode “Funny Valentine” which featured a storyline mirroring the domestic violence incident that occurred between singers Chris Brown and Rhianna.
Robin explained, “I didn’t watch the episode with Mike Tyson and I don’t plan to watch it. I think it was wrong to give a convicted rapist a part on this show. I’m still a fan, but in my opinion that was the wrong thing to do."
At this point Marley actually tried to convince Robin to watch the episode, saying, “I had mixed emotions about it for just the reason that you said, but I watched it and it was a really powerful story and I can see why they needed a big strong guy to play the role. I don’t think Tyson in that role should keep people from watching it.”
Vince then remarked, "That was a difficult episode to sit through because it was about a seemingly very tough guy getting abused. He finally snaps and commits a horrible act of his own to stop the abuse. But, that just shows you that anyone can be abused, that it doesn’t mean that someone is weak if it happens to them. That's an important thing for people to know and understand. But, as good as the story was, I do have to agree that maybe they could have found another actor to play that part.”
Karen added, “I was surprised that they put him in that role. I definitely think that they were pushing the envelope, but that's what they're supposed to do. And, they were successful in getting everyone's attention which was the ultimate goal, right?”
As for the episode “Funny Valentine” the panel again had very diverse feelings.
“I think it was a bold statement,” began Uhlee. “I mean, 'SVU' certainly didn’t shy away from showing how they think this whole thing could end, or is going to end. I liked the episode.”
Marley, on the other hand, didn’t care for the episode, saying, “It is probably my least favorite of the year. All that happened was we saw a fictionalized account of what we’ve seen in the news with a ‘shocking’ ending that to me wasn’t so shocking. Seriously, they weren’t going to end the show with the couple living happily ever after so you knew something bad was going to happen.”
Karen also felt the episode was subpar, saying, “It just didn’t hold my attention because there wasn't any kind of real twist to it. The storyline just carried on about an insecure girl not willing to stand up for herself with her awful boyfriend.”
“I understand what they were trying to do; show a women who goes back to her boyfriend after he abuses her,” explained Jim. “We all know it happens, how was this episode different from any other boyfriend/girlfriend abuse story? Maybe it was supposed to be different because it was about two famous music stars? That didn’t really make the story any more powerful to me. I did think that the ending was interesting; that the show went there was interesting to me. Like Uhlee said, the ending was a bold statement, so I guess all in all, it was a worthwhile story to tell.”
"I seem to be in the minority, but I really liked the episode," admitted Robin. "It was interesting to me. I know it was 'ripped from the headlines' and all, but we weren't there when any of this happened and I liked seeing the story told in a fictional manner. And, one other thing that I thought about is that looking at the big picture, years from now, this story will still have impact. So when this episode reruns, new viewers will see it and maybe they'll get something from it. Isn't that what this show's about, educating people about issues like this in an entertaining way? In my opinion, that goal was accomplished here."
The panel discussed a few additional topics pertaining to 'SVU' and more of their thoughts will be included in a forthcoming post.
For now, a look ahead to the next few episodes:
First up, tonight, it’s “Undercover Blue” which harkens all the way back to both season 13’s season finale and the two hour premiere of the current season that aired in September 2012. Viewers will recall that those episodes featured a storyline that led to the arrest of a well-connected madam, a pushy pimp and ultimately brought down several high profile government figures.
The continuation of this storyline picks up as the trial of pimp Bart Ganzel gets underway. As former ‘SVU’ member Brian Cassidy prepares to testify in the case, a woman comes forward claiming that he raped her while he was undercover. Cassidy and his lawyer employ some surprising methods of defense, which will have particular consequences for Detective Amaro, as well as the rest of the squad.
Before the season premiere last fall, Executive Producer Warren Leight explained that, “All season we’ll be looking at issues of trust and secrets. Who can you trust?”
Leight, and the stable of writers on the show, have definitely lived up to that credo, doling out tidbits of information and then paying them off handsomely a bit later, with each reveal causing a shift in the foundation of the 'SVU' team. ”Undercover Blue” continues these underlying themes by exposing even more secrets and threatening the already shaky relationships within the unit.
Following “Undercover Blue” will be an installment entitled “Legitimate Rape" on Wednesday, March 27. This episode earns its title from a political statement made by former Missouri State Representative Todd Akin, who, in a televised interview, claimed that victims of ‘legitimate rape’ rarely get pregnant. There's no doubt that this statement, along with all of its implications, will get a thorough examination both in and out of the courtroom when an assault victim learns that she's pregnant.
"The next two episodes seem to have everything I want the show to be,” says Marley. “It looks like we’ll be getting some good investigating, some heated courtroom back-and-forth and some personal moments for the detectives as well. Keep all of that coming, and I’ll keep coming back every week.”
"Law & Order: SVU" airs Wednesdays at 9e/8c on NBC.
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