“Is there something going on that I should know about?”
If season 15 of ‘SVU’ could be boiled down to one sentence, this would likely be it.
This statement is usually the underlying theme of many of the crimes that the squad investigates, most of them involving a he-said, she-said narrative.
Wednesday’s episode, “Reasonable Doubt,” certainly falls into this category with a bitter ex-wife accusing her estranged husband, a powerful television producer, of molesting their young daughter.
This case, as with every other one this season, is tinged with gray in a way that no one knows who to believe, and this is precisely the thing that makes it so, sadly, realistic.
But, it’s not just this case that has things stirring in that squad room. Because viewers have become enmeshed in the personal lives of these detectives, every situation now acts as a prism into their individuality; into their thought process and decision-making methods.
While this may be true given what we know about Benson, Rollins, Amaro and Fin, it’s certainly not true of the newest member of the squad, Lieutenant Murphy. Other than the fact that he spent several years undercover and that he’s proven he’s willing to lie to protect his crew, viewers have seen very little of his course of action when it comes to actually dealing with the accused and their accusers.
It’s rather amazing that adding this one new faction to the group can change the dynamic so significantly that this deep into the season, ‘SVU’ feels like a whole new ballgame. Murphy’s presence in the interrogation scenes is charged with something, something that’s hard to decipher, but that seems, for some indeterminate reason, to feel like a throwback to the original “Law & Order.” Maybe it’s his hard-nosed approach, maybe his old-school, grizzled cop attitude. Whatever it is, his pairing with Benson in getting to the truth doesn’t contain the slightest bit of newness as these two give the impression that they’ve worked together this way for years. It’s a sort of a comforting feeling – not for the person in the hot seat per se, but for those watching them chip through the minutia, knowing that they’re using each other and everything they have to expose what’s fact and what’s fiction.
When Murphy’s not in the interrogation room, he continues to look out for the well-being of his staff in a way that he can only achieve by close observation of his underlings. While the detectives are still a bit guarded about his motives for this, the notion that his actions are simply for the sake of intrusion seems to be dwindling in the squad room. The slow dissolution of this barrier is allowing for some intriguing communication within this group and is a bit reminiscent of the revelatory process that viewers experienced when both Rollins and Amaro joined the team.
You may have noticed here that little has actually been revealed here about what specifically transpires in the main plot of “Reasonable Doubt.” Rest assured, this is an engaging story complete with the by-now-almost-patented ‘SVU’ twists and turns one expects of this show. It’s also chock full of guest stars, including, in lesser roles, Ann Curry and Gerald Rivera, with Samantha Mathis, Celia Keenan-Bolger, who’s nominated for a 2014 Tony Award, Jeffery Tambor and Bradley Whitford as the principals involved in the core storyline. All are outstanding but Mathis and Whitford, as the feuding exes, are especially worthy of praise here as both portray their characters in such a way that viewers will find these people both believable, and yet despicable, at the same time.
Thrown in the middle of this case is a moment involving the detectives that will certainly stir up a variety of emotions among fans. Depending on one’s disposition, moments of confusion or disbelief may be experienced. Or, conversely, one might be delighted by this turn. No matter what, this revelation will certainly come as a surprise. And, it’s a pretty safe bet that what comes to light will undoubtedly cause a massive amount of social media discussion as well. With this in mind, kudos to the writers for the sly insertion of this interaction into the plot.
All of these things together – the bitter spouses battling each other, the new guy finding his way, the surprise that on one sees coming but that will affect everyone – beg an answer to the oft asked question, “Is there something going on that I should know about?”
Why yes, yes there is. Always. That’s what keeps ‘SVU,’ deep, deep into this 15 season, both relevant and captivating.
Hashtags this week = “ReasonableDoubt & #RenewSVU
PS. A round of applause goes to the ‘SVU’ production designers for accurately depicting all facets of ‘70s TV, and reminding everyone just how truly cheesy it was, and how incredibly far we’ve come. Well done!
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesday at 9/8c on NBC.