It’s been a while since I watched an SVU episode that I actually thought was good. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either.
Despite the fact that Benson (Mariska Hargitay) was absent for most of the episode, Stabler (Chris Meloni) and the elusive John Munch (Richard Belzer) made a perfect pair to investigate this crime. (We even got to see Fin (Ice-T), which was a bonus.) Meloni and Belzer have such strong, established characters that they were able to keep the episode interesting, and made me not even wonder about Benson’s whereabouts. The best part of all: Chester Lake (Adam Beach) didn’t even make an appearance! Munch’s knowledge of the Hasid and of the Hebrew language was very believable, and it only validated how much Chester’s vast knowledge base seems so contrived.
The one thing where the Law & Order franchise seems consistent is in their apparent disdain for organized religion. It seems too often that all religions are portrayed as extreme and closed-minded. Personally, while I shun the ritualism and segregating behavior in some faiths, I don’t think that they are always fairly portrayed in the Law & Order universe. This episode of SVU recovered when they diverted the story away from what looked like was going to be another story about a pervert being sheltered by his faith.
I didn’t quite agree with how the trial progressed or the outcome. I think Casey (Diane Neal) could have done a better job in showing that the defendant probably really did understand that what he was doing was wrong. For example, the kid had to be watching other TV while he was growing up than just shows with explicit sex. Were we to believe that there were NO shows that he ever watched where intimate encounters were normal? And, in this day and age, I find it hard to believe that he had no discussion with classmates or friends about what was right and what was wrong when it came to sex. I go back to when I was a kid in the early 60s, and the kids talked about it all the time. So the fact that this boy seemed so clueless that what he was doing was wrong did not ring true for me.
The episode delivered a few chuckles for me. One was when, while being interrogated by Stabler, the kid made a reference to two men having sex in prison. I guess that was a shout out to Meloni’s performances as Chris Keller in Oz? The other was when Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) told the young boy that Detectives Benson and Stabler were good at their jobs. Wasn't it Stabler and Munch that moved the case forward? He gave Benson credit when I don't think she had that much to do with the investigation.
Bottom line, the episode was much better that what we’ve seen from SVU of late. I have to give credit to the appearance of John Munch. He is probably one of the most credible, believable, and real characters on the show, and they need to use him more often.
Today's Extra: Speechless Without Writers Starring Marika Hargitay
Here's a bonus - another editorial comment about the writer's strike. It's being featured on a web site called Speechlesswithoutwriters, and on YouTube.
Mariska should panic. Pretty soon the high paid actors will be feeling the pinch of no new shows.
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