Thursday, October 23, 2014

Law & Order SVU “Pornstar’s Requiem” Recap & Review

Seriously now, Law & Order SVU is writing itself from news headlines. I am starting to believe there is an automated SVU episode generator and no real writers. Law & Order SVU “Pornstar’s Requiem” is another ripped from the headlines story. It closely duplicates the story of “Belle Knox,” a Duke University student and adult film star, who, once outed as a porn star, was subsequently harassed, including threats of rape and violence. The lesson learned from this episode is it doesn’t matter in what profession one is in, when it comes to sex, “No means no.” Period.  Just because adult film workers are willing to have sex on screen and get paid for it, this should never be taken as automatic consent to sex under any circumstances.  Sex workers, like anyone else, can still be victims of sex crime.

Despite this episode clearly being a regurgitation of a real life news story, the writers (okay, I do believe there are real SVU writers) crafted a fine story with a sympathetic victim.  It also put Benson in another situation where her management skills and her mind-set were tested.

In this episode, two college students who never have given Evie Barnes the time of day quickly escalate to raping her once they find she is a porn star. There is some discussion with the SVU team and ADA Barba regarding difficulties they face in moving forward with such a case, but Benson is firm that Evie is a victim. Matters get worse when the defense attorney gleefully hands them evidence showing Evie did more than one video, and one of those additional videos mirrors the video record of the rape.

As the local newspapers pile on, Deputy Chief Dodds adds fuel to the fire by accusing Benson of having an agenda. Benson later seems to validate his point when, after Evie is expelled from the university, she intercedes with the Hudson University president. Keep in mind that the Hudson president was already annoyed at SVU for its lack of courtesy shown to her by not alerting her to the rape allegations. It’s a sad fact that sometimes in a management position, one needs a degree of savvy when it comes to navigating internal and external politics. Had Benson approached the president and apologized for not giving her the courtesy of informing her of the allegations at the onset, she may have found the president more receptive to alternatives for Evie. All that said, I agree that the Hudson president had little choice but to expel Evie for violating their code by doing the porn videos, assuming that code is spelled out for students as they enter the university. Benson better learn quickly that she can’t operate effectively in management by standing on her principles alone. She needs to work to cultivate relationships with those outside the SVU circle so they understand better what her job – not her “agenda” – is about. Benson, like Evie, may be a bit naïve; Evie not realizing her videos would be discovered by others at the university, and Benson not realizing that a leadership role doesn’t mean you have complete control.

This brings me to Dodds, who clearly has his own biases and maybe his own agenda. He has an issue with Benson which seems based on the opinions of others, and those others may have biases and opinions of their own. We can only wonder at this point if he is simply testing her resolve, or if he is a giant prick, or a little of both. He is actually giving her good advice when he tells her to pick her battles. While I understand Benson wanting Evie to have another chance at Hudson, she picked the wrong battle by interceding, which is behavior more appropriate for a social worker or family member. The SVU team is there to advocate for justice for special victims, but sometimes they do have to walk away when the issue is outside the scope of a crime. Carisi took the correct approach when, at the end of the episode when Evie went back to sex videos,  that he told Rollins it was not their choice. At least he knows when to draw the line.

Despite the uphill battle that Barba faced in trying to convince a jury that a porn star who does rape fantasy videos can be a victim of rape, he manages to get a guilty verdict. But that victory is short lived as the judge agrees to take seriously a motion to set aside the verdict. Of course, Barba is both shocked and appalled that the judge later agrees with the defense and sets aside the jury verdict of guilty and sets the rapist free. This does seem to be an puzzling decision from the judge, seeing that Barba presented plenty of evidence and the jury agreed with him. This case was nothing like the case presented in the Law & Order episode “Gunshow” from season 10 where EADA Jack McCoy wins a jury verdict which the judge deemed was  for a constitutional issue which had no place in that court. In that case, the judge’s decision, while shocking to McCoy, actually made some sense, while in this case, I felt there were other non-legal issues which influenced the judge's decision, likely the judge’s own biases about those working in adult films.

A procedural question: Why are the interrogations not being video recorded, at least not until the confession? Are they concerned that their interrogation tactics would be questioned later?

A nice plus is seeing Peter Scanavino added to the title credits, which I hope means he will be around for at least the remainder of the season. He’s a great addition to the cast and I like the way Sonny Carisi thinks and how he operates.

Here is the recap:

Mariska Hargitay – Sergeant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Peter Gallagher - Deputy Chief William Dodds
Hannah Marks – Evie Barnes
Delaney Williams - Counselor John Buchanan
Kathleen Chalfant -  Hudson President Rogers
Casey Thomas Brown - Matt Cooper
Max Ehrich - Daniel Pryor
Harry Zittel - Justin Adams
Richard T. Jones - Judge Oscar Briggs
Emily Donahoe – Lisa Barnes
John Leonard Thompson – Bob Barnes
Jonathan Strauss – Producer
Karl Jacob – Nate
Brian Russell – Process Server
Polly Adams – Jury Foreperson

Evie Barnes is on video,  auditioning for a modeling job and hoping to earn money for school. She has just turned 18 that day, and the producer, off screen, asks her if she wants to earn 10 times the $300 modeling pay. He asks her to remove her clothes.

At a later date, two boys, Matt and Daniel, at Hudson University, are watching this video on a porn site, “18 With A Bang” as the modeling audition turns to a porn video. One of the men in the video slaps Evie,  Matt and Daniel recognize Evie as a fellow student at Hudson. Matt suggests they invite her to a party that night.

Later, Evie is at the party and Matt and Daniel welcome her, then entice her into the bathroom for a beer. When she gets in there, they shut the door and begin to assault her, saying she is “18 with a bang.”

Sometime later, Fin and Rollins arrive at the dorm, being called there by Justin Adams, Evie’s RA, who said Evie was assaulted. He called on his own, he has been there 4 years and knows not to get campus security involved. He wrote down the names of the attackers, saying the guys are entitled d-bags. Justin knocks on the door and tells Evie he called the police and Rollins convinces her to let them in. Evie opens the door and states she did not ask him to call the police. Fin explains her RA was worried about her and did the right thing. She says she does not want to press charges, and Rollins states that is her choice. Rollins sits down to talk with Evie as Fin says he will call Carisi to take statements, and he leaves the room. Rollins asks Evie to tell her what happened. Evie says she wishes she stayed in her room and studied. She explains that he knocked on her door – Daniel Pryor, one of the cool guys who barely looked at her before last night. He came downstairs and invited her to a party. She should have known why. This spring, before she started college, she needed money for the semester’s tuition/ her dad was sick so she answered an ad for modeling work. It wasn’t modeling. Rollins assures her whatever she did before, it had nothing to do with her being assaulted. Evie thinks it does. They saw her; it was a video – it was porn. She begs Rollins not to tell her parents, and Rollins explains it is okay, they will take this one step at a time. Rollins asks if they hurt her or if she took a shower, and Evie says no, the bathroom is coed. Rollins states that is good thing, they will get her to the hospital. Evie agrees.

Meanwhile, Fin and Carisi speak with Daniel and Matt who said Evie did them both and that compared to the video she did, it was nothing. Their story is Evie went wild and wanted them both. She behaved like she did in the video and they seem surprised she called the police. Carisi calls it morning after regret. Daniel thinks the “18 With A Bang” video was more hardcore than they were.

Back at SVU, the detectives, In Benson’s office with Barba, view the video on the “18 With A Bang” web site. The site is about girls who just turn 18 and dream about making a porno. Evie was actually 18 in the video and she used her real first name. Benson shuts off the video and says whatever Evie did, had no bearing on what happened to her. Carisi argues that these guys say it does; because she wanted it in the porn movie, she wanted them. The others are silent and Rollins gives Benson a look and shakes her head. Carisi then says “Hello! A third of the traffic on the Internet is porn. That’s how most of these college guys learn about sex.” Benson holds out her hand and tells him to stop, it doesn’t matter. Rollins emphasizes that Evie said no, she wasn’t drunk, and she gave a detailed account of the assault and the exam in the ER was consistent with forcible penetration and the rape kit showed the presence of semen. Barba says so she made one first time pornographic movie – Rollins says it was in New Hampshire. Fin pipes in it is one of only a few places where you can still make porn without a condom. Barba says flatly, “Live free or die” then asks what else they know about Evie. Fin states her RA says she is a shy nice girl Benson adds she has no history with law enforcement and has made no prior allegations. Barba shakes his head and says it is still a “they said – she said”. Rollins counters maybe not; at the hospital, Evie told her after a minute that Daniel turned on his cell phone camera so she thinks the whole thing might have been recorded. Benson, raising her voice, asks Rollins, “You’re just telling me this now?” Rollins says she didn’t get a chance to speak with her today. Barba says he will get then a warrant for his phone and see if the video confirms her story. Benson tells Fin and Carisi to go back to those two and get her the video if it still exists. She tells Rollins to find out everything about Evie’s background , adding, “No surprises.” Rollins nods and walks out with the other detectives, After they leave, Benson slaps her hand on her desk and asks Barba what he thinks. Barba says she knows what he thinks; he would like this case a lot more has she not made a pornographic video. Rollins comes back into the room with Counselor Delaney, who seems gleeful. That’s because he is representing Matthew Cooper and Daniel Pryor, and thinks this will not go to trial. He hands them 2 flash drives, one with the video the boys made and another with many more porn videos made with Evie. Buchanan is thrilled, and tells them to brace themselves.

Later, the detectives watch the video of  Evie, Matt and Daniel, which corroborates Evie’s story. Carisi shows another porn video Evie made which looks similar to the one with Matt and Daniel. Benson asks how many videos, Rollins explains it is like a baker’s dozen on Buchanan’s flash drive and after the first one – 18 with a bang – she uses a pseudonym, “Roxxxanne (3 Xs) DeMay.” Fin adds they are mostly violent, tag-team, rape fantasy scenarios. Carisi states that unless they believe she forgot about the other 12 films, she lied to them. Benson replies so she lied to them, telling them they are focusing on what Evie DIDN’T tell them, she’d like to focus on what how they missed this. Rollins gets defensive, saying she just started to vet her. Benson states the defense found it fast. Fin explains she used a different name on the other videos , plus they are behind pay walls. Rollins flippantly says maybe Buchanan was a subscriber. Carisi says it is all moot; if a judge allows these in, how will Barba explains the difference to the jury? Benson states on the boy’s video, she didn’t give consent, she wasn’t paid, she said no. Fin calmly says to Benson that she knows sex workers don’t get the benefit of the doubt. Benson testily says that is not how they go into this, and as she walks off, she says she doesn’t want to be blindsided again, asking if that is clear? Clapping is heard and Deputy Chief William Dodds walks in, the source of the clapping. He tells her it is a great speech, then holds up and issue of the New York Ledger with the headline “Head of the Class – From Straight A’s to XXX” and he says “Better headline.” The story has a photo of Evie with a subheading “Hudson U Porn Star Cries Rape”. Benson looks away and Dodds asks Benson into her office. He asks which one of those detectives is her number two, and Benson calls Fin to accompany her.

As they walk into Benson’s office, Dodds is looking at a photo of Noah and asks how is her family problem? Benson explains her son is fine and is home from the hospital. Dodds replies good. He comments she is still a new acting commanding officer and perhaps she didn’t appreciate that One PP and Comstat follow everything that she and her detectives do. Benson replies they are aware, and Fin adds it is not on the Sergeant, the girl misinformed them and this happens a lot with vics. They were just starting to vet her. Dodds sarcastically says he is used to sloppy police work, and Benson says it is on her, they just caught the case. Dodds questions if it is a case; what they may have here is a disturbed female student who willingly portrays violent sex acts on film. Benson firmly states it shouldn’t’ matter, she said she was raped and they need to investigate that. Dodds tells her not to preach, not with egg on her face. Benson’s mouth is agape as Dodds goes on to say another concern is protocol, asking why was Hudson kept out of the loop? President Roberts had to hear about this from a reporter. Fin dryly questions did she, saying it is not their job to notify Hudson. Benson says for the record, the student’s RA called SVU, because everybody knows that campus security pressures girls into dropping charges. She adds it seems that Hudson University is more concerned with their Cleary Act stats then they are with rape. Dodds comments “Ah. So it’s true. The word upstairs is you have an agenda. It colors your perception.” Benson replies, incredulous, “Excuse me?” Dodds states this is not the case to embarrass Hudson or the department with, and he emphasizes, “Pick your battles.” He walks out of the office and Benson shakes her head and gives a disgusted smile as Dodds slams the door.

On the Hudson University campus, Rollins talks with Evie who is surprised the other videos came into play as they were behind a pay wall. Rollins says they are still on the case but Evie has to tell them everything. Evie says she is not a slut and Rollins explains she is not saying that but the defense attorney will. Evie says they raped her, she didn’t want it and didn’t agree to be filmed, saying they thought they could do anything they wanted to her. Rollins stresses they can’t, but if she left anything out, tell her now. Evie states everything she did was legal; she signed contacts, for paid. It felt good, the guys looked right though her and have no idea what she is going on set with hot porn actors,

At Barba’s office on Friday, September 19, Benson and Rollins discuss the situation. Rollins explains people are trying to make Evie a poster child for exploited sex workers and there is a Twitter campaign and she is being pulled in different directions. Benson argues she is hardly the only girl who has turned to porn for tuition money. Barba explains he is not making a moral judgment, saying the video with the boys mimics move-for-move to the first film and he can’t sell this to a jury. Benson accuses him of backing off of this because of heat form the Mayor’s office, and Barba says she knows him better than that. Benson comments she thought she did. Rollins reminds then they are all on the same side, and asks Barba if he can use the rape shield and keep the porn videos out of the trial. Barba says it depends on the judge. If he files a motion on a section 5, but it is a catch all and Buchanan will fight it. Benson questions that Buchanan is still representing both boys, and when Barba indicates yes, she asks Rollins to find out if they are splitting the bill.

Later, back at SVU, Carisi is with Matt in the squad room while Daniel is in the interrogation room with Buchanan. Carisi works on Matt brain about the problems with sharing lawyers, and finds an excuse to walk him past the observation window to the interrogation room so Matt can see what Carisi wants him to think - that Daniel is cutting a deal. Carisi plants the seed of doubt and then tells Matt if anything seems off, don’t make Daniel’s lawyer let him take the fall.

Afterwards, Matt is in the interrogation room as Buchanan enters. Matt asks what Dan said and Buchanan said the truth: the girl wanted to make a porn video with them and there was no rape. Matt says she was crying and she didn’t cry I the other video. Fin and Rollins walk in and as they try to get the story confirmed, Buchanan seems to be trying to put words in his mount and when Rollins implies that Daniel is off the hook, Matt get rattled. When Buchanan says he needs some time with Matt, Matt continues to talk, saying it wasn’t his idea. Rollins says Daniel said it was Matt’s idea to invite Evie to the party, and Matt gets upset when Buchanan asks him to stop speaking. Matt thinks he got Daniel off which is why he went first, and Buchanan says tersely that, as his lawyer, he wants him to stop speaking. But Matt says he is mot his lawyer anymore. Buchanan says he can fire him later but shut up NOW. Matt says no, he sold him out, Daniel was the one who was laughing like it was a game but she was crying, and she wouldn’t stop. He didn’t get it until Daniel told him. Fin asks didn’t get what – that they raped her? Buchanan says if he is not his lawyer, Matt has the right to ask for a court appointed attorney. Rollins tells Buchanan he has been dismissed,. And Buchanan tells Matt to just tale a minute and think about this. Fin tells Matt he knows what happened and to talk to them. Matt says the whole thing was Daniel’s idea. Matt explains he never met a porn star before and he thought that is how they acted. He lied because after they did her, and she ran out, Daniel told him he was guilty of rape and it was on video and they would both go down if he didn’t lie and say Evie wanted it. At first he didn’t think you could rape a girl like that, and sobs that he is really, really sorry.

Meanwhile, Benson and Carisi are observing and Carisi refers to Matt as a good boy. Benson tells him to get him to write it down now and she will call Barba and get a video crew up there to record it. Before she walks off, she tells Carisi “Nice work.”

Sometime later in Barba’s office with Benson, Evie, and her parent Lisa and Bob Barnes, he tries to convince them to attends the trial to help the jury see a supportive family. But despite explanations by Benson, Bob won’t do it, appalled at Evie’s behavior and explains what it has done to their life at home. He storms out of the office. Lisa explains this has been hard on her father, and Barba sand she will think about it. Barba says it has been hard on Evie also. Lisa explains she has to drive Bob to dialysis and she tells Evie to take care of herself and then leaves. Benson tells Evie she is so sorry and asks Evie if she is okay. Evie says they hate her, and when Barba states they do not hate her, she says it doesn’t matter, she doesn’t need them. She did nothing wrong and people need to hear that.

At a later date at trial with Evie on the stand being questioned by Barba, she explains why she did what she did and it was legal and regulated. She states she was never forced, she followed a script, she created a character separate from herself and what she did was an act. The violence was not real. Daniel and Matt forced her, and the violence was real, and painful. and she said no and she meant no. They didn’t stop and they took turns. It was horrible and at no point did she consent and she begged them to stop. By testifying, she knew she would open up herself and her family to humiliation and judgment from others – to slut shaming and victim blaming. She chose to send a message that people who work in adult entertainment are still people, just like anyone else and they do not deserve to be subjected to assault.

Under cross by Buchanan, he calls that a terrific speech and asks if she can come off the soap box and go over the timeline? Barba objects and the judge cautions Buchanan on his attitude and to treat the witness with respect. He asks about her first pornographic experience, “18 With A Bang” and asks about the 12 additional videos she did as Roxxxanne DeMay. He asks if she was doing something legal, why did she change her name? She explains she was creating a persona, a fantasy. Buchanan states it was a persona that engaged in multiple sex acts with two men at a time in 12 videos tagged “rape fantasy.” He mentions she did not tell the police she had done these videos at first, and she said she hoped it would remain private. Buchanan states with sarcasm that she hoped it would remain private…on the internet. He adds she said this was her choice and then asks why did she choose rape fantasy films? She testifies that the specialty genres pay more. She needed money for her college tuition. He brings out the violent nature of the films and how she said no, and she explains that was acting. He compares it to the video with Daniel and Matt, which is similar. He thinks the difference between that video and the 13 porn videos is she didn’t get paid for the video with Matt and Daniel. She emphatically states she did not want to be raped and she said no. Buchanan states she did – in all 14 videos – so it would seem that no means yes when she is getting paid but no means no when she is not. Barba objects and Buchanan rephrases, stating she is a very gifted actress and how can she expect these boys, or this jury, to know the difference? Evie states she did not want what they did to her. Buchanan shouts she says this after the fact. He adds she did not call the police that night, asking if the reason she cried rape the next day when the police showed up was because she was embarrassed she had been caught in a compromising position or was it because these boys didn’t pay her? Barba leaps up and objects, and the judge sustains it. Buchanan says nothing further, but then stops and tells Evie he is sorry if it feels like he was rough on her, but that is what HE gets paid to go. The judge tells the jury to disregard and tells Buchanan he won’t warn him again. Daniel smiles.

Later, Carisi and Rollins walk on campus with Evie and Rollins tells her the worst is over. She tells her that tomorrow she can take it easy as Barba will do his job. Evie says she wants to be there when Daniel testifies and make him look at her. Carisi asks if they want them to walk her up, and she declines, saying she is a big girl.

In Supreme Court on Tuesday, September 23, Matt is on the stand explaining what happened. He explains that Daniel told him to say Evie wanted it, but then admits the two of them raped her and he feels sick about it. He apologizes to Evie. But under cross examination, Buchanan brings up the plea deal and that at first he thought the encounter was consensual. He brings up the “18 With A Bang” video and that when the police first talked to them, he said it was consensual and now with the generous deal he says it was rape. Buchanan asks Matt if he was unsure at the time it was rape at first, isn’t It possible he is not sure now? Matt gets a little rattled and Buchanan is happy with his confusion. Barba redirects and asks Matt – yes or no – did he and Daniel rape Evie? Matt says yes, they did. Barba thanks him and sits back down.

Later, Daniel is on the stand giving his side of the story. He states Evie wanted the three way. He chose to take the stand for all the falsely accused men and how lives can be destroyed. Under cross examination, he places the blame on Matt, but Barba says all Daniel heard was “no” and “stop” and he didn’t. Daniel says she said not all those other times and still had sex and why would this be different. Barba reminds him she said no, and asks if he believes any woman, even a porn star, can decline sex? Daniel says of course, and Barba says to be clear, did Evie say no? Daniel says she did. Barba states in fact she cried and begged him to stop, repeatedly. Daniel says yes and admits he did not stop. Barba said what was just described is the definition of rape. Daniel looks over to Buchanan who motions for Daniel to be calm. Barba concludes his questioning.

Later, the verdict is read and Daniel is found guilty of rape in the first degree. Benson and Rollins, sitting in the gallery with Evie, congratulate her. Daniel looks upset. The judge tells him he will remain on bail until sentencing, but Buchanan wants to file a motion to set aside the verdict. The judge notes it and says he will defer judgment until sentencing. As the court adjourns, Evie asks Barba what that means, and Barba replies “pro forma.” Benson explains that if the jury reaches a verdict, the judges don’t overturn it. She complements Barba on his nice work. But Evie’s happiness is short lived, as a process server hands her a notice from the president’s office at Hudson that she is being expelled for violating the code of conduct. Benson is shocked.

At the office of President Roberts at Hudson University on Thursday, September 25, Benson discusses Evie – a rape victim – being expelled and asks what about the rapists? Roberts says pending his appeal, Daniel may also be expelled. She wants to be clear Evie was not expelled because of the rape allegation, it was because she violated their code of conduct because she chose to appear in violent porn videos and showed her student ID in some of them. He presence on campus is disruptive . Benson questions that the presence of rapist is okay? Roberts explains there have been as many false accusations as ones proved true and there is bad judgment on both sides. Benson says they both know that is code for victim blaming. Robert states Hudson is fully committed to sexual violence prevention and they are planning a luncheon early next week on the subject. Benson says with sarcasm, “Well, I look forward to seeing the cake.” As Benson moves to leave. Roberts says she understands Benson’s passion on this subject and she promises that Hudson U and NYPD and the mayor’s office have always had a mutually respectful relationship. Benson tells her to please not hide behind the mayor’s skirt. Roberts looks stunned. Benson adds she is asking her to do the right thing, for Evie’s sake, and is sure Roberts can find another way. Benson walks out.

Back in Supreme Court on Friday, September 26, the judge tells Daniel to rise. Daniel wants to make a statement first. He apologizes to his family and school for the embarrassment and what happened that night, he, Matt, and Evie will have to live with for the rest of their lives. He states he showed poor judgment and if given another chance, he would never do anything to dishonor another woman again. The judge says he sees genuine remorse here (!?!) and what he did not see in the trial was behavior rising to the level of the criminal charges brought against him. Barba looks stunned and says, “Excuse me, your honor?” The judge says he does not do this lightly; due to the lack of sufficient evidence, he accepts the defense’s motion to set aside the jury’s guilty verdict. Buchanan and Daniel are elated and Evie asks Benson what is he doing? Barba states this is an outrageous abuse of his power and there is no basis to overturn the conviction. He mentions Evie’s and the corroborator’s testimony and as Barba moves towards the judge, the judge tells him he does not need to approach the bench. Barba shouts that the judge is making a factual determination and that is the jury’s job, not his. The judge shouts back for Barba to SIT DOWN. Barba seethes as he steps back. The judge tells Evie he does not know if she desires the popular status of victimhood or if this was a publicity stunt to jump start her porn career, but given the evidence, there is no way to conclude, beyond reasonable doubt, that her no in this incident truly meant no. He hopes going forward, she finds a way to respect her body and herself. Evie shouts that she wasn’t lying, and Benson tries to calm her. Barba stands up and tells the judge what the judge is doing is giving men the permission to assault a woman based on her sexual history and says he is setting the clock back on rape law 50 years. The judge tells Barba it is his last warning, he will hold him in contempt. Barba states he is making an immediate motion to appeal, and the judge says that is his prerogative. The judge tells Daniel he is free to go. The judge bangs his gavel and as Daniel’s side celebrates, Barba walks back to Evie and Benson, saying nothing.

Back at SVU, Fin asks how can a judge overturn a verdict, and Carisi says it is called judgment notwithstanding, it is uncommon but it does happen. Rollins comments if makes you wonder what the point of a jury is. When Carisi asks how is Evie, Benson says not good. Dodds enters the squad room and calls to Benson, and she asks “my office?” He replies, “Unless you want your whole squad to hear this.” As the walks into her office, she guesses he got a call from Hudson. He shuts the door and says he did, they want to know why an SVU Sergeant is demanding they re-examine school policy. Benson states it is because they expelled Evie which constitutes victim blaming and it is egregious behavior. Dodds says that may be her opinion, but it is their decision and it has nothing to do with her, SVU, or NYPD. He tells her to stay out of the president’s office. As he moves to leave, she asks if his concern has anything to do with the fact that Hudson University is New York City’s largest landlord? He replies, “”Grow up, Sergeant.” He gets in her face and tells her she is good at her job, and to stick to that. If she wants to change policy, get into politics, but the last time he checked, she’s a cop. As he walks away, Benson says, blankly, “Yes sir.” As Dodds exits her office, Carisi enters and tells Benson that Evie’s mother is here.

Benson enters the interview room where Rollins is with Lisa Barnes. Lisa says Evie did not come home and is not answering her cell. Her RA let her into her dorm room and the door was covered with graffiti saying “slut” and “whore” and she left her clothes and books. Her computer was open on her desk. They see a video text-style message from Evie which says because she chose to work in porn, two boys raped her. She says the judge did not believe her and one of her rapists was freed. She didn’t chose that, he choices were taken away. She says now she only has one left, and says goodbye. Benson asks Lisa if there are any place where Evie would have gone, and she says Evie told her she spent a summer with friends in New England. Rollins guesses New Hampshire.

Later and another location, Rollins and Carisi arrive at the site where porn movies are made and find Evie is there. She asks what they are doing here, and Rollins explains her parents were worried about her. Evie says she is fine, she is just doing what she does best. She takes a pill. Rollins says she does not have to be there, offering to take her home. Evie asks where should she be, at Hudson, trying to be a sweet coed again? She adds he already made that video. At least here, when she says stop, they stop. Rollins explains there are other schools, and she went through all this to get to college in the first place. Evie comments that it turned out great, didn’t it? Once you are Roxxxanne DeMay, you can’t be Evie Barnes again. “Roxxxanne” is called over to the set, and she asks the detectives if they want to watch, watch; everyone else will. As Evie walks toward the set. Rollins reaches out for her but Carisi pulls her back, telling her to walk away. Evie removes her robe for a group of waiting men. Carisi tells Rollins it is not their choice. As they walk away, we fade to black.

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Lisa said...

the episode was good, better then the past few ones. I dont agree with Olivia that the videos dont matter in a way they do, was Evie raped yes she was and the guys are guilty but the fact she played the same senerio out over and over on tape well does matter.
The guys should have been convicted or the convicted upheld I dont see the reasoning behind the Judge overturning it.

one other part of it I didnt liek is Olivia storming intto the Presidents office questioning the desicion to expel Evie. If doing porn is agaisnt their code of ethics then its cause to expell her olivia has no business questioning that. I get she see's herself as a advocate but the writers are turning her into a shrew.

empxth tbh said...

I think Liv wouldn't have been so angry if they would've at least expelled the rapists too, not just Evie.

It reminded me a lot of "Girl Dishonored" tho..

Vim said...

1. Carisi is staying - that is great news - he brings different perspective to the show, which other detective desperately need.

2. Benson is working really hard to get award "The worst police boss of the year". Not only she thinks that since she become temporary boss of the SVU, entire city should bow and do as she commands (if someone is not complying, that means that he/she is corrupted), but she also started bullying her subordinates.

3. I wouldn't be suprise if they would try to get somehow justice for Evie in the later episodes.

Catherine said...

New York State does not require videotaping interrogations. Two years ago the NYPD announced they wanted to start taping interrogations in higher level felony cases. Unfortunately there are funding issues which would limit the times videotaping is done.

Barba did say he would file for an immediate appeal to the judge's ruling. Hopefully that will be touched on in a later episode because Barba should have no trouble winning. The judge's personal bias is clear in his remarks. The "genuine remorse" that Daniel expressed didn't include an apology to the victim. And as far as we know, the defense attorney didn't make a motion for a directed verdict at the end of Barba's case. That is the time to say the prosecution didn't present sufficient evidence to prove the criminal conduct charged.

As for the episode itself, I was unimpressed. Unorthodox handled the defense of media influence much better and in a more believable situation.

CLA said...

Glad to see this season going very well. Compared to the previous season SVU won over a million viewers in the episodes. Love Olivia as her new boss and more than ever is there to defend the victims. That's what made it the most admired and beloved television detective.

Petra S said...

I agree with you @Catherine, I was unimpressed with this episode as well.

There were good parts though; seeing Scanavino in the credits (I think he has the coolest shot, with the subway n all) but the group shot could be better. Hannah Marks did good as Evie. Loved seeing angry Barba in court.

The not so good parts or rather what I missed; Where was Amaro?
Some mention of what happened in the last episode with Rollins getting blood all over her face would've been nice. I really don't like Benson as the boss, I think she's doing a poor job with the squad as it is but if there would've at least been some mention of her sending Rollins to counseling after that or if she'd taken the time to check in on how she was doing that would've redeemed her a little. Instead she seems snippy with Rollins. Bad boss Benson, I don't like you.

You think something will come up with the Mayor and/or the deputy chief? Did the mayor have anything to do with the judge setting aside the jury's ruling? Not sure I want to see SVU take on that though.

Looking forward to next weeks Halloween special. I'm a sucker for ghost stories.

Laurie Fanat said...

I dream of the day the SVU writers could come up with an original story - or at least MOST of an original story. They take so much from the news it is laughable. There are plenty of TV crime shows that have original stories. Look at Chicago PD, that show is pretty good and the stories seem fresh and new.

I feel sorry for Evie being raped. I do understand how people can be confused as to why someone would subject themselves to violent porn for money, though. It is good the jury saw through the defense argument and I also think the judge was biased.

Benson needs to get her sh*t together. She expects that everyone will cave in to her because now she is in charge of SVU, but she hasn't learned how to play the game. Sure it's pathetic that one has to learn to play politics with her bosses but that is the sad state of business and will be for like forever. She is naive. I don't care for Dodd's approach but he could be pushing her on purpose. She does act like she has an agenda - right all the wrongs! One person can't do it all, and some battles are not hers to fight. She needs a mentor. It is too bad that Cragen is gone and it's also too bad that Olivia didn't learn much from him. Cragen of all people knew how to play the game and new that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and then you pay the price. Olivia does need to grow up. I still think Dodds is a bit of an ass, though.

gahks said...

Perhaps the episode also had overtones of this story?

Ohrenfetisch said...

Petra I think there is no episode next week, only the week after that. (It says it airs nov. 5 right?)

Aaron said...

They should have had an adult film producer as an expert witness who can testify that there are stopping rules on set if the actress or the actor is uncomfortable. This would have satisfied the no-means-no requirement on film as opposed the actual rape.

totowolf said...

Two things:
I also wondered where Amaro was. Perhaps he will alternate with Carisi. One guy one episode and one guy the next episode! Just a thought.
Also, the link that gahks left was no longer there. Too bad, I was interested in reading it.
A third thing:
I'm not a big fan of Benson as the boss, either. Hopefully she reads this and sees that her approach to the job is somewhat dominating. Unfortunately, she doesn't know it all. I agree that she either plays politics or is out. Too bad, because I think she could be a good boss. However,the writers are putting words in her mouth and I'm guessing (just a guess) that even though she is now a producer, the "words" win out, and she is acting in a way that it needs to be played. I hope not!

Maria Rowlett said...

I love that Carisi is now on L&O as a cast member! However, for the past few episodes the writers do this thing where they leave a male off without the story line explaining why. I know it probably has to do with too many guys during one single episode, but are they going to keep doing this? It is a bit distracting always wondering "I wonder where Amaro is?" or "I wonder where Fin is?" Am I the only one who feels this way?

Petra S said...

Thanks @Ohrenfetisch, I noticed it over at as well. Guess I have to hold out two weeks, I think I can manage seeing how I just found Annabelle online :)

I dunno know what they're doing with the cast, alternating them like that but I know Ice tweeted he was away at a concert the one ep he missed so maybe it's just unlucky scheduling?! I don't like it either way, I want the entire cast in every ep. And I still want bad boss Benson to change her ways.

Ohrenfetisch said...

Maybe Danny has something coming up as well?

MoscowBurns said...

It's interesting that when Cragen did what needed to be done, no one ever called him a "shrew" or "naive and unrealistic". I guarantee that if a male boss was taking the same stand that she was, your adjectives would be "brave" "steadfast" "determined". watch that you don't fall into the same sexist labeling as the perpetrators on this show.