Thursday, November 20, 2014

Law & Order SVU “Spousal Privilege” Recap & Review


Law & Order SVU “Spousal Privilege” was ripped from the headlines of the Ray Rice story, and followed that story so closely that the episode was devoid of suspense. This episode WAS full of double standards and a touch of hypocrisy.

Amaro has anger has issues again. This time it is triggered by a phone call with his wife Maria where Amaro hears he won’t get his daughter Zara as promised for Thanksgiving. Just like Stabler, Amaro has learned nothing about controlling his anger. The only improvement (if you can call it that) with Amaro is now he takes out his anger on inanimate objects (a locker, a glass) rather than people. He clearly is a boiling mess of rage inside. His anger issues are far from resolved and they simmer underneath the surface. But, I feel like we’ve been there too many times before. I became tired with Stabler’s repeated anger issues and his inability to improve and I have no desire to go there again with Amaro. I am becoming indifferent to Amaro’s issues.

Rollins appears to be having an inner struggle of her own. She has too much to drink while at a bar with Amaro and goads him by physically pushing him and raising her voice at him. Lucky for Amaro, Rollins' childish and violent provocations don’t work and he smartly exits the bar (after knocking a glass off the bar in anger). One can write off Rollins’ behavior that she had too much to drink, but drinking is no excuse for anyone – men or women – for violent behavior. Does Amaro’s calm attitude towards her the next day mean that he is, in fact, making excuses for her behavior? Rollins could be defending AJ/Paula because she may see a little of herself in them regarding the loss of judgment while under the influence. Also, does Rollins’ lack of control with drink at the bar mean that a return to gambling is not far behind? I don’t mind flawed characters, but if they keep going to the same well with Rollins, I fear I will be bored.

Chad Coleman and Meagan Good were both excellent as AJ and Paula and they made this episode bearable. As always, Raúl Esparza and Elizabeth Marvel bring a real spark to the legal side of the story. Just about everyone else seemed to be phoning this one in. The whole bar scene with Amaro and Rollins was cringe-worthy and seemed forced to me.

Benson takes a bit of a holier-than-thou approach to this case. She is displeased with the fact that original ADA took the arresting officer’s word, and Barba smartly reminds he does the same for her. She also seems annoyed with Fin when he stumbled on a child porn site, but once the detectives spot a possible case of domestic violence with a famous person on that same site, suddenly she’s interested. She was dismissive with Fin and the others, acting as if she thought they were wasting their time. In reality, had Fin not been looking at that site, they may have never seen what happened to Paula until it blew up on the news. It was fitting that Calhoun took Benson to task about for having Amaro back on the squad – with a gun no less - after his episode of violent behavior and subsequent anger management. Benson was acting like domestic violence should be handled differently than violence at the hands of the police. The issue should be violence against all others, and there should be no double standard for police when something happens outside the line of duty. Benson also has to admit that the rehabilitative powers of anger management doesn’t always work, and clearly it is not working for Amaro. Benson may be in denial that her own detectives are just as flawed as the SVU perps she is trying to put in jail.

The hypocrisy: Rollins makes a comment in the squad room in sympathy for Paula, saying this was the worst night of Paula’s life - for their entertainment.  Law & Order SVU takes often tragic “ripped from the headlines” crime stories and turns them into entertainment and the network sells ad time for profit. If Rollins statement was to be some kind of subliminal condemnation of how the media and the internet takes personal tragedies and turns them into huge news stories for ratings or profit, Law & Order SVU should take a really hard look at themselves. Sometimes I think there’s a little too much excitement and glee expressed about salacious news stories that would make good SVU story lines.

Avoiding domestic violence should be as simple as having a rule saying “no person should strike another person, ever”. It’s an easy rule to live by - a lot easier if a person is raised that way. Cultural and behavioral issues can explain part of how domestic violence happens, but it should never excuse it. In reality,  when it comes to prosecuting these cases, things get messy. In this case, the video showed the violence was clearly one sided, but in the privacy of one’s own home where not ever second is recorded for posterity, things may not seem so clear.


Here is the recap:


Cast:
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:
Meagan Good - Paula Martin
Chad Coleman - A.J. Martin
Elizabeth Marvel - Counselor Rita Calhoun
Jefferson Mays - M.E. Rudnick
Leslie Odom Jr. - Reverend Curtis Scott
Jeb Brown – Officer Denard
Korey Jackson – Brian
Lisa Kron - Judge Robin Schaeffer
David Dinkins - Judge Chet Baker
Hoda Kotb - Herself
Ian O’Malley – League Official
Nik Walker – Former Teammate
Brian Richardson – Jury Foreperson
Sebastien J. Antoine - A.J. Martin, Jr.


In the SVU squad room, Amaro is on the phone with his wife Maria. He loudly argues about custody of Zara for the Thanksgiving holiday. When Amaro hears Zara is not coming and Maria hangs up on him, he punches his locker while everyone in the squad room watches in stunned silence. Rollins tells him to take breath, but Amaro tells her not to tell him what to do. As Amaro walks off, Rollins walks to her desk and tells Fin not to say it. Fin asks, “Say what?” Benson enters the squad room and asks Amaro what happened to his hand. Amaro says it is nothing, he’s fine. Benson sees Fin looking at a web site of celebrity photos in a state of undress and asks if that is work related. He explains someone hacked celebrity nude photos and says some of the celebs are under age which makes it child porn. She tells him to wrap it up and if he finds anything to have TARU trace it. Amaro pipes in and says if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself on the internet, don’t take naked pictures of yourself. Rollins snaps it’s like if you don’t want to get assaulted, don’t wear a short skirt. They glare at each other. Amaro notices a video on the web site Fin is browsing and it is of AJ Martin, a Heisman Trophy winner and 8-time Pro-Bowler, with his baby-mamma Paula Bryant and they are fighting. They then see AJ dragging Paula into the parking lot, unconscious. Benson walks out of her office when she sees them still looking at the web site and testily asks if this is the new celebrity nude task force. They show her the video and Rollins adds it looks like it happened after the Black & White Gala at The Met 6 weeks ago. Benson comments she doesn’t remember hearing AJ was picked up on a domestic, and Amaro thinks they must have picked him up, pointing out a patrolman on the scene in the video. Fin says AJ is a sports hero and you know how this goes. Benson asks them to find if there is any video of what happened in between and when Amaro says he does not see it anyway, he suggests contacting the garage. Benson tells them to call the local precinct and find out what really happened and she will call the Chief. Fin questions that she wants them to investigate, and Benson says after Ray Rice and the others, if it looks like domestic violence, they follow up, before this becomes news.

Amaro and Rollins are at the precinct speaking with an officer and find the couple was arrested at the scene. Rollins argues Paula was woozy and missing a shoe and looked roughed up. They hear that Paula declined medical attention; AJ was polite and Paula was contrite. They were not interviewed separately. Amaro sees a football autographed by AJ and says he gets it. The officer says some low life leaked the video to RedChan and now they want to Monday morning quarterback? Rollins explains they are trying to figure out why no charges were filed. The officer says it was adjourned, contemplating dismissal. He says if they have a problem they can take it up with the DA.

Benson and Fin take the video to Barba, who says that out of context the video is disturbing but it does not contradict the police report sent to the ADA. The ADA is green, but good. They discuss what the precinct did and the outcome and says this is the deal he gave when the victim refuses to cooperate. He asks since they are celebrities should he have given them anti-preferential treatment? Benson counters the ADA should not have taken the arresting officer’s word. Barba says he takes her word all the time. He adds the deal is moot, a deal was offered and a lawyer said no. Fin questions why they turned down a get out of jail free card, and Benson thinks they called the ADA’s bluff and assumed he would get away with it. He is probably worried about PR and doing community service so he gets away with everything. Barba states there is not a lot here, asking if there is any footage from the stairwell. Fin explains Amaro and Rollins are tracking it down, and Benson adds they will know what they are going to see: the same thing they’ve seen before from these guys. He knocked her out. Barba asks with sarcasm why not convict him now? Benson firmly states AJ dragged Paula’s unconscious body out of that stairwell with no concern for her and then she said she slipped and fell? Barba says in certain ways he does not disagree – Benson says she hates it when people say that – and Barba goes on, saying since AJ did not take the offer, the case is still open. He tells Benson to find the video or get Paula to change her story.

At the home of AJ Martin and Paula Bryant on Tuesday, November 11, the couple presents a loving front to Benson and Fin. When their son walks in and tosses a football to Fin, Paula calmly chastises him for coming in while grownups are talking, and when the boy presses on, AJ shouts at him and the boy looks scared and goes to his room. While they talk about their son, Paula interjects a comment an AJ gives her an angry look. Benson makes the excuse to use the rest room to separate Paula and AJ. When they leave, Fin asks AJ if he knows what this is all about, and AJ says he is doing his job. Fin says his Sergeant wants to double check everything and asks AJ to walk him through it. AJ says they had too much to drink that night and had some words, and he loves his girl but even she will tell them she goes off the rails when she’s had a few. He is just trying to make sure everything stays within the hash marks.

Meanwhile, Benson tries to get Paula to give her more information but Paula insists she had been drinking and she tripped. AJ enters and cuts the discussion short, much to Benson’s dismay.


Back at SVU, Benson sees Fin and Rollins looking at video footage from the gala. The garage claims they erase their security cache every 7 days. Benson asks then how did the first video ends up at RedChan after 6 weeks after the event, saying they are lying and tells them to get a search warrant to find out what went down in that stairwell. Fin comments IF something went down in that stairwell. Amaro questions “if”, stating AJ dragged her out with no concern. Rollins counters if he’s ever had to move 100 pounds of passed out drunk, stating it ain’t easy. Benson thinks Paula is covering for him, reminding Fin that he saw it. She adds he was controlling and AJ’s son is terrified. Fin replies he was terrified of his mother and Rollins adds she was raised the same way. Benson questions now they are making cultural exemptions? Amaro says his father went after him with his fist and it taught him you never lay a hand on a child or a woman. Rollins says it is possible AJ could have been fending her off and both Benson and Amaro do not agree. Benson gets a phone call and then tells them to turn on LMZ on the TV now. They see the full video of AJ punching Paula in the stairway, Benson commenting that LMZ paid for the footage. Rollins states this changes everything.



Later, AJ and Paula enter the SVU squad room. Benson is apologetic to Paula about the video, explaining there is no shield law for domestic violence victims. Paula states she is not a victim. Counselor Calhoun wants to speak with her clients and when Benson says she wants to speak with the separately, Calhoun explains she brought a second attorney, Brian, so they will both have counsel.

AJ explains to Benson and Fin how women flirt with him and Fin thinks AJ was flirting and Paula got mad. Meanwhile, Paula explains to Amaro and Rollins that she embarrassed AJ. AJ explains Paula was stumbling and could have hurt herself and had to stop her. Benson questions it was with his fist, and he admits he also had a few. His reflexes weren’t 100%. Paula says AJ was trying to protect her; they already told the NYPD what happened and they are putting it behind them.

As Barba observes Paula’s questioning form Benson’s office, Benson enters and says their story is they were drunk and Paula was stumbling and he had to “stop her.” Benson saw an assault, and Barba says they are on the same page. He hopes the video is damming enough AJ won’t want to go to trial. Benson is surprised Barba wants to plead this down, adding AJ should be in jail. Barba agrees, but feels AJ is personable and charismatic, Paula supports him and the jury will want to forgive him. Benson sarcastically says he is right, they should just slap him on the wrists and send him home.

Barba and Benson are in the interrogation room with AJ and Calhoun who says AJ was defending himself but if they want to make a reasonable offer she will hear them out. AJ adds the other DA mentioned anger management and they will go – AA, whatever it takes. Barba suggest assault 3, 90 days, and Calhoun says no jail time and 200 hours of community service. Benson says AJ will have to do a lot more than pick up garbage with a pointed stick for this one. Calhoun says AJ has already been suspended by his network and assault 3 with jail time is an overreach; Paula didn’t even go to the hospital. Barba says Calhoun is right, this is really reckless endangerment with gross disregard to Paula’s safety which could have cause serious injury. Calhoun is stunned, asking that Barba wants them to plead to a felony? AJ stands up and says he would never hurt Paula and she will back him up. Calhoun adds they heard they man; they will see them in court. Barba tells them tomorrow at 9AM.

At arraignment court part 5 on Thursday, November 13, AJ pleads not guilty and Barba asks for remand. The judge does not agree and sets bail at $20,000. AJ looks to Paula and smiles.

Afterwards, Benson enters the ladies room where Paula is already there and tries to get her to talk but Paula sticks to her story. Benson warns Paula it will happen again. Paula thinks that it’s because her husband is a strong black man he has to be taken down by the public and by Benson. Benson says she is concerned about the safety of her and her son and is not concerned about the public perception of black men. Calhoun enters and cuts any change of this off, telling Benson she should know better than to talk to Paula without her counsel. Calhoun takes Paula away.

Later, outside the courthouse, Reverend Scott holds a press conference with AJ and Paula. Paula thinks some people have an interest in her being the victim and that is not going to happen. Benson and Barba watch on as Paula takes responsibility for provoking AJ. She adds they are working on their issues and asks for privacy.

On the Hoda! Show, she interviews AJ and Paula who tell their fans now to believe the gutter press and not to believe the haters. Meanwhile, Benson, at home with Noah, is on the phone with Barba who says this is the next stop on the apology tour. Barba and Benson watch as Paula states AJ proposed and they are getting married later that day.

At a later date in court, a doctor testifies for the prosecution about the science behind the force of the blow AJ gave to Paula and the punch could have killed her but she got lucky. Calhoun cross examines him and brings out that the doctor never examined Paula and his speculation is based on a grainy black and white video and an algorithm. She also brings out the fact that Paula shows no sign of neurological injury at the time or later.

Benson is testifying for the prosecution, stating it is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence to say it is their fault or to refuse to testify. Some are emotionally or financially dependent on their abusers or scared of reprisals. They are most at risk when the victim goes against their abuser or tries to leave. This is why domestic violence laws were changed in New York, to protect people who are unable or unwilling to protect themselves, Just because victims are in denial or won’t admit the abuse doesn’t mean the abuse didn’t happen or won’t worsen. Under cross examination, Calhoun gets Benson to admit that Paula did not show fear nor did she cite financial dependence as reasons not to testify. Calhoun asks it is possible Paula isn’t testifying because she is in love with AJ and believes he will be a good husband. Benson says that is not what she saw in the video. Calhoun mentions her client has expressed regret and will get anger management and spiritual counseling. Benson comments she has heard that before. Calhoun asks Benson if she believes in the rehabilitative powers of anger management, and Benson replies not always, no. Calhoun brings up the situation where a detective in her squad beat up a civilian who recently returned to active duty after a short stint in anger management. Amaro, sitting in the gallery squirms in his seat. Benson said her detective lost his temper with a horrific child abuser, not his wife. Calhoun counters that the anger management was sufficient enough for a violent police officer to get his gun back but insufficient to rehabilitate AJ Martin, who doesn’t even have a speeding ticket. Barba objects and Calhoun says she is sorry, she won’t ask any more question about Benson’s double standard. Amaro looks unhappy and AJ looks pleased.

In a bar, Rollins is drinking and watching some news related to AJ’s story as Amaro enters and sits down at the bar next to her. Rollins looks like she’s had a few already. They talk about what happened in the courtroom but Rollins thinks Calhoun has a point – it’s a private matter between Paula and AJ and they are overreaching. Amaro says he hit her, end of story. Rollins argues they get to decide what is best for her, saying that is infantilizing and is SVU making her a victim all over again. He tells her to take it easy and she asks if he is counting her drinks now, calling him Saint Nick, Savior of Damaged Women. Amaro says no man has a right to hit a woman, and Rollins says that is right but some of “us” don’t need to be saved. She says he married a woman who didn’t, adding she saw how Maria went after him in the squad room. He says he never laid a hand on Maria, and Rollins asks that he never wanted to. Rollins says Maria got to him, and she still gets to him. She pushes his shoulder and ask if that doesn’t get to him. He says no, so she pushes his shoulder harder again and again to try to get a rise out of him. He asks if she is jealous of Maria now, and she asks if that is where they are going now. He asks what are they talking about, and Rollins shoves him very hard and says “You Nick” telling him to “just drop the rock.” She goes on about how they have all seen him lose it, the whole squad room heard him yelling at his wife on the phone. She continues to shove at him when she mentions Paula Martin has the right to chose whether she presses charges or not, “because some of us don’t want to be victims” and she pushes Amaro so hard he starts to fall off the barstool He leaps up and gets in her face and then swipes a glass off the bar, breaking it. Rollins thinks this is funny as patrons stare. Amaro gets money out of his wallet and says he is going to do what AJ Martin should have done, and, placing the cash on the bar, says “Walk away.” He storms out of the bar, taking Rollins; drink, as the patrons stare, Rollins looking slightly amused and drunk.

At SVU, the squad room watches a news conference about the league cracking down on domestic violence or child abuse. Rollins enters and Fin comments that AJ has no friends left. Rollins comments that Paula gets tarred, too, asking how is this fair to Paula? She says it is the worst night of her life, for their entertainment. Fin says she is preaching to the choir but AJ did hit her. Rollins says you can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved, trust her, she has tried. He asks if Nick agrees with that, and she replies that Nick thinks he can save the whole wide world. Fin says he has learned two things in his 15 years at SVU: One – you can’t take this job home (Rollins says she is working on that); two – you can’t take anyone FROM the job home with you. He says he just wants her to take care of herself. She says she hears him.

In Supreme Court, Part 11 on November 18, Reverend Scott testifies on behalf of AJ and Paula and the fact they are trying to change learned behavior. They are working to finding positive ways to communicate He performed their wedding ceremony; they have been committed to each other for 10 years and are raising their son in a solid, loving, Christian marriage of equals.

Barba challenges the fact they are equals, giving AJ’s earnings which makes Paula dependent on AJ. Barba asks about the drinking and Scott says this is another issue they are working on. Barba states that Scott doesn’t know how AJ acts towards Paula when they are not on their best behavior. Scott testifies he has never witnessed anything other than a genuine love for each other. Barba asks what he thought about the video of AJ punching his wife, and Scott says he did not watch it. Barba asks if that is because AJ’s lawyer told him not to, and Calhoun objects. Barba withdraws the question.

Afterwards, AJ testifies about how much he loves Paula and he will always regret that night but did not intend to hurt her. He decided to testify as Paula had the strength to sit in the courtroom and if she can be brave enough to sit in here, he can be brave enough to sit here and take responsibility and teach his son to be a man. Under cross examination, Barba mentions that AJ lied when he told the police his wife had slipped, and AJ says he knows now that was wrong, he was trying to protect his family. Barba plays back the video of the punch and AJ said he put up his hand to stop her but it was a reflex action. Barba thinks he is blaming Paula, but AJ says he did not intend to hurl her. He did not call 911 as she came to in a few minutes. Barba brings up the fact at AJ is a professional athlete and is aware of the dangers of losing consciousness only briefly and he chose to ignore that, but AJ counters that he made a judgment call. Barba says he made a judgment call to punch a woman in the face, to drag her unconscious body across a garage and attempt to get out of there before anyone could find out. Calhoun objects but the judge allows it as AJ says he loves his wife Barba plays back the video asking if AJ loved her, highlighting all the times he manhandled her and hit her. Calhoun objects again and the judge tells Barba to move along. Barba says AJ opened the door, but if this is how he shows he loves his wife, then he is done.

Later, the judge asks Calhoun before they bring the jury back from lunch, is she ready for her closing arguments? Calhoun says she wants to call one last witness, Paula. Barba asks the judge to approach and he is concerned that Paula has been in the courtroom for the entire trial. But the judge counters that Paula lives with the defendant and whatever she’s heard in court she has already heard at home. She allows it.

In the hallway, Benson asks Barba how is it looking, and he explains there are 7 women on the jury, domestic violence, she knows the drill. Benson says at least two will be looking to blame her and excuse him. Barba informs her that Calhoun sandbagged him and she is putting Paula on the stand in 2 hours. He asks what Benson knows about her and that relationship. Benson explains they did their due diligence, and Barba tells her to talk to him.


In Supreme Court part 11 on Wednesday, November 19, Paula testifies to defend AJ. She said AJ loved her, she was drunk and jealous and not abusive to her. That night was private between two passionate people and she is not afraid of AJ. She knows him and he is a gentle, good man. He doesn’t deserve this and their family doesn’t deserve this. Barba cross examines and he says everything is always good and fine in the Martin house, He won’t replay the video. He asks about their relationship; she says she met when she was 21 and he was 35, toward the end of his playing career. Barba asks if she had no significant relationships up until then, asking if AJ was her first serious relationship. She says he is the love of her life and still is. She had AJ Jr. a few years after they moved in. She was a lifestyle reporter for local TV news but she gave that up willingly. She is close to her sister and the other retired players’ wives. Barba asks if she can go out with anyone without AJ being there, stating her life revolves around AJ and his son. She says she is happy, and when Barba says even when AJ yells at her, she testifies he does not yell at her. Barba asks if AJ yells at their son, and Paula pauses then says he doesn’t yell, he raises his voice because he wants him to listen and he loves him. Barba asks if it’s the way he loves her, and Calhoun objects. Barba rephrases, asking when AJ raises his voice at Junior, how does that make her feel. Paula asks what does it matter? Barba continues to press but Paula says he does now know what is right for her and her family. She tells him not to lecture her; she is not leaving him and doesn’t care what any of them say. Barba questions whether she is getting comments from family and friends, and notices she looks toward AJ before she answers. He mentions this and wonders if she is worried about AJ’s reaction, and when she looks again, Barba tells her not to look at AJ, he can’t answer for her. She says she does not want to lose him or her family. She asks why is that wrong, and what gives him the right. She says to just leave them be.

Later, at closing arguments, Calhoun says she feels sorry for the DA’s office being under pressure to show they are politically correct on domestic violence. She says domestic violence is a scourge that should not be tolerated, but this case is not that. She states this case is a case of a misunderstanding between two passionate people, a private matter, not a test case. Paula loves AJ and did not want to press charges. If they convict AJ, they will tear the family apart. She asks if that is what the judicial system is for, to destroy families?

Barba states that this case and the decision is important. He says they may be asking how it is there business to interfere in another person’s marriage as they don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. They do know, as a society, we have evolved. Beyond the idea that women are property and what they feel or experience does not matter. By hitting Paula and knocking her out, AJ says Paula doesn’t matter and showed disregard for her safety and her life. She has a child with him and she loves him. Convicting her husband may not be what she wants, but to not convict him is plainly and simply wrong. It sends a message that it is okay to be a bully in your own home; to control, intimidate and physically injure your spouse is not okay. We must not stand by and by our silence, say that it is acceptable to look the other way. Physical violence against another human being is a crime, even if she is “just your wife.”

Back at SVU, Amaro opens the fridge while Rollins gets coffee. He looks at her and says “hey” and she replies “hi.” There is a moment of discomfort and as Amaro sees Benson, he calls out to her and walks away. He asks her what is the word with Barba, and she says he is biting his nails or whatever it is that Barba does. The jury now questioning if the video was doctored. Rollins says they are trying to find a reason to acquit; they know it doesn’t feel right. Benson questions that sending the two of them home does and that boy growing up in fear? Rollins thinks AJ has learned his lesson. Benson replies, “You do? I don’t.”

Back in Supreme Court part 11 on Friday, November 21, AJ is found guilty or reckless endangerment. AJ is shocked as the judge remands him to Rikers pending sentencing. As the judge dismisses the jury, Calhoun tries to reassure AJ and Paula calls to him as his friends surround her. Benson looks on from the gallery as Paula is consoled by her friends.

Afterwards, in the courthouse hall,   Benson asks Barba what he thinks AJ is looking at. Barba thinks the minimum 2 years. Benson says it sends a message. As Paula exits the court room, she walks over to Benson and says she hopes Benson is happy; she lost a husband and her son lost his father. As Paula walks off, Benson says Paula deserved better than that and so does her son. Paula screams back at Benson, asking what the hell does she know about that? She was happy, she was fine, she and her son were making it work and it was her choice and Benson took that away. She feels Benson thinks AJ was beating her up, then asks Benson what doe Benson think SHE did? Paula walks off and steps into the elevator with her friends. Barba tells Benson she did the right thing, and Benson, shaking her head, says she knows. She walks off as we fade to black.




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27 comments:

empxth tbh said...

it felt like a whole different show.. like 3.0 or something started with season 16 lol

Ana Andrade said...

This episode was just OK to me. Chad Coleman and Meagan Good were terrific. The overall case was interesting but I feel they could have done more, like maybe finding other instances when AJ abused Paula. Otherwise, I feel like Paula was completely justified in her anger towards Olivia because as far as we know, he hit her that one time.

As for Amaro and Rollins, I feel as if their relationship started because they felt they can save each other. The scene at the bar, the scene with both of them saying "hey, hi" and Amanda's comments to Fin seem to indicate this. I think Nick has a better control of his anger than most people seem to think. I do hope that Amanda doesn't fall off the wagon again. I just hope that they can overcome their issues so that they can have a healthy relationship. I just wish they would show what they are like when they are together outside of work. All the hints are becoming annoying, so if they're going to make something happen between them at least show us something concrete. I do think they are cute together and would make a great couple once they resolve their issues.

On a completely different matter, Maria has no right to stop Nick from seeing Zara and him having to fly to California is ridiculous. They had an agreement and should stick to it. I totally see why he was angry. Anyone else agree?

Ana Andrade said...

I want to thank the author of these reviews/recaps. They're terrific, even though I don't always agree with them :)

Cath T said...

I think this was a brilliant episode and for me the best of the season so far.

I too have become a bit over Amaro's anger issues but the context in this episode was well written and the bar scene superbly portrayed by Danny Pino and Kelly Giddish.

The fact that Amaro took out his anger on a locker and a glass after being provoked the way he was in both instances could actually signal an improvement in how he is dealing with it. Also he made it clear he abhors violence against women and children. At least with Amaro we are seeing a man struggling with this issue. That's not how I felt with Stabler.

I didn't see any hypocrisy in the episode. In fact, Benson's double standards were called out by Calhoun and Amaro understood Calhoun was simply doing her job.

There is more to come where Rollins is concerned and the groundwork for that was well thought out and inserted into this episode.

Overall I thought it was a very strong episode. Well written, nicely directed with excellent performances particularly from Giddish, Pino and Esparza.

Mariana Fernandes said...

I liked the episode, although I'm a Rollaro shipper, but I'm a huge fan of SVU as well :). For sure it's not the first time the theme is handled in SVU but I believe the writers tried to explore it in a different perspective, once that this time the jury turned out with the guy as guilty, when in my opinion this case didn't seem so strong as other similar ones that we saw in previous SVU episodes but that turned out by considering the abuser not guilty. Apart from that, regarding Nick and Amanda relationship I totally agree with Ana. For me what happened in the bar doesn't mean their relationship is condemned, on the contrary, I believe that will allow it to grow and mature. Let's see if Warren won't let Rollaro's shippers down! ;) Thanks Chris for another great review/recap and for keeping SVU fans always updated with the most recent photos and news! :)

Emma said...

Hmmm... I don't think they got together yet! Yes, they are REALLY teasing us w/ the Rollins & Amaro ambiguous looks/words is the last few eps! I think he's a MORE stable person that her; she needs someone to guide her (like Fin sometimes does). She is reminding me more of Stabler these days. Does that sound weird? Anyway, Danny & Kelli have great chemistry, so they need to explore that more.

CLA said...

I do not see any chemistry between Rollins and Amaro. And I think he deserves better. I found it very good episode. Indeed, this season has been brilliant, even in the ratings.

Killatila said...

It needs to be noted that Rollins may have been out of line pushing Nick BUT drinking didnt cause this. Her way of refusing to be considered a victim of either her chief in Atlanta or of a potential abusive boyfriend triggered her. She saw a lot of herself in the victim BUT not about drinking too much. It was because they were both in denial and refusing help after being violated as a last attempt to save their dignity. Amanda has made it clear she is not fond of feeling like being a victim. It is basic psychological stuff. Anyone who has been thought therapy knows about triggers and how connecting dots in the subconscious mind can cause eruptions of past trauma that seemingly came out of nowhere...So let's be fair and not call her childish or anything unfair. She just needs to lower her ego and go see a therapist...

Aside from that, i agree that the whole anger management issue is getting too old. I think the writers had better make up new, fresh issues that havent been done before or havent been dragged throughout 4 seasons..Rollins's problems are bound to become a joke if they get past the season half...I dont want this characters to become a joke cuz the writers cant find inspiration..

Petra S said...

Oh man I've been seeing Rollaro shippers gutted on social media all day long & was really dreading to see this ep.

As a whole I liked it, domestic violence is a tricky thing and I think they did a good job shedding light on all the different aspects - victim status, children involved, where the line is drawn.

But of course the bar scene intrigued me the most. I cringed big time but it was brilliant acting and, Amanda was clearly on deep water and at fault, but I can see where she's coming from. I do wish they would've put this ep after the ep where her deputy chief reappears though, I think it would've made more sense to the rest of the fandom then. The part of the fandom that doesn't follow twitter n everything about the show 24/7 & that perhaps didn't see Warren's tweet about groping and harassment within the PD in which he tagged Rollins. So we've already gotten an idea where it's heading but I don't think the entire fandom is caught up. But her "Some of us doesn't want to be a victim" line was very telling. I'm happy Nick walked away. I do think Nick has learned a lot (agree with you Cath T) and I don't think Nick would ever lay a hand on a woman but if both of them had been drinking & Amanda provoked him like that, who's fault would it had been? Again, very interesting topics SVU raise.

And Emma that's interesting that you don't think they've hooked up yet. I agree there's been a lot of hints and stuff and I don't think the writers have really established them as a couple but only-wearing-a-towel-Nick on her couch was rather telling to me. If not for that scene then I might have agreed with you but nah I think they've been there already ;)

Laurie Fanat said...

The Rollins drama is stale. She's a gambling addict and she likes to drink which is a troubling combination. The drinking is a gateway to going back to gambling, in my opinion. Putting aside WHY she is drinking, the fact that she is drunk and losing control of her behaviors puts her in a downward spiral. Isn't she still going to her gamblers anonymous meetings? If so, does she have a sponsor and where is that person? Has she blown them off too? We all know she was sleeping with one of her sponsors a while back and she seems fairly "loose" when it comes to sex. (She was quick to offer it to Declan Murphy before she knew he was a cop.) She may have had problems in Atlanta but it's not like she hasn't had a chance to get help about those issues. Maybe she says she doesn't want to be a victim but she is sure acting like one. Enough of whatever happened to her in Atlanta. The show keeps playing this card but it's a tiresome tease. Maybe she was sexually assaulted in Atlanta and who knows, she may have been drinking at the time and her judgment was impaired. Maybe she was in a relationship with her boss and it became violent. Maybe SHE beat up someone. They haven't said in ANY episode what happened to her so until they come out and say it, everybody is just guessing and feeling so sorry for poor Amanda. Just because something bad happens to someone earlier in their life does not give that person a free pass to behave badly the rest of their lives. There was no excuse for her shoving Amaro. NONE. She was drunk and she got out of control. She WAS acting childish. She reminded me of a kid on the playground bullying someone. She WANTED him to hit her.

This episode was WAAAAY too preachy. I know Mariska has her "No More" campaign and I commend her for it however I don't like it when a star's personal agenda takes over an episode. "No More" is a nice, simple concept but everybody knows that domestic violence issues are complicated and most are not caught on video.

Amaro needs a shrink for his control issues. Benson is getting to be an annoying boss. Fin is the only level headed detective in this episode. No Carisi - a crime in itself. Barba took the right approach all the way through.

I didn;t care for this episode and after I sleep on it I may have more to say about it.

JustSomeOne said...

^ Laurie, you obviously hate Amanda. I like how everyone comments on Amanda extensively but not on Nick.

She's not right at the moment but to say Nick deserves better and to say she was childish and loose? Maybe you're projecting your own feelings too much on the character. She only slept with Nate and it seemed like she wanted it to be serious. If she were "loose", she wouldn't have walked out of that courtroom crying. Later when she fell down the rabbit hole, she was in a bad place but he's the only one (aside from Nick) that we know she's had any sexual contact with. Stop disguising your slut shaming. How can you watch a show like this and act like that?

Clearly by what Warren tweeted, she was assaulted by her boss. He may have gotten physical with her but he also most likely inappropriately touched her.

Aside from that, I think the episode was boring. Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish stole the episode for me. Their acting was phenomenal. Chad Coleman and Meagan Good were also superb.

Liv is getting annoying tbh. I was hoping she'd be like Cragen. I miss him more than I thought. I think Fin has become stale too but that's more on the writers.

Not happy that Nick isn't in the next episode though.

Roselynn Finch said...

The episode was okay, but I hate every scene with Noah. I can't stand him

Petra S said...

I love you JustSomeOne :)
Agree the slut shaming on Amanda is vile. She's not loose. Four seasons and she's hooked up twice as far as we know. She never went there with her ex captain & the deputy chief assaulted her if anything so we don't know anything about her past in Atlanta when it comes to men. As for Murphy she hit rock bottom in that room with him, it was the only way out of the situation she could find and that must've been such a dreadful revelation once the moment was over & she was 'saved' from it.

I'm a ltl bit happy others are starting to see Benson as a bad boss too. Been feeling that for a long time but since I know I'm bias with Amanda I've been struggling with wheather or not I've been fair or not in my judgment.

And yay Roselynn - I'm with you. Noah should be a no-no on screen.

Vim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vim said...

1. I never really liked Benson, but right now I am starting to hate her:
Child porn - not important for her
Police brutality - OK as long it is Nick
2. As for bar scene - from the spoilers/previous hint it looks that Amanda was assaulted/molested/something in Atlanta and she decide rather to run to another city than press charges. She probably felt challenged by Benson&Amoro beliefs, that charges should be brought regardless victim opinion - for her such thing ultimately strip victim from last of dignity.
3. I really hope that Amanda will listen to Fin advise about her affair with Amoro. From my point of view it doesn't seem they can help each other calm down and heal their problems.
4. In next episode "Pattern Seventeen" we will finally meet deputy chief form Atlanta- according to spoilers he will try to downsize the role of Amanda in the investigation. Taking that in note and the recent episodes (Holden Manifesto) I am worried that Rollins (again...) will fall of the wagon (especially that big reveal "what happened in Atlanta" is announced to be in 11 episode in which we are supposed to meet her mother).
5."On a completely different matter, Maria has no right to stop Nick from seeing Zara and him having to fly to California is ridiculous. They had an agreement and should stick to it. I totally see why he was angry. Anyone else agree?" I actually disagree - we don't know how situation with thanksgiving looked -we have only know Amoro side of story. And if he want Zara back, then he always can go to the Court - but he would probably lose his job&Zara as results.
6. I really liked when someone started using flaws of SVU detectives against them.
7. And I agree totally with Petra S and Roselynn: "Noah should be a no-no on screen".
8. No Carisi today - very big error:) Looks like no Amoro in next episode - very good;p
9. And on side acting in that episode wad phenomenal - especially Kelli Giddish and quest stars.

Ry A said...

I thought Rollins was extremely hypocritical, given she was more than happy to get involved when her sister was being abused, to the point of using NYPD to act as her enforcers, despite the fact her sister was doing *exactly* what Paula did. Rollins sitting there telling Amaro they didn't have the right to make others victims seems to conveniently forget that's exactly what she did to her sister.

Laurie Fanat said...

Petra S., I am not "slut shaming". I am simply stating the facts of her behavior that have already been put out there by the show. My opinion is they WANT her behavior, including her sexual practices, to be a part of the discussion. It's all a part of her destructive behavior - the drinking, the gambling, the sex. Imagine being a psychiatrist or psychologist who knew what Rollins was doing, they would probably discuss her sexual practices as part of her overall problem. If the writers don't want people talking about her sexual behavior, why do they keep putting it out there? We are talking about a FICTIONAL CHARACTER here, not a real person and the whole point of the writers creating these elaborate backstories is to bring depth to a character and prompt discussion and interest. I'll be honest though, if I had a friend or family member who was a problem drinker, was a gambling addict, and seemed loose with sex, I would not ignore ANY of those issues and would want to help them to get rid of destructive behavior, even if it meant bringing up ALL their behavior. My comments are not to shame anybody for anything, it's putting out a picture of a person who needs help.

Linda Fletcher said...

I didn't love the episode, I didn't hate the episode. It just was...there, I guess. But I do know that I'm tired of the inconsistent writing. I think all the actors do a great job with what they have to work with, but either the writers need to go all in with the personal stuff or excise it completely. Don't just show us inconsistent snippets and then ignore those story lines for X number of episodes.

And a note to Leight, Martin, and the rest of the writers: While you're at it, STOP MAKING NICK AMARO INTO SCOTTY VALENS REDUX. Just because a character is Latino doesn't mean he automatically has to be a hothead who needs anger management therapy.

I freely admit I only watch this show for Danny Pino, although do I love the rest of the current cast including Carisi. But if Danny was gone, so would I be (I barely watch the episodes where they rotate him out). I HATE that you writers insist on turning him into a character that no one likes because of his petulance and temper, because you know what? You almost have ME disliking Nick the way you write him. You've absolutely squandered Danny Pino's natural charm and likability, and you've turned promising characters into miserable mopes. And I'm one of those who LIKE the personal angles. Or I did until you all decided to take that field trip to the Shonda Rhimes school of TV writing (which is not a compliment). I give Danny and the rest of the cast props that they can rise above your inconsistent, soap-opera-ish characterizations of them as often as they do.

And it's not just Amaro. After this episode, I detest holier-than-thou Benson, who I've pretty much liked since I started watching when Danny and Kelli came on board. I don't much care for messed-up Amanda anymore, either. I know they're writing her with issues, but again, inconsistent. I know conflict is drama, but jeeze, is it possible to write one female character who's strong and NOT a basket case?

Thank God for Fin. One character the writers haven't messed up yet. Oh, and show runners? QUIT ROTATING THE MALE DETECTIVES IN AND OUT. If you need the money, dump Peter Gallagher. He adds nothing to the show.

Thanks for your great recaps and reviews, Chris, and for having a place we can vent about stuff like this.

Petra S said...

Laurie Fanat - I'm sorry if you misunderstood/I expressed myself badly, the slut-shaming wasn't aimed specifically at you. I'd just been to a board where they were just vile about it & that's why I loved reading JustSomeOne's comment. I try not to engage too much online, it's just no point, but sometimes it's hard - as a big Amanda fan who at times don't think of her as just fictional - to sit back so I love when someone seems to be on the same page as you.

My personal opinion/view is that Amanda does have an addictive personality - we've seen gambling, running, workaholic, & lately drinking. There was one ep where she popped pills after her shooting but they dropped that so who knows?! Adding sex to that list wouldn't be so strange but we've just not seen that imo. She's hooked up twice as far as we know so no I would not add sex to that list at this time. And I get even more determined on that because of the slut-shaming going on.

Linda Fletcher - totally agree on the inconsistency. It bugs me to no extent. They usually do a good job following up things about Benson but any of the other... no, under the rug, gone, zip, nada. I think this latest thing of rotating Amaro/Fin/Carisi will only increase this too as there will be a gap in the squad room every new episode.

CLA said...

I see that people who come here on this site comment or hate Benson, Rollins or hate, or love Amaro and so on. I do not hate any character in SVU. I think they are all great actors. I feel that many irrational fans Meloni, hate Mariska the success that it is. Not accept that she reached the condition of the head on its own merits. And Benson has been a great boss. I do not see any animosity between her and Amanda and she is a great advocate of Amaro. Unlike some, I love the scenes with Noah. SVU is so dark, that kid is like a balm that soothes the hearts. The character Amanda Rollins is problematic, but I see that Olivia's trust in her work and values. The fact is that SVU this season, with the presence of Noah and Olivia in charge, rose through the ranks and gained more than a million viewers per week. Maybe that let fans Meloni so angry. SVU with Mariska in command, shown he can be successful without Christopher Meloni. I feel that many fans rooting for the failure of the series. And get frustrated at each renewal. Some, disgusted, take revenge on Mariska and put a thousand defects actress: she is fat, is old, made plastic. That's the price she pays for success. Mariska has millions of fans around the world. In my country, I see not this rivalry that exists in America. I, as a fan of SVU, I recognize that they are all great actors. If Mariska has more projection is normal. After all she is the star of the show and is 16 years in that role. But I see that Amaro and Rollins each day to earn sympathy from fans. No need comparisons and separations. SVU is a great family and Mariska Hargitay is paving the road to bid farewell to SVU in style. Rollins and Amaro should be the new stars. SVU just hope to survive. I'm loving these new stories.

My congratulations to Chris Zimmer lucidity of his comments. Their reviews show no bigotry or bias. Congratulations.

Sorry for my English.

Cath T said...

I find Linda Fletcher's comments about Danny Pino/Amaro very interesting and I do agree with some of Linda's observations.

I came back to SVU (stopped watching because of Stabler, never liked him) when I heard Danny Pino would be joining the cast and after Season 13 and most of Season 14 I was really happy with Amaro's character. After a while though the inevitable "cop with marriage problems" and "cop with anger issues" came to the fore.

I don't necessarily have a problem with such character/plot devices but it seems to have been dragging on a bit. It appears as though he & Maria aren't actually divorced yet.

I don't think Amaro is Scotty Valens reincarnated because Danny Pino as Valens in Cold Case at least got to stretch his acting wings a bit more. In SVU he's become a bit one note. I feel there was more depth to the character in his first two seasons with SVU.

Having said all of that though I think his displays of temper in the most recent episode were in context with what was written and didn't come across as gratuitous.
The Rollins/Amaro scene in the bar was well played by both actors.

I think it is sad that Amaro has turned into an unlikeable character but in the last episode I saw (or perhaps thought I saw) a change in him (despite the momentary displays of temper).

The stage is being set for the Rollins story line to come and Nick was part of that set-up. His anger issues and need to "protect" women were all part of that. In fact, I think it's been cleverly managed by the writers.

I would like to see Amaro ditch Maria once and for all and continue a low key relationship with Rollins. It has the potential to be good for both characters.

I also don't like the male detectives being rotated through episodes. It seems they will only appear in two out of every three. Makes me wonder if Danny Pino and Ice-T had to take pay cuts.

LlamaJ said...

Rollins is off her rocker. Clearly her perspective has been clouded too much by her own previous experience. As for Amaro, I think it's normal to be angry when finding out that he won't see his daughter for Thanksgiving (and that after his ex-wife took her across the country). Hitting a locker? Not the best response, but cut the guy some slack.

Ohrenfetisch said...

I kinda like Amaro... well, i don't like his character, i just like having him on the show. He's kinda become a comic relief or something with his anger issues ...

Ohrenfetisch said...

@Linda: I thought the scene where he beat the creepy pedophile up last season was kinda like when Scotty got beat up by his brother but he was on the opposite end lol

empxth tbh said...

it's just wrong...

D.Chester said...

I don't know why this made me laugh so hard but it did!

Chloe Arreola said...

I've always hated Amaros ex wife. The pure definition of selfishness.