Thursday, February 12, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” Recap & Review

Law & Order SVU “Intimidation Game” is “ripped from the headlines” of “Gamergate”.  An oversimplified explanation of Gamergate: it’s a polarizing controversy over what is perceived as widespread misogyny in video games and the video game culture, which morphed into an ethics and culture war. Last year, three game developers found themselves being attacked in Internet forums, where they were threatened -  anonymously - with various acts of violence including rape and murder. There is a lot more to this issue and rather than explain it here, my suggestion is to check your Internet search engine of choice to get all the details.

Full disclosure: I don’t play video games for a lot of reasons. I understand that many get enjoyment from video games; I don’t. That’s just me and is in no way meant to be a diss against those who enjoy video games.

The episode was action packed, which kept my attention. The location scenes heightened the tension and drama; this aspect of this episode was very well done.

There were times the episode was clichéd and cringe-worthy, even for someone like me who avoids video games like the plague. The constant gamer slang got old, and (like Benson) I started to feel like I was being treated like an idiot who couldn’t grasp the simplest gaming concepts. I also felt like there was a contest going on to see how much gamer slang someone could cram into the episode. I suspect that gamers watching this episode hated it for the negative way gaming was depicted. Not all male gamers are violent, crazy, misogynistic lunatics. Yes, there are many out there who are very passionate about gaming. I heard from a lot of them last week, with many nasty comments being lobbed at me when I first posted the episode information, as if I wrote the damn thing. But I also heard from many who were level headed about the issue.

Before the opening credits rolled, I said to myself, “bored already.” The opening scene in the doctor’s office felt shoehorned in. I suppose it was to set the stage for Benson to later voice her concern that as Noah grows up, she will be faced with more complex behavioral issues. I did question the doctor’s comment during his talk with Benson that breaking things is in a boy's DNA, which in my mind translated to “boys will be boys.” He may have meant it in a lighthearted manner but the episode itself seem to imply that male gamers have violent behavior because it’s in their DNA too.

The gaming topic was the perfect feature for Ice-T, and I think Fin was a good example of how gamers can be normal people. OK, he did kill one of the gamers at the end, but Fin was dealing with reality and not playing a game.

Rollins made an insensitive comment to Raina when she called them for help while using the kidnapper’s cell phone. Rollins says they will be there as soon as they can. Well, that wasn’t very reassuring.

A glaring error: This case and last week’s episode, "Decaying Morality,” overlapped dates, starting with Sunday, January 25. Amaro was nowhere to be found in this current episode, but on this same date in last week’s episode, he was clearly in the SVU squad that day and even interviewed the dentist in his office with Carisi. I don’t see how Carisi could work both the gamer conference case and the other case simultaneously. There is a similar conflict with those two cases on January 27. These kinds of errors are just plain sloppy and it annoys me to no end.

Please note:  Everyone can feel free to make comments about this episode here;  all I ask is to keep it civil, on topic, and leave out the vulgarity and insults.  This is my blog and my rules, and if someone can’t play by them, they shouldn’t be shocked when they find their comment deleted.

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:
Mouzam Makkar - Raina Punjabi
Peter Mark Kendall - Steven Kaplan
Griffin Matthews - Leslie Connolly
Susannah Flood - Sarah Keller
Adam Scarimbolo – Security Guard
Bill Irwin - Dr. Peter Lindstrom
Jefferson White – Gary
Logan Paul – Ryan
Toby Turner – Game Host
Jack Vale – Himself
Andrew MacLarty – Zachary Carter
James Ciccone - Peter O'Neil
Juliet Pritner – Marissa Rossi
Bruce Falk – ESU Commander
Kelly Evans – Reporter
Luke Marinkovich – Anthony Rossi
Evan Jay Newman – Pierce
Anthony Mazza – ESU Officer #1
Josh Daniels – ESU Officer #2
Trevor Zhou – Douchey Guy
J. Clint Allen – Laser Pointer Guy

Benson is in Dr. Lindstrom’s office, discussing her experiences and issues with raising Noah, and how much she loves him. She worries about how he will grow up with his history, but is still going through with the adoption. Lindstrom tells Benson that boys run around and break things; it’s in all their DNA.

Meanwhile, Fin, Rollins, and Carisi are at a gamer convention and Fin is clearly enjoying himself. Fin refers to “campers” in the video game he is playing, explaining that campers are lazy creeps who hide behind stuff and don’t engage, waiting for you to run by and shoot you in the back. Carisi thinks this is better than ComicCon and Fin says wait till they see the main event with teams playing for long periods, saying they are not “noobs”, explaining that is short for “newbies.” At one of the gamer booths, some guys make threats to one of the women, Sarah Keller, working the booth over the game that her boss, Raina Punjabi is developing. She tells them to get out of there and ridicules them back. Rollins makes a comment to Fin that some gamers are overgrown boys staring at a screen pressing buttons, asking isn’t there a basketball game on? Fin, laughing, asks if she’s seen the Knicks lately. Rollins spots Leslie from their “Glasgow Man” case at a booth and video game of his own. He tries to get Rollins to try his virtual reality game, saying it is like being inside the game. Rollins says she’s good.

Back at the booth, Sarah takes a break and leaves the booth. She heads to the restroom and finds the gamers who were antagonizing her earlier are waiting and they viciously attack her in a stall.

The detectives watch people play the “Kill Or Be Slaughtered” game where Fin and Carisi are really getting into it while Rollins seems more entertained by watching the two detectives. While the crowd watching the game gets more involved in the violence, Sarah’s attackers ramp up their assault. But Leslie races to the detectives and alerts them that someone is in trouble in the ladies room. Rollins seems to be the only one who isn’t enthralled by the game and she tells Fin and Carisi – who aren’t even paying attention – not to worry, she has this.

Rollins enters the ladies room and finds Sarah and tells her she is a police officer. Sarah says she is okay, and explains these guys can’t stand women in gaming, and when Rollins asks what did they do to her, Sarah says “they leveled up,”

Later, Sarah is in the SVU interview room and Fin and Rollins are briefing Benson. Rollins and Fin explain that Sarah Keller, 22, works for Raina Punjabi, the game developer. Benson asks “this girl was attacked at the what again?” Fin explains it was at the IVL Finals – International Videogame League. Rollin add it is like March Madness for video games. Fin states he goes there every year and nothing like this has ever happened. Rollins says that Sarah told her that the guys who did this don’t like women in gaming. Fin says in their world, a developer is like God and some guys are not ready to give a girl that power. Benson asks if she knows her attacker, and Rollins thinks maybe, Carisi stayed behind to cull security footage. Benson asks if Fin has Rollins AND Carisi in on this - on a Sunday? Fin laughs and Benson says never mind, she is not going to understand a word of what anybody is saying about this, so she asks Fin to come with her to interview Sarah, and tells Rollins to follow up with Carisi at the “whatever it is.”

Benson and Fin speak with Sarah who explains there were two attackers, calling them “FALs”. Fin explains that means “Failures At Life.” Sarah describes them and Fin says that sounds like 80% if the crowd. She tells them about the attack and admit she does not know the attackers personally but they had stopped at her booth and was talking smack about her boss, Raina Punjabi because her game is not popular with KOBS addicts. Fin explains KOBS means “Kill Or Be Slaughtered.” Sarah adds that is just another carbon copy FPS with new skins and a 10 year old engine. Fin explains to Benson that means “first person shooter, ” a shoot-em-up game. Sarah says guys who play hate games like Raina’s and “Amazonian Warriors” is non-violent and non-stupid, which is like the opposite of a KOBS addict. They launch on Tuesday and it has been getting crazy on-line. Carisi enters the room and asks if they have a second.

As they walk into Benson’s office, Rollins says the security footage is like trying to find a geek in a geek stack. They have an image of the suspected perps with partial views of their faces. Benson asks if you buy tickets to this on a computer, and Carisi says they are running the buyers names against the sex offenders registry now. Fin says that is not what this is; these guys want Raina out of the gaming world. Benson questions just because she is a woman, and Fin states there are a lot of haters out there who thinks she slept her way into the business. Carisi explains she is engaged to that venture capitalist, Stephen Kaplan. Rollins says with sarcasm that because her fiancé has money, this means she has no talent. Fin replies, “To them” and they want to take her down, no matter what. Benson questions then why attack Sarah, why not just go after Raina?

At the production offices of Amazonia Warriors at 66 Tenth Avenue pm Sunday, January 25, Raina Punjabi tells Fin and Rollins that Sarah told them she fought them off, and she put a reward on her web site for anyone who catches these creeps. Fin asks if Sarah also told her these creeps have a grudge against her and her game? Raina states there is nothing in the game for them to be angry about; you can choose how you play. You can wage peace or war; you can have a patriarchy or matriarchy, be eco-conscious or industrialized. Fin says he knows, he read on Kotaku that it’s better than Civ V with Brave New World expansion pack. Rollins says the guys who attacked Sarah weren’t so evolved as her partner, and shows Raina some photos and asks if anyone looks familiar. Raina looks through the photos and says they all look familiar, that is the gaming demo and there are always a few haters in the mix. Fin asks if there have been anything specific like email threats post to her web site or other gamer sites or hacker attack? Raina replies all the time, but she can’t be bothered with that right now, she blocks it all out, emphasizing they launch in two days. Stephen Kaplan approaches and asks if everything is alright. Raina says the detectives are there about Sarah, and says this is her (Raina’s) fiancé. Fin says his name Stephen Kaplan, and shakes his hand. Stephen asks if Sarah is okay, and Rollins replies yes. Stephen explains they wanted to give Sarah the week off but it is too important a time. Raina emphasizes that Sarah does not want to miss any of it. Rollins questions that Stephen is not just and investor, asking if he works here. Raina states they are a team. Fin comments that they DID have an employee attack, and Stephen insists they take that seriously; their internal security is working on it. Fin states they will need them to give them any specifics from the past few weeks. Raina looks anxious and says she doesn’t have time for this right now. Stephen excuses her to go back to work and then apologizes to Fin and Rollins, explaining Raina is really under the gun. He adds this launch is a career changer, and they will give the detectives all they have.

Back at SVU, Carisi enters Benson’s office and says Fin and Rollins are working with Raina’s security team but not with Raina; the Amazonian Warriors is like roll out of a movie. Benson comments she has been reading articles on line, and worries this is Noah’s future playing cyborg cowboys and Indians? Carisi warns her not to tell Fin that, Kill Or Be Slaughtered is like a spiritual experience for him. Benson states she doesn’t get it,. And Carisi says she won’t get this either: Leslie Connolly, the Glasgow Man guy, he might have something for them.

In the squad room, Leslie tells Benson and Carisi that, after the tournament, he wanted feedback on his own game and checked a few gamer sites. Carisi explains that these are forums for players to rate games and comment, and Benson says she got it, with a tone that Carisi just insulted her intelligence. Leslie shows a thread where someone said “Amazonian Warriors Bitch Got What She Deserved.” The message also said to DM the poster for more “deets” on what her tits were like, and that they copped a feel at the IVL. Carisi suspects this is one of their guys and asks Leslie if he DM’d him. Leslie says he doesn’t want to talk to that guy, this is why he came to them. Benson assumes the message is untraceable, and Carisi suggests they go with Leslie as the games know and trust him. He says he is deputizing Leslie as an official CI of the NYPD. Leslie doesn’t want them to know he ratted them out, and Benson reminds him these guys are criminals and if he doesn’t cooperate with them, they will shut his game down and invoke the Son of Sam law which prevents him from profiting from a crime. Carisi tells Leslie to get those “deets” from his buddy and they set up a sting and to tell them they “doxxed” the girl in the booth. He says doxxing is to publish various bits of personal information online. He wants to see if they will hook up to prank her and they will meet them there with a buddy – Carisi. Benson tells Carisi she got that too, again with a tone to show she is not a total idiot.

Carisi and Leslie conduct the sting and they get the guys to spill the info on their involvement in the attack. Carisi then announces they are under arrest and grabs one of them as the other tries to run off. But Fin is right around the corner and gets the second guy. Two people record the arrest nearby.

Back at SVU, Sarah identifies both attackers in two separate line ups. Rollins tells Sarah they will be able to charge the guys and the DA will be in touch. Sarah asks if they can keep it quiet so to not interfere with the launch on Tuesday. Rollins says okay.

Later, the detectives look at a video of the arrest on a web site called “RedChanit” saying the guys are falsely accused. Benson comments that the arrest went viral, and Rollins explains this is what Sarah was afraid of. The comments are vicious and Rollins thinks they are treating the guys like heroes. Fin counters they are not. Carisi shows a video by one poster wearing a mask going on a angry rant. Carisi worries they just gave the haters a recruiting tool. Benson states unless there is a specific threat there is nothing they can do about it.

Later, Fin and Rollins are taking a food break and Rollins comments that Fin spends all day with a gun in his holster and then goes home and plays shoot-em-up games after work. Fin admits sometimes all night, Rollins asks what is she missing here, and Fin explains at work he as One PP and Barba and they get in his way. At home it is just him and his clan; it’s simple and there is no gray, just shoot the other team and go get the bad guy. Fin is on his phone and Rollins asks if he is so addicted he has to play right this second, right at the dinner table? He apologizes, but tells her he found a live stream of Raina and she is being interviewed. The interview starts off normally with the news guy trying to rope her into a feminist debate. Suddenly the sound of someone breaking down Raina’s door  is heard and someone yells “NYPD." A SWAT team enters and pull Raina away from her PC and pushes her onto the floor. Fin and Rollins watch with surprise.

Later, Fin and Rollins arrive at Raina’s and SWAT tells them they got calls saying there was a hostage crisis there with kids and weapons. Fin thinks it was a hoax and Raina got “swatted.” Fin complains these cops have 100 ways to handle these situations and they always use one: bang down the damn door. Rollins reminds him they are just doing their job. Raina explains she is okay. And adds Stephen is stuck outside. Rollins asks the SWAT guys if they can get the fiancé up. Raina complains about the trolls pranking her, but Rollins says she could have been seriously hurt. She says they are trying to humiliate her and they got what they wanted, calling them anonymous cowards. Stephen arrives to console her. She says it is over now, and Stephen asks if they know and she should tell the detectives or he will.  Despite Raina’s objections, Stephen explains she got a threatening message saying they wanted to see her on her knees in front of the whole world and she got doxxed an hour ago on RedChanit and it was vile. Raina tries to blow it off but Stephen says this is serious. But all she is worried about her game launch. Fin wants all the info on the RedChanit thread and if Raina won’t come with him, he’s taking Stephen. Stephen says he will talk to her.

Back at SVU in Benson’s office,  Benson comments to Rollins that Raina got doxxed, her personal info published – Benson gets that but asks her to help her out on “swatted.” Rollins explains anonymous calls to 911 sending the SWAT team to your home. Benson says even so, how is this SVU related? Fin tells her to wait till she sees these threats, and Carisi introduces Raina and Stephen. Benson thanks them for coming in, but Raina says, glancing at Stephen, she didn’t exactly have a choice. Benson understands that serious threats have been made and that her web site was hacked, and Raina says they are back on line. Benson asks if there is anything specific, and Rollins explains they are threatening violence against Raina and her female employees. Rollins brings up a photo of Raina which has been altered to make her look like the devil. Benson reads back the text on the photo: “Fair warning: if Raina Punjabi dares to go through with a launch tomorrow, we’ll make sure that her raped and mutilated corpse is on the front page of every feminist blog by next week.” Carisi states this is a specific threat, not protected by free speech. Rollins brings up another video with a masked man insulting Raina and her game and making threats. Rollins explains there are a dozen other posts like that, threatening rape ad attacks during the launch at the Birch Pavilion. Benson questions that they can’t trace where these are coming from, and Fin explains they upload it through the dark net, it’s like the doxxing, so no. Benson asks if the launch is scheduled for tomorrow, and Stephen confirms noon. Benson asks Raina if she would consider postponing. Raina explains this isn’t a little lecture that she invited her friends to. She adds it is the launch event of an international game roll-out and it is being live streamed in 18 countries. Every major gaming site is sending a rep. Benson understands that, be these are public death threats. Raina counters this is all the more reason why they can’t postpone. Ever since the swatting went viral, she is being called the face of women in gaming. Tomorrow she is doing an interview on CNBC and she is ringing the opening NASDAQ bell. Fin states she can do all that but asks if she can’t tape the launch and stream it later? Raina retorts if she does that, they’ve won and she would be showing the world she is intimidated by cyber-terrorists. She won’t make the same mistakes Sony did; better to be called a bitch than a coward. Stephen objects, but Raina says she came down to SVU and she is cooperating and she appreciates they have a job to do. She states that just so they are clear, they have officially warned her and she accepts all liability, but she absolutely does not want any visible police presence. Benson and Rollins look less than thrilled as Raina insists on no ESU, and no bomb sniffing dogs… please. She says she has to go home and get some sleep, and she walks off. Stephen thanks them and he follows her out. Benson comments that she gets that Raina is serious about her work and she does not want to be compromised. She asks how many people are going to this thing tomorrow, and Fin states 500. Benson says Raina may not be worried about herself but worries about all the people in the audience. Carisi says they can’t let this thing happen and he has some friends at FDNY that could find some violations and shut the Birch Pavilion down. Rollins counters that Raina is right; if they shut it down, the cyber terrorists win. Benson feels they have the resources for a low key presence and to call the Birch Pavilion and coordinate it.

At the Birch Pavilion at 244 West 41st Street on Tuesday, January 27, the detectives are there and Benson suggests they spread out and watch hands and eyes and stay on the radio. She radios Carisi in the security room who is watching videos feeds. Carisi complains about the quality and asks the security people if they ever thought of upgrading their security systems. A security guy retorts by asking Carisi who is he, Steven Spielberg? He reminds Carisi he is there as a courtesy and is confident they can handle this.

A trailer plays on a large screen which is a trailer for the Amazonian Warriors game. Raina is introduced and she walks on stage to much applause.

While Raina is speaking, suddenly red laser lights appear on her body and Benson and Stephen notice it. Stephen tells her to get down but she doesn’t move and keeps talking. Benson radios to ask where the lasers are coming from and the detectives spot people in the theater holding laser pointers and they take the pointers and the people away. Raina tries to joke about the laser pointers, saying her mom’s cat loves those. But quickly the pavilion goes black and light flash and the sound of gunfire is heard. The crowd tries to exit as a message is played over the loudspeakers saying that the bitches will die, and there is no social justice in gaming. Benson radios to Carisi asking what he can see and he explains someone hacked into the system and the security guy works to override it. The detectives work to calm everyone. Raina has run off the stage and Benson radios in a loud voice to ask who has eyes on Raina? She then says they lost her.

As the audience continues to exit, Benson hears that Raina’s mic is still on and asks Carisi if he has anything. Carisi says a security guard has her in the back hallway, He appears to be taking her against her will. He tells Benson they are at the back exit, and Benson instructs them all to head there.  Carisi runs down the hall and outside but Raina is not there. He chases after the security guard and tackles him to the ground. As Carisi shoves him against a car, the guard says he was trying to help her. Stephen sees a large screen on a building across the streeet where a video of Raina inside a van is being shown, with the words “Game On NYPD” and a masked man speaks the same words. Benson wonders where is that coming from? She orders Rollins to track it now. As Benson racers off, the security guard states this wasn’t his idea but Carisi says he is an accomplice to kidnapping. The guard says they were just going to “grief” her with smoke bombs and laser pointers and things like that and no one told him about the kidnapping. The user name was acidrain and he never met him. He said acidrain said they were bringing Raina out the back exit and he didn’t know about the van. Fin asks if he is a patsy and Carisi warns him if something happens to Raina, he will be looking at murder charges. Fin urges him if he knows something to say something now. He saw the van and it was white. Fin asks for the license number.

Back at SVU, as Rollins watches on her computer, a reporter is on screen explaining the events and that NYPD was aware of the threats and were on scene. Benson walks up to Fin and Rollins with phone in hand, saying that was the Commissioner and to tell her they have something on the van. Fin explains it was stolen from a garage yesterday and security cameras there were blacked out. Rollins adds the license plate went out right after the kidnapping and the Port Authority hasn’t seen it on any tunnels and bridges. Benson thinks this means they are still in Manhattan. They must have removed her phone battery. Carisi gets off the phone and says he has a tip: a white cargo van with matching plates at an abandoned factory and unis are on the way. Benson tells Fin and Rollins to go.

Fin and Rollins get to the scene of the van and there is no one in it. Rollins calls for CSU to comb the interior. They enter the factory and see a sheet hanging on the wall with the “Kill Or Be Slaughtered” logo. Rollins suggest getting CSU in there as well; she sees Raina’s blouse and Fin notices the blood. The kidnappers left a phone with a video, and Rollins plays it back. One of the kidnappers slaps Raina and a message appears over the video saying “level completed.” Fin thinks this is a game to them. Rollins asks what is the next level? Fin doesn’t answer.

Elsewhere, Raina has been beaten and the kidnappers continue to make threats. They start another video, telling the “bitches” that they are in notice.

Meanwhile, back at SVU, teams of people work on fielding calls. Benson speaks with Stephen who says he tried to tell Raina but she wouldn’t listen. Carisi says he has something and Benson walks into her office to get the information. Carisi shows Benson the new video on RedChanit where a kidnapper has Raina and while he had her restrained by her neck, he says this is what happens to slut bitches who mess with gamers. Raina sobs and the masked man says he warned her, and he pulls her over  then throws her to the floor. The rest of the gang approach, one unzipping his fly. Benson asks where is this coming from, and Carisi says all they know is that it is streaming live.

Soon afterwards, the detectives watch another video where Raina, visibly beaten, is on camera with her kidnappers/attackers, saying she realizes now that gaming is no place for females. She says all you bitches should get out now, you are not wanted and not safe. She has a message for Stephen, saying she never loved him and only slept with him so he would back her game. She says she is a slut and a liar. Carisi says this is not live, it was uploaded to RedChanit and Carisi warns that she does not want to read the comments. Benson concurs. Rollins finds the video is geotagged for Staten Island at a residential address, Carisi says he is on it, but Benson tells him to hold on; they’ve been suing the dark net the whole time and now they leave a trail? She thinks this is a trap. Fin says they are playing the game and they have to play too. Carisi finds the house belongs to Mrs. Marissa Rossi, public school art teacher and she lives alone. Rollins asks if they should call ESU but Fin warns they don’t want to swat somebody. Benson tells them to go.

At the home of Marissa Rossi at 615 Naughton Avenue on Staten Island in Tuesday, January 27, the detectives arrive. Marissa opens the door and Rollins and the others push in and Rollins explains forcefully what they suspect and questions her. She says her son Anthony is away at college. They asks if he plays video games and where.  They head into the basement and find the set up for the videos and the attacks. There is a gun safe - which is empty.

Later, Marissa is at SVU claiming her son is a good boy and is shy and they have made a mistake/ Carisi shows her the evidence and she cannot believe it. She thinks one of his video game friends did it. They talk to each other and Anthony says it is boy talk and they raised him in a good home. Carisi explains he grew up near there and thinks somewhere along the line, Anthony got confused and what he is doing comes from a place of pain, feeling like you don’t matter. He asks if that sounds like Anthony, and Marissa says since her husband’s passing it has been very hard on him. She adds even if he wrote these messages, he would never want to rape or kill. Carisi says this may have started as a joke and a friend’s idea got out of hand, but what they want now is for it to end peacefully and he thinks she wants this too.

Carisi leaves the interview room and tells the others it took a while, but Marissa came to Jesus. He husband was a gun buff with two pistols and a 20 gauge shotgun. Rollins asks Fin if he thinks they are still following a gamer’s script, and Fin thinks that rape is a mod in level 16 of KOBS. Benson questions that they kidnap and rape and it’s a game? Fin explains that it is like a user hack of the game; once they make that move, there is only one path you can go – kill or be slaughtered. Rollins gets a phone call and it is Raina who says they have her in a garage and they are going to kill her. A gun is pointed at her Raina's as she says she needs their help and says she stole their phone and they are holding her in a garage near Manhattan bridge and there is a baseball field across the street. Rollins says to hang tight, they will be there as soon as they can. A kidnapper prompts her with the gun and she yells that they are coming back. Carisi says they have to go now. Fin explains this is the final level of the game; they call the cops and when the cops rush in to save her, they attack; this could be an ambush. Benson says to call ESU and tell them they will meet them there.

SVU,  with police back up,  are on the scene and Fin says if this is a set up, the kidnappers are watching. Carisi points to nearby buildings and Rollins says they are on it.

 SWAT tells Benson there has been no communication from then and they can’t see inside. She tells them what they know about the kidnappers and Fin reminds them IF they are inside. Benson explains this may be a set up. They hear gunfire and they duck, and SWAT breaks in with a flash bang and everyone enters the building.

Inside, they see Raina sitting at a table and an office yells that she has a gun, but clearly the gun is taped to her hands and she can’t put it down. Benson screams for them to hold their fire, Fin explaining the gun is taped to her wrist. Raina sobs as Benson and Fin move to free her. Gunfire is heard, but it turns out to be a playback of a recording. Benson cuts Raina loose.

Meanwhile, Rollins and Carisi are on the roof of a nearby building looking for this kidnappers. They split up and someone begins to shoot at them and they return fire. Rollins rounds a corner to find one of the kidnappers -Anthony - who puts up his hands and says he never meant this to go so far, saying Brian and Pierce mad him and they are crazy. Rollins cuffs him to a door as he says the others think this is real. He says he geotagged the video from his mom’s house so they would find them. Rollins sarcastically comments she is sure his mom is real proud.

Meanwhile, Carisi shoots at one of the other perps when he orders him to drop the gun and he doesn’t. The kid drops to the floor.  Carisi tells him it is not like shooting in a video game, but the other kidnapper comes up behind him pointing a gun at him and tells Carisi it is exactly the same. Carisi tries to get him to think about this but the kidnapper screams for him not to talk and tells him to prepare to be slaughtered. Rollins approaches and the kidnapper tells her to come out or he will kill Carisi right now, adding “game over.” Rollins complies but adds there are 50 cops surrounding the building. The kidnapper comments it is all for that skank Raina and asks isn’t being a whore a crime? He screams that they should arrest HER. Rollins urges him to drop the gun, but the other guy tells her to shut up, calling her a bitch, saying she is just like Raina. The kidnapper says Raina is spitting in their faces, taking away the one thing they had. Fin rounds the corner with his gun drawn, saying they heard what the lady said and orders him to drop the gun. Fin tells him if he moves he will blow his head off. The kidnapper says okay, and Fin yells to play the game, drop the gun. The kidnapper looks like he is going to put it down and Carisi moves off and raises his gun. The kidnapper turns to shoot at Fin, and Fin quickly fires 3 shots back, and the kidnapper quickly drops. Rollins tells the other guy to drop and put his hands on his head. Carisi asks Fin if he was camping back there, and Fin says he knows, it is bad form but effective.

Back at SVU, Benson speaks to Fin about his 20 years of gaming or whatever he does with the controller finally paid off. Fin explains he knows the difference between video games and reality; those guys didn’t. Fin asks if this is going to be a big IAB thing now? Benson explains he will be on administrative duty for a few days. Fin puts his gun and shield on her desk, but Benson says there is no need; this was a good shoot. Fin comments after what they did to Raina, there was no gray area, he just went and got the bad guy. Benson counters that they both know it is never that easy, and Fin states they do the best they can. She nods and tells him to go home.

Later, at Raina’s, Rollins explains one of them took a plea and the other wants to go to trial. Stephen wonders if Raina will have to testify as he doesn’t think she is up to facing them in court. Rollins advises her she will have time. Raina thinks she will be fine, then said “Women in gaming, what did I expect?” Rollins says she didn’t deserve this, and Rains states that she is out. Rollins reminds her she said if she gave up, they would win. Raina looks at Rollins and says, “They already did,” Rollins and Stephen look on in silence as we fade to black.

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Josh said...


John Cargo said...

Already posted my comment in the posting with the promotional pictures, but I'll sum it up in two words: base breaker.

In a nutshell, I think the show's writers need to be fired.

I will say this though, it did raise awareness of what Gamergate is, and there are some pretty violent, unstable people out there, but none that have the level of capability that the three in the episode had.

What really galled me was the lack of proper police procedure. I can imagine law enforcement watching this episode point this and that out as just wrong or stupid or wouldn't happen.

I'll give you two glaring examples:

1. Police would've secured all the exits including the back one as well has had one person assigned to stay with her at all times.

2. Officers are trained to check around corners and what's behind them. It could be forgiven if Carisi was suffering from tunnel-vision. But sending only three cops to a location where the suspects likely are seems absurb and reckless.

MorbidPet said...

I liked this episode. Missed Amaro & Barba though. Loved the fact Fin, Carisi & Rollins hung out after hours & I got plenty of Fin & Rollins interaction which is always a treat.
What happened to Raina was absolutely horrible. The episode doesn't make me think ALL gamers are haters though. To me it just exemplified extremists, ppl who can't tell reality from fiction and I'm pretty sure the gaming word isn't an exception to this as it goes on everywhere. It's too bad that I keep running in to hateful gamers in SVU forums though, they are the ones that makes me think ALL gamers are hateful.

@John Cargo - I'm going to assume you are a gamer since I haven't seen you around this forum before this episode and also because of your comments, if you're a fan of this show you're pretty much already aware of the non-proper procedure the SVU squad sometimes (often!) use. SVU isn't really about that, it's about shedding light on a very hard issue - sexual based offenses.
I like though that you give constructive criticism, most comments from gamers have just been spiteful and hateful w/o any solid reason to be so. Since I'm not a gamer I can't tell if they got the lingo/facts of the gaming world right but it wasn't like what was displayed made me think any less of gamers, I like ppl that are passionate about their interest, like seeing Fin & Carisi get so caught up was fun even though I have a hard time believing they wouldn't break out of their trance if someone (Leslie in this case) come running telling them someone was being assaulted. We had our first Comic Con here in Stockholm last year, it was really lame tho but I met some really cool ppl & with a new arena this year it might improve.
All I wanted to point out is that I think it's lame of gamers to attack the show just because they tried to shed light on a subject that isn't excluded from the gaming word. This is SVU, it's fiction but the subject matter is really important in the end. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their ltl part of the world.

@Chris - I agree that the doctor's session in the beginning felt very shoed-in. I really don't get how you could take what Rollins said to Raina on the phone as insensitive though. I know you don't like her character but I think you're being too hard on her this time. I watched that scene a couple of more times to see if you had a valid point but she's just rushing to end a call that Liv hijacked so they can get to Raina. Judging by her face she's obviously distressed & gets up off her chair immediately. She didn't have time to say much else & to say they would be there ASAP sounds fair enough to me. Not a biggie but I felt a need to defend my bae.

Njtoocool said...

I think it was a very good episode, besides a couple of minor things. But people make it seem as though it was ment to offended people. I personally don't think that the show was trying to say " that all male gamers are violent", I think the point they were trying to get across were that (even though there are very few) sadly there are some male gamers who think that way.

Thank you guys for hearing me out.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how Fin didn't lose his gun/badge while he was placed on administrative leave while IAB investigated/cleared him. Every other cop on SVU who's shot someone has had to do it, even though they were good shoots. But suddenly now IAB doesn't care or have a say because Liv said it was a good shoot? Wtf?

Chris Zimmer said...

Petra, Rollins didn't get up from her chair until after the kidnapper nudged Raina with his gun, and then Carisi said "We gotta go NOW." That's when Rollins leapt from her chair. I think even the guy with the gun felt he had to push Raina on the issue to make it sound more urgent so the detectives or police would rush there. All I'm saying is that rather than her saying they would be there as soon as they can, the more reassuring answer to Raina may have been something like "we're on our way, hang on!" If that was me on the other end of that phone, if someone told me they'd be there as soon as they could, I would wonder if that meant 5 minutes, 10 minutes, or an hour.

Guest said...

I wish the episodes were as quality as they were in its prime too. But guess everything loses it's juice once it gets older.... If you want to see the real SVU, watch older episodes... that's what I fell in love with about Law and Order. I cannot stress that enough... These newer episodes could be filed under a completely different show title. I sometimes get 0% correlation between the content and SVU genre when I turn the show on. I sometimes cringe when Mariska says the show is "new and reinvigorated." No, not really... if you have an knowledge of Warren Leight's past credits, all he's done is bring Criminal Intent into SVU. That's what's different and I was never a fan of Criminal Intent.

Vim said...

1. If SVU offers you their protection, you should be totally scared - you are doomed. Every time when they offer protection to someone, that person get killed/kidnapped.

2.It was nice that Fin got some backstory.

I am gamer (male so according to SVU writers tweets I am not qualified to comment on this) and I am also fan of the SVU. Why many gamers have problem with this episode?
a)Whenever gaming is depicted in mainstream media, it shows that some game have driven some people to commit murder, kidnap etc. Or to show that in some game you can do some terrible thing. It is always in bad way - in SVU there was at least two episodes about gaming, which was presenting gaming similiar ways like last episode - gamers have had simply enough of badmouthing their hobby.
b)Everything what was said in point a) is especially true in relations to so called GamerGate. Mainstream media always oversimplify it to ridiculed degree (like in this episode) - and always reports only from one side: usually just mention about trolls from the GG (be carefull to not mention trolls from Anti GG). To be clear: personally I am neutral about GG - and this true for the most of the gamers around world - most of them don't even know what is GG.
c) there is no special hatred against woman between gamers, like it shown in this episode. There is some number of trolls, but, truth to be told there is ridiculed amount arguing and trolling on every little topics inside gaming community.

4. That game which Raina created - Amazonian Warrior - according to the footage have such poor graphics, that comparing it to the Civ V was offending.

ladybug81 said...

I liked Fin & Rollins having time away from the job together. I think it's good for Amanda & would keep her away from gambling. I had a little trouble staying focused not because of the show but because I was tired & had opted to stay up rather than go to sleep. I do think it felt a little preachy at times but I felt like it was being directed at the extreme fringe that every group has.

The scene in Lindstrom's office did feel a bit strange but I did like how happy Olivia was while talking about Noah. Lindstrom's comment did sound a little like 'boys will be boys' but not in a bad way. To me what Noah was doing (breaking a toy, pulling books from the shelf, falling off the sofa & busting his lip) are all things toddlers his age do. It made me wonder if the two who wrote this episode had ever been around a child his age.

I didn't really like the promo for next week but I am excited based on what I've seen in pics & synopsis.

Unknown said...

I enjoyed this episode more than I thought I would. I thought is interesting that they turned Fin into a gamer.

Petra, I love how you called Amanda bae.:) I'm glad to see I'm not the only that likes her and I completely agree with everything you said. I wish Chris and others liked her too. I remember Chris saying she questioned Amanda's character just because she agreed to sleep with Patton to save her sister and because she didn't speak up about Patton after Reese Taymor was raped. How many victims are actually willing to admit and talk about what happened? Very few. Amanda is no exception. That is why it didn't bother me that she didn't speak up. Hopefully you get where I'm coming from.

Laurie F said...

Law & Order SVU is suffering from the shows’ producers and writers catering to the younger demographic. The problem is they dialed the age back too far. This episode was written for teenagers. The dialog was written at a 13 year old level. The whole subject matter was baiting the younger gamer group. This show is not for adults with brains any more.

The scene with Benson at the beginning was laughable. I have never criticized Mariska’s acting but that scene was awful. I felt she was reading some badly written lines and overacting too make the dialog sound more dramatic. She did not sound natural one bit. I agree this scene was only in there to support the later scene where she worries about Noah growing up to play cyborg cowboys and Indians, and even THAT scene felt awkward.

I confess I am not a gamer and don’t understand why anyone would waste their time playing the violent games. I have known some gamers who remind me of stoners. Instead of being pot heads, they are gamer heads and their lives revolve around sitting around playing video games.

This episode emphasized all the negative gamer stereotypes. The old SVU episode “Game” from a few years back did the same thing. Intimidation Game tried to make Fin to be the poster boy for the person who can balance gaming and his life, but that was one person in the entire episode. At the convention, everybody except Rollins seemed to get off on the violence in the games, and the other women (Raina and Sarah) who are in gaming get beaten and/or raped. If I were a man and a gamer, I would be angry at the way men were portrayed. The kidnappers descending to beating and raping was an extreme, but it was obvious they were trying to depict the extreme side of the gamergate people.

The Amazonian Warriors video game looked cheesy. SVU has a limited budget but their graphics were not much better than the “Game” episode from years ago.

I agree with John Cargo on the rooftop chase. Carisi and Rollins handled it badly. Rollins came around the corner too quick and ran right into that one guy. Lucky for her he had no gun. Ditto John on not covering the exits at the Pavilion or having someone close by to Raina.

Chris, I agree on the Rollins comment issue. There was no sense of urgency conveyed to Raina that they would get there quick. I also noticed the big mistake in the case this week and last overlapping in a way that is not possible. They do this all the time and you’d think they’d learn by now.

The action was good but not good enough to save this episode.

Adi said...

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. I was sad Barba didn't get in on the action, but I noticed one commenter saying they 'missed Amaro' and honestly I literally didn't notice his absence, but that's my opinion of the character's handling.

The repeated patronizing use of Finn to explain obvious gaming terms - and some that are simply not used at like 'Waste-of-Life' or whatever it was - was annoying. Olivia's 'Yeah, I got that' was a nice deflection.

I agree too with the commenter who saw the ending as a kind of tragedy.

Here's the thing about this episode's content: It hyperbolize itself with the kidnapping and rape, but everything else was based on something that has happened in real life. I'm not suggesting anyone on this forum has said as much, but for anyone to criticize the ep because everything but for it's third act was true? That's scary.

But some awesome points - Sonny tackling the security guard was a nice remembrance to Ed Green's full-force run, and the finale feature the FPS view, at least they did it with Finn too. Plus 'Were you camping?' was a fun line.

Again, the single most egregious act is NOT USING RAUL ESPARZA. You HAVE SO MANY AWESOME CLOTHES FOR HIM.

Sorry, got carried away there.

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

@chris I really don't think any answer apart from we are outside is gonna reassure any girl in that situation. Been told 'we will be there as soon as we can' or 'we are on are way' is still gonna make any girl wonder if that means 5 or 10 minutes or even an hour. It is still time alone with a man that raped you nothing can reassure anyone in that situation. Like Petra I am also a major Rollins fan and I do find that you are unnecessarily hard towards her. You nit pick at every little mistake she makes and it ruins this forum for me. That is an awful shame as this forum would be great if you easy up a little on the hate.

Unknown said...

Since I have no interest whatsoever in gaming or the gaming world, I can't speak to that aspect. I can only say that this was the most boring and excruciatingly stupid episode I've seen since I started watching SVU at the start of season 13.

Agree with Laurie that the first episode with Benson was just odd and seemed shoehorned in--maybe so they didn't completely alienate the teenage Mariska-bots that Leight seems to court? Not sure. Whatever the reason, just a total waste of an hour, IMO--and I've never said that about any of the episodes I've seen. I have no idea how authentic any of it is, but all of the squad came across as dumb and hopelessly out of touch. Which, as a person who's closer to Ice-T's age than, say, Carisi's, is much how I felt as I watched it.

At first I wasn't happy that Danny Pino was the rotated-out detective, since he's the main reason I watch the show. But now I'm glad Amaro wasn't in it after all, because that means I have no reason to ever watch it again. I'm not sure even he could have rescued it for me.

I hope the next few episodes make up for this clunker. They've done some really good episodes recently, so I know they CAN do it.

MorbidPet said...

Thanks for the input @Vim, glad the SVU writers didn't bully you to silence cause imo you have every right to air your opinion. & I'm grateful you did it with such creative critiscism unlike the gamers I've come across so far.
In my eyes though this didn't in any way shame the world of gaming but there's always bad seeds in every community so I think it's right that SVU sheds light on it & since the do rip from the headlines, well I'm not shocked they did this episode. Ice, perhaps more than Fin, praise gaming, the good side/parts of it. Sure they could've given us more positive characters from the gaming world, we did get Leslie who's proven to be a good guy. Anywho appreciate the levelheaded discussion, that's what I like about this forum :)

@Chris - I'm bowing out with a let's agree to disagree. To call that one line unsensitive is still imo taking it too far & I'll just suggest that maybe, like Liv, you give the character a fair chance in the future.

Happy to see some Rollins fans around here at least - hi Ana! Hi Claire! :D Our bae is the best in show! ;)

Chris Zimmer said...

Hey Adi, I think we'll get some Barba in the next two episodes so hang in there!

chillicothe20 said...

I didn't know that much about the real Gamergate, and honestly do not care to know. The episode was fairly gripping, despite some poor moments. The highlight for me was Olivia and Fin's scene at the end. Here are the two most senior officers at SVU. Each have shot perps and dealt with many difficult cases. The sense of understanding they shared in that scene was very realistic and well done.

Njtoocool said...

Some say that this episode took it too far, or misinterpreted gamer gate. I think it's a good thing that the writers and producers pushed the limits. As for the 'misinterpretation', even if it is rip from the headlines it's still TV meaning their not going to do and go over everything that exactly happened. :)

VBA said...

As a female gamer with experience in male-dominated games (MMORPGS, League of Legends), I want to say: obviously the show is over-simplified. That is a truth. But as a gamer I didn't feel it insulted all gamers, probably because I've had the displeasure of having to talk to people similar to some of the awful gamers depicted. The bad seeds will always be the most remarkable because they're the loudest. It's up to us, from the rest of the community, to show that some forms harassment that we excuse on the pretext that it's "trolling" is unacceptable.

That being said, apart from the fact that this episode tried to bring attention to sexism in video games, I felt it was poorly written.

Unknown said...

Here's my issue with this episode and the people who claim that it just depicts how extreme some gamers can be (btw, I enjoy gaming and SVU but this was just revolting):

You guys are all wrong.

For starters, I've been to gaming conventions and I've never seen any sort of misogynistic comments or actions towards female gamers like what we see in this episode with only one exception a couple of weeks after this episode aired and that guy got the boot after everyone else who heard him booed chastised him; one guy even said, and I am begin honest about this, "What the hell is wrong with you? Does this look like an episode of Law & Order to you?"

Most gamers don't even bat an eye to a female gamer, at no more than anyone else, and most of the trash-talking tends to be during game sessions and are generally gender blind.

More importantly, however, everyone defending the portrayal of the extremist ideas among gamers need to realize that there's a difference between rhetoric and action.

The fact is that SVU made an episode that was more of a What-If scenario more than anything because gamers don't really act on anything they claim they'll do on the internet. Those gamers only say those things online because they can get away with saying these things online more often than not because of the anonymity that the internet provides them. None really take the steps the "gamers" in this episode take and, if any do, they're people who are mentally disturbed, if not insane, who would've acted on anything, games or otherwise.

Is the sexism in the gamer community a problem? Yes.

Do I think we need to be more inclusive of female in the community and the industry as well as in their portrayals in video game? Yes.

Do I think that gamers are like they're portrayed in SVU and will carry out their threats? No.

Those are just a few of the problems I have with this episode but I can't be asked to add them all so this should suffice.

Unknown said...

So.... They were mad because a woman created a game? That's childish.

If you don't like it then don't play it.

As a gamer myself, I find people like this the most idiotic individuals who give gamers a bad name. If that game were I would've played it myself and praised the woman for creating such a game. Its a shame she quit the gaming world.

Unknown said...

OK, I know they had to make their point, blah, so poor Raina had to be kidnapped, blah, blah, but SVU isn't strategic enough to post a cop or two on both sides of the stage? The have all that security in the back of the theater, but no one up front to protect the threatened woman?

Unknown said...

On a completly other note, the kidnapper at the end is the one and only Logan Paul who had recently come under fire for filming an ignorant video towards suicide in Suicide Forest in Japan!!!

Vida said...

I don’t understand how people can say they “enjoyed the episode” when it’s complete crap. It’s sloppy, angering and irritating to say the least. And can you guys please stop discussing past characters like Chris and current characters’ acting skills? I guess it’s too late now but Jesus what is it with the useless dialogue. I come here to see if people actually talk about the episode in all honesty.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Vida - what insight do you have about the episode that made you feel the way you do? If you want to have a discussion, it would help by explaining why you felt the way you did.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the review! I am a woman, and I was really bothered by the extreme portrayal of gender dynamics. The blatant sexism and criminal violence made the plot seem excessively unrealistic, and I didn't appreciate the implications that if a woman tries to work in a male-dominated field, she will be assaulted and/or raped. I actually ended up turning off the episode before it finished, which I almost never do.

A said...

This episode does not deserve even a fraction of the hate it's gotten. Yes it has problems (cheesy dialogue, lack of motive), but compared to utterly abysmal trash like True Believers or the current season's premiere, it's a masterpiece. The people rating this down on IMDB are obviously moronic trolls who have never watched this show before and don't care about it. Way to prove the episode's point, a-holes.

A bit jarring how it turns into Weeping Willow halfway through, but its resolution is much more satisfying than that one.