Thursday, April 2, 2015

Law & Order SVU “Devastating Story” Recap & Review

“Devastating Story” was ripped from the headlines of the December 2014 Rolling Stone article “A Rape on Campus” which described a brutal gang rape at a frat house at the University of Virginia, a story later found to be suspect. In the SVU universe, the university of choice to tell their version of the story is the local cesspool, Hudson University. A lot of nasty stuff has happened at Hudson over the years and it’s a shock that this fictional university can remain open.

Maybe it's because I read and heard so much coverage of the Rolling Stone story,  but I found this episode dull and a huge waste of Rob Morrow.

Again, it’s Benson’s self –admitted preconceived notions that take the detectives and then Barba down the wrong path to accept the victim’s word as gospel and not properly vet her statements. I’m surprised Barba went ahead with this with so few facts.  He's getting soft.   I think I’ve mentioned this before but am forced to say it again: Benson needs to be more objective. She is a Sergeant, not an advocate or social worker. Yes, it is the SVU's job to support special victims but her role should be to first confirm that there IS a victim. She continues to take these weak cases to Barba and she expects him to work miracles. He needs to be the second line of defense and not take cases that simply don’t pass the smell test. Benson and Barba should first behave like devil’s advocates until the facts are exposed.  (Captain Cragen had this trait down pat.)

I also think it was wrong for Benson to tell President Roberts that Connor is a predator and make a veiled request to Roberts to handle it on her end. Benson still has no real proof that a rape took place. I wonder if Benson’s statement to Roberts could be used against her in the lawsuit the students were filing against the university and the NYPD?  It could be construed as police harassment or confirmation that the police had an agenda.

Carisi suddenly seems to have some frustrations with SVU cases and Rollins seems more than happy to call him on it. She told him once that this is SVU and get used to it, and then later if he couldn’t take something, then SVU wasn’t right for him. I am not sure if she was trying to impart real advice to him here, or if in some way she really doesn’t care for him or his methods and wants him to go elsewhere. We know Carisi had been moved around a lot in the past so possibly his manner of speaking his real thoughts and feelings out loud becomes annoying to others after a while.

It was obvious early on that Professor Dillon was a little too interested in furthering her own agenda on fixing rape culture. She sucked in everyone, including Skip. In real life, there is still a lot of discussion on what exactly is rape culture, and the real life Rolling Stone article and its subsequent credibly problems only added fuel to the fire. Benson says their case set the clock back 30 years. In my opinion, the real life case may be the first thing in a long time to re-open the discussion and get clarity on what is rape culture and how it can be eliminated by changing behaviors of both men AND women.  I hear from male viewers all the time who object to SVU perpetuating the thinking that women should automatically be believed whenever a woman claims she has been raped.  Along that line, Benson wanting Connor to have to pay in some way, even though the case has been dropped and all she has is Heather’s (less than credible) word, is simply wrong.

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 “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Rob Morrow – Skip Peterson
Laura Fraser - Jessica Dillon
Delaney Williams - Counselor John Buchanan
Ally Ioannides - Heather Manning
Kathleen Chalfant - President Roberts
Derek Klena - Connor
Josh Caras – Lance
Derek Goh - Brian Mackey
Jenna Wolfe - herself
David Rossmer – Counselor Ross Wolf
Sonian Manzano – Judge Gloria Pepitone
Tessa Hope Slovis – Goth Girl
Marley Ficarola – Zach Franklin
Mark Friedman – Counselor Parnes
Phil Echinger – Paparazzo
Dawn Yanek – Reporter
Meghan Leathers – Jane
Ruari Fay – Bill

The TV Show “America’s Worst Crimes” is airing with host Skip Peterson. He plays a dramatization of the rape of a college student referred to as “Jane” who was viciously raped on the campus of Hudson University by a “Bill” and a gang of frat boys. Meanwhile, Benson, at home tending to Noah, is watching the show, and she tells him he is not going to Hudson University. On the show “Jane” admits she did not go to the police but did report it to the school and they asked if she had been drinking or if anyone could corroborate her story. Benson’s phone rings; and it is Chief Dodds, and she confirms she is watching the show but was not aware of the situation. He tells her the mayor’s wife is watching the show and Benson is less than thrilled at this news. She says they are on it and as she hangs up the phone, she sighs as the show continues,

Later, in the SVU squad room, Benson and Rollins, Fin, and Carisi watch a replay of the show. Carisi asks if this si what she does on her Sundays off, and Benson replies her and Gracie Mansion. She adds One PP is pissed because they got caught flat-footed on national TV. Fin adds America’s Worst Crimes has a huge following so this will go viral. Carisi comments he looked into it and the report says the attack happened in December but the NYPD has no record of a complaint from the vic or Hudson U. Benson states “Jane” did say that Hudson ignored her and god knows they all have been down that road before. Rollins counters they all know the tail wags the dog but his TV show is in it for the ratings and they don’t know if any of this even happened. Carisi comments he is all for overtime but and asks don’t they have enough work to do? Benson reminds them this is not LMZ, it is a legitimate national news magazine who interviewed her, she disclosed, and Benson got a call from Dodds who got a call from the mayor so they are going to investigate. Rollins counters they don’t even know who this girl is, and Benson states America’s Worst Crimes does. Fin begs her not to make him talk to reporters.

In the studios of “America’s Worst Crimes” at 600 Seventh Avenue on Monday, March 16, Rollins and Carisi speak with show host Skip Peterson, who believes they are there about the Hudson story. Carisi comments that Skip has everyone talking, including their bosses. Skip states it is gratifying and not just for the Peabody buzz but if AWC is in a position to amplify what is going on behind those ivy walls…Rollins interjects that Skip amplifies, they investigate and they will need to talk to Jane. Skip counters that he would love to help, especially after what that girl had to suffer through but he can’t give her name. Rollins reminds him she was gang raped and now is not the time to hide behind the First Amendment. Skip states he is not falling on his journalistic sword; the only way Jane would talk is if he promised her anonymity. He adds she is scared to death of those fraternity boys. Carisi says they can find a judge who will compel him to hand over his sources and raw footage, adding this is a serious allegation. Skip says he will kick the footage request upstairs as it is not his call. As for Jane, he can put them in touch with the woman who shopped the story, and maybe she can convince Jane to talk to the NYPD. He waves them in.

Later, at Hudson University at 504 Riverside Drive on the same day, Rollins and Carisi speak with Professor Dillon to try to find out the identity of “Jane” but Dillon is reluctant because of Jane's problem disclosing with the university and that she is fragile right now. Carisi counters if Dillon gets in the way, they will go over or around her. Dillon comments that is was an interesting phallocentric choice of language. Rollins tries to recover and says her partner is still a “work in progress. “ She tries a different approach but Dillon says she doesn’t think Jane wants to deal with any of this but will give her a call and she walks off.

Back at SVU, Rollins hangs up the phone and tells Carisi that was Dillon who says Jane will not talk to them and Jane will come forward when and where she wants. Carisi asks what does that mean, and Rollins explains Jane is scared to make an official complaint and knowing what they knew, she can’t blame her. When Carisi questions where does that leave them, Rollins replies it’s back at square one. Carisi comments that Dillon is now help, then says, speaking of which, what was that crack about him still being a work in progress? Rollins explains that Dillon is a rape advocate and has a chip about male detectives and she figured she could earn her trust if she aligned herself with her. Carisi comments he doesn’t even get what a rape advocate is, adding there is no burglary advocate or carjacking advocate. Rollins looks at him with surprise and asks when the last time a carjacking victim got asked if they were sure they didn’t want their car to be stolen? Carisi admits he gets that but still Dillon is just getting in their way. Rollins states dryly that is SVU and to get used to it. Carisi grabs his coat and Rollins asks where he is going. He explains it is back to campus, he does not want to tell the Sarge they come up empty handed.

Meanwhile, Benson walks outside with Barba and she is on the phone with the Italian press and she gives no comment. When she gets off the phone, Barba asks if they are on this already, and she explains bad news in New York travels fast. She adds already there are Twitter campaigns and campus rallies and demands to revoke the frat’s charter. Barba states this explains why the mayor’s office and DA is all over this – and him. He asks if they have Jane yet, and she explains Carisi is trying but the closest he and Rollins got his Jane’s self=proclaimed advocate, Professor Dillon. He asks if she will produce Jane, and Benson explains that Jane is afraid of fraternity retribution if she goes public and she doesn’t trust the police. Barba comments Jane is not going to talk, and Benson shaker her head and frowns. Barba says he can subpoena the show or the professor, and Benson thinks there has got to be an easier way. Jane said on the AWC that she disclosed to the university, and when Barba comments they did not specify whom, Benson suggests going to the top and find out. He asks her if she wants him to come with, and Benson thinks it is not necessary. She explains she and President Roberts have history.

At the office of the president at Hudson University at 504 Riverside Drive on Monday, March 16, Benson meets with President  Roberts. Roberts says Jane spoke to her and she followed protocols to the letter. Roberts says the first time she heard of any gang was on the show, when Jane came to her there was only one individual and she says she is not at liberty to disclose who that is. The reports are confidential, it’s university policy. Benson counters that anonymity ceased to exist when a crime has been committed and asks what exactly did Jane say? Roberts replies that what Jane described was regrettable drunken sex, not rape. Benson counters about the 4 men holding her down, and Roberts again states Jane mentioned one student only and admitted she was intoxicated and she went willingly back to the frat with her date. She asked Jane if she wasn’t sure that the sex was consensual and Jane proceeded to become defensive and left her office. Benson asks with sarcasm that Roberts didn’t bother to talk to her date, and Roberts says she did, and he said the sex was consensual and he seemed credible and is well regarded and has no prior complaints. Benson looks like she can’t believe she is hearing this. Roberts adds the next she heard about it was last night when they were blindsided on television. Benson states that now that these allegations have been made, she will need Jane’s name and the name of the student she claims attacked her. They hear chanting from outside and Roberts realizes Jane has not come to them. She tells Benson that means whatever happened, Jane hasn’t filed a criminal complaint which means her own responsibility remains protecting the confidentiality of both students. Roberts gets up to look at the protesters outside her window who are repeating “We.Are.All.Jane.” She turns to Benson and tells her to excuse her, she has a firestorm on her hands. Benson gets up and walks out of the office.

Outside, Benson walks to the back of the protest area with Carisi who says no one on campus has been any help. Benson says Roberts first blames the victim a little bit then she hides behind the cloak of protecting their confidentiality. They have no idea who Jane is. As they watch women who are speaking to the protester about their own frustrating experience, a girl stands up and says she is Heather Manning, and she is the real Jane. Benson and Carisi look stunned. Heather says she wants to tell them her story. Benson looks at Carisi and comments “So much for anonymity.”

Later, Heather walks into SVU with Dillon and when Benson thanks Heather for coming in, Dillon pipes up and says this does not mean “we” are pressing charges. Benson questions the use of the word “we” and wants to speak to Heather alone. Dillon asks to speak with Benson as Rollins takes her into the interview room. Dillon tells Benson she is worried about being re-traumatized and explains she knows if anyone will protect the survivor it is Benson. She goes on to say Heather does not know Benson but only trusts Dillon.

In the interview room, Heather states it was December 12th, she was on a date with an Alpha Zeta Pi hockey player, Brian Mackey who is the team captain. First they went to a bar and then they went back to the house. They were making out in the hallway when he pulled her into his room. Three guys were waiting and they jumped her like a pack. Brian was in charge and had two guys hold her legs while he held her arms. The others were his buddies from the hockey team. She is not sure she wants to tell their names. Benson says they can get back to that and then asks if she is sure there were 4 men. Heather says yes. Benson explains that President Roberts told SVU she only mentioned one. Dillon says Roberts blamed Heather and Heather did not feel safe disclosing to her. Benson reassure Heather she is safe here. Heather smiles and Benson asks what happened next. Heather explains then they took turns raping and sodomizing her, and she begins to break down. Dillon comments that they did not talk about this part on TV. Heather explains he used an object – the handle of a hockey stick. Then they high –fived each other and left her there. She adds when she tried to pull herself together and leave, the other guys in the frat threw beer cans at her and they yelled at her to go to church and said to call her Dad and apologize for ruining his life. She has not told her parents as they are in Central Africa Republic fighting malaria. She did not go to a doctor. She shows them a text Brian sent her in a attempt to apologize. Rollins reads the text where Brian says he is sorry but his boys were out of control but she deserved better than what they did. Benson looks at the phone and says this is great and asks if there is other physical evidence like the clothes she is wearing. One of the guys handed her her panties right before class to humiliate her. She shoved them in her backpack and threw them in her drawer when she got home and they still might be there. Benson says if she decides to give them the other boys; names, that will be enough to get a DNA sample. Dillon tells Heather it will still not be easy. Heather says that is okay, after the rally, other women need to know they can do this too. She says the other names were Connor Howell, Lance Masconi, and Zak Franklin, all on the hockey team.

Later, at the Alpha Zeta Pi frat house on 529 West 113th Street on Monday, March 16, protesters are outside as the Fin, Rollins, Carisi and police arrive. Fin tells the police to get their cell phones, laptops, and hockey sticks.

Inside, they call out for the three suspects and find Franklin is out of the country. The police search the home as the detectives question the other men, who indicate the sex was consensual. They explain their side of the story, one saying they made Heather run the gauntlet. The search warrant also includes collecting their DNA.

Back at SVU, Fin and Rollins update Benson , saying the guys think they are the victims and Heather is a whore who woke up with regrets. Only Brian admitted to consensual sex, Conner and Lance denied. Zak is a multi-sport scholar who is on a culture tour of Cuba right now. Carisi bursts in and states TARU found a video Connor made that night; he erased it from his cell but they found it on his hard drive. They walk into the squad room to watch the video of Heather running the gauntlet at the frat house with things being thrown at her and being called names. Connor states this is another Conner House slut-shaming video.

Later, Benson shows the video to Barba who says that is harassment and it is ugly but it is not assault. Benson explains they have semen matching Connor’s and Brian’s DNA on Heather’s underwear. There is nothing on the hockey sticks, and thinks he has enough. Barba says it is enough for probable cause and everyone wants to see these guys put away but the case I 3 months cold. He adds there was no rape kit and Heather’s initial disclosure only mentioned on assailant. Benson thinks Roberts shut her down as she can be extremely intimidating. Barba asks if Heather knows what she is in for, and Benson motions she thinks so. Barba tells her to bring in the hockey team.

In SVU, the detectives question all three men separately; Fin questions Brian, Rollins questions Conner, and Carisi questions Lance. The confront them with the facts they have, Benson and Barba are observing and Benson asks him if he called Cuba. Barba cracks it is not like he has pull there. He says Zak will be arrested when he returns to American soil, and Benson wonders if he will.

Meanwhile, Carisi is with Rollins and tells Conner that one of his buddies put him in the room with Heather. He lawyer whispers to Connor who then says he didn’t want to say this before because it would look bad, but after Heather finished with Brian, she moved on to him like that. His lawyer adds it was her idea and totally consensual. Conner states he did not rape her and to ask Brian. Rollins comments that Brian was there, and asks if he saw them.

Later, Rollins is in with Fin and they confront Brian with these new facts. He answers despite his lawyer urging him not to, and says that for Heather to be acting all prim and proper now, she wants to act the whore on Saturday and the virgin in Sunday. They lawyer wants to end the questioning but Rollins asks Brian if he wants to sign something and keep talking and tell them his side they can clear this whole thing up without it having to go into the system.. She hands Brian a folder with papers to sign and the lawyer takes it and says it is a temporary arraignment waiver and then tells Rollins to get out of here with that. He adds unless his client is under arrest, they are leaving. Fin tells them to stay there and he will see what the DA wants to do.

In Benson’s office, Rollins explains all three turned down the waiver. Barba says to arraign them; the deeper they go into the system the harder it is to pull them out. But Benson asks them to hold up a half hour, adding Connor is a handsome boy with a smug smile. Barba comments it would be good to get that face on the 11 o’clock news.

Later, the guys are being led out of SVU in cuffs to a gauntlet of their own: a hoard of waiting press, photographers, and protesters.

The next day, Skip Peterson is on the AM Buzz show updating everyone on the story. He says the frats have been suspected and the accused rapists have been arrested. Heather Manning has come forward and he shows her speaking at a rally last night, During her speech, she mentions there were six men and when they said “who wants to rape that” they weren’t just assaulting her, they were assaulting every woman on this campus. Carisi and Fin are watching the show from SVU and Carisi now picks up on Heather now saying there were six men and thinks something feels off. He also questions the language she used “who else wants to rape that” saying that does not sound like a frat boy. Fin says it is not what they said, it’s what they did, and DNA doesn’t lie. The show continues and Skip says police confiscated a video of the assault and the hockey sticks tested positive for DNA. Carisi and Fin get a questioning look.

Meanwhile, Benson and Barba also watch the show and Barba says Benson did not tell him they found anything on the hockey sticks. Benson confirms they didn’t and there is no video of the assault. Barba wonders who is the source and why is Heather giving the interview; she’s gone from reluctant witness to being on every news show in 48 hours. Benson says once you tell your story it can be empowering and the floodgates open. Barba wisecracks they opened and let in two assailants and now she is up to six. Benson counters when you are dealing with PTSD, things come back in pieces and she will talk to her.

Later, Benson has Heather, along with Dillon, in her office, and Rollins is also present.Benson explains they are not trying silence her but are still trying to make their case and they need to know the public speeches she’s made won’t contradict the statements she made to them. Dillon says people need to know what they did to her, and Rollins jumps in to say they should get clear on the who. When Heather says they arrested them, Dillon questions if they are going to pick apart the survivor story and this is why they were reluctant to come there in the first place. Benson explains that Heather said there were 6 assailants and if they should be looking for two others, Heather gets fuzzy about other people being in the room and in the shadows but the names she already gave absolutely raped her. She knows Zak was there because they called him stinky and he kept saying his name was Zak. When Dillon asks why he hasn’t been picked up, Benson explains he is in Cuba and they won’t extradite but there is a warrant for his arrest. Dillon says going forward they will work to pick apart the guys’ stories and Benson says they will but tells Heather that going forward she needs to stop talking to the press and at rallies so they can do their job. But she explains she is supposed to go on Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow tonight. Benson explains Heather will have to cancel that but Dillon says it is too late. She adds these issues are finally being brought to national attention and the whole country is waking up to the rape epidemic on campuses. Benson comments to Heather that she thought she wanted to bring her assailants to justice, and Heather says she does but this is not much more than that now. She is the face of a movement.

Afterwards, Rollins comes into the squad room and says it did not go well and Heather wants to have her story heard. Carisi asks which one, outlining the inconsistencies. He adds if she keep talking she will torpedo her own case. Fin comments that Zak just surfaced at his lawyer’s office and is about to go live on LMZ. Benson walks in. They watch the press conference with Zak and Counselor Buchanan who proclaims Zak’s innocence. Benson comments this is a big bluff, even for Buchanan. Zak states the night of the assault he was 9 hours away in Kimball West Virginia at a soccer field at a champion ship game which was televised. Buchanan shows the footage. Meanwhile, Barba makes a frantic call to Benson and as they discuss this, he pops an antacid (or aspirin?). Buchanan states the NYPD and the DA are guilty of an outrageous and utterly inept investigation and prosecution. Barba seethes.

Later, in his office with Rollins, Barba shows the video to Heather and Dillon. Heather said it was dark but she heard his voice. Rollins mentions Heather’s story about the nickname but Heather wonders if it happened in a nightmare; she hasn’t been sleeping. Dillon pipes up that survivors have unclear memories but the other boys were guilty and they have their DNA. Barba states they are claiming it was consensual, and Dillon says sarcastically that they believe them over Heather. Rollins says it is best that Heather speak with Barba alone but Dillon disagrees, saying she is the only one who has been there for her. But Barba says she has advocated enough, it is their turn. He adds if they want this case to continue, he needs Heather to tell him exactly what happened to her and Dillon needs to tell Rollins what Heather disclosed to her. Dillon says they told everything to Skip Peterson, and Barba dry says they are talking to him too. Dillon looks less than thrilled.

Meanwhile, Benson, along with Carisi, speak with Skip who knows this is blowing up. He is just as hurt with this as she is. Benson explains the case I collapsing and they need his information. He admits he never talked to the boys or the school; he talked only to Dillon and Heather, in that order. Carisi asks isn’t investigating a main component of investigative journalism? Benson adds that 3 boys have been arrested an arraigned and their reputations are damaged possibly beyond repair. She knows that is on them too. Skip says 2020 hindsight is easy and she sounds like his producer. Should he have talked to them yes but he was protecting Heather and was concerned for reprisals and considering Hudson’s history she had every right to be. He found Heather to be very credible and his daughter is her age and he feels gratified he helped start a dialog about campus rape. Carisi asks why didn’t he start that dialog with a story that was true. Skip replies because most other stories are complicated, they are he said/she said and Heather’s story checked every box: callous administration, entitled white frat boy jocks, the pack mentality gang bang aspect. It’s the story he has been looking for. If he didn’t grab it, someone else would have. Carisi comments, “Damn the consequences, right?” Skip says not to blame the messenger, blame the audience. Campus rape is so commonplace it doesn’t rise to the level of news, he can’t even get anyone to care. He walks to his studio and says he would love to do this all day but he has a retraction to tape.

Heather is in Barba’s office and she recounts her own story. She admits to being drunk. She says the room was dark but empty at first, the others came in later, but is not sure about Lance. She admits she was confused.

Rollins speaks with Dillon who says Heather said she was assaulted. With Rollins and Barba speaking to both people separately, the facts indicate it may have been consensual at first but she passed out. When she woke up, Connor was on top of her raping her. She recalls Brian coming back into the room but that night is a blur. She mentions the guys harassing her when she left and when she told that to Dillon, Dillon told her they probably all took a piece of her. Barba asks to confirm that Dillon told her that, and when she nods yes, Barba asks Heather to wait there a minute.

Barba walks into the other room where Rollins is questioning Dillon an demands Dillon tell him exactly what she told Heather. Rollins also presses the issue if Heather said she was raped, and Dillon asks what difference does that make? Rollins and Barba look and sound pissed. When Dillon implies the details don’t matter, Barba explodes and says yes it matters they are talking about criminal charges based on the specifics of what happened. Dillon stresses it does not matter what happened to Heather, IT happens every day and these frat boys strut around like they are bulletproof. She angrily says if a few of them have to take responsibility, good. She adds this is not about Barba or this case or these boys, it is bigger than any of them. It is about eliminating rape culture, once and for all.

Back at SVU, they watch Skip make his retraction, saying the facts were fabricated by Heather. They have asked an independent ombudsman from a journalism school to investigate and issue a report. The detectives are less than thrilled, Fin adding that Barba is hanging by a thread and Dodds is hanging Benson out to dry. Benson says she does not blame them. She admits they moved too fast and didn’t vet it hard enough. Fin says it is not on them or Skip, Heather straight out lied to them. Fin has his back turned so he has not seen Heather walk in. Rollins asks if they can help her.

Later, in Benson’s office, Heather explains how other survivors were counting on her to be their strength and she should not take back her story. Dillon mentions since both she and Brian were drunk, she was not capable of consenting. Dillon also said when she passed out, there was no way to know what happened to her, she could have been gang raped. Benson says they can’t make that case. Heather asks what about Conner, she knows he raped her when she passed out. When she came to he was raping her hard and violent. Brian saw everything and then he just turned and walked away, like Benson is doing now. Benson says she believes her, but a jury will have reasonable doubt. Heather asks if that is it, she has to go to school every day and see her rapist? Benson states she is sorry and is sorry about all of it, and if she could go back and change it she would but at this point there is nothing they can do.

In motions court part 8 on Thursday, March 19, Buchanan moves for dismissal and Barba admits they are prepared to drop the charges on all four. The judge says they are free to go. Connor gives a satisfied smirk to Barba, who glares back at him.

Afterwards, the AM Buzz show speaks with a student who says she still believes Heather and they all know something horrible happened to her that night but until rape culture changes in this country, none of them will be safe. As they watch the show at SVU, the show host  says that was just part of the outrage on campus today as student reacted to the news that the DA has dropped the charges against the four defendants. She also stated the 4 men are filing a lawsuit against Hudson and the NYPD. Fin tells Carisi to turn it off. Carisi says they should feel proud, the show pumped up their ratings for a week and those boys will never get their reputation back. Rollins tells Carisi that is the job, it’s hard to know what actually happened in cases like these. She adds if he can’t take that, SVU isn’t right for him. Carisi says he gets it, and he is good here. Fin hopes that Benson is, and Rollins explains right now she is heading up to Hudson University, round 3 of the apology tour.

At Hudson in Roberts’ office, Benson offers her apologies for her prior tone. Roberts says they were both taken advantage of and had blinders on. Benson admits it was the perfect story and confirmed all of her preconceived notions and that alone should have made her approach Roberts with more skepticism. Roberts also admits she can’t help but ask if she listened to Heather instead of badgering her with questions if this wouldn’t have ended differently. Benson wonders if Heather would have told her the true story that Connor did rape Heather and she has a dangerous predator on their campus and now that he has gotten away with it, he may be emboldened. Roberts comments that Benson can’t prosecute but Benson wants Roberts to discipline him. Benson says she is asking Roberts to do what she can. Roberts says a lot less than she could last week. They had an incident last night and the first thing the accused said to campus security was “she’s lying, just like Heather Manning.” Benson says she doesn’t blame Heather;  Skip Peterson and Professor Dillon pressured her into coming forward. They thought this would be the case that would change rape culture, and it did – it set the clock back 30 years. As Benson reflects on this, we fade to black.

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Alex said...

In regards to Barba, don't forget that he mentioned the DA was on his ass after that story broke. So he had no choice but to move forward whether he wanted to or not. Then once it fell apart, it was allll his fault in the DA's eyes. Which seems typical for the DA who has "hung him out to dry" before in October Surprise, American Tragedy, etc.
That said, the writing HAS made him a bit less tough. A lot less tough. This just wasn't an example of it.

Njtoocool said...

In my opinion wouldn't a year and longer of working with countless of victims and perpetrators make you softer than when you first started

Juda Martinez said...

this is my 1st ever comment on your site just to let you know if there is ever a law and order hall of fame you should be in it for all your hard work and effort giving us your recaps i dont always agree with you but you do your best for all us fans as far as last nites episode i liked it but i got no comment on it you will hear from me in future recaps

Chris Zimmer said...

Hi Juda! Thank you for your kind comments and am looking forward to hearing your comments in the future!

Chris Zimmer said...

Alex, I think this is why I am disappointed in Barba. The Barba we knew last season would have had no problem going to his bosses and say that the case was a mess and pursuing it would be risky and could possibly make things look worse. He seems to roll over too easily this season, almost like the fight it out of him.

Juda Martinez said...

real quick chris do you do recaps on other shows like iam a chicago fire pd guy or is it just the law and orders that you do recaps on what am i saying svu is the only 1 left but you know what i mean

Chris Zimmer said...

While Law & Order and L&O Criminal Intent were running I did those recaps. During that time I also used to recap Mad Men, some of the CSI brand episodes, Fringe, and a few other shows here and there. It got to be too much. I thought about doing Chicago Fire and Chicago PD but don't have the time any longer, but I do post the episode advance pictures on my other TV blog for those shows. I've thought about going back and recapping all the older L&O episodes but just can't find the time!

Chris Zimmer said...

While Law & Order and L&O Criminal Intent were running I did those recaps. During that time I also used to recap Mad Men, some of the CSI brand episodes, Fringe, and a few other shows here and there. It got to be too much. I thought about doing Chicago Fire and Chicago PD but don't have the time any longer, but I do post the episode advance pictures on my other TV blog for those shows. I've thought about going back and recapping all the older L&O episodes but just can't find the time!

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Liv and Barba, they weren't going to pursue the case until the Mayor's wife saw it on America's Worst Crimes. The publicity and media outrage over it depicts real life quite accurately. Oftentimes, the media covers a story and sensationalizes it without allowing for much objectivity.

However, I do agree that Benson should be more objective as the acting captain of the unit. But she's always been the compassionate detective, so I think in terms of characterization, the writers have got it right. It would be interesting to see her grow and struggle to play devil's advocate though, as you've said.

Still upset though that we didn't get to see Amaro in this episode. Apparently, it's his fifth no-show this season, which is upsetting since Danny Pino's a great actor and he adds a whole lot to the show. In general, I'm not a fan of the rotating cast they have this season.

kat said...

Was I the only one unnerved when we saw Barba popping those pills?

Chris Zimmer said...

Kat - I think it was only an antacid or aspirin so I didn't see it as cause for concern.

Alex said...

Chris- given Padre Sandunguero it wouldn't surprise me if that's exactly what he is. The fight's gone out of him. Plus he lost his grandma who was clearly the one to believe in him. I hope they show us him getting tougher again because I miss my sassy uncaring badass.

Keri said...

I didn't follow the UVA story, but this episode did remind me a lot of the Jameis Winston story (which I followed because I'm a FSU alumnis), especially with the time frame, multiple dna sources, the athlete angle and the false accusation.

Cath T said...

It was the fifth episode where Amaro was MIA but I believe Danny Pino was in Chicago filming scenes for the crossover. Still that's a lot of episodes for a main character to be left out of.

I don't like the "musical chairs" detectives which has come into play since the introduction of Carisi. I don't dislike Carisi but wonder if his inclusion was really necessary. It would have made sense if he'd been partnered with Amaro and Benson was actually now truly head of the squad in the same vein as Cragen but that's not how it has played out.

As for the episode I agree with Chris that Rob Morrow's talents weren't utilised well. I've admired him since Northern Exposure. Wonderful actor but his role in this episode was somewhat pedestrian.

The "ripped from the headlines" stuff doesn't bother me as I'm not overly familiar with the real life stories they spring from.

This college "rape culture" that SVU covers is not something I'm accustomed to hearing about. It seems to be a big problem in America.

With all the scandals at "Hudson University" why would anyone send their kids there?

Apart from a couple of stand out episodes I don't think Season 16 has been as strong as the last three seasons. Then again maybe I need to watch some of those episodes more than once.

I have watched Season 13 & 14 episodes several times because I enjoy them so much. Apart from about three or four episodes I haven't felt that way about Season 16.

Anonymous said...

Does Warren Leight & Co. even know how to write a storyline that hasn't occurred in the last year? Do they not know how to write an original storyline? It's beyond pathetic.

Njtoocool said...

I would like to think that it's pretty hard to write story that has not been written after 16 seasons

Kittukat1978 said...

Just in case people were not aware l&o was created with the idea in mind that every storyline was ripped from the headlines and svu has carried that torch. Now I wish they would put an original spin on those headlines but alas they have not. That idea is what made l&o so original in it's hayday. I'm sure it can be difficult to carry stories from the headlines around sex crimes and be original. Of course that's just my opinion.

Njtoocool said...

I agree with Kittukat1978

David Pfaltzgraf said...

I agree with everything mentioned in your review. This episode was unbelievably predictable thanks to the over-involvement and perhaps anti-male attitudes of the Hudson University professor in her first scene. Sure the "Mayor's wife" made them look into it but that doesn't mean SVU (especially Benson) had to put on their blinders and prosecute at all costs. It was a terrible investigation, and although Benson's had it rough herself, I grow tired of the empathy overdose and her tendency to think rapists are ALWAYS guilty until proven innocent. Her comments about Connor still needing punishment are unjustifiable. After all the lies and inconsistencies, how can she believe with 100% certainty that Jane was telling the truth about being raped "only by Connor" at the end? Come on Sergeant...

Dex said...

Is anyone surprised that this episode ended up sucking? I mean, the had like, what, five episodes about college rape? This is the Gray episode again, but this manages to be must more misandrst (And don't anybody tell that misandry isn't true because I know it is and that your a idiot denying it.)

Seriously, if this "professor" is so against this "rape culture," what about male-on-male rapes? Woman-on-woman rapes? Woman-on-male rapes?

Also Jane, yes people would walk away from you after all the lies and deception you gave to the media. What's worst is that people know that rape is a serious issue, but with crazies like your "professor" made about male fraternities and all that feminism is nothing but a joke in today's standards.

It makes arresting people from little to no evidence more plausible, true victims won't come forward because they'll be called a liar, men lives are forever destroy that results in suicide, wasting polices' time and resources, male raped by women will never be believed, and many more.

Also Connor has the right to act smug to Barba because of how he's willingly to prosecute him and the other innocent boys on a false rape allegations.

Elaine Hodgson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WestVirginiaRebel said...

It's just too bad for the writers that the story turned out to be a hoax in real life.

Chloe Arreola said...

That 'Professor' reminds me why I refuse to be a all for eaquaility but not like that.