Thursday, May 12, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Assaulting Reality” Recap & Review

As I despise – and don’t watch – reality competition shows, I was dreading the episode “Assaulting Reality” which was based on a “Bachelor” type show. Surprisingly, I enjoyed this episode, likely because it almost felt like the closest we would ever come to an SVU comedy. The corny dialog from the “Heart’s Desire” show and the whole premise of how the show was staged is exactly why their real-life counterpart shows are unwatchable to me.

Apparently they are also unwatchable to Benson and Tucker, who saw the show while in a bar, both drinking what looks like coffee. Maybe this means that Tucker’s previous comments to Benson about drinking has been taken seriously. But Rollins does watch the show, at one point getting tears in her eyes. Maybe Rollins looks for that Disney-princess like scenario for her own life. Carisi, also at Rollins’ apartment, thinks no man would ever want to hear this, so they have some work to do if they want the relationship to progress further. Carisi was there making dinner but he’s also the one who seems to be paying the most attention to baby Jesse. Rollins, on the other hand, is sitting on the sofa cuddling with her dog. I was slightly surprised when Benson, upon finding out that Carisi was at Rollins’ place cooking dinner, didn’t give them some kind of warning later about getting into a relationship as they are colleagues.  Rollins and Carisi may only be very good friends so Benson may not have anything - yet - to warn them about. Seeing that Benson is in a relationship with Tucker, she may not feel that she has any room to criticize, either.

While on the subject of Benson and Tucker, while I am willing to let this relationship play out and have said before that their relationship lacks a romantic spark, I felt a little nauseated when Benson commented that his dinner plans at her place sounded romantic. Maybe it’s because I just saw an old SVU episode the other day where Tucker was being such a major jerk that it brought back my dislike for him and made me wonder how she could ever be in a relationship with a man who seemed so bent on destroying her career.

It was amusing that Fin, his real life counterpart having a reality show of his own, commented that reality shows are all fake. Also amusing was when Barba said his mother says the show will do anything for ratings. If anything, this applies just as much to shows like SVU as it does for a reality show.

Law & Order and SVU “repeat offenders” Wendie Malick and Michael Gross were perfectly cast for the roles of the show executive producers and I think their performances added to the comic tone of this episode. Larisa Oleynik also did a fine job as the frazzled Lizzie, who tried to keep the show together but had to contend with two domineering bosses who eventually made her the scapegoat.

Here is the recap:

Mariska Hargitay - Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T - Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.

Guest stars:
Robert John Burke – Captain Ed Tucker
Michael Gross - Jeffrey Prince
Wendie Malick - Regina Prince
Larisa Oleynik - Lizzie Bauer
Mather Zickel - John Valentine
Rachael Emrich - Gigi Danson
Comfort Clinton - Melanie Connor
Caprice Benedetti - Tammy Ledder
Adam Gregory - Ryan Ledder
Jordan Bondurant – Graham Turco
Shannon Thornton - Ashley S.
Ava Lange as Ashley B.
Adam Perry - Emmett Weaver
Jones Miller – Mrs. Connor

Host John Valentine welcomes audiences back to the show, Heart’s Desire in NYC. It is week 6 and the competition is down to three men and four women; one of the women will be going home after the broadcast. Melanie and Gigi are competing for Ryan and Ryan will chose his “heart’s desire” tonight.

Meanwhile, Benson and Tucker are in a bar, both drinking coffee, and the show is playing. Benson asks the bartender to turn the show off, and Tucker suggests throw the TV out. Benson asks who actually watches this show?

In Rollins' apartment, she is glued to the TV show. She is sitting on her sofa with Frannie the dog as Carisi is there holding baby Jesse. They watch Melanie and Gigi discuss Ryan and Carisi comments about Gigi throwing shade. Rollins says Gigi is a total witch; she and Frannie are team Melanie. Melanie says Ryan is the guy of her dreams. The show plays the video of Gigi and Ryan on a “steamy” helicopter ride. John then asks Melanie about her date with Ryan, which she describes a quiet but the truly connected. A video of their carriage ride in the park is shown, Melanie saying she felt like a Disney princess. Carisi comments that no guy wants to hear that. He asks Rollins if she is crying, and she shakes it off, saying no but Carisi comments she is so busted. John asks Melanie what happened when they got back to the triplex, and when Melanie just smiles, John shows a video of the action. The others ask if they want a drink but they indicate they are good. Ryan tells Melanie that John gave him the “Dream Suite” key and Melanie says she is dizzy and she kisses Ryan. They go to the suite and he opens the door, Melanie saying she is not sure about this. They head to the bed and the crowd cheers at the activity. John tells Melanie that was a big step for her, and she says it wasn’t that big of a step. He asks if she is sure, then suggests they see what happened a little later in the evening. Melanie, and the audience, sees a video of her in bed with Ryan, taken with a night vision camera, and while she looks shocked, the audience applauds. Upset, she stands up and says she doesn’t remember any of this. Meanwhile, Rollins and Carisi both look stunned. Back at the show, John asks Melanie if she remembers going to the Dream Suite with Ryan, and she admits yes, but says she is a virgin and would have never slept with him. Producer Lizzie Bauer, off camera, orders them to cut to a commercial now. John stands up and says they will be back as Melanie shouts out “Did Ryan rape me?” Back at Rollins' place, Carisi asks Rollins if she just saw what he just saw. Rollins says Melanie wasn’t acting, asking if they just aired a rape.

The next day at SVU, the team watches the video of Melanie and the rape accusation. The papers have headlines of the shocking allegation. When Carisi comments he is surprised this hasn’t happened before, Benson asks her to please tell him he doesn’t watch this show. He says no but last night was his first time; he was making dinner and Rollins put it on. Rollins rolls her eyes and Fin question that Carisi is “making dinner.” Rollins gives an eye roll again and Benson gives them both a look as Fin comments that maybe they were distracted but they know that reality shows are all fake. Rollins replies not last night, saying they want drama and fairy tells but not rape, adding they cut away as soon as Melanie started to freak out. Benson asks if Melanie reported it, and Rollins wonders if the producers let her make a call as they don’t allow access to the outside world. Carisi adds it is like Stockholm Syndrome, and with all the headlines and all the calls they are getting from concerned viewers and the Chief of Ds’ wife…and Rollins finishes that they should at least ask a few questions. Benson agrees and tells them to go talk to Melanie but she is interested in “our” reality, not theirs.

At the Heart’s Desire triplex at 539 West 22nd Street on Tuesday, April 5, Carisi and Rollins are inside and Rollins notices the hot tub where Ashley B. slapped Graham in the second episode. There is filming going on, and girls are cavorting in bikinis. Lizzie Bauer enters, stating she is co-producer and asks how can she help the NYPD. Carisi explains they are following up on the accusation that Melanie made on the air last night. Lizzie explains they have been getting calls about it too but asks that they know nothing happened and that the show is heavily scripted. Rollins states they still need to speak to Melanie. Lizzie comments that the executive producers are talking to the network and asks if they can wait until they get here, and Rollins answers with a firm no. Lizzie looks unsettled and says that Melanie is close to the final round, adding that she spoke with her last night and if she wanted the police involved they definitely would have made that happen. Carisi insists they need to hear that from her. Lizzie says, “Uh huh” as she leads them up the stairway.

Upstairs, she knocks on Melanie’s door and enters, announcing the detectives, saying they are from SVU and are concerned about what she said last night. Lizzie adds she told them it was part of the show and that she is fine. Rollins tells Lizzie to let Melanie tell them that. Rollins asks Melanie if they can ask a few questions, and Melanie looks at Lizzie before saying she guesses so. Carisi asks Lizzie to give them the room, and Lizzie uncomfortably agrees, saying she will be outside for her when she is done. Rollins sits down on the bed next to Melanie and explains they were watching last night, saying it was tough. She asks how Melanie is doing, and Melanie explains it is hard to know what you are thinking when everybody always watching…and filming. Rollins looks up and sees a camera on the wall and asks in a whisper if she has privacy in the bathroom. Melanie nods and they get up to go there.

In the bathroom, Melanie says she does not remember having sex and would have never agreed to that. Rollins asks if she thinks she did have sex, and Melanie explains after seeing the video it kind of made sense. The morning after her date, she was sore down there and her panties were on the floor and she felt…different. Rollins questions if she told anybody, and Melanie replies that she didn’t remember it, so she didn’t say anything. Rollins explains that if she were unable to consent, that could be rape. Melanie states that “they” said it wasn’t. Carisi asks who is “they” and Melanie says :Lizzie and the Princes – Jeffrey and Regina Prince, the executive producers. They said that since she told Ryan that she wanted to lose her virginity to him eventually, she must have wanted it. Carisi stresses that they were wrong; it doesn’t matter what she did or what she said before. Melanie looks upset, saying that she doesn’t understand, she thought that she and Ryan were in love with each other, wondering why he would rape her? Carisi replies they can investigate and they can talk to Ryan and collect evidence. He asks if she has any clothing from that night, and Melanie explains they take care of their laundry here – they take care of everything. She asks to borrow Rollins’ cell, saying that they are not allowed phones and she wants to call her mom. Rollins says of course, and hands her her own phone.

Afterwards, Carisi returns downstairs and Lizzie apologizes that they had to waste a trip. Carisi says not really and explains that Rollins is going to take Melanie to the hospital to get a rape kit done. Lizzie explains that Melanie can’t go, she’s got to shoot the ladies dine and dish. Carisi says that means the guys aren’t working, which is good because he needs to talk to Ryan. Lizzie tells Carisi that this is a closed set, and Carisi counters not any more it’s not. Host John Valentine comes up the stairway and he tells Lizzie they want her to stir things up before they shoot. But he sees Carisi and questions if it is true that there are cops here. Carisi comments that John was there when Melanie watched the video and Carisi says she looked genuinely surprised. John gives him lesson number one from the John Valentine school of reality hosting: You stand on your mark, you say the words, you get paid, that’s it. Lizzie looks annoyed and sarcastically thanks him, explaining the detectives are here on official police business. John says that Melanie signed a waiver and adds lesson number two: If it’s a reality show, there is no reality. He walks off.

Later, Carisi and Fin speak with Ryan about what happened and he says Melanie gave him her virginity. Carisi concludes that Ryan had sex with her and when he asks for specifics, Ryan says it was “magical” and it was their heart’s desire. Carisi states that is not what Melanie is saying, and Ryan asks if this is about Melanie’s freak out on the live show, adding whatever she said was part of the script. Carisi says it wasn’t, they just spoke to her and she doesn’t remember having sex, she was unconscious. Ryan looks stunned and suggests they need to talk to the producers, they must have told her to say that too. They don’t say anything unless they clear it with them first.

As Benson leaves the building with Fin and Carisi, she asks that Melanie agreed to a rape kit but she has no memory of consenting to or even having sex? Carisi says no, but Ryan does. Fin explains Ryan claims it was consensual, Carisi adding, “and magical.” Benson asks if they are sure this isn’t part of the show, and Carisi says something happened to this girl that she did not want have happen. Lizzie approaches and quickly announces the executive producers. Jeff Prince introduces himself and his wife Regina. He explains they rushed in from Wainscott as soon as Lizzie told them they were here. Benson introduces herself, asking if they know they are investigating a rape allegation. Regina replies “Aware and appalled.” She adds their show is about love, romance; this accusation is deeply disturbing. Jeff explains they tell the bachelors to treat each young lady as if they were the Princes’ daughter. Fin asks if they have a daughter, and they both indicate no, and Jeff says they don’t have children but the point is these girls need to be respected and protected. Carisi states Melanie does not feel that she was, and Jeff counters that if there was any indication that something had happened against her will, they would not have gone with it. Benson asks if they are saying it was consensual, and Regina explains that Melanie has been trying to connect with Ryan for weeks and maybe having the audience find out that she lost her virginity…Lizzie stares at the Princes as Jeff goes on to say that it is so mortifying that she tried to project her self-loathing onto Ryan. He adds that Melanie is mercurial and sensitive; it makes for good drama..and Regina adds that it is until she veers off-script. Benson explains she told the detectives that she has no memory of consenting. Regina states Melanie did not mention that when Lizzie talked to her the morning after. Lizzie is shaking her head and says nothing. Jeff comments Lizzie is a small town girl and her parents were watching and she panicked. Then he looks at Regina and says maybe Melanie got wind that Ryan was going to pick Gigi. Regina concludes that the girl cries rape, the game clock is on hold, and then asks if somebody is writing this down. Lizzie quickly begins to take notes. Carisi tells them to stop, asking if they are saying Melanie cried rape because she didn’t want Ryan to go with Gigi. Regina and Jeff hesitate but then Regina tells Jeff they have to show them. He sighs, and says the network lawyers told them to give them nothing without a warrant, but they should see her morning after interview.

Inside the triplex, they cue up and OTF video - ‘on the fly” – to get their immediate reactions. Melanie’s did not make it to air because it was boring. Melanie says she woke up on top of the world so happy and the date last night made fighting for Ryan and the show process worth it. When asked about Gigi being upset, Melanie explains she does not kiss and tell. Melanie says Ryan was a complete gentleman the whole night, that is what made is so special and she thinks they are falling in love. Jeff comments these are Melanie’s own words and if they can help them with anything else…Regina adds anything at all. Benson looks skeptical and thanks them and she and the detectives leave.

Later, at SVU, Rollins and Carisi speak with Melanie who says she is not making this up. Rollins explains they believe her; the rape kit showed traces of condom lubricant. Melanie is dejected she is not a virgin anymore, and she can’t go back to that house. Carisi says they need her to stay in the city until the investigation is over and they will be happy to put her up in a hotel, but she explains the Princes have already taken care of that. They have been really understanding about this.

Meanwhile, as he observes this with Benson, Barba asks that Melanie didn’t know she was raped until she saw it on TV. He guesses the “she said” but wonders what is the “he said.” Benson explains Ryan said it was consensual but Barba wants to know what the footage says. He asks if they can tell she was conscious and Benson explains not really, all they have was what was broadcast. There is night camera movement and no audio and the lawyers are dragging their feet about the raw footage. Barba states he will get her a warrant to clone the servers and a grand jury subpoena for all the audio and video records from the weekend. He adds his mother watches the show and she says they film every minute. Benson thinks there has to be continuous recording of what led up to this sex and that should tell them something – Barba wonders “or not.” Fin enters the room and says Ryan is here, and when Benson explains they didn’t ask to talk to him. Fin says that Ryan wants to talk to them and so does his mother – she’s a divorce lawyer. Benson reacts and Barba comments, “how noble” and says he will get Benson those warrants.

In the interrogation room with Benson and Fin, with his mother’s prompting, Ryan reveals that he lied to them this morning. He and Melanie did not have sex. That was him in the room at first; they had a lot of champagne and she kissed him but she said once they were married she would give him her most precious gift and it freaked him out. It was too much pressure and he got out of there. He didn’t say that at first as he was trying to stay on the show. The producers told him that Melanie and he had a real shot at the finale and this would be a huge shot for both of them. His mother says the show will do anything for ratings. Benson explains the rape kit confirms sexual activities with condom lubricants and abrasions. His mother asks if they can tell the brand of the lubricant, and Benson says yes, it was Sultan Ecstasy. Ryan explains they are bowls of them all over the house. He thinks someone came in after he left. He says there is a lot they leave out, and his mother thinks whoever deflowered sleeping beauty was not her son.

Later, Benson is back on the set with Rollins and they speak with Lizzie. She admits they edited the footage from last night and also that Ryan said he freaked out and left her in the dream suite, but says they saw her in bed with someone in the motion activated footage. Rollins says they let the audience and Melanie believe it was Ryan, and Lizzie says he could have changed his mind,  it happens all the time. When Benson asks if she asked Ryan about this, Lizzie, frazzled, complains that they don’t know what it is like. They have non-union crew working 19 hour days with a cast of rum-drum 20 somethings who have been locked in together for weeks. It is a miracle they get a show on every week. Benson says they need to see that footage.

The walk into the video room and Jeff says he wishes they were there under better circumstances. Benson say they are there with a warrant and hands it to Jeff. Regina says they were informed; they have been going over all the footage from that night and they did miss something. Benson asks if they missed something or if they were covering it up. Jeff asks Lizzie to explain. Lizzie says after the crew goes home, everything is shot from security cameras which are motion activated and sometimes it takes a while to wake up. They see the video of Ryan and Melanie and they hear Melanie say she is a virgin and that if he wants to spend the night they can cuddle. She says she knows she is the one for him and when they are married, she will give him her most precious gift. Ryan thinks they should call it a night and Melanie says she loves him. They see Ryan leave and Lizzie says they can see why they didn’t air that, it doesn’t add to the narrative. When Benson asks about the other night cam footage that shows them having sex, asking what was that, Lizzie says she doesn’t know, she assumed it was Ryan, she didn’t see it. Jeff says they can see that after talking to Ryan’s mother and double checking the time code that it wasn’t him. Rollins comments that whoever it was, they have footage of them going into the dream suite and getting into Melanie’s bed. Jeff and Regina make excuses, saying they are still going through the raw footage. Benson says their techs will handle that. Benson states in the meantime, they will need to speak with everyone who was working Saturday night – off camera. Jeff says absolutely.

Later, in the main room, John Valentine asks everybody to listen up; the NYPD is there to investigate the heinous accusation that Melanie made on the air last night. Gigi is shocked that this is real, and John replies they don’t know, but the show is on hold and productions shut down. Ashley S. asks this it’s is true Melanie was raped, and Emmett replies not to look at him, he was with Ashley S. all night long, and laughs, saying the girl almost killed him. Lizzie chastises him, saying not now. Jeff comments that everyone is presumed innocent. Ashley B. asks where are Ryan and Melanie, and Gigi wonders if they are off the show. Regina explains they are fine, they have them staying at separate hotels for now. She adds for their safety, the house security cams will remain on at all times. Lizzie adds in the meantime, no one leaves the house and as soon as this is resolved, they will resume filming. John adds they are only two episodes away from the finale and they have come this far together. Graham asks how long do they just sit around for, and Benson replies until their investigation is over and she and her squad will interview every one of them. Jeff adds they expect them to cooperate full and they are taking this very seriously; if they saw something, say something.

Carisi speaks with Ashley B and hears that Melanie was drunk and into Ryan and wonders if the producers set her up. Fin speaks with Graham who said she saw Melanie lead Ryan into the dream suite and he was all over her. He thought he’d better hook up with someone fast so he made his move on Ashley B. He said he was “friendzoned”. She said she liked him, but not like that so he finished a pitcher of mojitos and passed out. It was after midnight, the crew was gone, and if Ryan left the suite it must have been after that. Rollins speaks with Gigi who said whoever raped Melanie was not Ryan as they spent the night together. She went to his room after Lizzie told her Ryan and Melanie did not work out. When Rollins comments that Lizzie told her that, Gigi says she was in the hot tub; Ashley S. and Emmet had hooked up and there was no way she would do Graham and she thought she was off the show. Rollins asks if that is when Lizzie came to her. Gigi says Lizzie told her that Melanie just wanted to cuddle with Ryan and he left the dream suite unsatisfied. Lizzie told her to take her shot. Rollins asks if they filmed any of this, and Gigi says no, they don’t film what the producers tell us, the wind them up and turn the cameras on. When Rollins asks what did Gigi do after she was wound up, Gigi replies that she took her shot. She toweled off and found Ryan at the bar and then went to his room. She told him she would do anything he wanted and she did. It wasn’t the dream suite but she blew his…mind. When Rollins comments they didn’t put that on the show, Gigi explains they told them they were going to; they interviewed her and Ryan about it and it was going to be the big surprise twist. She speculates that they told Melanie that and this is why she cried rape, so it could be all about her.

Afterwards, in the video control room, Rollins speaks with Lizzie who says Gigi is a liar, adding it’s a major plot line, nobody likes her. Rollins says Ryan liked Gigi and they hooked up last night, Lizzie says “oh please” and simultaneously so do Regina and Jeff. Regina says Gigi has hooked up with everybody including Ashley B. Benson says Gigi says this is all on film, that she and Ryan were supposed to be the big reveal at the end of the live show. Jeff said they may have let her think that, they keep the balls in the air and the idea is to surprise them live on camera. John enters and says they have a situation, and when Benson says that will have to wait, he goes on to say Melanie is here and is looking for Ryan and she didn’t know what to tell her. Lizzie asks where is she, and when John says the lounge, Lizzie orders them to cue the cameras there. They all see Melanie asks the others where is Ryan, saying she got an STD from her rapist. Regina seems shocked and when Lizzie says she should go in there, Jeff says absolutely not. Benson tells everyone to stay there and radios for Fin and Carisi to go to the lounge now as she heads there as well. As a fight ensues in the lounge, Lizzie watches blankly.

Fin and Carisi arrive and break up the fight. Benson arrives with Rollins and Benson doesn’t care who started the fight, it is over now. Benson takes Melanie with her and Rollins explains they saw her on the security footage about the STD. Melanie says she got it from Ryan – Chlamydia. When she asks where is Ryan, Benson explains his mother took him out of the house but that he may not be the one who assaulted him. Rollins explains the footage shows him leaving the suite before the video that aired. Melanie is stunned. John enters with Jeff and Regina and says they are all on the same team and they should stick together. Benson says their show is over; this is a police investigation. Jeff says they are all on the same page and everything is kosher. Benson states she wants the cameras off now, and Regina tells Lizzie she heard her. When Lizzie cuts only a few cameras, Benson order her to cut all of them and Lizzie complies. Benson asks the Prices if they test their contestants for STDs, and Regina says they do, plus psych profiles and background checks. Jeff adds they carefully vet every potential cast members, the crew included. Benson says she will need to see all those records. They agree and Benson thanks them.

Later, the detectives are back at SVU reviewing the events with Barba. Rollins confirms there were 9 men in the house that night but the crew left at midnight and the assault happened after that. Carisi adds that the crew all had alibis. Barba tells them to test them all for STDs anyway. Carisi confirms they did and all three bachelors. Benson advises the results are not back yet and asks that everybody is still sequestered in the triplex, and Carisi replies that unis are posted out front – he doesn’t trust these producers. Benson inquires about the status with TARU of the raw footage, and Rollins states they cloned the entire server. Fin adds so far, after Ryan leaves at midnight, they have no video of anyone going in or out of that dream suite. Barba comments there is video of someone in bed with Melanie at 2AM, and Carisi says either they are dealing with a ghost here or they don’t have all the footage. Jeff Price walks in with Regina and comments they don’t, saying they feel awful about this. Benson introduces the Princes to Barba and they explain they are so devastated about what happened to Melanie that they had the tech team and scour everything. When Rollins says TARU took their entire server, Jeff calls Lizzie over who says it is complicated. She explains they have footage from over two dozen cameras in different file formats, most of it mislabeled. The night time security got stored on another hard drive. Benson gives a suspicious look to the others as Jeff comments who knows why but if he understood tech he would not be in this business, he’d be in a mega yacht off the coast of Capri right now. Benson testily asks them to show them what they know. Lizzie brings up another video which shows someone else entering the room – it’s Graham. Fin asks if they are sure this wasn’t doctored and Jeff replies he wished it were. When Benson says this just turned up too, adding they watched this footage together. Jeff prompts Lizzie to explain, and she says the video is motion activated and when it finally woke up, it created a new file which also got mislabeled. Barba and Benson have a look of skepticism as they continue to watch the video where Graham rapes Melanie. Benson comments that the Princes just magically just had this one part that was from the live show. Barba adds there isn’t a jury in the whole world that would believe this story they just told Regina questions a jury, and Barba replies they have gone past obstruction, they are looking at tampering with physical evidence, a felony. Jeff asks them to believe him that it is true, he already fired the editor. Benson says they believe him. Benson walks off with Barba and asks if they have enough for an arrest warrant for Graham, and Barba calls this a house of mirrors, telling her to get Graham’s side and talk to Melanie.

Carisi and Rollins deliver the news to Melanie in her hotel room and she did not give Graham consent to sex. She thinks Lizzie must have known, wondering why Lizzie didn’t say something and why Graham did that to her.

Back at the triplex in Graham’s bathroom, Benson and Fin speak with Graham who said he went to the dream suite because he was worried about Melanie. Fin reminds Graham that Melanie was unconscious, and Graham says they have it all wrong. He saw Ryan go into Gigi’s room and knew they would make the next round. He figured the only way the two of them would stay in the game was to join forces. Benson comments “Ah, so that’s why you raped her.” Graham insists it wasn’t rape, and as they walk down the stairs to the lounge area and Graham says Melanie did not tell him to leave or to stop. He sees Lizzie and asks them to tell them, he told her about it the next day and that she interviewed them the next morning. Lizzie says it is over; he told her he went to Melanie as a friend and it turned into something more. Graham counters that Lizzie said everything would be fine, and Lizzie shouts back because she did not know he raped her. This is all being filmed as Jeff tells Lizzie to let it go, and he tells the officers to take Graham out of there. Benson sees the camera and is shocked they are filming this. Fin puts up his hand covering the camera lens and tells them to get the camera out of there, but Jeff says legally they are within their rights to film the police. Benson nods and then tells Fin this is not their concern. Graham shouts that unless they are arresting him, he is not going anywhere. Benson says fine and looks to Fin, who pulls out his cuffs and tells Graham to turn around. As fin cuffs him, Benson reads Graham his rights to the shock of the other contestants.

Later, at SVU in interrogation, with Rollins and Carisi, Graham claims the sex was consensual and says the producers told him not to say anything. Barba, observing with Benson, asks if the producers wanted Graham to kill his friend for the story line, would he? Benson says for what is worth, Graham tested positive for Chlamydia, the same bacterial strain as Melanie. Fin thinks the producers gave him up as they were about to find out he was a rapist. Barba says it is moot, they have him now. Benson says Melanie hasn’t wavered since she disclosed, and Barba thinks this is good, he wants to get her in front of a grand jury tomorrow. He tells Benson to keep her away from those producers; they have been one step ahead of them the whole time and he doesn’t want any surprises.

But later, as a new special edition of Heart’s Desires airs, it features Jeff and Regina. Rollins phones Carisi to turn it on now. They frame the story as Jeff and Regina investigating the incident along with police and that they made it their mission to catch the rapist. Rollins tells Carisi they played them. Benson is at SVU with Tucker who is talking about ordering in and it would be ready by the time they get to her place, and she says it sound romantic. Carisi bursts in and Tucker pulls back from Benson as and Carisi apologizes for interrupting but says they have to see this. In the squad room, they see the show and see footage from when SVU arrived on the scene, and an interview with Gigi who says she told them about Graham and they didn’t care. John tells the audience Gigi was able to vouch for Ryan and they spent the night together, showing “newly found” video of them going into her room. John says Melanie’s story did not add up, and then shows the video of Melanie complaining about her STD and disparaging SVU. Barba walks in and asks what he missed, and Fin says Melanie is a liar and NYPD screwed up. Benson says with sarcasm she can’t wait to see who the heroes are. Back to the show, video shows how John “found” the videos and they think someone went into the room after Ryan left, with Jeff telling his staff to go through every piece of footage on every card and hard drive in the triplex until they find out the truth. They found the video and suddenly we see Regina and Jeff at SVU, the events being recorded with a hidden camera on Jeff and Regina, Barba is stunned as are the others. There is nothing from Lizzie’s point of view, and Tucker interjects that they are setting her up. They show the video that it was Graham, with the show taking credit. They show Graham as SVU arrests them. The shocker is when the show plays video of Carisi and Rollins breaking the news to Melanie in her hotel room. Rollins is stunned that the hotel room was rigged with cameras, and Melanie comments that Lizzie must have known and why didn’t she say something. They also show one last shot of Lizzie looking surprised, with John saying they were shocked Lizzie knew about this and covered it up. As Benson shakes her head at SVU, Regina, on the show, says Lizzie was so desperate to get a good story that she lost sight of what was most important: the well being and safety of the cast members. John says Lizzie tried to hide the footage, and Jeff mentions the grand jury tomorrow, and adds Lizzie will never set foot on the set of Heart’s Desire again. Regina thanks Melanie to coming forward with such bravery and they want her to know that they are wishing him the very best on her road to recovery. Benson shakes her head and looks at Tucker and then tells the others to turn that off.

Later, at SVU in the interview room. Melanie tells Rollins she will still testify against Graham but asks what about the Princes. They put cameras in her hotel room and told everyone she had a disease, wondering if they can get away with that. Rollins hopes they don’t. Benson knocks on the window and Rollins excuses herself and enters Benson’s office who is there with Barba. Rollins says Melanie is good to testify and she got blindsided by the Princes. Barba says so were they; the Princes ransacked his witness list, deleted footage and forced the cast to lie and now they have to respond to their version of reality. Carisi comments they are not stupid,  they aired that last night so everybody in the country would think they were the only ones trying to get justice for Melanie. Fin comments, “good TV, good ratings.” Benson tells them to hold on, the Princes went out of their way to make Lizzie look like the only one who was guilty of covering this up. Bran says they put it all on her, making her the weak link. He suggests they go after her.

Later, Benson and Barba speak with Lizzie in the interrogation room, who blames this all on Jeff and Regina. They edit this stuff and when Barba presses her on mislabeling footage and telling the girls to keep quiet and hide evidence, Lizzie says it wasn’t like that. Lizzie says she was asleep and saw the footage the next morning and she called Jeff and Regina who told her to shut up about it and get the footage off the server. She said she did, it is their show and they said if they played it like it was Ryan that they would make sure Melanie went along with it. When Lizzie spoke with her the next day, Melanie didn’t bring it up. She didn’t want to believe Melanie was really raped. Benson says that is her story, and they believe her, but Barba adds if they ask her bosses, they will lie to their faces; they are good at that. Benson adds so is Lizzie.

Later, outside in a park, Melanie meets up with Jeff and Regina. She is recording everything and she gets them to admit that they knew what happened, Regina blowing it off as the two were drunk and he only put it in her for a second, wondering if Melanie raped Graham. Lizzie brings up the cover up and their lies to the police and made Melanie think she was crazy. Jeff says if she wants to be an exec to get used to this, asking if Lizzie thinks they would go on TV and say came to them about a rape and asked to make it go away. Lizzie replies that is what happened, and Regina says it doesn’t matter what happened, just what the audience thinks happened. At the DA’s office, Benson and Barba plays back this recording for Jeff and Regina. Jeff is shocked that Lizzie filmed this, asking if that is even legal. Barba says they put cameras in Melanie’s hotel room without her knowledge and aired it on national TV and that is a felony. Benson mentions their cover up is another felony, adding that aiding and abetting a rape puts them on the registry. Regina does not think they are serious, but Barba says they are, asking about that other show, “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Afterwards, Carisi, at Lizzie’s with Rollins, says the Princes will plead guilty to one count of tampering with physical evidence, a felony. Lizzie thinks they won’t do time, and Rollins thinks probably not as they are rich. Carisi says they will never work in TV again. Lizzie can guarantee them that Heart’s Desire will go on, but Rollins thinks Lizzie is lucky that they threw her under the bus, it got her to cooperate and had she not done that she would still be on the hook. Lizzie says great, so she avoids a felony charge, she can’t wait to put it on her resume. She apologizes, saying the show brought out the worst in her and she learned to bring out the worst in those girls. She asserts that she really was asleep when Melanie was raped. Rollins says they believe her. Lizzie says Melanie won’t, wondering how she gets over this.

Outside the hotel, Melanie hears from Benson that Graham is pleading guilty, Benson adding he knows not to take this to trial. Benson tells her the good news is that she doesn’t have to testify. Melanie’s mother is nearby and calls out to her, and Melanie says her mom drove from Idaho to pick her up. She is not sure what she is going to do when she gets home, she feels lost. Benson says that is normal, it takes time and she will get through this. Melanie states the worst part of this is she actually thought she and Ryan were in love and he was going to ask her to marry him in the finale and they would live happily ever after. Benson tells her to take care, and Melanie walks off to her mother and they embrace. As Benson watches their tearful reunion, we fade to black.

All Content (Recaps, Review, Commentary) Copyright © unless otherwise noted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, on All Things Law And Order.

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


CLA said...

In SVU page on facebook comments are little lisongeiros. For many, it was one of the worst episodes of all time. Nothing I can say because I have not seen.

Cardinal said...

I know this is off-topic for this episode and I apologize for that, but does anyone know the ratings numbers for "Fashionable Crimes"? I'm looking for the same day, plus one, and plus three ratings numbers. If anyone can help, *thank you*!

Chris Zimmer said...

@Cardinal - all I have is same day, which was 5.26 million total viewers; in adults 18-49 it was a 1.1 rating and a 4 share. It was the season low for SVU. I don't have the numbers for anything beyond, sorry!

JS Mc said...

This was absolutely NOT the best episode ever! It was right up there with Obscene (tied) for the zenith of badly written episodes! I had difficulty even paying attention to what was being portrayed. I guess this is bound to happen occasionally but the show is turning into a soap opera & that's not what I look for & watch it for.

I feel the same way you do about 'Tuckson', there's not one spark there of chemistry between them & even their stances are cold and not believable...

I resent it being forced on me to take a 180 on the show's 'Mr.Bad Guy' & all of a sudden he's now 'Mr. Wonderful'...I just can't swallow that bunk! (I love Bobby's acting skills but putting him in the JR Ewing or almost Lewis category for years & allowing us to be the man we 'love to hate' & then he rips off the dark cloak & there's superman underneath is more than I can swallow!)...I hope that makes sense!

The writer's have got to stop listening to the 'teeny-boppers' who want 'this & that' and stick to the stories which are what attracted us fans to SVU in the first place.

I am really hoping things get back to 'victims & their stories' when the new crew takes over because otherwise I fear the show is doomed if this continues...JMO

kat said...

I seriously cannot understand how people ship Tuckson

CLA said...

@ Cardinal

The episode of yesterday, 11, was better rated than last week. He got 6.05 million viewers and rose three tenths in the demo 18-49, reaching 1.4. SVU has fallen since Empire returned to be displayed. We must take into account that Empire is a new series that debuted last year with great success. SVU is already 17 years on the air, and its stability is impressive. If the count using DVR SVU is a weekly average of 8 million viewers. Not bad for the most long-lived series TV.

Laurie Fanat said...

I thought this episode was funny and a little out of character for them. The SVU team and Barba acted like normal people with eye rolls, sarcasm, and in the case of Rollins, tears. Okay, that last thing wasn't believable. Rollins sitting with the dog and Carisi cuddling the baby was very telling.

All the people on the reality show had zero brains and Melanie was as dumb as they come. Of course, her rape was serious but seeing Wendie Malick's and Michael Gross' characters outsmart the SVU team was amusing.

What would have been funnier was having the SVU squad investigate a crime that happened on the set of a crime show set in New York City and all the behind the scenes actions there. You know, like a spoof on its own show. Yeah, I think the SVU production team takes themselves way to seriously and probably think that their operation isn't anything like reality shows who use (gasp) non-union labor!

It was a fun hour. Too bad the ratings weren't very good. Their rating numbers are still very low. They may be okay for NBC but if this show was on any other network it would have been canceled years ago.

Logan Ross said...

I feel the same way you do about Tuckson! A bit grossed out! And if Stabler came back for the last six episodes Olivia would have to be embarrased! But really with the new showrunner I'm ooptonistic. And I think that overall season 17 was well balanced re: crimes and on show elationships.
I must add that I have been reading these recaps and not the show this past month plus interacting with the SVU fanatics Facebook page and I don't feel like I have missed a thing! Lots of credit to you and the FB Group!

Margot Undercliffe said...

I love Olivia and would wish to have half her courage. However. With what she has been through, she is damaged. In that way I understand the Tuckson relationship. He understands her and what she has been through. He stands up to her too. It isn't romantic, it is just where they are in life.

Now that Carisi has finished studying he needs his own life. Rollins will be like her own Mother.

Loved Fin's reaction to Carisi and Rollins.

I liked the episode as it was a bit different and a bit light hearted in some ways. Given what they are promising in the next two episodes, it is probably a good thing.

Maria Frank said...

I just wanted to say that I could see Carisi telling Amanda to relax, that he would take care of Jesse and make supper. That's just my thought.

CLA said...

I am not an enthusiastic relationship Benson / Tucker, but I see nothing shameful in it. Olivia is single and can relate to who she wants. It does not have to give satisfactions to Eliot Stabler and would have no reason to hide this novel. Tucker was always hard with detectives, but as the very Olivia understands, he was only fulfilling his work.
SVU is now the oldest series on display. This aspect is fundamental and must be taken into account. All, I repeat, all the series lose audience over the years. The very empire that grew to 15 million viewers last year, ended the season with 10 million. So SVU is still firm and has been renewed for another season. Despite the enemies, taking into account those who watch on DVR, SVU has more than 8 million weekly viewers. Not bad for those who already has 17 years on the air.

Ana Maria Câncio Brandao said...

I am not an enthusiastic relationship Benson / Tucker, but I see nothing shameful in it. Olivia is single and can relate to who she wants. It does not have to give satisfactions to Eliot Stabler and would have no reason to hide this novel. Tucker was always hard with detectives, but as the very Olivia understands, he was only fulfilling his work.
SVU is now the oldest series on display. This aspect is fundamental and must be taken into account. All, I repeat, all the series lose audience over the years. The very empire that grew to 15 million viewers last year, ended the season with 10 million. So SVU is still firm and has been renewed for another season. Despite the enemies, taking into account those who watch on DVR, SVU has more than 8 million weekly viewers. Not bad for those who already has 17 years on the air.