Thursday, October 27, 2016

Law & Order SVU “Rape Interrupted” Recap & Review

“Rape Interrupted” was inspired by the story of Brock Turner, a Stanford student and - depending on what news outlet you read his story and how they framed the headline - a rapist, who had sex with an unconscious girl on campus and who was later found guilty of felony sexual assault. In this episode, we see the clearly drunk victim coming on to the young, recently promoted Ellis Griffin, but we never see her give any consent to sex. Lucky for the victim that there was a witness to the assault, otherwise the the DA would have had real trouble with a rape case.

This episode reunited Mariska Hargitay and Anthony Edwards, who appeared together on the NBC series ER. I always enjoy seeing Anthony Edwards but admit that it doesn’t matter on which show he’s appearing, I always get a twinge of sadness when I see him. His character’s death on ER is probably the most memorable, tragic, and heart-wrenching death scene ever shown on network television. In this episode, Edwards plays Benson’s first work partner and mentor when she worked at the five-five precinct.  The chemistry felt very real between Benson and Patrick Griffin, probably because the two actors had worked together for many episodes on ER. In fact, Edwards’ appearance was the best part of this episode, and I think that it brought out the best in Mariska’s performance.

It is revealed that when Benson was just a newbie on the job at the five-five, she was investigated by IAB for a claim that she stole drugs and money during a bust. It was Patrick Griffin who made up a story that he was with Benson the whole time, supporting her claim that she stole nothing, which cleared her with IAB. Now, with Patrick’s son being accused of rape, Patrick expects Benson to return the favor. Of course, Benson never stole any money or drugs and didn't want Patrick to cover for her, and her standards are higher than ever today. She refuses to cave in to Patrick’s pleas for her to bail out his son. She rightly decided to chose her job and her duty to uphold the law over an old time partner and friend who she has not seen in decades, one who expected her to cover for his rapist son.

Earlier this season, we hear Benson say she has “never been happier," but now when Fin asks hew how things are going with Tucker, she looks strained and says it’s “complicated.” It’s enough to give fans whiplash. What could be the problem with this relationship?

I don’t know how to say this about Law & Order SVU but I think I have a case of  “rape fatigue.” I feel like the “rapist-of=the week” stories are getting repetitive and I am losing interest. Aren’t there other “special victims” crimes that the team can investigate?

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:
Anthony Edwards - Sgt. Patrick Griffin
Corey Cott - Ellis Griffin
Kelly McAndrew - Diane Griffin
Anna Osceola - Janie Spears
Jenna Stern - Judge Elana Barth
Joseph Lyle Taylor - Mickey D'Angelo
Kelly McAndrew -Diane Griffin
Jillian Mueller –
Cindy Cheung –
RJ Brown –
Liam Lane - Brian Dancy
Rachel Womble – Maya
Katie McCarty – Kira
Gabriel Ellis – Diego Perez
Cathryn Basile – Uni #1
Jessica Noboa – Protester

Ellis Griffin arrives at the home of his parents, Patrick and Diane Griffin. He arrives with expensive wine and flowers and they are happy to see him. They are also happy to hear he got a huge promotion to fixed income trade at Goldman Sachs. He can’t stay long, his mother knowing it is Halloween weekend and he has parties but his father wants him to help clean out his garage.

Later, Ellis is at a party where he has his eye on one girl – Janie. Later, when Janie tries to pour herself a drink and the bottle is empty, he finds more alcohol for her drink. Later, he goes to use the bathroom and when he thinks no one is in it, he opens the door to find Janie in there, obviously tipsy. She says it is really hot in here, and seems to come on to him.

Sometime later, as police arrive at a scene outside, a British man is telling Ellis to get off of her. As they begin to argue, the man says that Ellis raped that girl, and Janie is laying on the ground, apparently unconscious. Ellis insists he did not do anything. He looks stunned.

Afterwards, Benson is on her way home from the office as Carisi and Fin bring in Ellis and the witness. Carisi explains that the vic is at Mercy hospital and Rollins is on the way. She tells Carisi to put Ellis in interrogation. Fin takes the witness into the interview room. As Carisi walks off with Ellis, Ellis tells him the other man didn’t witness anything and what he thought he saw, he was mistaken and asks to explain and this will all go away. Carisi replies he doesn’t think so, saying it has already gone viral, showing Ellis a photo on social media of Janie lying on the ground.

Back in her office, while Carisi and Fin wait, Benson is on the phone with Rollins and asks that she keep them posted. After Benson hangs up, she tells Carisi that the victim, Janie Spears who is still unconscious and has high blood alcohol and asks if Ellis claims it was consensual. Carisi says yes, that Ellis says he met Janie at a party and they had al fresco sex in the park when a tourist, Brian Dancy, misinterpreted and called 911. Fin calls it a “he said - he said – she can’t say.” Carisi confirms Ellis was drinking. He has not asked for a phone call or lawyer and is eager to tell his side. Benson tells them to get him some coffee and get his statement. Fin goes back to speak to “British Brian.” Benson makes a call to Lucy and tells her she will be even later.

Carisi enters the interrogation room and tells Ellis that he brought him some coffee, but Ellis says he is okay. Benson enters and introduces herself, adding she wanted to make sure he was clear-minded enough to answer some questions. She asks him to tell them what happened tonight. Ellis explains he was at a Halloween party. Janie and he met and they were drinking dancing, and hanging out, etc. Carisi says they need details and asks him to expand on that et cetera part. Ellis replies he is a little nervous, not because he did anything wrong. He takes a breath and Benson tells him to take his time and just tell them what happened. He said it really started when he ran into her in the bathroom. She said she wanted some air so they went outside. He thinks it was after midnight and she seemed drunk but she was fine. Benson asks what does “fine” mean, and he explains she was talking and laughing. They walked to the park and that is when she kissed him. He swears to god she was into it.

Meanwhile, in the interview room, Brian says that girl was NOT into it. When Fin asks how could he tell that, Brian says she wasn’t moving and Ellis was on top of her, thrusting. He shouted STOP, the perv didn’t hear him, he was getting off on a helpless girl so Brian called 911. Fin asks what did he do till a cop showed up? He states he went to pull Ellis off her and Ellis stood up and zipped his fly and said she was fine. Fin comments that she wasn’t.

Back in interrogation, Benson recaps that Ellis and Janie are kissing and inquires how it moved past that. Ellis says they were getting into it and he felt her pull at his belt. She fell back on a pile of garbage bags that were stacked up and he fell on top of her and when they got their bearings – Ellis begins to laugh – he says it felt kind of romantic. He kissed her again and they started to have sex. He comments that he knows, it’s not great to have sex like that by the garbage but he insists that is what it was. It was sex between two consenting adults. Benson questions that she consented, asking if Ellis heard her say yes. He replies yes, yes, they were enjoying each other the whole time until the British guy started yelling at them and the cops showed up. Benson counters that the British guy – their witness – said it seemed like she was unconscious. Ellis wonders maybe she fell asleep, but saying he raped her – that is crazy. Carisi comments that he can see why Ellis may feel that way, and Ellis states he feels that way because it is the truth. He tells them to ask Janie. Benson gets a text message and then shows it to Carisi, saying that they will – Janie just came to. Benson and Carisi leave the room, leaving a stunned Ellis to sit there.

At Mercy Hospital at 365 West 32md Street on Saturday, October 29, Rollins speaks to Janie who calls herself an idiot and got alcohol poisoning. Rollins explains to her where she was found and asks if she recalls being there with anybody or having sex. Janie does not recall. She remembers the party but doesn’t know who she was with. She realizes what has happened and says that is why she is sore down there. When Rollins mentions a rape kit, Janie is upset as she does not have insurance, but Rollins explains it is no charge. Janie’s cousin Leah arrives who is concerned and tells Janie she was raped, showing Rollins it is all over the internet, people are tweeting about it, calling her “garbage rape girl,” all thrown out with the trash. Rollins sees the photo of Janie. Janie is upset that they are saying someone had sex with her while she was passed out, and Rollins explains she had a lot to drink last night, asking if she recalls consenting to sex. Janie insists she would have never said it was okay in the ground like that. Leah says that son of a bitch raped her cousin.

Back at SVU in interrogation, Ellis appears to be sending a text on his phone and when Carisi asks if he has somewhere to be, Ellis explains he is supposed to help his father clean out the garage. Benson explains they spoke with Janie and she doesn’t remember what happened. Ellis thinks he can talk to her and she would remember his face, and Carisi explains they can do this right now. Benson asks to take a DNA sample from him and that he can volunteer – and Carisi adds or they can make a call and get a warrant. Ellis says they don’t have to do that and he signs the consent Benson gives him. He says he really has to get out of here, and Carisi says it will be quick, quickly swabbing Ellis’ mouth. Fin enters and tell Benson they have a situation and advises Carisi to step out too.

Outside the room Fin informs them the kid’s father is shutting down the interview. Carisi says he can’t do that; Ellis is 22 and didn’t ask for a lawyer. When Benson asks who is this guy, Fin says his father said he is on the job from Nassau County PD. Benson, looking shocked, says, “Patrick?” and when he recognizes her, she says his name is Patrick Griffin. Fin asks if they know each other, and Benson says he was her first partner. He nods.

As Benson walks into her office with Ellis’ father, Patrick Griffin, Benson tells Patrick that she didn’t know he had a son. He says that Ellis didn’t show up this morning and he wasn’t answering calls so he traced his cell and he thought maybe he was mugged pr worse. He sees Ellis sitting in interrogation and Benson explains that Ellis is fine and unhurt. Patrick testily asks why is Ellis in an interrogation room, and Benson explains that he is under investigation. Patrick asks for what, and Benson replies, “For rape.” Patrick says Ellis is not answering any more questions. Benson confirms he won’t be questioned any further without an attorney present. Patrick adds that he wants any statements that Ellis has made thrown out, and Benson says firmly that he knows she can’t do that. She explains that Ellis came in voluntarily and this isn’t a custodial situation; he didn’t ask for a lawyer and didn’t tell them his father was a cop. Patrick states he is taking Ellis out of here, and Benson says okay. As they go into the interrogation room, he asks for her shoot him straight and asks if there was any evidence there. Benson explains they have a witness who puts him on top of an unconscious vic. Patrick replies that he sees, it must be a mistake. Benson nods and says okay as they walk into the interrogation room.

When Ellis sees his father, he asks what he is doing here. Patrick tells him not to say another word, they are leaving. Benson tells Ellis not to leave town, and Ellis swears to his father that he did not rape her. Patrick shouts that he knows and tells Ellis to stop talking. Patrick says “Olivia, I wish I could say it was nice to see you…” as he takes his son out of the room. As they exit, Fin and Carisi walk in and Fin asks Benson if she is okay. She replies yeah, adding that she and Griffin go way back. When she got out of the academy, she was assigned to the five-five and he looked out for her and he taught her a lot. Carisi states that she went by the book, and Fin asks why didn’t the kid tell them his father was on the job? This is the first thing he taught his son – never talk to the cops. Carisi says Ellis doesn’t think he did anything wrong, and Fin says that was his second mistake, his first mistake was humping a passed-out girl. Benson tells them they have Ellis’ side of the story, she wants to hear Janie’s. Carisi says he will let Rollins know and he leaves the room.

At Mercy Hospital at 365 West 32nd Street on Saturday, October 29, Benson arrives – Rollins is still present. Janie asks when will she get her clothes back and Rollins explains when they are done processing them, it is part of the rape kit. Janie comments that sounds so weird, that she was raped, because she was. Benson asks if she recalls anything else, and Janie says not really it is still fuzzy. She vaguely remembers a guy barging into the bathroom. Leah knows him, Ellis. Benson shows her some photos and Janie identifies Ellis. She asks if it was him, and Benson says Ellis said she followed him outside and kissed him, and then had consensual sex. Janie recalls kissing him but not he sex. She remembers feeling guilty about kissing him – willingly. She explains she felt guilty as she broke up with her boyfriend a week ago and she texted him last night. She does not think she would hook up with somebody else so soon, especially somebody who dated her cousin Leah, just once. Rollins says she will talk to Leah and she leaves the room. Benson suggests Janie go over what she does remember from the beginning. Janie nods.

Meanwhile, Rollins speaks with Leah in the waiting area, who says she and Ellis hooked up last year. He seems nice up front but is aggressive sexually. Janie thought he was hot but was too drunk to realize what she wanted.

Back at the party house, Fin speaks with one of the guys there who is cleaning up. He says when a girl says she just broke up with her boyfriend, and that Ellis said Janie said that. He saw Janie pull Ellis to the door and it looked like Janie was initiating it. She was all over him. She didn’t seem any more drunk than anyone else.

Meanwhile, Carisi speaks with another girl who is a friend of Ellis, and what he is being accused of is impossible. She explains he is super cute with a great job and girls throw themselves at him – including her – and he wouldn’t need to take advantage of anyone.

Rollins speaks with another woman who says she and Janie were going to share a ride home, but when she got back from saying goodbye to her friends, Janie and Ellis were gone. Ellis kept trying to dance with Janie, trying to hook up. Janie was so wasted that she guesses he got what he wanted.

Later, Benson is outside walking outside the precinct with Barba and tells him the witnesses were a wash. Some say that Janie was too drunk to consent and some says she was fine and hanging all over Ellis. The rape kit is positive for semen and a match to Ellis but he is not denying the sex, just the consent that Janie does not recall giving. The British witness is sticking to his story that Ellis was on top of an apparently unconscious Janie having sex. Barba thinks if he is credible that should be enough. Barba asks if Benson is close to Ellis father – her old partner – and Benson explains they were, he was her mentor and a friend. Now she has to call him up and let him know she is arresting his only son for rape. Benson looks upset.

Inside SVU, Benson and Carisi enter interrogation where Ellis, his lawyer Mickey D'Angelo, and Patrick are waiting. Benson explains this is serious. Janie has been consistent with no memory of consenting. Carisi adds the DNA is Ellis’. Mickey replies this is consistent with Ellis’ story that they had consensual sex. Benson adds what the witness said and when Ellis begins to say that is not what happened, Mickey stops him from talking more. When Mickey asks why are they here, Benson explains the DA will be charging Ellis with rape and they are giving him an opportunity, as a courtesy. She asks Ellis if there is any part of his story that he wants to change or any part that he left out, now is the time and maybe they can resolve this. When Ellis says he didn’t leave anything out, Patrick stops him from talking, telling Benson she is not trying to resolve this, she is trying to bury him. Benson explains that is not what is happening here, and Carisi adds they are just trying to give him one more chance. Patrick asks before what, before they arrest him? He asks if they are going to extend him the courtesy of saying goodbye to his mother, and when Benson says he needs to listen to her, Patrick states that on his shield, he will be here first thing tomorrow morning. They want nothing more than to prove his innocence. Benson tells them 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. They leave the room.

Afterwards, Patrick comes into Benson’s office and asks to have a word. She says she is trying to be a straight with him as she can; the evidence indicates rape. He asks her to please sit down. He begs her not to do this, he is asking her as someone who used to be her friend and partner. He comments that they both know she can make this go away, but Benson states she can’t. He says this is their only child and it will destroy him. Benson explains she is sorry but this is where they are. She stands up and as she comes back behind her desk, Patrick reminds her that on their first bust, Benson followed a perp into a room alone. He claimed missing cash and drugs. Benson says they both know she didn’t pocket those drugs or the cash. Patrick says if he hadn’t testified to IAB that he was in that room…Benson states she would have been jammed up and for a rookie mistake. Patrick comments exactly, just like her, Ellis made a rookie mistake; she was drunk and he should have known better. Benson emphatically agrees that he should have; this is not the same as they were, this is different; his son raped an unconscious girl. She states firmly that this isn’t going away. He counters that she is looking at the fight of her life – her, the DA, and the whole damn department. He storms out of her office.

Afterwards in the squad room and Barba looking over the board with all the details, he says this comes down to consent. Rollins says Janie doesn’t remember but she definitely would never have had sex under those circumstance. Benson asks when was the last time she spoke to her ad memory comes back in pieces, and Rollins explains she’s gone over her story a half dozen times and she does not remember consent. Carisi states she doesn’t recall NOT consenting. Fin comments lucky for them they have the British witness in a hotel room on NYPD’s dime waiting to testify. Benson reminds them Brian was 20 feet away and it was dark. She asks if they are sure his story is solid, and when Carisi asks if she wants them to go over it again, she says yes, she does. She wants to make sure that they aren’t missing any other witnesses. She instructs them to double check traffic cams by the park and see if TARU can track down whoever took the internet picture and maybe they know something. Fin says copy that,  and the detectives get up to leave. Benson looks at Barba who stares at her and she explains she is just trying to be thorough and make sure they give him all the evidence. Barba explains he gets that she and the father were partners and he is sure that was a bond. She confirms there was – before all of this. She sighs. She explains that on her first bust, Patrick was upstairs securing two dealers and she was downstairs arresting the third, by herself and in another room. There was a pile of cash and drugs and the perp accused her of stealing it – obviously she didn’t – and IAB came after her hard. Patrick testified that he was with her the whole time. Barba comments that Patrick lied to save her ass, and Benson nods. Barba states that is in world, that gets you disbarred. Benson counters in her world, that gets you a promotion. Barba reminds her she doesn’t owe him anything and she is not pulling facts out of thin air. He sees that Janie has arrived and asks Benson if she was expecting her. Benson states no.

Later, in the interview room with Benson and Rollins, Janie is upset that on the internet they are calling her dumpster slut. She states she can’t eat or sleep and she feels anxious all the time. Benson says what happened to her was a violation and it should have never happened. When Benson suggests counseling, Janie explains she is already in therapy and she goes every day and it is not helping. She just wanted to know what he did and not tell his lawyers and the press that the nameless, intoxicated female is just as responsible as he is. Just because she doesn’t remember happen doesn’t mean she wasn’t hurt. Benson says they know that and she can tell that to the jury. Janie shouts that she doesn’t want to tell the jury, why should it be on her to get up there and make people believe that – HE should do it. Benson asks if Janie is saying she wants them to ask the DA for a deal, and Janie state she doesn’t want to testify, she just wants an apology. Rollins says okay, they will talk to the DA, and Benson adds and Ellis and his family.

In Barba’s office at 1 Hogan Place on Tuesday, November 8, Benson is there, along with Patrick, Ellis, and Mickey. Barba makes an offer that in lieu of a trial, they offer rape 3. This is an E felony and Ellis will go on the registry. No jail time, 10 years probation. Benson explains that the victim wants a statement of apology after he allocates. Patrick questions that Ellis is supposed to apologize for something he didn’t do, and Barba reminds him they have a witness and a credible victim. Patrick counters with sarcasm that it is a liberal jury pool to hang the privileged rapist high. Barba states if Ellis is convicted he faces 7 years. Ellis says he and his mom were talking and she said she could not handle it if he went to jail. Patrick reminds him if he pleads guilty to a felony and goes on the registry, he will lose his job. Benson counters they both know the realities of the state penitentiary. Patrick tells Ellis his future is gone, and Benson pleads that they are trying to help here. Barba states this is a one-time offer or he can roll the dice or go to trial. Ellis says, “Dad” and give his gather a look. Patrick looks at Benson.

In Supreme Court Part 21 on Tuesday, November 8, Judge Barth asks Ellis if he is making the plea to rape in the third knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily, and he says yes. He says he has not been coerced or forced to accept this. The judge states once the court accepts his plea he will be convicted of rape in the third degree and the sentence includes probation and community service and he will be required to register as a sex offender and Ellis states he understands. The judge also states he will be forgoing his right to a jury trial as well as almost all rights to appeal. He understands. But when Ellis attempts to make his apology statement, he starts to balk as he reads it and says he can’t – he takes it back. He rips up his statement and says he is not guilty. Benson and the others are stunned. The judge asks if he is retracting his allocution and he says yes. Barba leaps up and says the people rescind their offer. The judge asks Mickey to confirm that Ellis is sticking to the not guilty plea. Barba looks to Benson who has a look that she just cannot believe what is happening. Mickey tells the judge that is correct. The judge states the trial date will be set but right now she is calling for a recess. Janie asks Benson why Ellis couldn’t say he was sorry, and Benson leaps up and moves to Patrick. She tells him she thought they agreed to a deal, and asks him if she told him to back out. Patrick says he told Ellis to think about it, that if he raped that girl he should admit it and take the punishment. Ellis doesn’t think he did so he stands behind his decision. Benson testily states it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t think he’s guilty, the law is the law; the evidence is strong. Patrick counters that is why Ellis’ mother and he are going to sit there every day and look every juror in the eye and make sure they know that they believe in their son and refuse to let him be railroaded by Benson or anyone else. He walks off with his wife and Ellis, leaving Benson standing there, shaking her head. She turns and looks to Barba and shakes her head again.

At a later date, Ellis, Patrick and his wife arrive at the courthouse to a throng of reporters and protesters who yell out to Ellis as he passes by. Patrick glares at Benson as they pass her on the courthouse steps.

Inside, Brian testifies about what he saw and did that night, showing a photo from the crime scene. Mickey cross examines, who tries to challenge what Brian saw in the dark from 20 feet away, Mickey brings up that Brian called the cops first, not an ambulance, saying Brian wanted to be a hero, but only up to a point. Barba objects and Mickey withdraws the question.

Later, Janie is on the stand and testifies she does not recall having sex with Ellis and does not recall consenting, saying she must have been passed out. Under cross, Mickey states she doesn’t remember the sex or consenting, asking if she recalls NOT consenting or telling Ellis to slow down or stop. She does not. He brings up the phone records where she called her cousin Leah at 12:30, and plays back a recording of a voice mail Janie left where she clearly sounds drunk commenting the guy she is with is not her boyfriend. Mickey states she is speaking incoherently but clearly conscious. She doesn’t recall making the call. Mickey says she doesn’t remember making the call but she did, just like she doesn’t remember consenting but she did. Barba objects but the judge allows it. Janie says she was passed out and not matter what she said or didn’t say, that means he raped her. Mickey questions this, asking if that is what the SVU detectives and the DA told her or if that is what the internet said. He asks if that is what her feminist, liberal justice warrior girlfriends who hate her client said. As Barba readies to object, Mickey withdraws the question. As Janie is crying and sniffling, Mickey says he has nothing further. Barba asks to redirect, which she allows, and he asks Janie why does she believe she was raped. She says she never would have consented to a guy she just met, on the ground by the garbage. Sitting in the gallery, Benson nods her head. Janie says she was passed out and he did what he wanted anyway. Barba rests the prosecution and Judge Barth adjourns for the day to reconvene the next day at 9:00 AM when the defense will present their case. But Mickey asks to approach, and Barba looks back to Benson.

As Benson, Barba, Fin, Carisi, and Rollins exit the courtroom, Benson asks Barba what does he mean the defense added their own eyewitness? Rollins adds it is impossible; they did a thorough canvas. Barba names the witness as Diego Perez, and Fin says that is no one they talked to. He tells Benson he wants to know where t his witness magically came from. Benson tells the detectives to run the name and get everything they know about Perez. Carisi and Rollins walk off and Barba also exits, but Fin asks Benson if she is doing okay. She says yeah, you know, long week. He tells her to go home, she has a kid, she has a man, and asks how is that going with Tucker. She forces a smile, shakes her head, and says it is complicated, and she races off.

Later, Benson is at the Ellis home and when Patrick answers she apologizes for interrupting her evening but it is important and he may not want his wife to hear. Patrick steps outside. He asks what is going on and Benson states he wasn’t in court this afternoon and at the end of the day the defense calls a surprise witness to testify tomorrow. Patrick knows, Mickey said that one came forward, a good citizen who saw the whole supposed rape. Benson questions he is a good citizen, saying he is a career drug dealer and a snitch at the five-five, his old precinct. Patrick claims he doesn’t know what Benson is talking about. Benson asks if he really wants to do this, and Patrick says nothing. Benson says it is witness tampering and obstruction, Patrick says again he has no idea. Benson states he is putting his job at risk and his pension, not to mention he could face criminal charges. He reminds her it is like when he lied to IAB – for her. Benson begins to walk off, saying they are still investigating this witness, his phone records and bank statements. Patrick says he gets it, Ellis is his son and is 22 years old and graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth and has a six-figure job and Benson wants to destroy his life because he had sex with some drunk girl. Benson glares at him, shaking her head. Patrick says she drove a long way for nothing, and storms back into his house.

The next day, Mickey has Diego on the stand who recounts his story, that he saw Ellis and Janie were having sex and claims Janie was awake and she might recall him as he caught her eye and he was 15 feet away. There was no indication she was in any trouble; she was into and was moaning and said to keep going, saying it is Halloween week and people do crazy things in the park. Barba looks back at Benson before he begins his cross examination. Barba brings up his criminal record and that it was his third offense but avoided jail time by becoming a confidential information. He is not one anymore. He then admits that his control officer was Dennis Marino who works at the five-five, but states he has not talked to Marino in years. Barba asks when Diego was a CI did he meet any other detectives at the five-five, specifically Patrick Griffin, who was a former officer at the five-five. Mickey objects but Barba says it goes to credibility, and the judge allows it. He states he did not meet Patrick Griffin. Barba goes on to say Griffin and Marino worked together in the five-five, and Mickey shouts that this has been asked and answered. But Judge Barth allows it, telling the witness to answer. Diego says like he said, he never met the man. When Barba asks if Patrick ever approached him or coerced him in any way to testify in his son behalf, Ellis shouts out that Diego is lying and he leaps up, repeating that Diego is lying, he wasn’t there, he is making this up. To the shock of everyone, Ellis says Janie never said keep going and then states he is sorry for what he did and what his father is doing now. Patrick urges him no m ore talking and the judge asks for order. Ellis says he knew Janie was passed out and he couldn’t stop himself. He cries and says he was wrong sand says he is so sorry he raped her. The judge bangs her gavel and tells everyone to get into her chambers – now.

Inside her chambers with Barba, Benson, Mickey, and Patrick, Judge Barth asks Mickey if Ellis is changing his plea but Patrick replies no. The judge tells Patrick he is not part of these proceedings but Patrick says his son wants him here, it is his right, But Ellis says he doesn’t, telling Patrick to get out and leave him alone. Patrick leaves with some hesitation. Patrick tells the judge he wants this to be over, and she asks him if he is changing his plea. Mickey asks for a minute and Barba says he has no objection, but Ellis says he doesn’t need any more time or any more help. He wants to plead guilty in front of everyone. The judge says she thinks he already did. She tells him to prepare to accept a plea of guilty to rape in the second degree and they will reconvene this afternoon.

Later, the judge goes through the plea process again but before she accepts the sentencing the victim wants to make a statement. Janie stands up and says before Ellis didn’t think he did anything wrong and he blamed alcohol. She is glad he now understands that alcohol didn’t push her dress up, get up on top of her and force itself inside of me. She is glad he knows what he did and that he said he is sorry he raped her. She looks to the judge and says she chooses to put this behind her. The judge then imposes a sentence, and taking his acknowledgement of wrongdoing and his age into account and the fact this is his first arrest, she sentences him to 24 months in prison. His mother sobs and Janie looks near tears.

Outside the courthouse, the protesters yell out that two years is not enough. Benson walks up to Patrick who is standing alone and smoking. He asks now what, is she going to arrest him for witness tampering? She says no, she talked to Barba but asks what was Patrick thinking? He replies he needed to save his son, no matter what, no matter how. He adds that he is a cop and he protects people he doesn’t even know and here his son who is his best friend who is about to go down for 10 seconds of stupidity. He thought if the jury just heard a witness say that she was awake that there would be reasonable doubt. Benson steps back and says she is just going to pretend she didn’t hear any of that. Patrick says the whole system is rigged against him – the protesters. He can see how the women in the jury box were looking at him. Even now, they want Ellis’ head on a platter and he failed him. Benson says Patrick is still his father, no matter who Ellis feels about him or himself, for these next two years, be there for him. She says she is sorry but if there was something she could have done. He states that there was, but she chose not to do it. He adds that he went to bat for her. Benson counters, her voice wavering, that she wishes he hadn’t. She seems to begin to cry as she says she wishes he would have just told the truth. She glares at him and then walks down the steps, leaving Patrick at the stop of the stairs alone as we fade to black.

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Shay said...

While recent episodes have been leaning toward victim-blaming, this one was heavy on painting this kid as innocent, or giving him a lighter sentence if he just said he was sorry. Personally, I don't care if he was sorry and admitted that he fucked up royally and vowed to live a saint-like life and never be around a female ever again. He should get the punishment that fits the crime. Rape someone, get a lengthy prison sentence.

And, some of Benson's behavior has been out of character this season. But, we did that she still was the Benson we've known this whole time - seeking justice for the victim.

But, my issue here is how the show is doing a disservice to its audience. I don't mean the victim-blaming/rape-apologist moments that have been cropping up - though, that honestly does need to stop. The disservice is that because this show has made Olivia Benson into a superhero-like character and often times does a better job getting justice for survivors than what happens in real life. Viewers - survivors and not - have come to view this show as a escape from reality, or to give them hope that cases similar to theirs get righted in the end. Or, that it's therapeutic. This is a television show. And, while it is about sensitive issues that need to be dealt with and discussed in real life, it is still a television show. Yes, we can hope that our reality can learn from this, and do better. But, it is a not a form of free therapy. People shouldn't become dependent on a show in the hope that everything bad that happened to them will be fixed by these characters.

And, as far as it being an escape from reality. Dick Wolf created a spin-off, of a legal drama, that focused on sex crimes and the detectives that investigate them. He did not create a fairy tale story where someone is hurt, these heroes come in, fix it and there's a happily ever after at the end. Investigating these crimes is not like innocent girl gets raped by menacing man, police see his guilt, ADA prosecutes, judge and jury see the menace and send him away for life, justice has been done. Sometimes, the rapist looks like an innocent kid - like in this episode - or someone that could be a friend or family member. Sometimes the investigation, or dealing with the legal side is not always easy or pretty or favoring heavily on the survivor. And, sometimes, justice isn't served the way people wish it to be. If that was how the writers wrote these episodes, people would be bitching and complaining that it was unrealistic. Now, they're annoyed that there's too much reality in this episode. SVU is not a fairy tale. This is reality. Sometimes justice wins. Sometimes it doesn't. SVU has depicted that in the past. The criminal justice system isn't perfect. These characters - no matter how much we love them and respect them - aren't perfect.

There were many scenes in this episode that were good. But, on Twitter, because of recent episodes, there was a perceived bias against it, and people overreacted negatively to certain scenes that I do believe if the recent episodes hadn't been heavy on victim-blaming or had been in character, people would not have had much of an issue.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Shay - Interesting insights!

ladybug81 said...

I felt like this was a solid SVU episode. It was the Olivia we've always known,fighting for the victim. Chris I have to agree with you on Anthony Edwards' departure from ER,still gets to me when I see it. I also feel like he brought out the best in Mariska last night. At times over the last season or two it just felt like at times she was tired, and maybe that's how she was playing Olivia. Last night was her best acting in a while.

When it comes to the story, do I think the punishment as fitting? No. However that's the sad reality of a first offender with no record. Maybe that needs to change. I was very bothered by the claims by some that Olivia sided with Ellis & Patrick over the victim. Not sure where they got that. When he was originally going to plead out she wasn't siding with them she was following the victims wishes. I know admitting guilt & an apology didn't seem like much to many, myself included,but it was what the victim wanted. Lest we forget a few weeks ago Olivia pushed the victim to testify, that didn't turn out so well. This was the Olivia we've always known & loved, siding with the victim & supporting how they wanted to proceed. You could also tell how much she struggled with Patrick holding their past over her. Going against a friend is always difficult, and this situation wasn't any easier. Sherry did what she knew was right, but it didn't mean it didn't hurt that it was her old partner. I also feel in a way she was thinking of Noah,and how far she would go for him if he were in a similar situation.

Seeing this was the Brock Turner episode I think showing the reality of the justice system was appropriate. At least Ellis got a stronger sentence than Brock. Many people don't consume news like we did many years ago, so there's a possibility some have never heard of Turner. Now imagine,they watch the episode & are outraged that's all the character got. They want to see a change to the systemen. That starts the conversation that is needed. SVU does shed light in these topics, but it's also fiction & I think many need to remember that.

Chris I also have to agree with you in the 'rape-fatigue'. I know it's a main component of the show but we used to get DV & child abuse, I wish we could see more of that. I also wish we could see more episodes with male victims. One thing I do like more about this season is that we're not seeing the actual rape occur. That started to wear on my nerves the last few years. We don't need to see it happens every episode. I sometimes think seeing the rape or assault (as in Olivia's assault in Beasts Obsession) was done for pure shock value.

I know the show feels different, but Julie & many of the writers are still there. Plus Mariska is now an executive producer so she has more control as well. I believe Julie said in an interview that she has a little more responsibility seeing that Rick is based in LA & not NY. It feels like they're finding their footing & that's to be expected. I hope we can get more like last night.

@Shay really enjoyed what you had to say. We all love Olivia, but like you I think she's been elevated to super hero status. She's human, she's going to make mistakes, she's going to do things we disagree with.

Mandy said...

This may be the season I finally give up on SVU. With the exception of the first episode, this season has shown no creativity, no variety, no understanding of how to write good, suspenseful procedural television. The main characters have been reduced to cardboard cutouts of themselves, especially Fin, who has been sapped of almost all the personality he had when he came on the show. The unit desperately needs the grounding in reality and/or dark humor that characters like Cragen and Munch used to provide. Peter Scanavino and Kelli Giddish are both extremely talented, but they have nothing interesting to do. I keep hoping that there is going to be an episode that is something more than the God Emperor Olivia Benson Headline-Ripping Soap Opera, but I keep being disappointed.

Margot Undercliffe said...

I agree with the above and do think that we need to see a mix up of episodes, but judging from what is coming up next, that isn't happening soon. I do miss the evil perp shows where it takes a lot of detective work to catch them. It is all easy to catch/difficult to prosecute now

I feel the other characters are very much support cast and it is Benson and Barba's show. I am missing Dodds Snr as he at least has an opinion.

Ellis standing up in court and saying the guy was lying was strange to say the least. I'm not sure that kid would survive jail and he could have taken an earlier plea.

I donot understand what is with Tucker and Olivia as it was all bliss and wonder if changing the order of episodes means we have missed something.

Better Boop said...

This episode was terrible: the acting, the writing, etc. The shock of Benson's past partner getting involved fell flat; if it had been Stabler, that would have been very intense. This whole episode I just didn't care, and Benson is just becoming too dramatic with her personal stuff; it's like they make the women's storylines in the show so over the top that I honestly don't want to see them on screen. I lean towards Fin, Carisi, and Barba just because they're characters aren't bogged down by all this crap. Benson was so distracting with her glasses in interrogation, too. I don't know; her, her kid, Tucker...I don't think I can stand her much more. And I just kept staring at the snake on the side of Barba's head all was just a really bad episode.

Betty Boop said...

*their characters. Sorry, long day at work.

Betty Boop said...

I agree; we need more of Fin. He's been there almost as long as Liv and the back story he's been given before is really interesting. I am really sick of the Olivia Benson Variety Hour.

Ana Maria Câncio Brandao said...

I found the episode strong, very good. And excuse me enemies, but each episode, the more I love Olivia Benson. Mariska is a fantastic actress, and his character, his compassion for the victims, it makes me love her. I do not understand those who claim that the show is Olivia Benson. I see all the characters participating. By the way, I love Kelly Gidish and Peter Scanavino. But I understand that Olivia is the high point of the show, and so it appears more. The fact that it is considered a hero, not incomada me at all. Quite the opposite. I think she emotionally fills the need for many women to trust someone, to have a strong woman, determined by reference. I'm Latin and I live in the 5th largest city in the world. Unfortunately, in our city, we have no Olivia Benson to comfort us. We have to use the cable to see it every week. What Olivia says, does and stands for, is an example and inspiration to many. I'm a big fan. I hope SVU continue. It's great.

Cappi said...

I agree with you 100% Ana Maria. I think this was a great episode and I also hope SVU continues for many more years.
As a victim of sexual abuse by a family member starting at age 5, maybe before, and continued until this family member went away to college. Back when I grew up this type of thing was not dealt with(I'm a senior citizen.) I was in an abusive marriage for 20 years and if I had had an advocate, especially when I was married, it would have changed my life for the better. I needed an Olivia Benson. This entire show is an inspiration to me and even now makes me better understand the things that I went through a long time ago.

DaveJGA said...

Hey Guys,

I really enjoyed reading your comments on this week's episode. I felt kind of "blah" in a way after watching "Rape Interrupted" and the things that bugged me are a little different than what's been stated above.

I feel like the writers do the long time fans a disservice when they introduce characters and themes without properly calling back to episodes in the past. Like introducing an old partner from the 55 (although compellingly acted) was one of those things where it left me asking "was this ever eluded to in the early years of the show?" and "How is this relevant to the case at hand outside of providing complications for Olivia?" Look, I'm not of the school that the show should take the same tone as the early years. Like I've said before, a lot of the "grind-it-out" investigative work has been replaced by better technology. However, I feel that if the writers continue to ignore the past, it could really hurt the loyal fan base. I even remember a recent episode (a few seasons back) where they went undercover at a prison and never even mentioned Olivia's "almost rape" that happened when she went undercover. They have to do better.

Now the Tucker and Oliva relationship (while I was somewhat a fan of this in the beginning even though it made the average fan want to vomit) needs to either stay or go and they need to not tease it.

Overall I still love watching this show. The topics they tackle are eye opening. I thought this was an overall good episode and Chris, thanks for the recap and review. Couldn't agree more about the Edwards/Hargitay scenes. Explosive chemistry.

Laurie Fanat said...

There hasn't been a guest star on this show in a long time that brought a spark. There was actual chemistry between Olivia and Patrick. ACTUAL CHEMISTRY. If there is any fault with SVU over the last few years, it's that the cast chemistry has been absent for the most part. Andy Karl had real possibilities but now he's gone and his character is dead. The success of SVU in the earlier years, in my opinion, was because everyone on the cast seemed like real people, real co-workers. Now, it's just a group of people reading lines. But because Hargitay and Edwards have a past working together, their interaction worked very well and it did bring out depth in Mariska's performance.

Otherwise, a dull episode. Flat writing and the rest of the cast is window dressing, again. And Chris, your comment about "rape fatigue" is spot on. How many times do we need to have the message beat over our heads that "no means no"? We.Get.It. They need to move on and get more creative story lines.

Betty Boop said...

Your first point is great; I've watched since '99, and introducing characters that are supposed to hold significance, but that we've never heard of, is lazy on the writer's part.

Amanda said...

Do you think they are setting it up to be the last season? Olivia seems done. She doesn't get to see a lot of her kid, her relationship is having unspecified problems, she wishes that Patrick hadn't saved her job... are they setting up either a final season or Liv's departure?

Roselynn Finch said...

SVU blatantly stole from itself this time. The victim has the exact same name as the victim in "Clock," plus one letter.

Chris Zimmer said...

@Roselynn Finch - that's an interesting tidbit!

malifact said...

I think this was the best episode in a while. Really good acting by not just the main cast but the supporting actors. I admit I found Anthony Edwards' character infuriating. I'm not a parent myself, but it annoys me when parents make excuses for their children's crimes. Unfortunately, a close friend of mine was in a similar situation to the victim of this story and the attacker's parents offered her money so she wouldn't "ruin his life".

Regarding the comments about rape fatigue, I do agree the show needs to vary its stories more. But I think this one was an important reminder that just because a girl gets drunk at a party and flirts with a guy, it doesn't mean she's automatically up for sex. Unfortunately, the comment by Ellis' blonde female friend that he doesn't need to take advantage of anybody is still a prevalent attitude in these cases.

By the way, maybe I'm reading into this too much, but did anyone else think that Olivia's comment that she wished Patrick hadn't lied for her was a hint that she sometimes regrets pursuing a career in the police?

Chris Zimmer said...

@malifact: I took her comment to mean that because he lied to cover for her, now he has ruined any friendship - or memory of his mentoring and friendship - because he expected her to compromise her values.

Unknown said...

You are what is wrong with the world today.It made it obvious that this boy was as drunk as her and she initiated it. There is a difference between walking in on some unconscious girl and retracting consent after the fact. Just because she wouldn't have said yes to sex in the right state of mind doesn't mean she didn't consent while drunk. If she had chosen to get behind the wheel instead of taking off her pants would she not be held responsible for that decision? Why is it 100% the males responsibility when it comes to sexual matters? Is she some weak helpless woman who was taken despite her objections?

Either women are equal to men or we aren't. Either we are responsible for ourselves and actions or we aren't. She wanted him to apologize bc she was humiliated and felt badly? He was just as humiliated by the trial and not only lost his job, but was put on the registry for life.
It's despicable that she is OK with the whole thing and yet it is only him who is painted negatively.

LlamaJ said...

I have to agree a bit with the above comment from "Unknown". Of course rape is wrong, but I find myself just not having as much compassion for this victim as I would others. Getting irresponsibly drunk - that goes for both of them - is wrong. Did she supposedly consent in her drunken state? Who knows? Yes, he deserves punishment and did get some. But it sounded more like she was so wasted she couldn't remember what actually happened and most of her accusations were from either her cousin or people who didn't see what happened.

Draven Long said...

I completely agree with you Chris, since last season "Fashionable Crimes" the case has been nothing but rape. I am so glad that the next episode is a hate crime, but I do not want rape. We need something else.

I'm on Benson's side, and Ellis basically gave himself up to jail. But Judge Barth's sentencing was ridiculous. So what is he is 22 years old and first offense? I'm with the protesters in the final scene, 2 years is not enough.

Lots of legal action, 5 episodes in a row so far, let's keep it up.

I do also agree, this episode seemed very tiresome due to the onslaught of rape cases, and the only thing that saved it for me was Anthony Edwards' appearance. Still gets me, his final episode of ER.

adam blade said...

here's what i don't get. being drunk equals mentally incapacitated. i.e. if she's drunk she can't consent to sex, if their drunk they can't drive.
but if HE is drunk, that's no defense, he is guilty of rape. period, end of story, no leeway, no interpretation.

watching this episode, she was clearly into him and yes she was drunk but he was hardly sober as a deacon.

and women are told you can flirt all you want, you can ride him like a pony but the moment you say stop he has to stop. no consideration is made for hormones and alcoholic impairment.

so because this girl wanted to party and tease a boy to make herself feel special after breaking up with her boyfriend, she KILLED this young man's entire future. he is going to jail which means he is a convict and will never have a fair chance at employment, he is going on the sex offender's registry which means even employees who might hire an ex-con will slam the door in his face, he will be branded in what ever neighborhood he moves to, unable to live in certain areas because of proximate to schools and such. all for something she doesn't even remember!

meanwhile some child pornographer will make a deal, get 6 months in jail and no registry cause barba want's him to roll on some bootlegers breaking copyright law or something

Anonymous said...

Wow, what is wrong with some of the people here? Especially the last comment. She killed his future? She did? Not him?

I just watched the ep again and I know the comments are a little old now, but I had to comment.

The episode ends with the rapist admitting that he raped his victim. He actually stood up in court and said that he knew she wasn't conscious, but he went ahead anyway, yet you have the nerve to accuse the victim of killing his future?