Thursday, November 30, 2017

Law & Order SVU “Something Happened” Recap & Review

Something certainly happened in this episode of Law & Order SVU. The story spent most of the screen time on Benson and potential rape victim Laurel Linwood. A ticking clock on the occasional scene cards seemed to be an effort to add tension to the episode, but as this case didn’t seem to be time sensitive in any way, the effect was wasted.  (I believe Law & Order used this effect once in a "day-in-the life" episode and it worked very well.) With the exception of a few scenes with detectives outside the SVU, the detectives and Barba were reduced to real window dressing, spending much of the time at the observation window.  I applaud them for trying something different, but I’ll admit that I had a hard time connecting with this episode.

Laurel Linwood was found at the New York Natural History Museum by a class of 6th graders. She was shaken and crying; security called 911, and she was taken to St. Vincent’s hospital and the hospital then called the SVU. She told the doctor she was raped so they did a rape kit and the tox screen was clean. Soon afterward, Laurel is at the SVU in the interrogation room; Carisi says she’s in “real bad shape” and he and Rollins can’t get her to say anything. (Benson later throws this in Rollin’s face when Rollins offers to take over questioning and Benson jabs that Rollins couldn’t get Laurel to say word one.)  Quickly, after only a few words from Benson, Laurel speaks and doesn’t see the point of talking, they will never catch him as she can’t remember anything.

My question at this point in the episode is why did they bring Laurel to the SVU if she so traumatized? Desn’t Benson - or don’t the detectives - usually go to the hospital to conduct the first questioning of a rape victim, even if they are not sure an attack occurred? And, as Laurel seems increasing unstable as Benson interviews her, someone with psychiatric experience should have been consulted. Instead, we see the detectives and Barba watching through the observation window, at least until Benson closes the blinds and turns off the audio.

When the episode synopsis was initially released, it said “Benson must disclose the secrets of her past to help a rape victim.” An NBC promo mentioned “When Olivia tells her secret”. Did I miss the secret(s)? I didn’t hear anything new or surprising, even that Benson is “not Jesus.”   We knew that Benson beat William Lewis. Why did Fin say “We need to stop this?” when Benson started talking about her father? Was he worried that Benson couldn’t handle discussing the issue, after all these years? (I would have expected Fin to try to stop Benson when she brought up William Lewis as what she could have said there could have been more traumatizing for Benson to rehash.) We knew her father, “Joe”, raped her mother and Benson didn’t really know her father, Benson admitting it bothered her he never looked for her, and that she hated him. It surprises me that Benson would still be such a delicate flower on the issue of her father after all this time. So unless I dozed off and missed something major, the whole “When Olivia tells her secret” hook fell flat for me.

I’m not sure why I found this amusing, but the lightning storm during the scene where Benson talks more about her own issues with her father seemed like it belonged in a cheesy horror flick.

At least the episode provided one surprise: Laurel was no victim of rape, her recently deceased father sexually abused her sister, Laurel was jealous of her (wondering why her father didn’t pick herself instead), and she killed the person who reminded her of her father. Laurel waited until he was asleep and then she stabbed him. She stated she just wanted her father to love her. Before this reveal, Benson compared the situation to ripples created by throwing a rock into a pond, destroying everything in its wake, by her father throwing an “insidious rock” into Laurel’s family which covered all of the family. Benson, in her whisper tones, said they are all collateral damage, and Laurel notes it is like Benson. Laurel knows she is going to prison, finally admitting what really happened. More likely she will be going to a mental hospital.  Who knows what will come out after a medical expert questions Laurel?

The advance photos released for this episode included some images of Benson with Noah, yet those scenes were nowhere to be found. I assume we’ll eventually see a deleted scene covering those photos.

Update December 8, 2017 - a (long) deleted scene has been added below.
Update December 12, 2017 - another deleted scene has been added below.
Update December 15, 2017 - another short deleted scene has been added bellow. 

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:
Melora Walters - Laurel Linwood
Joanna Going - Leah Linwood
Chris Cafero – James
Crystal T. Johnson – Meg
Lana Young – Mrs. Drayson
Kayla Diaz – Nancy
Tailyn Sandhu - Linda

Deleted scene added December 8, 2017 (Several minutes long)

Deleted scene added December 12, 2017

Deleted scene added December 15, 2017

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Unknown said...

"Listen and believe" is NOT police work

Queenmarie88 said...

UGH not a fan of this episode either. Please don't make any more like it. This is NOT what we watch the show to see !

Laurie Fanat said...

Let me be the first to say that I was appalled at how many people affiliated with the show tried sooooo hard to make this sound like an Emmy-winner for Mariska. They are practically BEGGING for an Emmy with all their tweets. The entertainment media has also been accommodating them in the same regard. This was NOT Emmy worthy. Even the "Laurel" actress was hard to stomach. If one considers what has been getting Emmy nominations in the past years, this episode and Mariska doesn't even come close.

Now, about the episode itself Chris, I think you are correct when you say that these types of initial questioning sessions take place in the hospital. Sometimes when the person comes to SVU on their own it happens in Benson's office or in the interview room, but that's about it. If Laurel couldn't speak about her assault I can't believe the hospital would have released her without a psych consultation.

I for one am so tired of the constant rehashing of Benson's problems. They need to MOVE ON.

The lightning was corny.

The ending twist was decent. Too bad they didn't find this out earlier and spent time on whether she was insane or not and have it be a legal battle. But no, we must make it about Benson.

leelee said...

There was soooo much build up in the promos about a big secret revealed? I didn't hear a big secret from Olivia? The episode was mediocre at best for me.

Anonymous said...

Despite everything Benson wanted her dad to love her...that was the secret.

Suzi said...

I usually mostly agree with the general consensus about episodes and it seems like this was a little bit marmite ( is that just a uk term??)
I personally really liked the format as it was a little bit of a fresh approach to an episode for the poor start to the season. I’m obviously peed off about the fact there was no big secret but I also get it was just some intense slightly false marketing for viewing. I did feel we saw a deeper understanding to the father issues that we’ve not seen before.... and that she used it to get to the truth. I enjoyed it and found myself sitting forward and really paying attention. (I watch in uk without adverts... probably shouldn’t but I do as I hate the uk delay... I still watch when they’re on tv tho!) so maybe that helps to the viewing process of watching it all in one go. I unlike you chris, really did connect with it this time maybe it made me feel stuff I guess.
I wouldn’t say it was an Emmy worthy episode for anyone but it reminded me of one off episode like 911 back in season 7. Or when we have intense court room scenes. ( this is what’s really lacking so far this season for me)
Good review though chris as always. I love reading your reviews for every ep.

magix74 said...

Unfortunately i didn’t really get into this episode either. As soon as Laurel’s father was mentioned I predicted that she had probably been raped by him and just had some psychotic episode when sleeping with the guy. I was close. I, too, thought a psychiatrist should have been in the room. Just didn’t seem right that the police would interrogate quite like the way Benson did.

JSlayerUK said...

Are police allowed to continue an interrogation after the suspect's lawyer walks out? Don't they have a responsibility to find Laurel a duty solicitor (what's the US term - court appointed attorney?) before continuing the conversation? I'm sure they should have stopped the interview when Leah walked out, making everything after that inadmissible in court. That hole pulled me right out of the story and I couldn't concentrate afterwards.

Chris Zimmer said...

@JSlayerUK - I think how they handled that was a little messy. When they found Laurel's print on the murder weapon, Carisi said they had to offer Laurel a lawyer, and Rollins noted Laurel's sister, a lawyer, was sitting right there. As far as I know, Laurel was not read her rights. So I am not sure what the obligation was to making sure she had another lawyer after her sister walked out. It's strange that Carisi said they had to offer her a lawyer, instead of saying they had to read Laurel her rights which would officially include that offer, and maybe that would have locked them in to providing another one when her sister left. A good question!

RBD said...

Okay, I'm a little confused by one thing in your recap. You said that Laurel was NOT a victim, but it seemed to me pretty well established (if by nothing else than the language used to describe her encounter with him) that she WAS victimized by Greg Hardy. And that experience, coupled with the overwhelming reminders of her father & what he'd done to Leah & the conflicting love/hate emotions she harbored toward him is what drove her you take revenge by killing Greg in his sleep. I mean.... am I way off base with that? Was I completely misinterpreting what Benson was saying? Because I definitely saw Laurel as a victim, just NOT a direct victim of her father.

RBD said...

*to take (not you take)

Chris Zimmer said...

@RBD - I said that Laurel was not a "rape victim." I only recall that Rollins said Laurel's rape kit showed that Greg was the one who had sex with her (Rollins did not say "rape.") Fin said Greg had no record and seemed to be an upstanding member of the community. Once they moved Laurel into interrogation room after finding Greg murdered, it seemed that her issues with her father's abuse/relationship with her sister became the real issue and that Greg represented her father. Benson later asks the detectives if they know what happened in that apartment, because she doesn't (this tells me Benson is questioning Laurel's rape story). As there was evidence Laurel had sex with Greg, and after she went on about wanting her father to love her then admitting she killed Greg in his sleep, they may have assumed there was no rape. Either way, it was never established by any evidence that Greg raped her. She wasn't the direct victim of her father's abuse - that was her sister - and Laurel seemed to be more obsessed with her father loving her in the same way as her sister. In my opinion, Laurel is mentally unstable and not a rape victim. At least this is what I got out of the episode.

Jamie Leigh Littlewolf said...

Great review, Chris. I have mixed feelings about the episode though all in all I'm getting so very annoyed and concerned about the SVU Benson show. I find it hard to believe that Mariska Hargitay is "asking" for all these ego-centric shows, because everything I have heard about her as a person states otherwise; however, that's what is happening. This episode did take a different tact on what I thought was going to be the toll that rape takes on a victim which of course it did not turn out to be at all. I agree that the stabbing was a bit of a shock and for me, anyway, lent a bit of excitement at the initial showing of Harvey laying there, stabbed in the face, blood everywhere, but it didn't go anywhere till the very end. To me it was BEYOND ridiculous that a busy unit such as an SVU unit would have NOTHING to do but stand around and watch what was obviously an hours and hours long interview and then an interrogation. And my sweet poor Barba. When on EARTH are they going to put Raúl Esparza back to the AMAZING use that he was hired for. He does courtroom drama like no one else!! He's being wasted the most right now on the show and it's really pissing a lot of his fans off! I did think it was a little cold of Barba once Laurel admitted to stabbing Harvey, that he just said "do it", when Rollins and Carisi looked at him about should they arrest her. I know they were all worried about Benson, but as other's have said, while this woman did stir up Benson's past and I, as a victim of abuse can attest to, that NEVER leaves you, and I'm sure her father stuff NEVER leaves her, that that WAS a big deal for her to disclose to this woman. It was no secret to those of us who have watched the seried from the get go, but it was intense and so I know that's why Barba was cold when he said "Do it", But this woman is ill. She saw rampant sexual abuse right in front of her every single day. My understanding is that there are 35 minutes of deleted scenes. This should have been a 2 parter and maybe then it would have been resolved in a better way for me and others, but the end was too immediate and open ended, I think.

Now about the use of Benson in general and the tone the series is taking: I mean in the pre-Noah days, we had some idea of Stabler's life, a teeny tiny bit of Munch's, maybe, and Liv's in a normal amount of screen time, and a teeny bit of Fin and his nephew, and son. But now, now ever since Rollin's sister's drama, and ever since Amaro left, it's been ALL BENSON, and this season is the WORST so far. And now with a new lawyer coming on board, who the hell knows what will happen with Barba. But where's the plot line for Fin, and poor Carisi we've seen almost nothing about him and his family or life. Sorry, I know I went off track here, but It has to be said. People have loved this show since the 1990's BECAUSE of partly what it says in the open statements: "These are THEIR stories." Not "These are HER stories." It needs to get back to the stories of the unit, not only Benson if this show has another 2 years in it to get to the magically year 21 that Dick Wolf, Julie Martin, and Mariska want it to. And they have to stop "using" character as Barba, like Fin, and utilize the AMAZING talent they have at their fingertips. Really use them for the reasons they were hired to bring MORE drama to the show, not just be a pretty picture to look at. Those are my thought's and I'm sticking to 'em.

Thanks again, Chris. :)

Erin said...

Does anyone suspect SVU's "Benson show" is some kind of attempt at cutting or 'best utilising' production costs? I know Mariska Hargitay is on a whopping salary at this point and it seems the producers/directors are simply trying to get their money's worth? If it's all Benson, all the time, that really cuts production costs such as location, catering, all the extras that come with having a full cast on set, writing staff, etc.

This is the only explanation I can come up with. I like Benson but I'm getting sick to death of her squinting into the camera about her mother's rape and William Lewis. It's done, the storyline is over, If I wanted to watch shows about angsty motherhood and PTSD I'd watch Lifetime.

It's time to branch out again. I suppose the new showrunner is the one who's decided this is how it's going to be now.

Fefe Yo said...

Great review. They just need to change the title of this show to The Olivia Benson Show. This show needs to be reborn. Get rid of Mariska Hartigay/ Olivia already. She is tired...looks tired...has a tired story...just excessively tiring.

malifact said...

This was probably my least favourite episode since the one where Olivia persuaded the woman who slept with the imposter guy to accuse him of rape. I think with a more capable actress it would have been a lot better, but the victim's acting was simply terrible. Even the sister wasn't very good. I also thought the part where the victim fantasised about her father abusing her to be going too far even by SVU's standards.

Chris Zimmer said...

A (long) deleted scene has been added!

addision said...

This is off topic but I do not know where to pose this question. Mods please feel free to move it.

What is the significance of February 22 to all of the Law and Order shows? This date has been used I can't tell you how many times.

Chris Zimmer said...

@addision - I think I've seen many dates repeated many times over the years. I don't know of any real significance with that date only. Usually the dates in the episode follow closely to the date that the episode first airs, so maybe it is just a coincidence? For example, an episode that first aired in November frequently has November dates scattered in it. That's my theory.

Chris Zimmer said...

Another deleted scene has been added!

Chris Zimmer said...

A third deleted scene has been added.