Law & Order: SVU Review: The Debut of Danny Pino
Welcome to SVU, Detective Amaro! While I'm still not a hundred percent about Rollins, I think I'm really going to enjoy watching Danny Pino as Amaro. His introductory episode may have been standard SVU fare, but he really stood out as an interesting character in this week's episode, "Personal Fouls."
Kelli Giddish's Detective Rollins didn't have much to do this week, which was fine by me. Her (over) eagerness and silly flirtatious questioning of last week's perp was a little grating, but I still hold out hope that she can develop into a more watchable character.
Unlike Rollins, Amaro transferred in with reserve, despite that crazy beard from his Narcotics stint. He never responded to Benson's hostility with anything more than single question. He was very mature about it, especially given the magnitude of Benson's bitchiness this episode. Although I understand she's still mourning the loss of her partner for the last twelve years, by the middle of the episode, I'd had enough of the snotty quips.
What really worked about Amaro is that while he was very much a presence throughout the investigation, he let the other, more experienced detectives, take the lead as he learned the ropes. He's also a bit mysterious. His wife is in Iraq for propaganda reasons, but what was with that photo of the little girl? He was going to put it on his desk, then changed his mind and replaced it with a photo of him and his friends. His character has some subtlety and it will be entertaining to watch his back story be revealed throughout the season.
As for the main plot, it was pretty typical fare for SVU. I liked some of the interesting spins on the usual story, like the use of a basketball star as a victim of sexual abuse. The coach's preying on poor, ethnic children and their families was disturbing, especially because he thought he was entitled to touch the boys since he helped them out of their situations. A disturbing line from his new star player, Devon, may not overtly mention the abuse, but it definitely points out how easily these sexual acts can be excused:
You do for Ray, Ray do for you.
By the episode's end, big-time star Prince Miller publicly admits to his abuse at Ray Master's hands and urges other victims to come forward. This scene was, no doubt, meant to be encouraging to victims of abuse, because a powerful man like Prince came forward despite the embarrassment of his admission. It was a touching moment, especially when it was followed by Devon breaking down while watching Prince's press conference.
It was a good episode, but not a great one. What's lacking is the charisma of the ensemble. Where was Munch? Finn had some good moments, commenting on the difficulty of black and Hispanic males to admit to abuse, but he still feels underused. This group is not yet working as a team, and maybe that's Olivia's fault. Or maybe the group just lacks chemistry. I can't wait to see if Benson and Amaro can move past their cold start.
Do you think the team can stir up some chemistry together?