Law & Order: SVU Review: From Russia with Love
I'm torn. On the one hand, I really enjoyed parts of this week's episode "Russian Brides." But on the other hand, the repetitiveness of the show's themes and crimes has made it difficult to be eager for new episodes. This wasn't a terrible episode; in fact, there were some pretty enjoyable moments, especially those involving Cragen. However, for many weeks I've had the same response to each episode: haven't we seen this before?
The whole Russian bride/prostitute angle has been explored before, as well as the danger of the Russian mob. It's true that these earlier shows explored slightly different stories, but the episode really repeated a lot similar themes: the secrecy of the mob, the poor treatment of the prostitutes, and the ruthlessness of the mob.
I will say that that I thought it was an interesting twist to have the Russian bride, Lena, actually be an equal partner in the scam to extort money from lonely American men. She was just as brutal as her male counterpart, Liev. It was a real move forward for the show to imagine that women could be more than just victims but also perpetrators. And she was very good at her job...so good that she fooled our beloved Captain Cragen.
Cragen's undercover operation was one of the bright spots of this week's episode. The captain is usually on the back-burner during investigations, so it was refreshing to see him taking an active role in bringing down Liev and Lena. The most entertaining part, other than the constant jokes about his age, was what Cragen revealed to Lena (or Irene at the time).
Amaro advised Cragen that the most effective undercover officers use back-stories that are similar to their own. When Cragen told Lena about his deceased wife and their inability to have kids, you could see how his past still haunts him. It really added some more tragedy to his father-figure role. We could see how it grieved him that he never had the chance to be a father. And it made it very easy for Lena to manipulate him.
On top of that, we learned a little more about Amaro's childhood. His abusive father really had an affect on his views about marriage and probably influenced his decision to join SVU. Amaro tried to use this little revelation to build a better rapport with Benson, but she wasn't as keen to start opening up about her past. Benson has been resistant to getting too close to the new detectives. Perhaps she's just unwilling to lose another partner and friend again.
While I do look forward to finding out more information about Amaro (and even Rollins), I am even more interested in seeing if Benson will ever try to build friendships with her new co-workers. But more than that, I worry that SVU might become boring if the writers don't continue to really work at rejuvenating these old storylines. Are you still hooked on SVU?