SVU did it again!
After 22 years, you'd think they'd have to recycle tired old plots, but Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 2 presented a compelling story about domestic violence.
Sure, it was similar to some other stories, but it still held my interest and made some strong points about some serious issues.
It was ironic that The Practice's Jason Kravitz had a small part as an attorney in Fin's case because that series had a similar story once about a kid who killed his abusive father.
But this story was different enough from that one to stand on its own.
For a good part of the hour, it was unclear who really killed Dwight. It could have been Irina or Will, and there was an outside chance that they were both lying to protect little Leanne.
But who killed Dwight wasn't really the point. There was a deeper story here about how domestic violence affects families, as well as about a few related issues.
Irina had three abusive men in her life: her ex, her boyfriend, and her lawyer.
It was interesting that two of the three were involved in the legal system.
Her ex-husband probably knew how to work things to his advantage, since he accused Fin of being a disloyal cop, continually intefered in the investigation, and came across as a concerned father, even though he treated Will just as badly as Dwight did.
Fin: Did Irina tell you to get Will?
Mark: This is how you treat a brother officer? No wonder you have lawsuits against you.
He shut down Kat's questioning of Will very quickly, got Irina a lawyer the second she got into trouble, and seemed shocked that SVU didn't play along with looking the other way because of some cop brotherhood thing.
Both he and Irina used his new wife as an excuse for not taking the kids, too. They made it sound like she was the one who was controlling and abusive.
I had to wonder whether he was abusing her, too.
Another one I was curious about was Sherry, Dwight's pregnant wife.
Sherry was grieving her husband's death and wanted Irina to pay for it. But most abusers don't just abuse one person, and she seemed oblivious to the fact that Dwight had been cheating on her while she was pregnant.
That made me wonder what kind of abuse she had suffered at his hands that didn't come up during the story. We will probably never know (unless Sherry pops back up for some reason), but it's an interesting question nevertheless.
I'm not sure how I feel about Irina's lawyer being so abusive to her too.
It makes sense that Irina would seek out men in her life who would try to control her and abuse her verbally, if not physically.
It's what she knows. She's been abused her whole life.
But could a lawyer really get away with treating female clients like that without anyone noticing until SVU came along? Surely Irina wasn't his first client, and Benson couldn't possibly be the first person to say something.
I was willing to suspend disbelief on this one, though, because Irina kicking that obnoxious lawyer out of her life was so damn satisfying.
For once, it wasn't Benson's inspiring speech or her decision to make a move to protect a victim that made the difference.
Irina had had enough of being abused and realized that getting rid of the lawyer was better than having to throw another hairdryer into a bathtub.
That felt empowering, even though the entire situation was tragic.
Another thing I'm conflicted about: Carisi's decision to play hardball to try to get Irina to confess.
He wanted to get at the truth. But does the end really justify the means here?
After all, a kid's life was at stake either way, and there was a chance Will would be convicted and do hard time if Carisi played the "try him as an adult" card.
And what if his hunch was wrong and Irina had nothing to do with Dwight's death? Using Will to manipulate her could have resulted in her giving a false confession, which wouldn't have gotten Carisi any closer to justice.
Carisi: Did you think at that moment that Dwight was going to hurt you or your son?
Irina: I thought at that moment that if I let Dwight get out of the tub, it would be too late.
Of course, the problem with this entire case was that there wasn't really going to be any justice, no matter what the court decided.
Will and Irina were both victims. Self-defense requires there to be an imminent threat, so Dwight's taunts and a lifetime of trauma and abuse didn't count.
In a way, it was similar to Fin's case. Fin's years of experience as a cop led him to believe, absolutely, that Leon wasn't going to let Andre and Joelle leave alive, but the attorneys for the other side argued that there was no imminent threat since Leon wouldn't hurt his son.
Of course, in Fin's case, Leon had a knife to his son's throat, so that seemed to contradict the argument. But still.
Growing up in the 'hood, I saw how cops treated us. I didn't trust them for anything. That's why I became a cop, worked my way up to SVU because with rapists there's no gray area. The last thing I wanted to be was another trigger happy cop that killed a Black man. And that's just what I did.Fin
That whole case and Fin's reaction to it demonstrated that there are no clearcut answers to police violence. Racial bias and a shoot-first, evaluate later mentality don't help anything, but not every case is purely about those things.
Being a cop show, Law & Order: SVU is only going to go so far in the cause of showing cops in the wrong. But I thought that so far, the series is doing a good job of providing a balanced perspective rather than taking one side or the other.
Your turn, SVU Fanatics!
What did you think of the two domestic violence cases?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts.
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Law & Order: SVU continues to air on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST.