Is there a separate justice system for the super-rich?
Law & Order: SVU Season 24 Episode 6 certainly thought so. A story about a Wall Street IT manager’s rape devolved into a wealthy woman’s crusade to rid the city of men.
Lena was arrested, only to ditch an ankle monitor and run away to parts unknown, leading to one of SVU’s most unsatisfying endings.
SVU often has important things to say about how ultra-wealthy people get away with serious crimes, but this story fell flatter than most.
The investigation was ostensibly about Maggie, but far too much time was devoted to why Lena had secretly recorded men having kinky sex.
Lena deserved to be arrested. She threw house parties where Ethan was given free rein to drug and rape women, choking them while they were unconscious until they nearly died.
That made her an accessory to all of the rapes.
Why she did it was only of interest if she had used the tapes to blackmail specific individuals. When Benson questioned her, Lena made a bizarre speech about how men cause all the world’s ills.
Was this supposed to be some vigilante attempt at equalizing the playing field for women by blackmailing male predators out of existence? It didn’t make sense. And what did Lena mean when she said it was better for Maggie to be raped at her party than on the street?
Lena’s first meeting with the cops was even more senseless. She claimed to have a morality clause in her contracts, offered to be a witness, and gave the cops her card. If she hadn’t done any of that, she wouldn’t have been on their radar, and it would have taken longer to catch her.
I guess she was supposed to be a narcissist who believed her own BS since she lied to the cops without blinking an eye, claimed they’d find nothing when she knew there were a ton of tapes in her office, and then tried to turn helping Ethan rape women into some noble stand for women’s rights.
Benson: You know, if we find out that you were involved in this assault, either overtly or implied, I’m coming back with a gift.
Lena: What’s that?
Benson: A pair of bracelets.
Ugh. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she ditched her ankle monitor and promptly disappeared onto a private plane.
This supposedly showed a separate justice system for very wealthy people. But SVU has confronted and convicted wealthy predators before, so that message seemed out of left field.
Lena’s final scene made her seem akin to Days of Our Lives’ Kristen Dimera: a supervillain with a lot of money who escapes justice every time she gets caught doing something terrible.
It was as unsatisfying as it was unrealistic. After receiving that call, Benson hung up and walked away. Now what?
This story isn’t continuing, according to the trailer for Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 7. But it didn’t feel like it ended, either.
Ethan. the guy in the crow mask, was a suitably creepy predator. His motives for raping women didn’t make much sense, but they didn’t have to.
He was a predator who got off on the behavior, that’s all.
When Rollins asked to speak to him privately, I thought she would ask him if he’d seen her lecture. His comments about compulsion seemed to be word-for-word what she’d said to Carisi’s law school class.
Sexual compulsions start small. So how do we prevent them from blazing out of control?
The lecture was a great way to frame the opening scenes; it might have been a more compelling ending if another voiceover had encouraged the class not to give up the fight to stop sexual predators.
This episode was disappointing because it could have been so much more compelling than it was.
Maggie was a mousy employee addicted to work and only went to the party because she couldn’t say no. If the focus had been squarely on her as the survivor of this rape, it would have been a strong story.
As someone who worked on Wall Street, Maggie might have struggled with the belief that rape wasn’t supposed to happen to women like her. She might also have been pressured to keep quiet by people with a lot of money and power.
As it was, she was in denial for most of the hour, and if the story had been about her reluctance to cooperate and the cops trying to build a case anyway, it would have been one of the stronger episodes this season.
Instead, it started strong, only to fizzle out.
That’s not to say that SVU didn’t hit some of the right notes. Benson’s scenes with Maggie were a high point, especially when she reassured Maggie that denial was normal after an assault like the one she’d suffered.
Benson also had to discourage Maggie from entering the squad room unannounced, which could have been an emotional subplot if it had been given more focus.
The investigation was proceeding slowly but surely, but Maggie was impatient for news and wanted to know what had happened to her. Those were compelling, important feelings that got short shrift here.
SVU is supposed to be about standing up for victims, but this one went off track, and it made the story feel disjointed. Maggie went from not wanting to deal with the cops to answering Benson’s questions without explanation.
Somewhere in between, there was a random scene of Rollins worrying that she kissed Carisi too hard, too — what was that all about and will it ever come up again?
Your turn, Law & Order fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts.
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Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST / PST.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.