What's happening to SVU?
While last week's installment had some high points, I couldn't find much about this week's "Educated Guess" to be excited about. For the most part, the show lacked any suspense. By the time we met Uncle George, I'm sure most of us had him pegged as the assailant. The episode also featured a disbelieving mother character and an enabling wife, which seem pretty standard for this kind of plot.
The mediocre storyline couldn't even be helped by the guest stars. Natasha Lyonne's infamous personal problems would seem to make her the perfect choice for the role of the tortured mental patient. Gia has suffered abuse for so long, unable to talk to anyone, that her mental instability were a natural reaction. Instead, Lyonne delivered a weak caricature of a mental patient, alternately angry and cagey. There just wasn't enough to her performance to really make us connect with her.
I was excited to see two True Blood alums, J. Smith-Cameron as Gia's mother and Carrie Preston as Gia's aunt, here. However, even they couldn't shake the middling atmosphere of the story. Gia's mother, Diane, really looked the part of the beleaguered mom and sister. It was easy to believe that she would avoid facing her daughter's accusation because it would cost her too much.
Preston's Bella, Gia's aunt, really captured the essence of the character's denial, but could have softened the portrayal with a little bit restrained suspicion. Her refusal to believe Gia was almost abusive.
Most of the time, it really is up to Amaro and Rollins to breathe new life into the series. At one point, Amaro invoked the ghost of Stabler when he admitted he just wanted to pound the crap out of suspects like George. Benson's response: "My old partner, he uh... there were a few times he came pretty close." Pretty close??!?
That's an understatement. But I don't think we have to worry about Amaro just yet. He may be tempted, but so far he hasn't witnessed one too many rapists get away with their crime and he doesn't seem to have the same anger management problems that Stabler possessed.
Rollins was paired with Benson a lot and, at first, the partnership didn't do much for her character. Benson's sympathetic approach to the possible rape victim was in stark contrast to Rollins' strong skepticism. But she did begin opening up to Benson after hearing about Benson's attack. Rollins claims she left her last job because of a similar issue, possibly with a co-worker, that was "not worth pursuing." It's surprising that someone as tough as Rollins would let something like that go.
Rollins also admitted to growing up in a household with both drug and mental issues; her skepticism towards mental patient Gia could really just be a result of being inured to these types of situations. And her tough exterior could really be a reaction to her childhood and former work environment.
Over time, SVU has offered up some riveting, tragic and innovative episodes, but, with such a long run, creativity in the storytelling becomes even more difficult. Lately I've been feeling that the writers are not up to the task. What do you think?