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Law & Order: SVU Review: Who Do We Believe?

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Benson battlesdwith the frustrations of her job and the occasional injustices of the legal system on this week's episode "True Believers."

Helping rape victims has been her life for so long that she can't help but be disappointed to see another victim be personally attacked in court. It's difficult for us to watch as well, especially because the case is damaged by such obvious lies. But unfortunately, as Bayard Ellis points out, there are officers and supposed victims who persecute people based on race.

Although we can clearly see that his client is guilty, it doesn't change the fact that this new attorney raises some really important questions about the way the SVU officers operate. Finn and Rollins accost young black men on the street because they resemble a grainy screen shot of the suspect. Amaro and Benson physically take down a suspect at gunpoint in front of his family and a screaming baby, taking the gun without procuring a warrant.

Detective Amaro

These incidents can be easily explained in this case, and the suspect's arrest was not racially motivated. However, Ellis is right to point out the disparity in treatment between white and black suspects. His "second act," as Munch calls it, is devoted to finding equal treatment for everyone under the law, which is an honorable motivation.

BUT, in this case, his presence actually casts a negative light on all of his seemingly reasonable claims.

When the suspect goes on the stand to defend himself, he paints himself as the victim of a police setup. This plays into a very real fear people have about trusting cops and also triggers a little bit of guilt on the part of the jury members because Michael is a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Even the victim was afraid of appearing to be racist when she held that elevator door open. Ellis goes so far to attack the victim's sexual history to cast doubts on her story and portray her as a slut.

These are all trite defense attorney tactics that we've seen before on the show, but they are still painful to watch. It's especially disturbing because we can see the victim, Sarah, trying to deal with the trauma of her rape while also experiencing the embarrassment of her sexual past (including that one-night stand). The whole thing was just frustrating mostly because the treatment of rape victims hasn't changed much over the long history of this show. The same defense tactics still get results and it's no wonder Benson is seeming a little jaded lately.

Other than the troubling presentation of Ellis' both sound and insulting claims, I was also upset by Amaro's response to the hearing about the gun possession charge. He seemed upset that Benson wouldn't lie to back him up. I thought Amaro was a much more upstanding police officer, so his animosity towards Benson was disappointing to see. Mostly, I, like Benson, am a little frustrated with the continued effectiveness of dirty legal maneuvers and, honestly, with how stale the show is beginning to feel.

However, also like Benson, I'd have accepted Ellis' offer to come to a softball game and get a life outside of her work. It might actually turn out to be quite healthy for her.

Do you think the show is as fatigued as Benson? Chime in now.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
  • 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (36 Votes)
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I didnt like it so much when meloni left it took something from the show dont mean to disrespect but it is going to fail alot of people dont like it .i have given it a chance and I still will but its def not doing well please get meloni back even for an end

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I've been a fan for a long time, but this season has been really disappointing. I agree with stephen sherry with all the holes in the defense. It was horrible. I'm a member of a minority, and I'm sick of minorities using their colour as an excuse for everything, telling the majority group that they're racists. They say skin colour does matter and then use it as a cop-out. Disgusting. Have a little accountability.

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Ellis does not "free rapists". What he does do is defend his clients, and to ensure that this client receives a fair trial tried before a jury of his peers, where he is to be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution in this case failed to prove their case beyond that reasonable doubt, and so the defendant was rightfully acquitted. Defense attorneys are a crucial part of our legal system. Perhaps even more crucial than the police detectives that Hollywood considers so glamorous and fascinating. If there's one thing that the old, Stabler-era SVU did which was absolutely inexcusable, it was to demonize these defense attorneys and portray them as evil, evil people setting bad men (and women) free. This portrayal is completely false, and I'm glad that the show has begun to take just the slightest of baby steps towards reversing its past sins. Hell, what we've seen so far of Season 13 has demonstrated to us that the horrendously illegal and unethical crap the SVU squad pulled in seasons past just isn't going to cut it anymore. This is a good thing.

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This was by far the worst episode of SVU I have ever seen. It deeply insulted my intelligence and I won't be watching the show again. (changing my dvr setting as I write this) Benson was raped, yet she agrees to a date with a man who frees rapists? I don't buy that for a second, nor that a jury would believe an admitted drug dealer who claims that he "just helped her inside with her groceries." Okay, question...if he was helping her with her groceries, why didn't he take the groceries from her and carry them out of the elevator? (which would have been seen on the elevator video) Instead, he watched her struggle carrying the groceries all the way to her door, then offers to carry them through the doorway? Really? And what was he doing in her building in the first place? He just happened to be selling some pot? Okay, to who? Was that pot customer called as a witness? They must have lived on the same floor as the victim, right? Otherwise the rapist wouldn't have gotten off the elevator at that floor. Also, the show conveniently decided NOT to ask if the defendant's fingerprints were on the gun. Hello?!? Do you really expect us to believe that these questions would never have been asked? On a different note, Meloni killed the show by leaving. I gave it a chance without him, and have regretted it ever since. Die SVU. Just freakin die!

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I thought this episode was excellent and very affecting.
It was involving all the way through and didn't rely on trite plot devices or the latest headlines to move the story along. And ti was impossible to know the ending until it happened. Too may SVU episodes telegraph the resolution half way through the show. This was different. And much better.

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A 3.5 because the episode had themes that were hard to watch? You must be hell on Criminal Minds, for all that disturbing depiction of ... serial killers. This is a show about detectives who investigate people raping other people for a living. This is an inherently disturbing topic. Better to show dirtiness and ambiguity rather than sensationalizing the subject matter into cheap popcorn by throwing in flashy shootouts and police brutality.