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.
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.
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