After a few weeks of lackluster episodes, SVU returns this week with "Lost Traveler," an intriguing take on a kidnapping case with some entertaining insights.
While the series still relies on the same patterns and themes each Wednesday, this episode proved that the standard approach can still be entertaining... provided those elements are used in a creative manner.
The SVU detectives are used to finding resistance when they start asking questions, and the normal routine for any episode involves a lot of misdirection and half-truths. So it wasn't surprising that for much of this hour the detectives were just trying to get someone to talk to them. However, this time the series explored a lesser-known community of immigrants: the Romani people.
From school bullies to a dismissive Brooklyn detective, SVU did a good job displaying the continued prejudice against these folks dismissively called Gypsies. It's easy to see why this immigrant community dislikes outsiders so much, especially when people like Detective Dumas actually suggest this kidnapping is really a Gypsy scam. The writers tried to provide a balanced perspective on the group and, for the most part, created a more rounded characterization of the close-knit Romani community.
Another thing that SVU does well - albeit repetitively - is its "straight-from-the-headlines" storytelling. In this episode, the kidnapped child's voicemail was being hacked by a reporter, a British reporter. The obvious reference to the Rupert Murdoch scandal didn't really add much to plot, other than allowing us some satisfaction in catching the allusion and leading the detectives to the wrong suspect.
However, this reference really helped increase the tragedy of the episode because we had to see the parents move from hope to devastation so quickly. The show took an experience we've only read about and made it real for the viewers.
Perhaps the only predictable and uninteresting part of the episode was the revelation that Emma and Courtney were the killers. Those of us who have watched this drama over the years can usually spot the guilty parties early on, especially when they hang around a lot and offer up helpful clues to the detectives. This isn't the first time two young people have suddenly gone from teasing a child to killing him. It's not even the first time we've been seen a cold-hearted female killer on the show (there actually seem to be lots of them). All of this history undercut any shock at Courtney's final exchange with Benson:
Courtney: Why not?
Chilling, but not necessarily surprising .
Also, the dynamic between Amaro and Rollins is becoming an entertaining distraction from the main storyline. They don't actually make a good team (yet), but they have interesting chemistry together. He's not a fan of her hastiness and she just thinks he needs to learn to keep up. As a team, they make a good combination of cynicism (Rollins) and cautious optimism (Amaro). It's sad that the majority of the time Rollins' cynicism seems to win out, like when they didn't find Nico alive. But Amaro's optimism kept the team from focusing all their attention on Mark. Maybe they will end up making a good duo after all.
What do you think?