"Official Story" was one of the best episodes of SVU this season. The suspense, drama and great acting by both veterans and newcomer Harry Connick Jr all played a role in an entertaining installment that veered off the show's traditional pattern, using the crimes as catalysts for great storytelling.
The episode had utilized forward momentum as the investigation went from the crime against Rand to the shameful coverup of Cori Green's rape. There was so tons of action, but it never felt overwhelming. The hour kept a good pace, highlighting all the important points and players in the conspiracy. I never felt bombarded by too much information, and it was easy to follow the investigation.
The story of the Cori's rape obviously referenced the Halliburton/KBR scandal of a few years ago. It was difficult to watch Cori and her father deal with the aftermath of her poor treatment by the company, Battle Tested, and her own government. The layers of corruption became clear as everyone from the U.S. Attorney's Office to the Mayor's office worked to protect Rand.
Rand felt so sure of his invincibility that he actually threatened the cops and the D.A. in their own police station. It wasn't much of challenge to kill the key witness, nor was it difficult to harass Benson and Amaro. Cori and her father nearly ended up as collateral damage, too, but luckily they both survived to see justice served.
One of the bright spots was the reunion of Amaro and his wife. Having her home for a few days was great for the detective... until the case began to affect his wife's well-being. Despite some of the weirdness around their relationship in the past, Amaro seems genuinely protective and loving. He was enraged by Rand's attempts to intimidate him; in fact, the harassing phone calls only solidified his urge to arrest Rand. It was nice to get a glimpse of Amaro's family life, but sad to see his wife return to Iraq again.
Did you like the brief reunion between the couple?
My favorite part was definitely Connick Jr. as David Haden. I've been a fan of his adorable screen presence since he was on Will & Grace, and he didn't disappoint as a new love interest for Olivia. Haden was confident, self-deprecatingly funny, and (so far) sincere in his desire to do the right thing. Benson was initially suspicious of him (like with all new people!), but she quickly warmed up to him when she saw him stand up to the U.S. Attorney's office for failing to bring charges against Cori's rapists.
I thought the two had a lot of chemistry. Benson obviously thought the same since she invited him over for a "nightcap." But Benson's doesn't have the greatest track record with men, especially with co-workers. Anyone remember Detective Cassidy? That got very ugly very quickly.
Will Benson and Haden make a cute couple? And what about Andre Braugher's Bayard Ellis? Are they just friends or does Haden have some competition?
Benson did make an interesting comment when talking to Haden. She said she was just getting over someone, and I have to think she's talking about Stabler. Although their relationship remained platonic, despite many fans clamoring for a romantic connection, Stabler was the only long-standing partnership/friendship in Benson's life. It might be time for her to open up to someone new.
My only minor complaint was that there wasn't enough of the ensemble of detectives working together. It was mostly an Amaro and Benson episode. But there probably wasn't enough time to spend as much time with all the characters.
Did you miss any particular character this week?