Law & Order: SVU Review: Nothing Beats a Great Pair of Legs

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You know it's going to be an interesting night on SVU when someone finds a severed leg. Unfortunately, this episode doesn't quite deliver on the thrilling promise given by its subject matter - body modification.

"Strange Beauty" is supposedly about the strange subculture of body modification. But, like many SVU episodes, the world of piercings, tattoos, ear hangings, etc. that the detectives investigate when tracking down their suspect is only a distraction from the real suspect.

Red herrings are common on the series. Just two weeks ago, genetic sexual attraction was used as titillating, albeit disgusting, explanation for the crimes of a donor dad. This time, the detectives spent the better part of the evening investigating Nina Raedo's body modification tendencies and tracking down the person responsible for giving her elf ears.

Amanda Witnesses an Abduction

It was an exciting buildup and the interesting underground world Rollins and Fin were able to infiltrate seemed like a great backdrop for the show. But, as usual, the perpetrator is just another creep with sexual perversions and some mommy issues as well.

In trying to blame the crime on his brother, Dr. Hal Brightman reveals the reason that he sexualizes the amputation of women's legs. His own mother's accident, which occurred when he was just entering puberty, warped his perception of beauty and sexuality. His patient, Jess, a girl who lost her leg as a teenager, reignites his passion for amputated legs when she displays so much confidence about her modified body.

Hal thinks he's helping women to achieve true beauty. In speaking to Rollins and Benson, he claims, "They're more complete now because of me. I transformed them." This seems like a similar sentiment for body modification enthusiasts, the joy of transforming and changing into their true selves. However, Hal's women are undergoing this procedure for his benefit, not their own. The five women he paid only did it for the compensation. Nina wasn't even a willing participant. Her path to finding her own identity through body modification was interrupted by Hal's attack.

So a story that opens with an interesting premise but turns out to be all about a man imposing his perception of beauty on other women, forcing them to conform to it. Kind of a disappointing turn, right?

The episode also gave us a brief glimpse into Rollins personal life, as her former captain came up to visit her. He made a move, and she was unprepared to deal with it, especially since he's still married. It seems Rollins is more focused on doing her job and avoiding gambling (she's doing so well she rewarded herself with a tasteful tattoo!). Will there be any romance in her future?


Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.6 / 5.0 (23 Votes)

To be honest I didn't like how they talked about the body mod-ders. Talk like 'gateway drug' and amputation being the inevitable outcome of body mod is not only hyperbole; it's quite ignorant. I liked what Jess said about it just being a different kind of beauty; that is the real motive of body mod-ders not being 'edgy' or a deliberate attempt to remain 'on the fringe'. Anyone who does that is generally considered to be a poser in those groups. Also amputation doesn't feature at all with most body mod types because the point is about aesthetic, not impeding your ability to function.
Sorry for the long post. It's just that it's important that people realise that the body mod types are just average (albeit eccentric) people. There's nothing to fear. Unfortunately TV shows like this help spread misconceptions. By the way, I'm not into any body mod though some of my friends are.
That said, I did like the twist with the psych guy but, yeah, the show's not the same without Elliot.


Hard to watch for me. Hit too close to home. I thought the same thing about Rollins. The elf ears would look great on her. I hope that girl getting elf ears dis not get elf interrupted. Love AKA Steve Brady as the Dr ....he really transformed himself.


Ever since watching the first minute of Boaz Yakin's Death in Love when it FINALLY hit home that the Nazis and Japanese are a bunch of real life unparalleled serial killers who basically got away with it and went on to become international billionaires, I have had a sick feeling of REALITY every time I see something that I now know really actually happened to someone. Of course, showing actresses with only one leg as the "fictional" victims contributes to the effect of watching this episode. Holy cats.


Gosh, another creepy episode. They are really reaching here for script material. I usually do emails while watching this and I look up hoping to see Elliot, STILL. I can't believe they renewed this show for another season. Really exhausted looking at their efforts. I'm sorry, the show is nothing without the chemistry between Olivia and Elliot.


This was not the best episode of SVU. It seems like the actors are all going through the motions but not really present. I have tried to like the new cast members, but they do not gel as a team. This show used to be one of my favorites and now I tune in based on storyline. The coming attractions intrigued me but definitely did not captivate my attention when I tuned in. What wasted material. I hope they get it right before it is too late. I do not see how this show can survive much longer at this rate.


It was just creepy............and as the reviewer noted a little disappointing as well.......... These days I'm wondering just how many more seasons this show will pull out......I'm thinking this next one may be the last.............


I had no problem with the storyline, cosmetic amputation is creepy enough regardless of the actual motive.
Question: At the end of the show, they're in the operating theater where the amputations took place. On the wall there are enormous photos of the victims, before and after. Where'd the Dr. get those made? Kinko's? Walgreens?
I'm glad to see Rollins rise more to the forefront. I was a fan of Giddish on 'CHASE'. She's a strong actor.
And, hey guys... maybe it was just me, but wouldn't Rollins with elf ears be like really, really hot? Seriously, anyone? anyone?

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Law & Order: SVU Season 13 Episode 22 Quotes

I don't mess with people's ears, except with my music.


Fin: I will never understand white people.
Amaro: Cuban-Italian.
Fin: Still doesn't make that right.