Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 4 Review: Holden's Manifesto

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On Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 4, baby Noah proves that he's truly a fighter, just like his mother,

Peter Gallagher stops by from Covert Affairs to get in everyone's way, and Rollins puts on a clinic for how to handle a sociopath.  

While this episode is mainly about a carbon copy Elliot Rodgers (the misogynistic Isla Vista murderer that created a manifesto about how "mistreated" he's felt by women his entire life, before killing six people, injuring 13 others, and committing suicide), it does a good job with mixing in the drama with poor baby Noah that ended Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 3

Benson's job is obviously extremely tense, and she does all that she can to stay with Noah while he's hospitalized. But any compromise she makes only earns her more flack from either social workers, or her new, headstrong, deputy chief.

 

If you had been here, I wouldn't have had to wait.

Dodds

The introduction of Deputy Chief William Dodds adds another layer of tension throughout the hour, as he begins by berating Benson and proceeds to make her decisions for her. He's not one dimensional, in that he doesn't seem to worry just about public perception, but his main flaws prove to be his impatience and stubbornness. 

Thankfully, Benson manages to push his overbearing presence aside and focus on what's important: her son.

"He's a fighter, he's gonna be okay."

Benson

Holden March is almost shot for shot an iteration of this year's most well known sociopath - Elliot Rodgers. John Karna does his best to emulate the unsettling and off-putting demeanor Rodgers exhibited throughout his various videos and final written manifesto, but often times it seems overdone.

But, to be fair, Elliot Rodger's own videos are hard to believe at first as well - his speech and body language so dissimilar to the general public. 

What March (and Rodgers) spew is a bunch of misogynistic bull about how they've always been "the nice guy," and "deserve" more from women then they've received throughout the years. 

And it's not fair. Why do these girls only go out with jerks? While I, despite having so much to offer, am alone?

You reject me, a nice guy! Smart! Superb!

First off, a "nice guy," will NEVER have to justify to someone that he's "nice." Something about actions speaking louder than words, right? 

Second, women don't exist to serve anyone. They weren't placed here on Earth to to be reduced to who they sleep with - or don't. If Holden was as smart as he believed he was, as caring, considerate, and all around just swell, he would've realized the hypocrisy of his words. So would've Rodgers - but that's where the mental illness comes into play. As his mother put it, he was "just a sick boy."

However, despite the likelihood of mental illness, the reasons these types of people develop such issues are also deeply rooted in our culture. The way we perceive women to the way we treat others who many appear at first to be "social outcasts."    

The episode was fast-paced and intense, with plenty twists and turns. The revelation of how and why Holden targeted his first victims was handled exceptionally well.

He knew Gwen from camp, where at the age of 11 she rejected him - so she was stabbed 11 times.

He knew Haley from high school, when she was fifteen and denied going to a dance with him because she was dating a "a black football player" - so she was stabbed 15 times. 

These first few attacks were sloppy and his inexperience sexually, and with violence, was evident. But he quickly develops a taste for what he sees as vengeance, and doesn't hesitate to kill his (very) sexually active neighbors. All of this eventually spirals into a hostage situation in his old high school, where he kills a music teacher (who married his high school crush - his sophomore English teacher), and takes the students by gun point. 

Rollins tries to develop a rapport with Holden, and she expertly frees the students and the handcuffed Amaro. She pleads to Holden's disturbed psyche, and even seduces him to an extent.

I think you're superb, I really do.

Rollins

She handles the situation, dare I say, superbly. And Kelli Giddish delivers once again as Detective Rollins. Her final scene was fantastic, and proves just how strong her character is. Hopefully the conclusion of that encounter doesn't mess with her too much (she was ignoring Amaro's attempts at consoling her). 

While there are endless parallels between March and Rodgers, their deaths are different. Rodger's commits suicide, while Holden is eventually sniped under Dodds' command...inches from Rollins face...spraying her with blood and clearly shaking her up. 

Dodds doesn't seem to be in the business of making friends, huh?

Amaro and Rollins' relationship briefly comes up again, when Holden is able to deduce that they're sleeping together. But the seemingly "smart" sociopath falls victim to the mind games played by Rollins.

I'm not a kid. These young girls don't see how special you are.

Rollins

The episode ends on an ominous note, potentially commenting on the fact that criminals such as March, or Rodgers, will always exist as long as this mentality persists: 

It is better to live a life of infamy, than a life of obscurity.

In order to relieve the Elliot Rodgers inspired madness, watch Law & Order: SVU online and post your comments below! What do you guys think about the new Chief? I doubt anyone likes him, but I feel like he's going to add some great conflict if he sticks around. 

And what about that Eric Garner reference? Amaro mentioned it to Dodds as the reason why he and Benson couldn't apprehend Holden in broad daylight without any justification - people are always watching the police closely nowadays, as they should be. 

I appreciated the balance between the case of the week, which was strong despite the iffy acting and portrayal of Elliot Rodgers, and the drama with Noah (who's such a cute baby). I hope the quality episodes continue in the coming weeks!

Holden's Manifesto Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (18 Votes)
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