On Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 9, Benson is attacked by an onslaught of demands from everyone from child services to her own police chiefs, while a serial rapist wreaks havoc all over New York.
It's good to be back, huh?
The episode starts off in a straightforward enough manner, setting up the hunt for a potential serial rapist. However, as the hour progresses, the rest of the pieces clearly fall into place. Benson finally starts to face the reality of losing Noah, her job, and, essentially, her entire livelihood, in one fell swoop.
She needs to improve her little juggling act.
Tonight's episode also had Rollins visiting her old precinct . Atlanta was as charming as usual:
Hey, if I can get three rapes on NYPD'd dime, then that works out for everyone now doesn't it?Chief Patton
Chief Patton's analysis of their situation was an accurate parallel for that precincts' atmosphere towards Rollins as a whole – they had to made sure she "knew her place," as she put it.
Even with the lack of Amaro, Rollins was facing her own inner turmoil. Fin tried his best to offer assistance, but the lasting effects of her time in Atlanta won't be dealt with that easily. Then there's this chilling quote from her ex-partner, who claims to be stopping by in January:
Oh you know how I am Amanda, I never take no for an answer!Chief Patton
The enigmatic, yet prolific, assailant for tonight had everybody guessing at his identity. With his horrific acts spanning many states and years, and the level of precision and expertise he exhibited, Fin's guess was as good as any I had:
This guy has a pager, knows how to make his victims pass out - what are we looking for? A doctor?Fin
I was thinking more like covert ops or something crazy, seeing as how the assailant was extremely careful and stealthy at first.
As always, the Chief only adds to the problem, snapping at Olivia with some snarky, but mainly rude, remark – eventually leading to Benson's rough briefing about the "Pattern Seventeen" rapist.
However, he finally offered us a brand new perspective by allowing the discussion at Benson's briefing to be shifted to the topic that mattered the most – the backlog of rape kit testing throughout the country. Rather than allow this case to become a victim of bureaucratic doublespeak, Chief Dodds used his position of power to give Benson a necessary platform.
With all the stress on Benson recently, from baby Noah to the usual headaches from Dodds, this small exchange between her and Rollins really says a lot:
Rollins: Bad time?
Her smile is one that looks partly defeated, if you ask me.
Not as petite as you're used to, huh?Fin
Classy, Ice T.
Although tonight wasn't a direct "ripped from the headlines" episode, it touched on a larger concern in the handling of modern day rape cases. The mishandling due to lack of procedures and/or skewed perceptions of rape victims is rampant and hinders the proper apprehension of some truly depraved criminals.
As Benson put it:
What is the point of having a national DNA database, if the rapist's DNA is never entered into it?Benson
Overall, tonight was a strong and engaging hour that really put the screws to Benson from all sides. It also offered Fin in the role of protector for Rollins, and a Caresi that was a lot less crass and a lot of more finessed.
Watch Law & Order: SVU online to witness the case unfold for another time, and keep an eye/ear out for all of Dodd's snappy quips to Benson – he's still a pretty big jerk, despite his actions in the final scene.