There were suspenseful instances of false accusations, and theatrical references to life imitating art all throughout Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 11.
Does that mean it was any good? Ehhh...
Now, in my personal opinion, I hated the intro. I can understand that it's relatively unique as far as Law & Order: SVU openers go, but it was overdone. The way it was filmed (like a Lifetime movie) to the way it turned into a song sequence (that dramatic song that's perceptively descriptive of what's actually going on on the screen); it's all very fine, but it could've been toned down a bit.
I enjoyed some of the various camera angles (suitcase cam), the use of smash cuts, and the reveal of the body, but the rest of intro just set a bad tone for the rest of the episode. I get that it could play into the whole theater of the episode with Scott Russo and his partner in crime, Skye Adderson, but I just thought it was bordering on cheesy.
Out of all the various guest stars, Madison Grace portraying Madison Baker doesn't do much to keep things afloat either. Her extremely shaky acting removed me from the scene on numerous occasions.
Admittedly, Grace had a complicated enough role to play where we didn't know if the girl was telling the truth or not, but there was actually one scene where I just couldn't handle her delivery:
Benson: Madison, do you remember having sex with Scott Russo.
Madison: Yes! He was so gentle! That's how I know that the would never hurt me!
I had to play it a few times for the quote, and it just kept getting more laughable.
However, it was balanced by the guest roles' typical counterpart -- the regulars. There were many great scenes with Barba, Fin, Amaro and Carisi. Rollins appears to be absent after a tough week on Law and Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 10.
One of my favorite scenes is actually right after the one with that horrible delivery - and it includes Barba shutting down Carisi with a quip about night school:
Barba: Hold on, Madison's changed her story how many times now?
Benson: A few! Girl was traumatized and under the influence.
Barba: Which also doesn't help.
Carisi: Yeah if I'm Russo lawyer, I'm going to paint her as a crazy fan, who admitted to using drugs and alcohol, who stalked him.
Barba: Save it for night school.
Although it was a serious topic, there were enough lighthearted moments -- especially considering the cartoon-y nature of the whole thing.
Even Benson joined in on the fun and got a few zingers in:
Lenny: My source is my source - 1st amendment guarantees that journalists don't have to reveal that information.
Benson: But hang on, that's for real journalism. You're not even tabloid trash.
She just seemed to hate poor ol' Lenny from LMZ (the TMZ parody was pretty spot on).
John Plankow and Patti LuPone did great in their guest roles, and Shiloh Fernandez as Scott Russo wasn't too shabby as well.
Scott had that faux-artsy Shia Lebouf, filming himself being himself, swagger, along with a the recent faux-scandal attributes of James Franco and his relations with a younger woman.
Falsely accused, life imitates art, I get it.Carisi
These were all probably similar vibes the writers were feeding off of when coming up with the premise. Although the assailant ended up being his best friend in the end, the premise brought up some interesting ideas about avid fandom.
Although much of the exposition was lazy and clunky, the overall idea of Madison thinking it was "cheating" on Scott for her to be drugged and raped by his friend, was quite troubling.
I didn't want Scott to know that I had cheated on him! I knew that he would never forgive me!Madison
If only it was more focused and less into the theatrics. Lydia's roll could've even been cut if they had wanted to make it less haphazard.
That look at the end between Scott and a fan, with Benson frantically looking back and forth between the two of them was unnecessary as well. Just too much -- there was no subtlety in much of the execution. This is true from time to time for the show -- but depending on the specific director, it becomes more pronounced. It's hit or miss.
If you feel like re-watching head over to watch Law & Order: SVU online, or check out Law & Order: SVU Quotes for some more engaging moments. After what I felt was a strong outing last week, this week wasn't truly up to par -- despite all the guest stars.