Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 1 Review: Devil's Dissection

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Law & Order: SVU usually goes for a formulaic procedural. 

There's something comforting about knowing exactly how the hour will proceed.

Then, once in a while, SVU breaks the mold and instead delivers a creepy, weird story. Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 1 is one of those times.

Cold Case - Law & Order: SVU

A typical beginning – finding a dismembered, decomposed body in the water – quickly lead to a story that's anything but typical. I wasn't entirely surprised that last season's Gregory Yeats, who is on my top 10 list of creepiest SVU perps, was somehow involved with these murders after seeing the recap scenes. 

I would have preferred not to spend an hour with Gregory Yeats, but the story wasn't really his. It was Rollins'. She kept visiting him in jail, often without her supervisors' permission, and it certainly seemed he was manipulating her.

You're good at gettin' inside these guys' heads. Don't let him get inside of yours.


Rollins is one of my favorite second-generation SVU detectives, but this girl is always in some sort of trouble, and "Devil's Dissection" was no exception. She's vulnerable to self-destructive behavior right now, too, with Nick on the other side of the country and Benson doubting her professionalism. I wondered what her fascination with Yeats was. 

I hate to think it, especially because this is such a typical serial-killer-in-jail type of thing, but on some level is Rollins attracted to Yeats?

Amanda, I don't know what you're doing, but this isn't police work.


On top of Rollins' interest in  Yeats and potential manipulation by him, we also had the whole question of whether Carl Rudnick was actually a killer. I wish they had allowed us to see more ambiguous clues throughout the hour. Wondering whether he was or wasn't the murderer might have been fun. Unfortunately, Warner's double-checking of his autopsies pretty much answered that question.

I'm surprised, really. This kind of mistake is careless, and Rudnick is one of the most meticulous ME's out there.


Rudnick apparently led quite the double life, posing as a woman in order to steal his victims' identities and move freely throughout the United States and world, while nobody suspected him of anything. He also was quite high up in the ranks, having become the deputy chief medical examiner -- a job that Warner happened to have wanted.

I found all this a little unbelievable, but serial killer stories on TV usually are. 

I'm curious as to who influenced whom between Yeats and Rudnick. Yeats claimed that Rudnick called him after having killed his girlfriend, but who knows if that's true. Rudnick, for his part, claimed Yeats killed his girlfriend in order to get back at him for making him jealous.

He did this to hurt you and yet you didn't know about it for 13 years?


In any case, it seemed to me that "Devil's Dissection" was, in large part, an homage to Silence of the Lambs. Did anyone else get that? Rollins' visits with Yeats were quite reminiscent of Clarice's visits with Hannibal Lecter, and Rudnick had an interest in cross-dressing which, if I recall correctly, the serial killer in that film did too.

What'd you all think of the cliffhanger, where Susie's body was found? Was it enough to keep you watching the second hour of the SVU premiere event? Share your thoughts below!

If you missed anything, don't forget you can watch Law & Order: SVU online before joining in the discussion.

Devil's Dissection Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.4 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 1 Quotes

Another coincidence, Rollins?


We have two options. One is bad. The other is worse. Either we missed one or... Yeats has a copycat.