Law & Order: SVU is at its best when it portrays senseless, dark crimes without trying to give viewers answers that make sense.
Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 8 was a prime example. The main story wasn't the crime, but the stories behind the crime, including Mike Dodds' unexpected reaction. There was even a scary moment for Olivia near the beginning of the hour that seemed to have nothing to do with anything until just before the credits rolled.
The promos kept showing Olivia frantically searching for Noah, making it look like the case of the hour was going to be the disappearance of the SVU squad leader's son. I'm so glad that turned out to be misleading! There's been so many crime drama stories about cop parents dealing with their own children's kidnappings. Kudos to SVU for going a more original route.
The scenes of Olivia's panic were well-done, but it seemed like they were out of place. They could have been foreshadowing of stories to come; perhaps that woman in the park wasn't completely innocent or wasn't just an airheaded mother after all. I was a bit distracted trying to figure out how it fit in. But in the final moments, when Mike asked how Olivia deals with this job now that she has a child, it all made perfect sense.
Go home. Talk to somebody you love. And don't make this job your whole life.Benson
Olivia put herself in the shoes of the parents she deals with every day for one second, realizing that a momentary lapse in attention could lead to tragedy. She also may have overreacted, panicking because of what she sees every day.
Having the crew go to visit Rollins at the end was a nice touch (even if it was all off-screen.) Rollins, too, is about to bring a baby into this world. How will her SVU career color her interactions as a parent and vice versa?
Mike's struggle with this case was both interesting and well done. Mike has clearly been raised to be cynical and suspicious of teenagers.
My dad has a saying. Little kids you find, elderly you find, teenagers you solve.Mike
If it had been up to him, he wouldn't have investigated this case at all. His determination to not deal with the case was about equal to his determination to find Lily's killer once the body was found. He was pretty scary, wanting to do just about anything to catch the bad guy, from coercing a confession to trying to conduct illegal searches.
Robbie: I just want to sleep.
Sonny: You can sleep as soon as you tell us the truth.
Mike: Why don't you tell us, she got in the van?
Robbie: Okay. She got in the van.
I'm glad there was a citizen filming his arrest of Gary Ryan as well as some fellow officers on the scene. Will Mike's guilt, anger and desire for justice continue to create problems for him throughout the season? His inability to let go of the case after all was said and done seems to suggest so.
As for the case itself, it was the stuff soap operas are made of, with an area where supposedly everybody knows everybody and there are no secrets, a dead guy who fathered about a billion illegitimate children and suspects everywhere who turn out to have died before the crime was committed.
Everybody knows everybody's business on City Island.Helen
Ironically, although everyone supposedly knows everyone's business on City Island, Lily's parents definitely didn't know hers. They were convinced she was a trouble-free teen, or were they just in denial?
Acting out? That's not like our daughter.Mr. Evans
Lily's best friend knew her behavior had changed, yet her parents insisted to the end that it had not. They did not know their daughter had a password on her iPad, never mind that she was communicating with an older boy who appears to have either been dealing or using drugs. In the end, they wondered why their daughter had been senselessly kidnapped and murdered, and were unaware that she had gotten into her killer's van voluntarily.
None of that makes this crime any less senseless or any less tragic, but it's an interesting sideline to the crime itself. The Evans had a bit in common with Camilla Marino, who refused to accept that her husband had ever cheated on her despite the existence of two other families' worth of children.
What did you think? Did you enjoy watching the SVU detectives go down one dead end after another until finally they found a killer? Will Mike continue to engage in questionable police tactics and embarrass his deputy commissioner father before season's end? Is baby Noah going to be kidnapped for real later on? Share your thoughts below!
Remember, too, that if you missed anything you can watch Law & Order: SVU online and catch up!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.