The SVU team has arrested a lot of child porn viewers over the years.
Usually, though, the perps are strangers. What happens when it's one of their own? Even more importantly, how does the official himself – and his wife – handle being caught?
Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 15 explores these issues in a surprisingly nuanced story.
From the promo, it seemed like the surprise perp would be someone we see regularly. Having it be Abraham, the deputy commissioner who is rarely, if ever, seen was a smart move.
It allowed the story to move forward without sacrificing any of the characters we've come to know and love.
Look. I don't want to put the two of you in a bad position. I know you're just the messenger, but this could go wrong in a lot of ways.Abraham
Abraham was high ranking enough that he thought he was above the law. He threatened the arresting officers and told a bunch of ridiculous lies about how he accessed the site by accident and/or was hacked by political enemies.
SVU was smart enough not to buy it. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for his wife.
What is this, tea and sympathy? Softening up the victim...or the suspect?Pippa
Pippa's gradual awareness of her husband's crimes and her subsequent unraveling were the best part of the hour. She went from total disbelief to accusing Benson of having been paid off to arrest her husband to a depressed, guilty mess, all within the space of less than 60 minutes of airtime.
Her collapse into Benson's arms when she finally realized her husband was guilty was one of the most powerful moments in recent SVU history.
In the end, she seems to have decided to be loyal to her husband despite his problems.
Stay in this job long enough, all your heroes die.Rollins
Rollins commented during Teddy Hawkins' arrest that this job comes with a ton of disillusionment, and that definitely was the theme of the hour. Pippa and the Abrahams' children had to face the ugly truth about Hank's behavior, and Hank himself had to face it as well.
He may have actually believed the lies he told at the beginning, and it wasn't clear whether he was sincere about realizing he had a problem and wanting to go to rehab.
In any case, Hank's suicide attempt underscored his awareness of how serious the problem was. His attempt was not at all surprising – when he asked both his lawyer and Barba to step out of the room, I expected to hear a gunshot – but it seemed to be a catalyst of sorts.
After surviving, he buckled down, pled guilty and prepared to go to jail and then to rehab.
Mike's dilemma also seemed to revolve around shattering illusions. In his case, it wasn't his own illusions, but those of his father.
Benson: Just remember, it's your decision, not your father's.
Mike: I know. It's just that he won't accept that.
It would have been interesting to see more of this conflict throughout the hour.
Clearly Mike feared his father's disapproval, yet somehow managed to assert himself. What wasn't quite clear was how he got there. Hopefully this conflict will continue throughout the season as Mike prepares for a career in SVU rather than using it as a stepping stone.
Your turn! What did you think of the events of "Collateral Damages"? Do you think Abraham is serious about rehab? What was your favorite part of the episode? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Miss something? No problem! Just watch Law & Order: SVU online to catch up, then come back here to comment.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.