Law & Order: SVU is back and wasting no time before getting into some of the most topical issues of the day.
Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Episode 1 revolved around terrorism, attitudes towards Muslims, and the problem of women who commit crimes while living with domestic violence.
These are difficult issues that can't be resolved with an hour long show. "Terrorized" ran the risk of contributing to stereotypes instead of defeating them and of having a muddled, confusing story.
However, this episode did a good job of keeping viewers entertained while addressing some of these issues, though it could have gone deeper.
The hour began in typical fashion, with a child running away in Central Park. Olivia was there with Noah, and it didn't look like she was paying all that much attention to what he was doing, either.
Instead of the expected missing child story, the runaway turned out to be a Bosnian child who didn't speak English, and for some reason, had a loaded gun in his backpack.
No, I want to talk to this guy myself and ask him why a loaded Glock was in the backpack of a four-year-old.Olivia
Although Olivia and Chief Dodds both made a big deal about how reckless it was to leave a child with a gun, the reason he had it and why he pulled it out were never explained. This plot point got lost in the shuffle of everything else that did happen.
Had the little boy been taught to grab the gun if he was frightened? Had he been told non-Muslims should be shot? Viewers will never know, and while it may not be that important to the overall story, it feels like a loose end that should have been tied up.
Instead, the investigation led to the owner of the gun, Luka, who had a room full of guns and Arabic signs, causing the police department to go on high alert to catch the terrorists before they attacked.
We're not investigating something that already happened. We're investigating something that is about to happen.Barba
It looked like the recent incident where Apple refused to unlock the iPhones of some suspected terrorists was going to be addressed, but instead the story veered off temporarily in another direction.
The terrorists shot up a concert in the park, and Ana was arrested – and quickly identified as a potential victim of domestic violence.
Ana has to go down hard. Right or wrong, no matter how tragic her story is, that's just how it is.Barba
The problem of domestic violence victims who become criminals in order to appease their abusers is a serious one, and one that is not often discussed.
The question of how free Ana was to refuse to participate when she was being gang-raped is important, and naturally Olivia was the only one who cared.
Barba and Dodds were getting on my nerves with their insistence that Ana's plight didn't matter because she was an alleged terrorist. However, Olivia kept insisting that they didn't care about justice for Muslims and that didn't seem to quite be true.
It was true enough that the brass seemed overly concerned that being a rape victim would make Ana sympathetic and ruin their case, which was problematic, but it didn't seem like they really had any specific bias against Muslims. They just wanted to make sure this particular Muslim was punished for engaging in a terrorist act.
The constant cries of xenophobia without much evidence to back it up hurts the cause of ending real xenophobia because it makes it look like a word that's just thrown around when people don't get their way.
Olivia: With all due respect, I can't not do this. I'm just trying to do my job.
Dodds: With all due respect, you doing your job cost my son his life.
Even more interesting than the political issues was Olivia's problems in dealing with Mike's death.
The weaving of Mike's death throughout the hour was well done and realistic. The moment where Olivia saw an article about it in a newspaper that was thrown in the trash was especially moving because it seemed so normal.
Olivia and Dodds got into it and Olivia seems to agree that she's to blame. Hopefully this tension will build throughout the season. Olivia may need to see her therapist soon to try to resolve this, which should also lead to some good drama.
What did you think of "Terrorized"? Solid treatment of social issues or did it barely scratch the surface? Are you excited about what this episode promises the season holds?
Weigh in below, and remember: if you missed it, you can always watch Law & Order: SVU online.