Law & Order sure ripped "Know It All" from the headlines fast!
Data mining and privacy concerns are in the news due to new laws Congress just passed, and Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Episode 15 didn't waste any time presenting a story about the dark side of data mining.
Of course, most consumer privacy groups aren't particularly worried about murderous developers using hacked emails to blackmail cops and district attorneys. So this probably wasn't the most realistic exploration of the topic. But it sure was entertaining!
As soon as David Willard made his debut speech about how his app was mining data for a nobler purpose than targeting advertisements, I knew this issue was going to be central to the story.
I didn't expect it to turn into some sort of crazy blackmail story, but it had to tie in somehow.
Developer: I've already been visited by Brooklyn and Bronx detectives. I'll tell you what I told them. If some guy wants to use my app to stalk women, that's his problem.
Carisi: Guys use your app to stalk women?
Developer: That's not what it was designed for.
David was a smooth-talking software developer who knew how to put a positive spin on invading people's privacy online. He seemed pretty cold and calculating, though I didn't realize he was a murderer until he started his blackmail scheme.
However, his app was already being used to stalk women so obviously it would have been problematic even if he hadn't used it for such a crazy purpose. And someone who didn't see anything wrong with an app that made life easier for stalkers had something wrong with them somewhere.
Benson: We think that the guy was someone we've been tracking. He's a serial rapist.
Lauren: Wait? Jen was raped? By that guy who kills people?
Benson: I'm so sorry.
Lauren: I don't understand. I thought that guy went after drunks outside bars. Jen wasn't like that.
Jennifer's sister Laura was one of the most interesting parts of "Know It All." Willard's description of her was so similar to Rollins' experience with her sister Kim, and to a degree Rollins herself, that I expected that to come up.
In retrospect, that may have been nonsense that Willard made up based on having hacked into Rollins' emails.
Either way, though, I was surprised Rollins had no reaction to it, not even in private. She has made the mistake of letting her emotions dominate and interfere with the case before. It's great if she's grown past that, but I'd have liked to have seen some evidence of that on-screen.
Even if Rollins ultimately did the right thing, she should have struggled a little bit since Willard's comments triggered her feelings about Kim.
Instead, the story went in a completely different direction.
I knew when the serial killer was caught less than halfway through the hour that there was about to be a major twist. It was just too early.
Detective: Lieutenant, you outrank me, but you don't make friends at 1PP by unsolving homicides. As far as I'm concerned, this case is closed.
Benson: As far as I'm concerned, it's not.
I'm curious as to what the repercussions for Benson's argument with the homicide detective may be. He was happy to take all the credit when she turned out to be right, but this was too much build-up for this to be the end of it.
Barba: What I did was wrong, but I'd do it again. Not everything done in the dark is shameful.
Benson: So what happens next?
Barba: I have a meeting with the DA in five minutes. You know I love this job, I really do. But sometimes...
Benson: I know.
Meanwhile, Willard's attempted blackmail of Barba might cost him his job.
I'm not sure how I feel about what Barba did. Obviously DAs aren't supposed to give heroin addicts money to feed their addiction, and the woman did die of a heroin overdose afterwards.
On the other hand, she likely would have used either way and at least with Barba's help she was able to testify. And Barba's payments to the family could be considered reparations for his error in judgment that contributed to the overdose.
I don't want Willard to win, either, and even though Barba came forward himself it feels like Willard got away with exposing someone's dirty secret in retaliation for his prosecution if Barba loses his job.
Plus, I don't want to have to get used to a new DA. I never used to like Barba, but lately he's grown on me. If he gets fired, it'll probably take me another two years to warm to whoever replaces him.
None of the DAs on this show are squeaky clean for some reason. Even my favorite DA, Alex Cabot, once got suspended for pretending she had a warrant she didn't have! So in the land of SVU DAs, Barba's sin is relatively mild.
No record of any calls between Jennifer and her sister after 10 PM. If she made plans with Laura, she did it by ESP.Fin
Fin got some great one-liners and he was the first to figure out that Barba was being blackmailed. But I wish SVU would use Ice-T's talents a little more. Fin seems like he's just part of the background far too much. And we still haven't heard about the results of his sergeant's exam!
What did you think of "Know It All?" Do you think Barba will be exonerated, and should he be?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Law & Order: SVU online to catch up if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.