Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 6 Review: Unintended Consequences

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With death tolls rising daily, the opioid epidemic makes for strong, based-on-reality drama.

Many crime dramas have tackled this issue.

Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 6 tried to, though it sort of veered off into a story about abuses at a rehab center and a social worker that eventually became a vigilante.

Undercover Rehab - Law & Order: SVU

I'm always glad to see social workers being portrayed as something other than people who remove children from their parents' homes.

For some reason, almost all TV social workers are involved in ACS work, and thus people associate social workers with that and don't think social work is an honorable profession. Plus, social work is so much more than that.

So I was thrilled to see Rosemary be more like an actual social worker who works in a rehab facility to try to help girls turn their lives around.

Of course, the agency was shady and possibly involved in raping the girls, but at least social work was depicted somewhat realistically.

A Real Social Worker - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 6

Rosemary was depicted as a caring social worker who really wanted to help, had empathy for her clients, and had research to share with others about how to combat the problems they were facing.

That is until she became a murderer.

Man: Rosemary, our social worker. Rosemary, these are NYPD Detectives. Give them whatever they need.
Fin: Ma'am, we're here about Natalie Curtis.
Rosemary: Damn it. Sometimes I feel like we're fighting a war we can't win.

I was disappointed in this development. What good is it to have a caring social worker if she becomes a vigilante?

Of course, Dr. Barclay was a predator who targeted vulnerable girls with mental health issues, but that doesn't change the fact that in the end Rosemary broke most of the social worker code of ethics to get her revenge on her former boss and is probably going to jail.

Plus, if Rollins had any open wounds when she touched Barclay's body, there's a risk she could suffer a Fentanyl overdose.

Score 1 for caring social worker and -100 for a silly twist that did nothing positive for anyone.

Rollins: How do we appeal?
Barba: We don't.
Rollins: Lux is bad! There's 100 other vulnerable girls in there. This isn't right.
Barba: Sometimes the law misses right on the way to fair. You want to do something, find another way in.

Rosemary wasn't the only one who had a dubious code of ethics during the hour since Rollins decided to pretend to want a job to sneak a peek at the girls' files.

I know Barba told her to find another way to get the evidence, but come on.

I love Rollins, but her constant bending of the rules in ways that make the case harder to win instead of easier has got to go.

There were many potential repercussions from her choice, too.

Suppose the rehab center hadn't been a breeding ground for all kinds of evil but had been a legitimate social work agency. Rollins would have trampled all over confidentiality and created a ton of unintentional problems.

Of course, it didn't happen that way. It turned out the agency was committing insurance fraud and engaging in coercive sexual practices with vulnerable 15-year-olds.

They really are the perfect victims, aren't they? Girls struggling with emotional problems, mental illness, struggling with chemical addiction. Parents so desperate they'll pay anything to keep their babies alive.


Dr. Barclay's response to the accusations of billing fraud was one of the best demonstrations I've ever seen of the way prejudice against those who struggle with addiction creates problems.

Sadly, Barclay was probably right that a jury would never trust any of the victims' statements because they were heroin users and therefore presumed to be compulsive liars.

In general, there's a problem with assuming victims of sexual abuse are making it up, and it's worse when it comes to drug users. As a society, we've adopted the idea that people use drugs because they're either too stupid to know better or completely immoral.

Thus, a sexual abuse victim who turns to drugs to cope or one who is abused further while trying to get off drugs is considered to be a liar and a slut and has little recourse against their abusers.

Man: We're a treatment center for troubled girls. We get runaways once in a while.
Fin: Why didn't you report it?
Man: I learned not to report it a long time ago. If they're not under 13, the report goes into a stack of paper that gathers dust.

Just look at Krista. Her screams that this rehab was not a safe place were presumed by almost everybody to be evidence of psychosis related to heroin use until there was absolute proof that she was both being victimized and telling the truth.

And Barclay's claim that nobody did anything about girls who ran away from his program was probably valid, even if he was engaging in some practices that perhaps made them want to run away.

Carisi Questions a Potential Victim - Law & Order: SVU

I was also curious about whether it's considered rape for an addict to trade sex for drugs.

This is, unfortunately, a common practice among drug users who need to offer something if they don't have the cash for the drugs they are addicted to.

I'd think it would be considered prostitution because the addict is getting paid for sex, even if it's not in cash, and if a person is high when they engage in sex then their ability to consent is probably compromised.

But I wonder if addiction per se is enough to preclude the ability to consent.  Some people steal to get drugs too, but I've never heard the argument that they should not be prosecuted for theft because the addiction made them unable to choose otherwise.

The place looked like if you got dirt on your shoes, they'd be right behind you with a broom. Liv? Liv?


I was glad the Sheila/Noah stuff was kept to a minimum in "Unintended Consequences" and also that Benson and Sheila are developing some sort of friendship.

An Untraditional Family - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 6

It was interesting that the situation with Natalie reminded Benson of Ellie Porter. It was a nice parallel, and I enjoyed seeing her explain to Sheila that Ellie's addiction changed her and that her nastiness might not have been her real feelings towards her mother.

I'm still not sure I trust Sheila. I'm glad Benson let her babysit for a few hours, yet in the back of my mind, I'm worried that she may decide to take off with him for some reason.

I hope I'm wrong because I've had enough Porter family drama to last a lifetime and I like the slowly developing friendship between Sheila and Benson.

What did you think of "Unintended Consequences?"

Did you support Rosemary turning into a vigilante?

Do you think Rollins was justified in her secret undercover move?

Do you think we've seen the end of this stupid conflict between Benson and Noah's grandmother?

Weigh in below, and don't forget that if you missed anything, you can always watch Law & Order: SVU online to catch up.

Unintended Consequences Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
  • 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (14 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 19 Episode 6 Quotes

Benson: ME says the heroin was laced with Fentyanol. That's what killed her.
Rollins: Search of the trash nearby didn't turn up her ID or cell phone.
Benson: I don't suppose there were any prints?
Rollins: Nothing we can use. DNA's not in the system, either.
Benson: It's the saddest thing. A dead Jane Doe.

Benson: So how are you liking New York?
Sheila: It's interesting.
Benson: I'm sure.[phone rings] Excuse me. [into phone] Benson. Okay. I'll be right there. [hangs up]
Sheila: Is everything okay?
Benson: It's just a work thing.
Sheila: Oh. I'd be happy to stay with Noah.
Benson: Thanks, but I'm already calling Lucy.
Sheila: I understand.