I have to admit that I had my doubts about Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 7 from the preview trailer.
Concept episodes don't always work well, and the preview made it look like Benson was dealing with a psychic or something else otherworldly.
I was pleasantly surprised that "Something Happened" was nothing like what I thought it was going to be.
It was an intense hour of television, but I felt like I'm going to miss it when SVU returns to its usual format.
I've long thought that Olivia Benson is more like a social worker than a cop. "Something Happened" solidified that point in my mind.
It was more or less an hour-long therapy session in which Olivia got Laurel talking and eventually got her to confess to murdering her attacker.
Laurel: You know what I remember? That stupid National Geographic special, the antelope going after the cheetah, sinking his teeth into his flesh... I was thinking about the animals that got away. You'd think they'd learn, but there they are the next day, going across the plains...
Benson: Laurel, I want you to know that this is a very common first reaction, to blame yourself. But it's wrong.
Laurel: Not to the cheetah, it's not.
I knew or thought I knew that Laurel's father had abused her in some way from the second she started talking about cheetahs and antelopes. Something about the way she was talking made me think that she had let her father into her room night after night.
I also suspected she was making something up that had happened only in her head, though I thought it was going to turn out that her attacker hadn't raped her at all.
I didn't expect Greg Harvey to turn out to have died at Laurel's hands.
And I certainly wasn't expecting the twist that he had violated her sister and that Laurel was making up an incest fantasy because she was jealous!
Laurel, I've been doing this a long time. Women who have been raped and children who have been abused don't say 'we did this' and 'we did that.' They talk about what their attacker did to them, like you told me about Greg Harvey.Benson
I thought that reveal scene was especially powerful, with Leah trying to get the conversation back on track and Laurel rambling and rambling until she finally admitted what she'd seen.
Leah shut down while Benson cried for what had happened to her, adding to the tension in the scene.
After Leah ran away, I couldn't help wondering what had happened to her. This was Laurel's story, so I guess it wasn't important, but she just vanished and was never heard from again.
I can't help wondering what her reaction was, if any, to Laurel's arrest at the end of the hour.
I wondered whether Laurel had a mental health diagnosis and whether Leah was used to incidents like this, minus sudden announcements that she'd seen her father raping Leah.
She seemed concerned but distant when she first heard of Laurel's plight, and I couldn't help wondering if Leah had lived through many such things with Laurel and what she really thought was going on with her sister.
I was extremely impressed with Melora Walters' performance as Laurel, too. It's very difficult to play an unstable character who speaks in broad metaphors most of the time well.
Laurel could have easily become a cartoon character, but the acting elevated her role and made her mental illness seem realistic.
It was dark. There was a streetlight shining in and a breeze was blowing the curtains while he was... I kept thinking, if I could just grab the scissors...Laurel
Many of Laurel's comments were poetic. I found her descriptions of predator and prey gripping, and her descriptions of smells, sounds, and sights were wonderful. While she could be hard to follow, I got used to how she expressed herself and was able to read between the lines.
Laurel: Why do you do this? It's pity, right? You pity the pitiful.
Benson: You couldn't be more wrong.
Laurel: And you're not Jesus! You can't save me!
Laurel's relationship with Benson throughout the hour was fascinating.
Laurel was often guarded and sometimes downright hostile. She was surprisingly perceptive, and her attempt to turn the tables on Benson sent shivers down my back.
For Benson to get the truth out of Laurel, she needed for her to feel like they were allies.
Laurel was able to pick up on Benson's own experiences with victimization and tried to use that to her advantage, yet Benson remained in control of the meeting even though it seemed like she was getting too emotional to think clearly.
After calling herself collateral damage from her father's rape of her mother, I especially liked the way Benson was able to use that same phrase to get Laurel to see that her father was far less than wonderful.
Benson: All the eyes on Madison Avenue, they're all predators.
Laurel: Don't you ever feel like prey?
Benson: No. No, I don't.
Laurel: You can wear a badge and you can carry a gun, Lieutenant, but there's going to come a moment of weakness. The big fish eat the little fish and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
And in the end, it turned out Laurel was right, in a sense. She and Benson did both share the feeling that something was missing and wondered what was wrong with them that made their fathers unable to love them.
I was glad that SVU chose to create their bond around Benson's family history, not around the William Lewis rape story, because the William Lewis story has been overplayed.
Sure, Benson told Laurel that she beat Lewis with a metal rod, but that wasn't the focal point of the hour.
I think there is a lot more depth to Benson than it seems and that the writers often have tunnel vision, overfocusing on what happened to her as if that is what defines her character.
I found the discussion of her father raping her mother and then not having anything to do with her far more interesting.
There was very little in this history that I didn't know, but it hasn't been explored in such depth in a long time, if ever, and this was so emotionally rich.
I'm curious to see how this affects Benson moving forward. Once a can of worms is opened, it can't be easily closed again. Not for Laurel and her sister and not for Benson either.
What did you think of "Something Happened?"
Did you enjoy the back-and-forth between Benson and Laurel, or would you rather have seen more of the investigation?
Were there any surprises for you during the hour?
How intense did you find Benson's interactions with Laurel?
Weigh in below, and don't forget you can always watch Law & Order: SVU online to catch up if you missed anything.