Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12 Review: The Undiscovered Country

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I was beyond excited when I heard that Sam Waterson and Philip Winchester were going to guest star on Law & Order: SVU.

I've been a fan of the Law & Order franchise from the beginning and Sam Waterson for longer than that. I still remember his role on the short-lived I'll Fly Away, and I love him on Grace & Frankie.

I was heartbroken when Chicago Justice was canceled after only one season, so seeing Peter Stone again was doubly exciting. I didn't expect Ben Stone to die, nor did I expect Barba to resign so that Peter could take his place, though.

Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12 was a powerful hour of television that was full of surprises. I'm not quite sure how I feel about any of this.

Taking Sides - Law & Order: SVU

Exit stories are always risky. Viewers get attached to characters and seeing them go is heartbreaking!

I mean, I'm still not over Sharon Raydor's death on Major Crimes, and now there was a death and a resignation all in one shot.

I wasn't too broken up about Ben Stone's death, though. It was surprising, but he hasn't been seen in 20 years and considering the reasons Michael Moriarity left the original series, it wasn't likely he was ever going to return, not even for a cameo appearance.

Besides, Stone's death was a vehicle to get Peter back to New York, and I can't say no to that!

Introducing Peter Stone - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12

I loved McCoy's discussion with Peter about his father.

That was a bit of unfinished business from Peter's Chicago Justice days that I'm glad was not forgotten. McCoy was Ben Stone's replacement and knew him very well, so it was fitting for him to tell Peter he was proud of him.

Stone: How did you know I'd say yes?
McCoy: Because you have more of your father in you than you realize.

Peter following in his father's footsteps will be even more meaningful now that he is gone and will never tell him that he's glad that he did. 

I hate to lose Barba, though.

DAs have always come and gone on the various iterations of the Law & Order franchise, and SVU is no exception.

Barba isn't my absolute favorite SVU DA -- that honor goes to Alex Cabot and always will. But he's pretty close.

I loved his closeness with Benson, the way he expressed his Hispanic heritage from time to time, and his tendency to wrestle with the ethics of a case.

And of course, I had hoped his friendship with Benson would grow into something more. His support of her and Noah and their general chemistry made them an interesting potential couple in my eyes.

Benson: I feel so guilty.
Barba: You? What did you do?
Benson: I called you about this case.
Barba: Don't. How long have we known each other? Five years?
Benson: Six.
Barba: The world was different then. It was all black and white, good guys and bad guys. It was High Noon, I was Gary Cooper. Then you weaseled your way into my world and all of a sudden there were shades of gray. There were blues and greens. You opened my heart and now I'm you. And I thank you for that. But I have to move on.

As far as I'm concerned, Barba's last words to Benson were proof of his love for her. It was an amazing speech in its own right, but I thought it was romantic, and I loved him kissing her forehead.

I guess if Barba had to go to make way for Stone, this was the way to do it, but I hope we see him again someday.

Barba's Anguish - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12

It was one of the most powerful stories on Law & Order: SVU in a long time.

Maggie: It's not like I was going to hold a pillow over his mouth. There are humane ways. We were just waiting for a court order.
Rollins: To kill your son.
Maggie: To end his suffering.

When the cops got Aaron within the first ten minutes of the hour, I knew there had to be a lot more to the story than a man going crazy and kidnapping his infant son.

What followed were some extremely emotional performances surrounding the fate of baby Drew. I really felt both for Maggie, who felt it was cruel to keep Drew alive, and Aaron, who loved his son too much to fathom letting him go.

I just wish they'd chosen a different last name for the family. Householder was such a silly name that when Fin said he'd seen Mr. Householder on security footage I thought he was being sarcastic!

A Difficult Decision - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12

I can't imagine the pain the Householders must have been in, seeing their infant son in this condition and realizing that their inability to agree on what to do for him was tearing their marriage apart.

I didn't blame Barba for pulling the plug even though the more logical thing to do would have been to use his connections to get the judge to expedite the court order allowing his family to do.

That wouldn't have been as dramatic, of course, and wouldn't have led to Barba's resignation, but it was an option.

Stone: Do you feel guilty for what you've done?
Barba: Do you feel guilty for what you're doing now?
Stone: Answer the question.
Barba: I did what I thought was right.
Stone: Do you feel guilty, sir?
Barba: Yes. I do.

Peter Stone has some big shoes to fill. Benson will probably see him as the man who unseated her friend, and the rest of the team may also take a while to warm up to him.

Plus there's always going to be the question of whether he was hired simply because of his father's name. I loved Benson telling him she hoped he sucks. But I'm also glad he didn't live down to that.

Stone did a great job cross-examining Barba, so good that I held my breath until the verdict was read.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of him when SVU returns. The three-week hiatus should help me get over the loss of Barba, and I know he often ended up learning some hard truths when he worked in Chicago.

What did you think of "The Undiscovered Country"? 

Was I the only one who cried through most of the hour?

Are you excited to see Peter Stone back?

What are your hopes for the last third of the season when SVU returns?

Weigh in below, and don't forget you can watch Law & Order: SVU online if you missed anything or just want to see Barba one last time.

The Undiscovered Country Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (37 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 12 Quotes

Maggie: When he was two months old, Aaron noticed he was struggling to breathe. He has mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. It's a genetic thing.
Benson: So soon Drew won't be able to breathe on his own.
Maggie: I spend more time in Mercy Hospital than at home.

Typical Tuesday afternoon. The mom goes out to do her nails and do some shopping, dad comes home, duct tapes the sitter and takes their 10-month old son.