Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 20 Review: Guardian

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I've been waiting all season for a Fin-centered story.

Law & Order: SVU didn't seem the same without Fin's wisecracks, sense of justice, and insistence on working cases his way.

For some reason, he's been in the background throughout most of Law & Order: SVU Season 19.

But Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 20 more than made up for the long wait.

Fin Investigates - Law & Order: SVU

The case Fin dealt with had so many twists and turns that I questioned how realistic it was.

I know that people who are dealing with poverty, racism, and whatever else Malik and Tiana were dealing with sometimes get desperate, but the things Malik was doing seemed to be more and more over the top as time went on.

His attempt to kill the sister who had been nothing but loyal to him seemed like too much to me, even if it did wake Tiana up.

Benson: So Malik trafficked his mother too?
Fin: And they're both blaming it on Tiana.
Benson: Man, that family's had it rough.
Fin: No different than any other family growing up in the Projects. Some make it out, some don't. But we all make our own choices.

Malik's behavior wasn't the point, though. The entire story was a vehicle for Fin to grapple with whatever demons he doesn't talk about and fight for the right of a young woman in a bad situation to make her own choices.

I like Fin's no-nonsense approach and focus on individual choices. Of course, it's easier said than done to make good choices in horrible situations, and I thought Tiana's testimony did a great job of showing the other side of this issue.

When I was 13, all I wanted was a puppy. But then we never had enough money. No movies, no going out, Malik said we couldn't afford it. I couldn't sleep at night, worrying about what might happen if we couldn't make our rent. I just wanted the bad stuff to go away for a little while.


I'd like to hope there were other choices Malik could have made besides selling both his mother and his sister's bodies.

Maybe that was one of the points SVU was trying to make with this story.  I was disturbed by what was going on in that family, and I'm sure I'm not the only viewer who was.

It wasn't just that family, either. I thought the most haunting image was the baby staring from her high chair when SVU burst in to arrest her father while her mother hit the man after he got handcuffed. I couldn't help thinking that baby was going to grow up traumatized by what was going on around her.

Wrongly Accused - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 20

Fin FaceTiming his son and seeing his adorable grandson playing with the phone was an effective counterpoint that drove home the point that not every baby is born into a life-affirming situation.

Related: Get True Crime Files by ID via Prime Video Channels for Over 1,000 Real Life Mystery and Suspense Shows!

Benson noted that Malik was also a victim here, and I hope he gets some help in addition to whatever jail time he serves for what he did to Tiana.

Loyal to Her Abuser - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 20

Rachel Hilson's portrayal of Tiana was excellent.

Tiana was one of the most uncooperative witnesses SVU has ever had. She refused to admit that her brother was drugging her and pimping her out, she lied repeatedly, and she lashed out at Fin and Benson throughout the hour.

She was also sympathetic. Even the cliched reference to only wanting a puppy was effective in showing her inner pain and determination to push it aside.

Listen to me. You can be whatever you want to be. I know Malik is your family. But just because he is your family doesn't mean he wants what's best for you.


Benson got through to her with one of her signature inspiring speeches. I loved it, but I also would have liked to have seen Fin be the one to connect with this young woman.

Fin seemed to have a personal problem with a brother betraying his sister, and I would have loved to see him tell Tiana a story from his past that related to her situation and helped her understand the choices she had.

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I'm thrilled that Fin got his own story, and it was a meaty one that left more questions than answers, too.

But what the heck happened to Rollins' suspension? 

At the end of Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 19, Rollins was an emotional mess after learning that she had shot and killed the girl she was trying to protect. She also was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Yet, during "Guardian," it appeared she was back to business as usual.

Related: Law & Order: SVU Review: The Book of Esther

I hate when there's no continuity between episodes, especially when a compelling story evaporates instead of being dealt with and given a conclusion.

SVU is usually good about these sorts of issues, so I'm sure that Rollins' dilemma will be mentioned later.

But it was still disconcerting for her to be involved in this case without any explanation or resolution to the previous story.

Was I the only one who was confused by Rollins being back on the job?

Did you agree with Fin that it's our choices that matter, not what happens to us, or do you think he's oversimplifying things?

Did anything shock, surprise, or disturb you during "Guardian"?

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

And in case you missed the good news, SVU will be back for Season 20 along with all three of the Chicago shows, all of which were renewed as of the writing of this review. Congrats to one of the longest running series on television!!

Guardian Review

Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
  • 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (16 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 20 Quotes

Cop: Hands where I can see them!
Man [raising hands in air]: I didn't do anything!
[Cops throw him on the hood of a car]
Man: My sister, you gotta help her.
Cop: Keep your hands on the hood!
Man: I was just coming from the bogeda and...
Cop: You been drinking?
Man: My sister's been raped!
Female cop: Raped?
Man: She's in the playground around the corner. I was trying to call 911. You gotta go get her.

The guys who raped you, I swear to God I'm gonna kill them.