Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 7 Review: Caretaker

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Sasha Alexander visited Law & Order: SVU, and boy was it intense!

The promos promised a one-of-a-kind, can't-miss story, and "Caretaker" delivered.

Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 7 was equal parts gruesome and disturbing, all while featuring a riveting story and bringing up more questions than answers.

An Unthinkable Crime (Tall) - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 7

Kudos to Sasha Alexander. I loved her as quirky Maura Isles on Rizzoli & Isles, and I completely forgot she was ever Maura within seconds of meeting Anna Mills.

Anna was an intense, complicated character who not only murdered her entire family but also sold Benson on believing she was a grieving mother until the moment it became clear she wasn't.

No wonder Benson didn't want to buy her insanity defense!

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I have to admit I'd never heard of this family annihilation syndrome and was more than a little skeptical myself.

A quick Google search shows SVU did its homework on this one. The majority of people who murder their families are men, and the scariest thing about it is that they show few warning signs before committing the act and are often model citizens.

Now here's the truth. I feel for every woman in this courtroom, for the unrealistic expectations that society puts on you. But here's the thing. That does not allow you to kill without consequence.


That said, I agree with Stone and Benson: that doesn't make Anna legally inculpable for the murders. As much as I love O'Boyle, who has been one of my favorite defense attorneys since his Chicago Justice days, his argument was totally circular. 

It amounted to Anna must have been insane because she killed her children, which she did because she was insane. That's not impressive and shouldn't have held nearly as much weight with the jury as it did.

Plus O'Boyle came dangerously close to suggesting Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Hillary Clinton were the real culprits here by virtue of being feminist icons.

What a silly argument! What does he suggest, that women should be nothing but wives and mothers so they can prevent gruesome murders?

Sasha Alexander as Anna Mills - Law & Order: SVU

Rollins and Benson are both examples of working mothers who manage not to kill their children nor to steal money from their businesses in the name of living up to feminist ideals.

I loved all of their bonding moments during "Caretaker." These were probably my favorite parts of the hour.

Benson and Rollins - Law & Order: SVU

I especially loved Benson encouraging Rollins to keep the flowers because they needed some beauty in their world, and their shared admission that they watched their kids sleep after investigating this case brought tears to my eyes.

I thought it was interesting to see how these mothers reacted to this gruesome case. Long-time viewers may remember the 12 years worth of Elliot Stabler's home life being impacted by his job, and I was thrilled to see a female perspective or two on this too.

I'd have loved to have seen an actual scene of Benson or Rollins with their kids, but there's only so much you can fit into 45 minutes or so of drama. 

Benson: You know, last night, I put Noah to bed. I kissed him goodnight, turned out the light, and then I just stood there, watching him sleep, for two hours.
Rollins: I did the same thing.
[They hug]
Benson: Sometimes life just sucks. You know, Amanda, you should keep those flowers.
Rollins: Why?
Benson: Because sometimes you need a little pretty.

When Benson and Carisi were talking in her office at the end of the hour, seeing Benson with those glasses on made me flash back to Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 2 when she told FiIn she expected herself to be Wonder Woman.

I couldn't help wondering whether Benson identified with Anna's need to be all things to her family and was questioning her own behavior and beliefs.

That's one question both Benson and Rollins had to have on their minds: could they ever snap and do what Anna did?

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Both Benson and Stone were firmly against Anna's getting off because of her mental illness. I agreed, but I thought Stone was awfully hard on her.

Anna: They're better off dead than in a world without...
Stone: Without what?
Anna: Isn't it obvious? Without me.
Stone: I have news for you. You're not so special.

Anna likely would have committed suicide upon conviction anyway, since her whole reason for killing her family was because she felt they were better off dead than without her.

But Stone's remarks didn't help and were unprofessional.

Plus I had to wonder how his feelings towards his late sister factored into his approach to the case.

SVU's treatment of Stone's reaction to Pamela's death has been uneven, to say the least. Sometimes he functions perfectly normally while other times he falls apart.

I know grief is like that, but it's a little bit too out of balance, and I thought this was a time to mention it.

Stone had to be thinking of his sister. Pamela was severely mentally ill, and if she had hurt or killed someone, she might have been a candidate for an insanity defense.

What kind of legal system do we have if a woman like Anna Mills can kill her children and get away with it?


Of course, Pamela was killed because of that mental illness, which is more in line with reality. Sadly, mentally ill people are far more likely to become victims of violence than the general population, no doubt in part because of the myth that they are violent.

Related:  Days of Our Lives: Why Social Messaging Matters

Anyway, I wondered if Stone felt Pamela's memory got tarnished by Anna's claims of mental illness or if he was standing up for the fact that his sister would never do what Anna did. I wish I'd known what was going through his mind, period.

Emilio: I have a green card.
Fin: We're happy for you. We're more concerned about your sister.
Emilio: Oh yeah, blame the brown people.
Fin: You see who you're talking to, dude?

As always, the one thing missing from "Caretaker" was that there was not nearly enough Fin. I loved his small contributions to the case, though. Fin is never afraid to call anyone out on their BS, whether it's a suspect or one of his fellow detectives. 

I especially liked him putting Carisi in his place. Carisi is constantly judging suspects for all the wrong things, and it's annoying.

Ice-T as Odafin Tutuola - Law & Order: SVU

So what did you think, SVU Fanatics?

Were you equally thrilled and creeped out by Sasha Alexander's performance?

Do you think Anna's insanity defense holds water?

And should Rollins keep those flowers?

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

Caretaker Review

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

Rating: 4.1 / 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 20 Episode 7 Quotes

Benson: No sign of forced entry.
Carisi: Coffee cups, empty cereal bowls...
Benson: Just another day.
Carisi: Until it wasn't.

Fin: Who the hell stabs a kid?
Cop: The devil.