Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 8 Review: Hell's Kitchen

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Telling ripped-from-the-headlines stories is a Law & Order franchise trademark.

So I knew that sooner or later, Law & Order: SVU would provide its own take on the Brett Kavanaugh controversy.

Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 8 did just that in the second half of the hour, deftly weaving the story into a tale about the cops' efforts to stop a serial rapist.

ADA Chris Hodges  (Tall) - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 8

I was nervous when Bethany began telling her story.

Every detail of her story matched the accusation that Christine Ford made against Brett Kavanaugh, and I thought it might be a little too on the nose.

I know Law & Order: SVU is known for ripped-from-the-headline stories, but I thought it was a little too exact and that might turn some people off.

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

But despite how obvious its origins were, this story was original enough to keep my attention, and it fit perfectly into the tapestry of the bizarre case the detectives were investigating.

I don't want to get Judge Kavanaughed here.


And the show even slipped in an ironic reference to the real-life inspiration for this story! That made me laugh, though it was also serious.

Some men believe that Dr. Ford's accusations set a precedent of allowing women to destroy powerful men's lives with random and baseless accusations of sexual assault, and Hodges appeared to have bought into that.

I'm not gonna let some girl I never laid a hand on ruin my career.


And in this case, the accused rapist was arrested and charged with a crime rather than being confirmed to the Supreme Court despite the accusations against him. This was classic SVU, giving a happier ending to a grave injustice than often occurs in real life.

The case brought up a lot of questions, though.

One important issue is the role the media does and should play in rape investigations and rape cases.

Benson leaked the story of Hodges declining to prosecute Leibowitz to the media after a judge disallowed the alleged victims' testimony. It was an attempt to get their voices heard.

In this case, it had the unintended consequence of someone coming forward to accuse Chris Hodges of rape, but either way, it was an attempt to circumvent a judge's decision to exclude testimony.

Related: Law & Order: Why We're Obsessed With the Franchise

It seemed to me that the cops were using the media to try a case that a judge didn't want to try, and that made me uncomfortable even though it also seemed like it was the right thing to do.

Defendants have a right to presumption of innocence and to have their cases tried in court, and too often they are convicted in the court of public opinion before they even get to court thanks to the way the media covers their arrests.

If the judge thought the prior victims' testimony was overly prejudicial, I can't imagine what he must have thought of this stunt. I'm disappointed that we didn't get to see his reaction.

It would have been a different story if we had, of course, but it also would have made the question of what the media's role is and should be when it comes to these kinds of cases more explicit.

Rollins: Did he force you?
Kayla: What do you mean, force?
Fin: Did you give consent?
Kayla: It's not black and white. Look, I tried to say No at first, I felt like I should have kneed him in the balls, but..
Fin: That sounds pretty black and white to me.
Kayla: No, it's not...
Rollins: It sounds like your boss raped you.
Kayla: It's not rape if I say it's not!

I was glad that Kayla wasn't forgotten once the case shifted to focusing on Hodges.

Very often, SVU does just that, using the initial case as a segue into the real story the episode wants to tell, and the original victim is never heard from again.

We didn't see a lot of Kayla after Bethany came forward, but Andrew mentioned that he was out on bail and she came to visit Benson at the end of the hour.

I thought Kayla's story was wrapped up too quickly. She'd been so worried about losing her job and didn't want to testify until she was assured that the other victims would come forward too.

I realize there's not always time for everything, but I'd have liked to have seen her confront Stone about that or back out of testifying or... something!

Benson and Stone Talk Business (Tall) - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 8

That would have put even more pressure on Stone to figure out what was going on with Hodges on top of Benson insisting something shady was happening.

Stone: In order to win, I need Kayla to testify.
Benson: No arm twisting, Peter.
Stone: Don't worry. I've been learning from someone who's pretty good at this.

I'm glad that Stone and Benson are beginning to warm to each other, though, and I loved Stone's attempt at Bensoning Kayla to get her to testify.

I'm not sure if it was his heartfelt confession that he was trying to overcome his guilt over Pam's death by prosecuting other bad guys or his assurance that the other women would come forward, but he was able to give Kayla that last little push she needed to agree to testify.

Related: Get Great Selection of New & Classic Movies with the Lifetime Movie Club via Prime Video Channels!

Hodges' comment that Stone would be falsely accused sooner or later was ominous, especially considering the preview trailer for Law & Order: Season 20 Episode 9. 

I'm wondering whether Stone's recent drunken dalliances with prostitutes and the like is going to catch up with him or whether he's being set up.

On the personal storyline front, I'm wondering where this Noah story is going. Viewers have been treated to short clips of him acting out and being generally defiant throughout Law & Order: SVU Season 20, and Benson has cancelled plans with him to work on a case, but it hasn't progressed beyond that.

Is Noah angry his mom isn't home? Freaked out because of his kidnapping? Suffering from an undiagnosed learning disability that causes him to act out?

We aren't being given enough clues as to what is actually going on and I hope we see some more progress in this story soon.

What do you think, SVU fanatics?

Did "Hell's Kitchen" hit the mark or was the parallel with real-life events too obvious?

Is Stone being set up?

And what the heck is going on with Benson's son?

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


Hell's Kitchen Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (4 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 8 Quotes

Driver: I'm the victim here!
Fin: You ripped her blouse!
Driver: Did she say I did that?

Man: Just run my card. [pulls waitress onto his lap]
Waitress: All right, gentlemen. It's not that kind of club.