Wow. Law & Order: SVU did the impossible.
Brian Cassidy is my least favorite recurring character and his on-again off-again relationship with Olivia needs to stay firmly in OFF mode.
But Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 16 offered a compelling backstory for Cassidy and an entertaining hour of television, even if some of it was incredibly unrealistic.
I'm not sure that I buy the idea of nobody suspecting Cassidy was a sexual assault victim before this. He worked in SVU for a year, and SVU detectives should be more sensitive to the signs since it's their job to work with survivors.
But then again, Cassidy's stint with SVU was way back during Law & Order: SVU Season 1, and I can't remember if he kept everyone at arm's length or not. I remember he went to Narcotics instead because SVU was too much for him.
Plus, SVU was less sensitive to issues surrounding male rape in the early days. So I'll give them a pass on this seemingly made-up backstory.
Cassidy: I'm damaged goods. I see it every time I look in the mirror.
Stone: I think you should talk to Liv.
Cassidy: No. She can't know. You have to promise me you won't tell her.
Stone: She can help you.
Cassidy: No! She's the only person who ever saw any good in me. I need that.
Cassidy's reluctance to testify or even for anyone to know -- especially Olivia, whose opinion he respects -- was consistent with sexual abuse victims. Olivia was just too close to see it.
That's why she was in the unusual position of trying to help someone who very clearly and unequivocally didn't want her help.
It was also why she didn't see the signs and didn't understand why Cassidy didn't tell her when they were together, yet told Stone almost immediately.
Of course, Cassidy didn't tell Stone willingly. He was sort of forced to talk when Stone stopped him from killing Gary!
Stone: That's a Colt. Your service weapon's a Glock.
Cassidy: You don't want to be here.
Stone: You gonna shoot me too? Cause you're gonna have to go through me. Don't let him ruin your life.
Cassidy: He already did. He needs to die after what he did to that kid, after what he did to me.
I found it disturbing that Stone knew Cassidy was wandering around with murderous rage towards Gary yet pretty much left him to his own devices.
Yes, Stone was with him for most of the road trip, but it was predictable that Cassidy would snap again, and Stone didn't do as much as alert Benson or anyone!
Cassidy: I'm not one of your survivors. I'm a cop.
Benson: I know that. But -
Cassidy: Your pep talks and your support groups don't work on me. The best thing for us would have been if you never saw that photo.
Benson: Okay, clearly I'm saying the wrong thing here but I care about you and I don't want you to keep running away from this.
Cassidy: I'm not hurting your case.
Benson: It isn't about the case. I'm scared, Brian. I'm scared if you don't deal with this one day I'm gonna get a call that it's you they found with a plastic bag over your head.
And while Benson convincing Cassidy to testify was a nice ending to the story, the fact is that Cassidy attacking Gary in front of Gary's attorney pretty much destroyed his credibility.
Benson's inspiring speech about doing it for Cassidy's own sake aside, that's a serious problem.
That defense attorney got Leo's testimony thrown out because he had a drink even though he was not visibly intoxicated. So she'd make mincemeat out of Cassidy's testimony -- if she didn't succeed in having him barred from testifying.
Obviously, that didn't happen, but since she accused Stone of staging Cassidy's attack on Gary, it easily could have.
And in any case, I don't agree with Benson that Cassidy testifying would be healing for him regardless of what happened in court. If his testimony was thrown out or Gary wasn't convicted, he could easily try a third time to kill Gary.
Yay for Rollins/Benson bonding time while Stone bonded with Cassidy on that road trip, though.
Amanda finally went back to her roots and stopped being so freaking judgmental. Maybe that time off taking care of Jessie helped her to reset.
In any case, I loved the advice that she gave Benson. This time, she was the one who could see clearly, and Benson's need to help was becoming a liability instead of an asset.
I've long thought that Benson has too much of a caretaker complex. She very rarely gets in trouble because of it, but sometimes she does get overinvolved.
I'd love to see the writers delve into this more during the remainder of Law & Order: SVU Season 20!
SVU references her PTSD from the whole ordeal with William Lewis often, but never really goes into her earlier stuff anymore. Even after 20 years on the air, there's more to be mined there, and Olivia facing her caretaker complex would be moving and interesting!
Random loose end: Who the heck was that girl with Cassidy?
On the one hand, I don't care, as long as it keeps him out of Benson's orbit.
But something tells me her random appearance wasn't so random, and we're going to see more of her.
Cassidy called her his neighbor, but most neighbors don't show up randomly to say that they lost their laundry card. Either she's Cassidy's girlfriend or Benson thinks she is.
With her being so much younger than Cassidy, I hope this isn't set-up for another Cassidy storyline where Madison accuses him of raping her and Benson has to come to his rescue again.
Benson: So if this is a suicide, why are we here?
Cop: Because of these photos. [Shows Benson the photos]
Carisi: Micah was a pedophile?
Cop: Looks like it finally caught up with him.
Benson: He may be dead, but his victims aren't.
Another loose end that was left mostly untied: did Micah do anything inappropriate with any of the boys he worked with?
None of the parents had proof that their kids had been molested, but as the rest of this case showed, victims don't always come forward.
And abused kids do sometimes grow up to be abusers, so it wouldn't be surprising if Micah was BOTH a victim and a predator.
His suicide seemed random, and his email said things were going to come out about him.
Had someone found out about the abuse and threatened to out him? Or conversely, had he also abused someone who threatened to tell?
We'll never know, and maybe we don't have to, but it seemed like a loose end in need of being resolved to me.
So what did you think, SVU Fanatics?
Did you enjoy Cassidy's guest appearance? Did you find his backstory believable? And was I the only one who wondered if Micah was an abuser too?
Weigh in below and don't forget you can watch Law & Order: SVU online if you missed anything.
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.