Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20 Review: The Good Girl

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The twists in this one were too much.

Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20 tried to take on the issue of child brides and questions of privacy if a child is raped and doesn't want to admit it. The story was engaging, but it went in too many different directions.

Was this the best way to approach the subject of child bride laws?

(TALL) Talking to the Victim - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20

The problem with this story wasn't its entertainment value or how engaging it was.

It kept my interest throughout the hour,  the guest cast provided strong, believable performances, and the twists were shocking yet made sense in hindsight.

It's just that there were too many side issues that weren't fully fleshed out because of the marriage reveal, and that's a shame.

Related: How Law & Order: SVU Has Evolved Over The Years

Chief among them: Rollins and Benson practically came to blows about Mackenzie's privacy rights vs. the state's right to protect her.

This had been brewing for a while.

Time for a Coffee Break - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20

Benson strongly encouraged Rollins to keep her baby and has recently been judgmental of other pregnant victims that are considering abortion.

That stems from Benson's own awareness that her mother would have been justified in aborting her since she was the product of rape.

Rollins is just as strongly pro-choice and probably feels Benson manipulated her into keeping her baby, especially after Benson declared now that she didn't ever have an abortion and just let Rollins think she did.

Howard: This is what Mackenzie wants.
Rollins: Mackenzie's a child. She doesn't know what she wants.

The argument between them was bound to be explosive, and on top of that, Rollins raised some valid points.

Teenagers have the right to privacy when it comes to reproductive health decisions for several reasons.

One is to allow them access to contraceptives even if their parents disapprove, which helps reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy in the first place.

Benson: What else can you remember?
MacKenzie: Why?
Benson: Because under the law, what he did might have been rape.

The other, as both Benson and Rollins should be acutely aware, is to make it easier for teens to report sexual assault.

Young people sometimes don't report out of fear of their parents' reaction, especially if they were breaking rules at the time the rape occurred. 

So undermining that right to privacy might have helped protect Mackenzie, but if it was at the cost of other young people not coming forward after a rape, was it worth it?

Related: 23 Times Law & Order: SVU Made us Cry

I'd have loved to hear Benson's response to that argument, but we didn't get to because Mackenzie showed up in tears, kicking off the murder subplot.

Trying to Make a Connection - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20

The story also alluded to homophobia without going into too much depth.

Mr. Dreyfuss taught at a Catholic school, where he likely could not keep his job if he was out about his orientation.

It's also likely the kids all knew or suspected -- hence the rumors.

I would think a couple of detectives would see through high school gossip.


One of the lies that the anti-gay movement spreads about gay people is that they are all pedophiles.

This ugly claim is so well-known to me as a member of the LGBT community that I  guessed Mr. Dreyfuss was gay as soon as he mentioned being at the receiving end of such rumors.

And in Mackenzie's case, that lie was fatal -- if she really told it, which didn't seem to be the case at the end of the hour. 

Garett killing Dreyfuss because Dreyfuss was trying to interfere in this marriage made sense.

After all, he knew he was the father of the baby, so there was no reason for Mackenzie to make up any stories about being raped by her teacher.

Stone: The lowest I can go is Man 2.
Lawyer: What are you offering?
Stone: 2 years, 1 probation.
Lawyer: You've got to be kidding.
Benson: He killed a man.
Lawyer: And what jury is going to convict?

But I wish SVU had mentioned in passing that gay people are often accused of pedophilia the same way they mentioned stats on child marriages.

Talking Over Pizza - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20

Trying to annul that marriage without Mackenzie's permission was always going to be a long shot, but I wished that family court judge had gone along with it.

Her refusal was realistic.

Legally, she has to accept the laws of other states unless she's given a compelling reason not to, and unfortunately, a drug-addicted father taking money to give permission didn't qualify.

It was heartbreaking as it was preposterous, and the fact that being married shielded Garett from statutory rape laws was infuriating.

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

Of course, you can always count on Benson to find a creative solution for these things.

Her plan to threaten to arrest Mackenzie worked perfectly, and like all TV villains, Garett was quick to let the truth slip out when he got scared.

Taking Its Toll - Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 20

Afterwards, Mackenzie was heartbroken -- but Benson managed to get through to her.

I love Benson's inspirational speeches, and this one was no exception.

Yet I almost wish that Mackenzie had stayed angry.

It would have been a far more dramatic and powerful ending for Benson to NOT be able to get through to this girl, for her best efforts to be rebuffed so that she had to walk away and live with her failure.

For Benson, the queen of taking care of rape survivors, that would have been a crushing blow.

And it also would have driven home the point that thirteen-year-olds are vulnerable and impressionable and that allowing child marriage can do a ton of damage to an abused kid.

What do you think, SVU Fanatics?

Did "The Good Girl" leave too many loose threads hanging, or was it just me?

Were you surprised that Garett turned out to be married to his "stepdaughter"?

And was the ending of this tale satisfying?

Watch Law & Order: SVU online and then hit the comments with your thoughts.

Law & Order: SVU continues to air on NBC on Thursdays at 10 PM EST/PST.

The Good Girl Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (11 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 20 Quotes

Howard: This is my fault, right?
Carisi: You can't lock them in their rooms, Mr. Howard.
Howard: Why not?

Doctor: When we brought the girl in she was hysterical.
Benson: Okay. Did she say why?
Doctor: We tried to give her something to calm her down. But she wouldn't take it. She was worried it could hurt her baby.
Benson: Her baby? She's thirteen.
Doctor: Thirteen and pregnant.