Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11 Review: She Paints For Vengeance

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Monica Russo's anger made her case one of the most challenging cases SVU had ever undertaken.

Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11 was an indictment of a legal system that often wears down survivors, touched upon the issue of sex work and rape, and gave us a stressed-out Carisi as he went to trial for the first time.

Thank goodness it all worked out in the end.

A Shocking Mural - Law & Order:SVU - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

Monica herself was the biggest obstacle to SVU's closing her case.

She was angry and she had every right to be, but at times her anger blinded her and caused her to shoot her cause in the foot.

Monica. You painted that billboard so someone would pay attention to you. I'm paying attention. I'm here. So talk to me.


A lot of what she did was effective at getting her case some badly needed attention, but it didn't do a lot of good since she then refused help.

It was lucky for her that Benson was the one who saw that mural because many cops probably wouldn't be half as empathetic with a victim who refused to cooperate.

Desperate for Justice - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

Still, though, she had every right to be angry. Some of what happened made me angry, too.

That cop who took it on himself to throw away her case should have lost his badge. It wasn't his job to decide which cases SVU takes. It was his job to pass on the report and let the detectives decide.

Donahue: Look, I know you SVU guys have big hearts, but this wasn't a real rape.
Benson: A real rape? Is that because they knew each other or because she's a stripper?

He also implied that Monica's rape was unimportant because she worked at a strip club, something that Barth echoed later in court.

I'm glad that SVU touched on the issue of sex workers reporting rapes. Too many people think they bring it on themselves or that they deserve what they get because they let someone pay them for sex, and that's simply a disgusting attitude.

A Formidable Opponent - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

Regardless of whether Monica was a stripper or let guys pay her for sex, she still had the right to say no, and she got screwed over and over again by a system that didn't care.

Defense attorney Barth was obnoxious, too, and sadly, that seemed all too realistic.

Monica: Yes, I am angry.
Barth: Angry enough to defame my client by painting a billboard?
Monica: Yes, because he raped me.
Barth: So you claim. But aren't you really angry that you have to work at a strip club when you consider yourself an artist?

Barth gloated too much when she got the other survivors' testimony tossed, and her treatment of Monica on the stand was deplorable.

I hate the TV lawyer trope of discrediting someone by pointing out that they're angry, too. Anger is a human emotion, and being angry doesn't automatically equate to seeking revenge.

Taking the Stand - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

Monica held her own, for the most part, but it was annoying, and Barth did rape survivors everywhere a huge disservice by implying that it's only rape if you report it right away and money isn't involved.

No wonder Carisi was ready to quit after that disgusting display of character assassination.

I still think he was better off staying a cop, though. Half the time he does both jobs at once, which is unrealistic. And he was a lot less stressed out when he didn't have to worry about anything except getting the truth out of someone.

Anyway, this time Carisi needed  a pep talk as much as the victim did.

This was the kind of thing he should have been talking about with a boss -- it's a stretch to think that Olivia knew enough about how to practice law to advise him -- but there's no such thing as too many inspiring Benson speeches.

Answering the Charge - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

Barth's comeuppance was delicious, though. Carisi and Monica were able to use her arrogance against her to manipulate her into putting her client on the stand so that he could tell on himself.

He could probably sue for incompetent counsel, since it would have been much better for him to stick to the original plan and keep his mouth shut, but still.

Monica got her faith in the justice system restored, made a new mural that was a lot more complimentary, and seemed happier.

Hopefully, though, she continues to be involved in activism -- but with a purpose other than a raw expression of anger.

His First Court Case - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

There were some interesting Carisi/Rollins moments, too.

Rollins' declaration that she wanted to quit therapy was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, but I couldn't help thinking she's being set up to fall hard.

She kept going off on suspects and witnesses, too, and quitting therapy is the last thing she needs to do.

On the positive side, she and Carisi are developing some nice rapport  and support of each other, so this will likely move forward toward them discovering what they mean to one another.

The Spectator Box - Law & Order:SVU - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 11

Anyway, the ending of the episode was predictably happy. Despite Carisi's attack of nerves, the jury found the defendant guilty. Anyone not see that coming?

SVU does sometimes go for the unhappy ending to make a point, but more often, the team wins its battle for justice. And in Monica's case, a loss would have been horrible.

She was already so angry and so convinced no one would help her that God knows what she would have done if she lost the case after all that.

All the way back on Law & Order: SVU Season 2, a rape victim murdered her rapist, and we didn't need a repeat of that.

What did you think, SVU Fanatics?

How challenging was this case for the SVU team and were you surprised that they won in the end?

Hit SHOW COMMENTS and share your thoughts.

Law & Order: SVU Season 21 returns on January 30, but in the meantime you can watch Law & Order: SVU online.

Law & Order: SVU's historic 21st season continues to air on NBC on Thursdays at 10 PM EST/PST.

She Paints For Vengeance Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (12 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 21 Episode 11 Quotes

Artists? These girls? Maybe that's something they tell their customers.


Boyfriend: It's been over a month now, right?
Monica: Screw this...and them.