Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19 Review: Solving For the Unknowns

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Congratulations are in order.

Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19 only spent about two minutes on it, but Rollins is getting a promotion.

It was completely overshadowed by the designer date rape drug case, but it's still cause for celebration.

Good News/Tall - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

Rollins' promotion was clearly set-up for the end of Law & Order: SVU Season 21.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short, though, we may not get the payoff until Law & Order: SVU Season 22. Nevertheless, I'm curious as to what this means going forward.

Benson: I had a whole speech prepared, but you are being promoted to Detective Second Grade.
Rollins: Really? I didn't think that was even on the grid after the year I had.
Benson: Nevertheless, you persisted.

Rollins and Benson have so often been at odds in the past.

Now Rollins' role as the newbie who acts impulsively and accidentally sabotages cases has been taken over by Kat -- could Rollins soon be the often-frustrated mentor/boss to Kat that Benson has been to her?

Getting the Facts - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

In any case, I loved Benson's encouraging and praising Rollins. It was the polar opposite of where these two began, plus I prefer strong women supporting each other to the way TV so often has them tear each other down.

Rollins' promotion was blink-and-you-miss-it, though, and hopefully we'll get more of a celebration (and the official meeting at 1 PP) before season's end.

The rest of the hour was devoted to a complex case involving designer drugs. It was one of the more compelling stories, yet at times it came dangerously close to being a public service announcement instead of a story.

Jill: He wiped out my memory and no one will believe I'm drugged.
Benson: We believe you.

Finn and Benson emphasized over and over that there are so many designer date rape drugs that the labs can't keep up and neither can the law, and Benson made a point of explaining that was part of why Ash only got two years for his part in multiple rapes.

Leaving No Trace - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

SVU is great at advocacy, but not when it hits us over the head with it.

It would have been a stronger story if there was more of Carisi struggling to prosecute this case without the drug evidence and less discussions of how difficult it was for the police labs to keep up.

It turned out the drugs weren't that exotic a cocktail, anyway. The issue was more that they had left the victims' systems by the time they got a rape kit done. So the messaging about designer drugs didn't really fit.

The scary part is, this guy works in a bar and had no trouble finding five guys who wanted to go along with this.


Plus, the reason Ash only got two years wasn't because the drugs were untraceable. It was because he told the cops about other rapists he had enabled, and the cops were unable to break into his files to find that information out for themselves.

Standing Up for Victims - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

If Law & Order: SVU wanted to make a public service announcement, they were better off sticking with the dangers of dating apps.

The DMV is more user friendly than these dating apps.


Luke was able to victimize woman after woman because the dating app didn't respond to the women's complaints about his profile, and Benson made a good point about how you never know who is really on the other end of the line when you only talk to someone over an online app.

That was a more realistic observation than all the discussion about designer drugs that ultimately wasn't the main issue with this case.

The more compelling part of this story was Luke and Ash's total refusal to understand why what they did was a crime.

Closing In - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

Both of the guys claimed that women being overly willing to make sexual harassment complaints was the real problem, and Ash claimed that he leveled the playing field by allowing men to have their way with otherwise resistant women.

It was classic incel philosophy. Luke seemed especially believable. He truly thought that because he didn't know what Ash drugged the women with that everything was somehow okay.

It never occurred to him that "making the women compliant" was rape and thought because he walked them to their cars afterward, he was one of the good guys.

And as Rollins pointed out, there were at least four other guys who thought the same thing.

SVU doesn't focus on this often, but part of the problem is that most rape prevention efforts focus on teaching women to defend themselves against potential rapists rather than teaching everybody what consent is and isn't.

Searching for a Predator - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

Ignorance is no excuse, but cultural ideas about sex and masculinity leave at least some men with the false belief that they are entitled to sex and that as long as they aren't being violent, it's okay for them to get it from an unwilling participant.

Luke was one of those men.

He victimized woman after woman and genuinely believed he'd done nothing wrong.

And the women in question had been careful, following all the rules that supposedly prevented them from ingesting spiked drinks, but it didn't work. So clearly self-defense lessons aren't enough to prevent the problem.

Piper Knight - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 19

Of all the victims, Piper was the most interesting.

Piper: That night, I didn't feel right. I called my mom and she took me to the ER. They did a rape kit and 10 minutes in I felt this ringing in my ears and... a stroke, and later seizures. Always a surprise. They said the drugs could have triggered it.
Mrs. Knight: We didn't go to the police because she didn't remember anything.
Rollins: How long ago was this?
Piper: About three months ago. That's the night my life ended.
Mrs. Knight: Honey! Don't say that.
Piper: It did, Mom. It did.

It wasn't so much that she had a stroke as a result of the drugs and was brain damaged. It was that she displayed a ton of strength despite her injuries.

She expressed herself as best as she could, never letting her disability get in the way, and she was the only one of all the survivors who wanted to make a victim impact statement at sentencing.

Plus, she was key to Ash cutting that deal that ended the case, though she didn't know it. The cops exaggerated how bad off she was to make Ash and Luke think they were potentially on the hook for felony murder.

Your turn, Law & Order: SVU fanatics.

Hit that SHOW COMMENTS button and tell us what you thought about Rollins' promotion, the emphasis on the difficulty of prosecuting designer drug cases, or all other things Law & Order: SVU.

There's one more episode to go to wrap up Law & Order: Season 21, but in the meantime you can watch Law & Order: SVU online as much as you want right here on TV Fanatic.

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

Solving For the Unknowns Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (18 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 19 Quotes

I just realized what happened. I was raped last night and they arrested me.


Benson: I had a whole speech prepared, but you are being promoted to Detective Second Grade.
Rollins: Really? I didn't think that was even on the grid after the year I had.
Benson: Nevertheless, you persisted.