Okay, who DIDN'T see that one coming?
Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 7 featured a volatile, seemingly corrupt detective who was desperate to keep the Manhattan SVU away from his case and two copycat rapes on a case that the general public didn't know about.
The perp couldn't have been anyone but Ari Muldivan, so what took the detectives 3/4 of an hour to begin piecing it together?
In some ways, it didn't matter. The point of the story wasn't to present viewers with a whodunit.
It would have been an annoying hour if it was supposed to be a mystery. All the clues pointed straight to Muldivan, and there were no other suspects whatsoever until Gonzales decided to run away to the Expo Center.
Instead, SVU tackled some bigger issues such as police corruption, the toll working this job takes on cops, and the pressure officers often feel to protect their own.
All of these issues led to a large-scale miscarriage of justice. Nine women were raped while nobody did anything about it, and two of the victims were assaulted by the cop investigating the other seven.
SVU did a good job of disguising this police corruption story as yet another instance of cops getting territorial, though, at least during the first half of the episode.
Benson: You're new to SVU. We like to coordinate.
Berek: Look, Deputy Chief Garland was very clear what my job was. To build up trust in the Bronx. We bring Manhattan in, there goes morale.
Benson: There's a rapist out there. Shouldn't that be our priority?
Lieutenant Berek wasn't as aggressive as Muldivan, but she did want to keep the investigation in-house and tried to shut Manhattan SVU out until Benson brought up Garland's name.
At first, Muldivan seemed like another example of that trope where cops from different departments constantly fight over who has jurisdiction over the case.
Of course, most of them don't come to blows, but he and Fin seemed equally guilty of losing their tempers.
But once that led to Garland ordering the two SVU departments to work together, everything changed.
There were only two cases that didn't fit the pattern: the one in Manhattan and the one that wasn't reported back in April.
Rollins: This sounds like your guy.
Mulvaney: Number 7. I just don't know why he left the Bronx.
So it was obvious there was a copycat. And if the press hadn't offered the general public any details about the rapist, then the copycat had to be a cop working on the serial rape cases.
With Muldivan having shot the other perp, it was almost a sure bet that he was guilty -- but again, that wasn't really the point.
I was wondering what he'd done to that cop he was mentoring.
She insisted that he was the only male cop who hadn't hit on her and practically canonized him while talking to Kat, and later she was out for blood after Muldivan's arrest.
Had he raped her too, and she'd convinced herself it was consensual? It certainly seemed like there was some abusive dynamic at play.
I have a feeling her threats weren't empty, though. She shouted in front of at least one witness that nobody would give Kat back-up the next time she needed it, so there is likely going to be some follow-through later on Law & Order: SVU Season 22.
And that was the real point of the hour: corruption is nearly impossible to weed out because of the expectation of loyalty and what sometimes happens when cops put the truth above backing their fellow officers no matter what.
It took courage for the SVU team to do what they did, and I'm not just talking about Rollins trying to trap Muldivan.
That took guts. Even though SVU was backing Rollins up, there was always the chance that Muldivan could catch onto what she was doing and make a move before the other cops could arrive on the scene.
And since it wasn't that long ago that Rollins was kidnapped by a fellow cop who had lost his mind after his daughter's rape, going on this mission meant potentially reactivating her trauma responses to that and other similar incidents.
That was one type of bravery, and going up against a powerful and mostly well-liked detective took another.
There was no guarantee that Lieutenant Barek wouldn't try to back her officer. After all, she'd nearly vetoed SVU's involvement, and she got into a shouting match with Benson after Garland confronted them both about the fight between Muldivan and Fin.
And Ruiz probably spoke for a lot of cops when she accused Kat and Rollins of being rats who didn't deserve their badges.
For many cops, the threat of them being labeled a rat is enough to keep them quiet when they observe misconduct. It's not just the namecalling, but also that it's often backed up with threats of violence.
And it's not just at the squad level, either. Garland mentioned that he had to talk 1PP into pressing charges. Making an example out of Muldivan was a nice touch that demonstrated how difficult it is to hold corrupt cops accountable.
Benson's statement at the end of the hour was strange, though.
She mentioned that being in SVU for 20+ years takes its toll, which is certainly true.
But this reminded me of the way in earlier seasons, Benson was quick to jump to the conclusion that the children of rapists become rapists too and question her own ability to be non-violent because of who her father was.
Benson's had therapy for PTSD and sometimes gets overinvolved with helping survivors. But that's a far cry from deciding to imitate the perps a detective is investigating!
I don't buy that Muldivan became a rapist because he was overexposed to rape cases. That hasn't happened to anyone else on SVU.
No, it's more likely that he was attracted to this type of job because he had sociopathic tendencies, and working at SVU helped him. be able to learn how to be a more competent rapist.
Don't get me wrong. Burnout among people who do this type of work is an important topic, and PTSD among cops probably contributes to violence against unarmed citizens.
But connecting that to Muldivan's actions didn't seem the best way to go with this topic. It didn't fit.
Your turn, Law & Order: SVU fanatics!
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Law & Order: SVU's historic 22nd season continues to air on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST.