Wow. There have been many powerful Law & Order: SVU episodes over its 22-year run,m but few have been this deeply disturbing.
From the trailer and photos, I expected Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 10 to be about a neighborhood watch group that turns to vigilante justice. And it was, yet the story turned out to be nothing like what I expected.
Instead, we got a complicated story about racism, hatred, and beliefs about convicted sex offenders.
Early in the hour, Benson made the point that convicted sex offenders have a much lower recidivism rate than people believe.
Fin: That buliding on the corner. Pedo Motel.
Benson: Pedo Motel?
Fin: That's what the neighborhood watch calls it. A bunch of SOs live there. Maybe one of those creeps followed her.
Benson: Okay. Let's dial it back a little. I know you don't believe it, but registered SOs have the lowest recidivism rates.
It seemed like that was going to be the theme of the story. That and the vigilantes attacking one or more of the sex offenders because they believed they were guilty.
All of that was obvious. But what I could never have predicted was how quickly this shifted from an investigation into a rape and murder to an investigation into a hate crime.
Fin let his own prejudices blind him to the possibility that Loni was anything but guilty.
I thought that he was too hard on the kid when they interviewed him, and sure enough, that came back to bite him.
I took one look at his bust and assumed he was guilty. And I more than anyone else should know the way they make people who look like him out to have done wrong.Fin
Fin's guilt after Loni's brutal murder was one of the strongest parts of the hour.
It felt natural and realistic, and it was a better depiction of the difficulty Black cops sometimes experience while working within a system that has often served to oppress members of their race.
This was much more subtle and nuanced than, say, episodes of Chicago PD in which Atwater is forced to choose between upholding the law and being loyal to the local Black community.
There was no explicit demand for Fin to do anything but his job, but doing that job contributed to an innocent Black kid's death.
It happened mostly because Fin believed that sex offenders couldn't change and that Loni's arrest must have been legit because it was for a sex crime.
But what was left unsaid was that Fin might have also internalized some racist ideas about Black boys after working on the police force for so long.
Would he have been as skeptical of a White offender who claimed he was in love with a "victim" only three years younger than him but felt forced to plead guilty anyway?
We'll never know since that's not how it went down. But I can guarantee that Fin will be asking himself that for the rest of his life.
It will certainly affect his career going forward. And with the lawsuit moving forward against the department and Fin himself for alleged racism, there's no telling how Fin will act or if he will end up hurting the department's defense because of his sense of guilt.
The crime against Loni was truly gruesome, too.
I couldn't look at Loni's body for more than half a second, and by all accounts, he was tortured and mutilated... and then turned out to be innocent.
It was almost a given that Loni didn't do it. The story would have lost some of its power if he had.
But it was still a cruel twist of fate for him to be exonerated posthumously.
The scene between Loni's parents and the missing girl's at the end was one of the saddest, strongest scenes ever.
Soronda's mother: Both our children killed for no reason.
Fin: No, they were killed for one reason. They were killed because of hate.
The grieving parents probably could have done without Fin telling them their kids were killed for hate, but he was right.
The biker vigilantes were so self-righteous and hate-filled themselves that I wished something could have been done about them.
I was impressed that Benson kept her cool while being manhandled. Even though she's a seasoned cop, she still has some PTSD from the William Lewis incident.
In any case, it takes a ton of cognitive dissonance to insist that you're protecting the neighborhood from criminals while also sexually harassing female cops and spreading hate of non-whites!
It's a good thing Stabler didn't rejoin SVU. I can only imagine his reaction if he saw someone messing with Benson that way, given the way he acted in the interrogation room on Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 9.
Speaking of Stabler, the side conversation between Benson and Carisi was a nice tie-in with Law & Order: Organized Crime.
It helped catch up viewers who had missed the crossover, set things up nicely for future interactions between Benson and Stabler on both shows, and suggested that Stabler's misbehavior could still end up hurting Benson.
It was a quick mention, but we didn't need more than that since Stabler wasn't appearing on this episode of SVU.
The other personal storyline, of course, was Rollins' ongoing concerns about her dad's health.
I didn't remember her father having all these health issues, but apparently, it's been a problem for a while.
In any case, this looks like it may be the end of whatever date Carisi had that wasn't Rollins. He forgot all about his appointment to comfort her.
There hasn't been any news about Kelli Giddish (Rollins) leaving the series either temporarily or permanently, so I wonder if Carisi will accompany her to Atlanta... and if the visit will be on-screen.
Either way, I hope this leads to a Rollins/Carisi relationship sooner rather than later. These two have so much chemistry and have been dancing around each other for at least the last two years.
Your turn, Law & Order: SVU Fanatics!
Hit that big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought of the case, Loni's disturbing death, or the potential Rollins/Carisi hookup.
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Law & Order: SVU continues its historic 22nd season on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST.