Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 7 Review: They'd Already DisappearedJack Ori at .
Talk about a post-Halloween scare!
Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 7 was one of the creepiest, most disturbing cases the team has faced yet, and that's saying something considering that there are 23 years worth of material!
Benson and Velasco were equally disgusted, and McGrath's reaction made him seem human for once, making the team's horrific discovery even creepier.
The Bronx ME was the unexpected star of the hour.
He made it clear how difficult it is to be a medical examiner. He had to be detached while examining over a dozen bodies that had been mutilated and mummified.
Benson: I never saw that before with the photo.
ME: The brain doesn't need to retain these horrific images. They should remember their loved ones as they were in the photo.
But he went the extra mile, encouraging Daria to display a photo of her sister while alive and to look at it as soon as she'd finished looking at the body.
That made the scene that much more emotional. And even Benson, who is ordinarily the queen of compassion, hadn't thought of doing that!
The ME also was determined to identify all the Jane Does. He is in this job for the right reasons, and I hope SVU works with him more in the future.
McGrath's reaction was also somewhat surprising.
While in the past, he's been the villain who interferes with Benson standing up for victims that he deems unworthy, this time McGrath was so disgusted he wanted SVU to pull out all the stops to get the perp.
McGrath does have some empathy in there somewhere -- who knew?
But what, if anything, happened to the original detectives who ignored the missing persons' reports years ago?
Desk Sergeant: I'm not supposed to tell you this, but my detective's gone for the night.
Rollins: Of course.
Velasco: But there's still three girls missing.
Sergeant: She said to give you this. A bunch of missing persons reports.
Rollins: Marked NHI?
Sergeant: No humans involved.
If they had done their jobs, the police might have caught Tracy before he ever crossed paths with Tonya or Beauty, and who knows how many other victims might have been spared a grisly fate.
If nothing else, 1PP should be concerned that the original detectives' negligence left the NYPD open to lawsuits. Plus, the powers that be should do something about cops who marked missing persons' reports as "no human involvement."
As it was, the case depended on more luck than it should have.
The cops would never have found the warehouse full of bodies if a child hadn't told them about "vampires" living in the abandoned building, and they were equally lucky that the boy was somewhat willing to talk to them.
They also fixated on Country for too long. I knew he would turn out to be innocent, and they lost precious time on the case trying to force a confession out of him when he wasn't involved in the murders.
The case was more or less at a dead end, but while they were checking out the address he gave them, they could have also done a better job of canvassing the area to find out more about what had gone down. The whole case shouldn't have depended on one child coming forward.
Nor should they have fixated on one suspect, especially when that suspect was Black and the department was recently sued and accused of racial bias.
It was also lucky that one of the other victims' sons turned out to have a form of Autism that allowed him to recall the license plate perfectly several years later.
This same trope formed the basis of the story on Cold Case Season 4 Episode 5, so it's too bad Amaro went home -- that would have been a nice tie-in.
Anyway, most Autistic people aren't savants with photographic memories, so it's annoying when TV dramas reinforce the stereotype that they are.
It worked storywise, but couldn't SVU have found a different way to find out what they needed to know?
Once Tracy was arrested, I expected the twist to be that his mother killed all the women.
Tracy was so adamant that he was innocent, and it seemed too obvious for him to be the killer.
And his mother disparaged him and the girls he was interested in, so it was logical that she killed Meredith to keep her son from leaving her.
That would have been a fascinating twist, but unfortunately, SVU chose not to go in that direction.
Instead, Benson got Tracy to confess using tactics; I couldn't believe he fell for it.
She repeated his mother's point of view that he was too stupid and weak to be a killer, which triggered his need to prove her wrong by confessing. Was he really that stupid?
This scenario would have been a perfect time to include Dr. Huang or one of the other psychiatrists that SVU used frequently.
The psychiatrist could have evaluated Tracy and his mother and given SVU advice on how to proceed instead of Benson figuring it out independently.
SVU doesn't seem to do that much anymore. The only time psychiatrists are included nowadays is when one of the detectives needs to deal with the trauma of a case.
Velasco might be in that position soon, judging from his reaction to all those dead bodies.
That will add another dimension to his character. After all, he began as a spy for McGrath.
Still, I'd rather psychiatrists again become a major part of dealing with perps who engaged in particularly horrific crimes.
That used to set SVU apart from other cop dramas. Besides, Dr. Huang was one of the best and most beloved supporting characters, so his return to SVU would be welcome news for most fans.
Your turn, SVU fanatics! What did you think of this creepy case? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!
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Law & Order: SVU continues its historic 23rd season on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST.
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.