Law & Order Season 21 Episode 6 Review: Wicked GameJack Ori at .
Until now, Lieutenant Kate Dixon was nothing but the person giving orders.
Unlike the other Law & Order shows, the mothership usually focuses more on the cases than those investigating them. This format worked for 20 years, but viewers got spoiled by the more personal nature of Law & Order: SVU and many complained that this series was too impersonal.
Law & Order Season 21 Episode 6 changed all that, giving Dixon a backstory, a personal stake in the week's case, and the determination to fight bullies no matter what.
The case was interesting, though it felt more suited to SVU than Law & Order.
It involved a wealthy, powerful man who got off on tying up young Black men and pumping them full of drugs. If there was ever a time for Dixon to consult with Benson and her team, it was this case.
Regardless, the story gave Dixon a chance to shine, and for the most part, it worked well.
Two years ago, I caught a case. His name was Lewis Knight. I found his body. He was naked and it was raining, that kind of rain that wants to be sleet but isn't. I followed a few leads and they didn't go anywhere, and then other cases came in. Stabbings, shootings, the kind of cases you liked. So we declared him an accidental overdose and closed the case. But now, knowing what I know, I'm sure Swanson is involved. I can't prove it but... I need you to do me a favor. Keep working this case. Bullies who pick on people who are weaker than them, they need to pay.Dixon
Her explanation for why she was so determined to put Swanson behind bars resonated emotionally, though it seemed far from the whole story of her interest.
I bought that Dixon wanted to get justice for the kid she found and for all of other Swanson's victims, but her hatred of bullies seemed to run deeper than that.
Nobody needs a reason to be anti-bullying, especially in this day and age where there seems to be a lot of ugly behavior popping up all over the world. But for Dixon, it seemed like a personal crusade.
Dixon: What's going on?
Suspect #1: None of your business.
[Dixon pulls out her badge] Dixon: Actually, I have all sorts of reasons that it is my business.
[Suspects start walking away.]
Suspect #1: You have no right to tell us what to do.
Dixon: Actually, I do. Now stop walking or I'll arrest you.
Suspect #1: For what?
Dixon: For being a punk. And I'll arrest you for being an accomplice. You think you're so tough, picking on someone who's down on his luck. Pick on me instead.
She stood up to some kids who were messing with a homeless man, which seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the story. But it showed her character, particularly how deep her passion ran for protecting the weak people of the world from those who would pick on them.
Despite her interest in the case, things got more interesting when we moved into the courtroom half of the hour.
It's not that the cop portion of the story was bad or boring, but it wasn't nearly as compelling as the legal part.
The legal side of things always deals with big ethical questions, high stakes cases, and a split-second fear that this time Price is going to lose right before the jury again finds the defendant guilty.
The cop side doesn't have that same sense of urgency. They methodically sift through suspects, look at security footage, and identify suspects.
At least once an episode, Cosgrove says something that annoys Bernard, but their differing points of view are never the story's focus. It's a sideline that gets dropped when something more pressing happens.
Although I enjoyed Cosgrove's scenes with Dixon, this story was no exception. They have a fresher dynamic than the two main cops, and Cosgrove's concern for Dixon helped humanize his character.
Once Swanson was finally arrested, things got tense.
The defendant was super rich and had all the political connections he needed to ensure his acquittal. He was so well-connected that McCoy was reluctant to try the case out of fear that it would look like retaliation for Swanson not endorsing McCoy in the last election.
And to make things even worse, Dixon insisted that Price try a more complicated case than he might otherwise have done. He could have proven criminally negligent homicide more easily than murder, and the hate crime charge was a stretch.
Yes, Swanson targeted young Black men, but as his attorney pointed out, he wasn't deliberately trying to kill them because of the color of their skin.
While the law might say that you don't require malicious intent to be guilty of a hate crime, it might have been hard to convince a jury full of non-lawyers of that fact, especially when the defense attorney was also Black.
Not to mention that one witness disappeared, and the other was afraid that he'd go back to jail if he testified!
Price's win here was more miraculous than not, and I thought the story might have been more powerful if he lost for once.
Dixon pushed Price to go full speed ahead with charges that he wasn't sure he could make stick, and he couldn't promise her that he would win. The scene between them where he told her that now that she'd insisted on a murder trial, her witness had to see it through was one of the strongest yet.
Dixon didn't want to sacrifice Andre's future on the chance that Swanson might be made to pay for his crimes. So if Price had lost, it would have haunted her forever.
The threat against Andre seemed silly. According to his testimony, Swanson forced him to keep shooting up -- would that be a defense against a parole violation?
I wanted to know who this lawyer was who tried to dissuade Andre from testifying and whether he was connected to Swanson. This felt more like witness intimidation than anything else.
It all worked out, and Dixon will likely be able to be more persuasive with the parole head than she thinks.
Of course, we probably won't hear any more about it since we're onto the next case of the week, but still. The parole issue felt like a monkey wrench thrown in for the sake of having an obstacle.
It also was unsurprising that Price won again. One of Law & Order's biggest weaknesses is that so far, the formula includes Price ALWAYS pulling a rabbit out of his hat at the last second.
It would be more suspenseful if he lost once in a while, plus losses could be used to make a powerful point about how the justice system doesn't always work.
Your turn, Law & Order fanatics. Hit that big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought of Dixon's backstory, the merits of the case, and whether you're tired of Price winning all the time yet.
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Law & Order airs on NBC on Thursdays at 8 PM EST / PST. The next new episode airs on April 28, 2022.
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.