Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10 Review: Was A Sensational Trial FINALLY The End of An Unpopular Storyline?

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Courtroom drama is supposed to be part of the Law & Order universe's brand, but SVU doesn't always follow suit.

In recent years, ADA Carisi often debates the case's merits before the trial, but once the cops convince him to press charges, the case is moved off-screen.

Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10 was an exception, featuring one of the most sensational -- and unrealistic -- trials in the series' history.

Maddie's Kidnapper on Trial  - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

This trial was the logical culmination of the Maddie Flynn arc, which has stretched over most of the season. The newscaster at the beginning of the hour did a great job of recapping it for viewers who had managed to miss the entire story.

It could have been a powerful indictment (no pun intended) of the shortcomings of the criminal justice system in cases like Maddie's. Unfortunately, this time around, the writers chose sensationalistic drama over realism, undermining the point they were trying to make.

The Jurors Deliberate - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

The beginning of the hour held promise, with eleven jurors browbeating the twelfth into a guilty verdict.

Donnelly: She has to find him guilty. We can't do this again.
Dent: All right, all right, I'll say whatever you want me to say.

A lone holdout agreeing to a guilty plea because everyone wants to go home is not how the jury system is supposed to work.

Sadly, this shortcoming is realistic -- jurors sometimes succumb to pressure or make decisions for reasons other than believing the evidence is strong enough to convict someone of a crime.

The juror's declaration in open court that she was coerced was overly dramatic. Still, it was realistic enough to be acceptable, and it was believable that someone with low enough self-esteem would be deluded into believing Brouchard would elope with them after his exoneration.

I didn't mind the mistrial that required Sonny Carisi to start over again. It was a realistic obstacle that could have led to a powerful story about how the system sometimes retraumatizes victims.

Maddie's Kidnapper - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

Unfortunately, once the retrial got underway, it quickly descended into silliness, with Brouchard deciding to defend himself and Eileen Flynn continually contacting him.

The Pro Se Trope Has Been Used on Law & Order: SVU Before

Brouchard's decision to defend himself brought back unwanted memories for me of William Lewis' decision to do the same thing when he was on trial for kidnapping Benson.

In both cases, allowing the defendant to represent himself gave him license to torment his victim on the stand.

The truth is the defendant abused Maddie Flynn in that van, on that train, in that motel room, and he did it again on the stand.


I doubted a defendant like Brouchard would be allowed to do this in real life. It felt like a tired and unnecessary TV trope that distracted from the story's power.

Sykes Testifies - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

A narcissist like Brouchard likely would have fired his lawyer for encouraging him to take a plea that he didn't want to take. However, it would have been stronger, more realistic drama if the judge had insisted a public defender sit second chair.

Carisi could have tried to get the judge to make the second chair cross-examine Maddie so Brouchard couldn't toy with her on the stand. Brouchard wouldn't have liked that, and his true colors might have been exposed as he fought it.

I would have loved that. Brouchard being allowed free rein to retraumatize Maddie in the name of cross-examining her was not enjoyable.

Law Enforcement Should Have Challenged Brouchard's Attempts at Control

Sykes Looks Upset - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

Brouchard's claims that he didn't commit a crime because Maddie "liked" the unwanted contact should not have gone unchallenged, nor should he have been allowed to keep the pouch with Maddie's hair in it once Maddie reported its existence.

Those two mistakes almost cost the prosecution the case and were inexcusable.

When Brouchard got Maddie to admit on the stand that part of her liked being bathed by him, Carisi rejected the opportunity to ask Maddie questions on redirect. There were two questions he could have asked Maddie that would have driven home the point that she could not consent:

  1. How old was she when this occurred?
  2. Had the defendant given her opioids before this bath?

Those questions would have clarified the issue, and Carisi could have reminded the jury during his closing of this evidence that Maddie couldn't consent rather than merely say that she couldn't.

Bruno Sits With Fin - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

Carisi's answer to Olivia Benson, who pointed out the consent issue afterward, was that the jury might think Maddie consented because of her testimony. Whose fault was that? Carisi did nothing to dispel the idea.

Similarly, no one did anything about that pouch with Maddie's hair in it that Maddie said Brouchard kept around his neck until Eileen held Brouchard at gunpoint to demand it.

The police should have gotten whatever warrants they needed to search for and seize that pouch as soon as Maddie reported it. It was further proof of the crimes against her and could have been admitted into evidence at trial after Maddie testified about it.

If Carisi had asked Maddie on the stand to identify the pouch and whether she consented to have her hair cut and saved by Brouchard, that might have been a more powerful testimony that could have helped sway the jury.

Fin Observes The Trial - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

Eileen Flynn's Involvement With Brouchard Made No Sense

Somewhere in the middle of the hour, Eileen Flynn went from frustrated that Brouchard seemed to get away with anything to behavior misinterpreted as her affair with him.

Eileen's frustration and belief that Brouchard would never be punished were understandable, but this way of handling it was not. I didn't buy that Eileen would want to spend a second in the same room as Brouchard if she didn't have to.

If she had broken into his hotel room to kill him, that would have at least made sense. Her attempts to beat him at his own game and then hold him at gunpoint to get the leather pouch back didn't.

Determined Judge - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

This behavior came close to her and Peter having a split for the sake of drama that most of the audience wouldn't care about since the Flynns are not regular characters (though they've been featured so much that they might as well be.)

There was a dramatic ending with Benson talking Eileen out of holding Brouchard at gunpoint, but it was unnecessary and could have jeopardized the case for no good reason.

Unsurprisingly, Eileen got a slap on the wrist for this behavior. The only shock was that Brouchard didn't try to use this nonsense to his advantage at trial.

Benson Got Too Involved (Again)

Benson Testifies - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

The best, most powerful part of the entire Maddie Flynn arc has been Benson's unhealthy reactions to it.

Her guilt and fear that Maddie would be harmed because she didn't act quickly enough have been a moving mental health story that forces Benson to deal with being the one who needs help instead of helping everyone else.

However, taking Maddie to her therapist to try to straighten out some problems after the trial went a bit too far. Benson is not the Flynns' social worker, and half of her attempts to help have been distractions from her actual job.

It was one thing for the Flynns to be a regular part of the story while Maddie was missing, but now that she's been found, they need to move on with their lives without Benson's involvement.

Prosecution Table - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10

Brouchard was found guilty despite all his theatrics, so can this family please go off-screen now? I love that Benson goes the extra mile for the survivors she works with, but this is beyond ridiculous.

What's your verdict, Law & Order: SVU fanatics? Did you enjoy this dramatic trial? Do you hope that this is the last of the Flynn family?

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.

Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9/8c. New episodes drop on Peacock the day after they air.

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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 10 Quotes

They made me change my vote. He's not guilty.


Velasco: I don't get why this went to trial.
Curry: Justice would be served if not for this pesky jurisprudence.