Stabler-centric thoughts on Ep 18x13
Transformation complete. From Nu Munch to Nu Stabler, in just 13 episodes!
Seriously though, surprisingly long post ahead:
(I would cut it down, but I don’t have the time or the patience)
Carisi-centric thoughts on Ep 18x13
First things first: what the fuck happened to Barba’s chocolates? Biggest disappointment of the
night. The official SVU account is not to be trusted.
Decent episode. It had some issues*, but it was reasonably, well, not terrible. Probably a little above
average for Season 18’s standards.
*starting with the issues, to get them out of the way: too much rapist(s), not enough victim. We got to see if the rapist (the first rapist) was “okay” with a plea for rape 2, and he “admirably” said he deserved that punishment, but we never got to see if the victim was okay with that. We never got to see the victim again, period. We don’t know if and how she is coping. She was a total afterthought. We did see the other victims, during the trial, but that was just to poke holes in their stories. It seems that’s the only reason we ever see a victim, in S18. Not to see how they can overcome their rape as survivors, but to make them appear unreliable for the sake of plot twists.
I joke about Sonny going from Munch to Stabler, but I’m not joking when I say that Barba is going from Cabot to Novak. Seriously, Barba
went from fierce and flawless Ice Queen Alexandra Cabot, who won
every case and didn’t give a shit, to earnest but messy Casey Novak, a
half-decent lawyer who loses every other case but it’s okay because we
and i do love her :’)
Barba doesn’t really lose cases, but he never wins them on his own merits (with the sole exception of Making a Rapist, when he got the mother’s testimony on the stand, about 7 years ago, when that episode aired). It’s always Liv, saving the day. Even in episodes which are spent mostly in the courtroom, there are no legal victories. No big moment in which Barba argues the fuck out of a case. He just utters a few snarky tidbits like “Bunny,” so we can all admire Raul’s sass, and then he loses (like he lost the motion about confidentiality) or he wins because of something Liv did.
Has Barba gone soft, not to mention less competent, on purpose, or is this poor characterization?
that’s a rhetorical question btw
The Legal Side of SVU
Why does this season waste all these semi-interesting cases? Why did we spend the entire rape trial debunking the victim
statements, instead of watching Barba argue the law? I was expecting the “rape gene” theory to figure more heavily into the trial, but it never did. Why not? Why waste that opportunity?
The earlier scene
with the minister on the stand, that was way more fun to watch (mostly because it didn’t involve
victim-blaming). Why do all these cases, which could be considered vague (and therefore exciting) from a legal standpoint, get reduced
to arguing the boring facts, like a suspect’s height? Same thing happened with
Imposter, an episode which could have been a million times more interesting,
if only it had focused on the law.
For instance, Sonny suggested another case offscreen, and Barba dismissed it offscreen, and we never got to find out what it was. Why bother introducing legally murky cases if
you’re not going to bother presenting the arguments? Rick Eid is a lawyer, but
I can barely tell from watching. He only scrapes the surface. I’m a much younger lawyer, and totally inexperienced when
it comes to criminal law, and I still routinely come up with, like, three more things Barba could have
done or said in each episode.
But, in fairness, I do have to say the minister/confidentiality theory, as well as the AA comparison, that was actually smart. It was the only unique touch in terms of plot, and they even set it up well, with the prayer, or whatever that was, as Rollins and Carisi were surveilling the group on that earlier scene. That raised my expectations, as did Barba’s argument that the guy was a only being a minister as a hobby (now that’s a fun argument to make!), so the return to mundane victim blaming later on disappointed me even more.
On to Sonny:
I’ve said it before (and used the SpongeBob gifs to illustrate it), but
there is nothing in Sonny’s characterization this season that could be viewed
as an organic progression of the Sonny from Seasons 16 and 17. Nor has there
been anything plot- or character-related which would justify such a stark change
(please no one mention Dodds unless you want to make me laugh).
When is the last time Sonny cracked a smile that wasn’t sarcastic? Remember when Amaro was the
angry stereotype, and he’d argue with Barba or Amanda, and Sonny would try to
defuse the situation with a joke? Now Sonny has picked up the mantle of Angry Cop. Which, I mean… Sonny, gurl, if Amanda freakin’ Rollins has to scold you about being insubordinate to
your superiors, that means you’ve taken it about eighteen steps too far
(wait, do the writers remember how she used to talk back
to Liv and Dodds? Probably not.)
Sonny and Empathy
Where? 👀 Shouldn’t Sonny have talked to that Will kid more gently? Instead of saying “I’m not a priest or a shrink, just gimme the information, goddammit”? Sonny usually cozies up to perps. This kid wasn’t even a criminal, and Sonny was treating him aggressively, when it was obvious he was fragile and would probably respond better to a milder approach. Which brings me to:
Sonny and Continuity
Sonny told Will (still in a very pointed way, when I was expecting a more casual, if not cordial approach) that the “next” rape “will be on him,” if he didn’t testify. Might that be a callback to Sonny’s own guilt, since he believes the fact his bully murdered someone is “on him”? Even though that’s wrong? And it was extra wrong to lay that kind of a guilt trip on this Will kid? Or did the writers forget about Sonny’s past already?
The Barisi Corner
Barba gave Sonny a sassy look! Because Sonny over-explained a legal matter to show off! And then he sarcastically thanked Sonny! Classic S16 material. We are blessed!
“I don’t care about Barba”
Seriously though, Sonny said “I don’t care about Barba”, meaning he cares about the case more, or about the victim, even if that means making a colleague mad. And that’s fair, especially in the heat of the moment. But this is coming a week after Barba’s secret is (almost?) revealed, at least according to the original production order. What can we deduce from that?
I’d like to think
Sonny would be more considerate when talking to a colleague who had recently
been compromised, or gone through some type of emotional hardship. So, maybe
Barba’s secret never actually comes out? Maybe we learn it, as the audience,
but it doesn’t go public, so Barba ends up worrying over nothing?
doesn’t lose his job, so maybe no one finds out (other than Liv, of course,
because from that promo we know she tells Barba about the hacker). What if Sonny
doesn’t find out at all, and he doesn’t even get to learn Barba has a secret to begin
with? Could Barba’s storyline run in parallel to the “main” case,
with no other characters (other than Liv, of course) involved? That would be
both disappointing (because the writers would be wasting yet another opportunity to integrate Barba and show he is a valued member of the team) and unsurprising (because, S18).
Of course there’s another option; maybe continuity is a non-factor and the
writers just never bothered to write anything to further the “Barba’s secret”
storyline past that one episode :D
Sonny’s Temper, Vol. 2
As Amanda noted, Sonny totally overreacted during that argument. Why would that be? Does he really think he knows better than Barba, on whether or not jurisprudence from another state is applicable or relevant? Like, that’s not an “opinion,” Sonny. And, even if it were, it’s Barba’s opinion which defines the prosecution’s strategy. If Sonny wants to make these decisions, he should quit the force and start prosecuting perps himself.
Which brings me to:
Sonny and the Law
Dare I hope that’s what the argument was about? Is Sonny getting
increasingly frustrated with the fact his job ends when he arrests a perp? That
would be a great way to bring back his dilemma about becoming a prosecutor.
This type of long-running professional frustration would perfectly explain why he snapped like that. It wasn’t
about him knowing better than Barba,
it was about him wishing he could be doing Barba’s job. Or even thinking he should be doing it.
Apparently, Sonny researched the case, and he came up with an idea which he presented to Barba offscreen, thinking it could save the day. That’s going above and beyond, from a cop’s perspective. And then Barba rejected his idea without a single word, also offscreen, and that pissed him off. Maybe Sonny felt underappreciated, in terms of his legal skills. He is a licensed attorney, but he is not treated as such. Problem is, he is not a prosecutor, he is a cop, and that’s how he should be treated.
So, what if Sonny’s constant sour mood is because he’s unhappy where he is?
Because he wants to do more, from a different position? Maybe that’s the reason for his changed demeanor, and it will be explicitly dealt with near the end of the season.
lol yes I’m reaching for the stars, Sonny’s law aspirations will probably
never be mentioned again
Greg Germann was awesome! So evil
and hot. Strauss gave Buchanan a run for his
money. By the way, remember when he was an ADA? lol neither do the SVU writers.
Why didn’t Barba at least tease him, for switching sides? Like he did to
Calhoon (except for her it was the other way around, when she advocated for that
victim in that one episode). It would have taken three seconds, and it would have added context.
What’s that? Barba also had an abusive father? lol no one cares or remembers :D
Liv just popped up on that roof, out of fuckin’ nowhere, to deliver some angst and sell
her backstory, totally overshadowing that kid? Classic Liv!
(srsly tho she was great in this episode :D)
Speaking of, why didn’t we get a close-up of Sonny on that roof, after he found out about Liv’s history? He was right there! And that, too, would have taken three seconds. I was craning my neck to see his reaction, even though it was off-camera, lol. What a wasted opportunity to show how much he cares about Liv. Oh, and Amanda apparently found out offscreen
(as if Liv would ever tell her, lol).
does not give a single fuck about the squad dynamics.
Peter needs to do that botox thing people do between their eyebrows for their “11” lines, he’ll get wrinkles if he keeps frowning like that in every single one of his close-ups.
Amanda’s coats keep slaying me.
What a waste of Bill Irwin.
That first defense attorney is my fave! I wish he’d been in more scenes!