svu thoughts

SVU Thoughts

Just a quick (lol jk) overview of S18, now that it’s finally over, and some wishes for S19. I just had to put this post together, to properly leave S18 behind.

Character Progression in Season 18

Liv

She started off the season in a happy relationship, freshly back from a Paris vacation. She ended the season single af. Nothing else changed. Her professional life is exactly the same, and her personal life consists of Lucy practically living in her house.

Barba

He started off the season doing nothing. He ended the season also doing nothing. The only thing that changed was a suspension on his record, for something that happened decades ago, and the further deterioration of his career. The promising storyline of his death threats was dropped, and we still know absolutely nothing about his personal life.

Sonny

He started off the season as a recently licenced attorney who was doing job interviews for ADA positions. That was never mentioned again, same as his law degree and career aspirations. He ended the season as just another cop. He is the only character with a positive development in his personal life, as he was briefly revealed to be dating someone who’s a 34B.

Amanda

She started off the season living with baby Jesse and Frannie, she got a (temporary?) houseguest in the form of her sister Kim, and now I guess she’s Kim-less again  (which is her loss). Absolutely nothing else happened in her life, personal or professional.

Fin

He started off the season wanting to become a Sergeant. He is the only character with a positive development in his professional life, as he passed the Sergeant’s exam. He did not, however, end the season as a Sergeant. He’s still a detective, badge and all, and he has not yet been “appointed” a Sergeant. The promising storyline of his son having a baby was dropped, so no Grandpa Fin for us.

To summarize: Liv is single, Sonny is not single, and Fin is almost a Sergeant. That’s all. 

Now let’s compare that to, say, Season 17. 


Character Progression in Season 17

Liv

She started off that season alone, and she ended it in a happy relationship with Tucker. That relationship was tested, and it also put a delicious strain on her friendship with Barba, though both of those problems were thankfully resolved. She had to assert herself with Mike Dodds, who was the Chief’s son-slash-plant, as well as a Sergeant who was hellbent on proving his worth, sometimes even undercutting her authority. She showed Mike who was boss, he fully accepted her as his superior, and then he died, leaving her to deal with his loss and the blame, which she thought fell on. Liv was tested as a leader, as a friend, as a romantic partner, and as a mother, and she came out wounded, but on top.

Barba

He started off the season doing nothing (lol), but he then tackled several politically charged cases and he stuck to his guns, every time. He fought for his beliefs, even when he disagreed with the squad. Barba had to deal with politicians and community leaders and union reps and and media attention. He was under pressure from his bosses (something acknowledged by other characters, like Liv and Sonny) and we got to see him as part of a relatively fully-formed political universe, which, in turn, allowed us to see what he was made of. We got to witness his stress, but also his backbone. Near the end of the season, we learned he had been receiving death threats, which again allowed him to show how fearless he is. When the season ended, we left him in protective custody, still in danger, but “not worried, not in here.”

Sonny

He started off the season as a recent law school graduate, studying to pass the bar and considering his professional options. We got to see him shadowing Barba to advance his legal knowledge, we got to see him thanking Barba for the help, we got to see him celebrating his success (passing the bar exam) with the squad, excited hugs and all, and we also got to see Barba suggesting an ADA spot in Brooklyn, as a possible career option for him. Sonny had a very cordial relationship with Mike Dodds, who wasn’t accepted very warmly by the rest of the squad. That showed Sonny’s supportive and friendly side. When the season ended, we got to see Sonny’s renewed desire to stay with SVU, after Mike’s death, because career aspirations are one thing, but Sonny’s work family is another. And Sonny wanted to be there for them. Still, the door was left open for Sonny to eventually pursue a different career path.

Amanda

She started off the season unexpectedly pregnant, and she made the decision to have the baby. She managed to overcome her struggles with addiction, for the sake of her child. She tried to reach out to her family for help (which, gurl!) and she was betrayed by them yet again. She found herself alone, or so she thought. In truth, Amanda found another family, in her team mates. Her relationship with Fin, which used to be more heavily featured, was strengthened and showcased after many years, and she also learned to rely on Sonny, as a good friend and an even better babysitter. Her relationship with Liv was also strengthened, and they were there for each other as mothers, as women supporting other women, even when they had professional disagreements. Amanda also had a very tense relationship with Mike Dodds, which enriched her character. It allowed her to keep her trademark sass/spunk while also showing her more human side, as she came to appreciate Mike, the more she got to know him.

Fin

He started off the season regretting the fact he wouldn’t step up and take the Sergeant’s exam. He resented Mike for that, even though it wasn’t Mike’s fault, and we got some interesting scenes between him and Liv, discussing just that. Discussing their lives, their careers (especially at their respective ages) and their future. Their responsibilities as the (de facto) leaders of the squad. Fin also got to be there for Amanda, as I mentioned above. At the end of the season, we also learned that his son was in the process of having a child, and Fin was an excited grandpa-to-be.

Mike

He didn’t get the character development he deserved until later into the season, but he did function as a catalyst, allowing us to see different sides in all the other squad members. That’s why a new character always brings something to the show. New dynamics are created. Again, the writing did not do Mike justice, and his death was rather senseless, but we did get to know him, in the end. He started off the season as a somewhat detached and aloof character, but he ended it as a member of the team. One we were all sad to lose.

So yeah. Draw your own conclusions :D

My conclusions?


Season 19 Suggestions

  • Bring in a new squad member.

That will breathe life into the show (like Sonny did, when he arrived) and it will flesh out the rest of the characters, as they try to navigate a new presence in the (practically empty) squad room.

  • Map out individual character arcs.

Take each character and say, “They will start the season HERE, and they will end it THERE.” It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate (especially for the characters who aren’t Liv). But it has to be something. Personal or professional. Some type of progress. Some forward movement. They can’t all end the season right where they started.

  • Rediscover the sense of a squad.

The characters are people. Colleagues. Friends. Family. They need to interact more heavily, in ways which showcase their dynamics. Similarities and differences alike. Since there are no actual “partners”, utilize that by mixing up the duos working each case. Don’t isolate characters. Integrate them. 

  • Expand the types of cases being investigated.

Don’t just show “rich white people” crime, and exclusively focus on he said/she said rapes. Don’t show the same crime fifteen times. Variety is key.

  • Showcase Barba in the trial portion of the show.

Don’t waste time arguing physical evidence, when the legal arguments are much more interesting. Don’t spend twenty minutes on the defense attorney victim-blaming. Show Barba being cunning. Being smarter. Don’t allow him to be swayed by the non-lawyers (like Liv) or even the lawyers (like Sonny). Barba is the ADA, he makes the decisions. Show that. Give him back his strength and his big brass balls. Have him win, personally, and fail, personally.

  • Remember who the characters are.

And what they would do. Or what they wouldn’t do. Don’t sacrifice that for the sake of a twist, unless it’s a very good twist. Also, remember who the characters are to each other. Strengthen their bonds, show some friction, but let them be who they are. They’ve all existed for years, and they now transcend the week-to-week writing. Listen to the cast, and let the characters be true to themselves.

SO yesterday that I was watching Trouble in the Heights, I imagined this silly crossover thing where trash can Nevada dates this girl who he lies about who he really is just to get on her pants (he gets super attached but won’t admit it, YET) cause she’s from a good family or something. 

-She kinda knows he sells weed but that’s all, since he always said he was in the bottom of the “business”. 

-She finally decides she can’t be with someone problematic, and one day after sex she finds the words:

-”I have to stop this,” she muttered, gathering the clothes Nevada had ripped from her body when they arrived to the hotel.

“Don’t sweat it, mami. I’ll buy ya new ones, eh?” the Kingpin mentioned casually, lighting up a cigar.

“I’m not talking about my clothes. I am perfectly capable of buying them myself,” she snapped, causing the man in the bed to raise both hands in the air, both defensively and mockingly. She sighed, looking for strength for the next step. “I’m talking about this… us.”

Nevada raised a single brow, and suppressed a cocky smirk. “What are you talking about? What’s wrong with this?” he inquired, “Us?” The last word got caught up on his throat, and he felt a warmth spreading in his chest. He liked that word.

“You know damn well what’s wrong with this,” she had come close to him, sitting on the bed next to his naked body. The girl traced swirls on his chest with her delicate fingers, and suddenly planted a kiss on his lips, quickly jerking away before he could embrace her. “I’m sorry Vada. Thank you for everything, it was nice.” She ran, quicker than he could react.

Those were the last words he heard from her before watching her storm through the door. Normally he would’ve made a scene, nobody left him. Nobody

But she had, like it was nothing. And instead of standing up and follow her to force her to stay, he had been left frozen in his spot. His lips burning with the ghost of her goodbye kiss. His vision became blurry, was he passing out?

No.

He was crying.

-A couple of days later, one of the underage girls that works for him gets arrested for giving a bj to some John in a public restroom. They link the girl up to him, and gets arrested by none other than the SVU squad. 

-They make connections with the girl Nevada was dating. And take her in for questioning.

“Good afternoon, ma’am. NYPD, Special Victims Unit. I’m detective Carisi, this is my partner Detective Rollins. We would like to ask you a couple of questions.”

A tall, skinny guy and a pretty blonde had intercepted her before she could open the door to her apartment. Her heart clenched inside her chest, she felt terrified of what was coming.

“Is this about Vada?” she immediately asked, just about the skinny detective pulled out his cellphone to show her a picture of him. 

The eyes of the two detectives went wide, that was easier than they expected. Never in their whole careers someone had accepted so fast to be acquaintances with such a dangerous criminal. “Y-yes, so you know him, Nevada Ramirez?” Detective Rollins asked, her brows almost on top of her head.

“Yes, I do. NYPD? Something happened to him?” Her mouth started to work on her own, she clenched her apartment keys to her chest. “Oh my God, is he dead?!” She questioned them, as tears threatened to form on her eyes.

“No, no!” Carisi tried his best to calm her down, placing both hands in her shoulders, to make sure she listened. “He was arrested, we want to ask you a few things about him down at the precinct, would you join us, please?” He was shocked, this girl who seemed to be from a good life, was almost in the verge of tears for someone as despicable as Nevada Ramirez.

“Yes, yes. Of course, just tell me, apart from being arrested, is he ok?” The concern was almost palpable.

“Yes, he is.” Rollins assured, smiling to her despite her utter shock and guiding her to their car.

-She claims he never raped her (much to the shock of the whole squad because HOW IN THE HELL did Nevada THE GARBAGE Ramirez got his hands on such a beautiful and nice girl without drugs or forcing himself upon her??). 

-“We were datingwas one phrase she grew tired of repeating.

-The squad questions her until they grow tired, thinking she might been lying to protect him. 

-BUT SHE REALLY DID HAD NO IDEA HE WAS THIS ENORMOUS CRIMINAL. 

-When it finally dawns upon them she was really in the dark about the grave danger she was in, they tell her almost everything about him (the drug parts only) and the world turns upside down, she’s crushed.

Here’s where it gets spicier… 

-After almost 3 hours of questioning and suffering she goes to this bar to have a drink and runs into a man drinking bourbon like it’s water. 

-ENTER Rafael Barba, who is in charge of putting Nevada away for good. He recognizes her from the questioning room and starts conversation, until he is finally able to ask her if she really didn’t even imagined who he really was. 

-Rafael accidentally lets her know about the sex crimes Nevada’s being linked to, which gives her the drive to help them as much as she can. 

-As the trial advances so does the chemistry between Rafael and the reader, who secretly have spent some nights at the bar where they met. 

-All of this doesn’t goes unnoticed by Nevada of course, who is BEYOND JEALOUS that the girl he was sure had in his pocket, is now head over heels with the bastard that wants to make sure he rots in jail.

I was going to send this to @ohbelieveyoume but it was TOO FREAKING LONG, so here it is for anyone that feels inspired by my silly headcanon lmao

Carisi-centric thoughts on Ep 18x19

For once, lol.

ALSO THERE’S A BARISI CORNER, AFTER 84 YEARS :D

Needless to say, LONG POST.

Overall Thoughts

I liked it? What?

It felt like an episode from a previous season. I checked, and it appears two of the “old” writers wrote it. One of whom also wrote Know It All and Great Expectations, namely some of the best least terrible (and more true to character) episodes of the season. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. When a writer knows the characters well, it shows.

Let me get one negative thought out of the way: just when I was enjoying the episode, what do you know, the rapist turned out to be sympathetic again! Good ol’ Season 18. I have to say, though, that in this particular instance, in this specific episode, this was probably done for the sake of the totally predictable twist. The message wasn’t “oh but he’s a nice guy,” it was “he’s a victim too,” and that’s a pretty classic SVU trope.

Still, I didn’t appreciate how the episode tried to equate the experience of the victim and the rapist, nor the fact the actual rape was practically glossed over (via that favorable-ish plea deal) in order to target the “real” bad guy. Again, SVU has done that before, many times, and the reverend sure was a bad guy, but I did not like that ending. The rapist was almost excused for his actions, and the reverend willingly sacrificed himself to keep all that money and continue to help the needy. Like, they are the criminals in this story. No need to make them so noble. At least they could have had the reverend weeping for his cash.

I did, however, like that the girl seemed okay in the end, she had accepted both what happened to her and who she was, and she seemed more free. Also, she didn’t totally renounce her faith, which I think was a nice touch.

Barba Thoughts

For once, the show managed to find the most interesting (legally) speaking aspect of a case, and stick with it. It was smart to use the first amendment to defend rape as an expression of religious beliefs. It was an (extreme but) interesting legal argument, even if the writing was a little bit murky on that. As mentioned, rape condoned by a religion is still rape by secular laws, but the real issue is consent. If the victim, even in retrospect (due to manipulation, in this case) were to say, “I consented,” that would be the end of this case. Fortunately, Liv was there to convince the victim to testify, as is her wont :D

But back to the law, and back to Barba. Barba cited actual cases! Multiple times! My word! And there was an entire scene of him and the defense attorney in the judge’s chambers, presenting intricate legal arguments! Like, there was an actual discussion of the law! What? I was pinching myself the entire time.

AND THEN WE SAW THE OPENING ARGUMENTS??? for like one minute but still, when was the last time that happened? AND THEN BARBA CROSS-EXAMINED THAT REVEREND AND GOT ALL LOUD AND RIGHTEOUS? AND THEN HE ACTUALLY CROSS-EXAMINED THE PERP LIKE A BADASS? WHAT? WHAT SHOW WAS I WATCHING?

Okay I’m sorry for all the capslocking but Barba was actualLY DOING HIS JOB?????!!!!!1

Speaking of spectacular, let’s get to Sonny :D

Sonny and Continuity

The show remembered Sonny is Catholic, and wanted to become a priest, and grew up in the Church. I appreciated that reference to his teen years, when he seemingly idolized the priests in his life. That’s consistent with what we learned in Unholiest Alliance (which, according to imdb, was written by the same writer who wrote this episode, so that would explain it).

But it’s also consistent with Sonny’s (prior) characterization. It’s one thing to say “my priest saved my life” (as Sonny said in the somewhat similar Duggars episode, last season), but to say “if a priest told me to jump, I’d only ask ‘how high?’” is very different.

We know Sonny has a tendency to get attached to the authority figures in his life (Liv, Barba), and we know he has a desire to impress them, to earn their approval. If you take that quality of an adult Sonny, and try to apply it to a teenage Sonny, with the added element of faith and God? Yeah, I can imagine how badly a younger Sonny would want to get God’s approval. That was an almost throwaway reference, but it really told us a lot about Sonny.

As did that final interrogation, with the reverend. Sonny knows how to hit them where it hurts, and he really handled that masterfully. But one detail I’d like to focus on was the way he casually accepted the fact that guy’s church had done some “good things.” It reminded me of his treatment of Rudnik. Sonny is able to perceive and acknowledge goodness, if and when it exists, even in the darkest of people. That’s classic Sonny.

Sonny and Religion

I also appreciated the confirmation that, while Sonny is faithful, he is not blind to the faults of the Church. Or to the misinterpretations of God’s will. Regrettably, there was a deleted scene which went into Sonny’s beliefs in depth (here), but we didn’t get to see it. Still, the script alone is enough to confirm everything I’ve always suspected about him and his faith.

“I don’t pretend to understand what God wants for me. But my take has always been, “Do unto others.” And I wouldn’t want anybody telling me who I could or couldn’t love.”

That’s the perfect encapsulation of Sonny’s attitude. No judgment, no presumptions, but also a healthy reverence for God’s will and the mystery it truly is, for those who are faithful. ‘Do unto others’ is truly Sonny Carisi in a nutshell. It’s both empathetic (because Sonny can easily put himself in someone else’s place) and open-minded (because Sonny believes everyone should get to choose for themselves).

And the reference to love, that’s important as well. A lot of people who grew up in a more strict religious setting can’t help internalizing some of the more conservative teachings. Even if they disagree as they get older, it can be hard to shake the beliefs they grew up with. Sonny seems to have succeeded in doing that. His take is defiant, and confident, and meaningful.

“Don’t tell me who I can love.” End of story. I truly wish we had gotten to see Sonny saying that, because I think it’s important to see a young macho (as of late) white guy expressing such kind-hearted and progressive views, but at least we did see him saying this:

They’re kids. With normal sexual desires. But you made them feel they had the devil inside them.”

That needed to be said, and I’m happy Sonny was the one to say it.

The Barisi Corner

OH, HOW I’VE MISSED YOU, BARISI CORNER :’)

Perfection.

The Barisi Corner, Part 1

(yes there are 2 parts, one for each scene. don’t judge me, this was a long time coming)

I loved the first moment, at the precinct. The entire squad, plus Barba, were discussing the absurdity of using the first amendment as a justification for rape. Sonny had some thoughts on the subject, almost as a devil’s advocate (no pun intended), and he tried to express them, but of course Barba cut him off, because that entire theory is crazy. There’s no such thing as blanket consent. Even if the girl agreed in abstract that rape can be a “cure,” she would need to consent in the moment, and that consent could be withdrawn at all times, as Barba pointed out.

But.

Sonny kept on. Respectfully. Without yelling or getting mad. Sonny agreed with Barba, of course, but that wasn’t the point he was trying to make. That’s why he didn’t let Barba’s interruption stop him. He was, again, respectful, all “of course, but I’m just saying, hear me out,” etc., but he stuck to his guns. He showed the appropriate degree of deference to an experienced ADA like Barba, but he kept talking.

And Barba kept listening.

Sonny’s point was that the case was tricky, and the victim was confused and easily manipulated, so a good defense attorney (btw I love this defense attorney, I had missed him!) would “lather that up” into consent. What a great phrase, and what a Sonny Carisi phrase, frankly. Punctuated by the classic Sonny Carisi gesturing :D

Barba’s reaction to Sonny’s totally accurate (and prophetic) remark?

“…I agree.”

Simple as that. No snark, no sass. Barba was smizing the entire time, of course, but this was about work.

I mean, the fact they even spoke to each other was progress, but the fact they had a cordial conversation about the legal aspects of the case, and they came to an agreement? WE ARE BLESSED :’)

I always love it when the show remembers Sonny is a lawyer, and he can actually argue the specifics of a case (here, the strategy of the defense) with Barba, in a way the other cops can’t. That hadn’t happened in a long time. When Liv suggests something (like playing that tape, last week), it’s more intuitive and less strategic. More “this is the right thing to do,” and less “this is the smartest move for us right now.” Sonny thinks like a lawyer. Like Barba. And Barba knows and appreciates that.

This season has done away with any and all personal plots and characterization and interpersonal dynamics, but this one scene allowed me to fanwank it as progress. To pretend we didn’t just watch a boring scene about the law. Instead, we witnessed Sonny and Barba being totally professional, and in sync, and working together as equals. Analyzing a case, listening to each other’s points, and coming to an easy agreement. We basically witnessed an ideal working relationship :’)

The Barisi Corner, Part 2

I also loved how Sonny sat in on that meeting with Barba and Liv, when they spoke to the rapist and his attorney. There was no reason for Sonny (or Liv, lol) to even be there, technically, but that was less of a meeting and more of an interrogation, so Barba relied on his two most trusted police officers :D

I think Sonny was there because he could relate to the guy, having been raised in the faith. Barba (again in Unholiest Alliance, by the same writer) was clearly aware Sonny is a “good Catholic,” so I think he may have suggested it. Or Liv could have. Cozying up to a perp is the old Sonny’s go-to move, and this case demonstrated that perfectly. Sonny was the only SVU cop able to display a genuine understanding of the boy’s faith, but also his blind adherence to the reverend’s commands. That’s why Sonny mentioned his own relationship with the priests in his youth.

Sonny was in that room for that explicit purpose. That’s why he was sitting there, all sprawled out and sexy, ready to get up and pounce. He practically took over the interrogation, with Liv and Barba chiming in here and there. I think all three of them (BARSONISI ALERT) agreed that would be their best play, and they possibly even practiced it. The best way to get the kid to crack. To understand that, just like Sonny said, it’s not right to quote the Bible to justify a crime. I loved Sonny’s confidence, in that scene.

Speaking of confidence and Barisi, I LOVED it when Sonny got all sassy, saying, “let’s hit this guy where it hurts the most,” and Barba was smiling like “that’s mah boyfriend, I’ve taught him well!” I just loved that. We hadn’t gotten a real, solid friendly look between them in so long. I’m glad Sonny got to deliver the cocky line, for once, and I’m even more glad we got to see Barba’s amused-slash-approving reaction. Sonny has gotten significantly more confident through the seasons, and it’s always great to see Barba acknowledging that with delight.

Stray Thoughts

lol at Barba being all “omg we blew it, we lost the jurors, we’re done,” even though their case was still pretty solid.

Double lol because last week Barba was all “d’oh, it’s hypnotism! Which is totally real! What a slam dunk! I’m totally winning this case!” :D

I see Fin is still a detective, glad we cleared that up. You know, because Liv introduced him as such. Even if he’s “practicing his Sergeant skills,” which, how rude were Sonny and Amanda, by the way? Crack a smile, you guys, Fin was making a joke! to remind us he is kind of a Sergeant but not really! I wish Peter and Kelli had given legit deadpan looks, though, to make it even funnier. As it was, the scene was kind of awkward. Except Ice, who was hilarious.

Also, hey, remember how Fin’s son is gay? lol me neither also, hey, remember fin is a grandfather? lol no one does

When the friend said, “YOU WERE RAPED,” Liv’s face was like, “excuse you, honey, I’m the only one who’s allowed to scream that in a victim’s face.”

The actor playing the rapist was very good! So creepy. Almost robotic, until he cracked in the end. Very nice performance, he really made the episode. All the actors were great, in fact.

Liv’s colorblock jacket? Flawless.

I’m going to need all the gifs of Sonny sitting behind Barba, all sprawled out, please and thank you :’)

4

You know, I believe in God, too. And I’m not sure what he has in store for me or you or anyone, for that matter. But…but what I am sure about regardless of religion, is that what Lucas did to you was wrong. Yeah I know.

Carisi-centric thoughts on Ep 18x18

The last fifteen minutes really ruined what was, until then, a perfectly serviceable episode. It really flew by, up until that point, and I kinda liked it. It was dumb but fun :D

I even liked the hypnotism angle, but I must say, I think the problem persists; yet again, the episode had an interesting premise, but it failed to take advantage of it. Why not go into the practicalities of hypnosis? Where was Huang to get on that stand and explain it in detail? Speaking of, wouldn’t Barba talk to an “expert” during the trial? Why not make a show if it and demonstrate hypnosis? Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?

Warning

OK, guys, I’m going to be honest. I’m of two minds, when it comes to this episode. Sonny-wise, the episode was fantastic (and let’s be honest, that’s always my main concern lol), the premise was fun, we got Barba working with the entire team, not just Liv, and the case itself (the investigation of it, at least) was twisty enough to remain enjoyable.

BUT.

From a legal standpoint, this episode was laughably bad. It honestly left me baffled. Who wrote this? The last fifteen minutes were ridiculous. No way would Barba ever get a conviction based on what we saw. I’ll expand on that in a minute (in EXTENSIVE detail), but first let’s start with the good.

Sonny and Continuity

A lot of great stuff in this episode! Sonny pulled a classic Sonny, and looked into the case thoroughly, going above and beyond and finding information about out a crime which was committed out of state. He even dug up a civil suit. That’s absolutely consistent with the Sonny we know. It’s what he’s always done. He never gives up, he finds smart ways to work around the obstacles and solve the case.

I also appreciated that Sonny showed real empathy when he heard the first victim had died. Peter played that little moment so well. Both the surprise and the sadness. What I loved most about it, was that it didn’t feel like he was thinking “oh shoot, there goes our witness.” It felt like the old Sonny, the one who used to cross himself when he found a dead body. The Sonny who’d take the time to grieve, just for a moment, when confronted with the death of a stranger as opposed to last week’s Sonny, who dismissed actual death threats like he didn’t give a shit lol.

And I do always love it when Sonny cracks a case with his research. Even though he didn’t actually crack it, because what the fuck? But, again, more on that later.

Sonny’s Love Life

Wait, Sonny has a legit girlfriend that’s been mentioned more than once? Can we meet her, please? I’ve always wanted to see him happy and in love :D and making out with someone lol. I just wish we knew more about her. A name, even. Wouldn’t Amanda know her name? She and Carisi are obviously buddies. So far, the info we got on her is a) her bra size (classy, SVU writers) and b) that she’s into that raw food trend. I like that, actually. It fits Sonny. He seems like he’d totally be up for trying new experiences food-wise and otherwise, and this could be their thing, going around random restaurants and trying to convince each other to eat weird dishes, lol.

I love it when our characters are shown to have lives outside the “show”, but can we actually see it? Can we see Sonny all flirty and cute? If they don’t want to cast anyone new (because they seem averse to creating new characters), can’t we at least see, like, Sonny smiling as he talks on the phone, or as he reads a text, with Fin teasing him about it? Or something? Please? :D

Barba Thoughts

I was surprised Barba was the one to suggest hypnotism. Way to think outside the box! I’m not sure he was the best person to do that (he seems like a total skeptic who’d shoot that theory down immediately), but I bought the excuse of him having come across it before. Plus, I loved that he was the one who got to solve the case, for a change. And I also liked how the entire team, Barba included, spent several scenes brainstorming together. I had missed that. Barba in the precinct, with the entire squad.

Aaaaand that’s where the fun ends, and the pedantic/annoyed part of my post begins, lol.

Why on Earth would Barba take legal advice from Liv? Why would he ever play that tape for the jury? If that’s not reasonable doubt, I don’t know what is. Why would he follow Liv’s actual instructions? She’s not a lawyer! She directly affected the case, in a way that could have been detrimental, even though Barba seemed like he knew better (since he tried to talk her out of it, before folding as always), and the way the episode chose to resolve that was by having Liv and Barba drinkin’ it up at a bar.

Liv’s mistake was never identified as such, and it took Sonny “deus ex machina” Carisi and his random discovery to save the day.

Even though it shouldn’t have. Which brings me to:

The Law

Me for the first like 45 minutes: OK BUT WHERE IS RITA???

Me when Rita appeared: YASSSSSS QUEEN

Me at the end of the episode: NOOOOO QUEEN 

Where do I begin?

Why was Barba acting like hypnosis was sure to be accepted as 100% real and effective by a court of law, let alone a jury in its entirety? Why did he seem to “suddenly” realize he had no case (which, d’oh) at the halfway mark, only for Liv to wrongly convince him otherwise? And, even if Barba did manage to stumble upon a group of jurors who all believe in hypnosis, why didn’t he bother actually proving anything?

To get a conviction, Barba would have to prove that:

  1. hypnosis is real,
  2. hypnosis can be powerful enough to make a woman consent to sex against her will,
  3. Trask has the skill to hypnotize people,
  4. Trask actually hypnotized this specific victim, and
  5. Trask raped this specific victim.

None of that was ever proven. None. Like I said, no expert was shown explaining just what hypnotism entails. No proof was given that Trask even knew how to do that (so what if his mentor taught him, does that mean he now knows how to do it perfectly?). There was an actual tape with the victim’s ‘consent’ that was played but not actually debunked.

And oh Lord. That old case Sonny dug up. WHERE. DO. I. BEGIN.

What defense attorney, hell, what judge would allow a totally random arrest from over 20 years ago to be brought up into a totally unrelated criminal trial? Not to mention, no one even bothered to point out that the defendant was a drug addict at the time (22. YEARS. AGO), and he had since “changed.”

To be fair, the writers tried to make it work, with Barba asking Trask if he had ever been arrested, to “open the door” to bringing up the previous arrest (and also to get Trask to lie on the stand). Problem is, Trask only lied about the arrest itself, not about the specifics of it. With that in mind, Barba would only be able to mention the arrest itself, to contradict Trask’s testimony and present him as a liar. But he’d never be able to introduce the actual details of the arrest, the actual facts of that old case.

Barba would need to ask something specific to open that door. Something like, “Have you ever been accused of anything like this before? A man in your position, wealthy and surrounding himself with drugs and beautiful women,” blah blah. If Trask had lied about that, then Barba would have been able to bring up a similar case from the past (even the case of the dead woman mentioned previously). 

Unfortunately, there was nothing similar about the case Sonny found. No relevance, no probative value. A drug addict, ill and scared, letting someone die? Over 20 years ago? An expunged arrest, no conviction? That was prejudicial as fuck. Rita would have it thrown out in 3 seconds. Many times, prosecutors can’t even mention actual (and relevant) convictions, because it would be prejudicial, unless the specific convictions have a significant probative value relating to the case on hand.

Same goes for that half-assed “confession” to Trask’s mentor-slash-friend. Trask never mentioned this specific victim. That was circumstantial as fuck. I’m embarrassed on Rita’s behalf for losing this mess of a case. The old Rita would never.

Legally speaking, this was a total circus. Barba proved nothing. No way would the jury find Trask guilty. No way would Rita Fucking Calhoun let any of that fly. This is Dana Lewis levels of character assassination, in my book. 

Stray Thoughts

Is Liv working reception now? Didn’t she used to have an office? Where her subordinates could reach her, if a victim wanted to speak to “someone in charge”? You’re a Lieutenant, sis! Let someone else man the doors!

Declan? 👀

Amanda didn’t judge a victim, for once, and the case involved drugs! Progress!

Fin listening to that lady for like 5 minutes? YES. His face was the highlight of the episode. Fin himself was the highlight of the episode, actually. So many great lines, and Ice-T was clearly having fun.

Speaking of, we got Fin joking! And Carisi joking! And Amanda laughing! Who are these people? I don’t recognize them :D

Seriously though, I really appreciated the attempt for a more ‘lighthearted’ episode, but the writers should have stopped themselves riiiiiight before giving Rollins the line, ‘look deep into my eyes, you’re under arrest.’ Because no.

Sonny Thoughts

Based on this script spoiler posted here by @minidodds​:

Ummmm.

Thought 1: Is Rollins actually blaming a victim of abuse (a mother of an abused child, I’m guessing) for “letting” a man hit a child? Do the SVU writers think victim blaming is better when done by a female character? And can we get one single episode without a “bad” mother? And do Amanda’s issues run that deep, that she thinks every single woman (including herself) is possibly a terrible mother? What the fuck, writers?

Thought 2: Do we really need the male character to explain the cycle of abuse to a woman who’s probably had her fair share or run-ins with abusive assholes? Not to mention, a woman who’s suffered psychological abuse at the hands of her own family? If it were that easy to escape it, why has Amanda been completely unable to cut off her mother and my queen Kim? It’s one thing to have Amanda being judgmental about addiction (also troubling, but more consistent with a recovering addict who is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow), but this? And, again, a man with no children chimes in to set her straight? What the fuck, writers?

Thought 3: What if the writers are attempting to retcon Sonny as a victim of abuse in his childhood?

(just spitballing here, of course, to balance out all the Barba theories with some Sonny ones)

Depending on how Peter plays that scene and if it doesn’t get cut and then posted as a “deleted scene" a week later, it’s a possibility. The text is somewhat suggestive, isn’t it? “It beats you up on the inside”? This would fit with Sonny’s anger (almost to the point of rage) when working cases with underage victims, and it might also explain why he’s always so sweet to children and teens.

It might clash with his early happy-go-lucky characterization though, and with the fact he’s always painted the picture of a happy family with a bunch of sisters and a dad who loved inflatable Santas. That, plus all the early interviews, when Carisi was first introduced, clearly stating that the “new guy” had a healthy family life, unlike Amaro and Rollins (and Barba). Then again, we have never gotten the slightest solid hint about Sonny’s home life (except when he said he never told his parents he was applying to college), and this type of retcon is nothing unusual for a network drama.

Or, what if Sonny sounds so knowledgeable because one of his sisters has suffered domestic abuse? And he tried to help her? Maybe when he was a teenager himself? What if she’s still struggling? That would be interesting, and it would honor the classic Carisi trait of saying “my sister…” every few minutes.

I’d imagine there’s a chance Sonny is just saying this because, like, he’s read it in a psychology book (also consistent with Sonny’s personality plus the writers’ aversion of giving anyone a personal storyline this season) or he had a friend of a friend etc, but still, he could be speaking from experience.

What do you guys think?