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Carisi-centric thoughts on Ep 19x05

(a tiny bit late, because I’m already working on my new Barisi episode tag and I got distracted)

:D

Overall Thoughts

A half-decent episode, a strong vibe of “been there, done that,” and some very solid acting by regulars and guest actors alike. Not a complete snoozefest (though it did get progressively worse, somehow), but too predictable to be truly entertaining. I am sensing a bit of a slump, but right now we’re at a comfortably mediocre level I could live with, lol. Still, I’m hoping the show will bounce back with episodes that are a little more creative.

Case-Related Thoughts

Uh. Yikes? They see what is effectively a stick figure-like age progression sketch and immediately they’re all “IT’S HER!!!” and then they see footage of her taking the subway and immediately they’re all “WE’VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE!!!” and then the brother’s story is a little off and they’re all “HE’S THE KILLER”.

Like, maybe show some restraint? Y’all are cops?

All of the drama could have been avoided, which is just poor writing. I mean, I laughed my ass off at “there are no orange groves in Pennsylvania”. That was their other big clue? Not the fact the girl refused to give a DNA sample but SVU released her into the custody of some random family regardless?

Speaking of, why on earth did they allow that girl to move in the family home literally 5 minutes after she was found? Was she even stable enough? And the continued refusal to give a DNA sample was certainly suspicious. Sure, the dad was covering up a crime, so his refusal to get the girl’s DNA tested rang true, but by that point it was already too late. They should have tested her DNA before they ever told the family. Why would they risk the emotional damage? To protect her, or respect her own privacy? Okay, but how about protecting the family as well? How about protecting the mother from the pain of losing her “daughter” twice? That’s the one parallel the episode failed to draw between the main case and Liv/Noah. Liv would never want to give that mother false hope.

Also, the son was acting way too creepy from the start. The dad did that a lot better (then again, Paul Schulze is always fantastic); his reaction was part creepy and part “maybe he’s being weird because he doesn’t believe that’s their daughter, but he doesn’t want to hurt his wife by saying that out loud”. Meanwhile, the son was practically all, “Yep. I did it. I don’t know who this random girl is, but she sure isn’t related to me. My actual sister is dead because I personally murdered her.”

Sonny and Continuity

Sonny crossing himself when finding dead bodies is a lovely touch, and I love that the show hasn’t forgotten his faith or his reverence for human life.

We got yet another random and unnecessary tidbit about Sonny’s family life. All I’m gonna say is, I sure hope somebody in the writers’ room is keeping track of all this, because they’re giving us 3 new tidbits every week and I feel like we’re going to start getting conflicting info by episode 14. “So, when my pops was in the hospital for a month back in 2007, and I was in the waiting room, but also doing a student exchange program in Italy at the same time, and my oldest sister was pregnant with her first, but she also had a 3-year-old at home, and my mom was baking cookies for the nurses every Tuesday, but she had already been dead for 2 years, and….”

What is the point of all that? I appreciate the fact they’re trying to fill in some blanks, and Sonny has always been the type to overshare, so it does fit his personality, but it’s still kind of strange. Is Sonny stuck in the past, reminiscing literally at all times? Or do the writers want us to get to know him a little better? If so, why can’t he talk about his current life? Fill in those blanks? Or, even better, why not show us that current life? Lord knows we’re seeing enough of Liv’s life, but all the other characters have gotten nothing. Sonny and Barba especially had their one and only “personal” episode (one each) back in Season 16. It’s nice to hear about Sonny’s family, but it’d be nicer if we actually saw them :D

Sonny and Continuity Vol. II - Emotion

As I’ve said countless times, Sonny is always hit hard when the victims are younger, and I love the idea that a young-ish Sonny would have followed a missing child case even a decade ago (which would have made him how old? And was he a cop at the time? In college? In the Academy? A rookie? What year is it?) Especially since he was going through something emotionally traumatic, like having an ill parent. The ICU means his dad didn’t have it easy, so Sonny was probably worried and was trying to find an outlet for his stress (I’ve been there. Hell, I am there, that’s partly why I write these posts lol).

That said, I also loved seeing that Sonny’s sensitivity and attachment to children led him astray. It gave him false hope, and an overeagerness which is typical of him in general, but uncharacteristic of him as a cop; he usually has good instincts, but he’s also the cop who will triple-check every possible explanation before forming a working theory, so I liked seeing him get carried away. As sad as it was (because it was totally obvious he was wrong, since it was totally obvious the brother was guilty), I liked seeing him falter.

Not that he really faltered, or not that it was acknowledged.

I sincerely thought Sonny was going to get in trouble with a reporter (lol just kidding, of course that ended up being deleted) because he spoon-fed the girl various details she might not otherwise have known. There’s helpful questions and then there’s leading questions. Sonny was so excited about finding “little Em” that he let his emotions cloud his judgment. Again, that made sense, because he had a special attachment to this particular case, but I kept waiting for the payoff. I thought “Emma” would parrot the info Sonny fed her during her TV interview, or something. I kept expecting him to be reprimanded, later on. I wanted to see him acknowledge his mistake, and maybe even get punished for it. In a subtle way, maybe in a conversation with Liv, who would respect his guilt but would warmly yet sternly tell him not to get so easily excited in the future.

Except Sonny was punished via carrying a dead child. And I don’t know if that was even intentional (as a punishment) or accidental (most likely).

Sonny’s Punishment

As strong of a scene as it was, and not to get gory on ya, I gotta say, carrying a corpse like that after all those years? Wouldn’t that girl be, like, a pile of bones at that point? And, dare I say, wouldn’t it have been more jarring and tragic if we had seen Sonny carrying an actual lump of remains, instead of an identifiable human shape? I would have gotten chills. But then, they wouldn’t have been able to do the dramatic “carrying the body of a child” shot which…

Thank God Peter is such a good actor, and such an understated actor, at that. He is always given these dramatic-ass moments, but he never overacts, so he is able to bring some truth and some honesty to these otherwise melodramatic scenes. His performance is what grounds Sonny. I love how he goes big when the moment is more comedic, but he always shuts down and gives us these small, numb and nauseated expressions when the moment is tragic. The writing is heavy-handed enough, so a “bigger” performance would hurt its emotional impact.

I swear, sometimes it’s like the writers are trying to turn Sonny into this tortured, “vulnerable” version of a Gary Stu, since he has been the de facto male lead for so long, and there’s no one else around to do that sort of stuff, but Peter is valiantly playing him as a three-dimensional human being, because he’s a character actor at heart. As a viewer, I appreciate that.

If I had written this episode (which I wouldn’t have), instead of that entire “finding the remains” scene, I would have had the mother talk to Sonny after the trial, not Liv. I would have had the mother coldly tell Sonny, “I wish you’d never found her,” which would have been a great juxtaposition to “I look at you and I see the angel who found my daughter.” That would have been a more subtle way of punishing him, but just as much of a gut punch, and I’m sure Peter would have given us a reaction which would have been equally heartbreaking.

(WAIT SHOULD I PUT THAT IN MY BARISI EPISODE TAG? WHICH I’VE ALREADY STARTED WRITING? HELL YEAH I WILL. I don’t only fix the lack of Barisi, I also fix the missed opportunities for closure :D)

Stray Thoughts

Sucks that Fin was off for two weeks in a ro… wait he was in this episode? Oh okay.

Barba was underused again, but his face (and his voice!) when he asked if Liv was okay made his entire appearance worth it not really though, he needs more to do.

What was the brother convicted of? Wasn’t he a small-ish child when he killed his sister?

Girl: “Don’t touch me!”

(Sonny approaches her with the clear intention of touching her)

Girl: “I said don’t touch me!

(Sonny keeps moving in her direction with his hands literally outstretched)

Girl: I SAID DON’T TOUCH MEEEE!!!!

*DUN DUN*

Oh, SVU, will you never learn? A “dramatic” moment doesn’t work it if it’s based on total contrivance.

The Noah storyline is getting predictable. Liv is going to start grudgingly trusting Sheila, despite her original (and correct) instincts, and then Sheila is going to pull something intense; kidnapping (in time for February sweeps, perhaps), or maybe making her case (to somehow vacate the adoption, which, lol) more legitimate by gathering “evidence” Liv is unfit to be a mother. You know Liv is going to get into trouble eventually, with a perp or a long case, and Off-Screen Lucy will be conveniently busy for once, and Sheila will volunteer to babysit, etc etc. That said, I loved that first courtroom scene. It’s always nice to see Langan, and Brooke Shields is very good (in setting up the fact she’s possibly deranged and will go awf later in the season)

Continuity has been better this season, but apparently it doesn’t reach back to the Stabler years, just to SVU 2.0. So I guess it’s understandable that they virtually redid an entire episode from SVU 1.0 and no one had any memory of it happening.

Amanda: “Liv’s going to bring in a reunification specialist.” (cut to Liv doing the reunification her own damn self) I love this show and its unintentional hilarity :D

Sonny’s sweet face when the parents thought they recognized their daughter? Peter is so good. He really broke my heart last night.

THIS REMINDS ME, the other day it occurred to me that I should stop making stuff up and give in to my actual destiny, which is to write a prep school AU, which quickly evolved into: Kate as Derek’s older juvenile delinquent girlfriend who sweet-talks him into all kinds of bad behavior including just like, a little minor arson. She has him do all the heavy lifting; she’s 18, she’s got a record, she can’t risk it, and he’s sixteen and blind with wanting her so he says yes every time.

He doesn’t realize that they’re targeting the dance studio where his little sister takes lessons– all those suburban houses look the same from the back, he doesn’t know– and he doesn’t realize that this one will really catch, the ground dry in a drought, flames sparking up across scattered leaves and onto the porch and the can of gas Mrs. Pressman keeps out back for emergencies. Everyone makes it out safe but Derek dreams about it every night: the last firefighter emerging with smoke-black Cora clutched in his arms, her little pink tights ripped and charred, the hack of her cough for days after. Confession doesn’t ease the burden, but it does get him sent to some reform school for fuckups and headcases.

WHICH is where he meets Stiles, who’s also sixteen and grieving his mother’s death, whose behavior has been erratic and mostly non-violent, but eventually even there was nothing a small-town Sheriff could do, too many teachers complained, couldn’t pay for the local private school, had to send him to one of his old buddies from the academy who does security at Beacon Academy for Rowdy Boys. ARE THEY ROOMMATES. Yeah, you know, I think they are. 

At first they don’t get along. Obviously. Stiles is like, they put me in with an actual delinquent, I’m just having a hard time, I don’t want to live with this nutty pyro! And Derek is kept awake by Stiles’ unending stream of nightmares, the twitching and talking and screaming. That’s what drives them together, Derek gaunt and shadow-eyed, saying “dude, you have to talk to someone about whatever’s going on in your head, I can't sleep.”

Talking about what was going on in my head is what landed me here. Not making that mistake twice.”

“I know the feeling,” Derek says before he can stop himself.

“No, you don’t.”

“Listen, asshole, I turned myself in.” Derek is across the room before he means to be, fingers twisted in the front of Stiles’ shirt, their faces too close. “I knew I was dangerous and I knew this would be a shithole, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone anymore, I didn’t want–”

“Hey.” Stiles reaches up and untwists each finger, one by one by one. “Okay. Okay. I didn’t know.” He settles back onto the edge of his bed and Derek sinks down next to him, puts his head in his hands. 

“I said I had dreams about killing people,” Stiles says softly. “Every dumb asshole who showed up to mom’s funeral, their big dumb grinning faces, saying sorry, sorry, like it was their job to grieve her, like they knew, like they had any right to–” he sucks in a breath and unclenches his own hand where it’s buried in the sheets. “I wasn’t going to do it.” He says. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt, either.”

They start talking a little bit, sometimes, while they do homework, sitting together at meals. Derek’s family comes to visit and Stiles sees how he is with them: lost in the fray of so many voices and opinions and bodies, second to youngest and not even the baby anymore. He just looks and looks at Cora and doesn’t touch her, seething with how much he loves her, how scared he is to love her, and Stiles feels the exact same burn spreading, flames licking under his own skin. The Sheriff comes and he and Derek talk about his case, a little bit, his legal strategies. Seeing his father’s gruffness get soft loosens something in Stiles. “I miss you,” he admits at the end of the visit, bringing up the words from all the ugliness twisted up inside of him, feeling out the idea that loving someone might not always end hideously after all.

The nightmares slow but they don’t stop. At some point Derek takes to just crawling into bed with Stiles, their long bodies spilling over its edges, and it’s not like he sleeps so much better, really, except in the earliest hours of the morning, when they’re both warm and pliable and too tired to pretend, when Stiles wraps his arms around Derek’s body and pulls his face against his neck, and the morning sunlight comes in through the window and somehow, for a few hours, they both feel safe.