The COTW, It was nothing special or new, but it was nice to see them doing a classic SVU plot without trying to pile up twists, and to show how current circumstances affect the same old patterns of dysfunctional behavior without overtly pushing an agenda or presenting every speculation from social media as fact. Plus everyone involved was competent and it didn't have St. Benson saving the day as a resolution.
Carisi! He was really good this week and so was the legal side. It is nice to see Carisi, not as an adjunct of the squad who still works for Liv even if he now has another evil political lawyer boss as well, but as separate, yet equally important, representative of the people in the criminal justice system.
Fin. While I thought that the lawsuit plot never really elevated above meh it was nice to them promising a Fin story and actually delivering, plus Ice-T actually getting something to do is always worthy of kudos.
The guest cast. Specifically Riki Lindhome and the kids. They did a nice job with what they were given and sold it without overacting. Plus Jason Kravits was solid as always. The rest were solid, but didn't really elevate the stock characters the writers gave them.
They seem like they are actually going to try to keep continuing with having Benson being a hands on leader instead of a superhero and an actual human who learns from her mistakes! I think they've tried to do this before, but they've always gone back on it immediately. And a Dodds Jr. reference to boot! Continuity twice in a row too?!
It was nice to see the show seeming to realize that a woman can be a victim of abuse and still bear some responsibility and moral culpanility for her actions. Everyone was acting like investigators with empathy and an understanding of the emotional and psychological dynamics of abusive relationships and not activists with badges.
With the exception of a few of the Carisi scenes the dialogue seemed a little flat. In fact the writing overall. If you are going to try for a classic SVU feel, which I wholeheartedly support, with the smaller cast and budgets of the current era you really need to elevate your game. They didn't and competence is no longer enough.
The confrontation between Benson and Carisi, It felt unnecessary and didn't ring true to their established relationship. It was like a repeat of Fin and Carisi from last week without the excuse of emotions running so high that people would lash out and say things they know aren't true and don't really mean.
Overall it was solid, if unspectacular and gives me hope that they are going to keep going in a good direction. I'm hoping they can build on this at some point and give us a truly great episode.