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S23.E04: One More Tale Of Two Victims

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Airing October 7, 2021:

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The SVU searches for a serial rapist who preys on mothers with young children. Benson and Fin struggle under the tightened reins of Chief McGrath.

 

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I hope this episode is better than the first 2 episodes but I’m not sure what to expect - on one hand it seems like the we could have a classic serial rapist case which makes me think we could get a more compelling episode after 2 weeks of predictable, non-compelling dreck, but the promo just showed Benson arguing with asshole McGrath which I don’t look forward to. I wonder if they brought in stereotypical jerk bureaucrat McGrath to be the boss for now just to make St Olivia’s halo shine even brighter, because that’s the only thing I’m taking away from it.

This season has started off with forgettable episodes and I’m wondering if the writers are out of ideas and are so busy pandering to shippers and focusing on personal drama that they don’t care about writing good cases. I’m hoping the season gets better but I’m not confident at all that it will.

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The SVU searches for a serial rapist who preys on mothers with young children. Benson and Fin struggle under the tightened reins of Chief McGrath.

 

I seriously doubt Fin is going to have significance in the story.

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So the whole rest of the season will be Crusader Benson fighting with McGrath.  🤢

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Velasco is being very opinionated here and kind of pushy. At least Amaro was willing to learn the ropes and follow Benson's lead. The investigation is looking pretty good and McGrath is turning out to be the Biggest Dick in the World when he doesn't believe the rape victim, and then "splat" we get a Benson soap opera moment with the doctor concerning her injury. Well it's getting better when a new rape occurs with the same MO, so McGrath will be eating his words. I'm getting a bad feeling about this episode. It seems like they are doing a disservice to the NYPD by making it look like a cop's rape victim daughter is so much more important than the other rape victim who unfortunately had other gentleman partners. IMO they are really pushing McGrath to an almost "Completely out of Control character". It's so unrealistic.

 Oh my God, I can't believe Benson said she will not tolerate any Double Standard in her unit, What the hell has the writers and producers been doing for the last 15 years concerning Benson and her actions, they have been prime examples of double standard yet they let her get away with it.

Bottom line, SVU maybe after sex crime culprits but the writers and producers are making the NYPD the true badguys in this series now or for this season.

Edited by dttruman
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The Good:
Velasco. I like how they used his start for some exposition and to remind us of some of the more unsettling aspects of the investigative process. It also was nice to have someone who could actually run for the chase scene. Hopefully they can actually deliver on the potential and tone down things a bit. It would be nice if he was a bit of an outsider for awhile, but still a team player.
The guest cast. Solid performances all around.
They actually managed to give us an interesting and compelling variation on a theme they have done way too much. Hopefully they will move on to something else for awhile. There are plenty of sexually based offenses out there to tell stories about.
Carisi. I liked him actually pointing out to the police that the district attorney's office is a separate yet equally important part of the criminal justice system. They have done a pretty good job of making him an ally of Benson without making him seem like a subordinate as Stone too often seemed at the end of his tenure.

The Bad:
The new chief is still a caricature and a cartoon. I have no interest in watching Benson give self righteous speeches to a cardboard cutout all season.
Fin was a non-factor this week. Even the parts where he was supposed to be a big part it seemed like the writers and Ice-T were phoning it in.
They are still shitting on the DAs office for no good reason. I've said in the mothership thread that I am certain that if the revival gets off the ground they will ignore SVU on the topic, but I would think someone would have told Warren Leight to cut out this nonsense.
 
Overall this was a solid episode. Nothing spectacular, but decent. It actually felt like a real SVU episode and not an OC ad. Not excited but for the first time this year I can see some potential. Admittedly not all of it is good, but I will take what I can get at this point. Hopefully we can get back on track now,

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This was much better than the first 2 episodes, I’ll say that. A lot of it felt like classic SVU, it wasn’t flawless but it was much improved over the first two episodes.

I liked having a classic serial rapist case with good investigation and a nice role for each character. I liked how they dismissed the perp at the start as a red herring but then doubled back to him later on.

I already like Velasco more than Kat, because he isn’t self righteous and he has intrigue, I think he’s a good guy and a good detective but he’s still learning his way at SVU and they naturally have suspicions because Chief Asswipe praises him so much. So I look forward to seeing where they go with Velasco and how he fits in going forward.

Fin was really good as usual, not quite enough screen time, I hope he gets more going forward.

Carisi was really good as well, I loved when I reminded McGrath his office would make the call about who to charge. However, I’m sick of higher ups hijacking Carisi’s cases, this plot device is cheap and overused, and while it wasn’t as bad in this one as in the first 2, it’s still tiresome, and as the above poster said someone needs to tell Warren to knock off making the DA’s office look like a bunch of politically obsessed hacks, especially with the talk or reviving the Mothership.

No personal drama at all was really nice.

The main weakness, aside from the aforementioned higher ups interfering with Carisi’s case, is McGrath. The guy is a one dimensional meathead asswipe who was put on the show solely to make St Olivia’s halo shine brighter. I mean how could anyone not cheer for St Olivia when she berated McGrath at the end? McGrath adds nothing to the show but making St Olivia look better. I really hope he doesn’t stick around for long, but I’m afraid we are stuck with him for the whole season.

So overall this was pretty good and showed that SVU can still deliver a decent episode without soapy personal drama, it had some flaws but was a marked improvement over the first 2 episodes. Hopefully the show can get on track and be decent this season, but I have no confidence in them to do so. 

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I knew it was going to be the ice cream man when we had the scene of the kid getting ice cream, with no crime taking place in the moment (the two guys on the street seemed classic misdirect.) The case was okay and I liked Carisi's role but McGrath's stuff made it pretty heavy handed with him vs. the squad. 

 

I want more Fin and Velasco. I like Velasco, I don't know where they'll take this thing where he's McGrath's inside guy but I hope they don't trash him to push the St. Benson battling the mean guys story. McGrath is a jerk but tbh if he'd said to Liv "okay give me your badge" I would have laughed--- that was a pretty soft threat. She's not the only one who can run SVU no matter how much the show says otherwise.

 

I'm still on watch for signs of Rollins starting to look Velasco's way instead of Carisi because it would be the Rollins thing to do.

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At least this was an actual episode of SVU and not a commercial for OG with a sliver of SVU attached to it. The episode in general was decent, nothing amazing but nothing awful. The guest cast was all really good, most of the cast got at least a few solid moments, and using a classic serial rapist story as a way to explore how the system treats some victims like "good" victims and "bad" victims. I like Velasco so far, he has a different kind of energy than the rest of the characters and I like having more of an outside perspective on the SVU unit. I am partially waiting for it to turn out that he's a bad guy, being the mole for McGrath but until then we will see how it goes with him. 

Its pretty rich of this show to give us so many "all victims are important!" speeches when this show spent many seasons focusing almost exclusively on rape cases involving affluent attractive young white woman, and even now victims are overwhelming attractive younger woman, so all I can hear is "all victims are important here...especially the ones who look good onscreen." 

I am so not looking forward to an entire season of strawman cardboard villain McGrath being evil all so that Saint Olivia can be even more of a perfect saint. He'll say all the worst things, she'll give never endings speeches where she gets to look like the perfect hero, its been two episodes and I am already bored. He's a dull villain who exists to make Olivia look good and as an excuse for her to give speeches, he might as well be an actual cardboard cut out for her to speechify at. 

I continue to crack up at how the show always gives the bad guys some random asshole thing to say just so that the audience really knows they should hate them. Yeah this guy raped two women in front of their children, but him using phrases like fake news? Now I really hate him, using terminology associated with people that the core demographic disagrees with! Now I really know he's the bad guy, the rapes didn't really make it clear enough.

Edited by tennisgurl
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I hate that the Ice Cream Guy was the rapist. I miss when SVU featured the occasional recurring Good Samaritan, like Sister Peg. (May she rest in peace) Ice Cream Guy could've become that.

I like Finn getting some time as The Sergeant. I like him moving into a position of leadership while Liv is dealing with her...stuff. I also liked his police work in this episode. He played Ice Cream Guy like a fiddle. 

It's been a while since my heart went out to a victim the way it did with First Victim. She let her home be eviscerated and was willing to testify but it meant nothing.

I saw a comment on another site that this season's big villain will turn out to be the NYPD. I'd love if this show was approaching stories that way but I don't believe it. Copaganda remains king.

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I enjoyed this episode. It was a little obvious it was the ice cream guy but overall solid episode and reminded me of a more classic old SVU rather than most of the newer episodes with 50 things going on and hard to follow the story.

Velasco seems more interesting than Cat and the new Chief angle could end up being interesting.

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Nobody in Second Victim's age group is named Peggy anymore.  Yesterday, I was at a souvenir shop looking for a keychain with that name.  Peggy wasn't even on their list of several hundred possibilities.

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On 10/9/2021 at 7:27 PM, Angeltoes said:

Nobody in Second Victim's age group is named Peggy anymore.  Yesterday, I was at a souvenir shop looking for a keychain with that name.  Peggy wasn't even on their list of several hundred possibilities.

You do see it, if it is an old-fashioned family that always names kids after an older member of the family. I have a distant cousin, under 15 years old, who is named Frieda. Frieda! After her grandmother's deceased Aunt! 

My own 2 grandmothers were named Emma & Hannah. They were old lady names when I was a kid, but they came around again and are back in style. I'm 65.

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On 10/8/2021 at 12:42 AM, Xeliou66 said:

The main weakness, aside from the aforementioned higher ups interfering with Carisi’s case, is McGrath. The guy is a one dimensional meathead asswipe who was put on the show solely to make St Olivia’s halo shine brighter. I mean how could anyone not cheer for St Olivia when she berated McGrath at the end? McGrath adds nothing to the show but making St Olivia look better. I really hope he doesn’t stick around for long, but I’m afraid we are stuck with him for the whole season.

 

On 10/8/2021 at 11:51 AM, Gigi43 said:

McGrath is a jerk but tbh if he'd said to Liv "okay give me your badge" I would have laughed--- that was a pretty soft threat. She's not the only one who can run SVU no matter how much the show says otherwise.

 

On 10/8/2021 at 4:07 PM, tennisgurl said:

I am so not looking forward to an entire season of strawman cardboard villain McGrath being evil all so that Saint Olivia can be even more of a perfect saint. He'll say all the worst things, she'll give never endings speeches where she gets to look like the perfect hero, its been two episodes and I am already bored. He's a dull villain who exists to make Olivia look good and as an excuse for her to give speeches, he might as well be an actual cardboard cut out for her to speechify at. 

All very good points about McGrath.

On 10/8/2021 at 4:07 PM, tennisgurl said:

using a classic serial rapist story as a way to explore how the system treats some victims like "good" victims and "bad" victims.

 

On 10/8/2021 at 4:07 PM, tennisgurl said:

Its pretty rich of this show to give us so many "all victims are important!" speeches when this show spent many seasons focusing almost exclusively on rape cases involving affluent attractive young white woman, and even now victims are overwhelming attractive younger woman, so all I can hear is "all victims are important here...especially the ones who look good onscreen." 

 

On 10/8/2021 at 7:06 PM, marceline said:

It's been a while since my heart went out to a victim the way it did with First Victim. She let her home be eviscerated and was willing to testify but it meant nothing.

It's too bad the writers and producers didn't try to explore the first rape victim's situation more and how hard it would be to convict since she has had at least two lovers. Instead all they do is try and make Benson look good trying to get the victim justice.  I am not trying to demean the first victim but we all know what the defense would do to her if she was on the stand.

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On 10/8/2021 at 7:06 PM, marceline said:

I hate that the Ice Cream Guy was the rapist. I miss when SVU featured the occasional recurring Good Samaritan, like Sister Peg. (May she rest in peace) Ice Cream Guy could've become that.

 

The show has a bad record of trashing recurring characters that the audience loved so it is best that he is trashed now before we become attached  rather than later. 

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On 10/8/2021 at 12:42 AM, Xeliou66 said:

The main weakness, aside from the aforementioned higher ups interfering with Carisi’s case, is McGrath. The guy is a one dimensional meathead asswipe who was put on the show solely to make St Olivia’s halo shine brighter. I mean how could anyone not cheer for St Olivia when she berated McGrath at the end? McGrath adds nothing to the show but making St Olivia look better. I really hope he doesn’t stick around for long, but I’m afraid we are stuck with him for the whole season.

That new chief guy is a terrible character. Even my wife, who is way more die hard when it comes to tv shows than I am, said if this whole season is him vs Olivia she is done with the show. Which shouldn't be that hard since we are already skipping any OC crossover episode.

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2 hours ago, Kel Varnsen said:

That new chief guy is a terrible character. Even my wife, who is way more die hard when it comes to tv shows than I am, said if this whole season is him vs Olivia she is done with the show. Which shouldn't be that hard since we are already skipping any OC crossover episode.

I agree he’s terrible - he’s a one dimensional asshole who I think was introduced solely to make St Olivia look better. I really miss having someone like Dodds/Garland in that role. 

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On 10/12/2021 at 5:04 PM, Xeliou66 said:

I agree he’s terrible - he’s a one dimensional asshole who I think was introduced solely to make St Olivia look better. I really miss having someone like Dodds/Garland in that role. 

I believe it's a growing consensus that McGrath is going to be another "Over the top" annoyance to Benson, but will he stay that way? Remember when Dodds first appeared on the scene, wasn't he almost as bad as McGrath? By the time he checked out he was doing Benson a major favor that allowed her to be promoted

Edited by dttruman
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The franchise seems to love the villain straw men leaders, McGrath here, Moran over on CI years back, as another example. It's just lazy.

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1 hour ago, dttruman said:

I believe it's a growing consensus that McGrath is going to another "Over the top" annoyance to Benson, but will he stay that way? Remember when Dodds first appeared on the scene, wasn't he almost as bad as McGrath? By the time he checked out he was doing Benson a major favor that allowed her to be promoted

Dodds had some moments of being an ass/not looking great, but he was never anywhere close to the level of jerkdom that McGrath is. While he had political concerns and was a bureaucrat, he never made stupid statements about “real rapes” or used his power to bully people into dropping cases and he wasn’t a demeaning, smug asshole. McGrath is just a one dimensional stereotypical villian.

1 hour ago, WendyCR72 said:

The franchise seems to love the villain straw men leaders, McGrath here, Moran over on CI years back, as another example. It's just lazy.

Just about all crime shows seem to have these cliched bosses, and yeah you had Moran on CI, and also Cragen used to deal with a chiefs who was a dick in earlier SVU, and Anita Van Buren had at least one asshole boss on the Mothership. It gets tiresome. I like when the trend is subverted and they have a character in that role that is more than one dimensional, such as Dodds, Garland and the final boss on the Mothership, the one who told Van Buren how to hide the smell of the medical marijuana she was taking and was sympathetic to her. 

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Is SVU trying to set a record of how many times they can do the "evil superior who doesn't get it (and inserts a spy into the unit)" storyline? I really don't care that it's very likely that there are that many who don't get it who are in charge, they've been there and done that, so can they please move on and find something else?

Were they hinting at Benson potentially becoming SVU Chief herself? First, McGrath was emphasizing that he was only Acting SVU Chief and then the doctor was talking about retiring.

On 10/8/2021 at 11:51 AM, Gigi43 said:

McGrath is a jerk but tbh if he'd said to Liv "okay give me your badge" I would have laughed--- that was a pretty soft threat. She's not the only one who can run SVU no matter how much the show says otherwise.

I don't think it's about that but the media attention this could attract. Benson has been at press conferences, so she's no unknown, so it's likely it would get noticed if she left, then the reason comes out, she herself could talk about the reason, that in turn would likely anger many, many women, that has the potential to put pressure on the mayor since he probably doesn't want to alienate half of the voting population... If McGrath is a career guy, this is the kind of attention he doesn't want as this has the potential to get him fired or at the very least, destroy his career path. (Which he would more than deserve).

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21 hours ago, WendyCR72 said:

The franchise seems to love the villain straw men leaders, McGrath here, Moran over on CI years back, as another example. It's just lazy.

 

20 hours ago, Xeliou66 said:

Dodds had some moments of being an ass/not looking great, but he was never anywhere close to the level of jerkdom that McGrath is. While he had political concerns and was a bureaucrat, he never made stupid statements about “real rapes” or used his power to bully people into dropping cases and he wasn’t a demeaning, smug asshole. McGrath is just a one dimensional stereotypical villian.

Just about all crime shows seem to have these cliched bosses, and yeah you had Moran on CI, and also Cragen used to deal with a chiefs who was a dick in earlier SVU, and Anita Van Buren had at least one asshole boss on the Mothership. It gets tiresome. I like when the trend is subverted and they have a character in that role that is more than one dimensional, such as Dodds, Garland and the final boss on the Mothership, the one who told Van Buren how to hide the smell of the medical marijuana she was taking and was sympathetic to her. 


I think this hits on one of the important differences here vs. some of the other antagonist bosses. Most of the previous jerk bosses were political hacks, concerned with image over substance. Which as a child and SO of teachers who works with many public sector employees is quite realistic and common, if depressing. It is also still all too common to find good old fashioned bigots in high ranking public safety positions, although in just about every city of any size most have learned how to hide it in public. So why not go for something that is both more realistic and more dramatically interesting? A chief who had learned the buzzwords while still harboring all the old ideas about good and bad victims would be something I'd love to see. Or some good old fashioned juking the stats. Heck they could go back to the old well of having the antagonist just be the one insisting they follow the law instead of their gut and personal morality since Carisi can't go as far as most new ADAs have in that role. There are sorts of ways to make this cliche work and they don't seem to be interesting in pursuing any of them, instead just giving us a B-list Fox News pundit who seems completely uninterested in any sort of spin and disconnected from political reality. I do wonder if the capital E Evil Chief is one of Warren Leight's pet story lines like the female detective in peril though since he also gave us Frank Adair on Criminal Intent.

Edited by wknt3 · Reason: fix typos
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10 hours ago, Xeliou66 said:

While he had political concerns and was a bureaucrat, he never made stupid statements about “real rapes”

I am not a cop or anything but that stupid comment about how it is better to go after "real rapes" seemed extra dumb to me. I mean sure a case where someone is raped by someone they know and it is a he said/she said kind of thing is probably hard to prosecute. But at the same time a random attacker raping some person they grab in a park is probably a lot harder to catch.

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6 hours ago, CheshireCat said:

Benson has been at press conferences, so she's no unknown, so it's likely it would get noticed if she left, then the reason comes out, she herself could talk about the reason, that in turn would likely anger many, many women, that has the potential to put pressure on the mayor since he probably doesn't want to alienate half of the voting population.

I don't think that they would involve the mayor, because he's a Liberal Democrat and the show (SVU) don't like to eat their own.

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4 hours ago, Kel Varnsen said:

I am not a cop or anything but that stupid comment about how it is better to go after "real rapes" seemed extra dumb to me. I mean sure a case where someone is raped by someone they know and it is a he said/she said kind of thing is probably hard to prosecute.

I think it was meant to be some sort of "thought provoking" statement to heat up the emotions of the viewers. I thought it was in poor taste because it makes the NYPD look like uncaring public servants.

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@dttruman I didn't mean that the show would write a story involving the mayor, just that I think that this is what McGrath is afraid of and why the threat works/worked. :-)

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On 10/12/2021 at 4:18 PM, dttruman said:

I believe it's a growing consensus that McGrath is going to another "Over the top" annoyance to Benson, but will he stay that way? Remember when Dodds first appeared on the scene, wasn't he almost as bad as McGrath? By the time he checked out he was doing Benson a major favor that allowed her to be promoted

I hope the writhing of his character gets better. I don’t even mind him a villain if he’s a well written villain. Right now it feels like he was introduced so that SVU could be WOKE SVU without having to reckon with some of the truly terrible things Benson has done over the years. Now we have a cartoon villain Police Officer to hate. Benson can remain Saint Benson despite 20 years of pretty shitty behavior. 
Other than that, I liked this episode. I like the new detective too.

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49 minutes ago, FozzyBear said:

I hope the writhing of his character gets better. I don’t even mind him a villain if he’s a well written villain. Right now it feels like he was introduced so that SVU could be WOKE SVU without having to reckon with some of the truly terrible things Benson has done over the years. Now we have a cartoon villain Police Officer to hate. Benson can remain Saint Benson despite 20 years of pretty shitty behavior. 
Other than that, I liked this episode. I like the new detective too.

I think the sole reason they introduced McGrath is to make St Olivia’s halo shine even brighter. They want her to look wonderful so they bring in a cartoon asshole villain as her boss that makes it impossible for viewers not to root for Benson when she stands up to him, whereas if there was more nuance in the writing people might not like St Olivia so much. I guarantee McGrath will be around all season until Benson finally takes him down.

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