Review: Law & Order: SVU, ‘Post-Mortem Blues’

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Plot: We are brought back to the final moments of the William Lewis (Pablo Schreider) hostage situation as he shoots himself in a manner that would incriminate Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). With blood still on her face, IAB immediately launches an investigation headed up by longtime Benson agitator Lieutenant Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke). To everyone’s surprise IAB wants to sweep the whole mess under the carpet and clear Benson, but Benson, riddled with guilt for lying under oath in Lewis’ original trial, decides to tell the truth. This doesn’t sit well with the Brooklyn DA (Greg Germann) who believes Benson is lying and there’s a huge NYPD cover-up. Benson’s career and life are put in the hands of a grand jury.

Photo Credit: Micahel Parmelee/NBC
Photo Credit: Micahel Parmelee/NBC

‘Post-Mortem Blues’ wasn’t a pretty episode. No, at times it was very clunky and ham-fisted in its approach. At times things were a little too convenient — damning (or at least suspicious) evidence and testimony against Benson seemed to come up at the perfect time.

But, despite its sometimes clumsy and messy execution, it got the job done.

The episode finally put the William Lewis storyline to bed and gave us a hint at where the long-running crime drama is heading from here.

Despite, criticisms on execution, the episode did have something that’s been missing from this season — an air of suspense. The question of, “Will Benson/Hargitay actually leave the series?” often popped into my brain throughout the episode. The way they were painting it certainly made it seem that way and hell, we had two major players depart this season, why not make it a third, right?

Any fan of the show knows that SVU without Olivia Benson isn’t SVU anymore, but we’ve heard rumblings (rumors mostly) for years that Mariska Hargitay wanted to take on a reduced role or even step away from the series. So the thought of Benson retiring or facing jail time, as silly as it seems, couldn’t be ruled out last night and that made the episode exciting and suspenseful. This wasn’t a paint by numbers episode, it colored outside of all the lines and the results, again, were satisfying.

Photo Credit: Michael Parmelee/NBC
Photo Credit: Micahel Parmelee/NBC

The Lewis storyline needed to end, it’s been this overlong, overwrought arc that’s been carried predominantly by Pablo Schreiber’s performance. The rest of the arc was plagued with terrible creative choices as SVU detectives were often rendered downright idiotic and inept during these “Lewis” episodes. Each episode raised the stakes to ludicrous levels and by story’s end Lewis was pretty much Hannibal Lecter in terms of him being this criminal mastermind. It went over-the-top way too often and thankfully it’s over. Will we see more of Lewis in flashbacks? Probably. But this storyline could not go any further without getting any more absurd than it already had.

This episode also provided short-term hope that Donal Logue will stay on for an extended period of time. Logue’s Declan Murphy is probably the best addition to the series since the days of Adam Beach’s Chester Lake. Logue is no-nonsense, passionate and has a flare for the dramatic, something sorely missed on SVU since Christopher Meloni left. Throughout the episode you kept hoping that he’d mention staying on and in the end, it looks like he will.

His addition to the cast combined with the fact that the upcoming three weeks of the series seem to be all case based gives me hope for the future of SVU, whereas a few months ago this series seemed all but done. Frankly, the season should’ve ended tonight — a major storyline is resolved and there’s a potential new direction coming. But instead, we’re getting three more episodes tacked onto this never-ending roller coaster of a season. Let’s hope SVU can end strong and take us into a far superior Season 16.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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