TV Review: Law & Order: SVU, ‘Spring Awakening’

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Plot: Amaro (Danny Pino) is locked up for assaulting last week’s “big bad.” Now SVU is once again on the verge of losing another of its detectives. Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) is still embroiled the Baby Boy Doe case (remember that one?) and watches as the child is bounced from foster to foster. The mother is discovered when Murphy (Donal Logue) arrests her and her pimp during a sting, as the two make their money robbing potential Johns. Olivia must use the baby as leverage to get to the mother testify against her pimp in order to get rehab in hopes to have her child again. And in a special surprise, that was heavily promoted, Munch (Richard Belzer) returns to the series.

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

The season finale of Law & Order: SVU was the perfect summation of the crime drama’s 15th season — messy, somewhat illogical, sometimes entertaining but in the end, a “meh” episode for a “meh” season.

Let’s talk about the positives first. Richard Belzer’s return as John Munch was the absolute highlight of the episode. His farewell earlier in the season was a bit half-hearted as it was overshadowed by the fact all the SVU detectives had to leave for the case of the week. Tonight, we saw a “classic” version of Munch, still sarcastic, but still on the side of his brother officer. If Munch can remain on the show in this guest role, that’d be awesome to have him pop in a few times a year.

And that’s pretty much where the positive ends.

The Amaro character jumped about 50 sharks this season. This season Danny Pino’s character has had multiple break-ups with his wife, he shot a kid, assaulted an undercover cop, went after people with a bat and was caught on TV, was assigned to desk duty and in this episode he faced the loss of his badge and possible jail time. To say this character has been completely overwritten this season is an understatement.

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

Then, the way he gets out of it…ugh, talk about a complete deux ex machina. Spoiler Rollins (Kelli Giddish) blackmails the wife of the man Amarao assaulted to get him to drop the charges. Yes, blackmailed. Completely absurd. Just utterly out of left field. The tension was barely built in the storyline before it was defused. We couldn’t even invest in the fact Amaro might actually go to jail this time. The situation was not helped in the least by a shaky delivery from the usually solid Kelli Giddish. Also, is anyone else rolling their eyes at the implications of the Amaro/Rollins romance for next season?

Then there’s the Benson/Baby Boy Doe storyline. The end result of the story was actually a nice, sweet moment for SVU and actually one that would’ve paid off as a series finale — Benson finally gets the child she’s always wanted. It’s a wonderful moment for the Benson character, but sadly it’s tainted by the fact she’s now be renamed commanding officer of SVU. This baby looks like it’ll be more of a hindrance for the Benson character, reverting her back to the cranky boss she was earlier this year.

Why is Benson the new CO? That’s because Donal Logue’s Murphy, probably one of the brightest spots of the past year or so in the series, has been written off. Yes, Logue will head to FOX’s Gotham and is off SVU…for now. Honestly, his presence was a welcome one on the series as he brought a tough edge back to the show. His character was a loose cannon, but an authoritative one. And it was funny to watch him go into his various characters, busting out his Irish brogue at will or channeling his old, greasy MTV character from the early 90s. You will be missed sir, you will be missed.

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

As for the case within the episode, it was a pretty messy and whatever kind of story. However, there’s potential here. There’s a hint at a bigger, master criminal involved in the crime at the end of the episode. Could SVU be embarking on a mulch-episodic run pursuing a new crime lord? That would be awesome and I think it’d give the show a new drive and focus that it desperately needs.

Season 15 of Law & Order: SVU has been a series of lows with barely any bright spots. But, this show has been around long enough to know how to right the course of the ship and as someone who follows the series regularly and in syndication, you have to have faith in their track record. Luckily, we can put all this season behind us and move on to a brighter, more positive outlook for Season 16.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, 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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