TV Recap: Law & Order: SVU, ‘Spousal Privilege’

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Spousal Privilege Plot Summary:

A former NFL player turned commentator (The Walking Dead’s Chad L. Coleman) is caught on tape (a la Ray Rice) knocking out his wife (Megan Goode) in a parking deck. A media frenzy surrounds the contentious trial asking the question — is this is a matter the courts should decide or is it a private situation the law shouldn’t touch?

Hey, remember the whole Ray Rice incident? Remember how we had every single minute detail of this case plastered over every form of media? Remember all the debate over his “punishment” and whether this was a public or private matter?

Remember all that?

Great, because Law & Order: SVU is going to retell the exact same story, add a dash of Adrian Peterson in there, and then take it to court.

There’s a a lot of really annoying things that happen in this episode…

Scene from Spousal Privilege
Photo Credit: Myles Aronowitz/NBC

1. We’ve Seen This Episode Already
The element of the abusive sports figure was already touched upon earlier this season in “American Disgrace.” Sure, domestic violence in sports is a subject that has not left our collective conscious, but come on, do we really need to rehash the Ray Rice storyline again – two months later? And do we really need to do an exact replication of what happened? The punch. The proposal. The quick marriage. Finding God. The woman taking all the blame. Come on guys, let’s come up with something a little more creative here. Also, the recreation of  the punch, was really tough to watch. There could’ve been a more creative way to present this. We did not need to see Chad Coleman strike Megan Goode at all. Let’s do something where the detectives react in horror instead of seeing the actual punch. It’s supposed to be disturbing, we’ve all seen the Rice tape, we don’t need to see it again.

2. Amanda Rollins, Drunk…AGAIN

We’re going back to this? Really? God damn it guys, why? WHY? You were on such a roll this season. You kept the personal BS to the sidelines. We’d get glimpses of issues Olivia had with her adoption and how it clashes with her new role as a lieutenant. That’s fine. But the ‘Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) is a raging alcoholic and gambling fiend who got the shit kicked out of her by her loan shark’ storyline is the worst. It was always a low point least season, and it take a guest spot from Donal Logue, the patron saint of awesome, to salvage it. Now, we see Rollins, who’s supposed to be on the wagon and going to meetings getting absolutely sloppy drunk, trying to justify that the football player didn’t deserve to be prosecuted. Yes, Drunky MacGuber is okay with domestic violence.

Scene from Spousal Privilege
Photo Credit: Myles Aronowitz/NBC

2a. Then It Got Awkward

So while completely shitfaced, Rollins tries to “prove a point” with Amaro (Danny Pino). She gets in his face – shoving, slappy, insulting Nick. And of course, Nick Amaro being the dumbest and most irrational guy ever takes the bait. He gets ludicrously pissed off, throws a drink, slams his fists, but does “the right thing” and walks away. Yeah, you did the right thing Nick. You were two seconds away from blasting her in the face with a right. Give me a break. This was by far the worst part of the 16th season. It was absolutely painfully awkward to watch. It was poorly written and poorly acted.

At this point Rollins and Amaro have been such trainwrecks as characters, the show should just ship both of them off the series and reboot the team with Ice-T and Carese as the main detectives.

3. Let’s Play Fantasy Judicial System:

This episode, whether intentional or not, came off like the writers of the series wanted to get their point across of how the Ray Rice situation should’ve been handled. SPOILER ALERT. They wanted him to be convicted. And so, if they couldn’t have it happen in real life, they’ll do it on the show. Again, if this was their intention or not is unclear, but man did this episode surely feel soap box-y. Plenty of audience members will agree with the outcome of the episode (I do as well), but man they just were so blatant about it.

Scene from Spousal Privilege
Photo Credit: Michael Parmelee/NBC

4. They Dropped the Ball

Megan Goode’s character is a fascinating one – a woman who’s been abused who decides to stand by her man. And it’s being portrayed by a talented actress in Goode. They could’ve had a great character here, really delving deep into the mind of  this woman. It would’ve made for some compelling television and Goode has the chops to really make this role special. However, instead we get a lot of bland, generic, “Because I love him!” explanations and paint-by-number emotional outbursts. It’s a shame.

If handled better, ‘Spousal Privilege’ could’ve been a great episode. They touched upon the whole “what’s public” and “what’s private” matter of spousal abuse, but they really could’ve dove deeper into the emotional aspect of this case and really get inside the mind of the two characters involved in the situation. We’ve seen worse from SVU in the past, but this is by far one of the weakest entries to date.

Rating: 5 out of 10

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Bill Bodkin is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. He can be read weekly on Trailer Tuesday and Singles Party, weekly reviews on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU and regular contributions throughout the week with reviews and interviews. His goal is to write 500 stories this year. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English and currently works in the world of political polling. He’s the reason there’s so much wrestling on the site and is beyond excited to be a Dad this coming December. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom
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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