TV Recap: Law & Order: SVU, ‘Devastating Story’

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

The Scene of the Crime (Episode Summary): Derived from the UVA Gang Rape/Rolling Stone cover story scandal, a college student named Heather Manning claims she was gang raped at a frat house. When a television news host (Rob Morrow) makes the story national news, the story goes viral and the issue of campus rape becomes part of the national discussion. However, the story begins crack and the case devolves into he-said, she-said case as the SVU detectives find this story is not all it seems.

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

The Lead Investigator (Favorite Performance): Peter Scanavino has been the highlight of the SVU cast this season. In ‘Devastating Story’ he was the bullish voice of reason, the only detective who felt this whole thing was a little too convenient. Scanavino has done a great job evolving his character from a rough caricature to a fully fleshed-out character. He’s the only character on the series that seems to be the most dynamic, the one who isn’t stuck in a rut. Scanavino’s natural charisma exudes through every line of dialogue, and really makes the best of every episode he’s in.

The Devil in the Details (The Little Thing You Loved): The series, as always, sets any collegiate problems at Hudson University. I enjoyed how Liv brought up the history of issues the school has had during the series tenure. It feels like the first time they’ve ever done this despite it being the scene of the crime at least once a season.

Objection, Your Honor! (The Worst Part): The professor (Jessica Dillon) who saw herself as the advocate for Heather Manning was a character unexplored. It was obvious she motivating Heather to embellish her story, but it felt like there was more there, something personal. Was she sexually assaulted? Or was she just a crusader against campus rape? This could’ve been a character to go into greater detail on.

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

The Debriefing (Thoughts on the Episode): There seems to be a bit of a disturbing trend these days on SVU – the detectives don’t believe the victims. How many times does Rollins roll her eyes at a victim? How many times does the victim come off looking more and more like untrustworthy, that they’re almost to blame for what happened? Or how many times have we seen someone come out at episode’s end to lambaste the entire justice system? It just seems like no matter what happens, the victims are not 100% innocent. Last season it was the detectives were incompetent and now it’s the victims are not purely victims. It’s probably being done to throw a shadow of doubt into the case, but it just feels a bit wrong. ‘Devastating Story’ wasn’t a bad episode by any means, it was intriguing, but the theme of victim blaming (or perceived victim blaming) leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.

Rating: 6 out of 10


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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 beauty daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom
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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