Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

“Law and Order: SVU” Recap: Wrongful accusations and unjustified consequences

Note: This recap contains spoilers for “Law and Order: SVU” season sixteen, episode thirteen, entitled “Decaying Mortality.”

One frequent plot twist employed by “SVU” is to have a victim’s family member kill the suspect, and usually the suspect turns out to be innocent. The show then follows one of two paths - it focuses on the trial of the family member, or it goes after the perpetrator of the original crime. The real perpetrator always happens to be the third person to enter the scene, someone close to the family.

The episode never focuses on the accused person who is found to be innocent, which is a shame, because I think the innocent person’s story would make an interesting “SVU” plotline. This episode provided a hint of it, displaying a brief close up of the accused mother’s story.

A drugged girl, Jenna (Haley Lu Richardson, “The Bronze”) stumbles through the street, and ends up locking herself in the bathroom of a pizza joint. A line forms outside the door, forcing a worker Jerome (Kamal Angelo Bolden, “Betrayal”) to go inside. She accuses Jerome of rape, and everyone assumes he committed the crime.

Of course, Jerome, didn’t actually do it. Jenna’s father, Luke (Jamie McShane, “Gone Girl”), kidnaps Jerome once he is released from police custody. Then he tortures him, which causes Jerome to suffer from an asthma attack and die.

As the detectives later find out from security footage, there is no way Jerome could have raped Jenna. During Luke’s sentencing hearing, there’s one quick close up of Jerome’s mother’s face and then it’s gone.

Just like in many, many episodes before this one, Jenna’s uncle/dentist, Neil (Paul Adelstein, “Private Practice”), is the real rapist, with several other victims in his past.

And of course, Luke will be given a small sentence. The last two minutes of the episode are dedicated to Jerome’s mother, who accepts the sentence.

The episode was satisfactory overall, but maybe too formulaic, even for “SVU.” The show often shows the background of criminals, which is unique in that it paints many of the criminals in a sympathetic light. Nonetheless, there are still other angles a story could be approached.

Tune in to “Law and Order: SVU” Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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