Law & Order: SVU 23×15 “Promising Young Gentlemen” killed the “let’s make our perps be so generically terrible, you’ll forget them” game. While that might sound like a bad thing, it’s really not. It’s actually part of what worked about this episode. Because the thing is, I don’t want to remember the criminals’ names. In real life, too often, we immortalize the bad guys and forget their victims. It should be the other way around.
Looking at the way the titular “promising young gentlemen” were characterized in SVU 23×15, there was nothing “promising” about them. At all. And so, keeping track of the names of a bunch of generic, rich, white fuckboy types wasn’t important. What was important was getting justice for Annabel and following Captain Benson and her squad as they worked, not only to do just that, but to also try for something bigger. Maybe they didn’t get this particular rape tried as a hate crime, but at least Carisi and Benson got people thinking about it. The thought is out there now, in this universe (a quick search will tell you thoughts have been written on how it should apply in the real world).
In a case like this one, where the mere thought of facing consequences resulted in a women’s advocacy group getting a bunch of gender-based slurs hurled their way, it shouldn’t take much of a mental stretch to see why they thought now was the time to set that precedent.
“My father said the club should’ve never let Jews in.”
The antisemitism always jumps out with a certain type of entitled white dude. Always. Just call them white supremacists, who only value women when they’re helping to further the supposed supremacy—and even then only for the second they’re being used—realize it all falls under hate crimes, and move on.
So, maybe the plan to set a precendent didn’t work out this time. Generic Dude #4 decided, at the urging of Rich Daddy, to work with the police. But at least that’s a fight that can be made another day. And, in the end, all that truly mattered was getting justice of some kind. That’s important. The organization that allowed its members their exclusivity and resulting audacity was even shut down, which frankly, is a good step in the right direction—but still not enough.
Hudson University really needs to go. How many cases has Benson’s squad investigated there over the years? Just a thought: Get everyone out safely, and then burn it down.
…not members of an elite squad
During the course of this investigation, Law & Order: SVU 23×15 also managed to highlight just how easy it is for “good” men to look the other way. Somewhat absurdly, the “gentlemen’s club” (glorified frat house) where Annabel was raped had a giant picture of Detective Parlato-Goldstein from Hate Crimes on the wall. Apparently, he was such a legend in his youth that the Garbage Club—or whatever it’s called—named a drinking game after him.
“We drank. We had girls over…But nothing like this.”
There’s no way, in this universe or any other, that it’s a whole “kids these days” or “younger generation” thing that made these guys target Annabel the way they did. I mean, if you want to believe the “nothing like this” line from Parlato-Goldstein, even after he talked about the place having a “Boom-Boom Room,” where “there’s so much DNA in there, forensics won’t help,” please enjoy your delusions. I have a bridge and some magic dirt to sell you.
But ok. Let’s pretend, for a minute, he was right.
The behavior, with girls too drunk to really be able to consent—even without targeting them and making them leave behind their connections to the outside world—was bad enough that, once the right type of privileged guys got away with it enough, it was only a matter of time until they escalated. And it was pretty obvious, from Detective Rollins’ noise of derision after the “forensics won’t help” line, that she knew it.
What I’m saying here is we actually preferred Jason Biggs when he was banging pies and falling in love with band geeks. Because this version of him, while able to grow and change since leaving the Audacity Association, still…ain’t exactly great. Is this somewhere where we’re supposed to get a “don’t cancel dudes based on their past ‘mistakes'” lesson? Because if so, no thanks.
…which brings us to the epitome of no thanks: Chief McGrath.
Unfortunately, he was back for SVU 23×15 and, as always, had something awful to say about the important work Captain Benson has dedicated her life to. And as always, seeing Mariska Hargitay, as Olivia, handing this man his ass, was a real treat. Especially when you take into account how, no matter how many times Benson and McGrath have this same argument, it always feels fresh. There’s always some new layer, and we’re always getting a performance that builds, and expands, on previous ones.
This time, we had the extra bit with McGrath asking Liv to assure him that his “delivery” had gotten better because, supposedly, he’s working on controlling himself or something. It’s Olivia who’s always having to control herself in these situations, and you can always see that internal struggle. So, having to acknowledge this man’s (lack of) restraint was just one more insult on top of all the other insults.
Imagine if Liv hadn’t held herself back, as she was obviously doing in the way Hargitay made her practically choke on her words about the Chief “getting there,” even though it was obvious she knew he was not. Benson had to tell that lie, because if she’d been honest about that on top of the way she’d stood up for herself and her case during the (thousandth?) argument with McGrath since he’d taken over, it may not have ended well.
Olivia Benson may have a certain level of power, and a certain ability to push back on McGrath. She’s shown she can, and will, push right up to that line…But wherever the limit is, it’s in a far more precarious place—especially against someone like McGrath—than it would be if she were a man.
It wasn’t a woman with over 20 years’ experience of working Special Victims who got the Chief to see sense. Nope. It was…a college student. Once McGrath’s daughter had a problem with how the Bros o’ Bland behaved, he suddenly saw the light. Because, you see, certain men want to show how “good” they are, with their “as the father of daughters” nonsense, while never actually seeing women as human beings outside of their own connections to them. McGrath, not surprisingly, is one of them.
Can he go already?
…but more of this, please
Law & Order: SVU 23×15 also gave us some more movement on the Rollisi front. And no, it didn’t suddenly mean Amanda didn’t care about victims and/or force the series from a procedural to a soap either.
What personal bits like this do accomplish is relief, both for the characters and for the audience. Going to family dinner was such an important step for Rollins. It seems like she really heard her Captain when she warned her about not sabotaging her own happiness. Now, she gets to do all the normal, “big” relationship things that matter. She’s working on this, and that’s scary…But it’s good.
Even with all the hilariously stereotypical “overbearing mother” behavior of it all, we learned later that Mama Carisi liked Amanda. (The taste.) So, it’s a great, big win for the characters—especially Rollins, who was so hesitant to make things official—and for the relationship. It’s also a win for viewers, whether they’re merely fans of Kelli Giddish or people who see themselves in Amanda Rollins. She’s been through a lot, so seeing the other side of that has the potential to give people hope. Not to mention, scenes like these give Giddish an opportunity to do different types of work with her character, to show she’s damned good at giving us more than just Rollins’ pain, resilience, and/or toughness.
Wins. Everywhere. All things that can only help the series.
So, let’s just bask for a moment in the pure joy and relief just pouring out of Amanda when she heard she’d made a good impression. Let’s replay the scene to admire how pleased Sonny was to have the two most important women in his life on some kind of solid ground.
…and let’s stop lying to ourselves about how impossible it is to make this happen for other strong female characters. Especially one in particular. Pretty sure I don’t have to say which…
But I will, for the billionth time: Olivia Benson deserves this, too.
Law & Order: SVU 23×15 promises more thoughts
- Drink every time you hear them say anything about a Tweedledee or a Tweedledum.
- “They’re not going anywhere. They’re too entitled.” Olivia Benson with the tea.
- “If this was a group of kids from the housing projects, we would’ve locked them all up.” And then, Fin Tutuola heated that tea up to the temperature of the sun.
- “It’s all fun and games with these guys. They’ve got the life: young, rich…” “…white.” Just gonna leave that there.
- Tag yourself. I’m the entire squad (all three of them, plus Carisi), listening to that fuckboy chant and side-eyeing the shit out of it.
- “I understand that we have an icon in our midst.” That feel when Mariska Hargitay walks on set.
- “I guess he is a legend.” “Apparently, it doesn’t take that much.” Dead.
- “Don’t they always?” When Olivia Benson tilts her head like that and uses that tone, fear for your life, lady. Because she is done.
- “I have no more love for these spoiled brats than you do.” Sure, McTrash.
- “…like cancel culture on steroids.” Oh, fuck this dude into oblivion.
- FINISH HIM, LIV.
- The body language when she gets stopped on the way out that door…Done. Over it. Tired.
- “Campus security has been where rape allegations go to die.”
- Every single Livterrogation is just fire, and that last one in SVU 23×15 was on a whole new level. (How does she?)
- And it’s like…Benson’s level of “totally fucking done, cold as ice, does not care if she ends your life with her scathing commentary” gets closer and closer to the absolute live wire that was Stabler’s partner back in the day. But also she’s more, on top of that? It’s hard to explain.
- Speaking of Stabler: When he sees his “friend” in that blazer with the zippers and starts fidgeting? Then what.
Talk to me about Law & Order: SVU 23×15, people. Love it? Hate it?
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.