Law & Order: SVU 23×16 “Sorry If It Got Weird For You” was strong in all the ways that SVU has been strong this season (and, basically, always). It was also…kind of weird in all the ways the series seems to keep insisting on being weird. So, let’s make an effort here to explain.
The second the super awkward video package for the “Mr. Wright Now” app opened the episode, alarm bells started ringing because, for whatever reason, there tends to be a problem with this series and anything remotely related to social media or modern web use of any kind. But that’s not to say that “Sorry If It Got Weird For You” was a totally missed episode—because it wasn’t. Jackson Wright, the CEO who put his own name on his personal gateway to hooking up with as many unwitting and unwilling women as possible after his wife died, was sufficiently slimy. He had all the makings of a Mark Zuckerberg in terms of tech bro awfulness and even “rebranded” his app. Wright supposedly had a vision for keeping women safe online…But, of course, the app’s name change didn’t actually do anything at all.
Basically, what we’re saying here is it was giving “Meta,” except Zuckerberg can’t even be bothered to pretend to care about fixing the multiple problems that plague his shitty, “developed this for finding hot girls, now just make money off of rotting old peoples’ brains with conspiracies,” site…
So, here are some things that really worked.
The echoes of “Meta” in “Mr. Wright Forever” (what in the cringe AF?) were great. The many, many turns Law & Order: SVU 23×16’s central case took added some interesting elements to the story…And yeah, Olivia Benson was Olivia Benson. She was sufficiently disgusted by Cress Gordon’s initial defense of Jackson Wright, as well as her later corporate espionage plot, but was also the shining beacon of empathy and support that she always is for those in need when things took a sour turn for Cress.
There’s also the Velasco and (missing) Rollins of it all. Neither of these two things were good or bad on their own. It’s how their respective pieces, or lack thereof, fit into the overall puzzle.
If you’d said, “hey, SVU 23×16 is going to be heavy on Velasco” before I watched it, I probably would’ve cringed. But featuring the new guy isn’t a bad thing, in general, and wasn’t here, specifically. It’s not even out of the question that a busy guy using a dating app would accidentally trigger a victim, or that the “busy guy” in question would be an SVU Detective. Shit happens, after all.
Getting to see members of the squad—is it really an elite squad if there are less than a handful of members? Or is it just an elite foursome—outside of the job is always welcome. That’s especially true when we really don’t know a character and need to get to know him to care. Because, seriously, why do we care? This episode made us, if not care, at least start to get a clearer idea of what we were dealing with.
Octavio Pisano did an excellent job of showing that, while Liv, Fin, and Amanda might be seasoned veterans at this…Velasco is simply not. He struggled through trying to comfort Lisa in the beginning of the episode—even inadvertently contributed to her tumbling down the stairs. But he knew who to call for help (as do we all): Liv. And when it came time for Velasco to testify, Pisano’s performance in SVU 23×16 did a similarly appropriate job of highlighting Joe tripping over his own two feet, so to speak, even after being prepared by both Fin and Carisi.
Come to think of it, in the grand scheme of the current season, and how Velasco even wound up working under Captain Benson, this episode may have even pushed him in the right direction in terms of loyalty. McGrath seems to think Velasco’s his bro or whatever. But if he saw how traumatized Lisa was and tried so hard to get justice for her, even in this “he said, she said” case with plenty of opportunities to paint the victims as fame-seeking girls who slept around and then changed their stories…That just makes him, if not someone who was always on the right side, at least a guy who might be learning.
“Sorry If It Got Weird For You” could easily have been an all-around bad episode. Placing Velasco at the center of the case like this, when quite frankly, a lot of fans may not have cared about him one way or another, could have been a disaster. But it wasn’t. Because efforts were taken to actually develop the character and make people want to get to know more.
With that being said, not everyone is going to agree. When does fandom ever?
Law & Order: SVU 23×16 even explained why Rollins wasn’t around—also good! If you’re going to have someone like Amanda just…not be there, letting viewers know what’s going on is the way to go. (Perfect example of what not to do: WTF, Chicago Med? Make up even a messy excuse for Stevie’s absence, at least!)
“I told Rollins to take all of the time she needs but, most importantly, to take care of herself first.”
It was great getting to see Benson and Carisi talk about Amanda. They both care about her a lot, and the message of her needing to put herself first is one that, quite frankly, most bosses, fail to comprehend. More Captain Olivia Bensons in this world, please.
…ok but what’s with the double standards
But that brings to mind the question of the one thing that just, flat out, doesn’t make sense. And it’s a consistent problem, so…Let’s try this again.
Discussion about Rollins’ off-screen family trouble is good for the series. Velasco opening up to Fin about possibly having a “hot date” through an app—even at a time when not very many people cared about him, much less who he dated—after Fin saw him texting…also good and doable. An off-hand comment about Benson texting her “friend” or having chatted with him, or whatever…Nah. It just doesn’t make sense.
Nobody is asking for Mariska Hargitay, who already carries Law & Order: SVU on her back, to constantly pull double duty. (And seriously, no shade to anyone else on this series implied by that statement: She just…does that.)
Similarly, nobody’s asking Meloni to be the lead on Organized Crime while constantly adding even more time to his schedule to also be on SVU.
That’s unreasonable and unfair to everyone involved—not just those two actors, but every single actor and crew member on both series. This also doesn’t need to turn into a series, or pair of series, that’s nothing but “Elliot and Olivia’s AARP romance.” (We enjoy to read about it in fanfiction, though.)
It’s just a matter of wishing for this important—most…single most important, if you will—relationship for Olivia Benson, the central character on SVU, to be treated with some kind of respect and continuity. Equal time goes a long way. You don’t need both actors—only the one who’s already here—for that to happen. Toss in a line, a one-sided call, an email, a carrier pigeon or whatever here or there…Boom.
This type of weird incongruity does more to pull the focus away from getting justice for victims than actually dropping those little crumbs in ever could. If the orders are coming from the top and out of any individual’s or individuals’ hands, seriously, it’s not meant to be personal that this gets brought up so much. It’s complicated. We get it.
And does mentioning this, or nitpicking about it, mean Law & Order: SVU 23×16 was a bad episode, or that there’s no pleasing us? No. At least…for me, your friendly neighborhood reviewer, that’s not the case at all.
“Sorry It Got Weird For You” was great. It fit in with the theme we’ve noticed this season and really, even with the kind of “what in the ever-cringing fuck” vibe of the app, worked. It worked well. The performances were insane—especially Hargitay’s, as we always point out in this house.
It just…I’m going to get waaaaaay off-topic on main here, but: In Mathematics, a proof can be correct and still lack that certain special extra something to really tighten it up and make it stellar. Or, a ballerina can have good technique…but still need that passion to truly deliver a jaw-dropping performance. The most frustrating thing, in both of those situations (and so many more), is to be on the outside looking in, knowing the potential is there to add that one last thing…and feeling like there’s an effort being made against it.
That’s…that’s the feeling that comes attached to seeing Law & Order: SVU, such a beloved show for so long, have these seemingly tiny, yet actually kind of significant, cracks. The double standards make the imperfections feel deliberate, and no viewer wants to be in a situation where something they love feels like it’s being purposely…sabotaged? Almost surely, in all fairness, it probably also doesn’t feel great to think you’ve put something great out there in the world and constantly be told it’s worthless because of something you view as “small.”
But truly, that’s not the intent. And that small thing is actually kind of a big deal after all these years.
We critique out of love…Otherwise, nobody would be here, sharing so many words on a TV show. Think about it.
Sorry (not sorry) if these extra thoughts on Law & Order: SVU 23×16 get weird for you
- We all should’ve known Jackson Wright was garbage from the second he took credit for a woman of color’s initiative to protect other women. Especially because, lets’ be real: A dating app, particularly one created by a dude, was never going to be a safe space for women anyway.
- “You know what they say: ‘God looks out for drunks.'” Y’all are really saying that to Olivia Benson…whose mother…died of a drunk tumble down the stairs.
- Mariska, gorgeous and intense AF in that hospital scene…Olivia, gorgeous and intuitive AF in that moment, just knowing all she had to do was give Lisa a little more time…Such a tiny detail with so much power.
- “Has he been inappropriate? Raunchy, at times? Sure. But he would never be violent.” Sure, Jan.
- And…I was proven right later on. As happens. Love that for me, hate it for women in general.
- Tag yourself: I’m Liv’s utterly disgusted look when Wright was parading around in his robe, with even more chest showing than even Stabler would dare to give.
- …and literally nobody wants to see Wright’s ugly AF chest anyway.
- “I know what rape is. When someone says stop, I stop. It’s not rocket science.” And yet.
- Olivia Benson did a lot of sitting and leaning on various desks in SVU 23×16, and um…How does even that give power and hotness???
- Kind of having My So-Called Life flashbacks over it. (“I just like how he’s always leaning. Against stuff. He leans great.”)
- Shoutout to our queen’s ankle, though—hope it wasn’t being a bitch that week.
- If Olivia Benson tells you something would be “very wise,” you shut up and do the thing.
- Something about Captain Benson, a superhero with a coat instead of a cape.
- The jacket and the coral-ish shirt. Our hero? In vivid colors again? God looks out for fangirls.
- The coffees are code for “I talked to my friend Elliot all night and made the word ‘friend’ sound positively filthy when I did.” Feel free to waste time fighting me.
- “I wish I could tell you that things were going to get better, but this is going to be a rough road.” Me, looking at the news.
- “It’s a waste of our time, and it also makes me look weak.” Can’t believe Olivia Benson’s adopted son Sonny said this shit.
- “…surprised a good-looking guy like you needs an app to meet women.” Literally, it’s 2022?????? And this defense attorney is not old enough to think like this????
- Carisi talking about women liking it weird in the middle of a courtroom while he’s missing his girl…Down, boy.
- “…that’s what women do! They lie! Ok? They push! They pull! They’re mad! They’re hot! And when they don’t get what they want, they cry rape.” Trash. Was pretty sure Wright was going to walk free after this outburst, considering we have a Justice on SCOTUS who threw a tantrum like this in a hearing once. Pleasantly surprised that’s not what happened here.
- “You’re a good man, Dominick Carisi.” She loves him. It’s sweet. Good moment.
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.