Law & Order: SVU 24×07 “Dead Ball” is one of those episodes that will be excellent background noise for your typical weekend “TV’s broken — only plays SVU now” marathon. It’s not the best episode ever and far beyond being even within the same galaxy as any of the worst. And that’s not at all a meant to be condemnation or a backhanded compliment in any way. In short, it’s another strong installment from the series.
With that being said, the episode does have its standout moments. Some of them are of the usual, expected variety. Others are…Well. After over 500 episodes, they’re expected in their own way — but still important to have.
Then, there’s the obvious bait that, after 23+ years of exhaustion with the other mess, we’d all like to avoid falling for. But it’s actually pretty difficult, when it’s so damned appealing. So, replenish your clown makeup stores, friends. Muncy and Velasco have “it.” And we’re falling, entirely against our will.
That said, let’s get down to business.
“As a father of daughters, blahblah,” basically.
There are a lot of factors at play in the “Dead Ball” case of the week. They’re all fairly familiar, especially when you start bringing the “overly-powerful man thinks he owns everything and everyone” aspect into the mix. We’ve seen that again and again on this series — and I’m not actually complaining here, seeing as how we see it even more often in real life.
Except…we don’t actually see it. We hear about it far too many years later, and then it’s always “why didn’t she come forward.” Well. As one of the survivors in this case tells Detective
Benson Junior Muncy, the answer is (quite often) pretty clear: “He was too powerful.” Period, end of sentence. And yet, people still don’t get it.
Aside from that, though, Law & Order: SVU 24×07 delivers a much stronger and more damnable portrait of another far-too-common phenomenon: The men who will do anything and everything to cover up for other men. That is until, or unless, it hits too close to home.
Why do women and young girls only become people to men because of what they offer them? And even then, only sometimes? Nobody seems to know, and even men who are “fathers of daughters” sure as hell don’t seem to care about holding finding out. Don’t even think about asking them to hold each other accountable.
The big confrontation toward the end of the episode hit a ton of great emotional notes from Jonathan Medina as Antonio Campos. But, of course, as far as the storyline goes, we shouldn’t center Antonio here. He doesn’t deserve it. We shouldn’t care about his rage or sense of betrayal.
It’s his daughter Ana, the actual victim here, who deserves justice.
What I’m saying here is I could not give one iota of a flying fuck about men who are sad when their boys, who they helped get away with assaulting multiple people, take the next no-consequences step and go after their loved ones. And neither should anyone else, full stop.
Care about the victims — never the enablers.
“Do you think your daughter would be off limits to a man who has none?”
I mean, seriously. What did Antonio think bff Paolo was going to do? Have actual boundaries?
Is this…closure? Progress? Something?
Speaking of centering Ana, our beloved Captain Benson goes to see her at the case’s conclusion. She uses what could be personal time to comfort this young girl. Because for Olivia Benson, this is personal to her. The survivors always come first. They’re the center of everything. And that’s especially true for a case that ties back to her own suffering.
(Of course, we’re studiously ignoring the character assassination, in which the survivors came dead last, here.)
And the connection between Olivia and Ana is glaringly obvious here. Not because the episode is heavy handed with it but because viewers know that story.
During the conversation, one can’t help but think that we’re seeing the evidence of Olivia working through her trauma off-screen. Which, sure. We’d all prefer to see it on-screen, but this still hits all the right notes. (And doesn’t go the route of a poorly-conceived “redemption” arc either. Hashtag, so blessed.)
Ana truly doesn’t see herself as a victim — and we all know Liv can relate. That’s old information at this point. The grooming conversation certainly isn’t new to this fanbase, even outside of the Captain’s personal history, either.
But it’s Mariska Hargitay’s performance that tells us everything we need to know — or guess at, really — about what Olivia’s been up to in her time off. From the very start of the concluding scene, there’s something about the way she carries herself that speaks of Liv being there as Liv, as opposed to just the Captain. Even the tiniest detail, like the pained way she squeezes her eyes shut on “I know, Ana,” after Ana says she wanted Paolo, works to show us that. It’s not just that she’s had this conversation professionally a bunch of times — it’s that she’s been there, and a part of her is grieving.
Not just for Ana — but also for her younger self, as well.
“Time to figure things out…on your own.”
The dialogue really does a number here, too. While Benson cites the law as any seasoned SVU Captain would, she also adds personal touches. Even as Ana tries to talk about how bored she is, and how the boys her age don’t care about anything important, Olivia has answers.
If anyone’s in doubt about this being an attempt at cleaning up last season’s mess, though, we get some pretty expertly-delivered dialogue as Law & Order: SVU 24×07’s final word:
“At 17, you don’t just know what you think you know. With a little bit of time, and perspective, you’re going to look back at this and see the whole thing so differently. And so clearly. And I know that — believe me. Because I’ve been there.”
The only logical conclusion here is this: Olivia is taking her “time to figure things out.” And she’s seeing things a lot more clearly now. May she continue to heal, and may viewers continue to see the evidence.
More thoughts on Law & Order: SVU 24×07
- It’s all the bickering about (American) football versus fútbol for me. I want, so badly, not to get sucked in. And yet. Molly Burnett and Octavio Pisano make it kinda impossible.
- Honestly, I feel like Bart Simpson with the chalkboard like, “I will not get invested in more partners from this franchise” ad infinitum. In conclusion, I hate it here.
- “Your talent is untouchable. Always has been, always will be.” Y’all know who I was thinking about with this line, right? Right. Moving on.
- “Just…bullshit. It’s your job, businessman.” *stares in takeover of Twitter dot com*
- “The money and power go to their heads. So then, everyone’s an employee or a possession.” Ok but like. The more accurate third option is “both.” Also, even without all the money and power, actual employers think people are possessions. Just saying.
- It’s always nice seeing the team work as a team, with everyone getting equal tidbits and all. But this close to a major character exit, having just “omg Liv and Amanda’s reactions” as basically the sole note on that character’s involvement in the case is kinda meh.
- With that being said…Omg. All the reactions. Seeing Liv and Amanda respond to Nellie’s recording was a particular favorite.
- “On the pitch, I force myself on guys all the time. But on women? Never.” Sure, Jan. Also, “force myself on guys” doesn’t sound great!
- Olivia was really about to cut this man, both in-person and through the TV. I appreciate that.
- “My son is all I have.” I—. Do we need to…? Nah.
- But wait, there’s more! As in, the episode’s gonna go there for us. “She couldn’t risk Paolo meddling in her son’s life. And, quite frankly, I understand it.” Ok then. So, her son’s all she has. And she can’t risk a man meddling in his life. We get it. Taking time. Exhausted to death of reading between the lines, but at least the lines are consistent — and not an inconsistent mess — on this end.
- “It’s a blessing. Also maybe a little bit of a curse?” Given the way some of y’all behave, a certain someone’s beauty, talent, and fame have all entered the chat.
- “His mouth is smiling. But his eyes, already planning.”
- Fin bribing Rhonda with food is the most Fin thing to ever Fin. He knows things again! And we know how!
- Yes, we’re here for the glasses.
- So! Many! Victims! Speaking!
- It’s the practiced, deadly calm with McGrath for me. Even more satisfying than last season’s feeling of impotent rage.
- “We both know that’s not what happened.” And she’s addressing Paolo directly, daring a bitch. My Captain!
- Livterrogation with McGrath…not quite as hot but still super hot. It’s like Liv was keeping herself in check just long enough until she had a chance to deliver that final blow on the way out.
- Which. Speaking. OF. “Oh, that’s poetic. You know, let’s get something straight, Paolo. I’m not afraid of you…And you have no leverage over me. So, make all the threats you want. But sooner or later, I will find something.” And she did.
- “I’m sorry. It’s just…the vending machine was out of kale.” Ok but I’m not getting sucked in.
- (I’m sucked in.)
- Muncy is kind of awesome, actually. Great job with the social media fact-finding — and it wasn’t written all awkward-like either! She also really killed it when she was undercover with Ana.
- Was anyone else like “wtf” over them just continuing to watch when Antonio first pulled out the gun, though?
- “Can’t swat that away.” The absolute brilliance of Captain Olivia Benson throwing this man’s bullshit line back at him. We must all bow down.
- “Be careful what you wish for.” And. The. Walk…out of that room.
- “I know it’s hard seeing your heroes turning to villains.” God, yes.
Thoughts on Law & Order: SVU 24×07 “Dead Ball”? Send us a comment!
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.