Law & Order: SVU 24×10 “Jumped In” is quite the 2023 kickoff. It’s one of those episodes that shouldn’t work on any level, yet manages to do well if you don’t think too much about the details. As far as setting up the multi-episode arc goes, only time will tell. Spreading the BX9 case out, rather than either wrapping it up in a single packed chapter and/or completely ignoring the role Olivia’s trauma plays in the situation, is absolutely the right choice. But why is the latest attack on our captain sharing screen time with a tangentially-related case that very much deserves its own focus?
For the survivors, am I right?
Basically, the episode makes you kind of…unsure of it all, while simultaneously admiring some of the technical elements. Trying to draw some meaning or intent from it is its own source of confusion, though. In the first place, we just don’t know anything until the arc concludes. Is this good setup? It seems like it, but we’ll only know in hindsight. Then, as we’ll dig a bit deeper into below, there’s a lot to be said for an episode that gives weight and thought to the after effects of an attack. But also…like. Why did we need another attack at all? Has Olivia Benson not been through enough? Honestly, let’s be real.
Even without knowing how it all ends, the choice to acknowledge that something significant has happened to Olivia and give that time to land works. Very well, actually. In fact, the most impressive part of SVU 24×10 — besides the usual (we’ll get there down below…yet again) — is its sense of giving the viewer, as well as the Liv as a character, time to breathe. That’s done quite literally in some places, where we actually get to watch Captain Benson pause, breathe, and collect herself. In others, those slower moments are something else entirely.
To that end, the visuals are a great example of finding the time, and the way, to slow this (probably overly) packed chapter down. Whenever we witness those slower, quieter moments, there’s a clear intent of getting plot points to matter. Great care is taken in the seemingly endless, yet actually quite brief, chance for the camera to pull away from Liv as she’s left alone in the middle of the street after the gang members flee. Later, we get a similar treatment as she’s alone on a sidewalk, waving goodbye to a son who’s already gone.
There are plenty of other powerful images that keep “Jumped In” from rushing, too. Maybe that sense of pausing to take note is most prominent in the way Olivia’s gaze, and therefore ours, lingers on an empty desk. Perhaps, as difficult as those scenes may be to watch, it’s in the flashbacks to the attack.
And there’s a much-appreciated attempt here to honor our ultimate survivor, which is something the series has sorely lacked. (Remember when your girl shot a dude on Christmas and then just…moved on? Because we’re still WTF.) Even so, Law & Order: SVU 24×10 still commits the same error this series has made over and over. It’s the overdone “let’s brutalize our Strong Female Character™ to prove she’s tough” trope. While we’re at it, since this episode takes place over the course of only a few short days, should we believe that Olivia Benson just has vampiric healing powers? Or is it witchcraft. Because those were serious injuries, but whatever. Back to work! Push on through!
In short, despite acknowledging the attempt to handle watching our hero with care, I’m still not sure I needed it. Definitely didn’t need to watch the collision with whatever kind of vehicle that was — I literally keep closing my eyes on impact and missing the details — happen at all, really. Basically, if this opens a doorway to really delving into the countless previous traumas, great. Woo. Awesome. Progress! But taking the time to process those, without one more thing — this time including Olivia’s kid having to witness it all before getting rushed off to “safety” with near-total strangers — would have been just as effective, if not moreso.
As always, television is going to demand what it demands of its women. And, also as always, if your series happens to boast a star who can utterly wreck an audience in fractions of a second, none of the answers to “why shouldn’t we go there” ever seem to matter. Which, of course, brings us…right where we basically always wind up with these reviews.
She can, and will, destroy you.
Two thoughts can exist at once — and, in this case, they most definitely do. As mentioned above, Olivia was in much better physical shape than she had any business being after getting run down and beaten up like that. However, the initial 24-ish hours around her getting beaten up and acquiring those injuries was incredibly well done. That, as most successes on this series often do, comes down to Mariska Hargitay’s performance.
There’s this beautiful sort of way that Hargitay seamlessly morphs in and out of Olivia’s various “modes.” Everything starts on a high note, with the light, fun walk home with Noah…and then…BOOM. Liv assesses the situation. You can actually see the gears turning in her head, notice her processing everything and making a plan. And then, she’s someone else. She’s the frantic mom, rushing Noah inside and making sure someone calls in the 10-13. Once that’s done, she’s Captain Benson, tough as ever…even when she’s quite literally getting kicked while she’s down.
As far as acknowledging the pain goes, there’s this very natural way of staying “on” when other officers come to the scene. Slowly, in degrees, Liv lets her guard down. Even as she’s giving her statement, though, Hargitay hits us — hard, as usual — with all the cracks in Olivia’s “Captain Benson” armor. She’s exhausted. She just wants to check on her son. (Don’t think about the way this woman’s voice catches and quivers, at times even going up several octaves every time she mentions him.) Then, there’s Fin. She’s “Liv” the cop, but she’s also shades of “Olivia” the longtime friend.
…don’t get me started on the hospital scene.
That’s where the performance goes up an incomprehensible number of notches, and it’s natural that here is where we’re actually seeing evidence of both the physical and the mental pain. It all takes time to settle in. When you have to be tough, or when you’re still in shock, you’re not feeling it. Not to the same extent that you do after time passes, when you’re in a safe place to let your guard down. When your adrenaline has finally run out.
…and whatever you do, when you’re reliving that hospital scene, don’t think about how there is something reminiscent of a certain other horrible trauma. Another time, that haunted look on Hargitay’s face, or the way she carries her (Olivia’s) body with the pain. Don’t think about the way she struggles to put herself back together all by herself. And then, there’s something extra in her reaction, her utterly exhausted and shattered reaction, to McGrath showing up and adding one more insult all these injuries.
I could go on forever, point out the deliberate way Olivia loads the gun when she’s back at home. Or even the difference between how she, again, lets her guard down at least some when it’s just her and Fin — no need to worry about being “strong” for Noah once she hears he’s asleep — but doesn’t completely let the darkness seep in until she’s alone. But…I just…There still aren’t enough words for this type of performance. And I still am not sure how, no matter how much “better” the storytelling around the trauma may be, it’s still worth adding this level of hurt to someone who has been through far too much already.
Bottom line: Law & Order: SVU 24×10 forces us to wonder, for the billionth time, how we honor such incredible work while also wishing it didn’t have to exist at all.
They solve cases and set up Big Things here!
All of this happens while Captain Benson is first denying the request to help clear cases at Bronx SVU and then, once getting to the Bronx is personal, demanding to be allowed to go do what she does. Enter Captain Duarte. To get the police party in the Bronx started, Hargitay and Maurice Compte have this great sort of…battle of wills in Olivia’s office. And it’s really fascinating on a lot of levels. The obvious one is just this idea of two “Alphas,” as Compte put it when we spoke with him, circling each other and trying to figure each other out.
But then, there’s also that tiny moment where Olivia lets her bravado drop. The “so, what now” when Duarte reveals that both BX9 members Benson had locked up — thus sacrificing his case for nothing — is so small and broken that it screams, “Olivia Benson is not as ok as she wants you to think.” (Mariska. Ma’am. I’m begging. Please. Stop.) Almost immediately after, though, she’s back to that standard Benson strength and resilience, talking about “handling” McGrath and delivering a victim’s statement that is simply just A Statement.
So, that’s the part of “Jumped In” that is our “in” for the remainder of this arc. In the meantime, though, the squad still has to help clean up the mess at Bronx SVU. What’s really upsetting here is that the first case Liv helps the Bronx’s Terry Bruno solve is a really, truly important one. And it has brilliant work from Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Dixon, once again showing off her combination of acting chops and ASL skill.
While we’re at it, every single one of the survivors Benson brings in for statements, now with Dixon’s help, are nuts good at displaying all their anger and frustration. And there’s an important message on how poorly prepared the NYPD is to actually treat deaf victims with the care and agency they deserve. But…how is that very meaningful story not its own, separate issue? How is it packed in with everything else?
It’s not even that it doesn’t blend well with the rest of SVU 24×10. Because it does! But…all the bad assumptions other cops make about Bruno’s lawsuit, his reason for never letting this case go — or the overall awful situation at Bronx SVU — all of this is a much, much bigger story. So is Liv’s trauma. And so is Duarte’s focus on BX9.
“Breathing” in certain important moments, which I’ll maintain was somehow well done here…doesn’t excuse making this particular
solved cold case a sub plot. I’m not sure how else to put that. Liv is totally right that you can’t separate the rape problem from the gang problem. (She’d like to see you try.) The world is not made up of things that we can separate into little boxes and segments. With that being said, this is television. Not the world. And television can, and should, use its time in a way that allows these issues to have their own focus.
There’s a lot of talk about listening to survivors during the investigation, but how are we supposed to listen to them when we’re worried about Olivia? Or when we’re looking forward to the conclusion of the Great Big Case that, at least in Duarte’s mind, is most important right now? Something doesn’t quite work here. It’s like it does, but it doesn’t. Not sure how else to put that…but here we are.
The big, bald elephant (not) in the room.
Let’s keep this as short and sweet as possible because Olivia Benson’s trauma is not — and never will be — about Elliot Stabler. Or, rather, anything other than the trauma he created is not about him. But y’all are kidding me with this mishegas, right? No. Really. Someone’s got a “sike!” coming like it’s the ’90s or something, yeah? Because otherwise…
So. Fin never brings up or reaches out to Elliot, even though he’s typically been such a yenta. Right. Are we really supposed to believe Benson’s former partner doesn’t find out about the attack, either through Fin or other gossips, and/or doesn’t care??? There are at least two instances of “you have a visitor” that are basically bait with no payoff…for what. Not to mention, all of this takes place over the course of several days, with not a single mention of this man.
Not a single one.
Elliot is, at the very least, supposed to be Olivia’s “friend.” (Because, God forbid he be anything else after all these dropped, “one true love of his life” and “paralyzing” possibilities comments.) So, how does Dixon know what happened to Olivia, and how does she immediately ask how Liv’s doing when she shows up in the Bronx…while Stabler — apparently — knows nothing and says nothing? How does Terry Bruno know? (At least we know how Captain Duarte finds out BX9 greenlit her — through McGrath.)
At this point, it’s completely outside all logic. The out of character lack of concern or connection was bad enough when the whole William Lewis thing happened. But at least Elliot was in Europe (or wherever) then. He’s here now, and this is supposed to be a single, connected universe. People in the NYPD talk. Icing on the cake: Stabler’s case this week…involves folks from the Bronx.
Do better. I say this to the entire Law & Order universe when it comes to EO. Do. Better. People are exhausted.
More on Law & Order: SVU 24×10 “Jumped In”
- Protective, supportive Fin is the best Fin. Can’t wait for him to get to be main character Fin, though.
- “You want to eat with this thing looking at you?” Same, Fin. Great “WTF” face from Ice-T while we’re at it.
- “Pretty conceited, isn’t it? Judge calls a mistrial because some lady cop goes all Karen on the witness stand.” I can’t explain how much this entire Muncy/Duarte interaction fascinated me. The line sounds hella misogynistic. And yet…there’s some kind of “tough guy cop love,” for lack of a better way of putting it, that speaks to Duarte being a mentor in his own way.
- Notice where Duarte aims versus where Muncy does, though. Very. Telling. Especially considering where Liv aims when her own life is actually on the line — not just in practice.
- Ah, Liv. I, too, prefer to just…perch on top of the desk.
- “Well, if that’s what it takes to make change up there? Good for him.” Exactly, so why are you buying into the “he just did it for the money” of it all later, ma’am?
- Not this asshole trying to tell Liv it’s her fault Amanda’s gone.
- Everyone’s always asking this woman to do 10 times more, with 10 times less support, than anyone else. Meanwhile, the NYPD budget is constantly getting more and more and more…but because of what this unit does and who their Captain is, nobody can find her a crumb.
- That child did not need to see that.
- “Zero point zero. In the clear.” THE SHADE. SHE IS DONE.
- She’s just, like, not talking to Noah before she goes to the hospital, though? Ok.
- This is…not the first time someone involved in a huge case has found Liv at home…Nope. Don’t like where my mind goes with this. See also: Ok but how is her face so similar to…then. And…her hair, too??? Ouch.
- “You’ll be sore tomorrow. Especially your lower back.” “So same as yesterday.” She is me.
- That goodbye with Noah…Liv putting on her “sweet mommy. Everything’s fine” act and losing it when Noah slams into her… Mariska. Ma’am. I am once again asking you to please spare me. Like, WTF is that wave and the way it just…breaks down? What even???
- Noah. You wanted the McCanns to be your “real family.” To borrow one from Duarte, “you made your bed. And now it’s wet. Figure out a way to lie in it.” (But again, no, this child did not need to see that.)
- If Duarte is going to bring back that lethal level of Sassy!Benson, he needs to stay forever. I said what I said.
- “You want my victim’s statement? Alright. Here it is. It is important for any victim of a violent or senseless act to reclaim their own locus of control. That’s my victim’s statement.” Love of my life!
- McGrath can keep his armchair psychology.
- When your girl put that emphasis on “TECHNICALLY,” you knew she was never going to stick to closed cases.
- “And Muncy? Lose the blazer.” Those twin grins from Muncy and Velasco!
- “Ahh! Spoken like a true Fed!” This woman refuses to behave, even when she’s had the crap beaten out of her. I love that for me.
- But like. Even our very capable star’s little winces…were not enough. Rib pain is a bitch, and it does not resolve that quickly.
- The comments about millionaires…from actors…Lol.
- “She’s lucky she didn’t get shot.” You know that shrugging Oprah gif? Because…yeah. Literally, Google “cop shoots deaf person.” Join me in hating life.
- Liv looking at her phone 2938739743 times in this episode, with no mention of Stabler blowing her phone up. Ok!
- “Everything alright?” “Everything? How about nothin’.” Liv is me, and I am Liv.
- Also, “everything” and “nothing” imply it’s more than just one thing she’s having to check her phone for, so I’m drawing the conclusions that actually make sense there. That man was probably blowing up her phone while she ignored it. So there. And everyone who doesn’t like it can scream into the wind. Sorry not sorry.
- As much as Benson and McGrath argue with each other, you could tell she felt betrayed when he “spanked” her, as she later put it, in front of the Feds.
- “Folks up here don’t like talking to cops.” With good reason!
- “You can say what you want about him, but his message? His giving a voice to the voiceless? I know how he feels.” And yet, y’all wanted to write him off as “only sued for wrongful termination because money.” K.
- Imagine being unaffected when Olivia Benson puts on the charm. We sure this is a human?
- “Because I’m a POLICE. Captain.” A comedy.
- Y’all really need to chill on the secret half-brothers.
- Ronnie, the rapist with deaf mommy issues, attacks deaf folks. How original.
- Can Miss POLICE. CAPTAIN…IDK, not FaceTime in the hallway of what is probably an ICU floor? Damn. Stay outside for that or something.
- “He needs better friends.” “Well. He’s about to get one.”
- Actually, let’s just put emphasis here: I love that Olivia is especially upset about shooting a kid. Any shooting is awful, but this a kid. And Muncy’s reaction is on point, too.
- PHEW. The way she leans over that hospital bed and stares him down, all “remember me” is one hell of an image to close on. And, while the issues are what they are, that’s certainly the way to end things with an exclamation point and get people desperate for more.
- …because Mariska Hargitay.
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