Law & Order: SVU (S17E14) “Nationwide Manhunt (1)”

Review:

The eagerly awaited, highly anticipated Law & Order: SVU/Chicago P.D. crossover did not disappoint. We begin the two-hour television event on lasagne, yes you read the right, lasgane. And it is being prepared by none other than Bronwyn Wilkins (Sarah Bisman Storm), the heavy set, curly red-head from the William Lewis trial. The same woman who made cupcakes laced with drugs. Yep, she’s at it again. But this time, the lasagne is being packed with knives, paint and other implements we can only assume on would use to break out. 

We cut to Liv (those reading glasses add a whole other layer of power) as she talks to Voight (Jason Beghe) about Gregory Yates (Dallas Roberts). Remember the creepy, unhinged sociopath who murdered Nadia last season? Yep, he is requesting to speak to Detective Rollins as he has evidence that may be of use. Liv states that she is not willing to have Rollins do this, and ask Voight if Lindsay (Sophia Bush) would be willing. Voight is apprehensive; can you blame him? He nearly lost Lindsay post Nadia. However, as scenes transition Lindsay and Antonio (Jon Seda) are in a taxi on their way. The flashbacks of Nadia that flash on our screen remind us all too shockingly, of the relationship these two women shared and the trauma Lindsay still deals with on a day to day basis as she tries to move forward. Sophia Bush does an eloquent job of illustrating such pain. 

Erin and Antonio question Yates – Dallas Roberts brings to life one of the most spine-chilling serial killers we’ve had on television, quite close to that of William Lewis – but to no avail. He’s upset Rollins (Kelli Giddish) isn’t there, he is toying with Lindsay, playing games, trying to push her buttons. And once again, Sophia Bush plays this brilliantly. The obvious build up of frustration and need to knock this dude out is so overwhelming, yet somehow she pulls it back in. Talk about control. 

We are back in the squad room where the entire team is trying to uncover Yates’ game plan. Is he legitimate in his claims to know where more girls are? Or is he just playing them? Liv is trying her best to keep Rollins at arms length refusing to give into his demand that she be the one he talks to. Mamas gotta stick together right? Meanwhile at the prison, Bronwyn is taking a peer group? counseling session? in which we once again meet Dr. Rudnik – the fellow serial killer we met around the same time as Yates. As the Dr. and Yates a partnership, or mutual understanding is alluded too. What are these two up to? 

Since intially refusing to let Rollins be the one to talk to Yates, Liv gives in undoubtedly knowing that she is the only one that would be capable to break this case. With Carisi (Peter Scanavino) in tow, Rollins prepares to come face to face with ye old frenemy. The dynamic between Rollins and Yates is undeniable, she knows how to get under his skin and his defenses are powerless to her. Giddish and Roberts play these scenes with a sense of innocence and vulnerability, you are lead to question whether Rollins actually enjoys this (note the little wink of the eye). Yates wants a deal, “to get you have to give”, transferred to honour block or no evidence. Interestingly though, this is the block where Dr. Rudnik currently presides – incentive maybe? Once the deal is done, Rollins and Carisi head back to the city while Liv, Dodds (Andy Karl) and Barba (Raul Esparza) take a trip to the prison. 

Rollins as a mother has been such an exciting step forward for the character, yet there are moments the old Amanda comes back in. Kicking the vending machine in this latest episode was an indicator, that her temper is still widely intact. While in the past Amanda would lash out at authority or being told no, I believe she is now coming from a place of wanting justice. Something that may have evolved due to new motherhood. Stating she doesn’t like to be coddled, we know that Rollins is still Rollins, but maybe now a little bit more passionate about doing her job. 

Back at the prison, Liv and the boys are waiting to speak to Yates when three drones  being circling the prison yard from above. Next thing we see parcels being dropped from the sky. Inside, there are weapons, guns, and drugs. Barba is a little disheveled about all this. During this time, the guards come to realise that Yates is missing, along with Dr. Rudnik. The cell mate of Rudnik is scared and uncooperative, but with a silent glance to the doorway where a poster of Switzerland is hanging an escape hole is discovered. As the manhunt begins, tensions are high and blame is being thrown every which way. The warden even tries to blame Rollins in aiding in the escape. Yeah right love! 

As the episode moves on, Mariska Hargitay does a perfect job of displaying a high level of irritation at the whole situation. She is not having it at all. As the squad teams up to cover all inmates and personnel Yates could have had contact with, Rollins and Benson grill Jose (the cell mate). I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this interrogation. Jose gives up information that a female supplied Rudnik with a lasagne. As they investigate this lead, it turns up that Bronwyn Wilkins, serial-killer lover extraordinaire has done it again. If Liv wasn’t pissed before, she is now. To make matters worse, Bronwyn is missing. 

Running the plates of her husbands car, the detectives find it, plates switched out (Yates move) and abandoned. As they open the truck, the find a beaten and tied up Bronwyn. What comes next is absolutely hear-stopping and I am sure all SVU diehards have been waiting for this confrontation since Beast’s Obsession and Psyho/Therapist. In all her acting prowess and power, Mariska delivers one of the most emotionally fueled interrogations we’ve seen. She brings the fire and does not let the delusions of this woman justify any of her actions. 

Cut to Lindsay and Dawson, they’ve found a body with trademarks of Yates all over the scene. From one powerful female to another, Sophia Bush has inhabited Erin Lindsay in a way that everyone would want her in their corner. Sophia Bush is one of the few actresses that can display the right emotion, at the right time, with nothing but a look in her eyes. She is slowly unraveling, with a desire for vengeance maybe too strong to bare. 

Meanwhile, the others have tracked down Rudnik. He also has been beaten, and left for dead by Yates. Back at the hospital, Carisi does his own little bit of manipulating to get an idea of where Yates may be headed. Liv puts in a call to Dodds to let him know what is going on, and orders him and Lindsay to head back. Didn’t anyone tell him you never tell Lindsay how to drive? She’s in charge behind that wheel. As the continue to drive, the pass an abandoned police car. Once arrived they both search the scene, one police officer is dead, and that is when shots are fired. Dodds is hit – nothing major – and Lindsay is fine. 

Ignoring the orders to wait for back up, stubborn as always Lindsay heads into the woods after Yates. This sequence is brilliantly shot, and I can’t imagine just how cold it must be during Winter for this ensemble to shoot such scenes. A big BRAVO to the entire cast and crew. Yates is no where to be seen when Lindsay comes across a cabin. She makes her way in, ever so slowly where she finds a young girl hiding underneath the table. “My Daddy” the girl whispers. Lindsay leaving the girl safely behind, heads back outside to nearly be run over by Yates. He get’s away but not before leaving another dead body in his wake with a little message for Erin – “I’ll see you back at home”. 

Here we come Chicago…