Law & Order: SVU (S17E15) – “Collateral Damages”


This last week’s episode of SVU was highly anticipated as we, the fans, would finally find out the identify of the mystery man Liv (Mariska Hargitay) has been hiding. My money was on Tucker or Voight (Jason Beghe), the latter would be my ideal. But read on, and let’s see how it all played out.

Titled “Collateral Damages”, this weeks episode delved into what happens when a loved one gets caught doing the wrong thing and when the repercussions of such illegal activity filter through the lives of all those around them. Starting with a classic undercover sting, headed by one other than Rollins (Kelli Giddish), the SVU team are attempting to arrest a famous boxing star who has been said to be involved in child pornography. This first scene is pretty confronting and will make your skin crawl, so when finally the guns are drawn and the suspect is apprehended, we all breathe a sigh of relief. Little did we know, that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

As Liv and Barba (Raul Esparza) watch the interrogation, when slimy character Hank Abraham (Josh Pais) enters, somewhat sarcastically clapping their success in collaring such a high profile suspect. As Barba enters the interrogation room, with Liv in tow, Teddy “Brown Sugar” Hawkins (Danny Johnson) wants to make a deal. He insists that he can get them a “bigger fish”; the leader of the ring even. They accept, but no deal will be made until they see if the information he has leads them to anything reliable. Oh but does it.

They are given three names, high-powered players in the ring of which they track and locate. However the third, an elderly old man, does not seem to be who they are looking for. No computer, and no idea what the detectives are talking about, it is discovered that someone is scamming/spoofing his modem. Following the leads (literally) to the apartment across the street, the door opens before Rollins can even knock. We know the face, we recognise her from the court appearances regarding Noah’s custody. It’s ADA Pippa Cox (Jessica Phillips). This is just about to get interesting. As the detectives make their way into her apartment, to the room where the computers reside, we are shocked to discover Hank Abraham hurriedly exiting a program on his computer. Did anyone elses’s mouths drop to the floor with that reveal? I had no idea Pippa was even married, let alone to Abraham!

Once he is arrested, regardless of his standing in the justice community, the episode continues at a quick pace. Strongly rejecting his guilt, he believes he is innocent or being framed, the detectives have a solid case. The evidence is overwhelming and everything points to him. There is no question of whether he is guilty, when two hard-drives full of child pornography are discovered underneath underwear drawer in his home. What happens next is the most heartbreaking aspect of this episode. With this high profile, the coverage of such charges befall his family; his wife’s career is put in jeopardy, his children are put through the pain of an interrogation and ultimately his work up to this point is up for question.

Unlike other episodes of SVU, this one moves away from the typical procedural format. There is no long-winded court hearing, no in-depth investigation but more so a focus on the fall out. The dramatic element of this episode is built around Jessica Phillips portrayal of Pippa Cox. She is completely unknowing to her husband’s behaviour, caught off guard and hit for six when the information becomes too strong to deny. The pivotal scene came when Pippa stormed out of the courtroom, followed closely by Liv. This scene, and Jessica’ ability to portray such undeniable heartbreak was spectacular. Mariska was subtle in her support and compassion, and Jessica’ crossed all boundaries delivering an emotionally charged performance.

Josh Pais was brilliant as Hank in this episode and the evolution of the character in a 42 minute time period was out of this world. He started out as an arrogant, self-involved ass and ended up being a vulnerable, remorseful suspect. The physicality Josh put into this role and the development of Hank was undeniable. Both him and Jessica were the stars of this episode with the squad just lifting the level higher.

Away from the drama of the case, Little Dodds (Andy Karl) had a decision to make – stay at SVU or take a position with the Joint Terrorism Task Force. He knew what his father wanted, and he knew what he wanted. His struggled throughout the episode to remain forthright in his decision to stay at SVU but eventually, with a little guidance from Liv, decided it was time he did what he wanted. And so, Little Dodds remains a part of the SVU team.

As the case was put to rest and Hank was sentenced, Liv and Tucker (who had been involved from an IAB level) were walking down the streets of New York discussing the hell that was this case. In need a strong night cap, the bar they first approach is too busy. Liv wants to go somewhere else, anywhere else. And with a little look between the two, and the most subtle of movements, Liv links arms with Tucker. It isn’t overt, it isn’t a big display of affection but it is enough for the audience to realise the nature of their relationship. After what I believe to have been a slow burn, a growth of understanding and a development professional and personal respect these two are very much suited. I’m excited to see how this new dynamic/relationship will work for Liv. Tucker has elements of all her old flames/partners/friends so maybe, just maybe, this will be the one to stick.