Law & Order: SVU (S17E16) “Star-Struck Victims”

Review:

Similar to the title of this week’s episode, the guest-star appearances were leaving the audience star-struck. From Delaney Williams making a show as the cocky defense attorney, to UnReal’s own Craig Bierko as the famous star caught in the middle of the controversy, the audience already knows it’s going to be a good one. “Star-Struck Victims” opens on Christie as she sits in the emergency department waiting to be checked out She has her iPhone securely glued to her hand and is recording a journal entry when the nurse enters to prepare her for the physical exam – she isn’t allowed to film this part. As the examination finishes, Detectives Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Carasi (Peter Scanavino) enter the hospital room to take Christie’s statement. Placing her iPhone perfectly to capture the entire interview, she describes being attacked in a bathroom at a party of Bobby D’s by his bar manager Noel Panko. Rollins and Carisi are notably put off when Christie insists her followers want to see everything that goes on in her life – including this ordeal.

Back at the squad room Chief Dodds (Peter Gallagher) has reappeared following the Abraham story of last week and has got wind of the accusations being made against Bobby D; a friend of the family and police departments. Regardless of whether Bobby is “good people” Liv (Mariska Hargitay) tasks the team with questioning the victim’s friend and Bobby himself. Rollins and Carisi interview the friend to find out that Christie and Bobby did make out, that he was attentive and buying them drinks; nothing too intense. Meanwhile, Dodds (Andy Karl) is visiting a film set to get Bobby’s side of the story. He admits to have consensual sex with Christie, describing her as a freak, and that she was well and truly up for taking care of Noel afterwards. Bobby is adamant that it is a shakedown, but we all know he is a creep – “wild things happen to wild things”. Craig Bierko plays the arrogant, entitled famous star perfectly.

With all this new information coming to light, the squad returns to Christie again to make sure she is telling the truth. She lied. Not about the rape, but about the fact that she participated in consensual oral sex with Bobby. With Barba (Raul Esparza) watching on, he knows the case is weak; it is a typical “she said, they said” and is under the belief the evidence at hand is not enough for trial. This episode was full to the brim of female shade and attitude; starting right from this moment with a perfectly placed Rollins eye roll and scoff. Gosh, Kelli Giddish can bring it. Regardless of the bite back from the squad, Barba refuses to move forward with the case leaving it up to Liv to talk to Christie. She doesn’t take it well, can you blame her? And no sooner had she left the precinct, had her latest Vlog been uploaded to the internet. Personally calling out Liv and the Special Victims Unit, as well as naming her attackers, Christie’s video goes viral.

As the fallout from the viral video ensues, Liv and the team are on damage control and still on strict order from Dodds to investigate, but not to investigate. He wants to keep Bobby D happy, and save the department the headache of a lawsuit. Too bad the video has turned up some new leads; a comment on the video stating that Christie isn’t alone. Rollins and Carisi track down another victim, but when she refuses to testify we learn that she has been paid off by Bobby D. With the case becoming increasingly stressful, the squad has dispersed when Rollins and Dodds get into a somewhat heated argument. When a remark about being a working mother hits the wrong way, Amanda is immediately on the defensive. Stop telling her what to do sergeant, she’s got it under control… But does she? We all know what Amanda is like when she becomes emotionally involved in a case and this one is no different. We cut to her flirting and drinking with Bobby at his bar and we immediately know what her plan is. She lets it go on long enough for both Bobby and Noel to be in the bathroom about to rape her when she delivers none other than an infamous “Rollins Smackdown”. As she makes her way out, with the evidence she needs, Mike catches her and blows her cover. To say she is pissed is an understatement.

The trial begins shortly after, with defense attorney Mr. Buchanan at the helm – Oh Delaney Williams, how we love thee. Before the trial gets started, Carisi does his best to clear things up with Liv on behalf of Rollins and Dodds – can anyone say family drama? And once again, Mariska does a delightful job of displaying the annoyance at having to wrangle her staff like they are little kids playing on the playground. You’ve got to applaud Carisi for trying. The trial gets underway with the Detectives giving solid statements on behalf of Christie, but not without a little push back from Buchanan. And when Christie is called to testify, Buchanan holds nothing back bringing to the forefront that this quite possibly could be all just a publicity stunt; her views went up when she got raped. Maybe she made it up to earn more money? As he leaves a traumatized Christie on the stand, the trial seems pretty much home and done.

As Barba re-enters the courtroom confident in his plan to cross-examine Bobby and Noel, Mr. Buchanan has other plans – he refuses to call Bobby and Noel, saying that there hasn’t been enough evidence to prove their guilt. Swift move counselor, swift move. Barba is pissed, and while Carisi does everything he can pep him back up, the journey returns between we can even take a breath. With an overwhelming verdict of “not guilty” both Bobby and Noel are free to go. Christie is understandably distraught with the result; Rollins is disappointed and Liv, well Liv just looks lost for words. Back at the station the team is watching the recently leaked footage from the sting operation Rollins completed. Amanda, what did you do? When Liv is irritated, Mariska takes on attitude and sass like a second language and as an audience we know never to cross Olivia. In the privacy of her office, Liv lets loose at Amanda admitting she thought they were past this, that having a child may have encouraged her to be less reckless for thoughtful. Kelli and Mariska bring a level of passion to these disagreements that make us yearn for these two women to just get along. Rollins insists it wasn’t her this time, even swearing on her daughter’s life but Liv isn’t taking it. A fed up Olivia is not one you want. As Mike (Dodds) interrupts, Amanda leaves while Liv still can’t believe it has happened again. Mike has become a quieter player in a squad already formed, but has started to show his loyalty in the smallest of ways. This week however, he makes a big play – he is the one that leaked the footage, not Rollins. What? Really? He never liked Bobby D, and shows no remorse for what he did. Between this and the obvious tension between Rollins and Mike, could this be the start of something? And on a side note, did anyone see Liv putting her desk plaque in to a box during the promo next week? Theories?