Law and Order: SVU (S19E10) “Pathological”

“Pathological” was a case quite literally ripped out of the headlines. Many of us watching almost  immediately connected it to the real life case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, a young girl who murdered her mother. Police proved that the mother had Munchausen Syndrome by proxy and had convinced everyone, including her daughter that she was deathly ill.

Although tonight’s case wasn’t surprising in its content, the team of writers and actors worked effectively to keep us involved. We’re introduced to the victim when a teacher finds her and another special education student having sex in the closet. She tells the teacher that the boy raped her, but we later learn that she understood rape as simply when a boy puts his penis near you, and that she’d been willing in the interaction. Nonetheless, the team is involved and we know that they don’t let anything go if they sniff out a problem.

Rollins was particularly determined this episode, able to eventually prove that the victim’s mother had been drugging her for 15 years, keeping her physically and mentally lagging so that she would appear extremely ill. The father, who hadn’t been in the picture, arrives and is able to get his daughter off the crippling medications and away from the mother. Ok – so this is the most unrealistic to me. The physical improvements are one thing, maybe that would have been quick, but she went from almost catatonic to acting like a normal teenager way too fast. I would think that her mental condition would have been too under developed to adjust that quickly. And this dad who’s been totally uninvolved in her life is suddenly the hero?

One of the most disturbing scenes was watching the victim’s mother yelling at Olivia, telling her that she wouldn’t know how to be a good mother. Coming off of last week’s episode that felt like a seriously low blow to Benson. Thankfully, throughout the episode Olivia had Barba repeatedly offering support – seriously I want these two to end up.

In the end, the episode turns out much like the real case – the victim murders her mother, at first claiming that it was out of fear of her mother regaining control over her. Barba, being the legal whiz, is able to coax out of her that it was actually about her boyfriend, her mother wanted to keep them apart. Here I’m so torn. Yes, this girl committed premeditated murder and needs to face the consequences,  on the other hand, she’s been severely emotionally handicapped by her mother. At what point should she have been treated more like a juvenile – that’s basically her mental capability. Which is why our favorite ADA Barba bombs his own case by talking in front of the jurors, getting the case sent to family court. A bittersweet ending.

 

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