Law and Order: SVU (S19E19) "Sunk Cost Fallacy"

Sometimes in life, there are no good choices and SVU had 2 situations that dealt with that reality on last night’s episode.

First off, the best part (although not a happy one) of the episode was Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) having to make a choice about his sister’s medication. We met his sister at her psychiatric facility a few episodes ago. Now Peter is dealing with the reality of being the sole person responsible for her care decisions. Winchester is always good, and here, torn apart by indecision and having 2 choices presented which are equally good/bad, he’s fantastic.

Secondly, the not so great part. I fear that SVU, in its attempts to create some sort of national moral conversation, has left solid entertainment behind. There is something to be said for that conversation and the impact it has. But, when this show starts to make that the primary focus we lose the very thing that drew us here in the first place. Last week fell very much victim to this, this week somewhat less so, but it’s still an issue.

I’ve been so excited to have the return of Alex Cabot (Stephanie March), long time SVU ADA. I’m not sure this was the best use of her, but she was the definitely the character I connected with the most. She’s back in town, only instead of practicing law, she’s helping victims of domestic violence escape from their abusers. The problem is, in doing so, she’s framing the abusers for murder. When Benson (Mariska Hargitay) discovers this she does exactly what she’s required to by law – stops an abused spouse from kidnapping her daughter and sending her husband to jail.

I truly feel for Benson in making this impossible decision. Personally, I’d be helping Cabot – but I’m a civilian, not a police officer. What blows my mind – no one ever even threatened Cabot with a prosecution. This is so unrealistic – she literally framed a guy for murder, and yet walks away scot-free? No matter how compelling her argument was, no prosecutor worth their salt (and we know Stone is worth his) would let that go without a word. In this case, the show needed a serious reality check.

In a tragic, but predictable, turn of events, the abuser gets away with murdering his wife. I was extremely unhappy with Benson and Stone’s conversation about this. Benson tells Stone that it’s easier if you take yourself, your own sense of justice and morality out of the equation and just do the legally right thing. Um. Excuse me? BENSON is telling STONE this? And he looks contemplative? No. That’s been Stone from day one on Chicago Justice – he follows the law in all cases. That’s been the biggest sense of tension between him and Benson’s team – they don’t always follow this rule. So to have her explaining this idea to him seriously rubbed me the wrong way.

Bringing on Philip Winchester to revive this long-running series was a smart move. It will only continue to be so if he’s allowed to shine in a consistent manner. The writers need to remember that after 19 seasons we’ve seen it all – it’s not the crime anymore, it’s the people. Benson is supposed to be running this department, yet continuously takes the lead on cases. This is unrealistic. It also prevents the other great actors in this series of the chance to do their work. Mariska Hargitay is only THE SERIES if the writers continue to write her the way. This isn’t a knock on her – she’s a good actress who has not only carried this series for 19 seasons but done great work for victims outside of it. That being said, it’s time to share the spotlight more.

SVU airs again on Wednesday, May 2nd at 9/8c

photo credit @fansofphilip