Law and Order: SVU (S19E20) "The Book of Esther"

Last night’s episode was close to being compelling, but in the end, it just drove me crazy, for one simple reason. Amanda Rollins (Kelly Giddish) was once again allowed to run wild with no consequences. Not only that, her actions caused the greatest tragedy of the case, and yet no one acted as though she’d done anything wrong.

***spoilers ahead***

The Case

A case straight from the headlines, a young girl is found after escaping her family home and making her way onto a train. The girl can hardly communicate, using Bible verses as her go-to answers. She is severely underweight, has scarring all over her body, AND the team finds semen on her. Worse yet, that belongs to a familial relation. Basically, it’s almost as bad as it can get.

Rollins gets almost immediately attached to Esther (Rebekah Kennedy). She takes her under her wing and acts very personal about making sure Esther is taken care of. Unfortunately,  Ester’s father shows up and reveals that Esther is 27. He convinces Esther to leave with him, and because she’s an adult, there is nothing the squad can do. This guy was super creepy from the get-go.

Rollins takes it upon herself to continue this case. She travels to New Jersey to investigate Esther’s family in the hopes she can extract Esther. Here is where my biggest issue comes – Rollins, upon finding the family home, peeks into the basement windows. There she sees the youngest girl CHAINED to the floor, crying for food. This should have immediately caused her to call the local police, but instead, Rollins breaks into the home. Of course, the father finds her (duh, they never leave the house!) and, using a shotgun, makes Rollins leaves.

Rollins finally calls the police who show up with SWAT ready to storm the house. She BROKE INTO their house. Y’all – this is so messed up. My least favorite scene though was when one of the local cops questioned exactly what the heck they were doing and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) yells at him. This guy is just doing his job, Rollins was wrong, and he’s getting yelled at? Cue eye roll. Predictably, everything goes south, a shootout ensues and the kicker? Esther gets shot. The only shocking thing? It was Rollins’ bullet that kills Esther. This should have been a lesson that inappropriate action = negative consequences.

No Consequences EVER

When Benson goes to relay this to Rollins it’s heartbreaking, but then she follows up the news with the reassurance that Rollins will be cleared and back to work soon. Excuse me? She continued a closed investigation – broke into a suspect’s home – and then shot the victim she was trying to save? And it’s just  – you’re all good?
None of this is to say that Kelli Giddish didn’t give a stellar performance. She was convincingly distraught and was fantastic last night. I think the case overall was interesting and well presented. If only they had simply called Rollins to task. If there had been some sort of repercussions, I could say it was a good episode. But, especially after the last couple of episodes, I’m concerned about the direction SVU is headed. We have to see this team suffering the consequences of their actions. This wild west attitude is unrealistic at best.

We had an episode where Benson gave a talk to Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) about doing the legally correct thing even when it feels morally wrong – and here she allows Rollins to do that exact thing. And we had an episode where Rollins treated the victim terribly – but apparently, that’s all been forgotten and forgiven because of what? She was dating a guy who cheated on her. As if that’s a good excuse.

I really hope that next week we get a true SVU episode – a horrible crime, investigation, and justice.

SVU airs next May 9 on NBC at 9/8c

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