Two Of Clubs
A prep-school's secret deflowerment society claims more than one victim (Sarah D. Bunting's dinner, for one) when the he-said/she-said heads to court.
The shy Abby is super-excited that senior Chris is showing her some attention, and at the school dance he's invited her to, she's cautiously into swigging from his flask, taking tongue-heavy selfies for his Insta, and heading with him to the school darkroom (notorious as a makeout spot; "see what develops," har har). But in the darkroom, Chris puts his hands under her dress, his finger into her, and isn't hearing her requests to slow down.
Abby's mom smells a rat when Abby comes home and is uncharacteristically abrupt about her evening; a few days later, she finds the dress -- stained with, well, Chris -- in the trash and Abby tells her what happened, but when they go down to the nearest cop shop to report the assault, the police there decline to do anything, which is kind of criminal here in 2016, particularly when it opens the door to a chilly blast of Bensonctimony about how "local precincts aren't properly trained" to deal with rape reports. Of course, the episode would like us to understand that the real crime is Chris belonging to the contemporary version of the Mack Rangers, the school's repellent "Nos Messis Cerasa" "secret society." The name means "Cherry Pickers' Club" in Latin, although -- Latin-nerd alert! -- I'm not entirely convinced the Latin is even correct, so they're C-plus classics students as well as score-fucking little sociopaths. Chris didn't have a name on the board yet, which gives him theoretical motive to pretend not to hear any objections Abby might have had...
...and seems to bother his parents not a whit. Chris's mother is far more concerned, to a notable and shrieky degree, about "everyone knowing" that teenage girls claim rape to get revenge on boys who don't call the next day. Chris's father is all bent that Stanford is going to yank Chris's early admission. And Chris's lawyer is obliged to take Abby apart on the stand for sending Chris mixed messages. So I guess the real crime is parenting that privileges status over compassion, but if you could go to jail for that, the Upper East Side and most of brownstone Brooklyn would be a ghost town.
Despite a valiant effort by Barba, Chris is not guilty of felony rape and misdemeanor forcible touching. He does get dinged for first-degree sexual misconduct, which means he goes on the registry. The verdict nearly touches off a brawl amongst the parents, and occasions a pleading "I'm sorry. ...Chris!" from Abby, from which I guess we're to infer that the situation is muddier than even we can know, like, we do get it.
The Owen Labrie/St. Paul's "senior salute" case, I'm guessing, but I doubt this sort of club/competition is all that rare.
Chris bragged on social media that he'd had sex with Abby, whereas Labrie downplayed it a bit afterwards but used social media and texting to seduce his victim, so the "inconsistent behavior from the woman" defense both cases opt for is coming before the assault in the Labrie case, versus after it on SVU. Other than that, minimal changes.
Elizabeth Marvel as Rita Calhoun is usually behind the defense table, and Liv is still, erm, livid at Calhoun for representing Greg Yates, but Calhoun's friends with Abby's mom from when they went to St. Fauxl's, so she's advocating for Abby here. Sean Grandillo as Chris is a relative newbie. The biggest guest-star gun is "Dr." Bill Irwin, and the only thing he's "guilty" of is not buying Liv's put-me-in-coach shit.
Marvel; Delaney Williams as defense counsel; Aida Turturro as the trial judge; Charlie Ray as Abby has appeared on an SVU before, the one with the paw tattoos, and she's very good here; each of the kids' moms has notched a few Motherships and CIs; John Hickok, Chris's dad, whose IMDb entry is almost entirely L&Os, is probably best known for being the doctor who mercy-killed the kid in the Heather Matarazzo episode.
I didn't know you could use "he came on my dress" in this context at 9 PM, but guess what. "It wasn't really getting in" and "he put a finger inside me" don't necessarily belong in mid-primetime either.
Everyone's acting like Calhoun stepped over Alex Cabot's dead body to become a one-time victim's advocate
but aside from a renewed commitment on the writers' part to shitting on Carisi -- giving him that tactless line about how miserable his sister was having to come off mat leave; giving Barba an "even a broken clock" snap when Carisi's correct on a point of law, like, can we not fucking be done with this? The sell-by on this from-the-planet-Bumblor-18 horseshit was May of 2015, so STOP IT -- everyone's basically within bounds.
Benson, because it's her first case back after her most recent imperilment, and because she has a future teenage boy, and because the local squad effed up the report, and because Benson; Barba, because the case is impossible; Calhoun, because old friends.
Thankgodfully snaps at Chris's parents to let Chris talk instead of making shit worse for him by speaking for him; makes this face when the Nos Messis Cerasa list is unveiled:
Rollins only gets six weeks of mat leave, though she could take a year off unpaid, and it's interesting how everyone just sighs when Dodds Jr. mentions this instead of verbally beating him about the face and head with a sockful of dimes like they would have if CARISI had said it. Oh, wait, by "interesting" I really meant "bullshit." Liv is still having nightmares and flashbacks, but that's nothing new, she tells Dr. Bill Irwin, who's like, maybe you should just quit, because other people can in fact do the job if you choose not to, but Narcissismama ain't trying to hear that. Counselor Buchanan is apparently in some financial trouble.