Michael Parmelee / NBC

And Forgive Us Our Emmy-Reel Trespasses On Law & Order: SVU

Good acting bails out overwrought writing as the squad struggles to exonerate Liv and Tucker.

Initial Crime

The squad uncovered a sex-trafficking ring with tentacles in the PD and the Church, both of whom turned around and tried to bury Tucker and Liv.

Real Crime

While Liv is cry-voice ambushing Barba at the coffee cart, Tucker is sneaking cigs and disgustedly submitting to a panel of of 1PP inquisitors (all of them lit like it's Superman II and he's Zod; settle down, director of photography); and the remainder of the squad is throwing you're-not-our-real-mom shade at Dodds Jr., Sister Nina's paranoia is turning out to be justified -- and fatal, when an unseen man in a panel van runs her and Natalia off the road. It's Father Akintola, but I guess they couldn't afford that actor and Frank Vincent, because we only hear secondhand from Natalia that Father Akintola raped Sister Nina and made Natalia watch, shot Sister Nina point-blank, and gave Natalia a jumbo needle of heroin, which is why she woke up in the hospital.

REAL Real Crime

Dodds Jr. is all about buckling down to try to kill this Hydra of a case, but Sr. is like, it's a career-ender; best case, Tucker takes retirement, IAB throws the Vice cops under the bus, and maybe Liv gets to sit in the property room and think about what she's done until her pension comes in. Jr. roger-thats to his dad's face, but the squad keeps working the case, and Rollins unearths some financial evidence suggesting that Father Eugene is skimming to pay for a sweet pad in Fort Greene. Upon visiting said pad and discovering Father Eugene's S&M sugar baby, everyone figures out that the boytoy's girlfriend ratted him to the monsignor (I think?), who pretended to report Father Eugene to the Bronx DA while putting him on a bullshit sabbatical, then letting him come back and continue working with students -- but in fact using Father Eugene's proclivities to blackmail him into running girls for him and Bishop Billy Batts.

The latter does the SVU equivalent of telling the squad to go home and get their fucking shineboxes when he calls a press conference to accuse the police department of massive corruption and buck-passing; Eugene is hurled under the bus, but despite how badly the Church has done by him, Carisi still finds him praying, and Peter Scanavino accredits himself nicely with an overwrought speech about going to Mass, absolution, et cetera. Convinced thereby that he can still do good, Father Eugene tells Carisi where the bodies are buried, and by "bodies," I mean "files," but they are interred in a grave at St. Fabiola's.

Verdict

Everyone involved goes before the grand jury to crap on Bishop Billy Batts as a smirking Barba drinks deli coffee and deposes them: vice cops, other nuns, survivors. Father Akintola is sent back to NYC by Interpol, but Bishop Billy Batts escapes prosecution when the Vatican "calls him back" for murky reasons and lets Akintola take the fall. Tucker is cleared and back to work, Liv is cleared and back to work, and Sr. foreshadows bad times ahead for Jr. when he warns that the "big guns" SVU went after have long memories.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Still don't think it's a specific headline, but again, could be the Cornejo case, could be Monty Green.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

L&O-verse Regulars

The usual suspects (as it were) from the previous episode, plus heyyyyy, Counselor Jackie Jr. Desappio is back! Zero mention of Kim Rollins's claim that he was going to propose to her, so I guess his big head overruled his little one. David Cale as Judge Wheeler has a Mothership and a CI on his c.v. Vincent has some '90s Motherships, including the legendary "Aria" (girl's mom forces her to do porn).

It's Late, Y'all!

I guess we're meant to find this shocking?

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But 1) the shot composition is basically Michael O'Keefe photo-bombing his own dom, and 2) wouldn't you take your glasses off to defile an altar with cowboy B&D? Because I would. In any case the net effect is a snerk.

Fin Speaks For Us All

When Father Eugene's hilariously named master, Lance Woodstone, claims that he's Eugene's personal trainer, Fin snarks, "He use this ball gag in Pilates?"

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Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Liv and Tucker have their own Seinfeldian sub-show, Detectives In Bars Getting Anxious, but under the circs Liv's ongoing meet-ups with various case figures aren't that egregious. And while Jr. is repeatedly told that swimming against the tide to actually solve the case is not what he's supposed to do, he does it anyway.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Liv, because fired; Tucker, because framed; Liv and Tucker, because fucking; Dodds Jr., because undermined by pops; Sr., because defied by child; Carisi, because disappointed by Church; Rollins and Fin, because everyone else.

Revelations About The Continuing Characters' Personal Lives That We Should Remember Going Forward

We close on Carisi in church by his lonesome, clutching his rosary and looking nauseated. I do not like the implications of next week's previews for our handsome and devout new MVP, but I choose to believe NBC's promo monkeys are just messing with us as per usz. Elsewhere, though it looks at the end there like Tucker's going to dump Liv because the investigation put too much stress on their relationship, he's merely giving her too-prompt signaling for another glass of red the stink-eye, then gently murmuring that he "thought we could take it easy today." She's touched that he's looking out for her. "Always," he grunts. So I guess we're supposed to interpret his figurative hard-on for her and Stabler's badges as a literal hard-on for her all these years? But I am fahhhhhhne with that. Sail on, Tuckson ship.

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