Michael Parmelee / NBC

Biden Time On Law & Order: SVU

The Vice President declares victory over the rape-kit backlog, but one of the unjustly accused that testing freed falls under suspicion again.

Initial Crime

Sixteen years ago, Melanie Harper identified Sean Roberts as her rapist, Fin got him locked up, and Sean ended up serving a decade and a half...until the Vice President and Liv joined forces to get the rape-kit backlog tested (I'm paraphrasing). DNA evidence exonerated Sean, and a month after his release, he's standing awkwardly by at Biden's press conference and has become close with Melanie and her daughter, Ashley. The Harpers take Sean out for his birthday, and...

Real Crime

...later that night Melanie calls the EMTs when she smells smoke. A uniform tells Fin they found Ashley "raped, strangled, doused in bleach, and burned," and Melanie babbles that she thinks she heard Sean's voice downstairs when Ashley got home late. A handful of red herrings ensue, and Sean's lawyer tries to leverage sympathy for his previous unjustly-accused plight during the trial, but to everyone's dismay, Sean did attack Melanie and is going back to jail for another 15 years.

REAL Real Crime

That the Vice President's guest shot only lasted two minutes, on a network show where he couldn't swear. But I kid Joe! The rape-kit backlog nationwide is certainly criminal, and it's strongly implied that the justice system -- which sent a scrawny 18-year-old into the corrections system to be beaten and raped himself, and rendered unable to function and socialize on the outside, thereby creating a monster -- is to blame for Ashley's death.

Verdict

Melanie doesn't want to testify against Sean, because what if she's wrong again about what she saw/heard? But Barba compels her, and after her testimony (which is really mostly Barba's), defense counsel arranges a plea: Man I. Liv makes sure to put in that Sean has to allocute so the department doesn't get even more egg on its face.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

You already figured it out from the episode title, I'm sure, but just in case: the Steven Avery case(s) as shown in Making A Murderer.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Steven Avery's (alleged) victims didn't know/weren't related to each other; Avery was convicted in part thanks to testimony from his intellectually delayed nephew, Brendan Dassey, whereas the non-neurotypical adolescent testifying against Sean isn't a relative, isn't accused of helping Sean, and is discredited in court; Sean's civil suit against the police is still in progress.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Say it ain't so, Joe! ...Just kidding. He does his bit for the timely-testing cause and gets out. Henry "E.T." Thomas is Sean. (Kelli "The Practice" Williams plays Melanie. What are the odds of having two Kellis in one episode?)

L&O-verse Regulars

Delaney Williams as Counselor Buchanan; Jenna Stern as Judge Barth; that's about it, though I hope we see Cody Kostro again. He's quite good as Charlie, doesn't overplay.

It's Late, Y'all!

Carisi, upon finding Charlie's rooftop lair, lists the contents as follows: "Weed, pills, hand lotion, Coney Island whitefish." [shudder]

Fin Speaks For Us All

Not really, but I did enjoy his forcing Liv to explain what "optics" meant vis-a-vis leaving him on Sean's current case, even though he surely knows exactly what she means but just wanted to make her say that it's a political issue. Hat tip also for blowing off her offer to work through his feelings with "Talking's overrated" -- from behind sunglasses.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Rollins wants it to be okay that Charlie identifies Sean as the guy who dropped the murder weapon in the trash, but it's a single picture, on her phone, and he says in so many words that "I'm not good with times, befores and afters like that" and asks, "If I say yes, would that be helping Ashley? And you?" She knows better, even if she's all "...what?" to Barba later when Buchanan demolishes Charlie's credibility, and hers, on cross.

Barba turning around to glare at Rollins while this is going on doesn't help. Have more chill, hoss.

Parmelee

Parmelee

M...ore than that.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Fin, because he helped ruin Sean's life (and also finds Ashley's engagement ring in Sean's sink drain); Liv, because...Liv. I get that it's a big issue and an important victory, but cry-voice from a lieutenant at a press conference is not how we do it.

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

An attempt to smoosh Carisi's natural waves back into the shorter pomaded style of last season is being made.

Peter Kramer / NBC

Peter Kramer / NBC

It is ill-advised.

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