Photo: Michael Parmelee / NBC

Cops And Roberts

The SVU premiere's got Robert Durst, Dallas Roberts, and Rollins feeling not so great, Bob!

Initial Crime

When another body washes up onshore near triple-crossover-event baddie Dr. Greg Yates's favored dumping ground, the squad is tempted to pin that murder on him too...except that the victim is a redhead (Yates favors brunettes), her manner of death isn't entirely consistent with Yates's, yadda.

Real Crime

At first, it seems like it's Yates's manipulation of Rollins into an info-for-conjugals trade situation so he can bone his fiancee, Susan -- but he does have good intel about a med-school colleague who called him for help one night when (or so the colleague claimed) some sex games went wrong, and the cops find a mummified body in the same house Yates mentioned, in a suitcase stuffed in a non-working chimney. The body belongs to the ex-girlfriend of the colleague, a Dr. Rudnick, who juuuuuust happens to be the ranking medical examiner.

REAL Real Crime

The Changs, who just saw their property values plunge thanks to the murdered lady behind the wall, storm into their broker's cubicle at Corcoran and just start spraying bullets everywh-- okay, fine, it's actually that Yates's lady friend, Susan, backs Yates's story that she and Yates and Rudnick and the raisin formerly known as Lena. But Lena went back to Switzerland, she adds. She even sent a postcard! Although now that she thinks about it, the photo did look kind of like Rudnick. She helpfully goes to mini-storage to dig the photo up, but Rudnick posts his gazillion-dollar bail, kills her, and chops her up in pieces, all of which also wash up onshore near Yates's dumping ground...except the part of her thigh that probably carried the fatal wound. Also there's a rando shoplifting charge in there, aaaaaaand I can probably stop now, because this is starting to sound familiar, yeah?

Headlines This Was Ripped From

As promised, Robert Durst/The Jinx.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Barely. Rudnick is an M.E., not a country-store owner or real-estate scion; killed his fiance, not his wife; seems to kill for pleasure/pathological reasons, versus to silence women or get them out of the way; he's not in a documentary; he doesn't burp; nothing happens in Texas; he heists bag of chocolate nips instead of a sandwich. Other than that, it's very close, from the cross-dressing to the posing as a "deaf" woman (who killed his neighbor, then got busted thanks to new flooring) to the inappropriate demonstration in court of self-defense.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Jefferson Mays, despite having carved out a nice little niche for himself playing James Madison a lot of times, is not what I would call "famous." Elizabeth Marvel and Delaney Williams return as co-defense counsel; Vincent Curatola is the presiding judge.

It's Late, Y'all!

Hat tip to Dallas Roberts's rendition of Yates's O-face; it's nassssssty. Props really went all out with the remains, too:

Screens: NBC

Screens: NBC

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Smart play making the bodies legit repulsive, so as to...well, you'll see.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Rollins visits Yates unaccompanied a couple of times, contra Liv's orders, but Liv is dandling Noah on her lap in her office at work and still has not cut that child's unacceptable hair, so let's call it even, especially the second time when Barba's basically like, "So don't tell her, I got a case to close." Rollins in turn asks Liv not to tell 1PP something so she doesn't have to go on restricted desk duty. That's right: she's having Tommy John surgery.

(Spoiler: that's not it.)

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Nobody, really. Liv does say it's among the worst crime scenes she's ever dealt with. Interesting, then -- by which I actually mean "stupid" -- that, when the squad is already shorthanded thanks to Amaro leaving for Cali, every damn one of them is detailed to the case, trundling out to crime scenes, and sitting in court to make exaggeratedly teenaged "DO YOU BELIEVE THIS GUY" faces at Rudnick's testimony. Poor Hargitay, seriously. Between that and the twenty minutes of head-shaking she's obliged to do going into each act break, she must think she's in a silent movie.

Fin Speaks For Us All

Exasps at Rollins that Yates is playing her. Then he functionally disappears for the second half of the premiere.

Verdict

The pointed reminder that Barba's conference room is wired for sound/video in the second act goes off, finally, in the...sixth, I guess, when my man Carisi thinks to check the tape just in case-ies, and finds footage of Rudnick talking to himself killed-them-all-of-course-stylee. Judge Johnny Sack says it's admissible, so Rudnick changes his plea to guilty of killing the initial victim and Susan (weirdly, Barba withdraws the charges on the Lena murder).

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

Rudnick finds Yates in prison, and they settle in for an awkward lunch. Nick is doing physical therapy in California and trying to catch on with the Parks police. That's it!

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Right, sorry! Sorry. Liv is having baffling hair issues thanks to, I assume, a low-flow shower head or hard water conflicting with her conditioning regime or something. The center part isn't helping, but the uncombed-out rolls right next to her face give her a '70s-Bertinelli pap-shot look that isn't flattering. Her hair looks rad in the S17 key art and she doesn't usually have humidity issues unless they're literally out in the rain, soooo I don't get it. But I don't like it.

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I mean, right? That is some lank. ...Okay, that's it. Wait, unless you count Rollins rushing away from a crime scene to speeyack, looking peaked enough to inspire comments from others all episode, having obvious pregnancy moon face already (no shade, Giddish looks fantastic; it's just rull obvious), drinking ginger ale, and -- per Yates, who is gross, but not wrong -- smelling of hCG. That's probably nothing, right?

...Hee. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. America and all the 'ships at sea: Rollins is pregnant. It is not Nick's, thank the fragrant heavens, although her rushing to tell two different people that is weird. It appears she's keeping it, all the better to get quavery-voiced notes from Liv on single parenting, but Rollins's mom might move to the city to help out. The...same mom who married a gambler and raised Rollins's no-account grifter sister? That'll work out great, no doubt. Anyway, the show probably didn't need to deal with Giddish's pregnancy at all, much less telegraphing it so hard the wires melted -- why not just send her undercover like they usually did Hargitay? -- but it's less clumsy than it could have been. I'm not optimistic, however.

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