Photo: Michael Parmelee / NBC

If Memory Serves (Seventeen Years)

Cragen pitches in on a reopened case whose 'victim' wants to recant her accusations...again.

Initial Crime

In 1998, six-year-old Michelle Thompson accused her father, Derek, of raping her. He was convicted, and has been in prison ever since.

Real Crime

Now an adult and in recovery, Michelle claims her mother -- a good-time girl with drinking and drug problems of her own -- pressured her to say Derek had molested her, asking over and over again what her "daddy" did to her and getting angry when Michelle said he hadn't done anything, so Michelle went along and accused her father so that everyone would stop yelling at her.

REAL Real Crime

Michelle has tried to recant her story before, without success, and it takes the whole SVU squad; Cragen, visiting for the week and applying pressure to some of the older-school investigators on the initial case; and the formidable Bayard Ellis to get the case retried. It turns out Michelle's mom had A Thing with the detective on the case, who had come to the Thompsons' house to break up fights before, and probably colluded with Audrey to get rid of Derek with a molestation charge. But it's a burned hand that set the entire donnybrook in motion, which Michelle apparently suffered while cooking hot dogs for her little brother; this injury infuriated Derek since Audrey should have been home, they got into a fight, etc. etc. Unfortunately, the doctor who examined Michelle as a result of the molestation accusation made no note of a burned hand, which prompts Michelle to realize that she doesn't really remember anything about what really happened.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

The Chaneya Kelly case.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Chaneya Kelly was a little older than Michelle; her mother openly threatened to beat her if she didn't say her father had molested her; both recanted shortly after the initial outcry, but while Chaneya's recantation was on video and did come out at her father's trial, Michelle's was in a hearsay letter from her first-grade teacher, and Derek's defense attorney didn't use it; Derek gets out, while Daryl Kelly is still in prison.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Glenn "the guy whose car Keanu 'borrows' in Speed" Plummer is Derek Thompson, and it's unclear whether he did it, but I think we're meant to believe he's innocent, and Michelle is just confused. Dann Florek as Cragen, Andre Braugher as Ellis, Robert Sean Leonard as irritated original ADA O'Dwyer, and Judge Vincent "Johnny Sack" Curatola are all famous but obviously did not do it.

It's Late, Y'all!

Nothing hair-raising.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Cragen slips Benson a file while pointedly saying he's never seen it and neither has the squad, but most of the breaching is compliments of Detective McCormick's relationship with Audrey...and everyone crapping all over Carisi again, some more. When he zings Liv with a "whoa, before your time," she acidly wonders if he's missing Staten Island; later, impressed at meeting Ellis, he babbles, "Call me Sonny," and Rollins snarks, "Nobody else does." What's your problem, Craps McCade? All y'all step off.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Amaro, formerly Scotty Valens of Cold Case: "This is why I don't like reopening cases." Hee.

Fin Speaks For Us All

In the sense that, exhausted by last week's crossoverathon, he's lying down somewhere offscreen? Sure.


Despite an effective-IMO cross-examination of Michelle by O'Dwyer that gets her to wail that she doesn't remember, the jury is convinced by the lack of physical evidence/impossibility of ever knowing what really happened back then, and finds Derek not guilty.

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

Liv has Noah baptized in the cold open (with nobody in attendance but SVU-ers); the adoption is proceeding apace (but with a sweeps-shaped Wrench Of Damocles dangling over Noah's playpen). Cragen is still with Eileen.

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