Michael Parmelee / NBC

Law & Order: SVU Asks: Is There Such A Thing As Bad Idea Genes?

The team discovers a support group for children of violence who blame their own bad tendencies on their genetics. Too bad they didn't discover Olivia first.

Initial Crime

A blonde bartender must repeatedly rebuff a patron's insistent advances during and after her shift, after which she ends up raped by an unseen attacker in her own car.

Real Crime

Apparently the perp cried and told the victim that "he was born to be a rapist, that it was in his genes." DNA tests quickly exonerate the persistent bar patron, then point to a familial match in an inmate at Sing Sing, who fingers his own brother at an accounting firm when the cops spin him a yarn about finding a bunch of blood that belongs to a relative of said inmate. The brother then cops to the crime the minute Rollins and Carisi show up, but won't stop blaming his rapist genes for his behavior. Does he also have weasel genes?

REAL Real Crime

To cop a plea, the attacker offers up a serial known as the "River Rapist," and he knows too much about the cases to be bluffing. An abortive sting operation at a support group for would-be and actual rapists leads the cops to Sam Dalton, who has boasted to the group about having done the deed thrice. In the absence of a recorded confession, Dalton's lawyer argues that the therapy sessions are covered under clergy-congregant privilege, because the group leader is a self-styled minister (ordained by the Church of the Holy Savior dot com) who claims the meetings are spiritual in nature. The judge buys it, which also means that the River Rapist's DNA and previous victims' testimony are off the table as well.

Verdict

But another member of the group, the innocent young Will, happened to have once gotten a confession from Dalton outside the group, so the case is back on! Though not without a few hiccups as Will wrestles with betraying a member of the group and then resolves to hurl himself off a roof before he rapes...ever. But in the end, he does the right thing, and it's the River Rapist who goes down.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

You all remember Popular Science exploring the possibility of genetics predisposing one to violence, right? Anyone?

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

PS didn't confine the scope of its article to rape, but this is Law & Order: Sex Police, after all.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

The question is never really who, but why, so the perp isn't a well-known face. I guess if we want someone famous to pin it on, we'll have to settle for Gregor Mendel.

L&O-verse Regulars

Greg Germann returns as semi-recurring attorney Derek Strauss, here to blame rape victims like it's back in style. Also, the prisoner-portraying Christopher Halladay was on SVU in 2011 as one Aaron Handry, in case either of those names means anything to you.

It's Late, Y'all!

One can usually count on SVU for at least a couple of NSFW moments, but I've seen afterschool specials edgier than this.

Fin Speaks For Us All

He's not here to express his dismay that a support group for rapists exists, and provides a forum in which the leader and the members let each other off the hook for their potential and actual crimes. In fact, he's not around at all for this episode, which makes him smarter than those of us who sat through the whole thing.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Lying to the prisoner at Sing Sing to get information on his brother doesn't seem quite kosher, but what do I know?

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

All this blather about "rape genes" has Olivia worried about how Noah is going to turn out. And even a little about her own destiny, given her provenance. Her therapist assures her there's no such thing as a rape gene, which to be honest seems like something she would have heard about before now. At the same time, the group therapist's arguments seem to be getting into her head. To the point where she spends the episode's final, pensive moments gazing at her small child in bed like he's a ticking rape-bomb.

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

Olivia's big speech to talk a key witness off a rooftop is the venue for Carisi learning about her biological origins for the first time. Fortunately he's not too distracted by the news to scoop Will to safety. But he also does some backseat driving with regard to how Barba handled the motion to suppress Dalton's confessions in group, so maybe that's setting him up to officially transition to the other side of the titular ampersand.

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