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Law & Order: SVU Makes New Friends, But Keeps The Old

Munch is back to nail a notorious and elusive offender; so is the Terry Richardson ripped-from-the-headlines story.

Initial Crime

In a pre-credits sequence we've unfortunately seen many a time across the various L&O franchises, an underage model from the midwest hesitantly agrees to show a little more skin than she'd planned to a famous photog who can make her career. And as it does many a time, the photographer doesn't stop with pictures; Alvin Gilbert's "muse," Nora, feeds young Sally drinks, then Alvin rapes her while Nora snaps pictures.

Real Crime

That nobody made Virginia Gardner at least watch some Miss J runway "teaches" from ANTM on YouTube before trying to pass her off as a model? Gardner is quite good on the acting side, and yes, the idea is that she gets to close the show in exchange for not ratting Alvin, but she walks like a field-hockey defender. ...Okay, but seriously: Sally went to the shoot without her controlling "manager" boyfriend, Matt -- who, it is implied, tunes her up for slipping the leash. He's also happy to muddy up the case by going to the photographer's acclaimed-designer brother, Benno, pulling a gun on him, and "eliciting" fifty grand for a garbage editorial idea...and then he talks Sally out of testifying before the grand jury, and since none of Alvin's other victims is about to bury her own career by taking the stand, Barba and Liv have to convince Nora that she's going to get thrown under the bus by The House Of Gilbert to the tune of federal child-porn charges for taking the photos, so she finally sells Alvin out...

REAL Real Crime

...but when the squad goes to Benno's IPO/runway show to arrest Alvin, they find him in the alley, shot in the chest and nards.

Verdict

None, though initial suspect Matt is held on a gun charge, mostly to keep him away from Sally. Even the confession Dodds Jr. empathies out of Benno isn't unalloyed, as Benno's wife Claire quickly claims that she shot Alvin and orders Benno to STFU until their lawyers get there...but based on Alvin's face in the security footage, which shows him getting shot

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but not his shooter, it's clear at least to Dodds Jr. that Benno did it.

Not to worry, though: Barba is in the episode, snarking up a storm and making Vonnegut references.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Terry Richardson, a mere two years after the last time the show visited the story.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Richardson doesn't have a designer brother, and has not been shot as of this writing. Models have accused him, on the journalistic record, of coercion and inappropriate contact/assault, including the underage part, but I don't believe anyone's filed charges and he's enjoyed a somewhat more spirited defense in the press than Alvin.

In terms of Munch having gone after the same guy in the past, the ep goes out of its way to retcon the absence of such a case in past seasons -- I didn't double-check this, but the original complainant "changed her name" and is now sending models from her agency to Alvin, and Fisher Stevens has appeared on SVU before, but not in the Alvin role.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Stevens as Alvin, and he obviously did it; Griffin Dunne is Benno, and he obviously did it, per Jr. recognizing the look on Alvin's face in the security footage as the one his younger brother -- a junkie who's always calling Jr. to get him out of trouble -- always greets him with; Sandrine Holt as Nora obviously did it; Belzer as John Munch did not do it.

L&O-verse Regulars

Stevens, who's been on the big three franchises, most famously as the attorney for the Susan Smith-ish woman in "Angel"; Dunne, making his SVU debut after a couple of Criminal Intents ten years ago; Francesca Faridany as Claire (she was a tertiary character in the "Hayden Panettiere clings to Liv because her rock-star parents ignore her" episode); and Tom Pelphrey as Matt (the "Liv gets framed for murdering a biker" episode) (...sometimes, typing this shit out, you can't believe it) (bless, and may it go 30 seasons). And of course Belzer, who looks much more like an outright old man than last we saw him, but it suits him, actually.

It's Late, Y'all!

"Wet, I want it wet!" and "Take it, my little girl!" are just a couple of Alvin's gacky lines.

Fin Speaks For Us All

Matt threatens to take justice into his own hands. Fin:

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Amen, sir.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

It seems for a few minutes like Liv is going to clock Jr. for lying to Benno about having a ne'er-do-well brother...until it becomes evident he didn't lie. Not a bad play by the writers, I have to say. It would explain a lot about Sr.'s clenching.

Elsewhere, I can report that L&O drinking-game procedure was also observed at the appearance of my birthday on an interstitial screen.

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Chin-chin, ever'buddeh.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Jr., because Jr. The Younger; Munch, because it's his old case; Rollins and Liv kiiiiind of because they get the call about the case while they're on a carousel, having Carisi take glamor shots of them and the babies. (Read: "Availing themselves of 'Uncle Sonny''s natural skills with the ankle-biters."

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And who among us would not.)

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

Jr. has a black-sheep bro. Carisi is adding photography to his hobbies list along with cooking and adorbling. Munch babysits, and when he's not doing that he's...well, we don't really know. He went to work in the DA's office but that isn't mentioned here, only that he found out "there's more to life than SVU" and he's glad Liv found that out too. Noah has a sweet haircut and his "bye Munch!" caused my left ovary to self-incinerate. No mention of the outcome of Fin's date, or of Tucker.

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