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Law & Order: SVU Raises The Bar On The Suzy Favor Hamilton Story

An Olympic pole-vaulter's adrenaline cravings make her a (ripped-from-the-headlines) target. Related: Kim Rollins got parole. HMMM.

Initial Crime

Extremely focused treadmill user Jenna Miller goes into the city to get ripshit at a hotel bar by herself and make come-hither eyes at a hedge-fund douche...but gets picked up hours later for jumping between rooftops in her bare feet and running around in the street like a drunk sorority girl.

Real Crime

Jenna's dress is torn and she has visible bruising on her legs -- and much worse -- but when Liv and Rollins come to take her statement, Jenna's extremely cagey, only wailing that she got raped when her husband Chad shows up freaking out that she didn't come home. But although Jenna's not keen to press charges, because doing so will 1) reveal that she freelances as an escort, motivated primarily by the attention and thrills and unbeknownst to Chad, 2) which in turn will become a tabloid story, because she's an Olympic pole-vaulter who just missed the Rio team but is already racking up endorsements and sports-mag cover stories in advance of Tokyo in 2020 (...sorry, track and field, but: kinda doubt it), and getting outed as a part-time sex worker puts all that at risk...

REAL Real Crime

...she DID get sexually assaulted by Michael Wheeler, who has a history of hiring escorts and then thinking the money means he can get super-rough, even when the women cry and say no. Jenna's still wary of testifying, but after an attempt to sting Wheeler with a wire fails and her agent dumps her, she has nothing left to lose.

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Well, almost nothing.

Verdict

Provoked by defense counsel, who's trying to spin it that Wheeler insulted Jenna's body as "too masculine" so she cocked up a rape charge to get back at him, Wheeler starts peeling off her clothes on the stand, obliging Barba to rush to the box and try to throw his suit jacket over her. Not that the jury was having it with her "I'm not proud of what I did, but that doesn't mean I wasn't raped" testimony prior to that,

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but the outburst finally forces Chad, who's also Jenna's trainer, to confront what he's suspected for many years: Jenna has bipolar disorder. Once she's diagnosed and medicated, Barba moves to recall her to the stand, but Wheeler would rather take a plea to Assault II and do two to five years, and he does.

I, meanwhile, find SVU guilty of crappy sporting-event re-creation in the first degree.

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It's hard to convey in a screenshot how fakey this sequence is, and in the service of a pole-vault run-up that really added nothing to the backstory.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Suzy Favor Hamilton's well-publicized struggle with the disease.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Hamilton was a runner, not a pole-vaulter; she had already retired from competition when a "jilted client" ratted on her; she was not sexually assaulted (that I know of).

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Not really applicable, as none of the guest actors is all that famous, but hat tip to Brit Morgan, whose performance is a little too big in spots, but overall very relatable.

L&O-verse Regulars

Hari Dhillon is back as defense attorney Varma, and Lindsay Pulsipher reprises her role as Kim. Also, Franny sighting! That dog is so cute. Less cute is the failure to follow up on the "Kim and her attorney are engaged" stub from last season; Kim mentions "Lorenzo" in passing, so he seems to have managed not to get disbarred, at least.

It's Late, Y'all!

Repeated references to anal bleeding.

Fin Speaks For Us All

Fin's mostly on exposition duty this week, but does pull one "all righty then" face in response to Amanda kicking Kim out of the squadroom.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Amanda and Carisi confront the Millers about Jenna's possibly pathological behavior without clearing it with Liv first. Amanda also tells Jenna Chad's not in trouble for punching Wheeler because they want to get Wheeler on the rapes, which is...not how it works? And the entire squad is in court for the trial once again, as apparently Manhattan hits pause on rapes until the case of the week gets cleared, and I know I harp on that weekly, but it's distracting. And Carisi asks Liv if "everything's okay with" her and Tucker, of which more in a moment but maybe stay out of your boss's bidness, cutie. Speaking of the boss, bless Liv's heart for warning Amanda in so many words that if she covers for Kim again, Liv will have Amanda's badge.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Liv, because "every relationship has its secrets"; Amanda, because Kim is bunking with her so she doesn't have to stay at a shelter, and Amanda still has major trust issues with Kim but clearly draws a parallel between Kim's/their parents' bad behavior and Jenna's, because she's the one who makes a point of suggesting to Jenna that she see a doctor...

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

...but then later, at her apartment, she barges in on Kim in the bathroom and snatches her pills all "ohhh so you're getting high on lithium now?!" and Kim has to gently duh that it's prescribed: she too has bipolar disorder. Kim then delivers a stilted "sometimes I miss the manic energy" PSA about the symptoms of the disorder to her...sister, who...suspected Jenna had the disease but didn't consider that her sibling might? Even though she's a detective and must have seen these behaviors before?

Whatever. We also learn in the course of Kim's parole hearing that Jesse is already a year old, so I guess they're soap-star fast-tracking the kids for...reasons. And when Carisi asks about Liv and Tucker, Liv's pulling a dramatic "welllllll" face but then Fin shows up with phone records before she can say anything. What "secrets" does Tucker have, exactly? Foot fetish? Four ex-wives? If you're going to drag the squad's personal lives into the show, drag them all the way in!

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