Law & Order: SVU Spills The Special Tea

A TED-talk shaman is accused of rape by hypnosis; did the episode make Sarah D. Bunting verrrrry sleeeeepy?

Initial Crime

Abby Dunne wants to switch up her Netflix-and-chill existence, so she turns down an evening of steaks and Stranger Things with her boyf to go to a spiritual retreat involving ayahuasca tea and boilerplate pronunciamentos about journeys into the self led by "shaman" Declan Trask. She doesn't end up drinking the tea, but the water she accepts from Declan instead must have had something in it, because she immediately starts feeling weird, then finds herself paralyzed when Declan rapes her.

Real Crime

Declan is an influencer with a clean-water foundation now, but back in the day, he was a junkie who got himself kicked out of...let's go with "Not-gers University," despite his moneyed father's influence, thanks to his addiction. He got clean at a rehab that uses hypnosis techniques as aversion therapy -- and now he's using those techniques to sexually assault women at his retreats, and to compel their fake consent in the "encounters," which he records to protect himself from "fraudulent accusations," per his lawyer. And also because he's a disgusting pig.

REAL Real Crime

You can tell based on the betrayed glaring that Liv thinks at least part of the real crime is said attorney, Rita Calhoun, returning unrepentantly to the ranks of rapists' defense counsel. I did some betrayed glaring of my own at whoever saddled Elizabeth Marvel with these bangs:

That's misdemeanor failure to razor.


Liv has to twist Barba's arm to keep going with the case once Abby balks at sitting through Rita's cross, because it's going to involve reading from her application to the retreat and putting her "we're just roommates, I'm bored" shit with her boyfriend on blast. Liv guilts her into continuing with the usual "but what about all Declan's future victims" line, and encourages Barba not to give up by siccing Carisi on Declan's past arrest record, which involves fleeing the scene of a friend's overdose and wrecking his car. "But what does that have to do with anything?" Basically nothing, but it's designed to show the jury Declan's a gutless shitbrick, and it is successful: he's found guilty of Rape I.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Probably Michael Fine.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Declan is a spiritual guru (snorf), not an attorney; he didn't assault as many women as Fine; he didn't have any child pornography on his computer.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

I guess Stuart Townsend as Declan is the most famous? He did do it. Marvel is more visible, IMO, but I'm the one person still watching Homeland so what do I know.

L&O-verse Regulars

Marvel; Ami Brabson as the only other judge available for SVU cases, Hon. Karen Blake; John Ellison Conlee, who played "Crazy" Mike Dugan on a Mothership twenty years ago, is the rehab counselor who sells Declan out; Lisa Gorlitsky (the goofy-trip-story lady referenced below) turned up on a Mothership as well, as Mark Feuerstein's...wife? In an episode about an anti-Semitic hate crime? I'd like to see more of her; she really committed to the bit here.

It's Late, Y'all!

"Enveloped by a warm feeling" was kind of accidentally disgusting. Beyond that, nothing of note.

Fin Speaks For Us All

In the same way that no one cares about your dream last night, no one cares about your cool trip vidding, either. Fin, back me up.

Thanks, Sarge.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Liv announces, "The only person to blame is the one who did this to you" -- before she's collected a single fact or statement about what happened to Abby. Very profesh. It also doesn't seem to occur to her that "what" they're "missing" is that Abby and Declan Did It and Abby had to tell her boyfriend a story. Understand: I'm not saying the first instinct shouldn't be to believe an outcry witness/victim. But the show seems to feel lately that any degree of skepticism about, or even follow-up on, victims' version of events is a betrayal of them and their trust, and while it's one thing for the police to avoid making retrograde assumptions, it's another to confuse the police (who investigate) with victims' advocates (who support and, you know, advocate). This way of writing Liv and the squad is designed to make them seem admirable and open-minded, and teach the audience to challenge antediluvian attitudes towards he-said-she-said cases, but 1) we've been watching a while now and we fuckin' get it already, and 2) it gives these alleged professionals huge blind spots when it comes creating a reliable timeline and case.

I know I clock this every episode, but it's important to me to make the distinction between what the show is trying to say, which is admirable; and how it's trying to say it in the context of a police procedural, which is lecture-y and unrealistic and makes its characters look like queasy rookies. And on that tip, I don't know why Abby's boyfriend was even in the courtroom when presumably he'd be a witness himself, but when he does rush out, stung by Abby's application, Liv is shocked!

MarHar Superstar, you're an executive producer. When the ep director tells you to make that face, you can tell him/her to kick rocks because it makes Liv look like an idiot. Please start doing that.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Barba, a little, because he had a case like this in Brooklyn and couldn't stick the landing -- but he doesn't get all hollering-to-the-cheap-seats about it.

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

Carisi is dating a vegan, and Rollins would like him to "bring her around" already.

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