Michael Parmelee / NBC

Law & Order: SVU Weighs The Rights Of The Many

A ripped-from-the-headlines shooting sees Liv taking the needs of the few personally.

Initial Crime

A four-year-old, Ali, wanders away from his caretaker in the park, and while he's getting a balloon hat, the caretaker gets knocked down by a guy on a bike. The local precinct calls Liv, who's on a playground nearby with Noah, when someone calls in an unattended preschooler, and as Liv is trying to coax him out of the sandbox, he reaches into his backpack and pulls out a loaded gun...

Real Crime

...which has a print on it that leads the team to Ali's parents, Ana and Luka, and the massive weapons cache Luka is storing in his apartment. It's apparent based on the note Ana left for the caretaker, her aunt (who has died of her injuries), that Ana didn't expect to return for Ali either, so everyone's mobilizing for a "mass-casualty event" when cameras pick Luka and Ana up in the park. An off-duty cop also clocks Luka when he spots the gun in Luka's waistband, which leads to a shoot-out and snipers picking off Luka. Ana's left to face terrorism and murder charges...

REAL Real Crime

...but once in custody, she reveals that Luka and his half-brother Armin raped her repeatedly, and took video that they used to blackmail her into cooperating with their terror scheme(s). Barba and Dodds Sr. don't find that information compelling, because someone has to hang for the incident and Ana's the only one left, but Liv is determined to prosecute Armin for rape -- and, since he's actually Ali's biological father, to leverage Ana's charges into a plea deal ensuring Armin can't get custody of Ali.

Verdict

Ana takes a deal to protect Ali, but before Liv and the gang can arrest Armin, the feds swoop in to rendition Armin. Ana's sister comes from Bosnia to bring Ali back to live with her. Dodds Sr. gets frustrated with Liv about this case and lets it slip that he still considers her "guilty" of getting Dodds Jr. killed, and while he's clearly horrified that he said anything out loud and flees the conversation, it's just as clear that Liv doesn't disagree with him.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

The San Bernardino shootings; the Orlando nightclub attack; others, no doubt. (Barba mentions "Dallas...France.")

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

The San Bernardino killers were married, and were both killed in a shoot-out with law enforcement; the FBI paid a third party to break into Syed Farook's iPhone when Apple declined to help them.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Not applicable.

L&O-verse Regulars

Elizabeth Marvel and her bangs, of which I don't approve, is back as Rita Calhoun; Thom Bishops as Armin also played street-"family" Mansonoid Cole Roderick in the 2008 episode "Streetwise"; Marc Damon Johnson as Special Agent Conley has appeared on all three of the franchises, starting with the two-part Mothership ninth-season finale.

It's Late, Y'all!

References to vaginal and anal scarring, plus a small child pointing a gun.

Fin Speaks For Us All

When a neighbor/witness grunts something about "these people ... immigrants," Fin's like, and I suppose your peeps came over on the Mayflower? He's also on door-breakdown duty when Liv calls an exigent-circumstances audible, and his beleaguered body language as he shoulders through the locks is classic Tutuola.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Egregious, no; naive to the point of failing the smell test, sure, as Liv -- a lieutenant, as she's once again at pains to point out -- should understand the optics of trying to prosecute Ana's rapist under the circs, even if she doesn't care for the implications. Dodds undermining Liv by not telling her about Compstat meetings, then exploding that her version of doing her job got Jr. killed is not so hot either.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Liv, because moms (she weepy-voices to Tucker after disarming Ali, "All I could think about was Noah!" Yeah, ROGER THAT); Dodds, because Jr.; Barba, because Liv's defying him.

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

Aside from the aforementioned guilt/grief/tension surrounding Dodds Jr.'s passing, it's mostly good news, I'd say, as Liv and Tucker did go to Paris (she expositions as much while playing with Noah) and she notes at the end that she's never been happier...though she also says she's afraid that won't last, and there's a weird exchange about Tucker going to work for the Conviction Integrity Unit, like, wouldn't they have pillow-talked that already, versus the stilted coffee-cart "oh, a new job, eh? tell us more!" exchange they do have? And then she rushes off to deal with the case and he looks sad. So...I guess maybe not all good news on the horizon, but! Foxy new haircuts!

Giovanni Rufino / NBC; Peter Kramer / NBC

Giovanni Rufino / NBC; Peter Kramer / NBC

Both Carisi and Barba got upgraded to flattering tously forties-esque coifs, and I am here for both. Rollins's air-dried lob, less so. No mention of Barba's protective detail; only room for one mom to brood about This, The Life We Lead this week because Rollins doesn't mention the nipper in so many words.

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