Michael Parmelee / NBC

Money Talks On Law & Order: SVU

And bullshit walks, if by 'walks,' you mean 'sits in the courtroom staring moistly at the victim she guilted into testifying.'

Initial Crime

Billionaire Eli Colton hosts a party at his loft after closing a big deal, and gets flirty with Zoe, a consultant at the investment bank that handles the bulk of his business. The next morning, when he gets in her personal space at work, she's flinchy about it, and soon makes her way to the cop shop to report that Colton raped her.

Real Crime

Eli's standing desk. ...Okay, not really, but it's a sharply observed detail, one of the episode's few.

REAL Real Crime

It becomes clear fairly early in the squad's investigation that Zoe is not the first colleague Colton has sexually assaulted -- and when it also becomes clear, to Colton, that Zoe is not going to take the payoff a prior victim did, Colton and his people close ranks, orchestrating a campaign to smear her that implies she's a good-time girl who's partied with him poolside, then moving Colton's business to a different bank that then offers her a $5-million-a-year sinecure in exchange for "keeping a low profile." Oh, and did we mention that Zoe's supervisor, Roger, is basically charged with procuring "dates" for Eli and refuses to cooperate in prosecuting him? Because he is and does, and it's gross.

Not, IMO, quite as icky, as...

Verdict

There is no verdict proper, as we go straight to the credits after Zoe, asked on the stand by Barba why she turned down a guaranteed twenty-million-dollar payday to testify against Colton, stares at Liv; glares at Colton; and parrots a line of Liv's about not letting him steal her dignity. On the one hand: word. On the other hand: barf.

In other words, the show would like us to judge sexual-assault survivors who understand that testifying may not in fact bring closure, and would prefer to make their tormentors pay literally, because moral fortitude is not the currency with which we pay rent here in the Big Apple. Further, the show declines to show the likely IRL result here, namely that Colton probably gets tagged with a relatively weak third-degree conviction and some community-service hours he doesn't end up performing, in which case Zoe might as well have taken the money.

NB: I personally do not judge Zoe or any other woman in similar circs, in either direction. Speak out, cash the check...whatever works for you to let you move forward. Law & Order: SVU's rigid sanctimony and insipid allegiance to the concept of "closure" is what I judge. "Yeah, NO SHIT, GURL." ...Well, I'm sorry, but this is a load, and it stinks.

Moving on!

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Please LMK in the comments if I missed a specific one, but it seems this is a more general comment on how the rich and powerful can keep their crimes out of the headlines. But it could have lingering top notes of Jeffrey Epstein, or Trump, and it's never a bad time to clock Peter Thiel for averring that date rape is "belated regret."

And Thiel sues us back to the Stone Age in 3...2...

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Tate Donovan is very good as Colton, imperviously confident and glib, and he's smartly directed to loom consistently into the personal spaces of those he's trying to sell/intimidate.

L&O-verse Regulars

Donovan turned up on a CI a decade ago; ditto Jordan Bridges as Roger, although I could have sworn he'd had a turn as some smarmy fratball on this franchise. Matt Walton as a fellow/enemy billionaire did the SVU where Benson goes undercover at a speed-dating event. But it's Kevin O'Rourke as gelidly pragmatic COO Dan Hewitt that has the most impressive L&O c.v. You'll remember him best, probably, as a simple-seeming parent whose wife keeps killing their children on Mothership/Jack McCoy's gutless foil in the Los Angeles triptych, but he also just appeared in a different role in last season's finale. Bit unusual that the show would recycle him as a corporate reptile so quickly, but he's always a pro.

It's Late, Y'all!

Zoe's childlike "and then he put his penis inside of me" on the stand is on the oogy side, but honestly, the Catfish I'd watched just before this was more bracing.

Fin Speaks For Us All

Colton and his attorney present themselves at the cop shop to announce, non-credibly, that the sex he had with Zoe was consensual, at which Fin snarks, "Sure, we'll just take your word for it." It's one of, like, five lines Ice-T gets in the ep, but it's better than nothing...barely.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Everything seems by the book, with the usual exception of Liv failing to delegate properly (and of the camera lingering on her for a week as she murmurs in a saintly tone that Zoe isn't alone). Hat tip to Carisi going undercover as a Wall Street douche trying to cop; whatever the opposite of a hat tip is to Barba for pointing out that it's Zoe's life, "her decision" to Liv, then not sticking the landing.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Liv, because Liv.

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

We're thankgodfully spared any reference to Noah.

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