Photo: Michael Parmelee / NBC

Pino Noir

A shoot-out at the SVU corral wraps up a couple of Season 16 plotlines -- and craps on one from the past.

Initial Crime

The season premiere, followed by the Super Bowl/undercover-Benson episode, in which notorious sex-trafficker Johnny D brutalized dozens of young women and forced Benson to wear leather pants while helping Lili Taylor find her kidnapped daughter.

Real Crime

That's pretty dang real, but a DNA test revealed back in February that Johnny D is Noah's biological father. Benson having disclosed this against Barba's advice because, and I quote, "lying doesn't work out well for me," Counselor Levy From The Wire is leveraging Benson's petition to adopt Noah against her personally and the case in general: first he proposes a deal in which, in exchange for very light time given the sheer volume of raping and murdering his client's done, Johnny D agrees to drop the parental-rights thing, which is not justice but will save Benson from having to schlep Noah to weekend visits at Sing Sing for the next 16 and a half years. Barba does attempt to sell it, but Benson's like, BYE GIRL, so Levy files an emergency petition to stop the adoption, AND THAT'S NOT ALL LADIES AND GERMS because season finale.

REAL Real Crime

Everyone's lined up to testify: Selena, who is quite glum indeed about her prospects for surviving her testimony; Timmer the pimp; many of the girls victimized by them and Johnny D. But Mr. D has a guy who's dating a C.O. who slips Selena a blade, which she uses to finish off Timmer in a transport van. A formerly confident witness, Pilar, does the arithmetic and, X equalling "fuck this," changes her story on the stand. It's looking grim, BUT WAIT! You can spell "sergeant" without "saint," but don't bother, because Liv gives the necklace Dr. Bill Irwin gave her to Lili Taylor's daughter Ariel as a sort of protection talisman, and goes with her to the safe house for a We Are Marshall moment with the rest of the prosecution witnesses. "We don't have to be afraid anymore," the actor playing Ariel manages to say without immediately bellowing for a rewrite. Well, problem solved then!

Just kidding! The next day, terrible acting and lackadaisical editing (this is supposed to create a distracting hugger-mugger in the courtroom, but since nobody's jumping each other's lines, diversion fail) interrupts Levy's cross of Ariel as Johnny D plants in the gallery stand up to robotically deliver such lines as "why you gotta lie like that 0110101010." Johnny D's like, well, it's this unconvincing flapdoodle or nothing; Hulks the defense table over; and grabs a bailiff. Shoot-out at the SVU corral! Long story short, Johnny D kills the bailiff and wings the judge -- and Amaro, who gets shot in the liver and knee. Amaro in turn gratifies Johnny D's suicide-by-cop desires and shoots him dead. Case mercifully goddamn closed.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Arron Kimbrell again. (Lili Taylor does appear for, if memory serves, a single line of dialogue.)

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

See above, plus we already know Charles "Chas Chandler from Constantine" Halford did it.

It's Late, Y'all!

A witness recalls having to service "15 men in 12 hours. I was raw, bleeding."

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Barba likely shouldn't tell Liv to squash it re: Noah's parentage, but it's not as though he hasn't done it before; he also tries to massage the judge assignments on various Noah-related hearings, but L&O-verse ADAs have done that since the Ben Stone era. More interesting, if not egregious, is Liv asking to meet Tucker off-site and getting peer-pressured via a "man up, will you?" into switching from tea to wine...then full-disclosuring the Noah situation to him. No breach there, and he's like, you have no IAB liability as far as I can see, which suggests to me that he wants to "see" her "liabilities" in a darkened bedroom, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Benker 4eva! ...Right, so Liv also mentions that Amaro wants to take the sergeant's exam and become her deputy at SVU if/when she's promoted to LT, and Tucker talks out of school to tell her that Amaro is "damaged goods," and 1PP wouldn't promote him under any circs, which is ridic when you look at the checkered-at-best pasts of various other squad jefes on the show and Mothership, but why get into it. And once again the entire squad is detailed to this one case, and in court at all times, because I guess Manhattan has suspended all sexual assaults until Liv can get her family life straightened out.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Benson, because moms. Amaro, because shot in the liver, and also because...whatever the Amaro version of a glass ceiling is. "Ass ceiling"? (He takes the news rather well, though, for him.) Everyone else, because Liv.

Fin Speaks For Us All

Upon hearing how much witness-prep work and testimony is involved in nailing Johnny D's cell shut forever: "Shoulda shot him when we had the chance."


Two (Amaro slugs to the chest) to six (feet under on his back in a box). Note also that, when the adoption goes through, the judge makes sure to carefully enunciate her line that Noah has no other living relatives. Remember that when some obscure well-meaning aunt surfaces in November.

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

With Johnny D conveniently worm-fooded by Amaro, the judge who initially stuck us with this damn-fool plotline gave Liv foster custody of Noah last year signs off on the formal adoption, though I'm surprised Liv passed the home inspection we saw in the cold open given that Noah's hair still looks like it fell out of a third-story spiderweb onto his head. In any case, he's now Noah Porter Benson, and there is a legit sweet moment of beaming between Liv and Trevor Langan, aka Mr. Hargitay. And on my couch as well, because with Johnny D dead and Liv presumably destined for more of a management position, I would really REALLY like it if we could STOP WASTING SCREEN TIME ON THIS CHILD because bless and keep him but this is A COP SHOW. Liv and her super-chic light-blue dress have a little happy-adoption party with, once again, nobody but SVU-ers in attendance, and Amaro and Rollins show up together and maaaaybe it's kind of couple-y, but it doesn't matter, because Amaro's like, between my effed-up knee and the blackball situation, I'm-a just let them force me out. He's retiring with a three-quarters pension and going to Cali to be nearer his kids. From an episode standpoint, this is on the bum-rushy side, and I really can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm a little sad to see Amaro go. He made huge, chilled-out strides this season, and Danny Pino physically seemed to have acquired some heft that made Amaro's occasional spasms of righteous rage-balling less obnoxious somehow. Totally get why Pino would want to move on; don't think the show did particularly well by him. AAAAAAAND SPEAKING OF PEOPLE THE SHOW DIDN'T DO PARTICULARLY WELL BY.



When it becomes clear to Liv that Amaro really is leaving, she starts to wax poetic -- to the extent this show allows, anyway -- about how much she learned as his partner. A faint rumbling kicks up, the sound of a bus approaching, as Liv sniffs about her previous partner (whom she does not name, PS), "That relationship, whatever it was, didn't allow for anything else," and tells Amaro he let her have a family. The bus rounds the corner, and Liv slings Stabler under it effortlessly with one arm while holding Noah with the other as she cry-voices that she learned more in four years with Amaro than in 12 with Stabler (again, not named). That...makes no goddamn sense at all. I get that we couldn't see Stabler put in his papers onscreen for whatever reason, and it's fine if Liv was bent about that at the time, but it's years ago now. Would they really not still know each other in this universe, even if it's offscreen? After all the times she bailed his kids out of whatever stupid fix, and practically delivered Stablerette #5 after that car crash? What's with the implication that their toxic attachment stunted her personal life? Because I'm pretty sure it was Liv's own compulsive need to stay tied emotionally to her shitty drunk mother and rapist father long after they both died that prevented her from having a traditional home life, not Elliot, and even if Elliot is the worst, most out-of-control detective at Manhattan SVU, Amaro was also terrible for 95 percent of his tenure on the show! Am I taking crazy pills?

Oh, there is EVEN MORE. Liv and Amaro share a fond, misty gaze -- which I am heroically trying to enjoy on the meta level as the actors' last scene together, instead of picking any more of the 1,865 nits I can find in this Amaro Rules, Stabler Drools speech -- and then Liv quavers, "Friends for life, right?"




..."Friends for life." What the squirrelly fuck, SVU. You were doing so well there lately, too. See you in the fall, everyone. (Not you, Noah.)

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