Photo: Michael Parmelee / NBC

Sex Crimes & Misdemeanors

The former is a Woody Allen-Roman Polanski mash-up. The latter is completely incomprehensible, ROLLINS.

Initial Crime

TV producer Frank Maddox's school-age daughter, Chelsea, tells her mom -- the Frank's estranged wife, Catherine -- that her "vagina hurts," so Catherine takes her to the doctor, who reports his/her suspicions to the cops. We open on Benson and Murphy on the set of Frank's show, New York Hustle, notifying him that he's accused of molesting his daughter.

Real Crime

SVU pays lip service to the idea that Catherine's attempts to get justice for Chelsea -- including coaching her in a video and confronting Frank on the set with "LMZ" cameras rolling -- are also morally suspect, but the writers know full well it's impolitic not to side with Mi-- er, "Catherine" from the jump, not least because Frank left Catherine for her barely-legal youngest sister, Rose, whom he then cast on his show via the "speaking parts for nookie" arrangement he's alleged to favor.

REAL Real Crime

After Mavis, the middle sister, comes forward (well, sort of; she tells her story to Ann Curry, not the jury) to claim that Frank also messed with her when she was younger, Frank concludes he's not getting a fair trial in the States, and lams it to France with Rose.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

This is probably superfluous, but: Dylan Farrow's "open letter" from earlier this year, and the 20-year-old allegation that her father, Woody Allen -- then estranged from her mother, his longtime girlfriend Mia Farrow, for cheating on her with/leaving her for her barely legal adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn -- had molested her. The last chapter of the story, starting with Mavis's mention of a hot tub through Frank's flight to Paris, is a reference to Roman Polanski. Bonus points for a "consciously uncoupling" reference.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Rose is Catherine's sister, not her daughter; Catherine "collects" stray dogs and other animals, not troubled children; Frank, whose period-New-York show and condescendingly yelly micromanagement are probably supposed to invoke Matthew Weiner, does TV, not film; Allen and Farrow weren't married; Allen has never faced formal charges; Allen claimed he would never have been up in Farrow's attic because he's claustrophobic, while Frank's excuse is arachnophobia and spiders in the laundry room; Polanski split because a judge went back on a sentencing-recommendation promise, not because he thought a jury would hang him. In other words, exactly enough cosmetic differences to soothe Allen's attorneys, plus a couple more just to be safe.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Plenty of famous to choose from -- Samantha Mathis nails Catherine's trembling fury; Mavis is played by Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger; Jeffrey Tambor is Frank's attorney; Aida Turturro is the trial judge; Ann Curry and Geraldo Rivera play themselves -- but it's Bradley Whitford as Frank who's guilty. (Wondering if any of these peeps were ever in an Allen joint? So was I! A cursory IMDb-ing reveals only Turturro playing a psychic in Celebrity.)

It's Late, Y’all!

Chelsea sipping blithely from a juice box while telling her mother's video camera how her father molested her on top of the washing machine is effed up.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

With the exception of Rollins shitting where she eats in the most disappointing possible fashion -- THAT guy?! KEE-RIST -- and Murphy pulling her aside to wonder if her history of doing exactly that with older male authority figures is clouding her judgment in the case, not really.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Amaro, because he has daughters and he's getting divorced. He does point out that the girls Frank is accused of molesting were of widely varying ages, including one who was nearly an adult and could consent -- which, as SVU has told us hundreds of times, doesn't quite track with classic patterns of pedophilia. But it's Amaro, so nobody really listens to him, and overall that's fine by me.

Verdict

Guilty in absentia. Barba is also guilty…of being awesome.

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

While Rollins and her adorbs dog are watching Geraldo on the couch, who should come out of her bathroom clad only in a towel but Amaro. Fucking Amaro. WHY, ROLLINS? WHY. ...Also Benson seems fit as a fiddle mentally and no mention is made of her recent travails, thank the good Lord.

Almost all readers liked this episode
What did you think?

Discussion

Explore the Law & Order: SVU forum or add a comment below.