Michael Parmelee / NBC

SVU Gives New Meaning To The Term 'Internal Affairs'

And not in a good way. A sex-ring bust goes awry, then really awry as SVU's investigation implicating the church and 1PP sets Liv's entire life on fire.

Initial Crime

As a nauseated undercover Carisi looks on, underage girls gyrate for the drunk-ass men at a sex party (their small-talk is about a figurative sort of rape: Brooklyn rental prices). Outside in the van, the rest of the SVU team watches on monitors and lists the various bigwigs present: a judge, an ADA, a couple of assemblymen, you get the idea. One girl looks like she's about to boot, though, and when Carisi intercedes on her behalf, the party's muscle gets into it with Carisi, and then the squad kicks down the door to back him up, and THEN the muscle reveals they're undercover Vice cops, and SVU just wrecked a two-year investigation, BUT...

Real Crime

Benson, who initially looks stricken that she fouled up a long-running case, is happy to strap her self-righteous on when Vice isn't keen on letting SVU take the case, or on giving her any information at all about who's trafficking the girls in question. She's joined in that endeavor by the deeply paranoid Sister Nina, a nun in a wig who had put herself undercover to try to gather information on the ring and rescue some of the girls, many of whom come from the same Catholic school. The sister's not a ton of help, though, tightly controlling access to rescued young women who might have some helpful information, and shit really starts to go down when Rollins and Carisi come back sans Sister Nina to question the skittish Cara Gutierrez...

REAL Real Crime

...and find her dead of an OD, which the ME can't say wasn't murder, and on top of that, the Vice cops Tucker expects to give up their targets in order to save their badges don't do that, so either the Vice cops and their bosses and god knows whom else are all corrupt; or everyone's so scared of the CEO of Sex-Trafficked Catholic Teen LLC that they'd rather get fired than roll. Tucker marches down to St. Egregious to confront his cousin, Father Eugene, who is a guidance counselor at the all-girls' church school many of the trafficked girls started out at, and the padre is initially helpful, but then his boss the monsignor shows up and makes all sorts of "behold my sketchy rotted core" faces while Tucker and Father Eugene are talking, and since they're the only ones who knew Cara had spoken to police, Tucker blames Father Eugene for getting her killed, but Barba isn't sure Tucker isn't the sketchball here, and asks Dodds Jr. to leave so he can quiz Liv on why she's defending Tucker with such determination: after all, Tucker's arrested her and harassed both her previous partners.

Barba notes that the monsignor says he and Father Eugene reported the dirty Vice cops to Tucker a year ago...and he's done nothing. Sooooo, how well does Liv know Tucker, really? After much "uhhhhhhhhh" face-pulling from Liv, Barba asks if she's Doing It with Tucker, which she doesn't deny except to whisper, "Don't ask me that," and Barba puts the "Liv" back in "livid" when he realizes she and Tucker have a relationship and she failed to tell Barba. My man seems a little madder than necessary -- yeah, it could compromise the investigation, but the 1PP of the SVU-verse rewarded Liv's PTSD and nearly beating William Lewis to death with custody of a plum Manhattan department; that's SOP around here, get over it -- but I don't think it's he who touches off an investigation of Tucker, which obliges him and Liv to meet in a dive bar and hold hands in a booth, which is not a crime, no sirree. And I don't think it's Barba who gets Benson pulled from command and Dodds Jr. installed as acting head of SVU. No, that's definitely Dodds Sr., because the Vice cops' captain cleaned the "your dad said you were going to anti-terrorism; why are you still here?" gun in the first act, and after Dodds Jr. offered to ask his dad what's going on with this alleged Vice "operation" that isn't in the system anywhere, it went off in the fifth.

Verdict

No trial, just a lot of glaring and freaking out.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

I could be deploying the wrong search strings, but I haven't found anything that pings my radar. Sadly, police and public servants abusing their positions (so to speak) is probably too common for this ep to indicate any specific story. It's possible it's the Cornejo case, but that would seem to have happened too recently.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

Provided it's Cornejo, he pretty much just ran girls -- no higher-ups' involvement, no using a Catholic school as a stable, none of that Duh-luminati shit, and he didn't claim it was a UC op, either. (His wife is a cop; that's still pushing any conspiracy parallels.)

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

"Famous" is relative, but Michael O'Keefe is usually up to little good in the L&O-verse (and is shaping up as a Big Bad on another network lately). Abigail Savage is on Orange Is The New Black, but I don't know how big a role she plays, and here, she's a little sketchy about clinging to Noah while wailing that Liv is obviously about to kill her because she's in on it, but I think she's getting gaslighted along with everyone else. JD Williams is one of the Vice cops; Jonathan Cake is the monsignor.

L&O-verse Regulars

Michael Potts is back as Tucker's partner. Abigail "Sister Nina" Savage has had tiny roles on SVU in the past. O'Keefe has had more significant roles on SVU (the one with Amanda Seyfried), CI, and Mothership (Irish gangster's lookalike brother). Williams has a Mothership credit as "2nd Kid" (hee). Cake figured in a couple of late Motherships I don't remember.

It's Late, Y'all!

Carisi in those undercover specs is verging on NC-17.

NBC

NBC

Fin Speaks For Us All

Fin has the week off, again. Man, of all times to deprive us of that wicked side-eye.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Even aside from the apparent corruption reaching to the highest levels of 1PP and what we are led to believe is Dodds Sr.'s leveraging of the situation to install his kid as SVU captain, it's a veritable breach buffet: Tucker telling Liv et al. about IAB files on the Vice guys; Tucker throttling his cousin and Liv having to shove him away; Dodds Jr. trying to get information over the back fence; I hate putting "Liv and Tucker Doing It" here, because I love Liv and Tucker Doing It, but I suppose failing to disclose that to anyone but the viewers isn't great.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Liv, because corruption, because Tucker, because Sister Nina gets weird while babysitting Noah, because she interviews a nun who remembers Noah's birth mom, and because she's gotten fired (right? she doesn't exactly say that); Tucker, because corruption, because Liv, and because now he's being investigated; Dodds Jr., because Liv assumes he knew her ouster was going down and may in fact have engineered it, plus now he's in charge and it's weird; everyone else, because that previous thing.

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

Uh, everyone's keeping up a solid earwax-removal regime? Dear episode director Alex Chapple: that's way too tight on some of these shots. Once, it's a comment on getting too close and loss of perspective. Four times, it's a HIPAA violation. Also, Liv has some nifty new red highlights, and is not such a sanctimommy that she won't park Noah on her iPad to buy herself five minutes.

Michael Parmelee / NBC

Michael Parmelee / NBC

...LIV AND TUCKER ARE DOING IT. I'm quite bitter that the show had to make it a problem immediately, however.

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