Michael Parmelee / NBC

The Higher The Gorge, The Closer To God

SVU's take on the Duggars is revolting, but surprisingly well-built and effective.

Initial Crime

After an intro to the blergasmic world of purity balls that made me want to potato-peel my corneas, Lane Baker, one of the stars of the reality show 13aker's Dozen (the 13 makes a B, geddit? it's...actually pretty clever), is dancing with her dad/co-star, Frank, when she swoons. Turns out she's pregnant, and speaking of 13, that is Lane's age. Eesh dot com.

Real Crime

The Bakers initially refuse to cooperate, preferring to handle the situation "in-house" (i.e., squash it before TMZ gets hold of it), but the squad buys itself some time -- over Dodds's weird "closed religious communities hate talking to cops; let's just give up" objections -- by pointing out that the math on Lane's pregnancy means the statutory rape happened in New York City. Liv deploys her kid-whisperer powers to get Lane to write down her rapist's name, and Lane blames Pete, a longtime cameraman on the show. He's got some creeper footage of the older girls that he shouldn't, but he's thrilled to hear Lane's pregnancy is the proof of stat rape, because he's had a vasectomy. He's also happy to provide footage of the Bakers' older son, Graham, grab-assing a piano teacher, and when Fin and Carisi head upstate to ask around about Graham, a local trooper pulls them over...and does a nifty "I'm-a let you off with a warning" document drop of Graham's files.

REAL Real Crime

The Bakers promptly ship Graham off to mission work in Ecuador, whose extradition agreement with the U.S. is basically written on a bar napkin, and their slimy pastor/attorney, Eldon, is like, well that's that then y'all city mice can return to your walls now byeeeeeee. Rollins, however, is a 13aker's Dozen binge-watcher thanks to desk duty, and points out the Palin-esque timeline on the youngest kid Tate's birth. It looks like whoever knocked up Lane also did it to Summer, her older sister, and the senior Bakers tried to pass Tate off as Pam's son and not her grandson. Because Carisi is a cheapskate about dry cleaning, some of Tate's drool got on his suit jacket and is still there, so they can nail Graham on the DNA...except Tate doesn't share any DNA with Frank Baker. The squad busts into a judge's chambers to arrest Pastor Eldon, who is the only reasonable suspect left, just as he's marrying Lane, who has just turned 14. Everyone is disgusted, Eldon is arrested, barf, the end.


Barba is Chrissie Snowed for the second week in a row; Eldon pleads offscreen to "multiple" counts of statutory rape. And possibly to stealing Dave Foley's identity.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Josh Duggar, who is mentioned explicitly. Dodds also repeatedly mentions the difficulty of getting the Hasidim to cooperate in sexual-abuse cases.

How Was The Real Story Fictionalized?

I know almost nothing about the Duggars and really don't wish to dive too deeply into their fetid fundie pool, but Josh did apparently touch several of his sisters, was disciplined at home, and was sent to a Christian "boot camp" like Graham was. Making the primary culprit the pastor allows the parents to take the daughters' side, which the Dugga-- you know what, let's just move on before I have to go downstairs and mix myself a Cloroxmopolitan at 8:30 in the GOD-damn morning.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Chris Elliott as the cameraman is likely the best known among the day players, but is dismissed by the second act break; I called Eldon the minute we saw him thanks to Ryan Devlin's glibly revolting performance.

L&O-verse Regulars

Since we don't go to court this week, it's a shorter list than usual, but Geneva Carr as Pam Baker scores her SVU hat trick (she previously appeared in the Wentworth Miller one, "Unstable," and Dallas Roberts's first go-round, "Weak"); she also played a semi-regular on CI and had one appearance as a suspect's accountant on Mothership.

It's Late, Y'all!

Not in the traditional gory/references-to-anal-tearing senses, but the references to the sacredness of the father-daughter relationship made for a barfy 42 minutes.

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

The squad has to do some jurisdictional hair-splitting to keep the case, and Officer Doug surely isn't allowed to dime Graham to outside cops the way he does, but nothing cite-able. Dodds keeps urging Liv et al. to pull back, to Liv's exasperation, but her handling of him by gently urging him to chill (and of questioning Lane) is quite good. I wish a sergeant didn't have to play the role of SVU newbie stunod who has to have right thinking explained to him, but I suppose now that Carisi's got a full season under his belt, they have to use someone else for that? Still annoying.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Carisi is incensed when Eldon tries to legalese him in the judge's chambers, and gets right up in his face for a "you're over"-style kiss-off when Eldon's getting cuffed.

Fin Speaks For Us All

"I don't like golf, I don't like small towns, and I really don't like the Catskills!" ...Well, two out of three isn't bad. He cuts off Carisi's near-fatal reference to Rollins's size with a flawlessly timed "CARISI," and while part of that is Ice-T, this episode is quite funny, or at least has a sense of humor about itself: Benson cracking that she's "usually right"; Rollins busting on herself for knowing the Baker pregnancy timeline. I think Julie Martin has the credit on the ep? Well done, lady. Fast, clever, not too self-righteous take on a ripped-from I really wasn't looking forward to.

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

Carisi's "Uncle Sonny" routine (hee) goes over great with kids. Rollins swoons again at the ME's office and is going to have to go on bed rest; Carisi hangs out with her and is adorable when she has an "I can't do this" meltdown. Fin owns a leather blazer, and I mean he owns it. Liv's hair has figured its shit out.

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