Michael Parmelee / NBC

The Law & Order: SVU Finale Breaks Up The Family

A manipulative, but effective, end to Season 17.

Initial Crime

Lisa Munson picked up what Liv put down last week about getting tested for STDs thanks to her husband's having molested dozens of inmates. At a bail hearing, Lisa waits for Liv in the bathroom and reports that Gary did give her a disease, and she wants out, but she's not sure how to extract the kids and herself safely...so naturally, when Liv returns to the cop shop to find Dodds Jr.'s goodbye party already in progress, Dodds Jr. is the one who volunteers to go with her and escort the non-Gary Munsons to safer pastures.

After an eternity, what we all saw coming from the credits happens: Liv gets the kids buckled into a minivan and leaves Dodds in charge of walking Lisa out, and Munson pulls a drop gun and points it at Lisa's head.

Real Crime

Invited to leave by Munson, Dodds Jr. declines. Invited to negotiate by the SWAT team that soon surrounds the house (and is joined by Sr. and Lisa's father), Munson also declines. Munson's about to shoot someone if Dodds Jr. doesn't leave when Jr. sees his chance and grabs the gun, but it goes off and shoots him in the abdomen...

REAL Real Crime

...AGAIN. It would be (unintentionally) funny if it weren't fatal, which, after a touch-and-go surgery leads to a massive stroke and brain death, it is. So, I guess the real crime is that toddlers could have seen Jr.'s demise coming from the second Fin commented on the dangers of the terrorism unit, or at least from the second Peter Gallagher's name flashed onscreen in the credits, but the show still tried its best to manipulate us with the bagpipes and the salutes and everyone's chosen foxies in their immaculate uniforms.

And thanks to very winning work in his final scene by Andy Karl (and, not for nothing, a sweetly dopey expression in his official portrait at his wake) (and in the header photo of this article, come to think of it; is he about to belch?), it worked, I'm more than a little annoyed to report. I misted up. Not cool. That said, again, nice work by Karl, and by Gallagher as well; he really played that desperately hale chattering, and its disintegration, well.

...Also: Barba's threatener returns, and is locked up thanks to facial-recognition software. Turns out the threats may have nothing to do with the CO-molestation case, as he's gotten others, starting when he indicted the cops in the Terrence Reynolds shooting. In any event, those of us who theorized (read: "were terrified") that all the Jr. business was a red herring for Barba's demise can breathe a sigh of relief, at least until this becomes a central story next season. Barba has a 24/7 security detail.

Verdict

Lisa and the kids survive, and Liv feels horribly guilty because she left Jr. in the house alone and hadn't swept it for weapons, but nothing in a courtroom.

On a related note: MarHar looks a bit rough in "Heartfelt Passages," kinda tired, kinda papery, a couple of threads of grey sneaking in at the part of her hair, which is just how an overworked single mom of a toddler who just lost a colleague would look, and it's only my opinion but I think it really suits her, no shade. "Human; more beautiful" is what my notes said. Let us see the years in her face. It doesn't take anything away.

Headlines This Was Ripped From

Same as last week's.

Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It

Brad Garrett again.

L&O-verse Regulars

Gallagher, Bill Irwin as Liv's shrink, and Robert John Burke all recur, along with Jack McGee, who appeared in the "Darius tries to ruin everyone" ep of SVU and a CI from the last season; and Kevin O'Rourke, who was the L.A. DA in the Eddie Newman triptych, a husband who buried his baby in a cooler, and a recurring attorney on Mothership.

And hey, what do you know: a li'l Leight as one of the Munson kids. She's not bad!

It's Late, Y'all!

Not a whole lot of SVU-ish things happening, so: n/a this week.

Fin Speaks For Us All

At the hospital to see how Jr.'s doing, he snarks that Jr. "bounced back from the last one pretty fast" and he's a tough dude. Rollins is like, but the thing is the bullet hit an artery, and Fin looks ill before murmuring, "I'm just saying."

Egregious Breach Of Procedure

Liv thinks so, and blames herself, but the fact is, neither she nor Jr. searched the house. That said, I don't think it's out of line to believe a CO's wife when she says the house is clear. But no egregious breaches, aside from my usual wondering who's running the division when everyone is at the hospital or in court or otherwise occupied with the business of not solving crimes. And Liv is pretty cazh about falling asleep on Tucker's shoulder at the hospital, but the face Carisi makes when he basically sees Mommy kissing Santa Claus is classic.

Who On The SVU Team Is Taking It Personally?

Everyone, for all the reasons.

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

Buckle up, people. So, no news on the Rollins front, but Barba notes that the Brooklyn ADA has an opening and I yell "OH NO" and then Carisi says he doesn't want to leave, he took an oath, they're down a man, etc. and I yell "OH PHEW!" Jr. had just gotten engaged -- and gave Alice a not-insignificant rock -- when he passed.

2016-05-25-svu-benker

Aw! Tucker shares that he's leaving IAB, because Liv and Noah have taught him to trust, I think is the gist, and he can go to a less suspicious department? Anyway, he's going to Hostage Negotiations. Then Tucker is tickling Noah and talking about the good thing they have going and he's down on one knee, and I am very excited and bouncing on the couch, and he...doesn't propose. Right? I watched it again but I still feel like I missed the part where Lieutenant Not-An-Idiotson said yes to Fox Force Five over here, as God intended.

But that didn't happen, right? She just semi-dodges it by saying they've got a good thing going, even though she had to have known a proposal was coming because that's the only reason a TV character ever uses his beloved's full name, and then he suggests getting away for a while, to Paris, and she's into it, and they smooch, and they...keep walking. O...kay? I mean, Paris with a toddler, good luck to you, but I'm glad they're still together, I'm glad we get to keep Carisi, and I'm glad Season 17 showed some modest improvements overall.

See you in September for Shootout At The Barba Corral!

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