LAW & ORDER: SVU “Flight” Review

Law & Order: SVU Cast

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT “Flight” Season 12 Episode 15 – I was considering starting a What I Learned About Dodging Convictions From Law & Order column, though in the end I decided most of this stuff pretty much follows logic lines.

For instance, as we learned in this episode, if you are a billionaire weapons manufacturer / dealer and make a habit out of raping multiple 12-year old girls, and you then get word that the cops are on your tail, it is probably not a good idea to go with the “She raped ME” defense.

Personally, were I the billionaire rapist, I would (at my earliest convenience) be on my private plane headed for Brunei. I mean, it’s not like you even have to be on American soil any more to have every modern convenience. There’s the internet now. Even Wal-Mart delivers these days, doesn’t it? Like what else would you need?

But no, the problem with billionaires is the fact that they believe themselves to be virtually untouchable, just as Detective Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni, starting to resemble something between Jon Hamm and Payton Manning) said.

And what did the ending teach us? Billionaires are virtually untouchable! Dude gets to await his (probably years) delayed trial in a fed-protected Club Med, I have no doubt. Stabler looked pissed, but after the vicious taunting he gave the guy, I can’t say he didn’t deserve to get his nuts twisted a little.

Now I don’t think this is so much a reflection of our current justice system (cough, cough) as it is a nice way to set up the billionaire, Jordan Hayes (a slick Colm Feore, eyes glimmering with smugly-concealed secrets), as a nice Enemy For Life for our embattled team. And it’s rather sweet serendipity that what eventually got Hayes caught was a fake French rape victim website (created by Richard Belzer’s timeless John Munch) suddenly going viral.

(Yeah, it surprised me that Munch was fluent in French as well. Who knew? This is probably David Simon’s fault.)

Now here’s where I harp on the writing, which, as usual in most neat-and-tidy one-hour cop dramas, leaves a little to be desired. The forced encounter at the end between Hayes and his girlfriend / martyr / pimp Dahlia Jessup (a still-promising Kelli Barrett) seemed completely out of whack, thrown in by happenstance to bring some last-minute drama. Because a brilliant guy like Hayes is going to try to soothe his hysterical girlfriend by saying, “You’re a survivor,” implying that she’ll do just fine on her own? After he’s been masterfully manipulating her for years? That weak-ass line is all you have to assure her with? Of course she goes berserk! Come on, man. It just seemed forced.

Detective Olivia Benson (the oft-lauded Marishka Hargitay) was … well, she was here but distracted. Sort of like the smart girl in class who half-raises her arm before the teacher is even done calling her name. “Present!” Really, Benson seems to just be phoning it in. Oh, another rape. Watch me as my lips press together pensively. Or maybe that’s just Hargitay. I can’t tell. Ice-T is also Ice-T, and merely there to drawl a few wry lines in his Ice-T way. Like when is he not Ice-T? I’ve never really understood this casting.

(I’ve decided what this tired, played out team needs is some new blood. No, not young, inexperienced, in-for-their-looks blood, but someone with snap. Is Alan Tudyk busy?)

The rest of the acting was decent. Julliard-trained Dann Florek still injects some nice, crackling energy as Captain Donald Cragen, his twitchy eyebrow telling the things his mouth won’t quite say. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “hangdog” expression express so much. Florek is a gem. The guest stars shined, of course, as they often get to do. One thing that really impressed me was the string of young tween actresses they brought in to give their various (and lurid) testimonies. Each one pretty much sold me on their shame (the one 14-year old who burst into tears after admitting she’d allowed her friend to also be raped was extremely good), the guilt was palpable, and it made for a real squirm-inducing string of moments. So kudos to the casting department on that one.

But for a procedural to grab me by the throat and not let go, it really needs a longer setup, a longer middle, and a nice payoff at the end. As in: a season-long something. And I know that’s not necessarily ratings-bait, telling a story over the arc of an entire season, and I sure don’t want Law & Order: SVU to piss off NBC, but I’d like an underlying something.

I’m hoping they’ve made a real enemy out of Hayes, and we get to see his depravity again.

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