LAW & ORDER: SVU “Spectacle” Review

Law & Order: SVU Cast

LAW & ORDER: SVU “Spectacle” Season 12 Episode 16 – So after years and years of watching crime dramas, the NCU’s and the NCIS’s and the Starskys and the Hutches, we’re supposed to respect the intelligence of an investigator who is told to meet a perpetrator somewhere “alone” and to “tell no one” and actually does exactly that? As some of my favorite sports commentators are fond of saying, “Come on, man!”

Here’s a rule of thumb to follow: NEVER do exactly what the bad guy wants you to do unless A. you know for a fact he’s holding your wife/lover/kid hostage and will kill them at the slightest deviation or B. you personally know the bad guy and want to talk him away from his mad plan so he doesn’t get tossed in the clink. Or shot and killed. Or whatever.

It’s almost to a point where it’s so bad it makes you question any of the SMART decisions this character has made in the past. Like if he’s this dumb, maybe the “brilliant” solution to the Beaulah Von Stuft murder was actually just a crazy-ass guess. As a former Air Force law enforcement guy myself (8-year K-9 ooo-rah!) it pains me when the police, the military, or even security guards do some of the blatantly stupid things they do. (Okay, there are quite a few granite-heads in the security guard field, true, but there are also a number of decent, level-headed blue-collar guys who, despite Hollywood’s seeming insistence, would NOT be fooled by a bad disguise, or a stammered excuse, or a box of donuts.)

(Well, maybe the donuts would distract more than a few of ’em, but they’d also wolf those suckers down; the distraction would last about three seconds.)

Which brings me to Detective Elliot Stabler (the pained-looking Christopher Meloni) and the text message he received, and how everything just bloody deteriorated from there. Sure, Benson (Marishka Hargitay) was off somewhere else, but what, she’s his only security blanket? It’s the number one rule in law enforcement, and the number one thing television loves to eschew in their desperate need for sudden drama: you always have backup. Always.

(This sin is what tipped me off, early, to the fact that ABC’s V was going to suck. Because even if you have aliens and spaceships and all that mess … if you can’t even provide your local law enforcement with a little believability, how are we going to buy the premise that a large chunk of our population are actually lizards?)

Stabler had no backup. Luckily for Stabler, this isn’t so that Stabler can be ambushed, but because the writers wanted some quality alone time between Stabler and suspected kidnapper Gregory Engels (a skittish but intellectually smug Spencer Treat Clarke).

But only a little bit of one-on-one face time. In fact, the lightning-fast amount of time it took for the rest of the team to discover what had happened and to then trace and follow and find Stabler was so unbelievable it was almost science fiction itself. It’s like we’re supposed to believe the bad guys are technologically superior to the good guys right up until it’s time for a momentum change (“Moving at the speed of plot” as they say), and then bam! Betcha didn’t know we could do this!

Add to that the not-so-twisty twist that the kidnapped girl was in on the plot the entire time … look, it’s been done before. In fact it’s been done this season on Law & Order: SVU, so that hardly constitutes a shocker. Add to that the bizarre ending where Gregory is reunited with his long-lost brother Jason (an appropriately confused-looking Dylan Reiff), and our trip into I-can’t-for-one-moment-believe-this-is-real land is complete.

And it’s sad to say about this once-proud franchise, but I’m starting to think 12 seasons were perhaps two too many. Many of the actors look as though they’ve been-there done-that (and they have). Seriously, how bored does Ice-T look? Even when Fin is his usual surly self, it’s like a lazy surly. There’s very little fire left.

This season has been disappointing. I want a turnaround for this show, but right now it needs a major shakeup. Not a firecracker in a pizza box that only blows up half a desk at the precinct; Law & Order: SVU needs something significantly more dire.

I personally think the cure is a season-long ongoing adversary, something akin to the Trinity Killer on Dexter, or Heroes’ Sylar (don’t laugh, season one was brilliant), or 24‘s Nina Myers, or (somehow) even the return of this year’s SVU Svengali Robert Morten (Mad Men‘s brilliant Jared Harris).

Or even … freaking … Jordan Hayes. Something!

Even though the wheels at SVU are still spinning, the train is off the tracks right now. And I’m only one of many voices, but I’m hoping NBC is listening to the collective.

Come on, man!

Agree? Disagree? Comment below. And follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, ya loons!