Law and Order: SVU Season 14 Review “Secrets Exhumed” – Cold Case

It’s always interesting when crime dramas turn on their recurring characters, such as what happened in “Secrets Exhumed,” this week’s episode of Law and Order: SVU, when it was revealed that Marcia Gay Harden’s FBI agent, Dana Lewis, actually killed a woman in a jealous rage 25 years earlier. Rarely does a show have the guts to make a main cast member into a killer (Bones was an exception to this rule, and people are still mourning the loss of Zach Addy), so it’s usually a lab tech or a cop or someone who people know, but don’t necessarily care all that much about, who ends up as a murderer.

I suppose you could look at this two ways. If you’re an optimist, it’s a brilliant story-telling technique that forces the viewer to identify with a villain more than they would if it was just another killer off the streets. It creates grey areas where issues can be explored and beliefs might be challenged.

But if you’re a pessimist, at best it’s a ratings ploy…at worst, a signal that the writers have run out of ways to engage their audience. Aren’t there enough bad guys in the world? I’m not saying we should blindly trust the police (far from it), but we’re never going to see that character again (unless it’s in an orange jumper from behind bars), and I feel like that’s an opportunity squandered.

Of course, it’s not like there weren’t signs. There was always something just a little bit off about Dana Lewis. We first met her when she was undercover as a white supremacist fanatic, and every encounter between her and SVU since then has been just a teensy bit too intense. She managed to out-righteous even Olivia, and it interesting to think that was all just her way of making up for this terrible crime she committed.

But does knowing what she did between the murder and the time it took forensic technology to catch up enough to disprove the guilt of the man she tried to pin it on make up for the crime itself? Of course not, and I’m glad no one, not even Olivia, suggested that. Were we supposed to feel sorry for her, though? Maybe a little. They painted her in to the victim corner herself by showing us how the thoughtless (if not unconsciously cruel) actions of the man she loved pushed her to the edge. Adding in the abortion she had at his request around the time he was knocking up another woman who he asked to marry him was almost overkill, as if they absolutely needed us to see that she wasn’t just another loony.

Harden played the part perfectly, but you have to wonder if she liked this unexpected twist in a character she’s sporadically played for almost ten years. I’m on the fence about it myself, and wondering if it means something else…that the writers are starting to wrap everything up in preparation for the end.

What did you think? Let me know below! And remember you can always follow me on Twitter @krieli1 so you never miss a review.