Law & Order: SVU Season 14 “Legitimate Rape” Review

Law & Order: SVU continued its tradition of ripping stories straight from the headlines and turning them into 60 minutes of entertainment (including commercials). This week, the show got an assist from Lauren Cohan who portrays Maggie on The Walking Dead. Cohan played an Erin Andrews-like sports reporter who sought SVU’s assistance after being attacked by her cameraman, Richard Purcell. Purcell was portrayed by David Marciano, who portrays Virgil on Homeland. Marciano also portrayed the lazy, manipulative Detective Steve Billings on The Shield. Forgive me if I refer to Avery and Richard as Maggie and Virgil in this interview. I’ve been waiting with bated breath for Sunday’s season finale of The Walking Dead, so Cohan’s guest appearance was a nice way to pass the time. The guest stars helped the detectives give the Law & Order: SVU spin on former U.S. House of Representative Todd Akin’s August 2012 comments regarding “legitimate rape.”

In true Law & Order: SVU fashion, the victim was not without her flaws and there were lots of twists and turns as the detectives worked on uncovering the truth. It was nice to see the team getting back to a case without any personal ties. Last week’s episode with Dean Winters was excellent but tense because of the personal ties to the detectives. It also had its fill of predictability. If a character says its “impossible” to get pregnant, you best believe they’ve got a bun in the oven. Likewise, if a suspect has a law degree or any type of legal training you should expect to see him representing himself in court despite that age-old adage about the attorney who has himself as a client. To the writers’ credit, it was pretty funny to see Purcell clashing with his own attorney. I also loved Purcell’s comment about sharing “good looks” with his attorney, remarking on both men having similar “hair styles.” Ha!

Purcell proved to be more competent than most defendants who represent themselves on SVU. He got under Olivia’s skin with the rape/pregnancy issues and then decided to delay his cross of Avery so that she could sit and nervously stew. Purcell’s “expert” was a Congressman who advocated for the criminalization of abortions after rape because it was “tampering with evidence.” Thanks to a little help from Fin and Rollins, Barba did a pretty good job and shooting down the “expert’s” credibility.

Purcell channeled his rage from his botched “expert” testimony into an aggressive cross-examination of Avery. Cohan and Marciano did a wonderful job during this scene. When it took two days for the jury verdict, I knew things would not end well for Avery. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty of rape and guilty of stalking. Unfortunately for Avery, one of the jurors bought the “legitimate rape” argument. Of course, the drama would not be complete without Avery’s water breaking shortly after the trial concluded (and in front of Purcell).

You’d think the verdict alone would be enough drama but on on Law & Order: SVU. Avery’s joy that her 6-week premature baby was happy and healthy was abruptly ended with notice of Purcell’s custody lawsuit. Can we talk about the process server? Really, douchebag? You’re going to dress up like a hospital employee and serve the lawsuit. Ugh.

Barba recommends a great civil attorney for Avery, but it wasn’t enough to keep Purcell from making Avery look bad. She was clearly stressed from depression, new motherhood and the trauma of her attack. Purcell used all of that demonstrate her inability to care for herself and her baby. I really wanted one of those Law & Order: SVU twists where some crazed, random person just kills the bad guy. Unfortunately, such a twist would have made no sense in this episode and Purcell lived on to be a jerk. Avery received full custody but “with great reluctance” the court awarded minimal supervised visits for Purcell.

It was no surprise that Avery ran off with the baby. It will be interesting to see if this creates consequences for Cragen or Benson in a future episode. Overall, I thought it was a great episode thanks in large part to strong performances from Marciano and Cohan. I also loved the subtlety with which Olivia shared her family past with Amaro at the close of the show. What did you think of this week’s episode? Sound off below!