It’s cop versus cop in this emotionally charged episode of Law & Order: SVU. For its 20th season, Law & Order certainly put out its best with Part 33 and I want to say one of the rawest installments out of its long-run. Full disclosure, for anyone who has seen 12 Angry Men, it’s clear this episode takes a lot of inspiration from that movie. From the high tenses, moral dilemmas, and the rising heat, it’s obvious to see the similarities. But, the Special Victim Unit has always spun their take on either real-life cases or in Part 33, a well-known piece of cinema.
The case centers around Daredevil’s Amy Rutberg’s character, who is on trial for killing her husband at the dinner table. We quickly find out that the husband was a cop and though not physically abusive, the episode explores the deep seeds of psychological abuse that could push a spouse to commit murder. Tensions are at an all-time high; while Peter Stone views this case as black and white, an easy win; the detectives at the SVU turn the trial into shades of grey with their individual testimonies.
While Finn takes the stance of neutral, i.e. just doing his job; it’s the other members that are, at some point; literally at each other’s throats. Amanda Rollins’, in a way; almost conveys that loyalty of being a fellow cop and therefore, villainizing the wife for having shot another officer. It’s also her past that prevents her from feeling sympathy for Rutberg’s character, as Rollins’ mother was severely abused by her husband and Rollins insists that both the woman on trial and her mother should and could have walked away.
Rollins’ views put her in direct conflict with Sonny Carisi, who was just holding her hand as she gave birth to her second child the previous episode. Burdened by his morals, Carisi feels the weight of this trial on his shoulders and feels that he can’t take Finn’s stance and simply state facts. We find out that a previous case before he was in SVU affects how he feels about this woman on the stand and his past encounters with the husband make him believe that she had no other choice. Peter Scanavino really shines in this episode, as not only can we feel the tearing of his heart, but his emotions are full on display and his yelling at times are enough to make you jump.
Everything rests on Olivia Benson’s testimony and while she is not as hot-headed as Carisi, she too disagrees with Rollins and feels a moral responsibility towards this woman. We have an insanely powerful moment between Liv and Amanda, where we can see that this case is really hitting home for them. William Lewis is referenced in this episode and we can see that even though it’s been, by now; five seasons since Liv was taken hostage by the psychopath, the emotional trauma is still deeply embedded within her.
Season 20 has had some good episodes and some lukewarm, but Part 33 is packs a punch and really allows the actors to show their range and capabilities as artists. Be sure to watch Part 33 if you haven’t already, you won’t want to miss it!
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