Friday, January 14, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - A Cycle of Trauma Has Complications Beyond the Initial Victim in 'Burning With Rage Forever'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 23.11 "Burning With Rage Forever"

A boy disappears after meeting up with an online gamer. Benson suspects her son is being bullied.

"Burning With Rage Forever" was written by Brianna Yellen & Brendan Feeney and directed by Mary Lambert

Becoming mothers has shifted perspective for Olivia and Rollins as SVU detectives. It brought them closer together. They know they have someone else in their workplace who understands the emotions and concerns they are feeling at any given moment. It's an ongoing and rewarding part of their lives. And yet, they also spend each day investigating the worst of humanity especially as it pertains to crimes against children. They are scared for their kids. They want them to be smart as they grow up. They also worry about potentially missing something due to how devoted they are to their jobs. In fact, this episode even opens with the suggestion that Olivia should be concerned for Noah. He is being bullied by an older kid. Instead of a play date with a friend from school, he is being tortured and humiliated. No one deserves to be bullied. In the end, it's meant to highlight how selfless and loving Noah has become. That comes from his mother's influence. It also provides hope for the coming generation. Noah is incredibly compassionate. He believes in everyone having a right to exist as equals. He supports a friend who wishes to use they/them pronouns. In doing so, he shares his own perspective on identity. He doesn't need to be attracted to or be with someone romantically for him to already have that understanding. That outward dynamic isn't what affirms his identity. It's simply who he is. He shares that with his mother as well. That's such a heartwarming moment. It again offers hope for what the future can be. Of course, it also comes amidst an episode that highlights the peril of so much trauma in this world. The cruel and criminal actions of one person can have far-reaching consequences. Sometimes people can't even cope with just how profound an effect it has actually had on their lives. But Carlos spirals upon being confronted by his past abuse. As a result, two more kids are traumatized. Now, Olivia is a huge advocate for therapy. It has helped her deal with her own trauma. She isn't healed. It's a process. One that she has to work on every single day. She knows how important that work can be. She knows how valuable it is for Carlos to want to live. He deserves that despite the destructive consequences of his actions. He isn't beyond redemption. He still must be held accountable. The system is conditioned into sending him to prison and believing that environment will be punishment enough. Carlos' problems extend from his mind and remorse over what he has done. Again, people have to be willing and open to address the trauma and the reverberations throughout their lives. It's never as simple as Carlos assaulting the man who abused his nephew. He blames himself and needs to take action through violence. That's how he understands the world. It's not just targeted to that one individual though. His sense of right and wrong is off. He doesn't agree with the public support showered upon him. He feels pressure to tip the scales against him. He acts on it. That's terrifying and harms even more people. All of this can be traced back to him being abused by a former teacher. The SVU squad can see the pattern. They see how complex all of this truly is. They have that objective worldview. Even someone new like Velasco can acknowledge it despite still questioning how things are done in this unit. It's not easily solved either. People are reluctant to admit that something like therapy is a useful tool. Love amongst the family is still powerful though. Those bonds are strong. And again, Olivia and Rollins have each other to bounce off of in their concerns over their children. That remains solid no matter what horrors they witness on this job. That makes this one of the most complex dynamics the show has ever featured at its center because it's equally giving to both while never falsely suggesting that one is prioritized or more deserving than the other. That's a result of years of hard work fostering this bond. It's an acknowledgement of how things evolve over the years. It offers plenty of stability as well. This is still a procedural with a basic narrative ambition every week after all.