Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - Velasco Testifies for the First Time After Getting Involved with a Crime in 'Sorry If It Got Weird for You'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 23.16 "Sorry If It Got Weird for You"

The creator of a dating app is accused of using it to rape women. Velasco's experience as an SVU detective is put on trial.

"Sorry If It Got Weird for You" was directed by Leslie Hope with story by Bryan Goluboff & Brendan Feeney and teleplay by Brendan Feeney & Matt Klypka

Velasco has only been a detective at SVU for six months. That lack of experience is called out when he's testifying for the first time. He doesn't have the history necessary to appear credible as an expert. And yet, he has to testify in order to explain why Lisa reacted the way she did on their date. Their evening ended with her in the hospital. He did nothing wrong. He was a perfect gentleman who wanted to make sure she got home safely. From there, the story twists and turns to expose a predator using his dating app to prey on women. It's complicated because it's a tale of conflicting stories. Lisa has her version of events. Jackson has his version of events. It's all about who can manipulate the other side to sway either public opinion or the jury. It's very performative. As such, it's so easy for the characters to forget the central crime. Instead, it's all about trying to navigate through the wreckage. Lisa never told anyone that Jackson raped her. Olivia believes her. She supports her as a credible witness. That's all Carisi needs to feel confident bringing this case. He trusts Olivia's judgment. She knows how to handle the various complications from this work. Lisa's godmother Cress wants to support her as well. Her response is so often a reflection of what she needs to do at the company to survive the ensuing scandal. She reacts because she is angry. In that blinding state, she commits some crimes too. No one is perfect. Cress' actions complicate the case for Lisa. They grow estranged. Jackson may be released to prey on more women. Cress carries the burden of her own assault. She said nothing. She wanted to believe Jackson when he said he would never behave that way again. He did. He followed the same predatory behavior with numerous women. He always had demeaning views towards the entire gender. The tragic death of his wife is the cornerstone story for why he founded this business. He needed to focus on work while also finding the ability to move on. He embraced hookup culture. It now needs a slight rebrand in order to promote overall safety. Cress is aware of the perception issues. She has created a solution. And yet, the problems are much more systemic. They come down from the top. And so, nothing can ever be perceived as safe until that central problem is dealt with. She is a fierce advocate for that to happen. Her actions come from the right place. She just makes things more difficult. It's a relatable impulse even though it comes across as shocking twists meant to define an hour of television.

This episode stumbles because Velasco really hasn't become a developed character. He was introduced as McGrath's trusted man. He could learn a lot working with Olivia. He hasn't exactly contributed much to the season. He provides crucial details for the various investigations. However, that's mostly expositional dialogue. That's necessary for the various crimes the squad deals with. It has never invited many personal details to emerge. Even Rollins' absence here is explained by her needing to care for her mother. That has an impact on Olivia and Carisi. It doesn't change how they do their jobs. It's simply something they comment on. That excuse has been used for Velasco's absences as well. His are less notable because he doesn't have much of a presence on the show to begin with. Octavio Pisano was promoted to series regular. And yet, this is the first real episode to give him the focus. Even then, he has to share the spotlight with the case-of-the-week. It doesn't threaten to undermine his credibility or threaten his resolve to work these sensitive cases. It's all purely a reaction. It's something that is important for a moment and then disappears. It's somewhat strange storytelling. It mostly implies a character the creative team doesn't quite know how to utilize. That has been evident for awhile now. Velasco is simply the new detective in the squad. He's a body to bounce the various stories off of. It's a necessary presence. The show isn't challenging itself to explore something different with the way the squad has always functioned. That stability can be comforting. Things have still changed over the years. In fact, this season featured a complete redesign of the precinct. That was significant. As such, the impulse is there to make everything else feel more stable. That doesn't really invite a whole lot of excitement. The episodic format has still produced some solid moments. The twist here is that Cress was raped as well. She makes that declaration in open court. It's enough for the jury to convict. Carisi gets his victory. Lisa gets justice. It's a concise ending because Jackson couldn't stay silent about his many heinous views. It's remarkable Jon Glaser has never played a criminal on this show before. He's well-suited for the role. It's simply not challenging enough given how the show has carried itself previously.