Saturday, April 16, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - The Squad Examines a Case That Quickly Gains National Attention in 'Eighteen Wheels a Predator'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 23.18 "Eighteen Wheels a Predator"

Rollins and Fin investigate an assault in Kentucky that has striking similarities to a victim found in Central Park. Benson receives intel that turns the case upside down.

"Eighteen Wheels a Predator" was directed by Martha Mitchell with story by Kathy Dobie and teleplay by Brianna Yellen & Monet Hurst-Mendoza

For two decades, one man has been raping women along the interstate highway system. He has been completely consistent within that timeframe as well. Even when the various details of these crimes were uploaded to a national system, they didn't suddenly connect together. It still required a squad with insight into what details to look for to notice the pattern. Even then, it also took the squad looking into the attempted assaults for clues as to the serial criminal's identity. It's miraculous that those were details were put into the system as well. When a woman reported her attempted rape, she was treated with complete disregard by the police. The office didn't take her concerns seriously. She was still traumatized. Olivia knows how to react with compassion. In fact, the details she can provide offer the salvation needed for dozens of women. The squad has the benefit of seeing the larger picture. They are gifted with the resources to act on this investigation with the severity it deserves. McGrath is desperate for good press coverage for the NYPD. He views the public as having complete disdain for the important and necessary work they do. And so, he has to offer something monumental to earn praise across the board. He does get his moment in the spotlight to champion this arrest and what Olivia accomplished. She brought down a serial rapist who has been hunting numerous women across the country for years. She shows her appreciation for her colleagues as well. She calls out Fin and Rollins by name. They have her respect and admiration. They know that. It's also just as vital for her to speak on it in public. Of course, this episode suggests some grand task force was assembled to work the case from every state where an assault happened. It's never really about anyone other than Olivia, Fin and Rollins. They are the ones who put in the work. McGrath comes in expecting a good progress report. Meanwhile, Carisi raises concerns about the eventual prosecution. These dynamics are necessary. Carisi shares with his colleagues exactly what they need to do to ensure a conviction. This guy has slipped up. And now, he has become obsessed with the attention he'll receive. In order to capitalize on that, he needs to be completely forthcoming about every detail he did along this crime spree. That's the only way he can live on in infamy. Rollins stokes those flames in order for Carisi to deliver the final conviction.

This story is huge and has many far-reaching repercussions. The squad can see that. They also treat the story of a man abusing his sister just as seriously. They react with horror. Disbelief doesn't prevent them from doing this job. When the details come out, they believe the woman who has survived this torment for years. It suddenly makes sense why she would want to frame her brother for a rape he didn't commit. That made the central case more complicated. It presented a piece that didn't line up with everything else. The story wasn't perfect. That had the potential to implode everything. The squad has a duty to get things right. They can't be careless in this work. They pursue the evidence no matter where it leads them. Sometimes that results in an arrest that isn't justified. They have to be held accountable for that as well. In this case, it turns into a completely separate story of abuse. One that is equally deserving of the spotlight. Olivia wants the resources and appreciation to work those cases as well. She voices her concerns about One Police Plaza only listen to her when a case grabs national attention. It's not a good look for the department if it seems like it is underfunding this department when the crimes are so sensitive and need results quickly. So many open-ended cases are still out there. It took the squad putting the pieces together to provide justice for all of the victims they find. Even then, they may not know the full breadth of what this man did. Some people may still live in anguish not knowing how things have been resolved fully. It's up to the police to offer as much justice and accountability as possible. It takes the right leadership to ensure that happens. And so, Olivia leads with the determination to treat every case equitably. She pushes her detectives when it's required. This work can ultimately lead to such a profound release of emotion. Olivia has provided that clarity for the same amount of time this criminal was terrorizing women in the country. Those stakes are profound and meaningful as well. The system can still work. The years in ambiguity still must be reconciled though. Olivia voices her support and appreciation even when knowing that's all she can do in this job as she must embrace whatever the next case turns out to be.