Saturday, October 15, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - Olivia Requires Maxwell to Trust Her Instincts for Protecting Victims in 'The Steps We Cannot Take'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 24.04 "The Steps We Cannot Take"

A home invasion and kidnapping leads the SVU to a shocking discovery. Muncy tries to fit in with the squad.

"The Steps We Cannot Take" was written by Brianna Yellen & Kathy Dobie and directed by Juan José Campanella

Detective Muncy is rough-around-the-edges but has plenty of potential to become a great SVU detective. She has all the right instincts. She has the necessary empathy to connect with victims. She just needs the right tutelage. Olivia recruited her to join the squad. That's a huge sign of support - especially since Olivia is always fighting with her bosses to get more staff to process their caseload. Muncy recognizes that this squad has been forged in the captain's image. Olivia makes all the final decisions. Her leadership must be trusted. She has earned this distinction after decades in this work. She knows these cases better than anyone else. Olivia is hardly the only one who sees a bright future for Muncy. Fin also offers some tough love about her needing to protect herself first on this job. It's not simply worrying about inappropriate actions being caught on video. It's about maintaining composure and ensuring the lines of communication remain open. This isn't the gang unit. Muncy has to adjust accordingly. She has to present a different way now. That's not to diminish her abilities as a cop either. The goals of this unit are different. Of course, she was previously told that the severity and urgency of the gang unit's work she was more important. Her former captain made it seem like his unit was the only one making a difference fighting the most pressing concerns in the city. The SVU squad does plenty of that too. There is more than one way to be of service to a community. Muncy is following that path. It's rewarded as well. She and Velasco are brought onto a case not because a teenage girl has been abducted but because the beat cops thought a rape could have happened. Muncy was the one who examined the evidence and saw the true extent of this crime. She is the one who has to carry it forward. She takes out her frustrations on the criminal who assaulted this family. It's not professional in the slightest. She may only apologize because Olivia orders her to do so. It may be nothing more than a tactic to try to win over his trust. He builds a story of also being victimized by his father, who was the true domineering presence in this isolated home upstate. The punishment has already been delivered for his heinous actions. Crucial decisions still have to be made. Muncy is an active part of the investigation. She has quickly become a valuable asset for the team. Again, she still needs molding to become an enduring part of this place. Plenty of detectives have burned out over the years. Not everyone is cut out to handle the sensitive nature of this work longterm. Olivia, Fin and Rollins have prospered. Velasco has found his footing after a year. And now, Muncy is proving she too has what it takes to fight on behalf of these victims in a system that doesn't always treat them kindly.

Moreover, Olivia has to decide how to handle this delicate situation after the abuser's body is found buried in the woods outside the house. She knows it wasn't Elias who killed him. The ballistics don't line up given his height. He had the gun though. It's easy to pass blame onto him. And yet, another charge isn't tacked onto his indictment simply because it would be easy. Instead, this homicide case will remain open. Olivia can't close it. That would be admitting the culpability of the girls who were abused by this man for years. Elias was simply trying to impress his father when he took his victim. Her parents both survive getting shot as well. This is a traumatic experience that will linger for each of them. However, it's ultimately uplifting that everyone can rely on family and the good out in the world to overcome what happened to them. That's the overall message of this story. Olivia doesn't want to disrupt that simply to blame someone for fighting to protect themselves against their tormentor. It remains absolutely devastating how many real-life stories there are about prosecutors charging victims of sex trafficking for taking lethal actions against the people who abuse them. That energy is out of place. Olivia doesn't want the wrong decision to be made. She and Maxwell have built such a strong rapport. They rely on each other to influence the potential outcomes of these cases when they go to trial. Carisi is trusted as the main connection with the legal side of things for the SVU detectives. However, he isn't the boss. He's not the one who makes the final decisions. Instead, that's something Olivia and Maxwell continually have to do. That's the responsibility of their jobs. They are both quite good at them. They have spent years in this work. There is still a disconnect between the law and order though. Olivia doesn't want more suffering to come to these girls who have already been victimized. And so, she refuses to name who was more than likely responsible for a man's death. She knows the likely motivation. She is even willing to share it. She refuses to identify the guilty person. She doesn't see the benefit of pursuing that case. Maxwell's job requires her to have a different perspective. She isn't given this case to make a decision on how to proceed. Olivia inserts herself. She does what she believes is right. Maxwell hopes that's true. She trusts her. However, she also reminds her of how compassionate she can be. This is the first real friction the two of them have faced. It's uncomfortable while still being illuminating. They can have a difference of opinion. They can still work together. It's all built on inherent trust that the police can be trusted to decide the final outcome for all involved. That shouldn't be the case in every situation. That would allow so much corruption to fester throughout this institution. However, it's easy to trust Olivia because she has already proven herself of having pure intentions time and time again. Plus, this hour earns that resolve even though other situations could be much more complicated.