Friday, October 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - Velasco Investigates a City Official Abusing His Power and Endangering Public Safety in 'Breakwater'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 24.05 "Breakwater"

A young man asks the SVU for help when he suspects his boss is preying on his sister. Velasco tries to convince a reluctant witness to testify in court.

"Breakwater" was directed by Jean de Segonzac with story by Denis Hamill and teleplay by Denis Hamill & Monet-Hurst Mendoza

Political figures continually pressure the SVU squad to drop their investigation into Chief Greco because they believe in his inherent goodness. He needs to remain in charge of the Bronx lifeguard program. He has made a difference in the city. He can't be held accountable for his heinous actions because that would only further scandalize their interests. And yet, Olivia and the team go after anyone who breaks the law. Greco abuses his power. As a direct result, people drown. They could have potentially been saved if the lifeguards on duty were well-qualified. Instead, Greco approved anyone he could exert his power over. Everyone is afraid of the influence he wields. Not only does he coerce people into having sex with him, he then blackmails them with evidence of those encounters. He shames people into compliance. It's only after tragedy strikes that some of them start to feel guilty about remaining silent. Diego didn't want his sister to be abused like he was. It's his responsibility to protect her. However, he is only able to talk about the abuse when he's drunk. He has bulked up in the hopes of protecting himself. He fights back if Greco tries to rape him again. He is traumatized by what happened. He wasn't the only victim. Other people he cared about were abused too. He was too busy with his own struggle to recognize what happened to them. He also loves this job. He and his sister aspired to be lifeguards. Money was a huge motivation. However, they are also strong swimmers who care about their community. They want to protect people so that they can enjoy the beaches and ocean as well. It's a huge responsibility they must carry. They can never be distracted on the job. Every second matters in a life-or-death situation. Diego is labeled a drunk who deserves every punishment thrown his way. And yet, he gets caught by the riptide and drowns. Greco made that happen. He pressured people into questioning whether or not they should save one of their own. Velasco shows no hesitation. He doesn't have the proper training in this regard. He's still willing to risk his life to save another. Those are the morals he carries himself with. Diego dies. Greco is held accountable for the conspiracy that made these drownings happen. It's a difficult case for Carisi to prove. It requires Velasco to reach out with empathy. He too was horrified by the events on the beach. He carries that death with him. Olivia checks in to ensure that he's good. She still trusts him to do the job. She sees how it weighs on him. That requires extra attention. She cares for the well-being of her detectives. This is a dangerous job. She can't allow her ego to get in the way of what's best for the people who work for her. That's what Greco did. He used his influence without caring who got hurt in the process. Ultimately, a lot of people were fooled by his deception.

Greco feels entitled to this job. He carries that mentality because so many people prop up his successes. Carisi has a presentation in court about all the people who've died under his watch. Meanwhile, Greco gets on the stand to testify about how all of those drownings are his personal responsibility. They are a collective tragedy. It was his job to protect them. He failed to do so. Of course, he also has blatant contempt for the people who visit the beach every day. He believes they are foolish for not understanding the environment. They believe they are invincible. When that's proven incorrect, it takes these lifeguards to put their own lives on the line to save them. The appreciation is powerful. It's much more damning to see Greco try his best to lie his way out of this situation. He demands his lifeguards show up in court to support him. It's a direct order. They can't go against him. One eventually does. It was too much for him to hear. Carisi doesn't require him to get on the stand to testify. Instead, a deal is made. Greco is convicted for manslaughter. He will serve a lengthy sentence. The SVU squad led with complete clarity over this situation. They were never deceived by Greco. They knew exactly who he was when Olivia and Fin first interviewed him. He follows the playbook of admitting to consensual sex. A rape kit even confirms that he was the assailant. His influence was simply too widespread for those charges to stick. That's devastating. But it's not the only way in which he has abused his power. He has ruined many lives. He's forced so many people into compliance. They had to obey him or suffer the consequences. He didn't acknowledge the imbalance within the power structure. He led this program. He forced his employees to have sex with him. He took what he wanted. He should be punished as a result. Olivia has dealt with many men just like him. She has the expertise to ensure this conviction. The law can't be twisted around to paint him with sympathy. Diego is still dead. That's the harsh truth of this case. The system wanted to protect his abuser for as long as possible. Even then, no update is given as to how the political forces react to the changing winds. Carisi fears retaliation from the legislators who provide him with the budget to do this job. That creates a severe chasm between law enforcement and elected leaders. It plays into the fears of retaliation. That then creates an environment wherein people are afraid of doing what's right. They don't want to deal with the reprisal. Olivia can handle anything that comes her way. Carisi is entrenched enough in the DA's office now to take risks too. However, this was always a solid case of them being on the right side of the line. As such, they could stick to their guns with absolute conviction. These worries pop up from time to time. It never takes too much away from their ability to do their jobs. They remain constant in that regard even as this line of work weighs on them simply from the dark reality of what they see.