Saturday, November 5, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - A Party Reveals the Privilege the Wealthy Wield Against the Justice System in 'Controlled Burn'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 24.06 "Controlled Burn"

Rollins investigates an assault by a masked man at an underground party. Benson uncovers a suspect who may be valuable as a witness.

"Controlled Burn" was directed by Oscar Rene Lozoya II with story by David Graziano & Julie Martin and teleplay by David Graziano & Nolan Dunbar

All men are programmed to behave badly. All they need are the right opportunities to indulge in that basic behavior. That's how Lena operates. She sets up this entire scheme to expose the heinous actions of the most powerful men in the city. It's not some altruistic endeavor though. She invited Spencer to a party at a brownstone she owned with the intention of recording him engaging in some scandalous activities. She could then use that as evidence to enforce the morality clause at the center of her acquisition of his company. It's all an attempt to get away with the same behavior as countless generations of men before her. Of course, she isn't any better than them. And in the end, she escapes punishment like so many of the entitled and privileged of the world. She doesn't even have to work hard at it. That's one of the most sinister realizations. Maggie is the victim as a result of all of this. She was dragged to a party under false pretenses. When Spencer was suppose to be in a meeting discussing the details of selling his company, he was distracted about the party and who he could drag with him. It was required of him to bring a woman. He jumps from one employee to the next. Maggie doesn't view herself as a sexual being as a result of cancer. She's much more focused on the work. In fact, that past trauma only inflates the denial she's immediately in afterwards. She doesn't believe she could be assaulted in that way. She was. Underwear was stuffed down her throat. She was choked repeatedly. It was miraculous that she survived this encounter. One man with a horrifying compulsion entered this environment and was allowed to thrive. He finally had the resources to engage in this behavior without fear. He amplified his tactics too. When a woman could fight back and deny consent, he was furious but obeyed. And so, he had to take that choice away to get what he wanted. Maggie was drugged. Eight hours of her life were taken away from her. Her assault was recorded. She can't disassociate with it. That evidence may always exist for her to relive the most traumatic moment of her life. It's a relief she doesn't have to ultimately testify. Her attacker was grateful the detectives caught him. He wasn't expressing remorse for what he did. He wanted to do it. He knew the difference between right and wrong. He couldn't help himself. He needed to choke women until they passed out or were killed. And now, he has the freedom to talk about it. He can stop because the system is forcing him to do so. He could only get away with this behavior for so long. It escalated. It got so bad. He knew it was only a matter of time. As such, he's willing to answer any questions the detectives may have. Rollins may not get the answer she wants. It simply forever highlights the darkness within these depraved minds.

Maggie's assault is only one element of this investigation. She was abused in many ways. Lena thinks it's better for women to be abused in her multi-million dollar brownstone than on some random place on the streets. She buys into the argument that sexual assault is going to happen no matter what. It's destined. Men can't help themselves. Women can't defend themselves either. It's all inevitable. Olivia doesn't believe that. She's carried out countless investigations with numerous motivations. Moreover, she's a mother of a son. She wants to do everything right by him. She believes she's making a difference. She is raising a nice boy who cares about people. She has seen that in practice too. Lena believes the police are living in denial. In fact, they should be thankful for all the evidence she gathered to make their jobs easier. The system doesn't work like that. That's especially true for the privileged who can buy their way to freedom. Carisi argues how Lena's fortune and connections abroad make her a significant flight risk. The court should have no reason to believe she will show up for her trial to face these charges. It would be much easier for her to flee somewhere that doesn't have an extradition treaty with the United States. The judge believes an ankle monitor and home confinement should be sufficient enough. It isn't. The officers find no evidence of tampering with the device. Lena still escapes. Again, it's just that easy for her. She had all of this planned out. She wants to make that point clear to Olivia. She needs to brag about it. She isn't held accountable for her actions. She escapes. She is allowed to prosper. It's furious and enraging. She isn't held to the same standard as everyone else in the system. She too believes in her own superiority like the people Rollins spotlights in her lecture on criminology. Harsher laws aren't inherently going to deter this behavior. It's necessary to seek out the early warning signs and address them immediately. Rollins struggles with that empathy as a detective. And yet, she talks about these ideals. They create a vision of ways to better deal with these compulsions before they build to heinous conclusions. She sees that evidence every single day. She's improved in her recovery. Olivia seeks that. She's grateful to have her detective working as well as ever before again. There is still only so much these officers can do after the crime occurs. They honor the victims. Maggie wants control over what happens to her. She sees the power in viewing her assault. Not everyone could make that decision. Not everyone should have to be faced with that choice either. It's what is best for her. Olivia respects that. She makes a difference even though the ultimate conclusion is much more nuanced than the system is equipped to deal with right now.