Thursday, January 5, 2023

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - A Personal Assault Propels Olivia to Transfer to a New Precinct to Investigate Cases in 'Jumped In'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 24.10 "Jumped In"

When Benson becomes the target of a ruthless gang leader, Captain Duarte takes the case. Fin works with the Bronx SVU to help clear their case backlog. Sergeant Dixon offers to translate when a deaf student is raped.

"Jumped In" was directed by Martha Mitchell with story by Kadia Saraf & Terry Serpico and teleplay by Brendan Feeney & Monet Hurst-Mendoza

Olivia has no time to mourn the loss of Rollins from the squad. McGrath wants to temporarily send her over to the Bronx SVU after the Civil Rights Office of the Department of Justice opens an investigation. He needs someone to close cases and prove that local law enforcement doesn't need federal oversight to do this job effectively. Each side needs to maintain their own territory. Neither one likes being stepped on. Olivia is reluctant to take on such an assignment because there are victims who need her advocacy in Manhattan. Her squad has been short staffed for years now. That has always been her priority in any meeting with McGrath. She needs more personnel to investigate the cases that occur in her jurisdiction. Over the years, she has proven herself to be remarkable. She leads this unit with complete conviction and compassion. She knows precisely how to get the job done. She has earned McGrath's respect to the point where he knows she is the only person to fix these systemic issues elsewhere. It's the quickest way to get the federal agents out of their business. It's only addressing the immediate problem though. It's not setting the system up to be better in the future. In fact, Olivia's own actions result in scrutiny for going out of the scope of her assignment. She takes the job because she believes she needs to be in the Bronx for awhile. She is attacked outside of her apartment. A hit has been put out on her. Gang members from BX9 are targeting her. That becomes the latest prior story element to continue this season. Olivia clashed with Duarte when they were forced to work together previously. She doesn't like his tactics. She found Muncy in his unit though. She saw something that could translate well to SVU work. But now, all of this is personal. Olivia has become a victim to this violence. As such, she needs to carry the investigation moving forward. That threatens to take the focus of the show away from what truly matters.

Olivia will always be an advocate for victims. She doesn't jadedly believe Detective Bruno only exposed corruption in his unit to get money from the city. He believes in doing the work and honoring the victims. The police are tasked with speaking on behalf of the victims. That's especially true when they can no longer speak for themselves. It's even more blatantly obvious here with the episodic case focusing on a serial rapist who targets deaf girls. It's really heavy-handed. It's a result of the show trying to juggle too much in this one particular episode. It may calm down once everyone relaxes into these new roles. However, this is such an odd time to be changing up the basic premise of the show. It has worked for over two decades now. Perhaps the creative team wants to show there are still new ways to surprise Olivia. She has still been traumatized dozens of times through her work. That's nothing new. Nothing is broken due to the assault. She sends Noah away to be with his newly discovered half-brother. But it's all setup in search of something more meaningful. Sure, it's important to highlight the ways in which many police precincts don't operate like the one in Manhattan the viewer has seen for so many years. Olivia's work is the ideal. It's rare for any precinct to actually match that. However, the show still has a job to do. It has to present the overwhelming sense that all of this will work out if the right people were simply given the opportunity to lead. That's a noble mission statement. It's also a simplistic read on how to address these issues and evolve with the world's changing understanding of what is acceptable behavior from the police. The show wants to have it both ways without really committing to either idea in the end. It wants its main characters lifted up on a pedestal as only they can do this job with honor and conviction. It also wants to be unabashedly pro-cop in ways that are just plainly cynical about human behavior. That lends a false impression to the storytelling that has never really been present before even as many of these themes have come up across the years.