Friday, February 23, 2024

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - Olivia Remains Resilient as Clues Send Her Searching for Maddie Again in 'Zone Rouge'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 25.05 "Zone Rouge"

A cryptic message sends SVU on a new track to find Maddie. Benson tries to help a federal agent when the case hits too close to home. Captain Curry tries to make amends with Fin.

"Zone Rouge" was written by David Graziano & Julie Martin and directed by Bethany Rooney

Olivia has felt powerless over Maddie's disappearance. She has beaten herself up for not doing more. She has lived in this agony for a month. No meaningful leads have come in during that time. She has no idea what happened to the teenager. And then, Maddie slips a note to a fellow passenger on the train. That allows her to be found. Maddie never stopped fighting for herself. She was drugged and sold for sex. She endures plenty of emotional trauma. She still looks for ways to escape. That's admirable. Olivia recognizes Maddie in the picture before anyone else. She isn't just projecting her insecurities onto this new situation. It truly is Maddie. Her parents confirm it. George may have changed her appearance. However, those who love Maddie always recognize her. Olivia is just as invested. She has kept the family in the loop every step of the way. It hasn't been easy on them. They are capable of healing as a family now. They all survive to face what comes next. Olivia provides that support. That's remarkable. It's the job she has always handled with grace.

Olivia doesn't want to wait for others to approve the tactics that must be taken to ensure Maddie's rescue. The bureaucracy believes more solid evidence needs to be discovered before approving Olivia's expenses to travel to Pittsburgh. Olivia doesn't see the use in that. That's where the developments are happening. New York City retains jurisdiction over this case. The feds have a compelling argument for leading the charge. George crosses state lines all the time because of his love of trains. The action takes him all over the country. Yet Maddie remains central. She was taken from New York City. The city became her new home. The community welcomed her in. It inflicted the worst trauma this family has experienced to date. However, the leaders who look after the citizens of New York pledge to keep this place as a beacon of hope. Outsiders have their opinions on the status of crime in the city. The people who actually live there have a different opinion and are grateful for the overwhelming sense of community when something like this happens.

Meanwhile, Captain Curry and FBI Agent Sykes are looking to make a change in their careers. Curry has risen through the ranks at Internal Affairs. She no longer wants to be the cop investigating other cops. She has handled the job well. She maintains order. Moving to SVU does nothing to advance her career. She's not trying to push Olivia out. Instead, she needs a change of scenery. She needs to believe she is making a difference. She felt that immediate impact when working with Olivia. Now, she's finding her place in this new environment. Sykes is introduced for the first time. She is described as an expert in sex trafficking cases along the East Coast. It's not a title she gave herself. Moreover, she remains haunted by the unsolved disappearance of her sister. Olivia forces the truth out of her. Sykes doesn't want to talk about it. She wants Olivia to forget what was said. The captain can't do that. She doesn't believe she should either. It's cathartic for these officers to share their struggles. It makes it easier to understand how they respond in these dangerous situations. Sykes lashes out. The case hits close to home. This isn't the first time SVU has had an agent from the FBI embedded in the squad. It increases the female presence while giving Olivia new resources to conduct the job and mentor along the way. She misses that energy after so many have come and gone as of late.

This story was always central to Olivia though. She remains steadfast in her pursuit of justice. She's present for the arrests of the man who took Maddie and the man she was sold to. It carried personal significance for her. She delivered on her promise. Maddie is finally wearing her bracelet again. Olivia didn't want to take it off until Maddie was found. That story has now reached its conclusion. A trial isn't expected. Carisi is already putting the final touches on plea deals with the criminals. They will spend many years in jail. They don't even have any leverage to produce better fates for themselves. They operate without all of the information. Meanwhile, law enforcement is incredibly organized. The various agencies have been territorial in the past. Right now, Olivia is grateful how seamless the unit operated under the guidance of FBI Agent Clay. It's not set up for ongoing importance. It still provides more resources for Olivia and the squad to use when they need it. They have plenty of tools at their disposal already. It still took a month for this case to reach its end. Some stories never reach that clarity. That's heartbreaking. Olivia completed this case though. That matters to her. It happened earlier in the season than what the premiere suggested. That could mean another twist is coming at some point. Or it could simply be the creative team being aware enough to know how long this material had resonance.