Friday, March 15, 2024

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: SVU' - Olivia Revisits the Past as She Fears What Happens After She Closes Cases in 'Probability of Doom'

NBC's Law & Order: SVU - Episode 25.07 "Probability of Doom"

When a woman turns her husband in for possessing child pornography, the case is complicated by a sudden death. Benson tries to reconnect with a victim she saved.

"Probability of Doom" was written by David Graziano & Nicholas Evangelista and directed by Martha Mitchell

"911" is easily the best episode this show has ever produced. Mariska Hargitay rightfully won an Emmy Award for her performance. It broke from the conventions of the procedural format. However, it had the strength to do so because of the command of the story and the history of the character. It's rare for the show to ever revisit an episode's plot. In doing so previously, it's usually meant to highlight some additional tragedy that happens in the lives of those particular characters. The victims were traumatized again. The case was brought to trial after months or years of delay. The criminal was released from prison and embarked on a new reign of terror. A handful of cases ring out in the history of these detectives. Olivia has closed many over the course of her career. But now, she looks back and agonizes over what happened after she was done with the story. She has always taken pride in her work. However, it's also a job where she goes in and out of people's lives. She's there when people are at their most vulnerable. That was certainly true with Maria Recinos. After she was rescued, Olivia never knew what happened to her.

Olivia feels compelled to examine the past because she is asking questions. That's her internal conflict of the season. Her immense empathy has always been a valuable tool in this work. It's what led her to success in SVU when so many others cycle out after only a few years. She has the conviction and perspective to do this job. Not everyone can stomach all that it requires. That's true with Curry as she witnesses brutal crime scenes. Olivia knows the case may not be as simple as early assumptions make it out to be. She also recognizes the complicated emotions that propel people to their breaking points. She understands those fears. She was the only person who believed Maria's story. She fought to save her life. And now, Maria has grown up and graduated from the police academy. Her life was forever changed because of Olivia. They now have the opportunity to honor what happened all those years ago. Their reunion isn't marked by tragedy. That's not what Olivia searches for. She wonders if there is more she could have done. She has always given so much of herself to the job. It's exhausting. It threatens to break her. That's why it's important to lean on Fin for support. He understands her better than anyone else does. He gives her the assessment she needs to address what she's feeling without letting it derail her life.

Olivia's questions about Maria don't define the central plot of the episode. That easily could have been the appeal for any update that came from "911." That would have been the easy path. Inflicting more trauma creates compelling and meaningful story. No guarantees were offered for a peaceful life. However, another case takes focus. A woman walks into the precinct wanting her husband to be arrested for possessing child pornography. Again, Curry springs into action because she has never seen these images before. However, someone beat the squad to the scene. The man was murdered and disassembled. It's easy to assume the killer had a personal motivation for committing this crime. That is absolutely true as the investigation develops. It's not because of an action this pedophile took. Instead, it was the pain carried by someone else from a separate crime with eery parallels. Tori was abused by her father. She sacrificed herself in order to protect her younger sister. She didn't want Nina to suffer from the same fate. The pattern was repeating. She felt she had no other choice. Her childhood was taken from her. As a result, she grew up to be a monster too. She finally pushed back. That led to a crime spree of her getting satisfaction from killing those who prey on young girls.

Olivia delves deep into Tori's psyche. She places herself in the mind of the teenager worrying about what version of her father she will get at night. That agony defined her. It warped her mind. She was created into something she may not otherwise have been. She was always a good sister. Nina was the star student. Tori earned her GED and went to a trade school. She gained access to the equipment necessary for her to conduct these murders. She was protecting Nina from those who could theoretically do her harm. It was personal at first. Then, it became a compulsion. It was something she needed to do. She will be in prison for a long time as a result. Nina is comforted by the idea of visits and calls. That provides stability. However, a new world is unlocked for her as well. She learns of a grandmother she never knew she had. Olivia fears Nina will fall victim to the horrors of the foster care system. It only takes one bad placement to completely destroy her bright future. The disruption to her family already threatens to do that. Olivia doesn't want to inflict any more trauma. She makes sure to examine the future closely for everyone involved. She needs to do her best to ensure the best possible outcome. It still offers no guarantees. However, it's work that fulfills her soul so that she isn't left with doubts over what happens after the most traumatic and grueling cases she handles. That's a change of perspective necessary to excel at this job too.