By Danielle Silvia
One of my all-time favorite television shows, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” premiered its 400th episode on Feb. 8.
Although many predicted the episode would be unrealistic due to the sheer number of previous plot lines, it surpassed my expectations of the long-loved series.
Keeping with the show’s theme, the episode was gruesome and disturbing, yet eye-opening. While the characters solve their 400th mystery, it also gave me a glimpse of their personal lives, like Sergeant Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and her young son, Noah, an orphan she recently adopted.
In the episode entitled “Motherly Love,” 13-year-old Luke Keller is distressed by his parents’ failing marriage. After returning to his house after an argument with his father, he hears noises coming from the first floor and grabs a rifle hidden away in his closet.
Upon entering the kitchen, Luke finds his mother in a sexual encounter, but by her alarmed expression, it does not seem consensual. At his mother’s desperate cries for help, Luke haphazardly pulls the trigger, killing the mysterious man attacking his mother.
The plot only gets more twisted. This unknown assailant is revealed to actually be Luke’s close friend, Trey. It later becomes apparent that the details of the story are not lining up, as the truth of whether or not Luke’s mother was actually raped comes into question, and the consequences risk putting Luke in jail.
What I enjoyed about this particular episode, and the show in general, is how it reveals the suspect’s psychological motives as well as the process of investigating and solving a crime. Several past episodes have been predictable and unsurprising, however, this episode constantly made me question the truth.
This episode stood out from the others because of the use of technology, for example, each member of the detective crew owns a cell phone and uses tracking devices to track the Keller family throughout episode.
In addition, a lot of the evidence is found on cell phones, such as the photographs of Trey and Luke’s mother, cameras installed in the Keller household and Luke’s cell phone usage the night of the crime. Technology plays a huge role in the 400th episode by adding evidence or substantial proof that is not common in previous episodes of “SVU.”
This episode also touches upon modern societal issues. Trey is a young Black male who is scorned by Luke’s mother and society as a whole. Luke’s mother attributes much of his alleged bad home life and academic struggles to the fact that he is Black.
Trey is portrayed negatively in the media for his crime, as well. The news depicts him as a vicious young man who was rightfully shot by Luke, a young White boy. While many argue that the show’s material is inappropriate or graphic, it brings attention to important issues. Without understanding and being aware of such issues, these problems will never be solved.
Many organizations are making cities and college campuses safer, and there are helplines and sexual abuse centers that people can turn to. By appropriating present day issues and controversies into its plot, “SVU” discreetly nudges us to hold a mirror in front of our own society and its controversies, inspiring others to take action.
This episode was a milestone for the series. Usually the new series’ episodes are trite and overdramatized, but this episode of “SVU” was well worth the wait.