On this week’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Benson learned the hard way how strict her new boss is.
While trying to bring down a serial rapist, the SVU unit had to fight a complex investigation and their own Captain’s mantra of only going after certain cases that didn’t sit well with Benson.
An attacker with a specific target
One More Tale of Two Victims began with Benson welcoming Velasco to the unit although Fin wasn’t happy with him automatically taking Kat’s desk. Fin felt Velasco was a spy for McGrath, but Benson had checked him out to see he was a good cop.
Benson met McGrath, where he’d already moved into Garland’s old offices and went over old files. Meanwhile, Carisi was being told Congressman Howard was complaining about his plea deal when Rollins came by for a quick chat on Velasco.
Crystal Nuñez (Jade Fernandez), who had been getting ice cream with her son, Manny, was shown making out with a guy at a party and in an alleyway. She was then in bed, with a man taking her, Crystal talking about wanting it but asking that they not do it in front of Manny. The man refused as “the best part of the game is, he cries, he dies” with Crystal weeping.
Velasco, Rollins and Fin arrived at the scene with a cop telling them the boy’s father was already there and the attacker had made Crystal dress in lingerie for him before attacking.
Rollins talked to Crystal in the hospital, worried the guy knew where she lived and used a condom. She only went along with it to keep Manny safe and tells Rollins of just being out dancing and how some guys had hassled her while out earlier.
Velasco noted Crystal was in a custody battle and behind on bills with Fin snapping “profile the rapist, not the victim.” The news coverage made McGrath amp up the pressure to solve this fast.
While Crystal’s ex had an alibi, Fin and Velasco talked to the ice cream guy, Travis (Johnny Pemberton), who claimed to know nothing. They had him in a lineup, but Crystal couldn’t positively identify him as the attacker.
Rollins then revealed that DNA indicated Crystal had been with at least three other men in the last few weeks.
McGrath does a big 180
Crystal was embarrassed to talk about her past flings as one was her ex-husband, in an attempt to ease the custody battle. The cops talked to a couple of Crystal’s flings, one a married man while the other was a regular hookup for her. They also spoke to Crystal’s ex, Eduardo, who was more upset for Manny.
McGrath was dismissive of the case because of Crystal’s history, openly saying it was likely there was no rape and “we’ve been here before” on a woman making up a story. Benson was visibly irate when he told her to “slow her roll.”
Benson met her doctor, who told her the injury was more challenging than it seemed. He point-blank told Benson it was time to consider retirement.
When she protested, “I love my job,” he replied, “it’s not the same job anymore,” and while he could mark her fit for duty, retirement on benefits seemed more appealing.
Another rape occurred, another mother took before her child and the same “cry and die” line. This time, McGrath was pushing for a full investigation as the victim, Peggy Grogan (Liz Holtan), was the daughter of Deputy Inspector Dermott Grogan (Boris McGiver).
In the hospital, Peggy talked of the man posing as a utility worker, and when she fought back, he took her gun, hit her and threatened her kids. The cops were annoyed that McGrath now cared just because a cop’s daughter was attacked but still accepted the new attention to look for any connection between Peggy and Crystal.
Peggy wanted to ignore the whole thing and even dismissed Crystal as making her story up. However, she did share how she also stopped by Travis’ ice cream truck.
Fin and Rollins went to Travis’ truck, where he pulled a gun before trying to run with Velasco tackling him for an arrest. Rollins warned Velasco not to go against Fin’s orders again while Peggy had no problem identifying Travis in a lineup.
Benson issues an ultimatum
Travis’ lawyer was already pushing how Grogan coached Peggy to identify Travis while Velasco was being credited for the arrest. Travis’s lawyer was unhappy to hear Travis had already been picked up on Crystal’s case while Travis claimed this was all a setup.
Carisi wanted to arraign Travis on both cases, but McGrath didn’t want to “muddy the waters” with Crystal’s case because of its holes. Crystal was just as upset that Peggy was getting more attention than her. However, during the talk, they realized Manny’s blanket had Travis’ DNA on it, making the case against him a slam-dunk.
Carisi was prepping for the arraignment as Travis entered with a broken arm and a battered face as word had gotten out to the other inmates just what he was in jail for. Before he could plead anything, an aide whispered to Carisi, who glared at McGrath before announcing the D.A.’s office would only be pushing Peggy’s case, not Crystal’s.
Crystal was naturally angry as if “I don’t matter” and not helped by McGrath saying “good job” to the others. Rollins was concerned about Travis being beaten while in police custody while Fin warned Velasco not to go against his orders again.
Benson had it out with McGrath on how she treated all victims equally and had no double standards. She flatly told McGrath that if he ever stood in her way helping a victim again, he could take her shield on the spot. McGrath said he understood with Benson hissing, “I hope so.”
Between the case, McGrath’s new attitude and her doctor’s words, this episode indicates that perhaps Benson may be seeing retirement as an option.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 airs Thursdays on NBC.