‘Law & Order: SVU’ season 18, episode 6 review: ‘Broken Rhymes’ and a sobering note

Law & Order: SVU logoTo say that this season of “Law & Order: SVU” was a little bit of a hot potato would be a little bit of an understatement. You think you’re getting an episode on one week, only to see it either preempted or switched around at the last minute. Even the episode airing tonight in “Broken Rhymes” was originally titled “Bad Rap,” and it’s airing at a different time than previously planned.

Was it worth the wait? We’d day so, mostly because it explored some themes that may be difficult to confront, but still very much present in reality: Prejudices that exist within certain communities, even in the year 2016. A record label CEO named Vincent Love (played effectively by Wyclef Jean) and one of his up-and-coming rappers named Hype were targeted in an investigation over an attack on a transgender student named Eva. The investigation began from here for the SVU, and what they of course learned was that this was far more complicated than they first thought.

The first major complication they ran into was the revelation that Hype had kept what seemed to be the truth from the unit for as long as he possibly could: He was actually in a romantic relationship with the woman, but was afraid to come clean about it because of fears over what it would do to his image in the community. She wanted to dine out with him in public, but he was afraid to. As noted, the pressure within the hip-hop community to fit into a certain box got to him.

From here, matters escalated when Hype and fellow performer Cash Lewis, supposedly over a contract, got into a violent altercation after Eva passed away from her injuries. Hype claimed Hype’s death was self-defense, and the biggest issue that he was facing here was his lawyer, who was fine to sell him out seemingly and have him face jail time if it meant sparing everyone else on the label.

The decision that Hype faced at the end of the episode was painful: He knew that Cash and Vincent attacked Eva, mostly because they knew of the ramifications that could come with her being out there. They were transphobic, violent, and out to destroy his light. Unfortunately, the problem was that he didn’t want to “snitch” on his guys, once again giving into the pressures of being in that world. Even in court, Hype continued to stick to that story rather than admit that the violent fight with Cash was over Eva. Here was his problem: Barba. He’s not the sort of guy you want to run into in the courtroom. He almost got Hype to admit the truth, but it didn’t happen. Instead, he left with a guilty verdict, and potentially spending the majority of his life in prison on a murder charge.

In true “SVU” fashion, we had the wrap-up in the final minutes, which reminded us exactly about what this episode was about: Three lives were destroyed, and all because someone was transgender. It’s the saddest music anyone would ever want to hear.

Overall – This episode certainly proved to be another compelling entry in the season, but one that was at times difficult to watch over the way in which the transgender community was treated by some of the characters. There needs to be an education that these people are just like all of us and love is love, but they are not quite there yet. The performances were great across the board, but as with many other “SVU” episodes, this ended on a sobering note. Episode Grade: B+.

(Photo: NBC.)

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