‘Law & Order: SVU’ season 18, episode 10 (400th episode) review: Marking the milestone

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For its 400th episode on Wednesday night, “Law & Order: SVU” chose to deliver something that felt familiar for the show, but at the same time another level of terrible. The mother at the center of this installment may very well be one of the most terrible of parents that we’ve ever seen through 18 seasons.

You can argue that in some ways, she is not bad of her own doing. There was something terribly imbalanced in her head in order to allow her to do some of what she decided to from start to finish in this episode, whether it be her romantic entanglements with some of her son’s fellow high school students to her eventually trying to make the case that her son shot one of his classmates intentionally out of rage for seeing the two of them together. Were it not for Benson, she may have gotten away with it, too. She was beyond narcissistic, desperate to keep her illusion of a life going, and willing to destroy any relationship in her path to keep getting what she wanted: Attention of any sort.

The real victim here was Luke, a young man who now has to recover some sort of a future, and hope that he can be put into a situation where he can rise above all of this.

There were so many different things that “SVU” could have done in order to make this episode special — they could have tried to throw in a bunch of cameos from former cast members, or done some sort of epic crossover with other versions of the show or the “One Chicago” franchise. We’re glad that they did neither and focused more on what the show does so great: An excellent story of the week, anchored by a great Mariska Hargitay performance. She also directed the hour as a means to give it a little bit more authenticity, and remind you further that she is the one onscreen throughline from every season of this show.

While so much of this story was about the case of the week, there was a moment near the end where Barba asked Benson out for a drink that may have sent many ‘shippers hearts fluttering across the internet … probably to only cause them to feel somewhat depressed later when they realized that the moment was not actually happening. Instead, Benson understandably wanted to go back and be with Noah after going through all of this.

Our overall take – This was a great representation of the sort of show that “SVU” is, but also at the same time its evolution into a tight-knit ensemble show that takes its cases seriously and does its best to shine a light on issues going on in the country. We appreciate it for its power, its performances, and for never being afraid to take a risk. Consider “Motherly Love” a microcosm. Grade: A-.

What did you think about the 400th episode of “SVU”? Share some of your thoughts on it now in the comments, and if you head over here, you can get a further preview for what is coming up down the road next. (Photo: NBC.)

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