After a hiatus the past few weeks Law & Order: SVU came back tonight with season 20 episode 17 — a story that, at the start, was about the kidnapping of a little girl named Bailey.
Where this case started to spiral is how one thing led to another, and eventually, the SVU found a dead body — one that they eventually linked to Emerson Mauer. Why did this matter? Well, because Emerson was accused of kidnapping the girl. As you can probably figure out on your own, a dead man is incapable of kidnapping a child. Someone was pretending to be Emerson, and there was someone who was trying to orchestrate almost everything … Emerson’s own mother. She eventually used (and took) a young man named Kevin Brown to be the surrogate version of her son Emerson and she raised him to be her own.
Unfortunately, it was Kevin as Emerson who kidnapped Bailey — but she was the puppeteer behind the emotional manipulation and the pain. Even after SVU brought her in and questioned her, she still didn’t see the wrong in Kevin, or the fact that she kidnapped him in the first place because she “deserved” him. She created the monster, and then the monster created a terrible act.
Trying to solve this case was at times like trying to unravel a long, elaborate scroll — it took a lot of time and beyond that, a lot of care. One wrong move and the paper breaks, and the SVU is forced to go back to square one. There were a small number of clues that eventually pointed them in the right direction, including something as simple as eye color (Kevin didn’t have the right color in his eyes) and also the site of the real Emerson’s grave.
A good five or seven minutes before the end of the case, all was resolved in terms of what transpired. The only thing left was assessing the aftermath. Benson wanted to do what she could in order to be there for Kevin’s sister, who wanted to see an element of her younger brother there in him. She just couldn’t, especially after hearing him in prison deny his true identity and insist that he was the real Emerson Mauer … even if there was no evidence to back it up.
Justice wears many masks and holds many forms. There are occasions in which there is a sense of victory with the closing of a case, and then there are other times when you’re left to find a few jewels amidst the dust and the wreckage. This was a case with wreckage. While Bailey was saved and the kidnappers put to justice, this was a case that still left behind an empty feeling. It wasn’t just about a criminal; it was about how they were made and the people in pain who were left behind. This was a case about actions, but it was also about understanding psychology, biology, and particular motives as a whole.
As per usual, proper credit must be given for the writers and the cast, especially Mariska Hargitay who was especially strong throughout. Beyond that, we’re somewhat-willing to say that Carisi talking to a ventriloquist is one of the weirdest things we’ve seen in our years of covering this show.
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We strongly suggest that you head over to the link here right now. Next week’s episode looks to be a difficult one for SVU, as they will be forced to investigate their own.
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