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13-21: "Learning Curve" 2012.05.09


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#1

PictureItSicily

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Posted May 9, 2012 @ 11:37 PM

Fin's son's fiancÚ is beaten by a gang targeting gays just as Ken is ready to announce the marriage to his father. As the investigation begins, a teacher from a private school becomes the next victim. The cases' similarities soon end, however, when the detectives discover he was accused of abusing one of his students.



I for one have enjoyed this season a great deal. But, to me, this episode is reminiscent of some of the weaker episodes of previous seasons. You know, the episodes that would start with one case and wind up with a completely different one. I thought those days were over. This episode would have been much stronger if they had followed Alejandro's assault throughout and incorporated the court case to see the outcome. Alejandro's case would have been plenty compelling on it's own and was weakened by the distraction of the school scandal storyline. Actually both cases would have been strong episodes on their own, with the trials playing out in the second act. If I had any complaint about this season, it's the lack of courtrrom.

Edited by PictureItSicily, May 10, 2012 @ 12:12 AM.


#2

gumboot

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 6:30 AM

Convuluted and silly. Cabot only seemed to be there for the shipper-tickling shot where she and Olivia were side by side.

#3

alexaxle

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 7:51 AM

This episode would have been better had there been more screentime for Ken. I almost cried during some of his scenes- the actor's really good.

#4

tricknasty

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 12:15 PM

Ahhh, I see the twists are back. So I don't understand......Alejandro was related to who now? Which would account for the gang calling him by name. And pregnant girl's fiance didn't actually do anything? Just stand around?

#5

PI Marlowe

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 12:29 PM

So at the end of the hour, Ken's fiance Alejandro remains in critical condition; the Dominican gangsters all go to jail; Tony Hale's schoolteacher character has his career and marriage ruined by false accusations; the English teacher ends up in a mental hospital after attempting suicide; the victim's father is locked up for a misguided assault; and the child victim kills his abuser after being rejected. So on top of this being a disappointing episode, it has to end with sad resolutions for all the characters as well.

I agree completely with PictureItSicily and alexaxle that trying to fit the school abuse and hate crimes plots into the same episode was probably detrimental to both storylines. Fin's relationship with his son and the son's fiance has enough emotional mileage to fill a whole episode. If this had been an original L&O script they could have spent the last half-hour dealing with the courtroom difficulties and the minutae of hate-crimes and gang prosecution, but instead we get another episode ending that feels like Criminal Intent-lite.

Speaking of Criminal Intent, I hope I wasn't the only one who felt that this episode seemed like a rehash, considering that CI had a very similar episode almost a decade ago, titled "Anti-Thesis" (not "Ex Stasis" - thanks, CatsWithAxes!). This had the first appearance of recurring criminal Nicole Wallace, appearing here as a schoolteacher who romantically manipulated a fellow teacher and students into taking the fall for her own crimes. Though this SVU episode was no doubt inspired by any number of teacher-student sexual assault cases that occurred between 2002 and today, it still seemed to run a little too similar to the CI plotline.

Munch and Cabot were underutilized as usual although I think that the writers finally have a grasp on what makes Munch both effective and likeable while in command. His comments about Virgina Woolf were the best part of the episode, along with Stephanie March looking as elegant and fantastic as ever (of course). She deserves better than to be stuck as a five-line supporting character on this or any other show.

*Edited since I got the CI episode title really wrong. Sorry!

Edited by PI Marlowe, May 10, 2012 @ 6:42 PM.


#6

Bix

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 2:05 PM

It was entertaining with good guest casting and I like that they're trying to subvert Narrowed it Down to the Guy I Recognized two weeks in a row, but it was also the twistest SVU that ever SVUed.

#7

TD3000

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 4:35 PM

When we ended up with another hostage situation, I was like "again"? At least they skipped right to Amaro in the room. When they introduced the younger schoolteacher, I said "she did it". It was somewhat of a shot in the dark since this episode was pretty twisty, but it's funny that I ended up being right. The Finn/Rollins partnership has been one of my favorite things about this season, and it was on display again. I also like it when Ken shows up and when Munch is in charge.

I agree that this episode harkened back to a couple seasons ago, when one case turned into something completely different. I also agree that this season has been very CI-ish in general.

Edited by TD3000, May 10, 2012 @ 4:35 PM.


#8

CatsWithAxes

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 5:48 PM

CI had a very similar episode almost a decade ago, titled "Ex Stasis". This had the first appearance of recurring criminal Nicole Wallace, appearing here as a schoolteacher who romantically manipulated a fellow teacher and students into taking the fall for her own crimes.


The CI episode with the plot you're referring to is actually titled "Anti-Thesis" (a play on the fact that it takes place at a university). "Ex Stasis" is the one about the strange guy who compulsively donates his organs and then kills the recipients if they don't live up to his expectations for high achievement in their post-op lives (that title being a play on the "moral ecstasy" concept the villain espouses).

I thought this SVU episode was ridiculous. But then I asked myself, what SVU episode isn't ridiculous?

Edited by CatsWithAxes, May 12, 2012 @ 2:14 AM.


#9

txhorns79

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 7:15 PM

You know, the episodes that would start with one case and wind up with a completely different one. I thought those days were over. This episode would have been much stronger if they had followed Alejandro's assault throughout and incorporated the court case to see the outcome.

I think they must have decided that Ice T couldn't handle the heavier dramatic scenes, because every time that storyline seemed to get interesting, like Finn going off to speak to Alejandro's father, they cut back to the student/teacher molestation case. It seemed like a waste of that storyline.

Though this SVU episode was no doubt inspired by any number of teacher-student sexual assault cases that occurred between 2002 and today, it still seemed to run a little too similar to the CI plotline.

I doubt it was inspired by anything. They've been doing the student/teacher sex plotlines for years on these types of shows. If anything, it's a giant cliche at this point.

#10

SomeTameGazelle

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 8:57 PM

I think they must have decided that Ice T couldn't handle the heavier dramatic scenes, because every time that storyline seemed to get interesting, like Finn going off to speak to Alejandro's father, they cut back to the student/teacher molestation case. It seemed like a waste of that storyline.


Whatever the rationale, it was glaringly obvious that we weren't seeing what could have been the most interesting part. It was sort of bizarre that apparently Fin and Munch had never met or heard of Alejandro before and he and Ken are already engaged. If we weren't actually going to get the payoff of Fin's reaction to the relationship, why not present it as news only to us viewers (and possibly to some members of the team) but an accepted fact for Fin?

#11

CatsWithAxes

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Posted May 10, 2012 @ 8:59 PM

every time that storyline seemed to get interesting, like Finn going off to speak to Alejandro's father,

Yeah what was up with that? - that scene with Fin and his son was a setup for some sort of dramatic confrontation between the two dads if ever there was one. But then... nada. Lame.

#12

Crys Loch

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 1:52 AM

They really should have stuck with the original case through the whole episode and continued it into the courtroom. They had ADA Cabot there. They had a detective 'screw up'. It was the perfect set up for some old school SVU drama. Fin was called off the case. Fin went into the apt. and he was the one to "find" the gun.

The second half of the show?- L&O defense attorney 101. "Your honor, detective Fin was ordered off this case due to familiar ties to the victim. He went against his captain's orders and entered my client's apartment. He had emotional reasons to see that someone pay for this crime. Any evidence he allegedly found there is suspect at best. In fact, there was a coverup of his involvement. His partner lied on her DD-5 about how the gun was found. This tainted evidence was later used to leverage a false confession from my client and force him to confide the names of his associates. I move that all charges be dropped."

We could have witnessed an Alex Cabot in all her fury privately ripping the detectives a new one while publicly pulling something off to save the case. All while Fin dealt with the fallout from his son and maybe even showing all that coming to terms with it and defending them in the hospital that they skipped over. I saw the set up for it. I eagerly awaited the Cabot courtroom fun. Then it went sideways into one of the stupidest, sloppiest, been done too many times waste of the word 'twist' non-drama.

I guess CI-lite doesn't do court. Actually, I've found this whole season boring. CI-lite doesn't do much of anything. It's like they pull their punches, they won't follow through. I think that was Cabot's last episode, right? I'm glad. It means I can stop watching.

#13

Kel Varnsen

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 7:16 AM

The second half of the show?- L&O defense attorney 101. "Your honor, detective Fin was ordered off this case due to familiar ties to the victim. He went against his captain's orders and entered my client's apartment. He had emotional reasons to see that someone pay for this crime. Any evidence he allegedly found there is suspect at best.


That would have been way better than what we saw. I mean you have the detective emotionally involved, plus having to deal with a victim who may or may not be able to testify based on his medical condition (how do you deal with that) plus throw in the feds involvement either before the trial or after the fact if the guys get aquitted and maybe a bit about either the media latching onto this story or gay rights groups pressuring 1 Police Plaza and you have a pretty good episode.

Instead it seemed we got like 3 episodes worth of plots. You had Fin's son's fiance and the gang assault. The whole thing with the creepy teacher trying to frame Buster from Arrested Development and that other teacher. Plus I totally thought they were going to do some kind of Penn State thing where they were going to investigate the school for covering up sexual assualts in order to protect their reputation.

#14

AddiePray

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 3:43 PM

I guess CI-lite doesn't do court. Actually, I've found this whole season boring. CI-lite doesn't do much of anything. It's like they pull their punches, they won't follow through. I think that was Cabot's last episode, right? I'm glad. It means I can stop watching.


I finally bothered to watch this one and really I'm sorry I wasted the time. It was so convuluted and weird and yet it dragged. There were more twists and turns than than any of the last few bad years of Neal Baer but it did it without entertaining or giving us anything to really comment about or care about. Even the boards now discussing this show are boring.

I'm with you CrysLoch, I think I am really done now. My curiousity is gone and from what I have seen this season the episodes seemed to have gotten worse as the season went on. They have Cabot and had Cutter for like 2 minutes in a handful of episodes but then they don't use them where they are their most awesome, in court! There's no urgency, there's no suspense, Mariska seems medicated, Munch looks like the cryptkeeper and Fin apparently can't handle a full episode of dialogue.

Talk about a show running on fumes.

Edited by AddiePray, May 11, 2012 @ 3:46 PM.


#15

Crys Loch

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Posted May 11, 2012 @ 3:46 PM

Instead it seemed we got like 3 episodes worth of plots.


Exactly. And we ended up with the detectives just following it all along. And we, the viewers, got stuck just trailing after them. What's telling is that the writing/production staff didn't recognize it at any point in the process and stop, break it up, choose a plot, and follow through. It's something that's nagged at me all season but really showed itself this episode. That first part had all the stuff for a really compelling and complicated dramatic episode and no-one on staff saw that? They don't even notice, as Kel Varnsen pointed out, what the press and the interest groups would do and mean to the case; and how the Feds either butting in or jumping in to the rescue would feel? They are bad at their job. It really showed here. They had all these plots, no control, no follow through on any of them. Even the last bit- so what the hell happens to the kid/can be tried as an adult?

#16

Jyn

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Posted May 16, 2012 @ 10:09 PM

Only surprise I really got was that the boy actually killed his teacher. Other than that . . . lame.