Review: TV Episode Double 2

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NOTE: The CSI Episode is from the current season, so if you want to avoid spoilers, skip the latter half of the review

I made reference to “Quarry” from the (2005) 6th Season of Law and Order Special Victims Unit (SVU) in my earlier TV reviews. It actually takes the line of investigating a cold case due to a paedophile murder of a child being denied by a killer on death row and therefore two adult victims of a serial paedophile are re-interviewed as grown adults by Benson, Stabler and the team.

After that, one of the cops on the case has to interview the paedophile in depth. This is one of the main reasons this is probably the best episode of SVU from those we’ve seen in the UK. The performance of John Savage as killer Lucas Biggs should have been Emmy-nominated; it’s understated, yet chilling and precise in the way the offender has taken trophies for every victim, whose names he had memorized. You are left in no doubt that this is a monster, but Savage is never showy, just capable of a performance making your skin crawl.

The other high point of the episode shows the talent of writer José Molina. Going beyond the usual efficient police procedural handling you’re used to in a Law and Order episode is the positive and hopeful, almost uplifting ending for one of the survivors that broke up with his wife, being urged to tackle his fear of repeating the cycle and to be a father to his son. This flies in the face of the negative stereotype they could have recycled from shows like Cold Case.

Going forward to the present day In the 2008/09 CSI NY episode “Rush To Judgement”, resembling Bruckheimer’s other show Without A Trace, child abuse is once again neatly slotted into the show’s more routine fare of murder and funky autopsy music by composer Bill Brown, and writer Wendy Battles gets to play around with the timeline of the episode to mix up the usual format.

The victim is the presumed offender who has been dismembered, delaying the investigation as his body parts finally arrive throughout the first half of the episode. Subsequently, the team have to solve the crime as usual and suspicion falls on the members of the wrestling team that he coached, and the extent of his guilt regarding the abuse allegations.

It’s a realistic could-happen scenario to have a false allegation of child abuse leveled at a public official, in this case a teacher, using technology, which escalated into his murder. The B Plot links in and provides cutaways thanks to keeping one regular character out of the loop and focusing on the main investigation, instead of the usual two cases per episode.

Like Without A Trace’s “Satellites”, there’s also time to fit in a debate about direct action regarding paedophilia and the potentially disastrous effects of either pre-emptive or post-victimization-based revenge attacks. So the episode manages to be about child abuse even though it doesn’t feature direct fictional victims except one referring to child porn. Thanks in part to its reference to the effects on loved ones of abuse allegations, it remains thought-provoking and memorable over and above a more routine episode of CSI. It could even be an episode matching the season one classic “American Dreamers” regarding the skeleton on the bus.

– CBG

Thanks to TV.com for episode synopsis, IMDB.com for actor/writer credits

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