Law & Order: SVU Offered a Compelling New Twist To A Tired Crime Trope

Spoilers

If Olivia Benson’s learned one thing during her 25 years working for the Special Victims Unit, it’s that there’s always some disturbing new low perps will hit.

Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6 featured another group of perps targeting tourists — and the entitled college boy trope has been done to death too.

Yet this story felt fresh and compelling despite how bizarre the whole thing was.

On the surface, this one fell firmly into the ‘too bizarre to believe’ camp.

As the cops pointed out several times, these guys drove five hours to find girls to have one-night stands with — and that was only the beginning of their misconduct.

How Low Can People Go? - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6

They had a needlessly complex competition in which they used pins to keep track of who slept with girls from what countries and stolen DNA samples to prove they weren’t randomly placing pins without doing the deed.

I guess this is what happens when brains and entitlement meet. The guys were a bunch of science nerds who used their advanced knowledge to create this gross game instead of contributing positively to the world.

It was over-the-top and bizarre, yet somehow, the story kept my attention for the entire hour.

Not knowing exactly what happened is a tired TV trope, but it worked.

A Disturbing First Case - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6

At first, it seemed like the cab driver did something. Later, it wasn’t clear which boy was guilty or if anything had happened at all. At one point, Leah claimed she only had consensual sex and that it wasn’t penetrative, which contradicted the rape kit — so what had happened?

The solution was surprising because Dustin was the one guy who hadn’t gone out to the bar. He had a girlfriend and didn’t seem interested in the game.

He was sympathetic, too, because the other guys called him Dust Bin and seemed to be bullying him. And Bruno’s version of Bad Cop seemed to be more bullying and harsh teasing.

I usually figure out twists quickly, but I didn’t realize that Dustin’s food poisoning claims were a ruse so that he’d appear to have an alibi during the rapes.

Protecting Tourists - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6

Well done, SVU.

I’d liked to have had more of Sykes’ reactions to this case. This was her first case while on loan to SVU after meeting Benson on Law & Order Season 25 Episode 5, and the brutality and inhumanity this unit often encounters can be rough on newbies.

I didn’t like that Sykes introduced herself to Maura as FBI. Not only did that scare the witness, but it technically wasn’t true because she was currently working for SVU.

But even more importantly, she had little to no emotional reaction to the case. Maybe that’s a good thing — SVU detectives need to be able to separate their emotions from the horrors they see on the job — but it still seemed strange.

Sykes: Did you save any of her stuff?
Woman: Her underwear.
Sykes: You might not know her very well, but you helped her more than you know

It was hard to get any sense of her as a detective or person. She was somewhat compassionate with Maura and offered the kind of behavioral analysis that she learned as an FBI agent, but other than that, she was just… there.

Bruno Has a Theory - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6

Only in the last few minutes of the hour did she let her guard down and show any personality, claiming she was a tumbleweed who joined SVU because she needed something new.

She’ll probably stay longer than she intended — as Benson said, this job chooses the detectives — but there still isn’t much to go on.

We also didn’t get much of Curry. She didn’t do any in-the-field investigation; instead, she helped theorize about the perps.

Sykes: Some guys like to hunt in packs.
Curry: She’s a woman, not a wounded gazelle.

SVU isn’t featuring everyone in every episode (Fin was conspicuously absent), so hopefully, we’ll get more of Curry in the future.

Ending a Deadly Game - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6

Surprisingly, newcomer Bruno’s been around for pretty much the entire season.

Bruno’s a fantastic addition to SVU, though I’m not sure what his bad cop act with Dustin was all about.

At that point, they didn’t know that Dustin was the rapist or who was. Bruno’s tactics seemed to be to bully him and make him uncomfortable, but I’m not sure what that was supposed to accomplish.

I guess it helped Velasco build rapport since Dustin wanted to talk to him and not Bruno, but I’m not sure that was the best way to do things.

Targeting Tourists - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 6

Bruno also provided a perspective as a former entitled college-age boy; I enjoyed his conversation with Velasco about why the guys drove five hours to prey on women, and loved his advice to Frederick after all was said and done.

Look, I was a young man once too and I played my share of stupid games. But the question for you, Frederick, is what kind of man you want to grow up to be. You might want to spend less time with machines and more with people.

Bruno

He was almost as good as Olivia Benson in that department!

At the end of the hour, Benson went into social work mode, offering resources to Leah. It must have been heartbreaking for her when Leah returned to Singapore instead of taking advantage of them.

The line between fiction and reality blurred in the final minutes as Benson discussed being at SVU for 25 years.

Not Waiting for Backup - Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 5

I did not doubt that Mariska Hargitay feels the same way as her character: never planning to be here for 25 years but feeling that the job chose her.

Your turn, Law & Order: SVU fanatics.

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and tell us what you think of this episode.

Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9/8c. New episodes drop on Peacock the day after they air.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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