Law & Order: SVU Season 24 Episode 19 Review: Bend The Law


SVU loves its shocking endings, but I didn’t see this one coming.

Maxwell’s husband became abusive after getting caught with nude photos of underage girls, threatening to take her down with him and calling her an emasculating bitch. And then he died.

Law & Order: SVU Season 24 Episode 19 featured an intense conflict when the team learned that Roger might be involved with sex trafficking. But that ending muddied the waters — was this twist necessary?

The set-up gave Betty Buckle a chance to shine. Maxwell went from denial to feeling betrayed to blaming herself — and then to cold indifference as her husband choked to death in front of her.

The entire hour was intense, offering one of the most riveting conflicts yet.

Maxwell could have chosen to stand by her man, using her power to make it difficult for SVU to investigate, or the higher-ups could have squashed the case.

But instead of the usual truth vs. power story, we got a woman who quickly accepted that her husband was scum, blamed herself, and ultimately came out on top when he happened to choke to death on food she refused to share with him.

Maxwell: You know, my first husband left me enough to take care of myself. Roger doesn’t have much money of his own. I give him a monthly allowance. Tell me, did I do something wrong to cause this?
Benson: Roger made his own choices. You are not to blame.
Maxwell: I wish I had your conviction.

This story was a master class in how abuse works. We’ve never had much backstory on Maxwell before, but now we know that she was married twice, inherited a lot of money from her first husband, and put up with verbal abuse from at least one and possibly both men in her life.

If Roger’s claim was true that husband number one humiliated Maxwell to keep her in line, she probably thought she’d met a very different type of man — only to discover that she’d been lured into another abuser’s trap.

Maxwell might have been more aware of Roger’s inappropriate behavior than she cared to admit. She probably turned a blind eye to a lot, not wanting to admit to herself that the second Prince Charming was not a good man.

She switched from believing Roger was innocent to wanting to prove he was guilty very quickly, yet she tried to get him to take a plea deal. Roger suggested she was trying to cover her own ass, but she might have still loved him enough to try to spare him more serious trouble.

Carisi thought the choking incident was awfully convenient, and it was. It also muddied the waters.

Up until that point, Maxwell was the innocent victim of an abusive, powerful man who was engaged in sex crimes behind her back. But then she stood there and watched him die.

Roger certainly deserved no sympathy from her, but in the eyes of the law, she may have committed a crime. And she knew it, calling 911 and pretending to everyone but Benson that she had arrived home after he was dead.

It made me wonder what happened to her first husband. Did she escape a similarly abusive marriage by ending his life?

I didn’t expect that twist, and I usually see these things coming, so in that sense, it was well done.

And certainly, there have been women before who have been punished for defending themselves from an abuser by ending his life, so if they were to follow up on this, it would make for an interesting story!

It’s hard to believe a respected trial bureau chief would react that way. As much as Roger mistreated her, this wasn’t self-defense, and there was something cold and calculating that disturbed me about this.

It was also disappointing in the sense that Roger’s threats as he got deeper into trouble weren’t empty. I wanted that story of the bureau chief being treated like the bad guy because she was married to a predator.

That kind of story isn’t often told, and it would have been fantastic drama and made a strong point about how victims are often treated, especially those who work in the criminal justice system.

Elsewhere, the Valesco story ended up being more confusing than anything.

Valesco and Chrulish finally bonded, and Valesco’s “debt” is paid now, so Benson will stop bothering him about this. Thank goodness!

But Benson told Valesco to arrest Chili, then seemed satisfied with an illegal recording that she might be able to use to get someone else to arrest him for multiple unsolved murders.

That made little sense, nor did it fit Churlish’s character to walk out and let Valesco talk to Chili alone.

After that conversation, Valesco faced one last unnecessary hurdle when Chili’s current girlfriend tried to hold him at gunpoint to get the recording back. Valesco talked her down, told her he was keeping the recording, and went home.

What was the point of that?

This felt like filler. I’ve never been a fan of Benson insisting that Valesco arrest the man who saved his life, and this final chapter of that story was ridiculous.

Your turn, SVU fanatics! What did you think of the Maxwell story or Valesco and Churlish’s road trip?

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.

Don’t forget you can watch Law & Order: SVU online here on TV Fanatic.

Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST / PST.

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

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