On Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 5, the story of Miriam Weeks (stage name: Bella Knox), a pornographic actress attending Duke University, gets twisted in a dark and grim adaptation.
Evie Banks may have made certain distasteful choices in her life, but that's all they should have been - her choices. What she did was legal, and she found her own comfort in the alternate persona:
I signed contracts, I got paid, it felt good.Evie
However, people like the Judge, and even her own father, thought it was necessary to degrade her, question her accusations, and warn her to "respect her body." This episode emphasized the harsh reality of being a sex worker in this country, despite your age, and despite the legality of your profession.
Come on Liv, you know sex workers don't get the benefit of the doubt.Fin
Despite cutting corners to progress the story, the crux of this episode, the courtroom scenes, are great. A.D.A. Barbra, initially hesitant to take this case because of pressure from the Mayor (all parties throughout the episode seem to be trying to protect their own assets rather than the victim), clashes fiercely with John Buchanan.
Raul Esparza and Delaney Williams are riveting in their back and forth, each attempting to twist each of the three testimonies in their favor. However, the truth, as we've known from the start, falls on Barbra's side. This does not prevent Buchanan from ruthlessly contorting Evie's words, and molding the narrative.
It would seem that "no" means "yes" when you're getting paid.Buchanan
Matt may have been deluded by Daniel and then blackmailed as he claims. Evie could have been a part of a hundred "rough sex" pornos. But using her sexual history against her, in any way, is a weak defense does not change the reality of her claim that:
They raped me! I did not want it, and I did not give permission for it to be filmed.Evie
Well, I thought it was a weak defense, but according to the Judge, more guilty of victim blaming than almost anyone else this episode, there wasn't sufficient evidence to distinguish Evie's cries for the boys to stop from her staged performances in her past adult films.
Adding to the mess and perpetuating the problem, is the newly assigned Deputy Chief Dodds, making appearance. I definitely enjoy seeing Benson defend her self from his scummy and overbearing presence, or others like Fin step in to get her back, and I'm left hoping the conflict actually leads to something.
Also, I'm calling it now that this exchange ends up being Benson's eventual path out of the department (and off the show):
If you want to change policy, get into politics.Dodds
But for now, I absolutely love when Benson goes on the aggressive instead of maintaining the reserved persona someone in her position should adhere to.
How awesome was this line:
Please don't hide behind the mayor's skirt.Benson
It was nice have an (almost) entire cast present, from Caresi to Fin, Dodds to Barba. Amaro was absent, but Caresi was able to fill the void by being his usual part brash, part caring, self. It was especially interesting to see is initial seeming acceptance of Daniel and Matt's story - that it was difficult differentiating fantasy from reality because of Evie's history.
At first, I didn't think you could rape a girl like that.Matt
The dialogue may have been too on the nose, and the beginning of the story may have been as idealized and neat as the ending was overly dramatic and foreboding, but there should be nothing stopping you from watching Law & Order: SVU online. The hour was thoroughly entertaining, with many memorable quotes.
At least here, when I say stop, they stop.Evie
Despite my gripes about the ending being a bit over the top, Evie's eventual realization in front of Rollins and Caresi, after turning away from a society that only blamed her, leaves a poignant impression.