Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 13 Review: Forty-One Witnesses

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A woman who is too high and drunk to consent to sex. Three teens looking for trouble. Neighbors who don't want to get involved.

Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 13 had the perfect recipe for a rape that was impossible to prove. Then a last minute witness saved the day.

Libby's rape seemed to be a modern-day retelling of the Kitty Genovese murder – a 1960s incident that made news mostly because 37 neighbors heard the victim's screams yet nobody called the police. 

Sonny: Why didn't you call the police?
Woman: Lots of lights were on. I figured someone had called already.

In "Forty-One Witnesses," some neighbors went beyond assuming that someone else called the cops. Some were scared of retaliation, while others hated themselves for not intervening. 

The rape scene itself was well done, with Libby seeing a blurry version of the perpetrators as she began screaming, while neighbors closed their curtains or turned out the lights. It was as if they didn't want to see what was happening and hoped that it would go away on its own.

The rest of the hour was dedicated to finding witnesses and prosecuting the case, but the really interesting thing were Sonny and Rollins' reactions.

I don't get this. All you have to do is call 911.


Sonny seemed to have reached the end of his rope with uncooperative witnesses. It's hard to blame him when everyone from the woman in the cafe with the phone to the 41 neighbors who insisted they saw nothing or told the police to go away.

There were plenty of witnesses to him arresting two non-white suspects, however, making me wonder whether his sarcastic response was going to lead to accusations of police brutality or racial profiling later on.

You think she's gonna change her life? I don't. I think she'll be drinking again by Friday night.


Motherhood seems to have lowered Rollins' patience with victims who don't make good choices, especially where their kids are concerned. It was odd to see her being so judgmental of Libby.

After all, it wasn't that long ago that Rollins herself was a relapsing gambling addict whose career would have been over had she not had the good fortune to run into an undercover cop.

The fact that that same cop is the father of her baby makes her annoyance with Libby even more ironic. Yet at the same time, Rollins does know what addicts are like, so she probably isn't off-base in her opinions. It would have been nice if instead of being so judgmental, Rollins had tried to help Libby, though.

Listen to me. Everyone screws up. EVERYBODY.


Sonny got Libby's alcoholic friend Doug to testify. Doug's ability to recall details and remain lucid while drunk was impressive. However, it seemed too convenient that he had these amazing memory powers and that his recall was perfect while under the influence.

It seemed like he was a superhero swooping in to save the day, even if he was a tragic figure. Plus, his intoxication shouldn't have been a non-issue.

At the very least, someone should have made sure Doug hadn't driven to the hearing.

It seemed that Doug and Libby weren't the only ones with alcohol problems, judging from that bottle of wine Benson was drinking while claiming she was fine. This is the second time Benson has insisted she's okay when she's clearly not. It'll be interesting to see how, when and why she falls apart.

So what did you think? Did "Forty-One Witnesses" do the Kitty Genovese story justice? Was Will as guilty as the other two boys who raped Libby? Is Benson destined for the same alcoholic decline her mother went through? Weigh in below!

Miss something? No problem! Just watch Law & Order: SVU online to catch up, then come back here to comment. We'll be here again for Law & Order: SUV Season 17 Episode 14, so be here with us!

Forty-One Witnesses Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

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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Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 13 Quotes

Rollins: We have head wounds, signs of sexual assault...
Benson: Welcome back, huh?

My friend, she just partied too much, that's all.