What a bizarre story!
Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 19 had as many twists and emotional upheaval as any soap opera.
It was as confusing as it was entertaining, yet somehow it all made sense in the end.
Although the first half of the episode suggested Josh Hensley was the innocent victim of a delusional woman, I knew that couldn't be the case.
That would have been a fascinating story, but Kitty's supposed deception was revealed way too quickly and without serious consequences.
If SVU was going in that direction, they would have had Kitty arrested for stalking and taken it from there, and they didn't. So I was left wondering what the twist was going to be.
That twist, of course, turned out to be that Josh was a serial rapist who used psychobabble to gaslight his victims into thinking the sex was consensual.
In retrospect, that's the only way this could have turned out.
One of SVU's greatest strengths is that its stories help sexual assault survivors feel less alone and shares messages with viewers about the crime, including the idea of believing survivors.
A case involving a false report would have to be handled sensitively not to undo all the great work SVU has done on behalf of helping survivors feel comfortable that they will get believed when they tell their stories.
And broadcasting such a story would be in poor taste during Sexual Assault Awareness Month!
Kitty: I just wanted someone to know.
Benson: Well, now everyone does.
So perfect, respectful, good-guy Josh would have to turn out to be a rapist somehow or other.
I didn't have a problem with that, though I didn't like the way the reveal got handled.
First of all, hostage situations are second only to suspects running away in terms of overused crime drama tropes, including on SVU.
I've lost count of how many times Olivia Benson has talked a hostage-taker down, but it feels like it happens every other episode!
More to the point, even though both Kitty and Lana were Josh's victims, Kitty still committed a crime.
You can't hold a broken bottle to someone's throat and threaten over and over to kill them to avenge a rape.
It's not like Kitty attacked Josh in self-defense, and this was a woman with a history of stalking and who already had one restraining order against her.
If she was going to go home without being charged, where was the obligatory scene where Stone wanted to throw the book at her until Benson talked him out of it?
The most confusing aspect of the whole story was Lana.
I didn't understand at first why she stayed with Josh.
After the wedding debacle, she was in tears and didn't want anything to do with him, yet there she was when the cops came to their apartment to interview him.
When Josh got arrested, she screamed she was done with him -- yet she wasn't.
And when she came to see Benson, there didn't seem to be any reason for her to be there other than to create drama when Kitty saw her.
I'm getting married today, and if I'm lucky I'll get pregnant tonight.Lana
It started to make sense after that fateful conversation with Benson, though. Lana was the victim of some domestic abuse and wasn't aware that she was getting abused.
Since Josh dominated her sexually and the idea of her enjoying it or not seemed to be a foreign concept to her, it wasn't a big leap to imagine she got raped too.
I just didn't expect it to turn out that he was also her therapist and used the same psychobabble on her that he did on Kitty.
They're both liars.Benson
Of course, Kitty's stalking tendencies and the multiple lies she told made it too difficult to prosecute this case without Lana's testimony. I was relieved when Lana agreed to take the stand!
But again, Stone was missing. He should have been in Benson's office complaining that this case was impossible to prosecute, but was nowhere to be seen.
Plot hiccups or not, this story was an excellent vehicle for re-exploring Benson's backstory.
Rollins: Kitty isn't your mom.
Benson: She might as well be. You know, once when I was 15, I heard her on the phone, telling somebody, "How can I love someone who was conceived by a monster?" And that's exactly what Kitty said too.
Benson's pained reaction to Kitty's harsh words, once she was alone, brought tears to my eyes!
It was impressive, too, how she was able to remain professional in front of Kitty and admit she couldn't be objective without telling her own story.
It also helped explain why the normally liberal Benson has such a strong reaction to the idea of abortion. She knows her mother easily could have chosen to abort her after the rape that created her.
Rollins was the perfect person to comfort her about that, too. I love the way the friendship between Rollins and Benson has been built up over the years.
When Rollins first came to SVU, she was troubled and in need of mentorship.
Now the tables have turned. The women are more equal, and Rollins gives out as good advice as she gets.
I'm not so sure that Benson talking to Kitty again was a good idea, though.
Benson has this tendency to get overinvolved, and she was already encouraging Kitty to love her baby unconditionally. While this is good advice, I hope that's the end of it, and Benson lets go of the situation now!
What'd you think, SVU Fanatics?
Did the twists and turns on "Dearly Beloved" make sense?
Were you sure Josh was guilty from the get-go?
And how do you think Benson's backstory may continue to affect her throughout the rest of Law & Order SVU Season 20?
Watch Law & Order: SVU online and then share your thoughts in the comments!
Law & Order: SVU continues to air Thursdays on NBC at 10 PM EST/PST.