Law & Order: SVU delivered exactly what people needed.
The violence and divisiveness surrounding the recent election in the United States have left many wondering if justice is still a thing, especially when it comes to the powerful and well-connected.
On Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 6, at least, the good guys won despite some shenanigans from a corrupt judge and his lawyer, and that gave viewers a much-needed boost of hope.
Judge Gallagher was a smug, overconfident judge who believed his powerful position protected him for prosecution. And to make matters worse, he looked down on anyone who had less money than he did.
As SVU villains go, he was somewhat flat. He had no redeeming values whatsoever and seemed to exist to spit on people and threaten to end their careers if they didn't back off investigating his crimes.
I didn't care about the lack of depth, though. He did what he needed to do: be a totally unsympathetic, disgusting predator that had got away with way too much throughout his life.
In my opinion, guys like Gallagher have been above the law for so long that nothing can touch them.Woman
And because he'd gotten away with so much because of his social position, the women he'd victimized were convinced he'd get away with it again and reluctant to testify.
Gallagher's preying upon people who were working-class or below was part of what enabled him to intimidate his victims, too. It wasn't that they didn't want justice, but they were more vulnerable to his original manipulations and his new ones because they needed money to survive.
I just got a text that if I testify, I'll never get a job again. I have kids. I can't do this.Carmen
For example, Carmen couldn't afford to risk losing her ability to work in the court system even though she was eager to testify against Gallagher.
And Maya was afraid of losing her high-powered position if it came out that she'd
slept with been raped by the mentor who gave her a glowing recommendation to get her first clerkship.
It was understandable why they didn't want to come forward. They were trying to survive, so it was fairly easy for Gallagher to intimidate them by threatening to interfere with their livelihoods.
This is one of the reasons that rape survivors often don't come forward. Those with fewer means are generally unable to afford top-notch legal help, can be coerced into silence by the threat of income loss, and may not always be taken seriously by police.
Storywise, it made sense for Carisi to take on their cause. Like them, he came from a working-class background. Unlike them, he could afford not to be intimidated because he knew his superiors had his back when Gallagher threatened him.
Gallagher was particularly obnoxious in his attacks on Carisi, pulling out all the stops to try to push his buttons. He even acted like going to Fordham somehow made one not quite a real attorney.
And while intimidation didn't work, Carisi might have found himself in contempt or worse if Benson hadn't stopped him from punching Gallagher's lights out.
Carisi needs to watch that quick temper. That's what killed Amaro's career and opened a space in the squad for Carisi in the first place. And desperate predators will push whatever buttons they can to try to get their accusers in trouble and themselves out of it.
Fortunately, in the end, Carisi came through with some help from the judge on his case.
I loved Judge Lewis! She didn't let Gallagher or his attorney get away with much nonsense and had little BS tolerance.
She was everything a judge should be, and she seemed to take pleasure in using her powers to convert Gallagher's slap-on-the-wrist sentence to actual jail time.
If only that happened more often in real life, we'd be in a much better place. And it was doubly awesome that a judge of color put a racist, classist, corrupt White court officer in his place.
The other MVP, though a reluctant one, was Isiaih Holmes.
Holmes' guilt and desire to do the right thing were strong aspects of his character, and he was willing to put up with a ton of abuse to nail Gallagher.
He was yet another person Gallagher considered inferior, both because of his ethnicity and his homosexuality. And in the end, he was the one who trapped Gallagher using the scummy judge's own words.
Of course, some of his strength came from the fact that times have changed, and being gay isn't quite as stigmatizing as it was 30+ years ago.
While homophobia is still a huge problem, there are enough people who don't care about other people's sexual orientation that it's harder to push a gay person back into the closet than it used to be.
So Gallagher's homophobic slurs didn't intimidate Isiaih nearly as much as they would have when he was in college, and that allowed him to at long last play the hero's role and make amends for his past silence.
Finally, what did that last scene mean?
Calhoun's attitude was wrongheaded. She apparently learned nothing from Isiaih's entire character arc and believed if you're being abused, the best thing to do is be quiet and take it.
But was she also being sexually assaulted by Gallagher or by someone else?
Her last line implied she was being made to have sex with someone regularly, but it wasn't clear what that meant.
Hopefully, when SVU returns on February 18, that will be cleared up.
Your turn, SVU fanatics.
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Law & Order: SVU continues its historic 22nd season on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST. The next new episode airs on February 18, 2021.