Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 23 Review: Heartfelt Passages

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I never expected Dodds Senior to reduce me to tears.

Throughout Season 17, he's been somewhat cold and stern, always trying to steer his son onto a different career path that Mike didn't seem to truly want.

But when Mike got shot and later died on Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 23, his normally stoic father's emotional reaction really got to me.

Lives Are On The Line - Law & Order: SVU

Mike's end was sadly realistic. It was upsetting that just as he seemed poised to make a full recovery, he suffered a massive stroke that left him brain-dead. While that kind of sad twist's been done on lots of other shows, somehow it was extremely effective here.

Benson: I understand you wanting to leave. But in situations like this...
Mrs. Munsen: Women get killed.

From the moment Lisa Munsen talked to Olivia in the bathroom, it was obvious something was going to go down, but I didn't expect it to be Mike's death. I actually thought at first that this was some sort of bizarre set-up. It seemed like she and her husband were in cahoots until that horrifying scene where he grabbed her arm.

Brad Garrett did a terrific job as the desperate and almost heartless Gary Munsen. Garrett is of course best known for his comedic roles, which makes the darkness he portrayed here that much more amazing. It was clear that Munsen was more despondent than anything – would this have been a murder/suicide if Mike had left?

It's a sad irony that Mike's death was more or less an accident as they wrestled for the gun. Munsen kept emphasizing how much he liked Mike, and Mike did everything right in the situation.

Carisi: Lieutenant, are you all right?
Benson: No. We didn't search Munsen, so I left Dodds in there. This is on me.

Olivia, however, apparently missed searching Munsen instead of just taking his wife's word that he was unarmed. It's not really clear how this would have worked. Munsen was hostile and the cops had to pretend they were on his side.

How could they have searched him without arousing suspicion and causing him to pull the gun on everybody?

It was Dodds' time. It wasn't yours.

Dr. Lindstrom

In any case, all the reactions to Mike's death were well played. Dodds Senior's breakdown as he explained what had happened to Olivia was emotional, and Olivia's silent trek down the hall to inform her squad was incredibly effective.

It was also wonderful to see a softer side to Dodds Senior. Too bad his son had to die to bring it out.

The only thing that was not so wonderful was the scene between Olivia, Noah and Tucker at the end. I still don't really buy this couple or their so-called love story. They seem mismatched to me. Also, when did Noah get so big? I feel like he went from babyhood to full-fledged childhood with no toddler phase in between.

Anyway, it seemed like Tucker was more or less proposing marriage and Olivia was interested. I, however, was not, and hope they don't go there next season. 

Olivia is in no position to be marrying anyone while she's still dealing with survivor's guilt after Mike's death, and I'm wondering if Tucker is going into hostage negotiation partially because negotiation broke down and failed to save Mike.

What did you think of the season finale, SVU fans? Which scene(s) made you cry? Do you think Olivia will marry Tucker, and do you care? Weigh in below.

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Heartfelt Passages Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
  • 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (40 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 23 Quotes

It took a minute, but you grew on me.


Benson: I understand you wanting to leave. But in situations like this...
Mrs. Munsen: Women get killed.