Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17 Review: Dance, Lies, & Videotape

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Law & Order: SVU's dive into the world of professional ballet led to a complex plot to force girls to have sex.

SVU often shines a light on sex crimes that people would otherwise not know are an issue, and  Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17 was no exception.

I don't doubt that things like this happen in the real world, but did SVU have to make it so complicated?

Videotaped For Porn/Tall - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

What started out as a story about one ballerina whose sleazy boyfriend turned their makeout session into a porn video turned into a plot that implicated pretty much everybody in the dance company.

All the girls had been tricked into having sex in Studio X and the secret videotape led to them being blackmailed into more sex with the choreographer... and then the company manager also blackmailed them into having sex with random donors after a fundraiser.

There was a ton of sex-related blackmail going on, plus a fair amount of misogyny that made the girls believe the way they were treated was normal.

Kat: She said it wasn't rape, so that's that?
Rollins: From what I've heard, rape culture is such a part of this company, they don't even recognize it anymore.

It all added up to a difficult-to-prove case and a remarkably complex plan to take advantage of literally every woman who joined the company.

A Serious Accusation - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

Undoubtedly, things like this happen in real life. As Benson said, the code of silence is alive and well in every institution, making it difficult to get justice for victims or even get the abuse to stop.

The weirdest thing about this was that none of the girls ever warned anybody about Brad coming onto them too.

The girls might have resigned themselves to being blackmailed into sex, but you'd think they'd at least think Brad was a player since he instigated sex with everyone.

Even if they thought it was all consensual and above-board, why would they want other girls to think that Brad truly loved them when he just wanted to have sex?

They could warn the newer girls against that without mentioning the cameras and the rest of it.

Patrick Page Guest Stars - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

There were also so many problematic behaviors in this story that it felt like the original crime against Deliah got lost.

Deliah lost her job after Brad took a sex video without her consent and shared it with Jason, who put it on a porn site, but that problem was mostly forgotten about in the quest to get Sasha and Alistair for sex trafficking.

Deliah asked SVU to help get rid of the video, and then that issue wasn't mentioned again until the end of the hour.

Deliah wasn't dancing anymore by then, but what happened with her teaching job? Was she able to get it back or get another one?

That was a consequence of all of this that could have been explored more fully had the focus remained on Deliah instead of on a billion other victims.

An Ingenue Ballerina - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

Alistair's involvement with the plot was disappointing but not surprising.

He was genial but not particularly cooperative, and name-dropping Barba while asking to keep the whole thing quiet was not a good look.

I figured that sooner or later, Benson would have to arrest him and explain it to Barba later.

Speaking of which, what's with all the Barba references lately? Raul Esparza had a cameo on Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 13, and now Alistair mentioned him.

Could Barba soon be paying another visit to SVU? Or is the series  keeping the character in the front of viewers' memories for some other reason?

Talking to the Survivor - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

Anyway, Alistair seemed to genuinely believe he had done nothing wrong because he hadn't raped anyone himself.

His claim that Sasha was the rapist, not him proved what Rollins said about how ingrained rape culture was in the ballet company, plus it proved he knew Sasha was using those videos to force the girls into sex, which made Alistair an accessory.

All this proves is that they're idiots. I know; I'm Brad's mother. Being an idiot isn't illegal.


Half the reason that Deliah kept wanting to back off the case was that she believed boys in the ballet company were such a hot commodity that they would never be fired or otherwise face consequences for their actions.

In a way, she was right. After all, Brad's mother jumped in with the brilliant defense that acting like an idiot isn't illegal and then tried to pin everything on Jason so that her son wouldn't be implicated in this thing.

Investigating a Dance Company - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

And the further up the ladder the investigation went, the more desperate people were to pass the buck or deny wrongdoing.

It took finding someone who wasn't associated with the company anymore to begin to build a case because too much was at stake for the girls.

It's like my friend Hudson says, "straight men, it's okay. Gay men, it depends. Girls in ballet, you do what we say."


But ultimately, the boys did lose their jobs and a new all-female board came in to try to protect the girls against further mistreatment, so I guess that was something.

Carisi's reaction to Rollins bringing Calhoun in was interesting, to say the least.

Kat Goes Backstage - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 17

It wasn't clear from the way Rollins talked about Calhoun whether their relationship had progressed beyond friendship, but the look on Carisi's face showed he was worried that it had.

Is he going to make his move already or what?

So do you have any ideas, or are you just going to keep playing the "I'm the ADA, I need more card"?


He clearly is pining for Rollins, but so far he's sitting on the sidelines and exchanging heated words about cases.

If he's going to try to date Rollins, he'd better hurry up, because Calhoun is looking like a better and better match.

Your turn, Law  & Order: SVU fanatics.

Hit that SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought.

If you want to see the episode again before you comment, you can watch Law & Order: SVU online.

Law & Order: SVU continues its historic 21st season on NBC on Thursdays at 10 PM EST/PST.

Dance, Lies, & Videotape Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.0 / 5.0 (3 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 21 Episode 17 Quotes

Deliah: I need your help. I have to get this taken down. I already got fired from my teaching job. Oh my God, what if the Nationals find out?
Benson: We are going to do everything we can, but to be perfectly honest, once these things go viral, it's hard to get a handle on it.

Woman: I like you, Deliah, and what you do on your own time is your business. But we can't have that here.
Deliah: What?
Woman: One of the moms showed me the video. All the dads have seen it too.