That was different.
When Law & Order: SVU Season 24 Episode 16 spoilers said that the story would involve a woman who someone on a dating app terrorized, this strange incident wasn’t what I expected.
There’s no doubt that Zoe was raped and forcibly impregnated, but this wasn’t the run-of-the-mill stalking case it appeared to be.
Jenna catfished Zoe. She had all sorts of fantasies that she convinced herself Zoe shared and ignored when Zoe said her safe word on the night of the rape.
None of that is okay, but it’s a miracle that Carisi proved it in court.
Jenna and Zoe gave off so many mixed signals about each other that it was easy for the defense to claim that Zoe wanted sex that night. However, putting Jenna on the stand might have been the defense’s undoing.
Jenna insisted that Zoe knew she was Klaus and that they’d shared a rich sex life where Jenna gave into Zoe’s fantasies. She sounded delusional, and Carisi’s trick didn’t help her any.
Why didn’t the judge realize what Carisi was doing when he turned off the lights?
She seemed to think this was a ridiculous parlor trick that had no place in the courtroom when Carisi said he would test the theory that Zoe could recognize Jenna in the dark and then proceeded to do so.
Using Jenna’s husband to prove the point was a nice twist. He disproved Jenna’s theory and confronted her about her infidelity and lies. And undoubtedly, that led to Jenna’s conviction.
The prosecution’s biggest weakness was Zoe’s conflicted feelings.
I survived losing my husband. I can survive losing my best friend. But I will not lose this trial.
Although Zoe said she wanted Jenna to be punished, she still cared about her. She didn’t want Jenna to go to jail; she wanted her to admit she’d made a mistake by pretending to be Klaus.
That conflict made Zoe and Jenna both come off like overgrown teenagers. Jenna needed to realize that what she’d done to Zoe was traumatic and inappropriate, and Zoe needed to understand what would result from pressing charges.
That said, Benson was right that Zoe and Jenna’s sexual history was irrelevant. Whether or not they’d experimented sexually in college, Zoe didn’t know that Klaus was Jenna.
The defense’s claim that she must have known because she had sex with Jenna fourteen years ago was doubly silly, considering that Zoe testified that she was not allowed to touch Jenna during their encounters.
Of course, it didn’t matter if Zoe knew she was sleeping with Jenna. Jenna did sexual things to her that she didn’t want her to do.
That’s sexual assault, period. There’s no exception for best friends who think they’re helping while doing the opposite.
I’m also not a fan of the surprise evidence trope that seems so common on Law & Order shows. It’s unrealistic and silly; lawyers must give all the evidence to the other side in real life. No judge should allow this type of surprise, which violates the rules of evidence.
This bizarre case also served as Chrulish’s introduction to the Manhattan SVU. Churlish wants to help raise the department’s already-high closure rate, but she was less than impressed with this case.
She wasn’t sure that Jenna going to jail was justice for Zoe or anyone. I’m sure she didn’t expect to be thrown into the middle of this weird story when she got her transfer notice!
Churlish also got into it with Muncy.
The Muncy/Velasco story took up far less of the hour than I expected, but I was grateful. Right now, Muncy’s reactions are childish and unbecoming of an SVU detective.
Muncy: Captain, I noticed that Velasco’s motorcycle isn’t parked outside for the third day in a row.
Benson: Great work, detective, but I told you that Velasco is taking a few days off.
Muncy’s loyalty to Velasco doesn’t give her license to get in Chrulish’s face about starting the ball rolling on investigating him.
This is how fights start in high schools. There was no time for it when there was a case to investigate.
I’m not a fan of Benson’s attitude toward Velasco, either. I don’t think that him telling a perp he knows what it’s like to be a gangster warranted this investigation into his past, and Benson’s reaction to his backstory seems silly.
What good does it do anyone for Velasco to put a target on his back by betraying a friend who killed someone decades ago?
This is the kind of history that should have been caught before Velasco joined the NYPD, to begin with. Surely a background check would have revealed that he was involved in gang activity, even if he’d kept his near-murder of someone a secret.
Valesco’s experience as a former gang member could be invaluable; why is Benson focused on this crime instead of what he can bring to the table now?
Furthermore, betraying someone who saved his life when he was being forced to commit violent crimes he didn’t want to commit sounds like it’s inviting bad karma, possibly courtesy of people still in the gang.
It feels like Benson is on her high horse here for no reason. What’s that about?
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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.