TV Show Review

TV Review: LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: Season 15, Episode 20: Beast’s Obsession

Pablo Schreiber Mariska Hargitay Law and Order Special Victims Unit Beasts Obsession

NBC’s Law and Order Special Victims Unit Beast’s Obsession TV Show Review. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 15, Episode 20: Beast’s Obsession saw the viewer revisited by two familiar yet opposite characters. There’s the bad guy – Sergeant Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay)’s “nemesis” William Lewis (Pablo Schreiber), and the good guy, who could be seen as a sort of nemesis in his own right, Lieutenant Declan Murphy (Donal Logue). Both play on opposite sides of the law, but neither is a welcome guest for Olivia. One is there to take her job, and the other possibly her life.

The cold open shows Lewis getting cupcakes in jail, which end up having poison in them. He uses them to escape from jail and once he is out on the loose it becomes SVU’s job to track him down. His taunting of Olivia over her false testimony only adds to the harrowing chase as he goes through murdering people at will and taking hostage of a young girl.

“Beast’s Obsession” succeeds in a few ways. The story itself is entertaining, but it also opens the door to a lot of possibilities down the road. Sure Lewis is dead, but can the damage he left in his wake be repaired? Instead of a monster locked away in prison, he is now a ghost lingering in a perpetual memory. The admission of perjury by Olivia, ultimately in vain, also brings to mind the “ghost” of Cragen who had his own. Perhaps being in charge is not all it’s cracked up to be.

The episode also could have been better in a few ways. Donal Logue was severely underused, and while it may be that he is being set up to play a role in a bigger storyline, if this isn’t the case I don’t know why they stuffed him into the episode at all. Surely one of the other detectives, Amaro for example, could have stood as the voice of reason in the story.

While one character has been underused, another has been pushed to the limit. The criminal profile is not consistent with Lewis, and the story suffers as a result. Is he a rapist? A murderer? A pedophile? A criminal mastermind? By basically combining every SVU antagonist into one character, it comes off as overcompensating. There should have been a bigger focus on the actual relationship between Olivia and Lewis rather than pumping him up into a caricature. This point is driven home in the episode’s climax, in which the two show down in a game of Russian roulette. I can’t think of a cheesier way to whip up dramatic tension out of nowhere. It’s almost like cheating, and while it may have paid a dividend in the short term, it took away from Lewis’s identity and made him a weaker character. When he died there was not a sigh of relief, only a sigh.

It will be interesting to see how the season winds down, and how the situation unfolds for Olivia. How much more can she take before she is pushed to the breaking point? I especially look forward to Barba’s reaction.

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William Kryjak

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