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Law & Order: SVU – Recap & Review – Reasonable Doubt

photo: nbc
photo: nbc
Law & Order: SVU
Reasonable Doubt

Original Air Date: May 7, 2014

Caitlin- Senior Staff Writer

There are places you expect episodes of this show to open in. An oldies and/or pimp-style club is not one of them- especially when two fully-costumed characters reveal themselves to be cops. I say “characters” because the whole thing is the filming of some sort of television show.

The director of all this is upset, apparently partially because it’s not weird enough. But he has bigger problems on his hands when he’s accused of assaulting his daughter. Given he’s a big name and going through a high-profile divorce, it looks like this will be a headache for the squad as well.

Frank, of course, says that his wife, Catherine is just looking for revenge (it’s worth noting he’s in love with her younger sister, Rose), and putting words into their daughter’s mouth. Still, he uses some pretty shady language, even when asked directly if he assaulted Chelsea. Olivia and Nick meet Catherine and a ridiculously cute puppy, eventually persuading her (Catherine, not the puppy) to let them talk to Chelsea.

Chelsea says that her mother didn’t tell her what to say, even when questioned separately. Their nanny backs up the story in so much as that Frank and Chelsea came out of a laundry room after being left alone- her with an unbuttoned jumper and missing tights. Chelsea’s brother gives further troubling evidence, but the case still isn’t solid. And then a wrench is thrown into the mix- in the form of naked tabloid photos of Rose.

Catherine’s home is overrun with reporters and both she and middle sister, Mavis, who told Catherine of Frank’s infidelity, are convinced he shared the photos to create a media circus. We finally meet Rose herself, who makes some half-hearted comments about hoping her sister comes to terms with the affair, and then turn back to Frank, who admits that he did actually go into a laundry room with Chelsea, but says his motivations were innocent.

That night, the detectives- Nick and Amanda together- sit down and watch a televised interview where Frank presents his own story to the media. And that’s when everything hits the fan (you know, more than it has already). Catherine drags Chelsea to the set of Frank’s show and confronts Rose. When Frank himself shows up, Chelsea begs to leave. The next morning, Catherine and Mavis stomp in just as the detectives are watching footage of the incident, and demand that charges be filed.

Chelsea repeats her story again, largely maintaining that she wasn’t manipulated in any way. She does say that her mother helped her practice what to say, just to remember it. Catherine testifies that Frank expressed interest in Chelsea- and in Rose as well- from a young age. Frank’s lawyer, predictably, tries to portray the whole thing as an act of revenge. A figure Catherine gave Frank- of a woman ripping out her own heart- doesn’t help.

The nanny is questioned again, and now says that she only saw Chelsea and her father playing chess. It’s pretty clear she’s been paid off. Next, Mavis starts throwing around accusations, first saying that Frank has friends in high places all over the entertainment business, and then confronting Catherine with pushing her daughter into the case- and possibly with her own disbelief that Catherine never knew what was going on until recently.

By now, Amanda is doubting whether Frank is guilty at all- something Murphy calls her back to discuss. He thinks she might lean toward protecting male figures due to situations with her father and Captain Cragen. Frank testifies in his own defense, sticking steadfast to his innocence. He apologizes to Catherine for how their relationship ended- something that seems to shake Catherine and put the whole courtroom at odds.

The detectives decide to talk to Mavis again, especially as she wasn’t at the trial. When Olivia questions her, she seems to allege that Frank assaulted her as well (she was only twelve when he and Catherine first got married). Still, she doesn’t want to go to court, thinking it will lead to nothing but her own humiliation. Olivia, however, argues that she needs to try to do something to protect her niece- and does seem to make progress.

That something turns out to be Mavis going on television to talk about Frank assaulting her in a hot tub. She reveals she was the one who leaked the photos, trying to do something to stop Frank, and giving up hope when it changed nothing. In light of the new evidence, Frank flees to France and defends himself from there, Rose by his side. The fact the jury finds him guilty doesn’t really matter, but he’s out of the way. The detectives don’t know what they believe, and can only really feel sorry for Chelsea.

Next Week: Thought Criminal

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