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Law & Order SVU – Recap & Review – Branded

photo: nbc

Law & Order SVU

Original Air Date: Oct 20, 2010

Caitlin- Associate Staff Writer

This was a bit of an unusual episode for SVU. It began with what seemed to be a very strange case, but in a twist, actually became more conventional. Conventional for this show, anyway. The disturbing storylines and despicable guest characters are still intact.

A mother and children come home to find their father sodomized and bound on the floor. When then detectives investigate, he keeps his shirt closed with his hand. Only when they ask him directly do Olivia and Elliot realize he’s been hiding a branding cut into his chest with a coat hanger: “Ruiner”

This week’s red herring comes in the form of an extreme environmentalist, who was supposedly threatening the victim, Bill, over snake skin belts. Said environmentalist admits to sneaking into Bill’s house, but it turns out the real perp mailed themselves to Bill’s house in a vacuum box. The detectives consider whether Bill was having an affair, but no such luck. Then another victim turns up. This one, Victor, was branded “Traitor”. He says he never betrayed anyone, but the detectives think he and Bill may have victimized their attacker together. Fin is sent to follow them and the two, though claiming not to know each other, are soon arguing with another man.

This man’s name is Alexander Gammond, who after saying he’d never met Bill and Victor, claims their meeting was for business. They do work for him, but the detectives don’t believe this story. When they walk out, there’s a vacuum box on Gammond’s doorstep. They watch it by camera until a masked figure emerges. The person breaks into Gammond’s apartment and comes behind him with a syringe- but it’s actually Elliot. When the attacker is unmasked, we see it’s a woman. When taken in, she remains silent except to quote Emily Dickinson’s “I’m nobody! Who are you?”

When the three men see Camille, they say they don’t recognize her, but she couldn’t have attacked them. Gammond is clearly their ringleader, and though the captain wants to prosecute Camille, Elliot is doubtful. So is the new ADA, Jillian Hardwick, though for different reasons. Camille, an accomplished hacker, made it look like she was shopping during the attacks. Olivia, like Elliot, thinks the “victims” probably attacked Camille, and Huang tells them to look for a memento she might have kept. It comes in the form of a photo of a summer camp Camille attended- at which Gammond was a counselor.

A present counselor admits Gammond worked there for a summer and, though she says nothing could have happened, also says she once found Camille traumatized and again muttering Dickinson. Olivia confronts Camille and eventually gets her to talk about being raped by Gammond, Bill, and Victor. Victor at first tried to object, but then went along with his friends, earning him his “traitor” tag. Camille says she was going to mark Gammond with “hell”. When asked why she waited fourteen years, she says it’s because she heard and recognized a laugh- that of her daugher who she gave up for adoption.

The birth is confirmed, but Camille’s case seems hopeless. Hardwick says she must be prosecuted, and the judge has tapes edited so as to show only her confession, and not the discussion of the rape. While the others can lie with ease, Elliot works on Victor’s guilt. He seems successful at first, but the man again defends his partners. Olivia goes to confront Hardwick, who at first seems to stand behind her efforts, but then tells Olivia to give a folder to the defense. Olivia, told not to look at it, of course does, but we don’t know what’s in there until the next day, when Camille’s attorney calls a girl to the stand. She points out her adoptive parents and then her biological ones- Camille and Gammond.

Feeling ripped apart by guilt (it first appeared Camille’s daughter pointed to him as her father), Victor finally stands and confesses. As he is pulled from the room, he yells that Gammond paid off not only him and Bill, but also other girls he raped. In interrogation, Elliot tells Gammond that these women have decided to give back the money and prosecute him. He’ll be sent straight to jail, and with all the major charges against her dropped, Camille should face only a minor sentence. The episode ends with her finally getting to meet her daughter, who deals very well with what she has learned about her real parents.

As much as I think the show is doing a good thing in addressing worst issues of assault and abuse, it was nice to see them get back to the type of case they’re known for, even if we didn’t see it as that type of case at first. I liked Camille and especially her daughter. As for the new ADA, the move she pulled was impressive, but I feel like the writers always introduce these characters by first making them seem unlikable, and then revealing their true motivation. I’m more interested in seeing her long-term vibe with the SVU team. Munch has again disappeared with no mention of where he went, but maybe he’ll be back when the show returns in two weeks.

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  • Dallas Anderson

    Glad they caught the rapist BUT that ending was VERY unbelievable. Having the daughter, who has never met EITHER of her parents, FINDS OUT the DAY before who they are (and apparently is told the circumstances as facts and not accusations by Olivia, to brainwash her by the way she looked at the men) and then agrees to testify??? One of the more improbable and disappointing angles. Glad he was caught but wish they made it more realistic.

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