Shades of Gray
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has been a reliably strong show for over a decade now. The latest episode, "Gray," is no exception, as it provides the drama and intrigue the show has long been known for.
Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) find themselves probing the edges of a gray area during a he-said-she-said rape investigation that could potentially lead them to the murderer of an unborn child.
When Detective Stabler accompanies his daughter Kathleen (Allison Siko) to a "Take Back the Night" rally at Hudson College, a student runs into the room claiming another student, Chuck Mills, raped her.
Stabler arrests Mills on the spot, but Mills, of course, presents a different side to the story, claiming innocence.
Throughout the episode, the investigative duo delves into the complexities that accompany any allegation of sexual assault. The show does a great job of portraying the range of emotions and ethical questions that go into handling a rape case.
Equally intriguing is the return of Assistant District Attorney Sonya Paxton (Christine Lahti), who is recovering from alcoholism. She tells the detectives that if they cannot find evidence, Mills will go free.
What follows is a series of intricate and shocking plot twists; it is never easy to tell where a Law and Order story will go next.
Detectives discover that Mills has a habit of not playing by the rules and had formerly been brought before a disciplinary committee at school. Unfortunately, the school couldn't find anything solid to charge him with. However, Kathleen obtains documents from the committee hearing and provides her father with the envelope.
While the packet contains reports from the hearing, it provides no evidence of his guilt. However, it lends insight into another case involving Mills' girlfriend and an unconventional abortion.
Included with the assorted documents is a picture of a bed sheet hanging from a building with the phrase, "Chuck Mills is a murderer." The sign was created when it was rumored that Mills provided his girlfriend with the means to create a miscarriage – a drug called misoprostol.
At this point, there is enough evidence to bring the case to court, but the detectives suffer a problem when Mills' girlfriend doesn't show up to the courtroom.
What follows is a twist ending that viewers are unlikely to see coming. The Law and Order franchise has a long history of keeping fans guessing, and this one is certainly no exception. It's thrilling from start to finish.
The episode does a great job of keeping viewers on their toes, but sometimes the veering from one storyline to another can be rather frustrating.
This episode's one true flaw is that by jumping from the story of an alleged rape victim to the miscarriage story, the first plot is largely abandoned, and it almost feels like an afterthought.
Targeting a college audience, Law and Order: SVU has teamed up with AOL TV and certain schools to provide a screening, including a panel discussion with national organizations against sexual violence. The idea is that college students can relate to the issue of rape occurring on campuses.
Invoking the idea that rape and illegal abortion often go unreported and uncharged due to lack of evidence, Law and Order: SVU once again paints the world in a sinister light, giving parents more to worry about and students more to guard against.
With "Gray," Law And Order: SVU is able to tackle an issue that affects young people in a suspenseful, entertaining fashion.