Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12 Review: In The Year We All Fall Down

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SVU pulled it off!

I'm usually not a fan of these Benson hostage situation stories, but  Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12 turned out to be a powerful story about the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on everyone.

And juxtaposing Vanessa's pain with Rollins' fears and anger about her dad's condition made this even stronger.

Chief Garland's Opinion/Tall - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

Chief Garland's attempts to get the cops to stand down and let Benson talk the woman into surrendering peacefully were among my favorite scenes because they emphasized that police don't HAVE to use deadly force in every situation.

But those scenes ended up being heartbreaking because of the recent news about real-life police fatally shooting a Black teenager with a knife who had called them for help.

On the other hand, I'm glad that, at least in the fictional world of SVU, there are cops who are dedicated to diffusing these types of situations without using lethal force. It gives me hope, and maybe someday, the real world will be like this.

Anyway, for the most part, this story wasn't about a hostage situation. That was just the vehicle for the real story, which was more or less a two-person play about the way grief and loss during this pandemic can literally make people lose their minds.

Sarita Choudhury Guest Stars - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

The pandemic isn't solely to blame for all the violence in the United States, but it certainly doesn't help.

I've seen on a smaller scale how short people's tempers are at places like gas stations. There is SO much going wrong for people that it isn't surprising that someone like Vanessa would become desperate enough to take a knife and gun to someone in an attempt to hold onto the only thing she has left in her life.

Vanessa: This is who I am. I lost it.
Benson: We all have. This was your day.

People have lost jobs and family members, and as Vanessa pointed out, in many cases, they can't even say goodbye properly because of the risk of contagion.

Violence at a Restaurant - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

And now that vaccines have started rolling out and there's light at the end of the tunnel, for some people, it's worse. Some people can't get vaccines, some are surrounded by people who WON'T get them, and some are afraid that things will never get back to normal.

Vanessa, like so many real-life people, was clinging to hope that if she could just hold on a little while longer, things would finally turn around.

So it's no wonder she lost it when the owners of her property exploited a loophole to cruelly take away that last bit of hope from her even though it was supposed to be illegal to evict people during this crisis!

Thank God Benson was there to talk her down.

Taken Hostage Again - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

Not only is Benson the most empathetic person on the planet, but she'd just taken a class on how to de-escalate a potentially violent situation without using deadly force.

AND she knew Vanessa well enough that Vanessa knew Benson's family by name.

How perfect was that?

If anyone could have prevented a tragedy here, it was her, and that was exactly what she did.

Dealing With a Hostage Taker - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

But first, we got a ton of insight into Vanessa's state of mind.

Maybe we're all dead. Maybe that's what all this Zooming and Facetime is. Maybe it's where we go after we die.


Vanessa felt like the living dead, and she seemed to be totally cracking up, not sure what was real and desperate for human contact.

Sadly, not everyone can handle the isolation of being quarantined during this seemingly endless pandemic. She certainly wasn't, and neither was her son.

Hostage Negotiations - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

That was why he went out unmasked when he shouldn't have, leading Vanessa to blame him for her mother's fatal case of COVID.

(Incidentally, if her mom came down with it immediately after Nate showed up unmasked, it wasn't caused by that event -- COVID takes between 5 and 14 days to cause symptoms.)

And Vanessa couldn't even get any support for her mental health issues after losing everyone and everything because she didn't have the proper health insurance.

If that's not a reason we desperately need universal health care in this country, I don't know what is!

In Charge of a Hostage Situation - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12

Benson advised Vanessa to learn to take care of herself, but how was she supposed to with no supportive family and no means of getting help even if she wanted to?

She could have called Benson, I guess, but that's a bit much to expect since they weren't more than acquaintances until this incident.

Meanwhile, Rollins was dealing with serious problems of her own across town, and that was just as moving.

Rollins' father hasn't taken care of himself ever, and it finally caught up with him, but the most emotional part of this story was Rollins' admission that she didn't know how to be responsible for his medical decisions.

Garland Stands Up for Change - Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 11

The constant stress of dealing with her family caught up with her, but everyone's insistence that Carisi was more than a work friend helped lighten the mood.

The whole world seemed to be aware that Carisi and Rollins would make a great couple, so when are the two of them going to figure it out?

Rollins: How much longer can this go on?
Carisi: I tell my mother, it's not endless, but it's indefinite.

They were too cute when they took a second to laugh about the way Carisi's parents are dealing with the pandemic. That was the first time ANYONE had laughed about anything all hour long.

I was surprised that Rollins turned out to be right about Amber Lynn, though I guess I shouldn't have been.

Her family is always trouble, so that new wife of her father's fit right in.

She handled it masterfully, though. But now the question is how she's going to balance being an SVU cop with whatever care Jim is going to need.

Only two things were missing from this episode of SVU. One was Finn, and the other was any references to Stabler.

But Law & Order: SVU is going to make up for that second lapse when it returns May 13 with another crossover with Law & Order: Organized Crime!

It seems that Benson's comment about Simon wasn't just an off-hand comment since it has something to do with what they're investigating in the trailer.

Over to you, SVU fanatics! Hit that big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought of Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12 and what you're hoping happens in the next crossover episode.

Want to refresh your memory first? Just watch Law & Order: SVU online right here on TV Fanatic.

Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST.

In The Year We All Fall Down Review

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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (17 Votes)

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.

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Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12 Quotes

Benson: Vanessa. You don't need to do this. I am here and I am listening.
Vanessa: This is my goddamned restaurant and no one is taking it from me!

It's not COVID. Before COVID, you were working 14-hour days, I was working nights. We didn't have time to realize how unhappy we were.