Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8 Review: Nightmares In Drill City

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Carisi's in a tough spot.

He's had divided loyalties since he left SVU to become an assistant district attorney.

And on Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8, it all came to a head. An optics-obsessed homicide prosecution team wanted him to put aside his knowledge of a suspect's victimization to close the case, leaving Carisi with some tough choices to make.

Suspect or Victim / Tall - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8

The spoiler video made it look like the question of whether Tori was a victim or suspect would take up most of the hour.

It didn't, but that was all right. The story we got instead was more compelling than yet another case in which SVU didn't know what the truth was about the victim for whom they were trying to get justice.

Benson: Why us instead of homicide?
Carisi: Because she has bruises and multiple STDs.
Benson: So is she a suspect or a victim?

Benson questioned it for about two seconds and then got to work getting justice for Tori despite all the questions surrounding her story.

Wlil Rollins and Carisi Butt Heads? - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8

That made sense. Tori was yet another trafficking victim and had proof of serious injuries her pimp caused.

I was surprised that Fin disagreed that the justice system needed to go easier on Tori. While he tends to be more conservative than most of the SVU crew, he also has a heart for victims.

Of course, this isn't the first time that someone has been both a perp and a victim. It's pretty common in the world of SVU, where abused people often end up harming others as a way of regaining power.

These cases tend to be more complex than prosecutors make them. It's possible to be both a victim and a perp, something Carisi's bosses never brought up for some reason.

Waiting to Testify - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8

Of course, Carisi's attempt to get ahead at work forced him to choose which side to be on, so there was no time for such nuances.

Benson was confused about why Carisi called SVU in on a homicide case, but I was more confused as to why Carisi is suddenly a homicide DA.

He was hired specifically to prosecute sex crimes, a special field that gets its own prosecutors and set of detectives.

His transfer to homicide made for good drama but wasn't particularly realistic.

Trying to Get The Truth - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8

Anyway, Carisi's involvement with this case allowed SVU to make some points about optics and the current political climate.

I cannot charge a black man with three homicides and cut a deal with the white woman who put it all in motion.


In a way, it was ironic that the homicide team didn't want to fail to prosecute Tori because she was white and G was Black. Tori's mother was an immigrant, so Tori wasn't exactly part of the privileged group either.

In any case, while trying to prosecute offenders more equally is a laudable goal, charging someone who was more victim than perp to prevent false accusations of racism didn't seem like justice either.

Defending a Victim - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8

The prosecution team would have been better off forgetting the racial aspects.

Tori wasn't 100% innocent, even if she didn't mean for anyone to get killed. She DID let G intimidate her into making that call, which put her on the hook for felony murder.

The prosecution's case could have centered around whether Tori could have foreseen the consequences of her actions while acknowledging that G had been abusing her.

Then it would have been up to the jury whether Tori deserved to be punished despite her fear of G.

Carisi Suspects Abuse - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 8

To an extent, that was Carisi's argument when he cross-examined Tori.

But the prosecution was so focused on closing the case and proving to themselves that Carisi was on "their side" that they didn't think about how they were coming across.

Rollins was disgusted, and so was Tori's mother -- would the jury have bought Carisi's attempt to demolish Tori's defense?

Claiming the abuse was nothing but an excuse for murder was a bit strong. Again, the prosecution would have benefited from a more nuanced approach to acknowledge that the abuse was real and terrible, yet not a defense to felony murder under the law.

Lovely Olivia - Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Episode 7

In the end, it didn't matter. Carisi found the courage to stand up to the prosecutors, especially once Benson launched a competing investigation that undercut their case, and Tori got justice after all.

Carisi: We use our discretion with the rich and the connected all the time -- why not here?
Philip: You didn't answer my question.
Lead Prosecutor: Let him finish.
Carisi: Sometimes justice is about compassion. The question you should be asking yourselves is what kind of office we want to be.

Sort of, anyway.

Tori was last seen violating her probation agreement by not going to therapy, but it seemed like having a session with Benson was a suitable alternative.

I love Benson's encouraging speeches to victims, but court-ordered therapy is court-ordered therapy.

No matter how guilty or worthless Tori feels, if she doesn't see a legitimate therapist, she's going to end up in jail. A warrant should already have been issued for her arrest if she skipped two sessions, and Benson likely can't do anything about that.

That's one of the things that sucks about court-mandated therapy. People whose mental illnesses make it hard for them to comply end up in trouble for not cooperating.

Maybe at a later date, SVU will address that issue.

But in the meantime, this was a solid story, even if it was wrapped up more or less neatly.

Your turn, SVU fanatics! What did you think of the case, Carisi's dilemma, or Benson's attempt to reach out to Tori? Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!

Miss the episode? No problem. Just watch Law & Order: SVU online right here on TV Fanatic. Don't forget to come back to comment.

Law & Order: SVU continues its historic 23-year run on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST. The next new episode will air on December 9, 2021.

Nightmares In Drill City Review

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Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (6 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 23 Episode 8 Quotes

Carisi: Can they really be this stupid?
Fin: These idiots are cloud-chasing. The dummies want to be famous so bad they do our job for us.

Benson: Why us instead of homicide?
Carisi: Because she has bruises and multiple STDs.
Benson: So is she a suspect or a victim?