Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Episode Review: The Long Arm of the Witness

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 22 television episode that first aired on January 21, 2021.

Synopsis: When a judge (Josh Stamberg) throws out a rape trial for his own political gain, Dominick Carisi (Peter Scanavino) asks the SVU crew to help him find evidence of the judge's own past misdeeds. He puts his own career on the line when he tries to prosecute the judge for rape using both a current victim and past victims that have no collaborating evidence.


After finishing the pilot episode of Walkermy wife and I realized we still had time to catch the latest episode of this show. We normally enjoy the cases but, this time, I just felt like something was a bit off about this one.

I think one of my biggest problems with this episode is it just never reached a point where I felt the SVU team got a win. I mean (at the risk of a spoiler), they technically do. But that "win" came with a lot of outside help, including an ally who just happened to be in the right place at the right time with a way to secretly record a conversation.

A lot of the problem, in my opinion, is Carisi as the prosecutor. This originally sounded like a good idea for the series but he has failed to win me over in this role. A big part of this is he just doesn't ever seem to have confidence in his case, one thing that makes it too easy to see him in a negative light when compared to his predecessor Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza). Carisi also seems to struggle witnesses. I never saw witnesses break down on the stand as easily when Barba was doing the prep.

I also feel the need to ask this - we are now 6 episodes into the series' COVID season, when are the characters going to start wearing their masks correctly? Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) doesn't even seem to make an effort to wear one, even when she is interviewing a potential witness indoors, and the rest of her team is so inconsistent with it, they might as well not even have them. I get this is a TV show and producers want the actors' faces to be shown but, if Olivia Benson wears a mask, I am willing to bet it would encourage the people watching her on TV to do the same. The lack of mask wearing is even more puzzling when you remember the show lost a crew member to the disease not that long ago.

There was one bright spot in this episode, ADA Isaiah Holmes (Wentworth Miller). He's an intriguing character who really needs to be brought back for more episodes and, dare I say it, would be a possible replacement for Carisi if the writers ever wise up and realize he was a much better cop than lawyer.

Final Opinion

When a series is on the air as long as this one, it is bound to have episodes that aren't very memorable. I think this particular episode falls into that category. Hopefully we'll see some better ones in the future and the characters will be wearing their damn masks.

My Grade: C

Updated: 01/22/2021, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 01/23/2021

StevenHelmer, Thank you for the practical information and the product line.
The COVID crisis hasn't turned me to intensive television show-watching. Your and your wife's reactions to the special victims unit episode informed me somewhat of how the film industry handles, or not, mask-wearing. I love you all's last sentence.
Similarly, I wonder whether mask-wearing has the effect of making actors use body and eye language -- reminiscent of silent movies? -- more, since masks cover the mouth and nose parts of the eye-nose-mouth triangle of communication and identification.

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