Think you’ve seen every possible Law & Order: SVU scenario in the NBC procedural’s 12-season run? Think again. Showrunner Neal Baer says that Wednesday’s episode of the sex-crimes series is so edgy, so jaw-dropping, he’s been sitting on it since Day 1. That is, until the wonder that is Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, V) came along, and all of the pieces to make the episode, “Totem,” a reality fell into place.
“We’d been holding this story ever since I started on the show,” Baer explains. “We just didn’t feel that we were able to tell it right.”
The explosive episode tells the story of “a psychiatrist (returning guest star Jeremy Irons) who works with a woman who’s accused of a terrible, terrible crime,” previews the L&O boss. “We thought about whom we should cast to play this woman. I’d worked with Elizabeth twice before — once on ER, and some years ago on SVU in a very different role — so she immediately came to mind.”
It’s a fortuitous thing that she did, because as Baer raves, “Elizabeth gives a brilliant performance, one of the best I’ve seen on SVU.”
Best known for her sci-fi/cult-hit following from her roles as Dr. Juliet Burke and now ET-fighter Erica Evans, Mitchell tells us she was honored to take on such a vastly different character. “I felt intrigued by the idea of giving victims somewhat of a voice, because in many ways this woman is an incredible victim,” she says of her SVU alter ego, June Frye.
“I play a piano teacher accused of a really terrible crime involving one of her students. And as we see her story unfold, it’s horrific and it’s sad,” continues the actress. “You’re talking about someone who is almost not fully formed as a person. You’re dealing almost with a child.”
Besides the graphic nature of “Totem,” Baer reveals that his motives behind promoting Wednesday’s episode are simple: He just wants to make sure credit is given where credit is due. “There’s not a false moment in this performance,” attests the SVU boss.”It all worked so perfectly, and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about this one, in particular. I want people to see it because I feel we really hit it on all cylinders with all the characters: Elizabeth, Jeremy, Mariska [Hargitay], Chris [Meloni]…. It really worked out.”
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.