Law Order SVU 400th Episode Recap

Law & Order: SVU 400th Ep Recap: Mama's Ploy

In its first 399 episodes, Law & Order: SVU unearthed some truly terrible moms. But the one it chronicled in the procedural’s milestone 400th (!) episode, which aired Wednesday, makes most of ’em seem like prancing lightweights.

“Motherly Love,” directed by series star Mariska Hargitay, starts when a 15-year-old boy named Luke comes back to his mother’s New York City brownstone to hear what sounds like his mom struggling in the kitchen. Fearing the worst, Luke grabs his hunting rifle and approaches, finding her bent over the island in the kitchen with a man behind her. When his mom yells that she’s being raped, Luke fires and hits the man in the head.

Turns out, the man is really another 15-year-old named Trey, and Trey is Luke’s best friend. Luke’s mom, Nicole, tells Benson, Rollins, Tutuola and Carisi that she let Trey into the house to study but that she’d always had an odd feeling about him and that he attacked her.

But Nicole’s story soon begins to to fall apart, and while questioning Trey and Luke’s classmates, another boy named Ethan eventually admits that he’d been sleeping with Nicole and had gotten mad when she moved on from him and started messing around with Trey. Though she denies the accusations of statutory rape, her ex-husband — who is a psychiatrist just like Nicole is — tells Liv & Co. that Luke’s mom is a malignant narcissist who’s “like the best and worst woman you’ve ever met, wrapped into one.”

When the police find Trey’s semen on a towel in Nicole’s bathroom, contradicting her assertion that was he never upstairs in her house, Barba is ready to take her down in court. And he does a great job… so much so that even Nicole knows she’s going to jail unless she does something, quickly. So she tells the judge she wants to change her testimony: “Your honor, I would like to testify again. I’ve been lying. I would like to tell the truth. The real truth.” Cue a collective Whaaaa? from the courtroom.

Nicole then gets back on the stand and tells the jury that she was having an affair with Trey but she never told Luke that the boy was raping her, and that her son must’ve killed his friend because he had seen them having sex another time. And Luke is ready to go along with this terrible story until Liv gently helps him come to his senses.

“Your mother needs help, Luke, and it’s the kind of help you can’t give her,” Benson says.
“And it’s not your job to sacrifice your life for hers.”

So when Barba calls Luke back to the stand the next morning, Nicole’s son testifies that his mother did say she was being raped. The jury believes him; the shrink is found guilty of third degree sexual assault and murder. And when Barba asks Liv out for a drink after court, she tearfully tells him that she wants to go home and see Noah: “I just wanna be with my boy.”

Did you watch the episode? How did it compare to the 399 before? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Tori Cooper says:

    So glad I watch Criminal Minds instead of this! The Benson Show and Raul Gagsparza have completely turned me off.

  2. rob horine says:

    As much as I love Ms. Hargitay (she’s a Goddess), it is way past time for Lt. Benson to put in her papers. The show has been sputtering for years now. That said, Mariska will wrangle a new contract from Dick Wolf for two more seasons. He’s become her personal ATM.

  3. Jess says:

    Sounds like I didn’t miss anything by not watching this tonight. Phew… Barbra’s fat face made this show unwatchable for me in season 14 and I haven’t been back since, even though I’ve been tempted in the milestone 300 and 400 episodes. I now see that I won’t be back.

  4. Tacoma, Washington says:

    I’ve been watching L&O SVU on and off since its premier back in 1999. It’s become one of my favourite T.V. shows. Congratulations on 400 episodes. As long as new and relevant stories come up, I’m sure SVU will continue indefinitely. Keep up the good work. :)

  5. Carol Manthorp says:

    Great show tonight I just wish that since it was the 40th that may Stabler would make a appearance.

  6. Patricia alers says:

    Terrific, mIndia blowing, tops them all

  7. Mere says:

    It sucks.

  8. lamomma says:

    Law and Order’s worst villains always seem to be women. Why??

  9. Couch Mom says:

    Had it figured out in the first 5 minutes. Very predictable plot line. Have always loved the L&O franchise, and watch original L&O on ION and TNT when it’s on. Haven’t watched much of SVU this year. Still a decent show but keeping it for summer binge on demand when there is nothing else to watch.

  10. maregolden says:

    I wonder if this was the 400th aired, or the 400th made, since they have yet to put on the so-called Trump show…

    • Sol Temple says:

      @maregolden. I think this was the Trump show. See my comments.

      • maregolden says:

        I read your comment, and I can see what you’re saying, but the Trump show has Gary Cole as a Trump-like presidential candidate whose campaign is derailed when he’s accused of raping an underage girl, so not the same. I have heard it said that Trump is a malignant narcissist, though.

  11. A couple minutes into the very first scene, there was a quick flash of what looked like a New Yorker type cartoon sketch. It was only for a second, but I captured the freeze frame by pausing my DVR. Did anyone else notice that?

  12. Sol Temple says:

    During the episode i got the distinct impression that it was an allegorical masterpiece that was critical of a certain occupant of the White House without being obvious.
    Here’s what happens, just read between the lines as to who all was been portrayed:

    1. The “victim” (a white female psychiatrist) claimed being raped by a black man, which turned out to be a lie, but caused another white person (her child wanting to “save” her from the black man) to be manipulated into killing.
    2. The “victim” being described by her spouse, who also happen to be psychiatrist. He describes his wife as being “completely charming” but a mentally ill “malignant narcissist.”
    3. The spouse/psychiatrist goes into elaborate detail about just what a malignant narcissist is and ends up describing the current behavior of the occupant of the WH to a tee. That scene was scary, it was so accurate and was the key to what the episode was really about, a fictional smoke screen to criticize that who shall not be named.
    4. The “victim” is finally shown to be a kinky purveyor of sex acts with minors, something the current occupant of the WH has been accused of. But both of the real victims of the statutory rape adore their rapist.
    5. The “victim” decides to sacrifice her greatest supporter, her own son, to avoid jail, because as a malignant narcissist, she can’t stop lying because of her mental illness. She is certain she will get away with her crimes because she is confident, arrogant, powerful, and has ultimate influence over her victims.
    6. It takes the Hispanic-American DA and the heroic white female to make things right again.
    7. The white female hero gets the victim “to come to his senses” and confront the narcissist, who even after being convicted, still feels she has control over her victims.
    8. Of course this all happens in New York.
    9. Of course the episode is directed by a woman who has matched wits with the narcissist and won.

  13. J Laplanche says:

    Ugh I missed I thought I set my DVR. Was at a Pacers game. Hope to see ther repeat. I miss detective Amaro.

  14. Big Cheddar says:

    I don’t get all the Barba/Raul Esparza hate. I love him and his character!

    • Tacoma, Washington says:

      I don’t know. I love Barba, I love Carisi, I love all the SVU characters. I’ve been watching Law and Order SVU almost since the beginning. :)

  15. Michelle Whitmire says:

    I missed it! When will it be on again?

  16. moonstruck4 says:

    I was glad to see female narcissist portrayed although the plot was as others have said obvious from beginning. Just a thought though, perhaps a more nuanced portrayal of a female sex offender is in “order”. They are not all narcissists any more than all male offenders are one size fits all.

  17. Antonio says:

    Great episode. Mariska is a talented woman in every respect. And she’s still beautiful. The years do not seem to pass to her. Your eyes are impressive. And the smile is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.

    • Tacoma, Washington says:

      I love Benson. She seems to be the one constant in the show. Get rid of her, the show’s over, unless Dick Wolf can find a suitable successor to Benson, one worthy of keeping the show going.