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!