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Law & Order Season 22
LAW & ORDER -- "Open Wounds" Episode 22022 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tijuana Ricks as Police Commissioner Hanlon, Sam Waterston as D.A. Jack McCoy -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC)
Courtesy of NBC

The gun control debate took center stage in Law & Order’s Season 22 finale, which aired on Thursday night.

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Tensions were high after a U.S. senator was shot and killed at his daughter’s wedding. After reviewing footage from the incident, Shaw and Cosgrove realized their suspect was a waiter whose face was obscured by a KN95 mask. (He might have been a murderer, but at least he was being COVID-conscious.)

The detectives eventually found their guy, Derek Quinn, who was distraught and ready to end his life over the rampant gun violence in the country. He was upset with the senator for changing his vote on a gun law. Shaw talked Derek down, and officers took him into custody.

During a press conference, Jack McCoy revealed that this case would be prosecuted in state court.

“Gun violence is a national plague. The only way to affect real change is to move past all the political acrimony and pass strong and effective common sense gun control legislation,” he told reporters. “The question for all of us is, ‘Had enough?’ We can’t become a place where people settle their political differences at the point of gun, or where talented and passionate men and women avoid public service out of fear for their lives.”

Law & Order Season 22
Sam Waterston and Elisabeth Waterston (NBC)NBC

The case was an unusually complicated one for McCoy since his daughter Rebecca (played by Sam Waterston’s real-life daughter, Elisabeth Waterston) was representing the defendant. He put on a brave face when Price asked how they should proceed. “I love my daughter dearly,” McCoy said, “but this is just another case, and she is just another lawyer.”

At the arraignment, Derek pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, saying that he suffered from PTSD after surviving one of the deadliest school shootings in America. (Derek disarmed that shooter and saved lives, but hadn’t been the same since.)

Price, McCoy and Maroun debated the ethics of the case, with McCoy pointing out that regardless of Derek’s previous heroics, he shouldn’t get a free pass for killing a senator out of revenge. Price agreed, legally, but pointed out that morally, some might see it differently, which could lead to jury nullification. Given that the attack was premeditated, McCoy refused to budge on the first-degree murder charge.

During the trial, Price suffered a mild panic attack while holding the gun used to kill the senator, and requested a recess. He tried to brush it off, but Maroun reminded him that he went through a similar experience and he was suffering from PTSD. (Note: Price survived a subway shooting earlier in the season.)

Price was moved by a psychiatrist’s testimony on PTSD and urged McCoy to offer a plea deal, but the best they could offer was first-degree manslaughter, which came with a 15-year sentence. Rebecca rejected the deal, and Derek was subsequently found guilty of first-degree murder.

Nobody was happy about the verdict, including McCoy, who looked solemn in the back of the courtroom. Rebecca, angry with her father for his lack of empathy during the case, turned down his offer to dinner.

Price was right when he said that McCoy was trying too hard to not look like he was favoring his daughter. It may have just cost him a relationship with her.

What did you think of the Law & Order finale? Grade the episode below and then share your thoughts in the comments. 


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