Last night’s Law and Order: SVU, “Depravity Standard,” deviated slightly from its procedural playbook, dropping its usual investigation to focus almost entirely on the trial of a depraved child murderer. The episode opens when Lewis Hodda (Tom Sizemore), who had previously confessed to the crimes, fires his attorney and rejects the plea deal he had negotiated, instead deciding to take his chances in open court.
The case isn’t going well for Assistant District Attorney Barba (Raúl Esparza). The parents of the kidnapping victim for whom the prosecution had built a much stronger case refuse to allow their son to take the stand, forcing the state to bring a much shakier murder case to court. That changes once Barba gets Hodda on the witness stand, and forces him to admit he had physical contact with the missing child. It’s a rare triumph for the prosecution in a challenging case with little physical evidence.
How does Hodda’s new attorney, Lisa Hassler (Robin Weigert), react to her client’s stunning admission? By taking a completely irrelevant shot at “the Patriarchy.” Watch for yourself:
Hodda: I'm not afraid of anything.
Barba: Then tell me, where exactly did you put your hands on Hector Rodriguez?
Hodda: I never touched him down there, never, I--
Barba: You never touched him down there? Where did you touch him then?
Hodda: [Indistinct stutter]
Carisi: Hey, nice cross, Counselor.
Barba: Little boys. Thank you. It was a tell.
Carisi: Yeah, but what you did with it. If that had been a boxing match, they would have thrown in the towel right there.
Hassler: Are you gloating?
Hassler: Nothing makes me happier than to see a member of the patriarchy strut before he falls.
Barba: Hmm, I seem to be on my feet. I'd say your client just made quite an impression on the jury.
Hassler: I'd say you did. And thank you.
If I were Hodda’s attorney, I’d be more concerned that my client had nearly confessed—again—on the witness stand than with scoring meaningless rhetorical points against the prosecutor. But this is Law & Order: SVU, and if the show’s writers can find a way to pander to Social Justice Warriors, they’ll take it, every single time.