Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Season 14, Episode 13

Monster's Legacy (6 Feb. 2013)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
8.0
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Benson and attorney Bayard Ellis help a death row inmate in Ohio whose history as a sex abuse victim may have been ignored by his defense attorney.

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Title: Monster's Legacy (06 Feb 2013)

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Sergeant John Munch (credit only)
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Elaine Hyman ...
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Coach Martin Schultz (as Ed Asner)
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Benson and attorney Bayard Ellis help a death row inmate in Ohio whose history as a sex abuse victim may have been ignored by his defense attorney.

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TV-14 | See all certifications »
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6 February 2013 (USA)  »

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Why Mike Tyson?
9 February 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was one of the best Law & Order SVU episodes that I have ever seen. Andre Braugher was really magnificent as Bayard Ellis, who is one of my favorite recurring characters as a black defense attourney and he completely stole the show. The episode was a wonderful interrogation of racism, the cycle of abuse, the serving of justice (or lack thereof), and the interaction between law and order.

However, I'm so troubled and confused by the choice of Mike Tyson to play this role. I'm tempted to speculate that the writers were making a comment on the power of redemption and self- renewal(Tyson is a convicted rapist and has since been arrested and rehabilitated for drug abuse). As an actor in this episode, Tyson delivered a halting yet heartbreaking performance as a victim of serial abuse, racism, and the miscarriage of justice. However, his performance was difficult to rectify with Tyson's actual past and public persona.

This disconnect is comparable to the one I feel in being a avid fan of this show, which simultaneously exposes the worlds of rape and abuse while catering to our human tendency toward passive voyeurism of horror. My favorite episodes are the ones that boldly refer to current and recent events, offering important social commentary while forcing viewers to engage and interact with the sheer awfulness of these occurrences. The lesser episodes can sometimes fall in an uncomfortable middle range on the scale of terror-mongering and blood splashing like a sort of half-baked Tarantino concoction. These episodes make me question my loyalty to the show as they undermine its goals of raising awareness by broaching video-game territory by including senseless violence for its own sake.

Nevertheless, I found this episode very thought-provoking and it's a great example of what Law & Order does for television and for its viewers. I just wonder how much credit to give the producers in their casting choice.


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