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When a rape victim winds up dead, her father decides to take justice into his own hands.


Constantine Makris


Dick Wolf (created by), Adisa Iwa


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Meloni ... Detective Elliot Stabler
Mariska Hargitay ... Detective Olivia Benson
Richard Belzer ... Detective John Munch
Stephanie March ... A.D.A. Alexandra Cabot
Ice-T ... Detective Odafin Tutuola
BD Wong ... Dr. George Huang, M.D. (as B.D. Wong)
Dann Florek ... Captain Donald Cragen
Joe Morton ... Ray Bevins
Paul Leyden ... Perry Williams
D.J. Cotrona ... Donovan Alvarez
Viola Davis ... Donna Emmett
Michele Hicks ... Kimmie
Sophie Hayden Sophie Hayden ... Mrs. Kligman
Caren Browning ... CSU Captain Judith Siper
Tamara Tunie ... Dr. Melinda Warner, M.E.


When a rape victim winds up dead, her father decides to take justice into his own hands.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Viola Davis plays a defense lawyer in this episode. She later stars in How to Get Away with Murder (2014) as a former defense lawyer who became a law school professor and teaches a criminal defense attorney class. See more »


A person convicted of manslaughter (either degree) cannot be given a sentence of probation. Manslaughter in the second degree is a violent class C felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3-1/2 years in prison. Manslaughter in the first degree (which is what the defendant is guilty of) is a violent class B felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. The only violent felony class that can get probation as a sentence are class E felonies and the only homicide charge that is a violent class E felony is criminally negligent homicide, which clearly does not apply in this case. See more »


Alex Cabot: [to Elliot] Did you actually lawyer up for Ray Bevins?
Elliot Stabler: He needed an attorney.
Alex Cabot: So you called one of the best defense attorneys in town? Usually, you get a confession instead of throwing up roadblocks to protect the perps.
Elliot Stabler: Ray Bevins is not a perp.
Alex Cabot: He killed a man in cold blood.
Elliot Stabler: He killed a sexual predator that you said we couldn't convict.
Alex Cabot: I will not condone vigilantism. I am not going to let my compassion for Ray prevent me from doing my job.
Elliot Stabler: Well, I did my job. I arrested him. He's all yours.
See more »

User Reviews

The dark side of empathy
4 November 2020 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

On first watch, "Grief" was another 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' episode, both of Season 4 and of the whole show, that really stuck with me emotionally. Really loved Stabler's role in the episode, his chemistry with Ray and also how the episode handled the moral dilemmas of the case and its consequences. The premise did sound quite conventional and could have been too predictable, but this never bothered me on first watch and other subsequent viewings because the execution was done so powerfully.

To this day, "Grief" is still among the best episodes of Season 4 and of the early seasons. It is also one of the most emotional on both counts and of the whole show too, everything that made it such a great episode on first watch still holds up. Plus any parent going, or has gone, through one of the worst nightmares anybody, let alone a parent, can go through is likely to relate to the moral dilemmas here while seeing the case from all sides.

Photography is slick and subtly gritty as usual and while the locations are limited in number they are still pleasing to look at and the more intimate ones aren't claustrophobic. The editing has also come on a long way since the show first started and it was always good from the very beginning, just that it became smoother and crisper as the production values became more refined. The music is haunting while not going over the top and not being intrusive, too constant and melodramatic music would have ruined the mood and would not have let the dialogue do the talking as effectively.

Love the script too, it really provokes thought and puts the viewer through a number of emotions, including anger, sadness and empathy. Did appreciate its sensitivity without getting mushy while also having a never preachy tough side. The story is not conventional in its execution and is more complex emotionally than it sounds, it was a story that started off great and got better and better. Stabler and Ray's chemistry is beautifully done, the heart of "Grief" actually, and it is not hard to understand Stabler's empathy.

It's another difficult and tragic subject handled tactfully and thoughtfully, how the episode deals with empathy, grief, seeing things from a father's point of view, whether the murderer knew right from wrong when committing their actions and whether one agrees with their actions or find them justified was not done in a biased manner and saw the case from all sides. The murder victim, a reprehensible person, did deserve some form of punishment and did understand the murderer's point of view, but the way that was gone about it was wrong in my view and it was right for them to be tried.

Stabler and Cabot here are both brilliantly written, and the points of view from both are understandable (Stabler as a father figure himself, Cabot doing her job in the eyes of the law). Ray is also a very interesting character with a conflict that resonates. Christopher Meloni gives one of his best performances of the show in a steely but moving performance in a case that was very personal for Stabler. His chemistry with an equally affecting Joe Morton is powerfully written. Stephanie March delivers in her exchanges with Meloni and in a closing argument that sums up the moral dilemmas of the case beautifully, and in a nuanced way.

Concluding, wonderful and difficult to not connect with emotionally. Am not a parent myself, but that didn't stop me from being moved. 10/10

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Release Date:

2 May 2003 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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