New Yorkers watching the season finale of “Law & Order: SVU” last night probably experienced deju vu as two recent local headline-making scandals were rolled up into one explosive episode.
The show began with a scenario that reflected the real-life rape allegations against NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s son, Greg Kelly, who is also a news anchor for FOX 5. In real life, Kelly was accused by a woman who said Kelly took advantage of her after she had too much to drink. The case was handed to the district attorney’s office, which later decided not to charge Kelly, based on insufficient evidence that a rape occurred.
“Law & Order” puts a different spin on the story, though, setting the scene of its season finale “Rhodium Nights” at a penthouse bachelor party for the police commissioner’s journalist son, complete with high profile bankers and athletes, and a slew of lingerie-wearing “escorts.”
The fun ends after a dead escort, who later turns out to be 16, is found during the party in a bedroom. Things get sticky when the detectives realize who they’re dealing with and Captain Cragen advises them to tread lightly. At one point, he tells Olivia that the case may get handed to the DA’s office. Olivia’s barbed response: “So they can bury it?”
After a series of twists and turns, the episode unfolds into a tangled web of escort service wars. A prostitution ring is eventually uncovered and the detectives go after the its leader, a woman who reminds us of the so-called “Upper East Side Madam” Anna Gristina.
Along with the accusation that she ran an elaborate prostitution ring out of an UES apartment, Gristina is also alleged to have police officers on her client list who tipped her off to raids.
“Law & Order” played off of those allegations in last night’s episode, when the arrested madam’s lawyer told detectives, “She has the goods on everyone you work for, everyone you will ever consider working for. You just don’t know how deep this goes.”
Also true to life, the fictional madam’s lawyer offers to post his own condo for her bail — Gristina’s attorney made the same offer, though she later fired him and replaced him with new defense.
The episode comes to an end in a shocking climax when Captain Cragon wakes up in his bed to a gruesome discovery — a dead prostitute, whose blood is on his hands. It closes in that cliff hanger, leaving us eager for next season.
“Law & Order: SVU” is well-known for finding inspiration in real events in the news, though rarely have we seen an episode that combines two of NYC’s most publicized stories and weaves them into one intricate episode.