On Wednesday (Sept. 28), “Law & Order: SVU” premiered one of Season 18’s most highly anticipated episodes, “Making a Rapist.” The hour-long procedural ripped its story this time from the recent Netflix phenomenon “Making a Murderer.” Between that and guest star Henry Thomas, also known as “E.T.’s” Elliott, the show clearly seems intent on making this the year it bounces back.
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“SVU’s” spin on the “Murderer” story gave us a man who, like “Making a Murderer’s” Steven Avery, was only just acquitted for rape and out of jail a few days before being arrested for murder. The episode also included a key witness whose temperament matched that of Brendan Dassey. Unlike the real-life documentary, however, the victim who misidentified Henry Thomas’s Sean Roberts is still alive — it is her daughter who suffers the consequences.
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It was a fascinating episode, laying out the mental repercussions for a victim who helped put an innocent man in prison for 16 years, but in the cold open we got another surprise: Vice President Joe Biden.
While it’s true that he previously guest-starred on “Parks and Recreation,” the current United States veep didn’t appear on “SVU” to jump-start an acting career once his second term in the White House ends in January. Biden’s appearance was intended to convey the gravity of his own philanthropic mission, and to ground the show’s often sensationalistic approach to sexual violence.
In the episode, the vice president plays himself, delivering a speech to the police department about how important it is not to ignore “the abuse of power.” And the greatest abuse of power? “Is rape,” Biden says.
After a moving speech about the importance of making sure no rape kit goes untested, Biden thanks Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), who takes to the dais to say, “We have taken rapists off the streets. We have prevented further crimes. We have given victims closure.”
Wednesday night’s episode showed the ugly consequences of what happens when rape kits go untested — and in real life, Biden and Hargitay have teamed up to solve this national epidemic.
Hargitay and Biden are not only political allies off-camera, they are truly good friends. They’ve teamed up to clear the national rape kit backlog and help raise awareness about domestic violence through Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation. It’s also not the first time the two have crossed over into each other’s world, either: Hargitay narrated Biden’s biographical video at the Democratic National Convention back in July.
While security on set needed to be amped up almost beyond beyond belief, Hargitay described to People that having Biden appear on the series “was a dream come true. I don’t usually throw out the word ‘hero,’ I don’t, but he’s probably mine. It was amazing, and he is just grace incarnate in so many ways. He puts everyone at ease. Talk about a heart and a mind being in the right place.”
Lovely words — and anyone who has studied Biden’s life and history knows them to be 100 percent true — from a truly gracious lady. We’re lucky to have them out there doing good in the world, even if today we’re a little jealous they get to hang out!
“Law & Order: SVU” airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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