Mild spoilers abound.
It's lovely weather for a synopsis together with you: Tutuola begins investigating the strikingly similar murders of two young girls, and after a third, he finds out that they all had immigrant families, so he investigates a xenophobic talk show host who may have clues that could lead him to the killer.
Ah, dead immigrant children. Or as SVU calls it, "the Christmas episode."
The writers' gift was also to give Benson and Stabler a respite, assign a case to Det. Fin Tutuola (Ice-T), and have Det. Munch (Richard Belzer, and woohoo) help out with nailing the xenocidal maniac.
After a quarreling hooker and pimp stumble over the body of a young girl, Fin takes the case to heart, and despite a DIRECT FREAKING ORDER from Captain Cragen (Dann Florek), he leaks the story to the media in hopes of catching a break. Because this is a television show, they do. (But not after finding a third body matching the M.O.)
It's a classic Fin episode. He's the street-smart pissed off detective with the heart of gold. Deep down, he probably cares more than anyone else in the room, but nobody understands him.
All three kids were anchor babies (children born in the United States to illegal aliens), which appears to be a hot 14th amendment issue. Are these babies legally U.S. citizens? Hey, they were born in the US. It says nothing about uterine legal status. Not everyone believes so.
And although Lou Dobbs is no longer with CNN, the galvanizing character of Gordon Garrison (Bruce McGill) sure as plum is satirizing him. McGill is the week's "where the heck do I know him from" guest who has been everywhere. I have no choice but to label him as D-Day from Animal House. Joining the fun opposite the anti-immigration pulpit is ACLU attorney Randall Carver, portrayed by John Larroquette, in stark contrast to his Night Court days.
After yet another barrage of tips leading around the cul-de-sac of despair, Fin gets grumpy and turns his back on everyone looking out for him. Again, remember, it's a TV show. They find him. Sifting through paperwork finds that Joe Thagard, a man Fin just detained and let go for busting into Carver's office and threatening him, had access to the addresses of these children. A hit list on his apartment tackboard (do murderous wackjobs not understand Microsoft Excel?) helps them find another in-progress kidnapping.
While rubbing all the evidence in Thagard's face, in walks the smooth yet cocksure Carver, who takes on the case pro bono for purely political reasons. Yay, politics! His affirmative defense is that after watching Gordon Garrison's show, he was brainwashed into thinking it was alright to murder those anchor babies.
Courtroom antics ensue. I'll just say that.
Twist Factor — Maybe it wasn't the surprise at the end, but the show really came together once the trial procedure began. Bonus points went to ADA Alex Cabot (Stephanie March) for asking if Garrison took the political temperature "rectally." 9 of 10.
The Verdict — We the people find this episode, "Anchor," one that warms the heart this holiday season, because caring about children and seeing Fielding playing a liberal lawyer with a southern drawl brought a twinkle to our eyes. Can we find the magic of Christmas in the ending? Absolutely.
Law & Order: SVU broadcasts at 9 p.m. ET Wednesdays on NBC.