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TV Review: Law & Order: SVU – “Unstable”

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It's been a long, arduous summer of engorging myself in old episodes from the Law & Order family. Who knew a well-adjusted human could look forward to tales of rape and murder?

Mark KendalThe ridiculously crazy finale to last season's SVU ("Zebras") may not soon be topped, so they eased up on the beginning to Season 11 with your garden variety rape case, spruced up with some guest appearances in "Unstable."

From Prison Break fame, Wentworth Miller was Nate Kendal, a rough-and-tumble cop who, in the first seconds of the episode, was seen shoving a gun into a suspect's mouth in the back of a police car. Actually, maybe that was a clip from Prison Break that snuck in during editing.

It's a good thing Kendal's voice went incredibly low every damn time he spoke, because I wouldn't be sure if this was supposed to be a dramatic moment or not. Hopefully Kendal doesn't order Subway sandwiches like that. And, please … I'll have it TOASTED.

Sonya PaxtonChristine Lahti from Chicago Hope stepped in as A.D.A. Sonya Paxton, a newly appointed prosecutor whose sole job was to "clean house" and improve efficiency in the "he-said/she-said unit," and she succeeded, because she also got under mine.

Then there was Mahershalalhashbaz Ali as Mark Foster, the suspect. I don't have a strong opinion on his performance, but I just want to see if anyone wants to take a shot at pronouncing that first name. Jeezus.

The new characters (Paxton and Kendal) didn't exactly gel with the existing cast, and I think that was the point, because YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW WE OPERATE IN THE SVU! PEOPLE GET RAPED EVERY DAY! And so forth. But the normally banal storyline (by SVU standards, natch) seemed to hold itself together long enough to carry everyone through the hour.

The ending, like many in the SVU library, was rather odd and unsettling. (Unstable, even. Get it? Because … the name of the … ha!) Before the off-putting conclusion, though, ask yourself the following questions: Does the new guy interfere too much as the third wheel to Dets. Stabler and Benson? Did an innocent man go to jail? Do all black perps look alike? WILL HE JUMP!? And where the hell was Det. Munch (Richard Belzer) in this episode? I needed my fix of wry conspiratorial one-liners!

Nevertheless, welcome back, rape and murder. Oh, how I've missed you both. Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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  • Susan D

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE SVU…but I’m not sure I’ll feel the same way this season. Christine is just way to ‘butch’…similar to the jerk judge in a court program I stopped watching. I watch for intrigue, not upset. Either Christine’s character needs to chill out or bring either one of the ADA’s back. I’ll try another week. If the ADA is still as bitchy as she was this week, I won’t watch. Brings a BAD perspective of women lawyers. Judith Light is tough…but she somehow balances it with justice…and purity of ethics. The new ADA is purely a bitch. Hope it changes…cuz it’ll make me sad to quit. I’ve been using the DVR and watching EVERY program and loving it. I was sad at this season’s start. Elliott and Liv are absolutely AWESOME!!!! Love you guys! PLEASE, Mr. Dick Wolf! I like Christine. It is HER. It’s the character writing this is WRONG!!!

  • Sandy Williamson

    It was strange to see Wentworth Miller, former Michael of Prison Break, play such an unfeeling character. But, I loved seeing him back on the little screen. They obviously gave him a past that probably contributes to his character with the abduction of his own daughter. Hopefully we will see much much more of him and they will find his daughter.

  • Tami

    I don’t like the new detective or the new DA. Their acting was WAY over the top and got on my last nerve! I am a huge SVU fan but these new characters do not add to the show.

  • Brenda Rosenthal

    I was very disappointed in the episode “unstable” I did not think that Wentworth Miller added anything to the show. His edgy character did not appeal to me at all. If the episodes continue with him in it, I probably would not be as interested in watching the show

  • Reilly

    I was not very impressed with Unstable either. It felt like a little bit of a letdown after Zebras. Wentworth Miller’s character kinda scared me a little bit and I didn’t think he did anything to the show. And then there’s Christine Lahti, who’s character was just a pure b****. She needs to get a little nicer, even though a little conflict was kinda nice. Only 4 more episodes till Alex comes back! Can’t wait!
    (Oh and yes bring more Munch! I love him!)

  • Natasha

    Okay I did not Miller, not at all! I am really annoyed with Sonja but I can handle that because it adds new conflict.
    Stabler was great, I loved him, I have no idea what you all are talking about.
    However I would like to pitch the idea out, do you all notice how Olivia has become more sexy? The opening credits her hair is in the wind, and then in the show she has heels on, and she is running around in LOTS of jewelry.

  • Larry

    If Wentworth stay on the show I will be finding something else to watch

  • Danny Tucker

    What was that. The new season’s opener ? Did someone actually get paid for their awful awful decision to cast Christine Lahti. WAY over the top with her character. Demonstrated that she is not a team player. HAS NO BUSINESS WHATSOEVER as a cast member.
    Dick must have owed Tommy a really big favor to cast this woman.
    Although Dick is a billionaire he should still keep his hand on the wheel. Kill her off. Blow her up. Get her away.

  • AD

    I know the show can do withought Wentworth Miller. He will always be known as the cop from Prison Break but he does not fit into the show. His story of his wife and daughter is way too dramatic for the show.Maybe he needs to be interrogated.Ha ha. Christina Lahti is too bitchy and hard up but she put forth more conviction to the show. All the original cast members should have a role in the show again. It’s not just about Benson and Stabler. I like that every cast member has a past.I forget the social worker’s past. The Asian dude. Benson is looking very sexy for the show. What’s up with that? She will cut her hair when it gets too long, I suppose. She always does this to knock off her famous mother’s looks. The show is failing in making too many dramatic shows about rape. There’s better stories to tell.

  • SLR

    I used to love SVU, but it’s now a pale reflection of seasons past. The plots have become so over the top and devoid of reality as to be laughable. Zebras is a perfect example; it was awful! I love inventive drama, but come on! The show no longer makes any effort to make it seem plausible. Any sane CO would have canned both Benson and Stabler years ago out of concern over financial liability if not public welfare/safety. Munch and Fin have been relegated to supporting cast, their roles reduced to little more than errand boys for the dynamic duo. Around my house, we’ve started referring to the show as L&O: Olivia Benson Unit… since MH won the Emmy, its all about maxing her screen time so she can chew the scenery. We seldom bother watching anymore… we prefer catching a rerun from the first few seasons or, better yet, getting a Munch fix from dusting off a DVD of H:LOTS. Dick Wolf… send Liv and El out in a hale of bullets and rebuild around Munch and Fin. Adding new, pointless characters to the mix won’t fix what’s broken IMO.

  • J. Collier

    Why do you use that stupid and droning music in the background? It drowns out the voices and iritates a person’s ears! Why not use something less twangy?

  • Carol A

    I’m a big fan of Law and Order Svu but the new DA is terrible with her acting and the plts are too far out. Leave things the way they were.

  • Mark

    I thought we lost Christine to detox… she should remain there and not be brought back… Let the story be the main focus not the malcontant ADA… she stays I will be gone…