What’s Worth Watching: ‘Law & Order: SVU’ on NBC for Wednesday, September 30

Michael Parmelee/NBC
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Devil's Dissections" Episode 17002 -- Pictured: Mariska Hargitay as Sergeant Olivia Benson -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, “Transgender Bridge” (Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10/9c, NBC)

After last week’s insanely twisted, Robert Durst-inspired hoot of a season opener, SVU gets serious with a troubling case involving the zeitgeist issue of transgender acceptance. There’s no question who’s culpable in the bullying injury of transgender teen Avery (Christopher Dylan White): another 15-year-old, Darius (Dante Brown), whose taunting of the “freak” along with other public-school peers in an uptown park gets terribly out of hand. Just when it looks like forgiveness, redemption and a lesson in tolerance might be possible, SVU reminds us that life rarely operates as neatly as an Afterschool Special.

With the politically motivated DA’s office (represented by guest star Robert Sean Leonard) deciding to make an example of Darius and to try him as an adult, emotions run deep in both youths’ families as well as in the squad room. One of SVU‘s strengths has always been its guest casting, and just try not to be affected as Darius’s mother (Orange Is the New Black’s Adrienne “Black Cindy” Moore) pleads for mercy for her genuinely remorseful son, a sentiment shared by Avery’s compassionate parents (played by real-life Broadway couple Danny Burstein and Rebecca Luker).