‘Law & Order: SVU’: Fin Is Torn Between His Family & His Badge (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 20, Episode 22 of Law & Order: SVU, “Diss.”]
Thursday’s episode of Law & Order: SVU delves into Fin’s past a bit when the husband of the victim turns out to be someone he not only grew up with, but lived with following a traumatic event in his life.
In a story ripped from the headlines, “Diss” also touches on rappers’ diss wars and the media attention given to celebrities.
The Case Gets (T00?) Personal for Fin
After filming a music video, pop star Dallas Monroe (Amber Stevens West) heads home, where a friend later finds her after she’s been brutally assaulted. She was struck multiple times in the back of the head and has a possible skull fracture. A gun is found under her body.
A neighbor saw Dallas and her husband, Justin, fighting earlier in the night, and there have been a couple calls about domestic disputes in the past month. It’s only when Fin and Carisi (Peter Scanavino) pick him up from his concert that the other detective learns Fin grew up with the rapper. Their mothers were best friends, but Fin hasn’t seen Justin since they were 16.
Justin insists he’s never hit Dallas and has only yelled at her. “When I left Dallas, she was fine,” he says. But he doesn’t help matters when he tells Fin that whoever’s responsible for his wife’s state “is about to die.”
There’s also a bruise on his hand, but he claims he hit a paparazzo who got too close to his daughter. The paparazzo confirms his story, but he also informs the detectives that Justin spent time in a rage room.
The video shows him yelling at an imaginary Dallas while smashing everything inside the room (including a dummy) and saying he’d kill her. Justin insists it was just a way to release his anger.
“All the gifts God gave you, and this is what you do?” Fin asks, showing his old friend a photo of his wife at the crime scene. “You’re a disgrace.” Justin throws his words right back at him.
Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) tells Fin to take a break, just as Justin’s mother, Jo (L. Scott Caldwell) shows up at the police station. She slaps Fin as soon as she sees him, and once they’re in a conference room, reminds him they’re family. She took him in for six months after his mother’s death and cared for him like he was one of her own.
“How could you arrest my baby without so much as a phone call?” Jo asks him. “And him as good as family to you? Where’s your loyalty? do you really believe that my child could do that?” She, too, insists Justin would never hit Dallas and tells Fin to fix it. “You owe us,” she says. “You owe me.”
That doesn’t sit well with Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) or Olivia, but the latter is the only one to learn why the Andersons are Fin’s “family.” His father ripped off the neighborhood drug dealers, who retaliated and shot at them. Fin and his father were okay, but his mother died in the street. Jo took him in and kept him out of the system. But that doesn’t mean he can cover for Justin, Olivia reminds him.
The Sins of the Past
When Dallas wakes up, she echoes what Justin and Jo have already said, that her husband has never hit her. She can even prove that he had already left before her attack. She Facetimed with her mother in a nursing home, and Justin was already at his concert.
She went to bed and assumed when she heard a noise downstairs that it was her friend with her daughter. Then, there was a man wearing a mask and gloves in her room, and she ran to get the gun from behind the bar.
“I know we’re famous, but we’re just people,” Dallas says. “It’s just part of the deal we make with the world, I guess.” But Olivia assures her that she didn’t deserve what happened to her.
Dallas tells her that people on Twitter would disagree and informs her of a diss war Justin’s in with another rapper, RB Banks (Snoop Dogg). They bad mouth each other in their raps for sales, but some fans take it seriously.
And Banks just so happened to like a video on Dallas’ Instagram page showing Justin inputting the code for the smart lock to their apartment. That could be how her attacker got in.
Furthermore, some of Banks’ lyrics are concerning: “Come at me again/I’m gonna side step you/teach that black Taylor Swift/wife of yours a lesson.”
When Carisi and Rollins (Kelli Giddish) speak with him, Banks says Dallas got what she deserved, but insists he didn’t do it.
He changes his tune after Justin goes after him following a front page story about their diss war on the New York Ledger. The police intervene, and Banks says he’s guilty … until he’s in an interrogation room with Olivia. He even has an alibi; he was with his mistress.
After learning that Dallas doesn’t want Jo around, Fin tries to find out why. Jo wants to know if he’s asking as family or as a cop. “I was family first,” he tells her. Jo claims that Dallas refused to let Justin give her money to fix her place, but when SVU digs into the case, they learn that Jo’s been doing more than home repairs with stacks of money.
She wrote a check for $250,000 to a Vickie Lewis (Elizabeth Tate), who says she was “entitled” to the money “with all this #MeToo stuff flying around.” She says Justin’s manager invited her to the rapper’s hotel suite, and Jo offered her money to stay quiet.
Though Justin insists he never cheated on Dallas, after seeing Vickie’s photo, he says it only happened once. But there’s something else going on because Justin also reveals that his manager, who supposedly hooked the two up, died in 2006.
It’s when Fin learns that the gun under Dallas matches an 18-year-old unsolved murder for a gangster named Malik Harper that the pieces come together. The cop who worked the case points him in the direction of Malik’s pregnant girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Carisi recognizes a bike in the back of several of Dallas’ social media posts as that belonging to a kid hanging around the crime scene, Andreas Harper (Deandre Leatherbury). He tries to claim he’s just a huge fan of Justin’s and wanted to talk to him, but Olivia points out that he was stalking Dallas. Justin wasn’t home that night, and as a “fan,” he would’ve known about his concert. Furthermore, she thinks that they’ll find Dallas’ DNA on his bike lock.
If you’re thinking that Malik’s pregnant girlfriend was Vickie and Andreas is their son, you’d be right. Fin knows that Andreas went after Dallas to get back at the man who killed his father: Justin. That was why Jo paid her.
“I was there for Snake,” Andreas tells Olivia, and he’s not lying. He was there for Justin — to make him suffer by attacking Dallas, he tells Fin.
Fin then goes to see Justin and reminds him that everything he does in his past will come back on him, relating the current events to his own mother’s murder. Thirty years later, Fin learned that her killer was found dead, but he didn’t bother looking for who did it because he was trash, just like Malik.
Justin asks him if it would make a difference if Malik was killed in self-defense, but he knows that he wouldn’t be able to prove it. “It’s where we’re from,” he says. Fin leaves him to take care of his family.
Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC