'Law & Order: SVU' Season 20 Finale: Were Stone and Nikki's Actions Justified? (POLL)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 20 finale of Law & Order: SVU, "End Game."]
Do the ends justify the means?
That's the question Law & Order: SVU asks in its Season 20 finale as ADA Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) and Nikki Staines (Callie Thorne) do what they deem is necessary to put Rob Miller (Titus Welliver) behind bars.
The NBC drama is in good hands.
If you thought Miller walking up to Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) and Noah in the restaurant was bad, that was just the beginning. The charges against him are dropped. The judge rules the recording of Miller saying, "no Nikki, no case" didn't rise to the legal standard. Nikki is too scared to testify.
And when Olivia tries to convince her to again, she learns Miller killed Nikki's daughter's dog. But Nikki still won't testify and due to attorney/client privilege, her lawyer can't say if her client can put Miller at the underage sex parties.
Just as their case against Miller is falling apart, a teenager is found dead, naked and from an apparent overdose (but she didn't have a history with drugs). When Olivia speaks with the victim's parents, Miller is there as their lawyer. That can't be a coincidence, right?
Miller then makes another move against Olivia. This time, he has two uniformed officers pick Noah up at school, ostensibly on Olivia's orders, leading her to worry Miller has kidnapped her son until Rollins (Kelli Giddish) informs her Noah's with her at the station.
They still only have circumstantial evidence and no one's willing to testify against Miller. He may have killed the teenager because she could identify him, but they can't prove it. With Miller free, Olivia is worried he'll hurt her son. "Rob Miller is a criminal," she tells Stone. "He's a rapist. He's a murderer, and we got nothing. And he's gonna get away with all of this."
Will Antonio's guilt lead to his exit?
But Stone can't let that happen, so he meets with Nikki in secret to put into action a plan that will get them what they both want: Rob Miller behind bars. They just have to "break a couple of rules" to make it happen. Stone watches as Nikki makes a cash deposit at a bank and Fin (Ice T) arrests a convict, Jackson, who then brings an envelope to a private club. The ADA also takes the victim's friend's phone.
And after Miller is arrested, all the pieces fall into place. The victim's friend, Brooke, takes the stand in court, and Stone questions her about sharing a meal with Miller and him giving her money. She denies both accusations. Stone placed her phone where they needed it, and Nikki was the one to make the deposit into Brooke's account.
Then it comes out that Jackson was arrested for selling the same type of narcotic that killed the victim. He went to that private club to see Miller, and when he left, 17 minutes after Miller entered, he didn't have the envelope.
Miller calls Nikki to the stand, and she admits she was trying to frame Miller by depositing the money into Brooke's account. She was scared, she testifies. "He's evil," she says. "He'll do whatever it takes to get what he wants, no matter who it hurts." That's why she risked her career and freedom to try to put him behind bars. "I have a daughter," she says tearfully. "He would be a threat to me for the rest of my life if I didn't do anything."
'We have always told compelling stories that are close to our hearts, our souls and our core,' star Mariska Hargitay notes.
It works. Miller is found guilty.
But Olivia isn't pleased with Nikki and Stone's actions. "Sometimes the law's just not good enough," Nikki tells her. And because of them, neither woman will have to look over their shoulders or worry about Miller going after their children.
Even though Stone doesn't regret what he did, his actions lead him to realize he has to move on because of what he did for Olivia. "I simply lost perspective. This is on me. It's a weakness, and it's a crack in my character," he explains. "But the fact is, you became more important to me than the case I was trying and that is not me."
With that, Stone is gone, and the squad is going to need a new ADA (again).
Do the ends justify the means? Miller is a criminal. He raped and killed. He's guilty. But that doesn't mean that what Nikki and Stone do is right because as lawyers, they should know better. They should be better. And, should SVU bring Miller back in the future — they could probably come up with a way for him to get out of prison — they may have just made things worse.
As Miller warns Olivia, he has power. "You're a tiny fish," he says. "Tiny fish always get eaten by the bigger fish."
But for now, the good guys won, and Olivia can sleep soundly knowing Noah is safe.
She's been playing Olivia Benson for 20 seasons of the NBC drama.
Vote in the poll below and sound off in the comments with your thoughts on Stone's exit.
Law & Order: SVU, Season 21, Fall 2019, NBC