Can Liv Help an ‘SVU’ Victim Remember Her Assault With a New Interview Technique? (RECAP)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 21
Spoiler Alert
Barbara Nitke/NBC

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 21, Episode 2 of Law & Order: SVU, “The Darkest Journey Home.”]

To help victims, sometimes the investigators — including Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) — have to relive their own traumas. In Thursday’s episode of Law & Order: SVU, the new deputy chief (we miss you already, Dodds!) makes it mandatory they all see a therapist to familiarize themselves with trauma-based interviewing. Essentially, they help the victim go back to the traumatic event and then stay out of the way.

And Liv relives arguably the most painful event in her life, when William Lewis (Pablo Schreiber) kidnapped her. “I’m a cop, how could I have let my guard down?” she asks. But she’s able to use that experience learning the technique to help a victim, Raegan (Modern Family‘sAriel Winter), who is unable to remember how she got home after a night out. But her tendency to party has even her friends practically shrugging their shoulders at her assault. That’s why she needs someone like Liv on her side.

Even so, Carisi (Peter Scanavino) is faced with making a decision about the case once it becomes clear that Raegan won’t necessarily do well on the stand.

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Distinguishing Fact From Fiction

Raegan heads home in a QuikRide after a night out with friends and falls asleep, waking up to discover it’s a share ride and her fellow passenger is Julius. She pops a pill and closes her eyes, but when she wakes up at home the next morning, she’s covered in bruises. She goes to the police station and admits to Liv she doesn’t know if something happened to her. When she looks at her phone, she sees she took the QuikRide to Sheepshead Bay and doesn’t even know what that is.

With the unit short-staffed, Liv takes Raegan to the hospital for a rape kit. Raegan says her parents are on a cruise and she hates her sister. She does call her fiancé, Richard, but worries that he’ll be mad and says he has anger management issues. When he arrives at the hospital, though, he seems like the nice, quiet type, and she runs into his arms.

(Barbara Nitke/NBC)

Fin talks to the QuikRide driver, Nick, who says he didn’t hang around after dropping her off. “She is crazy,” he says. “I just did what she asked.” He also claims he dropped Julius off first, which the passenger confirms, adding Raegan was upset he wouldn’t go up to her place with her.

Though Raegan discloses that she consumed a lot of tequila and took a Xanax, her rape kit reveals she was on plenty of other drugs as well. The kit also found semen from two different donors, neither of whom is Richard. She’s been to the ER for multiple visits related to alcohol. Her father is dead, and her mother is in assisted living, meaning she lied (or, as Raegan later explains, just exaggerated because life is boring). With Carisi on a short leash, the best they can do to test their suspects’ (Julius and Nick) DNA is to retrieve abandoned samples (which Rollins does).

When Liv goes to see Raegan again, Richard’s on his way out and wishes her luck. (And that’s the last time we see him, but can we assume they stay together since she now says he never yells, even when she cheats on him?) Raegan’s memory slowly starts coming back. Her rapists laughed when she begged them to let her up to use the bathroom.

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One of the samples from the kit belongs to Dennis, Raegan’s old (married) boss, and she admits she was with him that afternoon like it was no big deal. When Liv tries to impress on her the importance of telling her everything, Raegan gets upset and storms out, yelling that she betrayed her. But Liv’s not one to give up so easily. She goes to see Raegan and suggests retracing her route in hopes it will jog her memory because she knows she isn’t lying about being raped.

What Really Happened That Night

They start at the bar before heading to the marina near Clemente’s bar in Sheepshead Bay; a CSU team found sand in her apartment consistent with the area. Raegan remembers being barefoot and a big, older man dragging her down the dock, then the men making fun of her and calling her “uptight girl.” There’s a boat, Uptown Girl, and Raegan realizes that’s where she was raped. She can’t remember this man’s face, but she does remember the tattoo on his arm.

(Barbara Nitke/NBC)

The boat belongs to Anthony, Julius’ old boss. Julius also called him from the QuikRide. He tries to claim he doesn’t even know Anthony, then denies meeting him on the boat for a rape, and asks for his lawyer. They also have Anthony on the security camera at Clemente’s with an older man, likely the one Raegan remembered.

Nick claims he went home after dropping Raegan off at Clemente’s, but he’s pretty much one loud question away from folding and cowering in a corner. When they bring in Anthony, he says Julius just called to borrow his boat. But what about the footage of him at Clemente’s with that man?

Nick presumably gives up Frank, who has the tattoo Raegan remembered. And they have his DNA in the rape kit. DNA puts all four men on the boat, but with Liv unsure of how Raegan would hold up on the stand, Carisi says they may need to cut one a deal. With Anthony in the middle of a custody battle, he has the most to lose.

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Anthony and his lawyer claim that his DNA is only present because the boat is his. If Carisi wants him to testify against the others, he goes free. His lawyer suggests a narrative in which he only knows about what happened because his friend told him detail. But Carisi refuses to let him lie.

Once Carisi goes to Nick with Anthony’s claim he wasn’t there, the QuikRide driver immediately puts him on the boat and says he tried to rape Raegan but couldn’t and it was all Julius’ idea. Nick claims he only put her shoes back on, made sure she had her phone and purse, and drove her home. He didn’t touch her.

Liv then informs Raegan that everyone’s taking a plea and they won’t be going to trial. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Raegan asks. Liv knows she’ll survive what comes next because Liv did and assures her she’s there for her if she needs to talk.

(Barbara Nitke/NBC)

What did you think of Ariel Winter’s guest spot?

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC