I may have given up with the second (and often highest-rated) in the Law & Order franchise prematurely. After declaring the show treading in dangerous waters following some very strategic “get our leads Emmys” episodes, during which jurisdictions were crossed and procedures were fictionalized, I stopped watching and opted only to read the recaps the following morning. I decided I would come back to the show if they followed my post-strike plan and revealed some sort of seedy past for one Detective Chester Lake (Adam Beach), whose drawling dialogue always sounded darker and smarmier than perhaps it should. Last night, in the ninth season finale, they did just that, when the SVU detectives (again stepping over boundaries) investigated a police shooting in which Lake was the prime suspect, and of course he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights, which made him look even guiltier. It’s not exactly what I had in mind for his character, but it will do (pig; it will do).
Now since the show ended on a cliffhanger after Lake went rogue, kidnapped a previous victim, killed a rapist, and then got arrested, there’s a chance it might come back in the fall with a big “Gotcha!” to the audience, explaining it was all a set-up to get the real bad guys (ie: the other rapists and corrupt cops), and Lake isn’t really a bad guy after all. After all, some of the inner-squad beef seemed a bit staged, though they didn’t have an audience but for the other detectives (and you know, the at-home viewers). However, with Beach's intended departure being leaked to the press last month, though, it appears the show is just cleaning house: ADA Casey Novak is on the verge of disbarment with her actions in the season finale, as Diane Neal announced she will be leaving the show for greener pastures, and Fin (Ice-T) requested transfer. With two beloved characters heading out, it only make senses to also get rid of the one guy who never found his place within the department or with the fans. I just wish they had done it with some more balls— learning that "second semen sample" was his and then finding him hiding out in some dank basement, surrounded by serial killer-obsessive collections and another victim about to be slaughtered, forcing one of his “brothers in arms” to take him out. They may not have seen his snap behavior coming, but those habitual viewers who paid even the slightest bit of attention most certainly did, and SVU punked out by not making him turn out to be the twisted sociopath we all knew he had within him. Instead they made him almost a martyr and crucified fan-favorite Casey; what used to be a tough, controversial show has become a melodramatic soap opera.