Law & Order Just Severed Its Connection To The Rest Of The Franchise With 1 Story

A recent Law & Order story disrupted the link between the original series and its current spin-offs. The iconic NBC series has been a mainstay on NBC for over 20 years, although there was a 10-year hiatus between seasons 20 and 21. It is part of a three-hour block of Law & Order shows, all of which take place in the same universe and which sometimes feature crossovers with one another. This series focuses on homicides, while Law & Order: SVU takes rape, incest, and child abduction cases and Law & Order: Organized Crime follows complex investigations into mob bosses.

Law & Order Shaw and Riley investigate a gruesome murder

Shortly after Law & Order was confirmed for season 24, it broadcast its 500th episode. In honor of this milestone, the series offered a compelling story involving a rapist who made parole after only five years behind bars and killed a therapist who supported his parole bid within days of his release. The episode addressed the aftermath of Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson) leaving Law & Order as well as featuring many of the tropes that have made the series so popular. However, one aspect of the story contradicted established canon.

How Law & Order’s 500th Episode Contradicted Established Canon

Law & Order Price and Baxter sit together at the defense table

The 500th episode of Law & Order revolved around ADA Nolan Price’s ethical dilemma after a rapist he brokered a plea deal with for a short sentence committed a violent rape/murder shortly after release. Price had agreed to a plea bargain in which the perp got only five years behind bars for aggravated rape because the victim was so traumatized that she didn’t want to testify. This plot was realistic, considering the overworked New York City justice system. However, this story violated a key aspect of how cases are prosecuted in the Law & Order franchise.

When Law & Order SVU’s Dominique Carisi changed career paths and became an ADA instead of a cop, he joined a breach of the DA’s office that was formed specifically to prosecute rapes and other SVU cases. As ADAs, Carisi and Price both report to the same district attorney. However, Price should not have prosecuted this case because he does not work for the special victims branch of the DA’s office. The episode did not offer any explanation about this contradiction, instead proceeding as if rape cases fall under the regular DA’s office.

Law & Order’s 500th Episode Ignored SVU’s Existence Altogether

Law & Order Nolan speaks to a victim who is traumatized by her experience

It would have made sense for Price to consult with Law & Order: SVU’s Olivia Benson or another member of her staff on this case. The case involved a brutal rape/homicide that Price was having trouble proving was connected to a previous rape. Additionally, Baxter demanded that Price prep a traumatized victim for trial and do his best to alleviate her anxiety so she could effectively implicate the defendant. These issues are SVU’s area of expertise, especially Benson, so the logical thing to do would have been to consult her about the best way to proceed.

Price’s insistence that he had to plead the case out to protect Chelsea from unnecessary trauma would have been stronger had he consulted with Benson about the issue, as Benson is an expert in how to take a trauma-informed approach to questioning sexual assault survivors.

In the past, Mariska Hargitay has appeared briefly in Law & Order as Olivia Benson so that Benson can advise the detectives about a case that is in her wheelhouse. This time, nobody involved in the case floated the idea of consulting SVU about the case. Instead, the story progressed as if SVU didn’t exist and the entire burden of investigating and prosecuting a serial rapist was on the cops and prosecutors involved in the case. This omission further cemented the idea that Law & Order exists in a separate universe from the rest of the franchise despite past crossovers.

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