Wednesday 9:00 PM on NBC (Returning September 24th, 2014)
In "October Surprise" (what is that even supposed to mean?) we are reminded of headlines from not so long ago concerning the Anthony Weiner/Carlos Danger scandal.

Poor ADA Rafael Barba is between the frying pan and the fuego when one of his oldest friends, Eddie Garcia, is brought in for suspected rape. However, the victim, Lindsay, is far from convincing. When Benson and Amaro go to her apartment for further questioning (Amaro: "You didn't need to preserve the crime scene." Lindsay: "It always looks like this.") she acts as if nothing happened. Lindsay sends Benson away so she can talk to Amaro, thinking she might be able to sway the male detective. She tells him she wants to drop the charges, but he says it's too late. Next thing we know Lindsay is swept away to a new job in Israel.

The squad finds that Lindsay has tried to con other men. Amaro realizes that besides Eddie they are all rich, important men. Maybe she wasn't involved with Eddie, but instead with his (and Barba's) old friend Alex Muñoz, who is running for mayor. Further investigation reveals that the Muñoz campaign helped at least two women find cushy state government jobs for which they clearly aren't qualified.

SVU knows Lindsay contacted her victims through social media, so Det. Rollins sets up a dummy account and messages Alex Muñoz through the name the other women used: Enrique Trouble (get it?). The discussion gets flirty and she sends him a selfie with her top button undone. Barba, who is there with the detectives, tells them it can't be Muñoz, since he's at a swanky campaign dinner. Soon a picture is returned of a man's bare chest. We can't see his face, but it's clear he's wearing a tuxedo, as if he's at a swanky campaign dinner. Rollins asks for more and the next pic shows his pants down. We don't see the third pic, but Fin calls it "The full Muñoz."


Barba tells them to continue the investigation, but it seems he wants the detectives to go soft on his old friend. Amaro follows Barba to the elevator and confronts him, forcing him to face the truth and not let his old amigo's indiscretions slide.



Barba can't ignore the evidence, and goes to talk to his old friend, Eddie. Eddie was the bag man between Muñoz and the women. After Rafael tells Eddie he has to look out for himself, Eddie confesses he's covering for Muñoz. Eddie tells of another woman Alex was involved with: a teacher in Yonkers.

The detectives go to Yonkers to interview the woman. It turns out she isn't a teacher, but a 15-year-old student. She never met Muñoz, but her phone reveals a sexting session between her and the candidate.

Barba confronts Muñoz with the new evidence. If he has those pictures he's in possession of child pornography. Even with mounting evidence, the candidate still blames it all on his political enemies, accusing Barba of turning on his old friend.

We're left with the mayoral election a few days away and Muñoz claiming he's the victim of a conspiracy.

I loved this episode! The elevator scene with Danny Pino and Raúl Esparza was muy bueno. That's some great acting, there. Much of it was in Spanish without captions, a daring choice for network television. I'm not sure what they said, but I got the gist of it. Esparza had another great scene with Kirk Acedevo, who played Eddie. Eddie's guilt at rolling on his friend was heartbreaking. And it was great to find out more about Barba's background. This show has once again benefitted from the talents of great Broadway actors, namely Kirk Acedevo, Vincent Laresca, Karen Olivo, Annaleigh Ashford and new series regular Raúl Esparza.

Image Credits
Notes:
  • Line of the night: Amaro: "This is just the tip of the iceberg." Rollins: "We saw more than just the tip."
  • Will we ever find out how the election turned out?
  • When it was no longer a rape case, should the case have been turned over to another squad?
  • Did Rafi Barba turn his back on his people when he chose to go to Harvard and make something of himself?
  • Will I ever learn to speak Spanish? (Thanks, Google Translate!)
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