LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 09: Raúl Esparza arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere FYC Event For Hulu's "Candy" at El Capitan Theatre on May 09, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/FilmMagic)
TV - Movies
This Is The Exact
Moment Law &
Order: SVU
Jumped The Shark
A popular series like “Law & Order: SVU” that has been on the air for over two decades is bound to have its share of ridiculous “shark hop” episodes. The show always regained its footing, but the shark-jumping conclusion of a beloved A.D.A.'s storyline in Season 19 had a lasting impact on the series, which it has yet to fix.
In Season 19, Episode 13, "The Undiscovered Country,” the show said goodbye to the wildly popular A.D.A. Raphael Barba. Rather than give him a nice, meaty case to sink his teeth and talent into, the episode sees Barba tried (and, rather unrealistically, acquitted) for proactively causing the premature death of a terminal infant in a vegetative state.
The episode sprinkles references to a character never mentioned in the history of "SVU," introduces a shiny new A.D.A., places Benson in yet another violent hostage situation, puts the current A.D.A. on trial, has him literally kill a baby, and dresses his exit up in a melodrama that makes no sense for the character. There’s no denying it’s an episode filled with shortcomings and absurdity.
To be fair, Raul Esparza's performance as Raphael Barba on the stand does allow him to flex the theatrical muscles that made him such a fan favorite in the first place. However, the fact that his character would never be in the situation to begin with is just too difficult to ignore, and it’s hard not to be aware of the writer's insistence on squeezing a square peg into a round hole.
Barba’s exit marked a turning point, and the series moved away from courtroom scenes altogether. Combine that with the series' move away from a focus on the investigations themselves, and you have a "Law & Order" series that contains neither law nor order.