Sometimes, a supposedly sleazy “act” isn’t a performance.
Just after Rollins and Carisi went public about their relationship, the SVU team tackled a case of a radio host who may be as wild in real life as he seemed on his show.
That put Rollins in the crosshairs as Video Killed the Radio Star was a dark Law & Order: Special Victims Unit tale.
A gala turns dark
At a benefit auction, Benson was with Trevor Langan (Peter Hermann) as they bumped into Robert Flynn (Jake Weber), who called Benson “sweetheart.” Olivia knew him from his controversial radio show as Langan warned “she’s out of your league, Bob.”
Ellen Kaplan (Laura Kai Chen) interrupted Flynn and her husband, Mitch, (Jim True-Frost), with Flynn coming over to her as Langan was talking up the charity. He squeezed her bottom before taking the dais to speak. Flynn then confronted Ellen in a room on how Mitch “owed” him for free advertising for his products and began assaulting her.
Benson saw Ellen shaken as she left and didn’t believe her tales of just having too much to drink. The next day, Mitch and Ellen were at the station, Mitch upset about Flynn touching Ellen with her insisting it wasn’t more than that, and didn’t want to make a fuss.
Benson kept pressing Ellen, who was reluctant as Mitch had an old assault record on his file that Flynn could bring up on his show. Ellen admitted Flynn had raped her yet still refused to go public and give Flynn ammo for his show.
The team watched a video of Flynn’s show ranting about the “softness” of the world. Rollins admitted she listened to the show and respected Flynn speaking what he believed. While there were rumors of inappropriate behavior, there was nothing specific about Flynn.
Rollins suggested going undercover as a target, which concerned Carisi. The team knowingly had Carisi pose as Rollins’s “husband” at a book signing with Rollins soon in a private room and Flynn not even hesitating to try to move on her.
When Rollins tried to leave, Flynn matter-of-factly related he’d once killed a man who tried to stop him, even describing the address and how he’d done it. Rollins claimed she was a private investigator for Mitch, which interested him. They left with Rollins marveling they’d uncovered a murder.
Who did the host kill?
Benson was upset that Rollins went off-script with the P.I. story and wanted Rollins off the case. Rollins fired back they needed to get Flynn to talk and his attraction to Rollins would help that.
Benson was concerned Rollins was going deep undercover right after going public about her and Carisi. “There is a part of you that thinks you don’t deserve to be happy,” Benson said, worried Rollins was trying to sabotage her and Carisi. However, Rollins insisted she could handle this.
A search of the cold case files with Detective Emily Ling (Sue Kim-Molina) uncovered a few possible victims going years back, yet hard to tell who it could have been.
Rollins arrived at Flynn’s studio, playing on his ego with her offering her a job to turn on the Kaplans. Velasco and Fin discovered Kenneth Cross, Flynn’s former law partner, whose 2010 murder matched the claims. Carisi called Rollins to get out and when Flynn tried to stop her, she pulled her gun. Amazingly, Flynn actually seemed more pleased at the threats.
It appeared Cross discovered his wife, Lola (Diane Farr), had been having an affair with Flynn, leading to Cross being murdered. They talked to Lola, who seemed to think it was a robbery. She was shaken hearing Flynn’s name, insisting they were just friends and nothing more.
The cops were suspicious, with Carisi suggesting this whole thing was just Flynn trying to sound impressive by claiming responsibility for Cross’ murder. Carisi was upset Rollins was ready to meet Flynn again, with Benson telling her to go ahead.
Flynn had heard of the investigation, playing a recording of a talk with Lola, who threatened a shakedown. According to Flynn, Lola and Cross were running a scam of Lola seducing a married man and Cross blackmailing them with evidence for cash. Flynn was also backtracking on the murder story.
Rollins gets too deep
Rollins met Flynn again, who claimed that this was a shakedown and did not kill Cross. He then asked if Rollins might know a hitman to take care of Lola.
Carisi warned they still needed evidence, with Velasco claiming to have experience with this job. He posed as a driver to pick up Rollins and Flynn, getting Flynn to pay cash to handle Lola.
Seeing the video of Flynn ordering a hit, Lola claimed to have nothing to do with Ken’s murder, but they broke in about the fake charity scam. Lola confessed Flynn had told her of killing Ken and that if she ever talked, she’d be next. She agreed to testify in exchange for help with her civil suits.
At a pier, Velasco showed Flynn a faked photo of Lola dead. Instead of cash, Flynn pulled out his gun to take the phone, ready to “tie up loose ends.” He pressed it against Velasco’s chest only to laugh, “just messing with you” and paying Velasco after all.
The cops rolled in to arrest them, Rollins and Velasco playing along in handcuffs. Flynn claimed this was all a grand setup against him, only for Rollins to step in and reveal who she was.
Flynn pleaded not guilty and already posted bail. The case was weak given Lola’s own crimes while Flynn was telling his listeners the whole thing out as a witchhunt and then bringing up Rollins’ history of gambling, kids, the works.
Suddenly, Mitch entered with a gun in hand, Flynn laughing at him until Mitch shot him right on air. He calmly placed the gun down before leaving, with the entire squad sitting in shock at Flynn getting a dose of his own medicine.
The episode ended with a brief tribute to late recurring guest star Ned Eisenberg, a solemn note on an already dark case.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.