Carisi had a hard fight for a victim on this week’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
While trying to aid a woman in over her head on a case, Carisi clashed with his own bosses. There was also more insight into Velasco’s past, which made Nightmares in Drill City a powerful hour of drama.
Carisi seeks some aid
The episode opened with Victoria Warshofsky (Alison Thornton) riding with Jasmine (Annelise Cepero) and a male friend (Quincy Giles) to send messages to Chris Miller (Khouri St.Surin). Chris was with his brother and friends when Tori showed up only for her male friend to gun down Chris and his buddies.
They quickly raced to rob some money, with Tori shocked at the violence. She ended up taking a bullet in the leg and left behind while her “friends” fled.
At the hospital, Carisi told Benson and Rollins how Chris was still alive and Tori was the “honey trap” to set him up. He called in SVU as Tori had bruises indicating beatings.
Tori claimed she never knew it would get so bad but refused to give up who else was involved out of fear he’d come after her.
The team went over Tori’s clean record as a mother flying in from Poland and couldn’t tell how she got involved in this. Carisi pressed a wounded Tori on how she’d be charged with this unless she gave up who was involved. Tori claimed “G,” a would-be “drill” rapper, was just someone she hung out with, and she’d thought Jasmine was her friend who dragged her into this.
The team found one of G’s videos featuring Tori and Jasmine. He then dropped a new one where he flaunted both a gun and some of the bling he’d stolen from Chris in what amounted to a viral confession.
The team raided the home to quickly arrest G, who claimed that Tori had planned the whole thing.
Victim or mastermind?
G aka David Graham, knowing he was going to jail for triple homicide, claimed that Chris’ brother had gone after him in a video and it was Tori who said she could get Chris on her side to set up the robbery. “Nobody dies without her.”
A wounded Chris said he was never in the rapper game and really liked Tori. Jasmine backed up the story Tori had sought the gang out and pushed the robbery.
Tori met with Carisi and her attorney, who’s our old friend Nikki Staines (Callie Thorne) to admit she did fall into the gang life but fell for G, despite his abuse of her. Before she knew it, she was a stripper turning tricks even as she kept up her school life. She continued to insist G threatened her into this.
While Benson and Rollins thought Tori was a victim, Carisi pointed out his bosses may not be open to a deal for her. He watched his bosses, Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell (Betty Buckley) and Bureau Chief Phillip Baptiste (Teagle F. Bougere) do a press conference on putting all the perps away.
Carisi pressed the two, but Maxwell made it clear she couldn’t “put the black man away and cut the white girl a deal,” with Baptiste brushing off her “sob story” and both pressing Carisi to make this case.
Rollins and Benson weren’t happy when Tori’s mother, Madga (Maja Wampuszyc) came to them, begging to help her daughter. At the arraignment, G and Jasmine both pleaded not guilty with Tori doing the same and worried about her mother. While Rollins thought they were done, Benson felt they could open their own case against G for rape and trafficking charges.
Fighting the upper brass
Like Carisi, Benson had trouble winning Maxwell and Baptiste over, the latter actually complaining about “the generic young black male strikes again.” Carisi and Benson pointed out the abuse was a perfect card for Staines to win sympathy with the jury, which convinced Maxwell to let them go ahead. Despite a good offer, Tori refused the deal with Nikki, confident they could win.
Fin and Velasco talked it over, with Velasco revealing he’d run with a gang in Mexico and was sent to trick a guy into being tortured by his bosses. Velasco swore if the guy lived, he would only do good. The guy lived with Velasco to get out of the gang life and the country. Fin admitted he’d done some dark stuff undercover and clearly found new respect for Velasco.
“The Hip Hop Home Invasion” was already a media circus with Benson complaining to Maxwell, who brushed off how this was Carisi’s big chance.
Jasmine testified that Tori had set this whole thing up with Nikki pointing out, “first rat gets the cheese.” Chris was emotionally testifying about his brother’s murder with their sister railing at Tori for being responsible.
Tori testified about the constant abuse she’d suffered from G and that she was afraid if she refused to go along with the robbery, she’d be sold to someone else or worse. Carisi cross-examined her to make it sound like Tori could have called for help at any time but enjoyed this life, driving Tori to tears.
While Baptiste was happy with Carisi, Rollins was visibly disgusted. Benson hit upon how Jasmine must have been trafficked just like Tori and was holding something back.
Velasco and Fin pressed on Jasmine with her history of injuries and soon pushed Jasmine into talking. Carisi went to Maxwell and Baptiste, who weren’t happy about this but Carisi made an impassioned speech on how the law had moved on from treating minor crimes as equal to murders. “Sometimes justice should be about compassion.”
The pair announced Tori and Jasmine had agreed to a plea bargain in exchange for community service (Of course, making it sound like this was all their idea to reporters). Rollins forgave Carisi as they left.
Benson checked in with Tori at her school as she had missed two counseling sessions. Tori admitted she felt guilty that she’d gotten off lightly while Chris’ brother was dead. Benson assured Tori that it was time to take off the armor she’d put up for so long. The girl headed off with Benson clearly wondering which path she’d take in the future.
It was a challenging episode for Carisi while also sharing more into how Velasco ended up this way to cap off the final episode before a long break.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 returns with new episodes Thursday, December 9 at 9/8c on NBC.