I struggled to figure out how I felt about “Lessons Learned” last week’s episode of Law and Order: SVU. It wasn’t a bad episode. But neither is it one that stands out as something to be remembered at the end of the year. The plot was so-so; the message seemed a little dated, like it would have been far more relevant a few years back when the Catholic church scandals were breaking out all over the place.
I’m not saying that the systemic concealment of multiple acts of child molestation can ever have an expiration date, and I think they did try to bring a fresh angle to it, but I just didn’t connect with the case or the victims.
Basically, a retired teacher killed himself after receiving a letter from a man he abused as a child at a prestigious prep school. The investigation into the suicide led SVU to uncover a wide-spread abuse dating back thirty, even forty years, not to mention a school board that was so concerned with image that it looked the other way while dozens of boys were molested.
The twist that the episode tried to portray was the inclusion of a teacher who truly didn’t realize that sleeping with his older students was a bad thing. True, his abusees were 17 or 18 and they looked back on their relationship with him as a loving awakening of their sexuality, but he was lumped right in with the child molesters, and he was totally confounded by the potential consequences of his actions.
Watch Law and Order: SVU – Lessons Learned Online
Law and Order: SVU S14E08: Lessons Learned
I think the problem with the episode was that the main bad guy, the teacher who committed all of the worst cases of abuse, was long dead and therefore couldn’t be punished or even faced by his victims. That gave the episode a kind of disconnect that I think did it more harm than good, even if the scenario was more true-to-life.
All in all, another lackluster episode in what has been an inconsistent season at best.
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