“Law and Order SVU” episodes typically rip headlines out of the news and focus their storylines around these hot button topics. Each show in the “Law and Order” series has a specific theme and “SVU” normally focuses on either sexually based crimes or crimes involving children. With that said, this series usually has the more controversial and interesting cases of any of the other shows in the franchise.


“Alternate” is arguably the greatest of all the “Law and Order SVU” episodes. “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon guest stars as Janis, a woman with four distinctive split personalities who might have hurt her daughter. The detectives begin the investigation and uncover a labyrinth of clues that proves nothing is as it seems. The episode is the first one in season nine and bears a striking resemblance to the movie “Primal Fear,” as questions rise over whether a person is responsible for crimes they commit if committed by a split personality.


This season ten “Law and Order SVU” episode is one of the ones based on real-life stories. In 2008, a group of girls in Massachusetts created a pregnancy pact and seventeen ended up pregnant at the same time. In the re-enactment on the television show, two groups of girls have created pacts, one a pregnancy pact and the other a chastity circle. The case starts when a castrated homeless man is burned to death and ends up connected with the pregnant girls. This was one of the better later episodes on the series, dealing with teenage pregnancy and the effects on everyone around them.


This “Law and Order SVU” episode was heartbreaking, presenting a mother who believed she killed her own child and covering it up but realizing by the end that she was not responsible for the death. For much of the episode the detectives search out the mother and believe she is the person responsible for her daughter’s death, killing her to have a better social life. While the mother was on trial for murder, a new twist occurred and attacked the controversy over vaccinating children. The detectives discover the child died because another mother refused to vaccinate her own child and caused a measles outbreak.


Season nine featured an amazing guest star role for actor Robin Williams in this “Law and Order SVU” episode. In much the same manner as many of his recent movies, Williams plays against character by portraying a vindictive man who preaches an anti- authoritarian message. He gets the attention of the detectives when he represents himself in a sexual assault trial and is found not guilty. He then uses this case as a platform to get people to rally against the police and courts. What makes this episode spectacular is Williams performance as the sociopath and the fact that he gets away at the end.


Some of the best “Law and Order SVU” episodes, as well as those from the franchise itself, involves the detectives going undercover to solve a crime. In “Undercover,” it is Benson who goes undercover in a correction facility to prove that a corrections officer is both raping prisoners and dealing illegal drugs. The episode is full of tension and, when Bensen finds herself helpless to the sexual attacks of the prison officers, the show takes a turn for the dark. It ends on a good note, but the episode was one of the best when it comes to the dramatic tension it is known for.

-Shawn Lealos