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Danny Pino, Armand Assante, Law & Order: SVU

'Law & Order: SVU' star Danny Pino talks this week's shattering episode

This week’s Law & Order: SVU is one of those especially brutal ones that directly affects one of the main characters. On the heels of the recent episode in which Detective Rollins (in a devastating performance by Kelli Giddish) revealed that she was once raped comes an intense look into Detective Nick Amaro’s (Danny Pino) past.

In the Mariska Hargitay–directed “Padre Sandunguero,” Nick’s father, Nicolas Sr. (played by veteran actor Armand Assante), shows up at the precinct. He’s there to invite Nick to his May-December wedding. Amaro is visibly traumatized. He hasn’t really spoken to the man at length since he was 15. And with good reason.

In an interview with the EW Community, Danny Pino explained what Nick is feeling:

“I think that seeing his father is a very complicated thing for him,” Pino explained. “I think Nicolas Armaro Sr. is Nick’s biggest trigger. We’ve been seeing certain things about Nick for the last three and a half years. Seeing him act erratically and violently at times. And not quite known why that is. I think in this episode, that trigger comes walking in the door. It’s fear of what this means for his stability and his recovery. He’s in anger management; he wants to keep his job. It shakes his foundation.”

Nick Sr.’s wedding turns violent, and Nick is forced to look back at his traumatic past with his father—and maybe even testify against him. This also pits him against against his family, who insist on seeing his father as the loving, benevolent man he appears to be (but actually isn’t).

“I think we all carry some of that with us,” Pino said. “And to see a character having to face it alone, having his family essentially turn on him and buy what Nick considers to be a con, it’s an incredibly painful thing to go through.”

Behind the scenes, Pino said he was “incredibly grateful and happy and excited and nervous every day” about working with Assante, a Hollywood mainstay.

“He’s incredibly dynamic [and] prepared. When you work with an actor who is so prepared, there’s a tendency to be, I think, married to one way of doing a scene or expressing something. That is so not the case with Armand. His preparation allows him to be free and present and imaginative, which causes the other actors in the scene to be ready for anything.”

And what about taking direction from iconic SVU veteran (and someone Pino considers “a very close, very dear friend”), Mariska Hargitay?

This was Hargitay’s second time in the SVU director’s chair. Pino said her direction enabled him to unearth some of his character’s deeper emotions.

“There was a level of safety, familiarity, of trust that allowed for a lot of that emotional exploration,” the actor explained. “She’s responsible for setting a tone for the set, a level of comfort and confidence. Her understanding of storytelling. She has a very keen understanding of that and what she wants. She’s kind of a champion of that.”

Check out a promo for “Padre Sandunguero” below. The episode airs Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 9/8C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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