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'Law & Order: SVU' fan recap: No one wins in this one

Season 17 | Episode 3 | “Institutional Fail” | Aired Oct 7, 2015

After last week’s fairly gut-wrenching SVU episode, I was really hoping that this week’s would feature horrendous people with horrendous things happening to them. I should have known better when I saw the “Next on …” and there was an emaciated child abandoned in a bodega and Whoopi Goldberg hurriedly shredding documents. Warren Leight and Julie Martin, you need to stop making me feel things and give me something at which to roll my eyes.

We open with a very small, very thin little boy combing the kitchen cabinets for food. His cabinets look like mine. There are a couple of packs of soy sauce and some crumbs. The only difference is that I can get sustenance pretty easily. This little kid sneaks out to the local bodega. Liv is called in. She’s at some event with Dodds! They’re getting along! Liv, that’s Dodds! He’s an ass. He’s also an ass who seems to be into Liv. Ugh, no. She’s out of your league, O.C.

The little tyke’s name is Bruno. No signs of physical or sexual abuse, but he’s underfed, and has delayed speech and other signs of neglect. Will you wait here for me while I go watch a funny cat video on YouTube? I just feel the need. Already. Thanks.

A survey of the projects Bruno wandered from yields the info that Bruno is normally wandering around by himself. Apparently his mom is a mess. They find her dealer, and through him, Bruno’s DCS case worker. Whoopi Goldberg is his boss. The office is chaotic and the case worker is fairly clueless. Dude doesn’t even know Bruno’s story. He leads Liv and Carisi to Bruno’s apartment. It’s the middle of summer, the place is an inferno, and the social worker lets slip that there’s a little girl who lives there too. They find her … damn you, SVU … in a cage. She’s got a slight pulse and—yeah, horror.

Carisi Caseworker Keith

To put it bluntly, Keesha dies. The squad tracks down mom Manuela. Did I say she was a mess before? That’s like saying Rollins is only a little pregnant. (Omg, Kelli Giddish is huge by this point.) Manuela is higher than the sun but is still fairly forthcoming about admitting she abused Keesha. But where the hell was DCS? It turns out that Keith and his supervisor, Whoopi, falsified reports stating that Keith had been visiting Bruno and Keesha. One PP gets involved, and Hank Abraham, that slimy talking head for the Commissioner, tells them to back off. Barba leaves that directive unheeded and has caseworker Keith, Whoopi, and the DCS commissioner arrested on charges of manslaughter.

Abraham the Disgusting rolls up on Liv, Rollins, and Barba outside the courthouse to chew them out for pursuing the case. Wait, I forgot to mention: The attorney for the accused is that dude from last season who looks like Fred Savage’s older, hangdog brother. That fact has very little bearing on the goings-on, but there are only so many times I can recap horrifying things happening to children.

Liv and Rollins visit a now sober and repentant Manuela. She hadn’t seen Keith since May. Oh, and Bruno’s father got out of jail and had moved in. He took a dislike to Keesha, HENCE THE CAGE. “What have I done?” Manuela wails. Liv and Rollins just look at her, and are able to keep from spitting on her. It turns out that EVERYBODY AT DCS’s reports have been faked. Isn’t that a lot of work? Why not just make the visits, Whoopi?

Dodds visits Liv to tell her to back off. He also notes that she “doesn’t have a political bone” in her body. I’m waiting for him to offer his, but this is a family show. Barba has been forced to seek plea deals. It turns out that Caseworker Keith has a little bit of a soul. He confesses that Whoopi and the Commish (not Michael Chiklis) forced him to falsify all of the reports.

We go to trial. Everything seems to hinge on Caseworker Keith. Fred Savage Sr. tears him a new one, alluding to the fact that he took a plea deal to avoid a stiffer sentence in relation to Keesha’s death. Is Whoopi getting a monologue? She hasn’t said much so far. You don’t bring in an EGOT-er unless there’s a monologue in the offing. Oh, she gets her monologue. Whew, does she! After Barba goes in on her, she lights back into him. She says that God couldn’t do her job. That she’s faced 25 years of watching children raised by wolves. She even calls the judge out at one point. We find out later that she gets sent to Bellevue. For that monologue? Granted, her job obviously killed her soul, but she had a couple of salient points.

We end with Dodds informing Liv that she’s going to be promoted to lieutenant, with one catch. One PP wants her to have a sergeant under her who can ground her or some BS. Dodds already has one for her. HIS SON. Uh, what?

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays 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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