Motherly Love Recap: Law & Order SVU
SVU’s much touted 400th episode, “Motherly Love,” was directed by Mariska Hargitay, the undisputed star of the show. It started out with a teenage boy on his way home after getting in a fight with his dad. He is trying to get in touch with his mother but she won’t answer the phone. So when he gets home, you think he’s going to find his mother’s dead body but no. He hears some noises. Then you think he’s going to find his mother injured but no. He calls 911 and gets a rifle, loads it and heads toward the noise. In the kitchen, he finds his mother in a compromising position. She looks at him and yells “Help, he’s raping me.” The boy, 15-year-old Luke Keller, pulls the rifle’s trigger, killing the “attacker.”
Homicide arrives and secures the scene until SVU can get there. The “attacker” proves to be a 15-year-old named Trey Franklin. Luke’s mother, Nicole, is a 45-year-old psychiatrist. While Luke tells Carisi and Fin what happened, Benson questions Nicole. She drops the bombshell on Benson and Rollins that Trey was her son’s best friend and she let him in the house. She claims that the scene that Luke walked in on happened because she went to the kitchen to get some wine and Trey was “right there” with lust on his mind. She tried to get away but he overpowered her.
Nicole’s story proves to be as flimsy as the nightgown she was wearing when she let Trey in the house. The detectives find that her claim that Trey had a very unstable family life was false. They also found photos of Nicole and Trey in her bed in Trey’s bedroom. Nicole was cooperative with the detectives until presented with these. Not that she didn’t have a cover story– she claimed she was knocked out by sleep medication and didn’t even know it happened. As Luke’s father, Dr. Daniel Keller (he’s a psychiatrist too) tells them, Nicole is a malignant narcissist, probably borderline, and an “incredibly charming and persuasive” person.
The detectives find out that Trey and Ethan, another friend at school, got in a fight and were suspended. When pressed, Ethan reveals that he was Nicole’s boy toy before Trey and that was why they fought. This revelation dispels the last doubt SVU and Barba may have had about Nicole. After getting some more evidence on her, Barba wants her charged with statutory rape and murder. Their star witness is going to be Luke, who will get immunity from prosecution even though they weren’t planning on prosecuting him for anything to begin with.
One thing we all know about manipulative narcissists is they have an uncanny ability to read people and are exceedingly cunning in figuring out what to do next. When Nicole realizes that her innocent act isn’t playing well with the jury in court, she changes directions on the fly. She decides “to tell the truth,” claiming that she made up the rape story to protect her boy Luke. In this installment, Luke killed Trey on purpose because he was jealous that Trey was getting it on with Nicole. Even her lawyer had no idea she was going to pull this stunt, but he switched horses in mid-stream right along with Nicole.
Luke’s father seeks Benson’s help because Luke is guilt-stricken and wants to recant his testimony and plead guilty to murder to save his mother. Now this is where they lost us. If Luke’s father couldn’t do his fatherly duty in convincing the boy that was the worst thing he could do, as a psychiatrist, he surely had colleagues that could have talked to the boy, who should have been in therapy already anyway. It just seemed ridiculous that Lieutenant Benson was appointed to be the one to talk Luke out of falling on his sword.
Of course, Benson to the rescue always works and Luke did not change his testimony. Nicole Keller was found guilty of third degree sexual assault and second degree murder. “I’m still your mother,” she howled at Luke as she was carted away to a jail cell to await sentencing.
We can’t even come up with epilogues for this one. One would hope the father would move so far away that his son couldn’t even think about visiting Nicole in prison!
Cast of Motherly Love:
Mariska Hargitay – Olivia Benson
Kelli Giddish – Amanda Rollins
Ice T – Odafin Tutuola
Peter Scanavino – Dominick Carisi Jr.
Robert John Burke – Ed Tucker
Sarah Wynter – Dr. Nicole Keller
Daniel Cosgrove – Dr. Daniel Keller
Aaron Sanders – Luke Keller
Benton Greene – Charles Franklin
Chantal Jean-Pierre – Regina Franklin
Donald Dash – Trey Franklin
Patrick Boll – James Miller
Gage Polchlopek – Ethan Miller
Jason Bowen – Det. Marcus Perry
Delaney Williams – John Buchanan
Jenna Stern – Judge Elana Barth
Deirdre Madigan – Allison Avery
Lauren Noble – Carmen
Marc LeVasseur – Attorney Alan Schwartz
Salma Shaw – Jury Foreperson
Tim Pettolina – Male Patient