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The 400th Episode of Law & Order: SVU is Laser-Focused on a Bad Mom

It was simultaneously business as usual and business as not-so-usual for the latest installment of Law & Order: SVU. The long-running crime procedural hit a major milestone on Wednesday night and it’s definitely worth raising a glass in honor. Law & Order: SVU hit its 400th episode, and even better, it was directed by one of the show’s original cast members, Mariska Hargitay.

More: SVU Will Reunite Mariska Hargitay With a Former Flame This Season

The episode, titled “Motherly Love,” began not with a whisper but a bang. A literal gunshot to be precise. When teenage boy Luke came home unexpectedly to the sight of his mother, Nicole, apparently being assaulted, Luke took aim and shot the attacker. That attacker, it turned out, was Luke’s best friend, Trey. When Olivia and Rollins go to question Nicole about the attack, something seems off. She feeds them a story about how Trey came over looking for Luke, who wasn’t home. When Nicole tried to get Trey out of the house since she was getting ready for bed, he attempted to rape her.

Law & Order SVU: Group Shot
Image: Michael Parmelee/NBC

Meanwhile, Trey’s parents are distraught. As the parents of a young black boy, they initially decried the incident as racially motivated despite Tutuola’s firm statement that the incident had nothing to do with Trey’s race. Instead, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Trey was not the mastermind Nicole portrayed him to be. After Tutuola and Rollins found racy photos of Trey and Nicole in bed together, they knew the story they were initially told was false.

More: SVU‘s Great Because Olivia Benson Tirelessly Defends Rape Victims

When it is revealed that Nicole was not only having sexual relations with Trey but also Luke & Trey’s friend, Ethan, Benson brought Nicole in for questioning. While she vehemently denied any wrongdoing, the evidence was beginning to stack up against her. “A psychiatrist who is abusing teenage boys, emotionally damaging her own son. That is deeper than lying. It’s pathological,” Benson tells Tutuola. The plot thickens and things begin to take a clearer shape when it comes to who exactly is culpable in Trey’s death.

Law & Order SVU: Mariska Hargitay Directs
Image: Michael Parmelee/NBC

Of course, Luke doesn’t believe what he hears about his mother. It takes his father, who describes Nicole as a narcissistic, pathological liar to help bring down idea of the faultlessness of Nicole. Of course, things proceed in a very familiar SVU manner: Nicole is arrested on charges of statutory rape and murder. The courtroom drama is top notch, with Nicole and her lawyer fighting for her innocence and Luke getting caught in the middle of it all.

More: Ranking the Many Loves of Law & Order: SVU‘s Olivia Benson

In the end, Nicole admitted on the stand what had happened. She ended up spinning her tale to portray Luke as a jealous son in love with his mother, saying he knew his mother was having sex with his best friend. Nicole’s narcissism and need to stay out of jail ended up wrecking her relationship with her son, having him look like a total fool. Luke believed he would have to admit he was guilty while Benson tried to dissuade him from that. In the end, Luke gives his testimony, stating that he killed Trey because he truly believed he was saving his mother. Nicole is found guilty and whisked away to prison.

And so, another chapter of SVU comes to a close. But damn, it was a pretty great chapter.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below.

Mariska Hargitay through the years
Image: NBC

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