It's not that "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is formulaic. It's that...uh...when a show's been on for this long, certain patterns start to emerge? Fine: It's formulaic. But that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. Here are the most basic facts you need to know about last night's episode.
Initial Crime: Fin (Ice T) and Rollins (Kelli Giddish) are conducting a sting on a serial groper in Central Park when Darren (David Gelles), who's tripping pretty hard and hallucinating his lingerie-clad "girlfriend," emerges from the bushes and disrobes in front of a giant crowd of people.
REAL Crime: When Darren is locked up in the mental ward of a local hospital, he hears sounds of struggle, and opens the door to the on-call room to see a woman being assaulted by an unseen assailant. Though the patient, Gia (Natasha Lyonne) initially denies it, eventually she admits that not only was she raped in the on-call room, but that she's been raped by the same man, her uncle, for the past ten years, starting when she was 14.
Famous Guest Star Who Obviously Did It: "Famous" is relative, but "Law & Order" universe repeat offender Tim Guinee plays George, Gia's uncle. (Carrie Preston plays his wife, Bella, who's been covering up for him.)
It's 10 PM, Y'All! When Benson (Mariska Hargitay) gets access to Gia's medical records, she sees "laceration scars and perianal paps [papules]; she was sodomized for years." (Sidebar: Congratulations, "SVU," for putting something in the episode so filthy that I actually had to look it up.) A guard also denies that he assaulted Gia: "It wasn't sex! It was just a BJ!"
Who On the SVU Team Is Taking It Personally? Amaro, who plays good cop with George in order to tease out the claim that George and Gia's relationship was consensual, and then gets grossed out because he also has a family. Rollins Takes It Personally as well, because...well, see below.
Revelations about the Continuing Characters' Personal Lives That We Should Remember Going Forward: Rollins can tell the difference between Darren's drug trip and a psychotic break because of the way she grew up: "My sister had it rough." After Benson tries to build trust with Gia by mentioning that she's been assaulted, Rollins also hints darkly that she had to leave Atlanta because of something that happened — "something not worth pursuing." So when Gia resists going forward with her case against George because Gia doesn't think she'll make a good witness, due to her history of mental illness, Rollins gets it: "Do you blame her? I gave up too."
Verdict: George faces 25 years for each of the "multiple counts" of raping Gia.