S23, E11, ‘Burning With Rage Forever’ | #childabductors

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Law & Order: SVU Season 23, Episode 11, “Burning With Rage Forever,” which premiered Thursday, January 13th, on NBC. This article also contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Noah Benson has a malicious bully. A teenage boy, Hudson, forces him to pretend to be a dog in a cage, filming him while telling him to bark. When Capt. Olivia “Liv” Benson, his mom, picks him up, she notices something’s wrong. She asks Noah what happened and he tells her, but doesn’t want to talk anymore. Meanwhile, a young boy, Tino, is left home alone by his Uncle Carlos while he plays games online, chatting with an internet friend who says he’ll come to pick him up. Outside the apartment, an adult man picks up Tino, claiming to be his friend’s dad. Not knowing any better, the young boy gets in the car. His father comes home to find the apartment empty, with his son missing. At his abductor’s apartment, Tino is growing suspicious that his child-aged friend hasn’t shown up yet and he starts feeling dizzy from a “special soda.” He tries to run away but the man traps him in the apartment.

The detectives speak with Tino’s father and uncle and they track the last registered chat signal to an apartment building. Detective Amanda Rollins finds the unit Tino was seen going into and she knocks. The sound of glass breaking is heard from inside as they kick down the door. The police come in to find Tino tied to a radiator and his abductor gone. At the hospital, tests confirm Tino was drugged with alcohol and cold medicine and raped.

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Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola learns that the unit they found Tino in is one being sublet and Detective Joe Velasco goes to meet the owner. They get the Venmo info of the abductor, a man named Theodore (Teddy), and go to talk to him at his house. Rollins and Velasco enter the home to find streaks of blood on the floor leading to the rapist himself, tied up in a similar manner to how Tino had been left. He’s been severely beaten, and is barely hanging on.

Benson and ADA Sonny Carisi suspect that a member of Tino’s family assaulted Theodore. Rollins, meanwhile, gets Tino to identify his abductor from pictures on an iPad and urges his mom to take Tino to counseling. She confirms that Theodore has been arrested and then Benson asks Tino’s dad point-blank if he attacked Theodore. He denies it, saying that if he had done it, he would’ve killed him. Velasco, though, speaks with Uncle Carlos about where he was last night and doesn’t seem to buy his story.

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Back at the precinct, the squad receives security cam footage showing Carlos at Theodore’s house. Carlos says he feels guilty, that it’s his fault what happened to Tino. He admits to attacking the rapist and says he found the man’s identity from a receipt Tino had taken. He says the rapist taunted Carlos, saying that Tino was asking for his rape and then describing it in detail. So Carlos snapped and started stabbing him.

Carlos is arraigned and given a bail amount. His family and friends are there to support him, saying they’re raising money for his bail through a GoFundMe. Up next, Tino’s rapist is up to be arraigned. He pleads not guilty and Tino’s father is enraged, rushing to attack him. The judge sets the abuser’s bail at $250K. The case will now have to go to trial, since he pleaded not guilty, meaning Tino will likely have to testify. Outside the courthouse, there are mobs of supporters demanding that Carlos goes free.

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Carisi goes to talk to Theodore and he denies any wrongdoing, having a rather pathetic excuse for everything he did. Carisi offers a deal for 20 years, over the life sentence Teddy will be facing. Teddy flat out turns him down, preferring to take his chances at trial. Tino’s dad pays a visit to Benson and says that he’s sorry but he can’t put Tino through the further trauma of having to testify. Benson, though, remembers that Carlos told them Teddy confessed to him – so they offer Carlos a plea deal in exchange for him testifying in Tino’s place. He is more than happy to help and he says that he has Teddy’s phone on him, which has the video of him raping Tino. That leads to success and a conviction for Theodore.

But the trouble isn’t over, as Carlos himself still faces prosecution. The squad discusses how they can help reduce his sentence when his girlfriend and her son, Andre, come in, distraught. She tells Benson something horrifying about Carlos himself. She says her son saw Carlos on the TV and started crying, asking her to turn that off and never make him see Carlos again, that he was scared Carlos would touch him once more. His girlfriend says Carlos came over the day before, drunk, and brought her son a towel when he was in the shower — which is when he assaulted the boy. She says, of course, she confronted Carlos about it and that first he denied it, then he said it was an accident and that he was sorry.

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Rollins and Benson speak with Andre away from his mom, telling him he did the right thing by telling his mom and confirming the difference between a good touch and the bad way Carlos touched him. He says he doesn’t want Carlos to get in trouble, but he doesn’t want to see him again. Benson and Carisi fill Velasco in, saying they need to move quickly to pick up Carlos. But it may be too late — they get a text that Carlos is threatening to jump from the roof of a building.

Benson and Velasco go to speak to Carlos and try to talk him down. He sees them and says he never wanted to hurt a kid but now he only wants to hurt himself, that he deserves to die because what he put Andre through, he’ll never get over it. He knows because it happened to him, too, as a child: a vicious cycle of abuse. He drops the knife he was holding and backs away from the edge of the roof, collapsing in tears.

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In the hospital, Carlos says he recently learned that the teacher who assaulted him had died in a fire. The teacher had raped him through middle school and the memories he’d suppressed for so many years came flooding back. His brother, Tino’s father, waits outside his brother’s hospital room and promises to be there for him. Rollins walks through the cycle of abuse: the fire that kickstarted the terrible memories again, Carlos attacking Teddy, him being called a hero and then not being able to handle the pressure of a title he felt he didn’t deserve. Carisi cuts Carlos a deal to reduce his charges, but he’ll need to be on the registry. Carlos’s lawyer wants to fight it but Carlos says it’s more than fair and that he won’t make Andre relieve an event and testify. He says he’s been dead since he was nine years old anyway.

Benson muses with Rollins if they’re doing enough to protect their own kids. Later, she tells Noah that Annie will come over to their house for playdates rather than Noah going over to Annie’s where her older brother, Hudson, bullies him. In a heartfelt moment, he lets his mom know that Hudson is a bully who picks on queer kids and comes out as bi to his mom. Benson is proud.

New episodes of Law & Order: SVU air Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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