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Where Do Velasco and Benson Stand After the Latest Nail-Biting SVU Episode?
Pisano tells NBC Insider that Velasco's standing with Benson "is a little more solidified" after the latest episode.
Betty Buckley guest stars as the powerful Trial Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 24, Episode 19 ("Bend the Law"). In the episode, Maxwell's husband becomes the main suspect in an underage sex trafficking ring. Meanwhile, the mess down in Mexico that Detective Velasco (Octavio Pisano) has been dealing with comes to a head as he visits his old friend, Chilly, to gather evidence. Here's everything that happened:
Law & Order: SVU Season 24, Episode 19 recap
Typically, the SVU squad isn't connected to the perpetrators they arrest, but in this latest episode, that's not the case. Velasco's friend, Chilly, is responsible for multiple murders as a coerced cartel member. And Maxwell's husband, Roger (Tom Irwin), is looking at serious jail time for his actions against young women.
That is, until he dies. In a shocking scene, Roger berates Maxwell for emasculating him, hurling nasty insults her way. But she gets her just desserts after Roger begins choking on a bite of steak at dinner.
Does Maxwell help her choking husband by perhaps calling an ambulance or doing the Heimlich? Nope, she simply watches as he chokes to death, promptly picking up the phone to call 9-1-1 after Roger is dead.
Roger's death sparks suspicion, but who has the gall to accuse Manhattan's Trial Division Chief of murdering her husband? ADA Carisi (Peter Scanavino) asks Benson (Mariska Hargitay), "Don't you think the timing [of his death] is a little convenient?" That said, no one is rushing to raise concerns about the murder of an accused pedophile and sex trafficker, and maybe Maxwell knew that's how things would play out.
Moving on to Velasco's storyline. Remember, while talking to a gang member in an earlier episode, Velasco shared incriminating details that connected him to a real open murder case. Officer Tonie Churlish (Jasmine Batchelor) recorded Velasco's story, prompting him to come clean. Yes, he was in the room where the murder happened, but he didn't do the killing. Velasco's childhood friend, Chilly, carried out the cartel hit after Velasco couldn't pull the trigger. Because of this, Velasco is seen as loyal to a murderer, and he's been working his way back into Benson's good graces ever since.
Benson finds Chilly's current location and sends Velasco and Churlish to collect evidence against him. Velasco struggles with the task, especially after he realizes Chilly has escaped the cartel, changed his name, and become an elementary school teacher. Chilly has attempted to start a new chapter, but at the end of the day, Velasco is in charge of tying up loose ends. He records a conversation with Chilly where he admits to multiple murders, collecting what he needs to convict.
Velasco hands over the evidence to Benson, who tells him the situation is officially out of his hands. By the episode's end, Benson tosses the evidence into her desk with Chilly's fate up in the air. No matter what happens, Velasco's proven he has what it takes to earn his keep.
NBC Insider caught up with Pisano about this Velasco-centric SVU episode.
He believes this episode is all about standing up for what's morally sound, even when there's a conflict of interest.
"The biggest lesson, even as an actor just going through the episode, is learning where do you stand with what's right and wrong?" he says. "Is it black and white, according to justice? 'You did this, so you have to go to jail.' Or do you understand that human beings are prone to their environments and also have the ability to change?"
According to Pisano, Benson's latest assignment was intended to test Velasco more than to actually reprimand Chilly. Since he passed with flying colors, does this mean their working relationship has mended?
"I think so," Pisano says. "There's something that happened at the end of this episode where Velasco asks, 'What's going to happen to the [Chilly evidence]?' And she's like, 'Well, you did your thing.' Almost unspoken-ly saying, 'The whole purpose of you going there was to prove your loyalty to me.'"
Pisano continues, "We might not do anything with Chilly. That's what Velasco understood. So I think his standing with Benson is a little more solidified, whereas his standing with Chilly isn't."
Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC and the next day on Peacock.