'Law & Order: SVU': William Lewis returns in 'Psycho Therapist'

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No matter how overwhelming the evidence and trustworthy the victims, sometimes the bad guys win.

In Wednesday's (Jan. 8) "Law & Order: SVU," Pablo Schreiber returns as serial rapist and murderer William Lewis. He goes to trial and is found guilty on a couple of charges, but really, he wins.

That means Olivia Benson ( Mariska Hargitay) loses. The only good thing is the ordeal should be over for Benson.

Given the final scene, when Lewis fakes a seizure and barely represses a smile knowing he has duped yet another woman, this time a physician, there's all too great a chance he'll return too. 

If only the SVU detectives shot him when they had the chance, Tutuola (Ice-T) says. Though Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek) gives him a look for saying so, everyone on the squad and those watching must have thought the same.

The episode stands alone, though it's the third in an unusual arc for the series, now in its 15th season. Last season's cliffhanger had Lewis on a rampage that included raping and killing an older woman. Benson, as the others, was furious that Lewis was on the street. She was so deeply disturbed that the captain ordered her to take off a couple of days.

When Benson arrived home, Lewis had broken into her apartment. This season opened with a harrowing episode during which Lewis held Benson hostage for four days, drugging and beating her. While Benson was bound, Lewis raped another older woman and killed two men, one a cop.

The rape and murders occurred in Suffolk County, some 50 miles from Manhattan. When Wednesday's episode gets underway, Lewis' lawyer argues successfully that those crimes are outside of the NYC jurisdiction, so they are separated.

Lewis offers to plead guilty to rape and go to prison for 25 years. That's a deal most victims would take.

But Benson isn't most people. Lewis did not rape her. He kidnapped and tortured her. He terrorized her, and raped others. She refuses to go along.

Lewis games the system. While most suspects look a lot better at trial, cleaned up and in a suit, Lewis goes way beyond that. Handsome and suave, he's a smooth-talking master manipulator. After firing his lawyer, Lewis represents himself.

He plays up injuries suffered after Benson turned the tables on him. His limp becomes more pronounced; he asks the judge to speak up because he's deaf in one ear.

When Benson freed herself from Lewis' handcuffs, she beat him to a pulp with a rod from the headboard. He has a physician cite the injuries Benson inflicted: a collapsed lung, two broken ribs, shattered kneecaps, a fractured skull, broken eye socket, a ruptured spleen and auditory nerve damage.

Lewis spins his questions to make it appear as though the SVU detectives, who knew he had committed a string of crimes, have a vendetta against him. He also calls as a witness the maid who had come to clean the house where Lewis was holding Benson hostage. He twists the scenario enough that it looks as if Benson is accustomed to bending the law.

The maid is an illegal immigrant, and when she showed up with her daughter, Benson was energized enough to break free. Recognizing the immigration problems the woman would encounter if she stayed, Benson told her to flee.

Despite how brazen and tough Benson is, on the stand, she looks terrified as she recounts those hideous days of being beaten and drugged. The terror, though, yields to fury as the cop in her surfaces.

Lewis never lets up, getting far too close to her, taunting her. It is surprising the judge and Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) don't stop him.

"We shared a bond," Lewis says to Benson.

Revulsion crosses her face.

Lewis loves watching her squirm. He knows he has the jury. He's playing with them.

He tells the jury how he and Benson shared sexual secrets. Benson had tried every method she could conjure to keep him talking during her ordeal.

During the trial, Benson keeps reciting, "I did what I had to do to subdue you."

It was her ability to subdue him, then beat him nearly to death, that mitigated the verdict. Lewis gets off light. He's only found guilty on a couple of charges.

Lewis could so easily return, and if he does he'll strike again. While he's on a stretcher, faking a seizure and smirking, Benson is in the courthouse stairwell, weeping.

What did you think of "Psycho Therapist"? Do you think "SVU" is done with William Lewis?



Photo/Video credit: NBC