Law & Order: SVU packed a double whammy into "Making a Rapist." Not only did the show put its spin on Steven Avery and the events of Making a Murderer, but it also nabbed Vice President Joe Biden for a guest spot. Biden, who has worked with series star Mariska Hargitay in real-life, appeared to honor Lt. Olivia Benson's (Hargitay) and her work in ending the rape-kit backlog.
An untested kit saw Sean Roberts (Henry Thomas of E.T. fame) go free. He was charged with the rape of Melanie Harper (Kelli Williams) and served 16 years in prison, but untested DNA cleared him. Melanie and her family wanted to make amends to Sean and they started hanging out…and things quickly soured. Ashley (Alexis Collins) was attacked—stabbed, burned, etc.—that very night and Melanie said she heard Sean's voice in her house.
Through a series of SVU twists, detectives looked at Ashley's fiancé for the murder—he wasn't pleased with her hanging out with Sean even though he was wrongfully convicted—and then Charlie Dobkins (Cody Kostro) entered the picture. Charlie was Ashley's neighbor and SVU's version of Brendan Dassey. He was ready to be manipulated. He found the murder weapon and told Rollins (Kelli Giddish) he saw Sean drop it. On the stand, he said he fingered Sean because he thought it was what Rollins wanted to hear, he wanted to make her happy.
Barba (Raúl Esparza) put Melanie on the stand against her desire and she broke down. If she hadn't wrongfully identified Sean in her rape case, her daughter would still be alive. Sean took a plea deal and confessed to the murder and said he was triggered by Ashley laughing at him when he said he liked her. "I didn't want to do it," he said. "It just happened." He blamed his experience in prison, including getting sexually assaulted, for his attack on her.
"At least I know he did it this time," Melanie told Benson.
"It's not your fault," Benson told her.
"Then whose is it?" she asked.
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays, 9 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)