Image Credit: Will Hart/NBCJennifer Love Hewitt guest-starred on last night’s episode of SVU as a multiple rape victim who’d been attacked four times over the course of fifteen years by the same mysterious man. Hewitt gave a good performance (or, anyhow, a good enough performance to indicate that she deserves better than the Tori Spelling purgatory of Lifetime movies and vanity reality shows). Early in the episode, her character delivered a lengthy soliloquy of terror — one of the rapes occurred the night before her wedding, because SVU specializes in subtlety — while a doctor examined her body for evidence. It was a long, slow, artful sequence. It was also the precise point before the episode started going bananas.

Detective Benson took a special interest in Hewitt’s case, because cops always take special interest in every victim’s case. (At one point, she said, “If I have to live with you for twenty years, he’ll never touch you again.”) The number one/only suspect was James LeGros, who spent half the episode twiddling his invisible mustache. He got off on a technicality. But SVU hates technicalities. Technicalities make SVU angry. The madder SVU gets, the stronger SVU gets! So, the SVU folks devoted themselves to scaring LeGros. Literally. They were waiting around corners and going “Boo!” It went like this:

1. LeGros gets out of a cab. Ice-T is waiting for him at the corner. Ice-T says, “Are you behaving yourself, Evil Rapist?” LeGros does a spit take and runs away.

2. LeGros is at a urinal. Stabler walks up to the urinal next to him. He asks, “Why’d you rape that girl, Evil Rapist?” LeGros runs off without even zipping up.

3. LeGros is at a cocktail party on a rooftop. Benson yells out, “Hey, everybody! That Evil Rapist is an evil rapist!” Then Jennifer Love Hewitt yells at him. LeGros says that he’ll sue the police department, which makes sense, and then tells Benson that all women are stupid, which is exactly what a criminal suspect would say to a policeman.

4. LeGros is walking down the street. He sees a flyer with his picture on it, printed under the words “Evil Rapist.” That’s when he notices Ice-T handing out the flyers. Right in front of him. “This is highly irregular!” screams LeGros. “Maybe you should call…The Police!” says Ice-T, flashing his badge.

Do you remember that Simpsons episode where Sideshow Bob goes straight, but Bart doesn’t believe him, and so he keeps on following Bob everywhere? It was like that, except funnier. Later in the episode, Benson traveled to Los Angeles, so she could hang with Skeet Ulrich. They got a warrant to check out one of the Evil Rapist’s apartments. Inside of the apartment, they found gigantic poster-sized images of all his rape victims, scrapbooks with all of their driver’s licenses, and a record of the exact dates of all the rapes. To quote Minority Report, this is what we call an orgy of evidence.

SVU is on its twelfth season now. If the Law & Order TV shows were a dysfunctional family who ran a Fortune 500 oil company, then SVU would be the highly-caffeinated patient son who, following the long death of the family patriarch, has now taken charge. It has become the standard-bearer. Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay have been L&O cops for so long, they’re approaching Jerry Orbach territory. (Yeesh, Ice-T is approaching Jerry Orbach territory.) It explores the darkest territory of human nature without even the slightest note of humor. So you can’t help but feel bad when you find yourself laughing uncontrollably.

Viewers, did you watch SVU? Wasn’t Jennifer Love Hewitt totally not that bad? Did you enjoy how Benson took trips to Detroit and Chicago and was utterly disgusted by how awful their police departments are? So I guess Law & Order only likes the coastal cities, eh? Share your own thoughts below.