“Masked” is the 12013th episode of “Law & Order: SVU,” season 12. It aired on Wednesday, January 12th, 2010, and features award-winning actor Jeremy Irons an actress A.J. Cook as guest stars (Interestingly, Cook was a star in her own crime-drama TV series, “Criminal Minds,” but CBS News reports that the actress will soon be leaving the show due to financial reasons of the network.)
The episode opens up with two little boys spying on their neighbors across the street with camera-binoculars. The boys end up witnessing a rape an assault of two women by a masked man. It is revealed that the raped woman, Debbie (Cook,) and the assaulted woman, Anne, are partners, and Debbie happens to be an OB/GYN.
Detectives Benson and Stabler first assume that perhaps the attacker is a protestor against Debbie’s profession, which includes in-vitro fertilization of up to three partners in order to prevent genetic defects. However, Debbie soon reveals that the only words her attacker spoke to her consisted of a neighborhood in Cape Cod, where her partner Anne once stayed as a child. Anne’s father, Dr. Jackson (Irons,) comes to the hospital for his daughter, only to discover that his daughter’s attacker must be one of his former patients, as no one else knew about Anne and his stay in that area.
Eventually it is learned that Dr. Jackson treats sex addicts, and he formally was one. He tells Detective Stabler that on a drunken night in Cape Cod, he believes he may have raped his daughter, which is why she remained estranged from him for over twenty years. Still, Dr. Jackson is hesitant to break doctor-patient confidentiality, even if it means letting his daughter’s attacker run loose.
As more girls are attacked, and the police learn that the attacker was wearing a mask representative of an ancient mythological god of love, they piece together that the perpetrator is attacking and raping formerly abused women in order to “redeem” them. Due to Dr. Jackson’s decline to cooperate, Detective Stabler goes undercover as a sex addict, as he feels the attacker is recruiting women from these group meetings.
After eyeing up a few possible suspects, it is discovered that the man performing the rapes is a member of Dr. Jackson’s staff, and he is caught right before raping another woman. It is also revealed that Dr. Jackson didn’t rape his daughter Anne, but in his drunken haze had sex with his daughter’s friend, who was also Anne’s lover at the time; hence his daughter’s estrangement.
Although this episode of “Law & Order: SVU” followed the same formula as most episodes, an although the show tends to focus more on the fictional plot than the real concepts at hand, I found the moral content in this episode interesting.
We all know people can be addicted to drugs, gambling, video games, television, sugar…and most of all, power. This last addiction is the reason why many turn to rape; not as a means of sexual gratification but of overall dominance. “Masked” brings into question (non-surprisingly through the insights of Dr. Huang,) the differences between a rapist and a sex addict, and whether sex addiction should be used as a valid defense in court.
According to Dr. Jackson in this episode, “sex addiction is as hard to control as gambling,” and “most sex addicts were abused as children, and some can be cured.” These ideas are of course opposed by Detective Stabler, who feels everyone should be able to control these impulses, and those that can’t should be put in jail. But as Dr. Huang points out, not all sex addicts become sex offenders, and not all sex offenders (rapists) are sex addicts.
Compared to all of the addictions mentioned above, I’m surprised this one hasn’t been mentioned sooner. In your opinion, should diagnosed sex addicts be excused from impulsive acts in our justice system?
“Law & Order: SVU” has changed from its usual 10 pm ET on NBC instead of 9 pm ET.