After a lot of buzz, the rumoured Chris Brown and Rihanna-inspired “Law & Order: SVU” episode premiered on NBC Wednesday night. The episode is divided into two parts: the half that is inspired by their relationship and the half that turns it on its head.
Events were certainly based on the 2009 assault of the pop singer by Brown, but instead “Funny Valentine” veered on the absurd at times, thanks to unexpected cameos from a range of folks including Perez Hilton, Dave Navarro, Jeffrey Tambor, famed NYC news anchor Sue Simmons and Wendy Williams. And, in the end, it served as a cautionary tale of an abusive relationship.
It follows the relationship of two thinly veiled pop stars, Micha Green (Tiffany Robinson) and Caleb Bryant (Roca). The events of the story unravel after Caleb assaults Micha during a recording session after he’s caught “getting trashy” with another girl.
When Micha speaks out, he violently beats her right there in the studio, hitting her and knocking her to the ground in front of their colleagues. Sure, these aren’t mirror images of Brown and Rihanna, but nods are everywhere. Whereas the Rihanna/Brown incident took place during a private moment, in a car during Grammy weekend, this assault happens in front of many witnesses. Though, none are ever willing to speak about it.
Micha is rarely willing to take Caleb to court for his actions, often covering for him and continuing to date him throughout the highly-charged hour. While domestic abuse is nothing to laugh at, “SVU” does manage to sneak in tongue-in-cheek social commentary about the celebrity culture.
When it all seems a bit too familiar or referential (including a mention of the Barclays Center), “SVU” writers offer up a little wink and nod, letting viewers know they are on it as well. “They should go on a double date with Chris Brown and Rihanna,” Detective Munch offers, mid-investigation.
The episode certainly does recall many of the aspects of the real-life case that inspired it, including the leak of Micha’s police photos, a lovey-dovey ode recorded by the pair, an interview featuring a bow-tie clad Caleb during which he apologizes to Micha (giving off shades of the look Brown rocked on Larry King) and even a fresh piece of ink that looks a bit like Micha’s battered face (an almost painfully obvious reference to a Brown’s sugar skull tattoo).
Micha, still reluctant, can’t even be moved to talk by her Hova-like mentor, Brass. But, he does try to protect her by calling the cops when Caleb shows up to a record release party. This is where the story takes a fictional spin, serving as a warning of what can go wrong.
Shots are fired shortly after Caleb approaches him at the fete. When police arrive, she’s on the ground unconscious and her mentor is dead. And when it seems that Micha is finally ready to turn Caleb in, it all falls apart when she gets on the stand. She tells a Grand Jury Caleb was never at the party even after she admitted he was the culprit. “I just repeated what you told me,” she said. “I didn’t see anything.”
After all is said and done, Micha and Caleb jet off to Bermuda together for one last rendezvous. And that is when the episode took the most unexpected, darkest twist of the night. It ends with Caleb and Micha kissing, until he gets a text. He warns her “haven’t you learned to mind your own business” after she asks him about it. That night, her body is found floating beside the boat they were staying in.
The episode premiered four years after Brown assaulted Rihanna during Grammy weekend. In the years since, the two have recorded several songs together and have since reconciled, addressing their current relationship status in the press (Brown over the weekend at an Oscars party to several outlets and Rihanna in Rolling Stone).
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