Smoked (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode|
|Episode no.||Season 12
|Directed by||Helen Shaver|
|Original air date||May 18, 2011|
"Smoked" is the twelfth season finale of the police procedural television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the 272nd overall episode. It originally aired on NBC on May 18, 2011. In the episode, Detectives Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), and Fin Tutuola (Ice-T) investigate the murder of a rape victim who was scheduled to testify in a high-profile rape case. After the suspects are arrested, the victim's daughter opens fire in the squad room, killing several people inside before Detective Stabler fatally shoots her.
The episode was written by Jonathan Greene and Daniel Truly and was directed by Helen Shaver. It marks the final appearance of leading costar Christopher Meloni and the last episode to feature BD Wong in the opening credits, as both actors announced their departures from the series after the end of the season. The episode also marks the final appearance of Charlayne Woodard, who had portrayed Sister Peg on a recurring basis since 2002; her character is caught in the crossfire during the shooting and dies after sustaining a gunshot wound to the torso.
"Smoked" received mixed reviews from critics. According to Nielsen ratings, the episode's original broadcast was watched by 8.98 million viewers, making it the most watched program on NBC of the night and the most watched program in the 10:00 p.m. time slot.
Days before the trial of suspected rapist Luke Ronson, the prosecution's primary witness Annette Fox is murdered while shopping with her daughter, Jenna Fox (Hayley McFarland). Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) are called in to investigate the correlation between the murder and the rape case and assure Jenna that they will catch her mother's killer.
Although the detectives initially only suspect Luke Ronson, their investigation leads them to two additional suspects: Eddie Skinner, an informant who is helping the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) infiltrate a cigarette smuggling ring, and Agent Greer, the ATF agent running the sting operation. The three suspects are arrested and put into custody: Skinner for committing the murder, Greer for illegally providing Skinner with firearms, and Ronson for witness tampering.
The detectives call Jenna into the squad room thinking that it will give her closure to see that the three men are behind bars. As she leaves, Jenna takes the detectives by surprise when she returns to the squad room with a handgun and fires several shots into the holding cell. As Benson pleads to Jenna to stop, Stabler takes cover behind his desk and reaches for his gun inside his drawer. Jenna then turns towards them and fires one shot, hitting Sister Peg (Charlayne Woodard). Shocked, she stops firing and begins to lower her weapon, but a provoking comment by Skinner infuriates her. As she turns back to aim her weapon at Skinner, Stabler is forced to shoot to stop her. As she lies on the floor dying, Jenna reveals to Stabler that she bought the gun off the street and she dies in Elliot's arms. The camera then zooms out, showing the aftermath of the shooting.
"Smoked" was written by Jonathan Grenee and Daniel Truly and was directed by Helen Shaver. It is the last episode produced under the direction of Neal Baer, who had been the showrunner since season two. Baer, who signed a three-year deal with CBS Television Studios in November 2011, was replaced by former Law & Order: Criminal Intent executive producer-showrunner Warren Leight.
Ten days after the episode's broadcast, Meloni left the show after his contract negotiations failed. B.D. Wong, who was absent from this episode, departed the cast as well to star on the NBC drama Awake. Wong later reprised his role in "Father Dearest". A plan to have Hargitay only appear in 13 episodes of the next season was discussed but later retracted, as Hargitay has extended her contract through the 14th season.
Neal Baer told Michael Ausiello about the twelfth season finale, "We go out with a bang. It's my last episode for SVU — I'm leaving after 11 years to go to CBS — and it leaves us with a death; it leaves us with one of our beloved characters doing something that will change the way they see being a cop; and since I'm a [doctor], I get to rag on cigarettes, so that's terrific!" The month before, Ausiello hinted that there would be a fatality on the show. At the start of 2011 when SVU's future was unknown, Baer said of Hargitay and Meloni's status on returning with the show, "They're the longest running drama duo in TV history," Baer continues, "and I think [they'll be around] as long as they can keep playing new angles within the parameters of the show." And as the credits showed that Baer did not write "Smoked", he commented; "I don't have plans to write some farewell show,” he laughed. "It will just be a really good, twisty, turny and hopefully memorable episode."
In its original broadcast on May 18, 2011, "Smoked" was viewed by 8.98 million viewers and acquired a 2.9 rating/7% share in the 18–49 demographic, meaning that it was seen by 2.9% of all 18- to 49-year-olds and 7% of 18- to 49-year-olds watching television at the time of the broadcast. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was the highest rated program on NBC that night and the highest rated program in the 10:00 p.m. time slot, beating both Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior on CBS and Happy Endings on ABC.
Lucy Tonic of Yahoo said: "'Smoked' ends with chaos in the precinct, resulting from a literal smoking gun, yet it's unfortunate that writers tried to introduce the issue of America's gun problem within the last ten minutes of the episode. Sadly, the conclusion of Law & Order: SVU Season 12 was predictable and more dramatized than needed."
- Andreeva, Nellie (November 23, 2010). "'Law & Order: SVU' Showrunner Neal Baer Signs Big Overall Deal With CBS TV Studios".
- Ausiello, Michael (April 11, 2011). "Scoop: NBC Taps New Law & Order: SVU Boss". TVLine News.
- Webb Mitovich, Matt; Ausiello (May 24, 2011). "Exclusive: Chris Meloni Exits Law & Order: SVU". TVLine (Mail.com Media). Retrieved May 24, 2011.
- Mitovich, Matt (July 17, 2011). "Fall TV Scoop: B.D. Wong Reveals His SVU Fate". TVLine. Mail.com Media. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- Andreeva, Nellie (May 14, 2011). "Law & Order: SVU Scoop: Hargitay Inks New Deal, Jennifer Love Hewitt May Succeed Her". TVLine (Mail.com Media). Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- Ausiello, Michael (August 1, 2011). "NBC on Chris Meloni's Law & Order: SVU Exit: We're Not Killing Him Off". TVLine. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Martin, Denise (January 6, 2012). "NBC Scoop! Hargitay Signs Up for Another Season of SVU, Community to Return in Spring". TV Guide. Retrieved February 15, 2012.
- Seidman, Robert (May 9, 2012). "NBC Renews 'Law & Order: SVU'". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- Ausiello, Michael (May 3, 2011). "Ask Ausiello: Spoilers on Grey's, Chuck, Psych, Community, Private Practice and More!". TVLine. Mail.com Media. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- Ausiello, Michael (April 11, 2011). "May Sweeps Scorecard: Deaths, Weddings, Pregnancies, Sex, Reunions and More!". TVLine. Mail.com Media. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- Masters, Meg (February 9, 2011). "SVU Boss Optimistic That Meloni and Hargitay (and The Show!) Will Return For Season 13". TVLine. Mail.com Media. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- Seidman, Robert (May 19, 2011). "Wednesday Final Ratings: 'American Idol,' 'Modern Family,' 'Law & Order: SVU' Adjusted Up; 'Happy Endings' Adj. Down". TV By The Numbers. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
- Tonic, Lucy (May 19, 2011). "Michael Raymond James, Formerly of 'True Blood,' Stars in 'Law & Order: SVU' Season Finale". Yahoo. Retrieved July 8, 2011.