Title: Identity (Season 6, Episode 12)
Uncomfortable Synopsis: A psychiatrist’s test case yields poor results.
Memorable Line: “It’s easier to dig a hole than build a pole.”
Plot: When a gang member falls from a bridge with bite marks on his equipment, Detectives Stabler and Benson follow a lead to a homeless girl who sleeps on the bridge. They learn about an identity theft scam. The homeless girl is killed, but it turns out she did not attack the man on the bridge because the DNA left on the victim reveals male chromosomes left on the victim’s junk. Starting from graffiti on the bridge, the team finds Logan Stanton, a boy at an exclusive private school. Logan is alibied by his twin sister Lindsey. When the family agrees to a DNA swab, the samples match. Stabler and Benson try take Logan in, but Lindsey takes a mighty swing at Stabler.
Logan and Lindsey have emotional problems and Logan is particularly quick to anger.
Taking both children in, Lindsey reveals she was attacked by the gang member, offering clear details of the crime. Problem: the DNA insists the attacker was male. Questioning the kids proves fruitless and their therapist, Dr. Blair, is uncooperative. The parents are also difficult.
Oh, did I mention Dr. Blair is a sex therapist?
Dr. Hendrix, a friend of the SVU team, discovers Lindsey was born male, but underwent a sex change operation after the circumcision went bad. The parents finally reveal to the detectives what happened. Stabler and Benson visit Dr. Blair, who took the situation as an opportunity to test a “nurture versus nature” hypothesis.
When Lindsey offers a confession to ADA Novak, everything comes out. Dr. Hendrix tells her she was born a boy. A few days later, Logan comes to the squad room requesting the SVU arrest Dr. Blair, saying he put the kids into various sex positions. Blair claims it is part of the treatment … and he’s also writing a book about it.
Just when everything seems sussed out, Dr. Blair is found murdered by a child wearing a parka. The murderer spit on him, but with Lindsey now off estrogen and going by Luke, both he and his brother are indistinguishable. The spit could have come from either of them. With their bond unbreakable, Benson says they committed “the perfect crime.”
Why it is best in show: “Identity” is without a doubt the best episode of SVU. While the show is at it best when it leaves the confines of reality behind, this episode pisses on the concept of reality and offers up a story that makes more sense in a late 19th Century novel than an episode of “Law & Order.” Like all the best episodes of the show, the story follows a blind alley, with the twins not appearing until the 25 minute mark. The goal post also shifts every few minutes from that point on. What started as a simple crime explodes into a gothic tale of an affluent, but screwed up family and a European doctor with curious theories about child development.
The Top Five list features a few episodes concerning transgender scenarios. These episodes tend to be more intense, complex, and gripping than your standard “Law & Order” or SVU plot. While the other episodes on the Top Five handle the issue more sensitively, “Identity” handles it in a broadly sensationalist way that is both insanely silly and insanely compelling.
Special mention for actor Reiley McClendon, who throws himself into the dual role of Logan and Lindsey/Luke with reckless abandon.
Lessons learned: Never try to find SVU clips on YouTube. All you will find is tribute videos.