When “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” revealed Season 17 would kick off with a mystery inspired by the events of “The Jinx,” chances are nobody expected the end result to be so comically bad.
The two-part episode starts out like many installments of “SVU,” with a dead body popping up. This one is seemingly connected to Gregory Yates (Dallas Roberts), who first appeared as a serial killer that was convicted in Season 16.
That’s where the logic completely ends, though. Instead of the body being another one of Yates’ victims, it turns out Carl Rudnick (Jefferson Mays) — the medical examiner introduced in Season 16 — is behind the killings. He has a long and twisted history with Yates, who taught him his murderous ways.
How does any of this tie into “The Jinx”? A preview for the episodes shows Rudnick saying “Kill them all, whatever it takes” under his breath on video tape, taking a cue from Robert Durst’s confession on the HBO documentary series.
However, "SVU" took things to a ridiculous level. Not only did they make Rudnick a crossdresser for no apparent reason, they also seemingly gave him a split personality. The recording of him saying to kill everyone "like the others" was one side of his personality speaking to the other.
In another nod to "The Jinx," Rudnick is eventually tracked down after being picked up for petty shoplifting, which is something that happened with Durst as well. In 2001, Durst was caught attempting to shoplift a chicken sandwich, Band-Aids and a newspaper, despite having nearly $40,000 in his car in cash.
Finally, as the show starts to reach a conclusion, there is one last "Jinx"-related aspect. Producers of the HBO series didn't realize they'd recorded Durst's secret confession until close to the season finale. Likewise, Rudnick's lawyers were in possession of his confession all along and never listened to enough of the tape to realize it.
So much for his highly skilled legal team.
While "Law & Order: SVU" likes to tell stories that are "ripped from the headlines," it's hard to do anything but laugh at this one. Perhaps next time the show looks to real life for inspiration, it'll try a bit harder.