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The Best Courtroom Scene In Law & Order: SVU Season 2

According to fans like u/Mistresstoyou70, the most successful "Law & Order" shows and episodes follow a specific formula: spend half of the episode investigating the crime and the other half prosecuting it. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is also good about sticking to this formula, so fans often go back to rewatch the older seasons for this entertaining mix. And if you're interested at all in the more dramatic courtroom scenes, there's one episode in Season 2 that will scratch that crime drama itch in a very satisfying way.

"SVU" is full of stories about bad guys committing some of the most unthinkable crimes but always getting their comeuppance in the end. Toward the end of Season 2, one particular storyline takes this theme to the next level. The killer in question isn't just guilty of some of the most brutal murders and violent crimes imaginable, but he rubs it in the detectives' faces because he is convinced he has outsmarted them on a technicality. However, when the case finally makes it to court, the final verdict is a surprising one.

It's the scene where a brutal serial killer gets outsmarted by the SVU team

In episode 18 of Season 2, titled "Manhunt," the SVU team starts investigating a murderer known as "The Bowery Stalker," who kidnaps and brutally assaults his victims before murdering them. But as events unravel, the detectives discover that it's a pair of killers, with Darryl Kern (R.E. Rodgers) acting as the brains of the operation. Kern runs away to Canada, where the law now forbids extradition of murder suspects eligible for the death penalty. He's so confident he can get free on this technicality that he even confesses his crimes in great detail to Detective Munch (Richard Belzer). To get their man, District Attorney Alexandra Cabot instead requests extradition based on a car he stole. The judge agrees (much to the chagrin of Kern and his defense attorney), and Kern returns to the U.S. to face justice.

Reddit user u/cfinboston was particularly entertained by that scene, noting that "the look on Daryl's face when he realizes he's been outsmarted is awesome." Fans like @TheJakNene are still tweeting about it, despite the fact that the episode is old enough to legally drink as of this writing. But what makes this scene more compelling than the rest of the season's courtroom shenanigans? Probably the way it utilizes the "Ironic Echo" trope (via TV Tropes). The disingenuous legal argument Kern's attorney uses to keep him free in Canada is thrown right back at him verbatim by the judge, who uses it to justify returning Kern to the States legally.