Clay Aiken and Taylor Hicks show up as judges on a talent competition on Wednesday’s (Nov. 6) “Law & Order: SVU.” The fake “American Diva” bears an uncanny resemblance to “American Idol,” where the two singers got their big breaks.
The episode has them (along with R&B singer Ashanti) behind the judges’ desk. Carly Rose Sonenclar, runner-up on Season 2 of “The X Factor,” takes the stage. She’s so nervous, she’s initially inaudible, but quickly finds her terrific voice.
As she’s wowing the audience, which was a theater full of extras at Manhattan’s Hudson Theatre last month, the action breaks to the detectives going about their lives, all tuning into the singing contest. Detective Amaro (Danny Pino) and his daughter watch at a diner. Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Tutuola (Ice-T) watch while eating take-out Chinese food, and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has the show on at home, while on the phone.
It’s a sweet, mundane evening. When Carly Rose finishes singing “For Once in My Life,” she drags her voice coach on stage to take a bow with her.
Billy Porter, who won a Tony last season for “Kinky Boots,” plays the coach, Jackie Walker. And while he’s taking a bow, more people are watching from home, including Jonah, 4, whose mom tells him to watch because Walker is his music teacher.
Walker works as a music teacher at an upscale preschool. Jonah becomes agitated, talking about what a bad man Mr. Jackie is and how the teacher makes him play doctor. Naturally, the next scene is of the little boy talking with Benson.
Expect that special disgust reserved for sexual predators of the youngest.
Benson coaxes the story out of Jonah, who tells how Mr. Jackie tickled him with “a purple egg.” Jonah’s older sister, Brooke, weeps that Jonah had told her but that she didn’t believe him. Brooke blames herself.
Rollins isn’t buying the boy’s story. She knows that if Walker is accused, his life will be over.
Doctors found no physical evidence of a sexual crime, but the detectives investigate. In the music room, they find a vibrator, the purple egg, among small drums and tambourines.
Walker vehemently denies any improprieties.
“Those egg shakers are not mine,” Walker says, in a sort of Bill Clinton-“I did not have sex with that woman” voice. “Stop! I am not a child molester. All I do is teach kids music.”
Benson is dubious.
“You are on a TV show,” she says. “You have this big, thriving career coaching singers. Why are you still teaching preschool?”
“Because I actually care about the job I do,” he replies. “Kids need music in their lives. The early years are important.”
Soon, the detectives interview Jonah’s pal, Cooper, who tells a very similar story to Jonah’s, except Cooper gets a little tripped up on the details. Rollins listens to Cooper and realizes he confused his home bathroom and the one at school, where the alleged incidents occurred. Rollins, who suspected something was off about the case, is now even more doubtful.
But the detectives must continue to investigate. Walker is arrested, arraigned and held on $1 million bail. A feeding frenzy ensues, the sort that would happen if an “American Idol” coach were accused of such heinous crimes.
Walker continues to maintain his innocence while he is fired from the show, loses his day job and his reputation.
As the detectives keep digging, they find nine children with very similar stories, but they are all 4 years old. They won’t do well on the witness stand and sound a little rehearsed. The detectives need to find an older kid. They return to Jonah’s older sister.
Take the lessons from “The Art of War” and combine them with “Mean Girls” and you get an idea of how incredibly vindictive 15-year-old girls can be. Walker had been the voice coach for Brooke and her friend Rachel, the older sister of one of the other accusers, but he dropped them to concentrate on the character Carly Rose plays.
Walker’s only crime? The singing coach told the teens the truth: They were never going to make it.
“I saved them from 10 years of waiting for a break that would never come,” he says.
They could not handle the truth and decided to ruin his life by coaching their little brothers to lie about the teacher.
When the city dismisses the charges against Walker, no press is on hand to cover the hearing. The feeding frenzy is over, as is his career and any semblance of a normal life.
What did you think of this week’s “SVU”?