Friends, today Robin Williams would have been 68 years old. Rather than focus on the loss his death brought us in 2014, I feel it’s more fitting to remember his body of work on his birthday by revisiting his best role of all time.
No, it’s not the Genie in Aladdin, although he was good in that.
No, it’s not Mrs. Doubtfire in Mrs. Doubtfire although he was pretty good in that, too.
If you’re thinking it’s that guy he played in Good Will Hunting, which he won an Oscar for, you’d be wrong there too, pal.
It almost was his role in “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”
…but then friends, he went and topped himself by starring in the 2008 episode of Law and Order SVU, “Authority.”
Yes, the season 9, episode 17 classic, where he plays Merritt Rook, a seemingly mild-mannered, rule-following nerd, but friends, this is SVU and things are not always what they appear, are they!?
*Dun, Dun* (that’s supposed to sound like the sound effect they play, you know what? I’ll just embed it.)
No, see, it turns out that Merritt isn’t some mild-mannered nerd, he’s a genius with an authority complex (thus the title of the episode, clever, right!?) He is responsible for calling a fast food restaurant and convincing its dumb manager that one of his employees stole a wallet and he had to strip her naked (save for an apron) and detain her. The manager is played by the guy who played Pete Hornberger on 30 Rock but that’s neither here nor there because we won’t see him again.
Anyway, Merritt has a real chip on his shoulder when it comes to “the man” as I said. So he basically allows himself to be caught in order to become a folk hero to the people. He represents himself in his trial for what happened at the restaurant, and it turns out that’s not such a bad idea because he gets himself acquitted. Mainly because he convinces the jury to hate authority as much as him, I think. I’m not a lawyer and I purposefully didn’t ask the lawyers of Pajiba who also happen to own Pajiba because I didn’t want their feedback to be “Kate, why are you writing about SVU, again?!” I digress.
So Merritt is now the hero darling of New York and arranges things such as a pillow fight flash mob, but Stabler can’t stand for that because Stabler loves authority and hates fun. So he and Benson start to research this Merritt character more. Turns out, he hates authority because a Doctor malpracticed all over him, which lead to his pregnant wife and unborn child dying. So what is a super-smart guy who hates being told what to do, do?
If you said taunt said doctor until he commits suicide (or was murdered, and it just looked like a suicide) you’re clearly as big of an SVU fan as I am, and I hope to see you at the next convention. So now Benson and Stabler have a reason to go pick this Merritt fellow up. So they track him to Grand Central station, and guess what? Merritt kidnaps Benson because there’s still like 10 minutes left in this episode to go.
So Stabler finds Benson at Merritt’s old sound recording studio, only now she’s strapped to a weird contraption that looks like she’s hooked up to a generator and Merritt says he has a bomb. He gets real tough with Stabler and gives him a choice: he either uses a button to electrocute Benson, or else he will. Stabler refuses to hurt his partner and then Merritt is all, “Guess what? You passed the test. You’re not a follower and I like that. There’s no bomb, it’s all good. You can basically arrest me now.”
So Benson and Stabler do, and Benson wants her bud Stabler to know why she went with Merritt in the first place— because he said he had a bomb. Only there is no bomb…or is there?
Yeah. There actually was a bomb, which Merritt detonates after he and the cops leave the building, only they can’t find Merritt after it happens. Did he jump in the river that was conveniently located next to the building? Who knows!
The episode ends with Benson and Stabler shrugging their shoulders because they’re pretty sure Merritt died when he escaped because his whole plan was basically this:
1) Detonate bomb.
2) Jump in the river.
I mean, obviously, he didn’t die. In the SVU world, Merritt is still out there, living his life and hating the man. It’s basically as happy an ending you can get with this show, even though Merritt is responsible for a sexual assault against a woman we saw at the beginning of the episode. I don’t know, I try not to think about the implications of this episode too much as it takes me to a dark place where I end up questioning whether we created the Matrix or if the Matrix created us.
Oh, you may be wondering where Ice-T’s character, Fin, was during all of this? The short answer is I don’t really know. That’s the long answer too, but there’s more speculation with that response.
Basically, if I haven’t convinced you that this is Robin Williams’ best role, then it would seem that you have thoughts of your own on this subject. Which means we probably aren’t in the Matrix yet, and I see that as a win for all of us.
Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Header Image Source: NBC Universal