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Recap / Law & Order: Special Victims Unit S2 E18 "Manhunt"

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Written By Jeff Eckerle

Directed By Steve Wertimer

An abduction leads to the reopened case of a serial killer who has managed to evade capture for years.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Kern is guilty of over twenty counts of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder, flees into Canada with two more victims...where he's arrested for shoplifting. Munch even comments on how anti-climatic it is.
    • He is also officially extradited to the USA for stealing a vehicle worth more than $5,000, although this was a loophole to allow him to be extradited without eliminating the possibility of execution.
  • Broken Bird: Sara Kimmel is so traumatized by her ordeal that she can barely leave her home, is living on disability, and has to leave the lights on at night, or she'll see her rapists face staring at her in the dark. In the final scene, Munch informs Sara that her abductor has been captured ("I just wanted to tell you, you can turn your lights out tonight"), giving her some relief.
  • Collective Identity: The Bowery Stalker is actually two people, Darryl Kern and Marvin Posey.
  • Cool Old Lady: Marvin Posey's aunt Mary is just downright adorable, mistaking a full SWAT team with their guns drawn at her for her nephew's friends, and has tea and cheese with Munch and Fin.
  • The Dragon: Marvin Posey, while technically Kern's equal, is very much subservient to him due to Kern being much more intelligent and assertive.
  • Excuse Boomerang: Kern, who is facing a bulletproof capital punishment case for his crimes in the USA, was arrested in Canada, whose constitution forbids extradition on capital charges. When a Canadian judge questioned his defense attorney about the risk of Canada becoming a haven for capital offenders if they set this precedent, he smarmily replied "I prefer not to speculate on a hypothetical situation which may or may not result from the high court's ruling". Alex Cabot's response is to amend the extradition charge to possession of stolen property, which is not a capital charge. When the defense attorney says that Kern is obviously going to be charged with the capital crimes the second he's back on American soil (which Cabot doesn't even bother denying), the judge uses his exact words to justify extraditing Kern on the charges actually brought, barely concealing how much he enjoys it.
  • Ironic Echo: Kern's defense attorney brushes off the Judge's concerns about criminals fleeing to Canada to avoid the death penalty. When Kern is extradited on a charge of stealing a car, the Judge repeats the exact same words in response to the attorney's complaints about exploiting the extradition laws.
  • It's Personal: Munch is very invested in this case due to having investigated the previous murders and because he wants to ease the fears of Sara Kimmel, who was nearly killed by the Bowery Stalker.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: Done twice; Darryl Kern is arrested while shoplifting, and he's extradited to America for stealing a car as a way of getting around Canada's extradition laws regarding the death penalty.
  • Loophole Abuse: Canada won't extradite criminals to a country that'll execute them for the crimes the country is requesting extradition for. Alex Cabot gets around that rule by requesting extradition for a crime that people don't receive the death penalty for.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: This episode appears to be based on the crimes committed by serial killers Leonard Lake and Charles Ng. These two men captured, tortured, raped and murdered numerous women. Even Lake's military service was incorporated into Kern's backstory, as well as Kern fleeing to Canada (though that one was done by Ng instead of Lake).
  • Sadist: Kern enjoys torturing and mutilating his victims in horrific ways.
  • Smug Snake: Darryl is very smug about how long he was on the run for, and is more than happy to serve his sentence in Canada in order to avoid the death penalty. Of course, when he is extradited with the death penalty still on the table, he's shocked and broken by the knowledge that he's going to die.
  • The Sociopath: Kern was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder while in the Army.
  • You Have Failed Me: Darryl Kern eventually kills his cohort Marvin Posey due to him becoming a liability during the manhunt.
  • Villainous Breakdown: More subtle than usual, but Kern's clearly broken and terrified once his plan to avoid extradition failed.