'Law & Order: SVU' Fans Fuming After 'Unfair' Ending in Sex-Trafficking Spa Case

This week's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, centered on a sex trafficking ring linked to a spa in New York City. The SVU team helped investigate Sweet Joy, a massage parlor where the young women are suspected of being forced to perform sex acts to pay debts. The case ended in a frustrating way that had fans fuming at the very end.

Early on in the investigation, Fin (Ice-T) and Sgt. Joe Park (Nelson Lee) discovered security cameras inside each room at the spa. The footage was linked to Evelyn's (Margaret Cho) nail salon across the street, where Rollins (Kelli Giddish) discovered one video that appears to show one girl, Mei Mei Li (Shuya Chang), being raped. At first, Mei Mei did not want to help, but Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) suggested that she would be open to helping them nail the rapist if they can get Evelyn.

Lily Song (Christine Chang) later told Kat (Jamie Gray Hyder) that the alleged rapist, Theo, was a special client and Evelyn told her they were supposed to do whatever he wanted. Theo told Fin what he did was not rape, since the girls are paid to do whatever clients want. He also said he had a friend who rents out the parlor space, who lets him visit the spa without making him pay.

The next step was finding who the friend was. In the meantime, Mei Mei told Rollins she was going back to the spa and refused to testify. Meanwhile, Kat got Lily to testify.

While introducing Lily to Benson and Carisi (Peter Scanavino) outside the courtroom, Lily got a call and disappeared into the bathroom. Kat went in, only discover that Lily jumped out of the window. Someone sent her a photo of her mother with a gun to her head.

Mei Mei was the only person who went to Lily's funeral. Rollins and Carisi spoke to Mei Mei, and pleaded with her to testify. Mei Mei refused, but she did tell them that Charlie - the "bagman" they met earlier at the spa - was actually in love with Mei Mei and they were saving up to get out of the situation.

Fin and Park told Charlie about what Lily did and the circumstances behind Lily's death. The detectives told Charlie about Theo, but Charlie could still not provide information on the friend. He agreed to help, but did not seem confident that it would work. They beeped the friend, who thought he was meeting Charlie. Instead, he met Park and was arrested.

The friend, Rick, and his attorney claimed he was innocent. Rick's lawyer tried to convince Fin and Rollins he was collecting rent, but they weren't buying it. They showed Rick the photos of him at the spa, and photos of Theo raping and assaulting women.

Carisi and Benson interviewed Rick's father Avi Olin (Lee Wilkof). Even though they know Avi is blindly allowing his son to do whatever he wants, Olin's attorney said he will only help if Olin is not charged with anything.

Next, the team caught D.A. Vanessa Hadid (Zuleikha Robinson) up to date on the case, but the answers they got from her were not in their favor. Olin told them about how a rich Chinese-American family, the Changs, owns the spas. Hadid told them they need hard evidence the Changs are linked to the sex trafficking.

Benson later spoke with Evelyn, who continued to play coy with Benson, who finally had enough of it. Benson told Evelyn she knew about Evelyn's daughter, who was accepted into a U.S. college. In exchange for not telling the school about how Evelyn is paying the tuition, Evelyn spilled the beans. Money is being funneled up the food chain to Lester, a man who runs a Chinese travel agency.

The team raided the travel agency, where they found tons of records, implicating the Changs in trafficking, which is just what Hadid wanted. Rollins and Park later found the Changs handing off money to a charity, and they arrested them.

Of course, Christine Chang later denied being linked to trafficking, but Benson and Carisi tried to peel back her confidence. Benson told her they know their bus line is being used to transport women from spa to spa. Carisi said Lester was ready to spill everything. Chang made an impassioned plea, noting that she escaped the Cultural Revolution and vowed to help girls get to the U.S.

"In my zeal to help others down the golden path, my path has deviated and for this, I must atone," Chang said.

Carisi and Hadid made a deal with Chang. Amazingly, the federal government stepped in, forcing the case to be suspended and Christine was released. The confession never happened and all the hard work they did was for nothing. Hadid insisted there was nothing she could do and Carisi was shocked.

The ending was not completely terrible. Theo pleaded guilty, while Rick is still in talks for a deal. He could get off, which did not make Kat happy at all.

"Kat, why don't you punch out," Benson said. Fin told Benson he thought Kat would not last, but Benson pointed out that the woman she was going to protect jumped out a window.

Later, Carisi and Rollins told Mei Mei she no longer has a debt to pay off. They helped her get in touch with her brother.


New Law & Order: SVU episodes air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

Photo credit: NBC