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TV's Greatest Character Evolution

Kent Martinez |
January 7, 2016 | 7:45 p.m. PST


Bobby (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) solving a case (NBC).
Bobby (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) solving a case (NBC).

"Law and Order" showcases a unique, sophisticated and intricate character whose mission in life is to solve crime and lock away the bad guy. The show revolves around Bobby Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) an odd and intense character, who's a genius at solving puzzles. The show has a very complex structure, but its narrative is pretty straight forward: “bad guy commits crime, Bobby and Eames (his partner) must solve it and ultimately capture and expose them.” This is what the show was all about for the first five seasons. Every single episode revolved around a crime needing to be solved and Bobby having to expose the villains. His slicskter way of talking to enemies followed up with his hand movement and tilted head as he is talking to them, makes him a very unique character.

However, like most shows, change is necessary. In Bobby's case, a character evolution needed to take place. There was a limit on how far the show dug into his personal life. As a matter of fact, we knew nothing about him for the first five seasons of the show except that he was a genius detective whose life mission was to put away the bad guy, which worked very well for all of those years due to the structure of the show; but a void needed to be filled as the show began clamoring for a change in direction.

During the later seasons of the show, we come to find that Bobby has a psychotic mother, a serial killer dad, a drug attic brother and a runaway nephew. Once the show began revealing certain aspects of his character, an even greater bond was made between him and the audience. This was crucial for the success of the show during those later seasons. The show grew exponentially as we saw Bobby begin to have psychological issues as well, making him a vulnerable character who did not have all of life’s answers, though it seemed like he did as he always had an answer for the truth (just not his truth). 

He is no longer invincible, but human now.

Bobby gets suspended from the force as he is recommended to see a shrink do to all of the issues he has. Throughout season 7 he gets himself arrested to go undercover on a mission he was not authorized to go, to save his nephew from the horrible treatments inmates were being put through. This show went beyond simply trying to look for clues that led to the arrest of an individual, but about a man looking for his own clues in life that led to his truth.

Bobby, ultimately loses all of his loved ones, but has one last encounter with them. In the last season, his therapy sessions become the focal point of the show. Was Bobby putting the job before the man, or was he putting the man before the job?

What is hidden behind the anger? More anger. Bobby wants more in life than just solving puzzles. He wants love and closure, but is unwilling to do so as a big part of him is so committed to his work. A chemistry looks to be building between his therapist and Bobby as he confesses deep intimate feelings to her that he never has with anyone else.  

Though Bobby and Eames never displayed any type of romantic affection toward one another, the last episode of the series may give a hint. As Bobby walks out of his therapy session, Eames is there to pick him up where the two once inside the car, give each other a stare like they never had, implying that just maybe Bobby finally found his happiness.  



Retro Movie Reviews is a weekly column by Kent Martinez, published every Friday. Read other Retro Movie Reviews here.

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