If you’re an OG “Law & Order” fan, the name Alexandra Borgia should ring a bell. She was the shortest-running Assistant District Attorney in the show’s history, appearing in only 33 episodes. Borgia assisted Jack McCoy primarily, but also investigated on her own. She also had the most brutal death that a lot of fans feel she didn’t deserve.
In the season 16 episode “Invaders,” Borgia is investigating counterfeit badges and a string of murders done by killers impersonating federal officers. While investigating, a suspect kidnapped her, and detectives find her dead in the trunk of a car. She asphyxiated on her own vomit while bound and gagged, and Jack McCoy steps out of line trying to get a confession from her killer. The State Attorney General eventually pulls McCoy from the case for his emotional connection.
A lot of fans felt that Borgia’s death was uncalled for, and a little too much for the show. Even though “Law & Order” frequently covered gruesome topics, this may have been a step too far for a main character. One user on Reddit stated that the show didn’t shy away from “an explicitly shown kidnapping before revealing her bloody corpse in the trunk of a car that they then zoomed in on multiple times, complete with a grizzly [sic], detailed explanation of the cause of death.”
Fans considered Borgia’s death too gritty and dark, as she was a main character on the show. Some seemed to think she was a vehicle for McCoy’s storyline and emotions. Fans took to Reddit to discuss an episode from fifteen years ago.
‘Law & Order’: Was Alexandra Borgia’s Death Just Gratuitous Violence?
One fan wrote on the Reddit thread, “One of the things I loved about ‘L&O’ is how the violence mostly happens off-screen […] But man, for such a brutal act, it just carried next to no emotional weight. I get that L&O isn’t supposed to carry things from one episode to the next, but for that to not leave much [of] a mark on anyone didn’t ring true to me.”
There is the question of if “Law & Order” just used Borgia’s death to further McCoy’s plot. Her death motivates him to interrogate her killer. This ends with him stepping out of line and getting taken off the case. One fan disagreed with this theory, though it’s more of a complete narrative trope than a theory. They wrote, “[McCoy’s] determination to nail those responsible ramped up, and it explains his reasons for taking the gloves off and dancing close to the line of unethical conduct.”
But therein lies the issue; it’s a very real problem in movies, television, books, etc.; the female character will be killed off to motivate the male character. And that turns out to be his only motivation. It’s gratuitous violence against women to further a man’s plot, and “Law & Order” has definitely done it with more women than just Alexandra Borgia.