Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, July 16, 2019

“Law & Order: SVU” Recap: Welcome back to the unit

Note: This post contains spoilers for season 16, episode seven of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” entitled “Chicago Crossover.”

The sixteenth season of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” begins with what fans and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) have always wanted: Olivia finally getting the chance to be the mom we all knew she could be.

But with a show like SVU, happy moments are often cloudy. For starters, Noah’s (Olivia’s foster baby) mother, Ellie Porter (Emma Greenwell, “Shameless”), was murdered last season, and the man who greenlit her death is still roaming the streets. Nick Amaro (Danny Pino, “The Shield), Olivia’s old partner, has moved from detective to patroller and luckily, the first prostitute he finds as a patroller, Luna Garcia (Alexa Mansour), happens to be pimped out by the same people as Ellie. But Luna Garcia won’t talk, and neither will any of the other witnesses.

And then the story continues on in the same way roughly one fourth of all “SVU” episodes do:

  • The detectives find people who know things but are too scared to talk.
  • At least one cop goes undercover and/or pretends to be dirty - in this case it’s Nick.

But since “SVU” is a far better show than it was a few years ago, the writers know how to hit a little closer to home and throw in a threat against Olivia’s new baby.

Little Tino (Gavin-Keith Umeh), who is imprisoned for killing Ellie, suggests to Olivia that she might want to back off of the case. Of course, Olivia does exactly the opposite, putting her baby’s life in danger, and in the process, meeting two different prostitutes who happen to be mothers as well. As usual, Olivia appeals to one by convincing the prostitute Selena to put her son’s needs ahead of her own, and all ends well.

But can Olivia make the same sacrifice?

A new face has also entered the Manhattan SVU. Detective Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino, “Frances Ha”) joined after a string of failed stints in the police departments of the other boroughs. The audience can’t make much of Carisi off of this episode, but so far, he’s a law student at Fordham who respects Olivia as a sergeant, which is refreshing to see.

Rollins (Kelli Giddish, “All My Children”) and Fin (Ice-T), don’t get much screentime, and Nick’s personal problems are never mentioned, but that’s okay. It’s never been the show’s style to deal with more than one issue at a time.

The episode ends with Olivia delivering the good news to Noah. The man who ordered the killing for his mom is dead. The season opener closed one story line, but left plenty open for the rest of the season.

Tune into Law and Order:SVU on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

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