“Law & Order: SVU’s” newest season packs a punch
Last Thursday night, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” kicked off its 20th season on NBC with a special two-hour premiere. The premiere was split into two separate episodes with the first one called “Man Up” and the second one called “Man Down.” It felt very familiar to any other episode in the “Law & Order” universe, where the police investigate a crime and eventually focus on a suspect. The DA’s Office later prosecutes the perpetrator. But in another way, this episode had a very different feel to it. It is one of the darkest episodes of SVU that I have seen, all while being intensely gripping and emotional.
The first part of the premiere opens with two teenage brothers and their father hunting in the woods. The younger brother has his rifle pointed at a rabbit, with his older brother standing next to him and demanding that he shoot. But the younger brother is unable to pull the trigger, which greatly disappoints their father, who is an avid hunter and believes that hunting is a stepping-stone to manhood.
Without giving too much of the plot away, the next scene shows the detectives of Manhattan’s Special Victims Unit at the hospital after receiving a call that the younger brother has been sexually assaulted. The boy refuses to identity his attacker and it takes some time before the detectives hone in on a suspect.
Their first suspect is someone who is all too close to the boy, but when the police figure out who the real suspect is, the episode immediately becomes even darker and more sinister.
The first part ends with the suspect standing trial in court. The second part of the premiere turns out to be even darker in some respects. The teenage boy who had been sexually assaulted is still coping with the trauma that he experienced. He becomes very mentally and emotionally unstable and that leads him to do something completely unexpected and horrible. Suddenly, the detectives and the DA’s Office have a much bigger crisis on their hands.
The second part ends on a sad note because the young boy has been so emotionally damaged and his life has been ruined. Despite that, it ends on a good note as well because justice has been done.
The premiere is different, not only because of its darker plot, but also because it brings out many of the main characters’ conflicts. For example, Lieutenant Olivia Benson, the leader of the SVU squad, is forced to come to terms with the fact that she cannot do all the things that she used to do when she was younger. Meanwhile, detective Amanda Rollins secretly reveals a surprise to Benson but she is not quite sure what to do about it. Benson ends up hinting to Rollins that she has gone through the same experience. Away from the squad, Assistant District Attorney Peter Stone is still dealing emotionally with the loss of someone close to him.
To sum up, the season 20 premiere of “Law & Order: SVU” was incredibly exciting to watch. I think that it is one of the best episodes of the show that I have seen recently. Although the storyline was very dark, that made it all the more gripping. I felt very sympathetic for the teenage boy because of what he had gone through. I also got a closer look into the dilemmas facing some of the main characters.
Although the show usually goes into their personal lives, these two episodes brought that to a whole new level. The fact that the characters opened up about what they were going through allowed me to connect with them in a way that does not happen for me often in this show. So even though the show has been on for two decades now, it is as good as ever. I am not sure what the rest of the season holds, but it’s off to one hell of a start.
Richard Hudson, a junior, studies Organizational Communications. He is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.