'Law & Order: SVU' Premiere Recap: Best of 'Scorched Earth'
'Law & Order: SVU' Premiere Recap: Best of 'Scorched Earth'
On the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU, the detectives investigate a case in which a hotel maid accuses an Italian diplomat of rape. The case isn't easy because the defense is wondering whether the woman has an ulterior motive.

Out With the Old, In With the New (and Familiar)

While viewers know that Elliott Stabler will no longer be returning to the NYPD's 16th Precinct, the detectives don't. It's because of this that we feel like we're watching the show with a secret that only we know. We're left to wonder when the moment of truth will come, and how will the detectives handle it, especially Olivia?

It's going to take a while for everyone (characters and viewers alike) to get used to Elliott's absence -- or maybe we won't get used to it all, but accept it anyway. Because his absence is very noticeable -- it just doesn't feel right. Amanda Rollins is the new detective in town, by way of Atlanta, and we're still debating whether we like her or not. Let's give it another episode or two. But we do know she'll have to bring her Olivia fangirling down a notch. District Attorney Alex Cabot is back, which is comforting to see given Elliot's departure.

Ripped from the headlines?

The case of the hotel maid vs. the diplomat should sound familiar, as a case involving the head of the French IMF and a New York City hotel maid was in the news just this year. The New York Post wrote that the show's writers kept rewriting and rewriting this episode to keep up with emerging true-life details.

Thus the show's case is difficult to try because the woman lies about being convicted of a felony, to the U.S. government no less. If she could lie about that, what else would she lie about? But Olivia's police instinct tells her that the woman is telling the truth, which is all that DA Cabot needs to hear. On the charge of first-degree rape, the jury cannot come to a unanimous vote. On the charge of assault in the second degree, the diplomat is found not guilty. On the charge of unlawful imprisonment, however, the defendant is found guilty.

The Moment of Truth

It isn't until the end of the episode that we find out Elliott is gone -- permanently. Olivia is called into Captain Cragen's office thinking he wants to discuss the case that ended. But the captain breaks the news to her -- and her alone -- with a heavy heart. For someone who's been told that her long-time partner has left, she keeps it together pretty well -- she even offers to go out on a police call right after. But she asks for five minutes.

That's when Olivia goes into an empty interrogation room and breaks down, allowing herself a few tears before she composes herself again. She's a policewoman, she's supposed to be tough, but we know deep down how heartbroken she is. We feel her pain and her loss. Yet we still haven't seen the rest of the Special Victims Unit be given the news of Elliott's departure.

Will this be in the next episode? How will the absence of her partner affect Olivia in both the short and long term, and SVU as a whole? There are so many questions that need to be answered, questions that set the stage for the rest of the season. Maybe Elliott leaving, thus bringing in new detectives, will give the series a much-needed shot of adrenaline.

Esther Gim
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of NBC)