Law & Order: SVU Review: So Long, Stabler

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So long, Stabler! We will miss you and your macho, not-always-constitutional treatment of accused sexual assailants. In "Scorched Earth," the 13th season of Law & Order: SVU opens without Benson's male counterpart, but introduces some new and familiar faces.

Throughout the episode, Stabler's absence is noticeable, as IAB investigates the shocking shoot-out that ended the previous season. His future is a mystery to his co-workers (though not to the viewers) and although Benson is ready to defend Stabler, it's clear her old partner can't deal with the fallout and resigns. She takes it pretty hard, crying to herself before getting back on the job. It's classic Olivia, both tough and vulnerable.

The new season introduced enthusiastic newcomer Amanda Rollins, all the way from Atlanta. We don't know much about her yet, except that she seems to be a huge fan of Benson's work.

Kelli Giddish on Law & Order: SVU

Kelli Giddish's Rollins is supposed to breathe new life into the series (and also be a potential female replacement for Benson later in the season), but I didn't find myself liking her character so much, especially during her "talk" with this week's accused, Italian diplomat Roberto Distasio.

The episode revolves around a crime that feels a little too current: Distasio is accused of assaulting a maid in his hotel. With the charges against DSK having just been dismissed less than a month ago, it's easy to see how the episode echoes that real investigation and possibly even how the writers of this show felt about the outcome.

Like the real case, this one devolves into a big he said/she said, but the problems with the witness (frequent lies and questionable motives) barely sways ADA Cabot's conviction that the rape did happen. New Bureau chief Mike Cutter makes a point of telling Cabot (and the audience, it seems) that "these cases are about perception, not reality" and we can't help but feel that the facts can be made irrelevant with the right smear campaign.

Even though Benson, jaded from years of this job, seems to question the victim's reliability, she does believe the assault happened. Throughout the episode, none of the detectives or prosecutors doubts the validity of her story, even when they find out she exaggerated her previous rape story to gain asylum. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but this show has always had a reputation for providing a balanced depiction of the legal system.

Towards the end of Distasio's trial, ADA Cabot tells the jury, "In America, money and power do not tilt the scales of justice." Except, in this case, they actually do. I think the real lesson of the episode was that people with influence can buy their way out of trouble, with great legal representation and a team of investigators to dig up dirt on the victim.

The season starter was your typical SVU fare, but what it really lacked was the back-and-forth between Benson and Stabler. Both detectives provided their own perspectives on the issue and they usually represent the division in the show's audience's members.

Rollins might grow into an interesting character and perhaps newcomer Danny Pino will fill Stabler's shoes very soon. BUT will the show ever be the same? Even still, will the new characters bring a new and improved dynamic to a show that's beginning to feel a little stale?

It's early, of course. But are you hopeful they can accomplish this task?



Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (96 Votes)

This show will never be the same. I was only 2 about to be three when this show came out. I'm a teenager who's just now seeing this show and even though I was to young to watch this show to even have it cross my mind I know now that what makes fans so loyal to this show was Olivia and Elliot. If Mariska decides to leave the show I wouldn't be surprised if all those loyal fans decided that since the actors were not loyal to them by leaving the show then they can stop watching. When ADA and EADA and dectectives and medical examiners were not constant, Benson and Stabler were. We knew that we could always count on them to make us forget about the fact that the supporting cast wasn't always the same characters(actors). If any one of you (Mariska or Chris ) ever read this comment (like that would happen, a girl can dream) I don't mean to offend you in any way. I just want to say to the writers and directors and executive producers that your ranking has gone down, your viewers rate will never be as high as season 3. The only time it would ever go up if Meloni comes on as a guest start and even then I don't think your viewer rate will go up much. All your viewers, your fans are use to seeing Chris Meloni face and name first on the credits and the fact that we won't see that handsome face all that often really hurts. Chris Meloni I hope that you have a successful career and life, but more than that I hope you change your mind and come back and I hope it will be so easy to bring you back. Christopher Meloni that fact that you said that you want to come back as a guest star should tell you something you really don't want to throw away that history. You don't want to let go so don't.


for a show that seems to hire some of the best actors for every episode, how in the hell did they manage to hire unwatchable kelli giddish??


I tried for a few episodes to accept he is gone... but I found myself doing other things like playing on the computer instead of watching. Without the Liv/El combo the show has lost appeal. Its like watching a cheap knock off of SVU instead of the real thing!!


I no longer watch the show since Meloni's exit; but I must admit that Olivia character's appearance has changed.I am not in the film industry, but she appears to have only one expression--under duress.Maybe if she cut her hair and strutted her usual imperial presence, we could fantasize our way through the episodes. Good luck with that... By The Way: Only a male can replace Stabler. For his character was built on the foundation of both his childhood history and paternal responsibilities. Combined this has created an almost messianic mission to fulfill his personal destiny. I still wish good luck to the series.....


Did anyone notice how fake Olivia's face looked in scenes? I'm not sure if it was make up or too much plastic surgery but there were moments that I really couldn't take it. Never noticed before but I haven't seen a new one in about a year so maybe this is old news for SVU faithful. I'll watch the old versions instead.


I don't like Rollins at all. I like Pino a whole lot. I'd love for Pino to stay forever. But I want Stabler back for sure as well. I want Benson and Stabler back together but I'd also love Pino to stay. He's great and I think he's amazing. But as for Rollins---no way. I don't like her character, and I don't like Kelli Giddish. I agree with Julie--I don't think she can act at all.


I agree with all the above comments, Benson and Stabler,WERE the show. Benson, had such a small part in the last SVU series, I lost interest and turned to an old western. I sure miss that couple, and the show is over for SVU.


I will keep saying it over and over and over. Kelli Giddish cannot act !


Is Rollins staying ?



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Law & Order: SVU Season 13 Episode 1 Quotes

These cases are about perception, not reality.

SVU Chief Mike Cutter

Distasio: On the word of a maid.
Finn: My grandmother was a maid.