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)

The shows had it. Just let it go Wolf.


I think they should make this a new show now. Change the title and everything. Once Benson leaves then that is what SVU will be. A totally different show. Change the title to something like Law And Order New York. What you think ?


Meloni leaving wont kill this show off. I dont think Hargitay leaving will either. Sorry if I spelt her name wrong. But if the new people dont gel with viewers, then that could. You have to be very very careful who you put into a show that is in jeopardy like this one is now. I think they should have thought more carefully about who they were casting instead of just dumping Pino and Giddish on the show to replace Stabler and eventually Benson. I dont think they have even considered wether we will take to them or like them. They have brought in two actors from recently cancelled shows just to give them another job. Surely, that is suspicious. It is to me.


Was this show actually filmed in NYC ? It feels like it was all filmed in LA. Even the offices had a set up look, not the realistic NYC stark cramped etc. Also the direction was poor, not enough close ups, not the eery feeling like something unexpected could happen. Not enough sound , noises, city noises, wind, all missing. Where is the talent that put together the other seasons from 2 on ?? I was actually bored. Sadly, you need another MAN to replace Stable, if you can. Why did you let him go ??? What were you thinking ???


what was giddish like ?


I can see the show flopping


I was a faithful SVU watcher. What a disappointment the show is now. I will no longer be watching either.


I for one will not be watching Law & Order SVU without Stabler. It was the chemistry between Stabler and Benson that kept the show going. The storylines were pretty much the same, but it was the Stabler/Benson connection that gave the show its edge. Shame.


Forget the show! I loved the show because of Elliot & Olivia. They made the show. I love Olivia & she is one hell of an actress. But Kelli Giddish is no actress. Didn't like her in Chase. Bring back Elliott or your viewing list will be diminishing! Why change a good thing. Never missed this show!


This is a brand new show now. The only character in it worth watching it for is Benson to me. I think they should rename it BENSON.

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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.