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 program was disappointing without the Meloni and Hargitay chemistry. The program has lost significant appeal at this point.

Sommerleigh pollonais

The first thing i noticed about the new season of SVU, was the camera work. Everything felt new and 'clean'. Not just the office space but the way the cinematography was handled, usually SVU has a gritty look to it, which really helps to depict how dirty and horrible these crimes are. I'm not too fond of the new sterile look but I'm willing to give it a chance. I was REALLY hoping that Stabler/Benson relationship, and his leaving would have been handled a bit more intimately (maybe with one of their talks). I knew it was coming but it didn't make it any easier, especially with their choice for who will be replacing him (thumbs down). I'm willing to give Rollins a chance as I loved her in CHASE. Guess it's too early to tell, will have to wait and see.




see that the only part that didnt make sense to me she had no problem leaving him a coulpe a season ago (twices) without telling him so why is she so upset that he let I will say these is did feel like we were watching a whole other show it was nice to see some people from all the other Law and Order from the mothership to CI and LA


I really enjoyed the season 13 premiere. It really feels like a new beginning.
It was very sad to not see Christopher Meloni, B.D. Wong and Tamara Tunie in the credits. However, I'm glad that there was an appearance from Tamara Tunie's character - Dr. Melinda Warner.
I really enjoyed Kelli Giddish's character. I do wish that we got to see Danny Pino's character, even if it was a quick glimpse and one line. Hopefully they both get on well with the rest of the crew.
As for Stephanie March, as Alexandra Cabot, I wish she was added back to the cast. I miss both her and Diane Neal, as Casey Novak!
I couldn't help but laugh at Alex's comment: "Is Stabler coming back?", to which the Captain replied: "It's up to him".
Overall, it was a great episode to begin with as the case was really interesting and it showed the new detectives coming in and all of that.
My heart really goes out to Olivia. I cannot imagine what she's going through when it comes to that situation of Elliot. I hope she gets through it.
I look forward to next weeks episode and I hope that TV Fanatic continues to write reviews for the show, as it's one of my favorites and so is this site! :D

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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.