On Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 1, Sergeant Olivia Benson was repeatedly berated with this stinging question:
"Why do you care so much?"Joaquin
Even when it was just a scumbag like Little Tino (or Joaquin, or Angel) trying to get under her skin, she let it get to her - let it pick at her brain and make her loose her cool.
But she's stronger for it. And, as this episode would have you believe, there's still closure to be found.
After Ellie, the prostitute turned witness who was awaiting testimony, was murdered in the season 15 finale, "Spring Awakening," presumably by Tino, her son was orphaned. And, as a judge asked her if she would consider being baby Noah's foster mother, it's clear to us that Olivia is all in. She's ready for this. Cut to four months later, and with no trace of Ellie's actual killer, Benson is teary-eyed, whispering to her baby.
Olivia promised Noah that he had "a lot of friends" now, friends who wouldn't rest until his mother's murderer was brought to justice. She's clearly still guilt-ridden, and her conscience is still eating at her. This sets up the premise for tonight's episode, which is not a typical case of the week, but a continuation of last season's cliffhanger.
The ex-detective, Nick Amaro, who was knocked down a peg and working the traffic beat in Queens, came across underage Craigslist "working girl" Luna Garcia, 14, and already a mother to a child who who was taken from her, Luna was violently reluctant to speak on her Pimp or cooperate in any manner.
She knew better. She's seen the consequences. However, thanks to the well-intentioned but crass and ill-mannered new addition to the squad, Dominic "Sonny" Caresi Jr, she started opening up under the guise of government protection.
Benson put in a request for a "sensitive, experienced detective" and got stuck with a guy who wants to "take a run" at interrogating a fourteen year old - berate her rather than talk to her, because, "to her, a nice guy is just playing her." But at least he's goal-oriented, and has a sense of humor. Maybe he'll find his place at SVU and stop "touring the boroughs."
While that angle was being worked over by the new recruit, Amaro's shady history helped him try and get an in with Joaquin, a boss a level under the unknown leader. He's a real piece of work, but fell easily enough to Fin and Amaro's con of painting the latter as a dirty cop.
As all ends failed to lead to a suspect, Benson ordered a play against Joaquin to self-destruct - arresting Joaquin as well as Amaro in order to question the former. But the man was insistent on not cooperating, as criminals usually are. Instead he provoked Benson with mentions of her baby boy, to the point where she maliciously threatened to make sure he's found hanging in his cell.
Wow - never mess with a mother's cub.
Digging lead to a car service company a la Uber, called "Quickride," whose owner, Angel, claimed to have not made the mistake of dealing with sketchy characters after Little Tino. But, as we found out, Angel was the mystery boss himself, duping the detectives by dealing with Joaquin through his car service and almost having Tino shivved to death in prison. He finally trashed his own business to make it seem like he was the victim.
He also had men open fire at a playground full of little children, including Noah and his babysitter, in an attempt to scare Benson. However, Benson isn't one to falter from her path and they eventually made the connection and tracked down Angel's home in Mexico.
Instead of surrendering, the depraved pimp threatened Benson's son once again before making a run for it - leading to Ice-T being typical badass Ice-T, He took him out with one shot and a mean mug.
The attempted arrest wouldn't have even been possible without testimony from Selena, Angel's "bottom girl" who grew from an abused, underage prostitute, and became an "abuser" herself. She would "break" the girls in and was responsible for their care.
Selena knew about Ellie's gruesome murder and used to be in charge of Luna. She was stoic in her refusal to flip on Angel - until it was revealed that her own kid who she hadn't seen in years, was growing up in Angel's mansion in Mexico.
This episode ended with their reunion, and a private moment between Olivia and her baby son. Again, that initial question, the venomous taunt, "Why do you care so much?" Why should Benson care about Ellie's killer since she "got a son out of it"? Benson did it for her conscience, she did it for her guilt. She did it for her son; for Ellie's son. She did it for closure and she cares because she's a mother.
With a strong premiere that was more about the growth of Sergeant Olivia Benson and her new relationship with Noah than anything else, I'm sure there's still plenty left to talk about down in the comments section.
Make sure to watch Law & Order: SVU online to recap your favorite moments, and tune in each week to see what case, usually ripped straight from the headlines, SVU decides to tackle.