Spoilers ahead for the Season 25 premiere of Law & Order: SVU, called "Tunnel Blind."
Mariska Hargitay is officially back in primetime for her 25th season as Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, but the first episode of 2024 definitely didn't ease into the especially heinous offenses. After getting off to an admittedly adorable start, "Tunnel Blind" got very dark, with Benson leaning on Rollins (with Kelli Giddish reprising her role as guest star) during the case of a missing teenager and sex dolls. The premiere didn't seem to be leading to a full-time return for Rollins, however, and the introduction of a new detective makes me think we may have a new recurring character in the 2024 TV schedule.
Rollins was back in "Tunnel Vision" for the baptism of her son with Carisi, with Benson as the godmother. The good captain also paid her a visit later in the hour when she was teaching at Fordham to chat about the case, and Rollins' insight combined referring to the perp as "our" clearly made Benson miss having her friend in her unit. It felt like SVU at least floating the possibility of Kelli Giddish coming back as a cop, but then the episode introduced a new detective: Bergen County SVU's Detective Sloane Parrish, played by Amber Skye Noyes.
Parrish joined the episode when Benson and her team located a missing girl from a case other than the one they were investigating. The detective had been searching for the girl for a long time, and joined Benson in a trip back to the city to keep chasing leads. The premiere didn't end with Benson asking Parrish to join Manhattan SVU, but the newcomer's introduction reminded me of when SVU introduced Molly Burnett as Detective Grace Muncy.
And while I would have loved to get Rollins back full time, I already like Parrish, and she has Special Victims experience already. Plus, SVU said goodbye to Muncy at the end of Season 24 and Churlish was nowhere to be seen in the Season 25 premiere, and I'm on board with just about anything that could bring another female cop into the cast.
While Bruno was one of my favorite SVU newcomers last year, it just doesn't feel right that a show that primarily deals with sexual violence against women only has one woman in the cast. Sure, that was the case back in the classic days of Benson, Stabler, Cragen, Munch (who got a shout-out in the premiere), and Fin, but a lot has changed by Season 25. I'd be happy to have Parrish on board at least in a recurring capacity, if not a return from Kelli Giddish. My feelings are mixed, but definitely more positive than negative.
Amber Skye Noyes joins the ranks of actors (including Kelli Giddish and Peter Scanavino) who appeared in an earlier episode of SVU before returning to play a cop. Noyes previously had a role in "Townhouse Incident," a Season 17 episode that aired back in 2016. The Season 25 premiere left the door open for more from Parrish, as Benson and Co. didn't actually close the main case by the time the final credits rolled.
Their desperate search for Maddie, a teenage girl whose likeness was turned into a sex doll before she was kidnapped, didn't come to a happy ending. Maddie is still missing, and Benson certainly hasn't given up. This case has the potential to be an ongoing arc for SVU. While that's not the norm for this show, it tracks that Season 25 would do something special to celebrate the milestone. With only thirteen episodes expected, this could be a time to experiment with an ongoing arc that brings back Parrish.
Whether or not we see more of Parrish in Season 25, you can find new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET, between Law & Order at 8 p.m. and Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET, all on NBC. You can also revisit earlier episodes streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.