Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of Season 25 of Law & Order: SVU on NBC, called "Truth Embargo."
The squad of Law & Order: SVU was back to business as usual with "Truth Embargo," despite the fact that the case from the Season 25 premiere remained unclosed. The FBI was on the scene to work with Benson, while the case of the week involved a flash mob robbery that ended in rape. It was a heavy case to follow the pretty horrifying one from the first episode of the 2024 TV season, and a character asked an understandable question: how does the Special Victims captain do her job day in and day out? Benson had an answer, but I also found myself wondering if she might be pushed too far this season.
During a recess of the rape victim's trial in "Truth Embargo," the woman's fiancée was understandably overwhelmed with emotion and confronted the captain, asking how she does her job every day. Benson responded:
My focus, my priority, is on healing. So I do what I can.
"I do what I can" really does seem to sum up what Benson has been trying to do for 25 seasons and more than 500 episodes now. Every week delivers the kinds of offenses that the opening narration calls "especially heinous" and "vicious," and she'll never be able to stop assaults from happening, but she can do everything possible for the victims. There's a reason why Mariska Hargitay's character has been the heart of Law & Order: SVU all along, and I think it's summed up well in the quote from "Truth Embargo."
At the same time, "Truth Embargo" showed that she's struggling with healing herself, after she and the rest of the unit weren't able to close the case in the Season 25 premiere and rescue young Maddie. Benson is wearing Maddie's friendship bracelet, and literally stopped traffic when she thought she saw the van that was driven by Maddie's kidnappers. The captain just seems much more on edge than usual, which doesn't bode well for her... and her behavior hasn't gone unnoticed on the job.
Normally, this is when would I say that I wouldn't judge Benson in the slightest if she just retires one of these days, but it's also hard to imagine a primetime lineup without her on Law & Order: SVU. I do take heart in Mariska Hargitay's recent comments about how long she intends to keep playing Olivia Benson, saying that she "can't imagine the show ending" and "can't imagine not going on this journey" with the cast and crew, with "so much to look forward to." There's just the question of whether Benson will find Maddie.
It does seem that SVU is embracing a semi-serialized story in Season 25, with some emotional continuity in "Truth Embargo" even though the case had nothing to do with Maddie. With the season only expected to run for 13 episodes due to the WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike delays, it should be interesting to see how much time the show spends on this storyline.
After former SVU series regular Tamara Tunie turned up on Organized Crime, I'd love for the show to find an excuse to bring Melinda Warner into the plot. If the next episode is going to revisit the Maddie story that is clearly haunting Benson, then the preview is doing a great job of hiding it! Take a look:
Find out what's next for Olivia Benson and Co. with 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., all on NBC. If you want to revisit earlier days of the Special Victims Unit, you can find the first 24 seasons streaming both via Hulu subscription and Peacock Premium subscription. New episodes of Season 25 will stream on Peacock on Fridays as well.