Madeline McInnis reflects on the recent season finale of RiverdaleWritten by mmcinnis on 5th July 2018
Review: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 19
Culture Editor Olivia Boyce comments on the opening episodes of Season 19 of Law & Order: SVU and how the team handles some pertinant and delicate subjects
Now in its nineteenth season, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a staple of American television. It has been nearly two decades since Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and her squad first appeared on screens, yet SVU still garners weekly audiences of around five million US viewers, and occupies a primetime slot. So, what is it about the show that continues to bring in audiences year after year? And does the newest season live up to its sizeable reputation?
“This new season seems to interact even more consciously with issues and events covered in contemporary media
As usual, most of the episodes function as standalone cases, with some continuing plotlines referenced throughout that mostly involve members of the SVU team. Benson’s adopted son Noah is central to an early plotline involving a challenge to her custody, as she discovers lies told by his birth mother that then threaten their little family unit, and Benson also has to deal with shocking allegations made against her that bring a previous partner back into her life. Poor Benson has been through a great many traumas in her time at the special victims unit, and season 19 is going to add to that list.
“An unusual season opener puts the spotlight on Finn Tutuola dealing with his fight between what his role dictates, and what he feels is morally right
This promising start is followed by some decent showings in episodes 2 and 3, where the squad deal with cases back in New York after Finn’s return. Both are strong episodes, though the twists in the case featured in the third episode are clever and well-realised, and ADA Barba, played by Broadway and television veteran Raúl Esparza, is commanding in a scene in which he addresses a jury passionately about the ideas of the ‘fair’ versus the ‘just’. The closing moments of the episode seek to forward Benson’s storyline with Noah. The conflict is seemingly concluded, but a last-minute surprise puts Benson’s relationship with her son in danger once more, opening up a continual
storyline for the rest of the season that has the potential to be heart-breaking for Benson and fans of the series.
“Hargitay continues to be one of the series greatest assets, not only in her acting, but in her continued and vocal advocacy outside of the show
If the quality and variety of the first episodes are an indicator of the rest of the season, then SVU should be on schedule for a strong Season 19. With more episodes still to be aired, this season has much to offer for long-term viewers, or fans of police-procedurals, but it also undoubtedly has the power to contribute to conversations about sexual violence, survivor’s healing and the need to combat such crimes.
Season 19 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is now currently airing on the Universal Channel. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, more information and advice can be found at thesurvivorstrust.org