Law Order SVU Recap Season 18 Premiere

Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Premiere Recap: The Worst of Both Worlds

If you’re an avid Law & Order: SVU fan who feels a disturbance in the (police) force, it’s likely because the unthinkable is afoot: Lt. Olivia Benson experiences — gasp! — a moment of happiness during the NBC procedural’s Season 18 premiere.

Don’t worry. Quicker than you can say #BringBackMeloni, Liv is plunged into an hour that involves a lethal cycling accident, a terror plot, a mass shooter in Central Park, a 4-year-old wielding a Glock and of course the series’ standbys: rape and murder.

Along the way, the ripped-from-the-headlines series also touches on the San Bernadino massacre, encrypted cell phones and all, and still finds a few minutes to give us an update on Benson and Tucker’s romance.

Read on for the highlights from “Terrorized.”

SVU, JE T’AIME | Somewhere in Central Park, a woman shouts in a foreign language to a wandering child, then gets mowed down by a speeding cyclist. Olivia and Noah are playing nearby; “You want me to fly you like the plane we took to Paris?” she says, swinging the kiddo through the air. I’m trying to picture Liv all light and carefree, with a scarf tied jauntily around her neck as she and Tucker skip around the 1st Arrondissment, feeding Noah bites of Nutella-and-banana crepe. I’m not succeeding.

But true to form, Olivia’s fun day is interrupted by a work call, this one about a lost kid elsewhere in the park. So she brings Noah with her to the scene of the incident, where a beat cop informs her that a 4-year-old who doesn’t speak English has been found without any corresponding adult nearby. And are we really surprised when the 4-year-old pulls a gun out of his backpack and casually aims it at the lieutenant?

Olivia throws Noah behind her and defuses the situation, eventually making a successful grab for the weapon before anything terrible can happen. Then she grabs her son and hugs him to her, breathily whispering, “It’s OK. It’s OK. It’s OK.” Be right back — getting a GoFundMe together for Little Noah’s Eventual Staggering Therapy Bills.

LOADED AND LOCKED | It turns out the kid’s name is Ali, his great-aunt was watching him — she died in that bike accident, by the way — and Carisi and Rollins’ attempts to track down other family members eventually reveals that his mom is a Bosnian woman named Ana… and no one knows where she is. Meanwhile, a fingerprint off the gun helps the gang find a Queens apartment where Ana, her fiancé Luka and Ali lived but recently left in a hurry. In the back of the place, Fin opens a door and comes face-to-face with a home arsenal, complete with Arabic writing on the walls. “Call ESU, Joint Terrorism and the Bomb Squad,” a shocked Olivia orders.

Turns out, the guy paying Luka’s rent is his brother Armin, and when the cops raid his midtown insurance company, they force him to call Luka. But the brother shouts a warning, causing Luka to toss his cell phone in a dumpster. When the police find it, it’s locked, and only the company — which is so not Apple, right? Right? — can unlock it. “Call Barba,” Liv says.

Barba gets a judge to sign an order to unlock the phone, arguing that the police and FBI likely can prevent an attack if they have access to the information on the device. “Godspeed getting the company to comply,” the judge warns him, and he’s right. (We’ll revisit in a minute.)

HIS NAME WAS LUKA | Based on some intel that Luka and Ana are in Central Park, Benson’s unit starts to close in. Unfortunately, an off-duty cop notices Luka looking suspicious — and packing serious explosives underneath his shirt — during a public performance near the park’s 72nd Street Transverse. When the officer flashes his badge, Luka shoots him and then starts firing into the crowd at random while terrified onlookers flee. Eventually, a police officer shoots Luka dead. As the rest close in on Ana, she begs, “Help me, please.”

Her story: She’s a victim who has been repeatedly raped and beaten by Luka and Armin for the past five years. The D.A.’s story: She’s a murderer and a terrorist, and who cares about anything else? Benson believes the woman; Barba warns that “the more you investigate this, the more you legitimize her story.”

A FATHER’S GRIEF | Meanwhile, Liv is dealing with an icy Captain Dodds, who clearly blames her for his son’s death in the season finale. I mean, he basically says as much, verbatim. Though he immediately walks it back and leaves the room, Olivia admits to Barba that Dodds’ dad is right.

Oh, and Tucker has been appointed to the Conviction Integrity Unit, which he explains is “kinda like an in-house Innocence Project.” Say hi to Hayley Atwell for us, Tuck!

DADDY ISSUES | Ana submits to a rape kit, which proves rough sex but not rape. To make matters worse, DNA tests show that Ali is Armin’s son — which is all the brother needs to know before he starts calling Ana a “terrorist and a tramp” who turned his sibling “into a radical, a killer.”

The rest of the episode deals with whether Ana’s rape should come into play in the murder case. Liv — who’s certainly out on her own on this one — quietly advises Ana’s lawyer to cut a deal on the murder and terrorism charges so they have a little more leverage to pursue the rape case. So she does.

Meanwhile, Liv and Barba try to get the phone company to comply with the court order in order to access some videos that would help prove Ana’s rape claims. Though they win in Motions Court, the company immediately appeals. But it doesn’t matter, because the Feds hear some “chatter” that Armin is talking with known radicals in Afghanistan, so they cart him off to “a very special and secure hotel.” Translation: Armin’s not going to be a threat to anyone anymore.

So Liv tells Ana the good news: Armin won’t be able to get custody of Ali! Yay! Now say goodbye to your kid, lady, because you’re going to jail for life! After the sad goodbye, Ana thanks Olivia for looking out for her child (a sister in Bosnia is going to raise the boy). Then Liv, Noah and Tucker enjoy a happy — albeit slightly teary — afternoon back in the park.

Now it’s your turn. Grade the premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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38 Comments
  1. Tori Cooper says:

    Why #BringBackMeloni? Seriously? All the actors/actresses that either left or were fired by Warren Leight prior to this season are much better off without this sh!tshow. Good thing Warren isn’t there now or he’d have you fired for even mentioning the Melon. Barba needs to die. Ice needs to learn to act. Mariska needs to learn how to do a better job of phoning it in and lay off the Botox. Oops.

  2. This might have been a decent episode if it hadn’t been for 1: the old bait and switch deal with Liv and Noah in danger for a total of 10 seconds before it was all over with. We’ve seen this a thousand times in 5 years, get a new tactic or phone it in 2: the annoying attention given to certain fans with the promotion of this ridiculous relationship Olivia is currently in. Last time I checked, Olivia wasn’t into guys trying to get her sacked or victim blaming her to get ahead in his own cases (whatever those were, seemed like he was more into sacking El and Liv than doing his real job) And 3: I feel like there’s always an older episode at play in these newer ones. I couldn’t pin point it in this ep, but that feeling was certainly there. This is one of the few cop shows that I actually like the small tidbits of personal relationships intertwined into the actual SVU case that was happening simultaneously. Mariska’s portrayal as Olivia in a relationship with a wannabe skinhead is not doing it for me. Or a lot of people actually. Let’s take it back to the basics. Let’s go back to what made #SVU stick around in the first place. This show certain has the long time viewers but I’m not seeing why it gets renewed every season.

    • Ro says:

      I didn’t see this one, but after reading this awesome recap (better than watching the show), it reminded me of the episode where the previous captain had a blind date with Russian woman. The woman said the Russian mob kidnapped her son, blah… blah… blah… The Russian woman lied and the captain was heartbroken.

    • I agree with you on everything you said.And like a reviewer said,the episode was boring and tedious half way through.All of a sudden Tucker is this great guy?!Benson so call relationship with Tucker is disgusting to many people because he treated her really badly,it started in the episode “Perverted” When he tried to take her badge and even when he found out she was innocent he still tried to get her framed for the murder and to be imprisoned!From season 13-16 Tucker give Olivia hell!He made fun of her abduction among other things,it’s too much bad history between Tucker and Benson for people to just roll over and forget what he did to Olivia.I got a number of messages informing me not to forget that Olivia’s last boyfriend Brian Cassidy,Tucker was his boss,it is disgusting to them that she is bedding Tucker right after Cassidy, some say she is a S..T to do this knowing what Ed did to her, they also pointed out how old she is looking since dating him.I think the relationship between Benson and Tucker will be a major problem in the future pertaining to ratings,it is bad enough that the storylines are all over the place,muddling and confusing viewers.

  3. Zoe says:

    Oh my god, a full SVU recap from TVLine? The TV gods have smiled upon us this day. (Please do one for every episode? <3)

  4. SVU overly militarized, plays into fear.

  5. Pat says:

    I found it boring and tedious. I lost interest halfway through. I was expecting so much more. :-(

  6. JJL says:

    It’s never going to be the same. Benson and Elliott where great. Craigan was a good leader. The show does not have enough life left. Some thing needs to just end the show.

  7. Paco Prior says:

    I have a hard time believing that this show is still on the air…

  8. Gisèle says:

    I’d love to see ADA/DA Alex Cabot (Stephanie March) in a regular status. Who knows, maybe it will happen!

    • me too she was awesome. her RL is in shambles and all over media tho her ex is a dickk but sure i loved her role.

      • Wtf is wrong with you dude says:

        How is her real life in shambles? She owns the best beauty bar in NYC. She made a killing off her divorce from the Flayster. She’s dating someone now worth 10x what Bobby Flay is. She’s been starring and guest starring on new shows. And she’s still the best and most popular ADA in this shows history. If that’s shambles sign me up.

  9. KJ says:

    I think they need to bring back Stephanie March not Meloni there was such a dynamic there and more personality. I think they need to focus on what made the show a success in the firts place

  10. Trish says:

    Now this is a recap! Most of your recaps are really reviews, TVLine.

  11. V.J. says:

    I liked the episode just fine. It wasn´t one of their best, but it was a decent episode. I always like when Calhoun shows up. I think the dynamic between her and Barba is somehow intriguing. It was nice that they picked up the season 17 finale and went on from there (although I wonder if they will revisit the thread against Barba down the road).
    On another note: I absolutely do not get the people who constantly complain about this show and then say they don´t watch. It is in it´s 18th season and still pulls decent ratings so some people clearly enjoy it. If you don´t: don´t watch. Ít is possible to ignore shows you don´t like.

    • MMD says:

      I don’t understand it either. I never post or read any of the articles on shows I don’t watch. If you don’t like the show, then don’t watch.

      While this wasn’t my favourite episode, it probably is reflective of what goes on in a lot of big city police departments which is a combination of politics, police procedures,inter-agency conflicts/cooperation, racism, prejudice, fear of the unknown, not to mention the loss of life.

      • Gas Mann says:

        People watch anything they want — they don’t need your approval. If they want to give a negative review, their opinion is just s valid as yours.

  12. steve says:

    Every week I hope another Amaro type officer joins the show.Find a good Hispanic officer please. Maybe a Hispanic male/female team.

  13. Judy says:

    Regarding the last scene of last night’s episode, the one in which Benson, her kid and boyfriend walk in the park, did anyone else notice, we’ve already seen that exact same shot. Are we going to see it in every episode? Maybe the show’s editors could just add it to the opening to save themselves the trouble of pasting it in. Boring. Enough with the kid and boyfriend. Get back to solving crime and trying to find justice for victims.

  14. Neeta says:

    I don’t think they have ever met Muslim women, that is why every time they show one of us, we are weaking/ victims. Time for them to expand their horizon and meet more then 1 muslim woman

  15. David Truman says:

    It was a bad omen when I saw Mariska listed as an executive producer now. It just goes to show that this TV series is all about Benson. In future episodes if a sex crime occurs, it will only serves as a mild distraction from her conflicts with her superiors or conflicts in her personal life.
    This episode in particular uses a terrorist incident as a subplot, while Benson’s private war on rape took precedence even though the setting for it was vague.
    Whether the woman was a victim of constant beatings and rape, there was nothing to show that she wasn’t still under the influence of the terrorists. I.E. All the injuries that she had, could have been self-inflicted, so as to throw off suspicion.
    I thought this episode was set so out of proportion that it should have been a federal matter than a local matter.

    • Gas Mann says:

      The show jumped the shark when Cragen and Munch left. Now, instead of being a taut police/law procedural, it’s a soap opera of the quality shown on Ovation.

      It’s tonally wrong, too. There is zero chemistry between Benson and the IA guy, and the kid playing Noah acts like he wants nothing to do with her. He never looks at her or shows an expression or body language that suggests a bond. The show is padded with “emotional” scenes and inserts of Benson looking disgusted by what she sees and hears instead of smart dialogue and scene that lets viewers experience it themselves.

  16. Juju says:

    I’ll watch in reruns.

  17. Charlie says:

    I though the L&O S18 Ep1 was good…. lots of emotions……….wish it would “spin off” into another show involving Benson & Tucker………

  18. Karen says:

    If the network is serious about a love interest for Liv, it shouldn’t be Tucker. My vote goes to DA Barba.

  19. Louise Vera says:

    Where was the justice in charging this woman with Murder 1?

  20. Sheila says:

    The show devolved from The Benson Show to Benson and The Boy.

    Law & Order was best when it was about the case & you barely knew anything about the cops’ lives. I’m tired of that stupid kid being in danger or sick every week! And Olivia and her parade of ill-suited boyfriends! Really think this year might break me.

  21. Julie from Aust says:

    G’day from Australia. We’ll see the new series some time next year but nice to read the recaps, in the meantime.

    Here’s hoping SVU doesn’t become a Lt Benson soap opera. I realise that in the USA, Mariska is a star and SVU is her star turn, hence the end-of-scenes stares / glares, etc into camera, but if the writers think we believe the Benson / Tucker relationship, then they live on another planet. It’s too silly for me. This is the same bloke who ridiculed Olivia during her abduction and tried to get her sacked. I’d be pushing his face in, not trotting off to Paris with him.

    Also, if they are going to persist with the awkward Noah thing, then could they get another child actor who at least looks as though he likes his onscreen mother.

    SVU writers desperately need to develop the characters of Det Carisi and ADA Barba. Carisi just passed his bar exam and is a lawyer. What’s he going to do with it? Barba received death threats. Is he safe now? Is his family safe? (well, we know he has a mother). Any scene with Peter or Raul in it, immediately lifts the show. These two blokes are great actors.

    If SVU is to become a vehicle for Benson / Tucker / Noah then the show will grind to the end of its run. One more thing, should Det Rollins’ dopey sister make another return this season, then that will finish me.

    See ya.

  22. DS says:

    Is that blind item about Joe Biden being on the next episode.

  23. Amber says:

    It just didn’t seem like the woman hit by the cyclist in the park was hit hard enough to kill her. I don’t think anything else was ever said about who the cyclist was or if he/she had been arrested for hit & run, death of the woman. Other than that, I enjoyed the episode. I am a long time SVU fan. Would love to see Ice T’s character have some drama. He’s the only character on the show who doesn’t have anything drama going on in his character’s personal life. Truth be told, the show would still be a hit without Ice T’s character because it doesn’t really have any depth. Liv’s got Noah & Tucker, Rawlings has a baby and gambling problem, a crazy sister who shows up from time to time, Carisi kinda, sorta loves Rawlings and is Catholic…had issues with that last season when there were allegations of rape in the church….Ice T’s character is just so one dimensional. Give the man a life and some drama. Please!!

  24. Beckie b. says:

    Very good episode. Kept my interest all the way. Hope SVU continues for years.

  25. Rebecca tracey says:

    I’m a huge law and order fan. I love dectives tutola and munch.

  26. Tracey lounder says:

    Liv and tucker omg horrible end the insanity what would Elliot think