It’s no secret that Sgt. Olivia Benson is married to her work. But in this week’s Law & Order: SVU, she seriously considers a conscious uncoupling.
The episode, “Next Chapter,” opens with Tucker delivering some big news over a romantic dinner with Liv: He’s planning to retire, “to smell the damn flowers.” Olivia is taken aback, but he presses her to really think about what she wants out of the rest of her life. The notion of not being a cop seems to leave her a little unsettled.
Soon, Benson and the team gets involved in the case of the week: the sexual assault of a woman named Quinn, who is pretty sure that her rapist is a guy named Ray, the same man who went to jail for stalking her in the past. (Though Fin and Rollins question Quinn’s super shady co-worker Ryan — played by Sleepy Hollow alum Zach Appelman — they eventually determine that the only crime he’s guilty of is being an annoying millennial.)
As part of the investigation, Benson and Carisi confer with the now-retired officer who handled Quinn’s case. “Retirement, how’s that feel?” Liv wonders, but when Carisi later asks her about it, she shuts the conversation down quickly. And when, back at the precinct, he muses on the perils of long-term policing, Olivia vehemently counters the notion that spending nearly two decades as a firsthand witness to human depravity destroys your soul. (What? I worry about her, guys.) “The job doesn’t change you,” she asserts. “It makes you more of who you already are.”
Soon, it becomes apparent that even though Ray’s DNA is on a cigarette butt near the crime scene, his alibi means that he couldn’t have been there… though someone really wants the police to think that he was. Eventually, all fingers point toward retired cop Cole, who has a close relationship with Quinn and who went out of his way to frame Ray for the rape. Cole’s wife eventually discredits his alibi… and then Quinn goes missing.
Carisi and Benson track Cole, who has kidnapped the woman he pretended to protect, to an empty farm house. That’s where he explains to Olivia, in hostage-negotiator mode, that Quinn wasn’t appreciative enough for the police work he’d done for her re: Ray over the years. As things get more tense, Carisi tries to sneak up on Cole — but winds up with the muzzle of the ex-cop’s gun pressed against his forehead. Good thing Olivia sneaks into the house just in time to put a bullet in Cole’s skull (with a rather gory blood spatter all over a shaken Carisi’s face), and save the day.
Outside, Liv reiterates her point about Cole — “Being a cop didn’t change him. He was always a bad guy. It just took time to come out.” And when Carisi wonders whether a case like this one makes Olivia want to retire, she replies, “No, the exact opposite.”
So there you have it, in case you were worried: Olivia is SVU ride-or-die, for the foreseeable future, at least.
Did you have any doubt about Olivia’s future with the unit? Drop a note in the comments!