Law & Order: SVU kicked off its premiere with a nod to Gunsmoke, the series whose record it’s surpassing in this history-making Season 21. (Missed it? Rewind and check out what’s playing on the TV at the bar.) But after that brief, meta moment, Olivia Benson & Co. are back at it — because even after two decades, perps gonna perp.
The episode opens with Carisi packing up his desk and telling Rollins he’s turned in his gun. Wait, what? She cajoles him into getting one last drink with her, but it turns out that she’s actually luring him to the bar so Benson, Dodds and the rest of the squad can throw him a surprise going-away party.
Where’s he going, you ask? To the District Attorney’s office: Carisi is the new Assistant D.A., and he’ll work under Bureau Chief Hadid (hi, Lost‘s Zuleikha Robinson!).
The case of the week involves Sir Tobias Moore (hi, Deadwood‘s Ian McShane!), the head of PicFlix, one of the world’s largest studios and streaming services. Because this is SVU and McShane is an actor of note, you know Tobias is likely to be a dog. And he is! We watch him Harvey Weinstein his way through a so-called audition with a young, pretty actress named Pilar: He turns on the video camera, he pours her a drink, he criticizes her acting and then tells her to take her blouse off. She cries as she tells him she’s not comfortable doing that. “You want this part, don’t you?” he smarms.
Pilar reports the interaction to SVU, saying Tobias fondled her, blocked her exit after she kicked him, and forced her to watch him masturbate. The case becomes Carisi’s first on the courtroom side of things.
Olivia and her team learn that Tobias is a frequent #MeToo offender without any arrests. “He rapes them, then he pays them off,” Fin speculates. In the course of the investigation, they find a whole bunch of women who say Tobias did the same to them — or worse — as he did to Pilar. Long story short: He’s gross.
There’s a lot of back and forth, but eventually SVU gets a vice cop to pose as an aspiring actress, and she gets a private meeting with Tobias. He does his disgusting schtick, and they nab him as he’s choking her. There’s a huge perp walk with tons of press; at the arraignment, a bunch of women hold signs saying “Sir Toby assaulted me” — many of them are the women who said they weren’t allowed to talk because of NDAs.
Though Carisi had been in a bit of trouble with his new boss earlier in the episode, Hadid takes the arrest as a public win, and the newest ADA is safe. However, Dodds is being sent to the traffic and safety task force in Coventry. “Feathers were ruffled so a head has to roll,” he tells a very upset Olivia. But he tells her to let it go — and he casually calls her “Captain” as he does so. Yep, Liv has been promoted! “I made it a condition of my exile,” he informs her, adding, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be back.”
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