If you were hoping that Benson’s much-needed Parisian getaway with Tucker on Law & Order: SVU would set the stage for a less intense Season 18… um, have you ever watched this show?
The NBC vet returns on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9/8c with “Terrorized,” an episode that starts with a child wandering alone in Central Park and ends with SVU working with the joint-terrorism task force to thwart a major attack on New York City. To complicate matters: The boy’s mother alleges that she has been raped and tortured, which leads to a (bigger-than-usual) clash between Olivia and ADA Barba.
“They really go head-to-head on this one, because they’re on completely opposite sides of the position,” star Raul Esparza previews. “He seems to have no compassion whatsoever for her position.”
The Sept. 28 episode features a cameo from Vice President Joe Biden, who discusses a real-life issue the show often highlights: the United States’ rape-kit backlog.
Later, “Barba gets himself in hot water” in a case involving “rape fraud” — “someone pretends to be someone else in order to get someone to sleep with them,” Esparza explains — and E.T.‘s Henry Thomas and The Practice‘s Kelli Williams guest-star in an hour loosely inspired by Steven Avery, the man at the center of Netflix’s Making a Murderer docu.
BONUS SPOILER!: Following the 2015 San Bernadino mass shootings, SVU will handle a case involving a phone company’s reluctance to work with law enforcement.
Get fall preview scoop from 40 more returning shows in our slideshow below: