Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1 Review: I'm Going to Make You a Star

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Sometimes watching Law & Order: SVU hurts.

It shows viewers week after week what it would be like if there were cops that doubled as social workers and didn't care what it took to get justice for victims.

Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1 was a powerful example of that,. In the wake of Jeffrey Epstein's death and the way so many other super-rich people have got away with sexual assault, it was hard to watch.

(TALL) Benson Has a Drink  - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1

Tobias Moore was a big-time movie director who, as Rollins pointed out, thought he was above the law.

He targeted an immigrant who overstayed her work visa and used his connections in the government as well as all over the world to ensure he never got held accountable.

But Benson and the rest of the SVU team weren't about to let him get away with it, and his eventual arrest led to a million women coming forward at his arraignment.

Benson: Cutting it close, Counselor.
Carisi: I know.
Benson: So are we doing this or not?
Carisi: Not tonight. They're flagging the play.
Fin: I called it.
Benson: Carisi, what the hell is going on?
Carisi: I don't know. All I know is word came down from the eighth floor to slow this down.
Benson: I don't know what kind of hooks he's got, but whatever they are, he's not getting away with this.

Olivia Benson Season 21 - Law & Order: SVU

In real life, that would hardly be the end of it.

Someone like Tobias might continue to harass his victims into recanting their claims, pay people off for their silence, or sue them for violating their NDAs, using his access to first-class lawyers to force his far poorer accusers to back off.

But this is SVU, so once the bad guy was finally caught, justice could be served. 

Related: How Law & Order: SVU Has Evolved Over the Years

Don't get me wrong. The scene in front of the courtroom brought tears to my eyes, especially when Pilar thanked Benson for believing her.

It's just that this isn't the way it usually plays out in the real world -- it's just the way it should.

(TALL) Rollins Looks Around - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1

Plotwise, Carisi joining the DA's office was the best part of Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1.

Ever since SVU announced that Philip Winchester was leaving, fans speculated about who the new DA would be. Carisi's transfer was a welcome surprise!

It opens a ton of storylines for him, too, especially if he and Rollins move towards a more-than-friends relationship.

Bureau Chief Hadid is a formidable adversary who wants Carisi to spy on SVU for her.

But he isn't above attending meetings with powerful criminals and is willing to take all the credit for a job well-done once Carisi and the SVU detectives force her to do her job.

Benson: Was it me, or did Bureau Chief Hadid seem reluctant?
Dodds: More like astute. This case blows up, it won't affect her.
Benson: At least she put Carisi on the case. He's one of us.
Dodds: Was. He works here now.

She is so good an antagonist that I'll overlook the fact that none of the previous ADAs reported to a Special Victims Bureau Chief instead of to Jack McCoy.

Carisi on Season 21 - Law & Order: SVU

Anyway, as Dodds pointed out, Carisi's loyalty now must lie with his new boss, not his old boss, and that's going to get worse as time goes on.

The SVU team knows that Hadid attended a secret meeting with Tobias and likely was in his pocket, but nobody reported that to McCoy or to an oversight board.

Related: 13 Times Law & Order: SVU Supported LGBTQ Rights

Hadid is potentially corrupt and definitely has conflicts of interest stopping her from doing her job properly.

There's no way this isn't going to come up later on.

(TALL) A Walk With the Chief - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1

Dodds' involvement in this story and subsequent transfer to a nothing position was all sorts of weird.

Weren't he and Benson antagonists as recently as Law & Order: SVU Season 20?

He had a secret memo that threatened her job. Viewers never quite got to see what it was, but it was implied we would learn the whole truth later.

Now Dodds and Benson spent an entire episode investigating a serial predator together and Benson was so upset that Dodds lost his job as a result that she was willing to throw her career away for him, while he insisted she be given his old job.

WHAT???

(TALL) Chief Dodds Returns - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1

I mean, Dodds' exit was realistic. Powerful people don't like their power disrupted, so they had to punish someone for Tobias' fall.

But his strong working relationship with Benson came out of nowhere.

And now that he's gone, we're never going to learn what was in that damn memo!

(TALL) Fin On a Mission - Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1

As for the rest of the story, this was a fairly engaging plot. Long-time viewers knew SVU would triumph over that creepy predator Tobias eventually -- the question was, how?

In hindsight, Gemma's sabotage of the case should have been obvious. She came out of nowhere just as SVU finished going over the statements of a bunch of people who couldn't or wouldn't help them.

Related: Get True Crime Files by ID via Prime Video Channels for Over 1,000 Real-life Mystery & Suspense Shows!

That was a little too convenient.

Rollins: Lieutenant. We know how this works. And so does Sir Toby. He's so used to being above the law that he didn't bother to remove the footage of the other victims.
Fin: Cause he knows they're not gonna talk.
Benson: And he may have just overplayed his hand.

It also left loose ends that could be weaved into a different Law & Order: SVU plot.

Benson believed Gemma's story and Rollins thought the woman likely had a consensual affair with her rapist after all was said and done.

Fin on Season 21 - Law & Order: SVU

Gemma ran away to New Zealand so she couldn't be questioned further or accused of obstructing justice by changing her story.

But now that Tobias has been arrested, could she return later?

Benson: Judge Barr. How are you?
Judge Barr: Lots of changes. Can we speak in your office?
[In Benson's office]
Benson: I heard you stepped down.
Barr: It was my decision. The divorce wasn't, but with two kids in college it was either private practice or public bankruptcy.

In fact, what might happen to all the people who had ties to Tobias?

Judge Barr chose him as a client to boost her new private practice -- could that potentially ruin her career, or will she be back later on?

Rollins from Season 21 - Law & Order: SVU

And again, eventually, there should be consequences for Hadid and all the other government higher-ups that participated in this cover-up.

But other than Hadid, none of these people have major ties to SVU, so their indiscretions might be forgotten about.

What did you think, SVU fanatics?

Did Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1 live up to your expectations?

How excited are you that Carisi is the new ADA?

And what do you hope happens throughout the rest of the season?

Share your thoughts in the comments, and don't forget you can always watch Law & Order: SVU online if you missed something!

Law & Order: SVU has been an NBC staple for 21 years. This long-running drama airs Thursdays at 10 PM EST/PST.

I'm Going to Make You a Star Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (14 Votes)

Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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Law & Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1 Quotes

Rollins: Your name's Carisi and you're pulling an Irish goodbye?
Carisi: I didn't want anyone making a fuss.
Rollins: How are you feeling?
Carisi: I'm scared. I turned in my gun yesterday. But if I don't make this move now, I never will.
Rollins: Well, before you leave me, how about one last drink?

Dodds: You really spared no expense.
Benson: Hey. It's not like we throw a lot of parties.