Season 19 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is proving to be emotionally challenging for Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), who has been put through the ringer in the first five episodes.
First, Benson’s parenting skills were called into question after NYPD’s Internal Affairs launched an investigation into the SVU lieutenant. That was quickly followed by the arrival of Sheila (Brooke Shields), the biological grandmother of Benson’s adopted son, Noah. Believing that the parents of Noah’s biological mother were dead, Benson was floored when Sheila showed up and tried to vacate the adoption.
While she navigates a tenuous relationship with Sheila and has doubts about her intentions, Benson still has to give her full attention to the Special Victims Unit. “It will get uncomfortable,” Shields told ET during a visit to the set about her character’s presence in Benson’s life, with Hargitay adding that “it's an amazing arc and a very powerful one. It’s a very dark and painful one.”
In the upcoming episode (“Unintended Consequences,” which debuts Wednesday, Nov. 8) looks to be yet another emotional test of Benson’s commitment to her job versus her responsibilities and feelings of being a mother. In ET’s exclusive first look at the episode, Benson tries to comfort the parents of a teenage girl found dead after entering a high-end rehab center:
In addition to Shields, the episode marks Girls star Peter Scolari’s SVU debut as Dr. Dennis Barkley. They join a growing list of guest stars in season 19, including Philip Winchester reprising his Chicago Justice role, Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Stone, Annabeth Gish (The X-Files) as a defense attorney, Amy Smart in the season 19 premiere and the return of Sam Waterston as prosecutor Jack McCoy, a role he originated on Law & Order.
“If this year is any example of what's to come, it's been a really strong season,” Kelli Giddish (Det. Amanda Rollins) said. “We're all developed and all invested. And we have Sam Waterston coming back!”
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.