Now that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is in its record-tying 20th season, the show is frequently hitting new milestones. This week's episode is the show's monumental 450th, and features the return of a fan-favorite character.
Titled "Facing Demons," the episode features the return of Dean Winters as Brian Cassidy. It is the character's first appearance this season, following a one-episode appearance in Season 19.
The plot for "Facing Demons" begins with a young man's suicide, which puts the SVU team on the track of a child molestation investigation. Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) asks Cassidy for his assistance in the case.
Scroll on for a look at the new episode before it airs Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
Photo credit: NBC
The episode's title is a reference to the last time we saw Cassidy. In the Season 19 episode "Chasing Demons," a doctor accused of molesting young boys is killed, and Cassidy is put at the center of the murder investigation. Cassidy was proven innocent, but his outburst during the trial made authorities look back into his past.
"Chasing Demons" included a heartbreaking scene where Cassidy told A.D.A. Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) why he left SVU years ago. It turns out he was molested by a little league coach as a child, a fact Benson did not know. Cassidy was part of the second detective team in the first SVU season, paired with John Munch (Richard Belzer).
Cassidy was only in the first 13 episodes, leaving before Detective Odafin Tutola (Ice-T) was introduced as Munch's partner. The real-world reason for Winters leaving SVU was his commitments to HBO's Oz.
Winters returned to SVU for Season 14 and 15, when Cassidy dated Benson. At one point, they even moved in together.
The guest cast for "Facing Demons" also includes Virginia Preston as Madison. It is not clear what her relationship is to Cassidy, but the photo makes it look like she lives with Cassidy.
The new episode was written by Allison Intieri, who has written several SVU and Chicago Justice episodes.
William Sadler, best known for playing the Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, is playing Gary Dolan, the man at the center of the molestation investigation. Sadler's other credits include Die Hard 2, The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, Power and The Blacklist. He is expected to appear in the long-awaited third Bill & Ted movie, Bill & Ted Face The Music.
In a preview scene E! News shared, Benson told Cassidy a photo of him as child was found among Dolan's things. They think he molested a boy in 2009 he met in a magic shop. The kid had died by suicide and Benson asked Cassidy if he heard about Dolan molesting kids, to which he said no. Madison then came in, interrupting their conversation and Benson left Cassidy's apartment.
Kelli Giddish's Detective Amanda Rollins gave birth, but does not appear to have taken any paternity leave. She is back in "Facing Demons," working to solve the case as usual. Before Rollins gave birth, she told the baby's father, Dr. Al Pollack (George Newbern), she did not want to marry him because she does not love him.
Mariska Hargitay is the only original member of the SVU cast remaining, and the only one left who worked with Winters during his first appearances on the show. Harigtay has played Benson for 20 years, winning a Golden Globe in 2005 and an Emmy in 2006. She was nominated for the Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy eight times between 2004 and 2011.