Law & Order: Special Victims Unit delivered a powerful episode for number 450, bringing back former Detective Brian Cassidy for a deeper exploration of victims of child sexual abuse handle growing up. Fans shared emotional reactions online throughout the episode.
Titled "Facing Demons," the episode was a spiritual sequel to last year's "Chasing Demons," which brought back Cassidy (Dean Winters) as an investigator for the District Attorney's Office. His career was put in jeopardy after he found himself the suspect in the murder of a doctor who molested young boys. Cassidy was cleared of the murder, but his outburst during the doctor's trial made the SVU team look into his past.
Cassidy tells A.D.A. Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) that he was molested by a little league coach as child, but never told Benson. That was why he left SVU halfway through the show's first season in 1999. He could no longer handle investigating cases that came so close to home.
Okay, I’m glad Cassidy is back, forever how long he is written in. However, I wish writers would’ve promoted counseling & other healing strategies for male survivors of molestation. We gotta erase the stigma around their abuse & life after it. #CassidyReturnsSVU— Storie Tamar King (@FormerlyFriday) February 22, 2019
Brian Cassidy ain’t dealing with nothing effectively. Save yourself Liv. Brian doesn’t want to be helped. He likes being angry and violent. #CassidyReturnsSVU— MMH (@e_daisyjackson7) February 22, 2019
In "Facing Demons," Lt. Olivia Benson (Marisa Hargitay) sought out Cassidy's help after they find Micah Fuller, a bookstore employee, dead. They believe he is a pedophile because there were photos of young boys in his apartment and Detective Dominic Carisi (Peter Scanavino) discovered Micah was "more comfortable with teenagers."
However, Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) later learned from Micah's girlfriend, Helen, that Micah admitted to being molested as a child, but never told her by whom. Through other interviews, they learn Micah loved magic and Benson found a poster for a magic shop in the background of a YouTube video Micah made as a child while performing magic tricks.
Carisi and Detective Odafin Tutuola (Ice-T) went to the magic shop, where they spoke with owner Gary Dolan (William Sadler), who denied knowing Micah. However, they notice plenty of Polaroids of children in a counter display. They obtained a search warrant for Dolan's home, where they found a photo of a little league team that included Cassidy as a young boy.
Benson went to Cassidy's apartment to let him know about their investigation. Cassidy claimed he did not know anything about the coach. However, Cassidy did know Gary and went to Gary's home, ready to kill. Stone showed up to talk Cassidy out of it.
Cassidy told Stone he did not know Gary was still hurting children in New York, and Stone tried to convince Cassidy it was not his fault that the pedophile continued his deviance. Stone also suggested Cassidy could testify on the stand, but refused to do so. Stone told Cassidy to talk to Benson about what happened, and Cassidy asked Stone to figure out a different way to put Gary away as he did not want to alter Benson's view of him.
Cassidy and Stone team up to track down victims who might want to testify against Gary. They find Leo (P.J. Marshall), who was on the same team as Cassidy. Leo first rejected the idea, but after seeing a picture by his son on his refrigerator, he changed his mind. Leo admitted that Gary molested him and agreed to take the stand.
Stone later brought Leo into the SVU, but Stone did not reveal that Cassidy helped. Benson put one and one together, realizing that Cassidy was a victim himself by Dolan, and personally arrested Gary outside his magic shop.
The very next day, Benson confronted Cassidy just as he was leaving the city and apologized for not seeing he was a victim. Cassidy rejected her offer for help, saying he was "dealing with it" in his own way.
During the trial, Leo gave a graphic account of being molested by Gary, but Gary's attorney discovered Leo's drinking problem and had his entire testimony stricken from the record. This left Micah's parents concerned that Gary will get away with molesting their child.
As the SVU team left, they found Cassidy confronting Gary, but Benson calmed him down. Benson told him the judge threw out Leo's testimony, leaving Cassidy as the only sole victim they knew of who could testify against him. Cassidy refused, but Benson told him he had to face his demons.
I LOVE the tables turning and Amanda being the voice of reason for once. #CassidyReturnsSVU— b ? (@bonosaurus) February 22, 2019
The episode ended with Cassidy testifying and admitting in open court that Gary sexually assaulted him in 1985. Cassidy kept his eyes on Benson, smiling at her as the episode ends.
Liv is the only one that could talk Cassidy off a ledge #CassidyReturnsSVU— ✨?✨ ???? ✨?✨ (@Dina_Marie0221) February 22, 2019
New episodes of Law & Order: SVU air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
Photo credit: NBC