Even after two decades on air, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit still finds new ways to shock viewers with twisted cases. Eighteen episodes into Season 20, the show's writers have proven they are still some of the best at coming up with new crimes for Lt. Olivia Benson and her team to investigate.
SVU reached a milestone with this season. Along with the original Law & Order and Gunsmoke, it is one of only three primetime dramas to reach a 20th season. Considering how amazing this season has been so far, it is widely expected to start its record-breaking 21st season in the fall.
Scroll on for a look at eight of the best episodes from Law & Order: SVU Season 20.
Photo credit: NBC
Episode: 3 (Oct. 4, 2018)
SVU has always tackled ripped-from-the-headlines stories, somehow finding ways to tackle these stories with cases perfect for a unit that focuses on sex crimes. At first, the Trump Administration's controversial immigration policies might not seem like something SVU should focus on, but writers Richard Sweren and Céline C. Robinson found a way to do so with "Zero Tolerance."
In the episode, a 9-year-old girl taken from her mother at the U.S.-Mexico border is discovered in a child sex trafficking ring. Benson went above and beyond to reunite the girl with her mother — even trying to arrest a federal agent for breaking New York State laws on abduction — in one of the series' best episodes.
Episode: 6 (Oct. 25, 2018)
"Exile" was one of the most twisty SVU episodes in recent memory. After a homeless woman is sexually assaulted, the team discovers the woman has a dual personality. Watching the episode turn from an indictment of how mistreated the homeless are, to one about how men use positions of power to prey on women is a fascinating experience.
Episode: 8 (Nov. 8, 2018)
In Season 20, SVU has made no effort in trying to hide influences for the ripped-from-the-headline episodes. "Hell's Kitchen" followed the allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the letter, with his name even mentioned in the episode. In SVU's story, the Kavanaugh doppelgänger was an A.D.A. who fought for women's rights publicly, but had his own secrets.
Episode: 11 (Jan. 10, 2019)
Former Royal Pains star Mark Feuerstein must have seen Emmy gold when he got the script for "Plastic," the perfect episode to give him a chance to test his dark side. In the episode, he plays a celebrity plastic surgeon who, along with his girlfriend (Alyssa Sutherland), films the rough sex he has with drugged women. One of the women accused the doctor of sexual assault. During the investigation, the team finds a body hidden in the walls of a home the doctor lived in during college and things just get more bizarre from there.
Episode: 12 (Jan. 17, 2019)
"Dear Ben" was a fascinating episode that gave A.D.A. Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) a rare spotlight by focusing on a cold case serial rapist his father Ben Stone investigated. Since SVU has not really been following the original Law & Order format to the letter, Stone has been relegated to mere cameos in some episodes, but "Dear Ben" gave Winchester a shot at giving a great performance. The episode also featured Stone helping Olivia get Noah under control after he had been acting out in previous episodes.
Episode: 14 (Feb. 7, 2019)
Every now and then, SVU will do a completely unconventional episode. "Part 33" was this season's, with a completely surprising format. The episode was like SVU-meets-12 Angry Men, where the detectives argued about if they should tell the truth in the case of a woman who killed her police officer husband. The woman claimed she was abused by the officer and the case brought back horrible memories for Olivia.
Episode: 16 (Feb. 21, 2019)
"Facing Demons" was a sequel to Season 19's "Chasing Demons" and brought back Cassidy to face the man who sexually molested him when he was a child. The emotional episode featured a great performance from Dean Winters, especially in the final scene when he testified against his abuser. "Facing Demons" also showed Cassidy finally opening up to Benson about his trauma.
Episode: 17 (March 14, 2019)
"Missing" is one of the best SVU episodes ever. It started out as a simple missing child case, after a young girl was discovered inside the trunk of a stolen car. But it snowballed into something completely different within the first 15 minutes. In the big twist, the team learned that a mother accidentally killed her son and replaced him with a boy she abducted at a store. The boy grew up to be the young man who abducted the girl the team found in the trunk at the start of the episode.