With nearly 20 years of Law & Order: SVU on the air, it stands to reason that the police drama would get a little predictable with its outcomes of the heinous crimes of the week, but Thursday night's two-hour season 20 premiere packed a real punch for fans, complete with a twist that few saw coming.
Spoilers for Law & Order: SVU's season premiere.
In the opener, the case began with Jack Conway (Dylan Walsh) taking his two sons, Sam and Bryan, on a hunting trip. Sam, just 15 years old, is mocked by his brother when he can't bring himself to shoot a rabbit on his first hunting trip. He apologizes profusely to his father, seemingly terrified of his dad's reaction.
We later see the detectives called to Sam's school after his injury suggests sexual assault, despite his claims that he simply fell down. Refusing to name his attacker and receiving no help from the rest of the Conway family, the detectives attempt to track down who attacked Sam. The evidence leads them to his brother Bryan before their mother, guilt-ridden at being unable to protect her son, admits that it was the boys' father who assaulted Sam in order to "make a man out of him."
The detectives were shocked at the admission, and it seems that the internet was, too.
"Damn, from rape to school shooting. Two hour of this show is killing me. The tough issues," one Twitter user wrote.
Damn, from rape to school shooting. Two hour of this show is killing me. The tough issues #LawandOrderSVU— MishMP (@M_S_Mish) September 28, 2018
"The kid shot up a school because the Dad was abusive. So they're going after the Dad. Are they going to adopt the same strategy or show the same vigor for the next rapist or serial murderer?" added another viewer.
The kid shot up a school because the Dad was abusive.— Real_JamesCain (@Real_JamesCain) September 28, 2018
So they're going after the Dad.
Are they going to adopt the same strategy or show the same vigor for the next rapist or serial murderer?@nbcsvu #LawAndOrderSVU #SVU @SVUWritersRoom #SVUXX
"Smell that toxic masculinity!" added another fan.
Smell that toxic masculinity! #LawAndOrderSVU— ROMAN IS GONNA BE THE BEST UNIVERSAL CHAMP (@WWEGlorimarR) September 28, 2018
One viewer recognized the connection between reality and the episode.
The case continued to be devastating, as Sam refused to testify against his father, ultimately leading to his acquittal. Unable to cope with the trauma of what happened to him, Sam takes a hunting rifle to school and shoots his classmates. In addition to Sam going to prison, his father is then charged and convicted of criminally negligent homicide.
What did you think of the season premiere, Law & Order: SVU fans?
SVU airs in its new timeslot on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.