Law & Order: Special Victims Unit presented viewers with a very unconventional episode Thursday night, with the familiar case format dropped in place of two dramatic stories. "In The Year We All Fell Down" told the story of Vanessa Blake, a restaurant owner pushed to the brink by the coronavirus pandemic who takes Benson hostage. The episode also featured some more moments between Carisi and Rollins, as her father was hospitalized again.
Blake (guest star Sarita Choudhury) felt immense pressure as the coronavirus pandemic raged in New York City. She pushed her husband away after he lost his job on the stage, and she pushed her son away by blaming her mother's death on him because he didn't wear a face mask once. When it came time for her restaurant to be repossessed because she couldn't pay off her loans, Blake snapped. Capt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) rushed to the scene because she knew Blake and always went to the restaurant. Benson helped Blake understand that she was not the only one to lose loved ones in the past year.
This lead to an incredibly well-acted scene between Benson and Blake. Benson broke down the two major losses in her life during last season. She talked about the death of her brother Simon (Michael Weston), who died from an overdose just before he was supposed to meet Noah. Then, Blake talked about how great Benson was with Tucker (John Burke). When Benson said Tucker was gone, Blake assumed it was COVID. Unfortunately, Benson had to explain Tucker was diagnosed with brain cancer then took his own life.
More importantly, Benson led Blake to realize that she was shouldering all the responsibilities. "Vanessa, you have been taking care of everybody," Benson said. Blake was taking care of everyone. "Who is taking care of you?" Benson asked. "I take care of everyone. That is my job," Blake said. "Vanessa, you need to learn that it is ok to ask for help," Benson said. "I don't even know what that sounds like... and it's too late, right?" Blake asked. Blake's son Nate was brought to the scene and FaceTimed with her. The heartwarming moment inspired Blake to come out of the restaurant with Benson, who was unharmed in the situation. The police still had to take Blake in, but people outside applauded. During the entire hostage situation, people donated $35,000 to a GoFundMe to save the restaurant. "Today was the worst day in your life, and you made it through," Benson told Blake. "Remember that."
Elsewhere in the episode, Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Carisi (Peter Scanavino) spent a lot of time together in the hospital. Rollins brought her father Jim (James Morrison) from Georgia to New York, only to have her dad suffer another medical emergency. Carisi stayed by her side to support her, and this led to several moments where hospital staff assumed they were an item. There was even a scene where Carisi told his date that he would have to cancel so he could be with Rollins.
While waiting to see if her father would make it, Rollins met Jim's young wife Amberlynn (Alexis Bronkovic). Sensing something was up with Amberlynn, Rollins scared her back to Atlanta, telling her she had an outstanding warrant and she could arrest her on the spot. Rollins also told Amberlynn that Jim would need a caretaker, which really scared her off and she left. New episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. You can stream past episodes on Hulu.
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