In Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's historic Season 21 premiere, Lt. Olivia Benson and her team take on another ripped-from-the-headlines case. "I'm Going to Make You A Star" features Deadwood star Ian McShane as a movie producer who acts just like Harvey Weinstein and other men taken down by the Me Too movement. Thursday's premiere episode officially makes SVU the longest-running primetime drama series in television history.
In the new episode, a woman reports to the SVU team that she was sexually assaulted during an audition for producer Sir Toby Moore (McShane). During their investigation, Moore puts up plenty of roadblocks to stop Benson (Mariska Hargitay), Fin (Ice-T). Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Carisi (Peter Scanavino) from finding any evidence that will stick. The team also learns of Moore's high-placed connections that help keep him from being put behind bars. As longtime fans of the show know though, nothing will stop Benson and her team from seeking justice for victims.
The episode also features the return of frequent guest star Peter Gallagher, who plays Deputy Chief William Dodds.
On Wednesday, the cast and crew gathered at the Paley Center for Media to celebrate SVU's 21st season. During the event, showrunner Warren Leight reflected on how real-life changes have informed the series over the years. This season, fans will see the impact of "trauma-informed interview techniques," Leight explained.
"You saw at the [Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh hearings there were these mostly older white male senators saying, 'What time did this happen? What was the address?' and people who undergo traumas don't recall the things that are 'Who, what, when, where.' Which is why for years cops thought victims were lying because they couldn't immediately come up with everything in a linear order," Leight explained, reports Variety.
"With new techniques developed by the Army, you let people let the story unfold; you ask them what they remember in a different way," Leight continued. "Because, what happens during trauma is your executive function shuts down and your lizard brain takes over, and that's where you're memory is encoded. So, learning about that informs our season. All the interview scenes with victims will be different this year."
Ice-T also revealed that he has seen the show's importance to fans in a new light, since women have come up to him and thanked him for sharing these stories.
"A lot of them are getting closure in a way because they've seen justice and maybe in their life they didn't have justice," Ice-T explained. "So they're hoping that maybe [Fin] will get justice. I'll be that hero that'll get that bad guy off the street. It's wonderful to be on something that actually has some socially redeeming value considering most entertainment is just entertainment."
NBC previously announced that Amy Hargreaves (13 Reasons Why) will appear in an episode this season to put the SVU team through the new police interview techniques. She makes her first appearance in Episode 2.
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
Photo credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC