‘Law & Order SVU’s Newest Season Sets the Stage for a Big Mystery

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Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for Law & Order: SVU Season 25.


The Big Picture

  • SVU Season 25 starts with an intense kidnapping, leaving the case unsolved and Benson determined to find the missing teenager.
  • Benson blames herself for not stopping the kidnapper when she had the chance, adding to the intensity of the storyline.
  • The SVU team finds evidence connected to the disturbing dolls and a potential suspect, but the search for Maddie may continue in the upcoming episodes.

Typically, NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, like most episodic police procedurals, neatly wraps up the crime of the week by the end of each episode. This is something SVU has done flawlessly for twenty-five seasons. Occasionally, however, a case will spill over into multiple episodes, adding an extra layer of intensity and validity to the already accurate crime drama. In reality, most criminal cases are not solved within hours, and sometimes, cases go cold. This season, the longest-running primetime show on television starts with an intense kidnapping in the episode “Tunnel Blind” and leaves things wide open. Not only is the case unsolved, but in true Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) fashion, she states that she will not rest until the teenager is found.

This SVU episode seems to set the stage for a season-long search to find 15-year-old Maddie Flynn (Allison Elaine) and her abductor. With a reputation for protecting the innocent and putting away the worst of the worst, Capt. Olivia “Liv” Benson is the ideal person to find Maddie. The abduction of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare, and what makes this one all the more terrible is that Benson could have stopped the kidnapper in his tracks. At least, that’s what she believes.

Law & Order: SVU

This series follows the Special Victims Unit, a specially trained squad of detectives in the New York City Police Department that investigate sexually related crimes.

Genre
Crime Drama

Language
English

Number of Seasons
24

Debut Date
September 20, 1999

Studio
NBC, Wolf Entertainment


‘SVU’s “Tunnel Blind” Starts With a Celebration

'Law & Order: SVU' Baptism in Season 25 opener
Image via NBC

Season 25 of SVU starts with the baptism of Amanda Rollins’s (Kelli Giddish) and ADA Sonny Carisi’s (Peter Scanavino) baby. The scene is brimming with hope and joy as the SVU team shares in the happy couple’s special moment. At the same time, a different child goes missing in another part of the city. While shopping with her parents at a craft store, 15-year-old Maddie Flynn (Allison Elaine) is abducted. Her parents can’t understand what happened. They were all together, and Maddie was gone in the blink of an eye.

After the baptism, Benson and her son Noah (Ryan Buggle) are driving back home when she spots a suspicious-looking situation in the van across from her. The van is a green delivery van covered in brightly colored pictures. In the front passenger seat is a young girl with blonde hair who looks sedate. She raises her hand to tuck her hair behind her ear, and Benson sees she is wearing a bracelet. Benson feels like something is off. She stares at the car, trying to figure out the situation between the girl and the driver. The girl isn’t visibly in distress, though, and when Noah distracts her, Benson brushes off the incident and forgets about it.

In ‘SVU’s “Tunnel Blind,” Olivia Benson Blames Herself

Olivia Benson played by Mariska Hargitay in 'SVU'
Image via NBC

SVU’s Olivia Benson holds herself to the highest standard imaginable regarding her job. She is always an advocate for victims of the horrendous crimes she investigates. She is dedicated to delivering justice and keeping others safe, and her instincts are impeccable. When Benson arrives at the scene of Maddie’s abduction, she questions Maddie’s mother, Eileen Flynn (Leslie Fray). Eileen shows Benson a picture of Maddie taken that same morning. It’s a young blonde girl wearing a bracelet, and Benson realizes it’s the girl she saw in the van.

When the SVU team returns to the precinct, Benson tells the other detectives that she saw Maddie in a van. At first, they are skeptical. What are the chances that Maddie and Benson cross paths in a city of millions? But Benson knows what she’s seen. She blames herself. She tells Sgt. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola (Ice-T) that she had a feeling something was wrong when she saw the girl in the van. She blames herself and tells him she should have known, that she should have pulled him over. Fin tells her it’s not her fault, but Benson feels culpable.

‘SVU’s Olivia Benson Is Proven Right in “Tunnel Blind”

The SVU team is working as fast as possible, knowing that the first 24 hours of an abduction are the most critical for finding the victim alive. They receive a tip that a green van matching Benson’s description was abandoned at a gas station in Pennsylvania. When the team arrives at the scene, they find the van belongs to an energy drink company that reported it stolen a few days prior. Benson looks inside the car and finds Maddie’s bracelet pushed into the seat. She shows it to Fin, who realizes that it was, in fact, Maddie in the van that Benson saw while driving.

About halfway through the SVU episode, the team arrives back at the station, and a man arrives with a body wrapped in a garbage bag, claiming he found the victim. When Benson opens the bag, she is staring at a life-size rubber sex doll that looks exactly like the victim. The team tracks the purchase of the doll and finds the distributor. No one knows who created the doll, but when Maddie’s mother sees the doll, she pulls up a photo of Maddie wearing the exact same outfit as the life-size figure. Even though Maddie was not on social media much, and her parents monitored her accounts, her mother posted a picture of her daughter on her Instagram. Benson reminds her that no matter how protected things seem, when it comes to the internet, nothing is truly private.

The ‘SVU’ Team Finds a Suspect in “Tunnel Blind”

Olivia Benson played by Mariska Hargitay in 'SVU'
Image via NBC

The SVU episode unfolds, and the team realizes that whoever took Maddie is probably connected to the disturbing dolls. They go through the list of buyers and eventually find a man who claims to know who took Maddie. They question him and discover that he became obsessed with Maddie when he found that the doll was based on a real person, and he hired a man to take Maddie. He tells detectives that he didn’t want anyone to get hurt, but aside from a screen name, he doesn’t know who the man is. Evidence of the man’s identity is beginning to dwindle until a call comes in from a motel manager claiming to have seen Maddie.

The SVU detectives enter the motel room and find a large duffle bag in the water-filled bathtub. They expect to find Maddie inside the duffle bag, but instead, they find another young girl. She is high on Fentanyl and was clearly left for dead. At the station, Benson finds out that the girl went missing several months ago and has been staying with a man she calls George, who is supposedly from Canada. She tells Benson that he took Maddie from the motel and left her in the duffle bag. She doesn’t know where he took her. She only knows that he likes to take Amtrak trains around the country.

What Does ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Have in Store for the Rest of Season 25?

SVU’s “Tunnel Blind” ends with more questions than answers, setting the stage for a continuing storyline. Benson takes a bracelet from a confiscated doll and pledges not to remove it until Maddie is found. When a press conference is held to let the media know about the other missing girl found in the motel, Maddie’s mother emerges from the crowd and yells at the investigators for not finding Maddie. It is a very emotional scene, one that tears Benson apart.

SVU’s Season 25, Episode 2, titled “Truth Embargo,” does little to move Maddie’s case forward. However, it starts with Benson out for a jog, visibly wearing her bracelet to indicate that the case is still very much present in her mind. She even sees a van like the one Maddie’s abductor was driving and chases it down, hoping to find Maddie. She is visibly shaken when she opens the door and realizes the man doesn’t match the description of the abductor, and Maddie is not there. Though this story doesn’t yet have a conclusion, it’s safe to assume that Benson will not rest until Maddie is found and her abductor is held accountable. The fan-favorite procedural spin-off is poised for a thrilling Season 25 with Benson leading the charge, ensuring Maddie’s case doesn’t go cold.

New Episodes of Law & Order: SVU are available to watch Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC and are available to stream on Peacock in the U.S.

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