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Law & Order: SVU just seems to be getting better as time goes on. The latest episode, called “She Paints for Vengeance” was directed by Mariska Hargitay who also plays Olivia Benson on the hit series. This is Hargitay’s seventh time in the director’s seat and she’s clearly gifted in that department as well. Read on to learn about the challenges she faces directing and acting. There are spoilers ahead for season 21 of SVU.

Carisi’s first court case

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Episode 11 of Law & Order: SVU was emotional for a number of reasons. Carisi (Peter Scanavino) experienced his first real court case as an ADA. This week, the victim and survivor, Monica Russo (Tonya Glanz), is an artist and a stripper who is sexually assaulted at the strip club. Her local police aren’t working hard enough, and eventually Benson gets involved when she sees the art on the street as a cry for assistance.

Monica accuses Markeevious Ryan of rape and he just so happens to be a former athlete, so things get seriously heated when Carisi goes to court in his first-ever court case. Spoiler alert: He wins the case and the detectives do right by Monica.

Preparation is important for Mariska Hargitay

On the podcast for the series called Squadroom, Hargitay talked about directing and the challenges that go along with it. “This is, for me, the most challenging part of me directing,” Hargitay explained. “What I’ve learned now, one of the most important parts of directing is prep. It’s when so much of the work is done. And my prep, just to be candid here, is always compromised because I’m shooting the previous episode and they don’t want to lose me for too much. It’s been challenging that way because I’ve missed time.”

She’s a ‘quick study’

Hargitay has been on the groundbreaking show since the very beginning and she clearly knows her element. “I understand the show on a very deep level,” she continued. “And I’m a quick study. I sort of feel my way and intuit my way into these stories, and because I’m a deep feeler, that’s sort of how I work.”

Directing can be a challenge

Hargitay says she is “in love with directing” and come on, we’re all in love with her directing as well. She’s clearly an artist looking to tell a story in different ways through both acting and directing.

“It is challenging and the night before I start, I cry and say, ‘What have I done? When will you learn?’ and ‘When will it be enough?’ and ‘When will you say, no, you can’t do it?’ But then, by the second scene, I’m so in love with it, I’m so in love with directing and telling a story and finding that visual language and I think finding the magic that happens on set,” Hargitay explained.

Fans were cheering for this week’s episode. Carisi won his court case and things seemed to work out in the end. Mariska Hargitay did an excellent job directing a new fan-favorite episode for many.