‘Law & Order: SVU’ Season 21, Episode 1 Recap: Benson and the Detectives Are Back

The brand new, record-setting season 21 of Law & Order: SVU is here. Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the rest of the detectives are back in an explosive episode surrounding the #MeToo movement. Ian McShane plays the perp as Sir Tobias “Toby” Moore. Read on to learn more about the first episode of the season. Spoilers are ahead, so continue only if you are caught up.

Who is the new ADA?

Peter Scanavino as Dominick Carisi
Peter Scanavino as Dominick Carisi | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Det. Carisi (Peter Scanavino) transitions to become the ADA for SVU. That isn’t the only change this season. Benson is also promoted to Captain when Dodds (Peter Gallagher), the Deputy Chief, makes a tearful exit at the end of the show. Carisi struggles to get his bearings with his new role with a foot in two different worlds.

Moore assaults a woman

The detectives throw Carisi a going away party as the episode begins. Moore is at the same time assaulting a woman named Pilar Reyes (Carmen Berkeley) when she thinks she has come for an audition which quickly turns into assault.

He manipulates her, and offers her wine “to relax.” Moore then instructs the scared woman to take off her blouse if she wants the part. Benson and Det. Rollins (Kelli Giddish) interview the woman who says she kicked him away.

They arrange a controlled meet

Carisi is made the main ADA on the case. They decide to arrange a controlled meet between the victim and her assailant. The detectives listen in on the conversation in hopes of catching Moore in a compromising situation. He proceeds to threaten the victim during the conversation. “I could give you another shot at it,” Moore tells her. “Will you force yourself on me again?” Reyes asks him.

Benson and the rest of the detectives want to move forward in arresting Moore but are delayed by Carisi and the new Bureau Chief Vanessa Hadid (Zuleikha Robinson). Carisi’s new position blocks the way and it’s frustrating for everyone on all fronts.

This isn’t Moore’s first offense

Mariska Hargitay as Lt Olivia Benson and Ian McShane as Sir Tobias Moore
Mariska Hargitay as Lt Olivia Benson and Ian McShane as Sir Tobias Moore on ‘SVU’ | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

They quickly discover that Moore is a serial offender. Benson takes the time to confront him and make her presence known. “I’m following up on a tip that you have been involved in a shakedown,” Benson tells him. “I’m just trying to get to the truth.” She asks him to come in for questioning, which of course he refuses. Moore calls the investigation a “#MeToo witch hunt.”

The detectives get their hands on audition tapes for Moore, which have been edited. They look to the other women and quickly discover a terrible pattern of assault. Moore has been groping, assaulting, and raping women for a while. “I’ve seen actresses so traumatized by him they leave the business,” one of the victims tells Rollins.

The detectives get their break in the case

Another victim comes forward that leads to a very messy situation for the detectives. During her taped recant on television, the detectives notice the couch has been switched out in Moore’s office. They get their hands on security footage of Moore’s assistant switching out his couches and getting rid of the evidence.

Benson gets an idea to get a detective to go undercover with the help of his assistant, who has also agreed to now cooperate with the evidence presented against her. During the encounter, Moore chokes the detective and Benson bursts in to arrest him. At the hearing, dozens of women are outside the courtroom holding #MeToo signs and messages letting everyone know that Moore assaulted them as well.

The episode ends when Dodds presents Benson with her new position as Captain, something fans know she most certainly deserves and it was a long time coming. Benson and the detectives will be back for the rest of the record-breaking season on Thursdays at 10 p.m. E.S.T.