‘Law & Order: SVU’ starts sweet 16th season

Not many shows can say their 16th season makes the show feel fresh.

NBC’s hit drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, however, can.

The show ended season 15, described as the most intense of all, with Sgt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) receiving custody of baby Noah Porter, whose mother, Ellie, was murdered earlier in the episode. “Girls Disappeared,” the season 16 premiere, began with a touching scene of Benson putting Noah to bed, a scene long overdue.

The episode follows the squad’s investigation into Ellie’s rape and murder. With Det. Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) on temporary reassignment following an incident of police brutality, Det. Dominick “Sonny” Carisi (Peter Scanavino) joins the squad.

As the detectives investigate, working girls connected to Ellie refuse to name their pimp, leading Benson and ADA Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) to bribe Tino, Ellie’s pimp, to give up the ringleader, and find out who ordered Ellie killed.

Once the deal is reached, the episode takes a complete shift, with many parties involved being mudered, or dangerously injured, including baby Noah, who is shot at while at the park.

The squad is forced to get creative, starting with Carisi and Amaro going undecover.

While seeing Amaro undercover was nothing new, Carisi was incredible undercover; he seems a great addition to the squad.

Eventually, everything comes together, and the squad is able to solve Ellie’s murder.

One theme of the episode, as evidenced by all the tweets I saw during it, was the toughness of the squad. Each member of the squad was given their moment to show how passionate and dedicated to the job they are. All of the cast were strong in the episode.

It also allowed for Hargitay to stretch her wings as “Mama Benson.” Seeing Olivia jump into mom mode was a great addition to the show; I look forward to future stories featuring baby Noah with Olivia as his foster mother.

Many shows tank after just a few seasons. What keeps SVU going is not just the phenomenal cast and crew, but the ever-evolving storytelling.

Some of the strongest writing has come from the last three years, and the show is only going to get better.

Here’s to season 16. It won’t disappoint.