Season 14 of Law & Order: SVU ended with Detective Benson walking into her apartment to find William Lewis (played by Orange Is the New Black's Pablo Schreiber), a violent rapist who has repeatedly dodged conviction, armed and waiting for her. On that cliffhanger, SVU went on summer hiatus, leaving viewers to worry for months about what would become of our Benson and her desperate circumstances.
The wait is over. Law & Order SVU season 15 (FIFTEEN!) premiered last night and I'm happy to say that Benson survives. I'm decidedly less happy to say that Liv lives has to go through (very triggering) hell in order to see another day.
"You don't get to say 'no' anymore," Lewis tells her as he forces a dehydrated Benson (she's been held hostage for days) to choke down vodka. If only it stopped with that. Lewis then tortures Liv both mentally and physically before she finally manages to escape her restraints and physically overpower him.
You'd think it would get better(ish) from there, but Lewis still manages to maintain the upper hand, even when he's the one handcuffed to the bed and held at gunpoint. Using Benson's feelings about Stabler (we miss him, too, Olivia) and her own anger, he manipulates and provokes her, eventually enraging her enough that she attempts (and fails) to bludgeon him to death with a bedpost. The pain she inflicts on him is only briefly therapeutic for both her and the audience. While it momentarily taps into cathartic revenge, it can only mean bad things in the long run, especially when Lewis inevitably goes to trial.
The second half of the episode dealt with Benson's emotional fallout from the incident. It was unsurprisingly and understandably bleak, with Liv even doing that movie/tv show thing where she cuts off all of her hair in a moment of emotional turmoil. Luckily, she is — as always — skilled under pressure and manages to give herself a perfectly modern and stylish bob. (I only make jokes to keep from crying.)