Law & Order: SVU season 20 episode 18 spoilers: Nikki Staines returns

SVU season 20 art

Tonight we are facing yet another week without a new Law & Order: SVU on the air. As you likely know by now, new episodes are coming back starting in just one week, and the first one back will be a difficult story involving a kidnapping and a shocking discovery. SVU stories are often painful, as Benson and the rest of the team are forced to dive into some of the darkest corners of humanity in order to find answers and seek justice, but it’s a show that is really important and these stories need to be told.

For the sake of this article, we are actually looking beyond next week’s episode to “Blackout,” an installment coming up on Thursday, March 21. This is one that will bring back Callie Thorne as her character Nikki Staines, someone who Olivia Benson and the SVU are used to facing off against in court — she is one of the most prolific defense attorneys within this world and has appeared five times already over the past sixteen years. It’s remarkable in the first place that Thorne has had the opportunity to play this same role over this long a period — she had more than a ten-year break in there in between episodes, and when that happens, actors often come back as someone totally new.

What makes this appearance by Thorne so different? It’s the circumstance of her return. While you often want attorneys to see and understand the other side of a given case, you never want it like this. The events that happen to her, as indicated by the synopsis that CarterMatt has for you below, are horrific:

03/21/2019 (10:00PM – 11:00PM) (Thursday) : When Defense Attorney Nikki Staines (guest star Callie Thorne) is raped after a police charity event, Benson (Mariska Hargitay) reluctantly looks to her own for a suspect. Also starring Ice T, Kelli Giddish and Peter Scanavino. Also guest starring Peter Gallagher (Deputy Chief Dodds), Titus Welliver (Rob Miller), Ian Blackman (Judge Leonard) and Jerry Clicquot (J.J. Austen). TV-14 D, L, V

Just in looking at the guest cast for this episode alone, you can tell that this will be an episode with impact. Gallagher doesn’t appear enough as Dodds, a powerful man and one who does play politics more than some people would like. Meanwhile, Titus Welliver (best known for Bosch, and for being the Man in Black on Lost) is a great example of what we discussed recently with Thorne. He’s someone who first appeared on the show well over a decade ago, and now is coming back as a totally new character. With his busy schedule, you have to think that this is going to be a meaty, challenging part amidst what is going to be a challenging case.

What Benson has to work on within this episode is treading carefully through difficult waters. Accusing someone within the NYPD of a crime is never easy; this is a mine field. Cops are almost always going to try and protect other cops, and they won’t always be quick to see problems within their own force even if the evidence is right in front of them. She’ll probably have to be political way more than she’d like. Everyone within the SVU has their own thinking on how to go about the investigation, but we have to imagine that there is a consensus at least on one thing: The guilty party needs to be brought to justice. Any debate should only be about procedure, and making sure all resources are pooled to nail the guilty party.

What do you want to see regarding SVU season 20 episode 18?

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