Wednesday 9:00 PM on NBC (Returning September 27, 2017)
Much of the SVU Fandom came away from this episode ecstatically happy. Their heroine, Olivia Benson, for once, has ended a season on a happy note.

Me, not so much. I’m a fan of the show, and I like Mariska Hargitay a lot. But I’m not a fan of Benson worship. The episode ended with Olivia holding a baby that has been entrusted to her care. Anyone who has watched the show much knows that the lack of a real family is a gaping hole in Olivia’s life. Now, I am very happy that Olivia finally has the child she has always wanted. Really. It’s the way she got baby Noah that I have a problem with. More about that later.



“Spring Awakening” jumps back and forth between two stories: the continuation of Nick Amaro’s story from the previous episode (S15E23 “Thought Criminal”), and the current case, which eventually leads to Benson’s happy ending.

The episode begins as the previous episode ended--with Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) beating the crap out of a suspected, but acquitted, pedophile. Fresh from an argument with his wife, Amaro took his frustrations out on a man he is confident will, if given the chance, torture and rape young boys. Nick is arrested, and his victim, Simon Wilkes, is in the hospital with a concussion.



Nick’s one phone call was apparently to Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish), since she is the first to arrive at his cell. We recently learned that the two are sleeping together but keeping it secret from the rest of the squad. When first seeing Amaro behind bars Benson (Mariska Hargitay) is genuinely concerned for her partner, asking about the cut over his eye, and Amanda is visibly shaken by the whole incident. Their C.O., Lieutenant Murphy (Donal Logue), no fan of Amaro, tells him to keep his mouth shut.



Meanwhile, we see the sad plight of Baby Boy Doe, a child who was put into the care of ACS (Administration for Children’s Services) after being found with a couple who had kidnapped several children and were using them to make child pornography (S15E14 “Wednesday’s Child). Benson has taken a special interest in Baby Boy Doe, and has kept in touch with ADA Pippa Cox (Jessica Phillips), who is handling his case. It is still unknown who the boy’s mother is, and he is passed from foster home to foster home.

At an interview with IAB, Nick’s lawyer, Counselor Desappio (Jason Cerbons), states his defense: Simon Wilkes attacked Nick first, hitting him with his camera. Amaro was defending himself. Later, before a judge, Amaro’s bail is set high because of his previous arrest (S15E11 “Amaro’s One-Eighty”). Nick can’t ask his wife to put the house up as collateral again, so he is sent to jail.

The squad wants to find witnesses to support Nick’s story that Wilkes hit him first, but Murphy tells them, “Do not even think about investigating on your own.” Instead he has them get back to work investigating the story of a German tourist who was beaten, robbed and sodomized in a hotel room. After interviewing the tourist, it’s clear that the prostitute who was with the man when the attack occurred is part of the scam. Murphy goes undercover as a tourist from Ireland and answers the same Craig’s list ad the German answered.



The sting works and the squad arrests the girl and her pimp, Augustino Aguilar, aka Little Tino. Aguilar lawyers up right away, but the prostitute, Ellie Porter, is in lock-up. When Ellie’s attorney arrives we find that it’s not a first-year lawyer from Legal Aide, but high-priced attorney Trevor Langon doing a pro-bono job. Trevor Langon has been at SVU before, but it’s been a few years. He is a fan favorite because he is played by Mariska Hargitay’s real-life husband, Peter Hermann. Langon seems genuinely concerned about Benson as he asks her how she’s doing.



The German tourists picks Ellie out in a line up. When Liv comes down hard on Ellie, Langon tells her Ellie should be viewed as a victim. Tino first started giving her drugs and selling her out as a prostitute when she was 16. Liv sees her as a career criminal. Langon says she needs rehab, not jail time. Meanwhile Little Tino goes free when the tourist picks the wrong man from the line up. Against Langon’s advice, Ellie refuses to testify against Tino, even though she will be charged with robbery and accomplice to rape. Later, Benson is surprised when ADA Pippa Cox stops by looking for Ellie Porter. DNA tests show that she is the mother of Baby Boy Doe!

Rollins visits Amaro in jail. He tells her it wasn’t really self-defense; He went after Wilkes. She refuses to listen. Wilkes is in it for the money, and is suing the city. Nick has to fight, but Nick says he doesn’t have much fight left. Amanda reminds him that the squad is on his side. “You’ve got a lot of people pulling for you, Nick, but you gotta put out your hand.” Just then John Munch (Richard Belzer) enters the room. Nick is visibly relieved to see his old mentor.


Nick tells Munch that none of this would have happened if he had gone with his wife, who is taking his daughter and moving to California. Munch tells Nick he has to face the fact that his marriage is over. Then Sergeant Munch gives one of the best speeches about the “good guys” of law enforcement you’ll ever hear.

Amaro: Both One PP and IAB want me gone.
Munch: Don’t flatter yourself, Kid. The reason you’re on their radar is ‘cause they’re worried about their image. This will pass. They don’t understand what we do. Even if they once did it themselves. The only thing the big boys care about is self preservation. But you, you’re the police. You’re a detective.
Amaro: Not now, I’m not.
Munch: Detective Amaro, you went after Simon Wilkes ‘cause he’s a bad guy. You lost your head for a minute, but your impulse was right. You fight for the victims. For the survivors. That’s who you are.

Then Munch surprises Nick by using his own money to bail him out of jail.

Back at the station Ellie explains that she OD’d at Christmastime and her son, Noah, was left with Little Tino and his mother, who runs a daycare out of her house. When she came back she was told that her baby had died. Ellie doesn't know who Noah’s father is, since she was “working” when she got pregnant. Benson tells Ellie and Langon about how they found little Noah. Ellie realizes the couple who had Noah had done business with Tino before. Realizing she could go to prison and never see her son again, Ellie agrees to testify against Tino. Information she provides leads to the arrest of Little Tino and his mother.

Olivia and Amanda are waiting for Amaro after he meets with IAB. He tells them that One PP (higher ups in the NYPD) and IAB want him to do time. Amanda tells him to “Hang in there,” and runs off to a meeting. Nick tells Olivia, “Thanks for having my back, Liv.” “Always!” she answers. Then they share one of their signature looks.



Amanda’s “meeting” is a confrontation with Simon Wilkes’ wife (Kate Blumberg). Amanda produces an iPad showing her husband’s chat room activity from the night before. “Who wants to do my boyish wife? I get off on watching you torture her while she begs for her life.” Amanda chatted with him all night and he asked her for photos of boys. If she sends photos and he downloads them, he will be arrested for possession of “Kiddie torture porn.”



Now, whether Amanda did this for Nick because they are sleeping together or because she’s watching out for a fellow cop is unclear. He has stuck out his neck for her before. Her actions, though questionable (okay, illegal), may be how far members of this elite squad will go for each other. Yes, if it comes out it may jeopardize her career, but she’s come through far worse after her gambling fiasco earlier this season (S15E17 “Gambler’s Fallacy).

Whatever her motivation, her strong-arm tactics work. IAB tells Amaro that Wilkes has dropped the charges and now says that he swung first. Nick’s lawyer tells Nick he caught a break. The charges will either be dismissed outright or pled down to disorderly conduct. He’ll do an anger management class and a psychiatric evaluation. Amaro wants to know, “But, I keep my shield?” “As long as you don’t screw up again.” It’s unknown whether he will be allowed to return to SVU, and despite Benson's request, Murphy won't waste a favor to put in a good word for him.


Little Tino is released on bail, but Ellie should be safe in a halfway house for women until she can testify before the grand jury. She is determined to get clean so she can raise Noah herself. Later that night, desperate for drugs, Ellie skips out of the halfway house.

The police trace Little Tino’s ankle bracelet to a creepy freight yard and find Ellie’s body, burnt to a crisp. Witnesses say it was a group that attacked her, not Little Tino, but no one will say much more. An autopsy shows that Ellie was gang raped, tortured and set on fire. Tino confesses, but it’s clear that he’s covering for someone else. Benson wants to continue the investigation, but Murphy is ready to let it go. Then he announces that the squad is under Benson’s command again. He’s going back undercover and has recommended her as acting C.O.



Back in Family Court, the judge declares that Noah is a ward of the state and will continue to be cared for in an ACS facility. Then she stops and asks Olivia, since she is the only one to have taken a consistent interest in the boy, if she would like to become his foster mother. Really?

I don’t know all the ins and outs of foster care and adoption, but it seems pretty sketchy to me that a judge can make that kind of ruling from the bench without looking into Benson’s background. Especially after her recent traumas. I think this was a last ditch tactic by the SVU writers to force a happy ending for Olivia and her scores of fans, just in case the show wasn’t picked up for season 16.

I felt “Spring Awakening” was weak for a season finale. Covering two major stories made both seem rushed and unfinished. Both endings were somewhat unbelievable and farther from reality than SVU usually strays. Individual scenes were well written, but it didn’t flow well, and not only because of the juxtaposition of the two story lines. The acting was on par with other episodes, which is usually very good. Personally, the episode left me happy for Olivia (but, really?), and distrustful of Rollins, even though I’m glad she did what she did. And I want to take Amaro home and nurse him back to mental health. But that would be a whole new spin off.



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Jan 01, 2015
I liked it but personally I feel there should be more rollaro moments but it was still pretty good
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Sep 19, 2014
I didnt like it at all. I want Benson to have a child but like that? I already saw it coming when the baby was on the show the first time. It seems like u can just get a baby if u work for the police.. and yes I bet right now a baby is not such a good idea or lets say it that way: She had so many recent traumas and no one cares?

Rollins and Amaro annoye me sooo much. He is not a good boy and she isnt really either. Ok the man is bad, he likes little boys. I get it but hey I beat him up cause Im angry and the whole sqad says: well thats okay we will help you??
Same with Rollins - I thought she would lose her job when that whole gambling thing was on, but no she was back in 10min.
thats bullshit. thats why i never liked Stabler - It must go with the job that male detectives/cops have anger issues plus marital issues, and that getting violent is their only way to vent their frustrations with their personal lives.
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May 29, 2014
It was the dumbest thing I saw on SVU. There are thousands of couples who have houses, money, jobs with standard working hours, and so on, who have to wait for years to adopt a child. And this judge is like: oh hey, I remember you! Want a baby?
Not sure what I think about Amanda's blackmail, but it's not like anyone in SVU plays by the book. And I totally understand why she and Amarro got together.
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May 29, 2014
I've always liked SVU. But in the latest seasons it has been too much personal stuff. It feels like a soapopera and not a copshow. I don't care that Stabler is gone. I like Rollins and Amaro. But enough with the peronal drama. Amaro should be kicked off the force with his behaviour and Rollins too. As for Benson, how on earth will she have time for that baby? It's not like she works 8 hours and go home. She works around the clock so I don't see her working out as a single mom. I have lost interest in SVU this season much because of the whole Lewis-case and Rollins gambling and Amaros anger issues. It's just too much. The only good thing is Barba and Fin. I wish SVU could go back to focusing on the cases first and less on the private lives of the squad I would watch again. I just don't get how people with such messed up lives can take care of victims at their most vonurable.
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May 29, 2014
I agree that this show is now more soap than procedural. It's lasted 14 seasons already so not sure why there's been such a change in this last season. I understand that there's a need to show us the psychological impact of working the cases the team do but enough already.
And it's a shame Murphy left - I liked the balance he provided.
Let's hope the next season goes back to what this show does best - otherwise it will be the last one I watch.
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May 29, 2014
I'm pretty happy that this finale ended on a such a happy note for Olivia she really deservers some happiness given all of the Lewis Saga crap! I am so excited for Season Sweet 16 to see the ramifications of Olivia's sudden parenthood and Nick Amaro's demotion and hopefully subsequent return to the SVU squad, I really am not a fan of Nick and Amanda's hook-up it makes little sense I especially didn't like how Rollins blackmailed Simon's wife, I defiantly think that will come back to haunt her soon. But all in all this was a pretty great finale, I am sad to see Murphy leave he was starting to grown on me, however I am super happy that Olivia is once again acting C.O. I am super excited for the fall and see what Season 16 has in store for the SVU Squad, BRING IT ON!!
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May 29, 2014
This episode seemed more like a series finale......, I wonder if they were thinking this season would be it. Maybe this was originally to be a 2 hour series finale and they did a lot of editing down. The whole episode seemed a bit choppy.... did not seem to flow smoothly.
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May 28, 2014
So Stabler's two replacements ended up sleeping together... CALLED IT.

I'm glad Benson got the baby she's always wanted (since the non-Louis Oliva-centered episodes pretty much pounded into our heads that Liv's biological clock was ticking, and in one episode there LITERALLY was a ticking clock noise as the scene faded to black from a close up of Liv) but I'm also worried that the writers will retcon this like they've done with so much of her life. These past two season Liv has had more character development than she had in THIRTEEN SEASONS. Season 1 gave her some development with her mother dying and her sexual relationship with Detective Cassidy, but from season 2 until season 14 she was always the action girl and the woman Stabler fans wanted him to end up with. (Despite the fact that he was married.) Every time Liv was given something that could change her life forever SOMETHING would happen that would wipe the slate and put her back to start. She's given a romantic interest? The interest turns out to be a serial rapist. She's given a kid to take care of? The mother who abandoned him returns and claims him. She has problems with Stabler's rage issues? Write her out of the show for a few episodes, then bring her back with the flimsiest of explanations and make her best buds with Stabler again.

Benson's crappy mini-arcs really annoyed the hell out of me, so when the writers began to broaden her character post-Stabler and make the changes stick (pursuing a long-term romance with Cassidy, being promoted to Sergeant and replacing Captain Cragen, coping with her PTSD from Louis's attack, and now getting a baby.) I welcomed the changes... at first. But my new complaint is that the show seems to focus TOO MUCH on Benson and not enough on the other characters. Can anyone even remember the last time we had a Finn-centered episode? Seasons 9 through 12 became the Benson and Stabler Show, but Season 13 was VERY refreshing because the show started to give everyone equal amounts of screentime, character development, and they started to actually follow the rules instead of going off the rails and justifying it because the person they beat the crap out of was a monster who raped kids and set them on fire.

And then Louis was introduced as the show's first Big Bad...

Louis, in my opinion, was the best written and yet the worst written character on this show. Best given that he was by far the most evil person this show has ever created, and his patterns of destruction and terror harkened back to the days of the Reaper from Criminal Minds (regarded as the best Big Bad on the show) but him becoming Olivia's nemesis forced the show to focus almost exclusively on Olivia, and his decision to kill himself via gunshot in order to frame Olivia was particularly stupid because simple forensics SHOULD have cleared Liv. She never fired a gun so there's no way gunshot residue could be on her hand, even if he pulled the trigger two feet away from her. (The forensics people on the show were morons) Also, Louis's destruction was so bad that if Liv DID in fact kill him, she would've been exonerated for justifiable homicide because HE HAD A LITTLE GIRL A HOSTAGE!

This season was almost painful to watch because it became the Olivia Benson Show. For next season I want the character-centered episodes to be more even, instead of giving us 3 obligatory Amaro and Rollins-centered episodes apiece and 15 Olivia-centered ones. And if you're going to give Liv some life altering character development, MAKE IT STICK! Don't have the father of the baby come after 5 episodes and take him away from her like her last foster kid.
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May 27, 2014
I thought it was sketchy when Benson was asked if she wanted to be the foster mom (with option to adopt after a year). It was also sketchy that Amaro's bail was set so high but Tino's wasn't.

I think Tino's mom is the person calling the shots. Who else would he cover for and she "watched" over the girls and the babies.

The Simon Wilkes' case is fascinating because it brings up being arrested for thoughts/fantasies and the likelihood of committing a crime. Don't get me wrong, that guy is disgusting but if he didn't break any laws…. I wonder if them putting up fake child porn and him downloading it would be enough to arrest him…I don't think so since it is fake…hmm

Thank you for this wonderful recap/review!

Soon they will be like Vic and his team on The Shield;-)
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May 28, 2014
I never thought about it being Tino's mom. That's intriguing. I figure it's some gang or mob we haven't heard of yet that will be a running story next season. No kidding about being like The Shield! I'm ready for a C.O. that will bring everybody into line.
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May 26, 2014
I'm glad someone else has issues with this storyline. Aside from the face that you're randomly giving a baby to a single cop, aside from the fact that yet another cop has gone way over the line, aside from the fact that a second cop went way over the line to fix/worsen that, I've always thought the L&O shows were weakest when focusing on the cops' personal lives.
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May 28, 2014
I like knowing something about their private lives, but that shouldn't be the focus. I like seeing how what's going on at work may affect their private lives and vice versa.
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May 25, 2014

I can’t figure out why the audience loves Benson so much. By my count she sent three innocent men to prison (S2E8 Taken, S3E2 Wrath, S13E17 Justice Denied), gotten at least two innocent men killed (S3E1 Repression, S12E22 Bang), she once handcuffed a suspect to a table and kicked him in the kidneys until he confessed (S8E19 Florida), when she decides she likes the perpetrator or dislikes the victim she buries evidence of their guilt (S1E1 Payback, S14E7 Vanity’s Bonfire), and I’ve lost count of the number of times she stood back and did nothing while Stabler beat up suspects.

I was disappointed when Stabler retired without ever having to answer for any of the bad things he did (the innocent man he sent to prison is still in prison, I guess everyone forgot about that), but then Benson actually got promoted. After working with Benson for three years Rollins and Amaro have both devolved into being crooked thugs too.

I was hoping there would be some changes when Murphy came on board and made it clear that he was a straight shooter, but alas Donal Logue was needed on Gotham (Can’t wait for Gotham BTW). So now Benson is back in charge and she’s tolerating and covering for her colleagues’ criminal behavior.

Whenever real life stories of police misconduct and their innocent victims come to life, people are outraged and demand accountability. The fact that the show insists on portraying Benson as a hero and the audience never questions it, is deeply disturbing.

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May 28, 2014
I love Benson. Olivia is noble and just. Even when she makes mistakes, she is going to hit. She is passionate about her work, has arrested hundreds of criminals and makes all the victims. I do not remember Olívia killing any innocent . The person she mistakenly arrested, she later corrected. The public loves this woman because she is a heroine who combines competence, professionalism, with extreme sensitivity and compassion. Moreover, Mariska is so beautiful with those beautiful dark eyes. Not to mention she has the smile of an angel.
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May 28, 2014
Benson didn't kill any innocent people with her own hands, but there have been plenty of times when she was indirectly responsible for the deaths of innocents. Yes, one of the innocent people she arrested, she realized her mistake and got the real rapist (after pulling a false confession out of an innocent man and letting him rot for ten years). One of the innocent men she arrested was killed in jail before she realized her mistake. Another innocent man she arrested was cleared by DNA evidence, Benson had nothing to do with that, but by then he was too damaged by his time in prison, Benson ended up shooting him. It's true that in most episodes she gets the bad guy and no innocent people get hurt, but her misdeeds have added up to too many. She's no hero.
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May 28, 2014
Wow! You really are a fan! I've only watched very much since Danny Pino joined the cast. Since then I've watched some of the old eps on USA. I think most of the fans are more fans of Mariska, and therefore fans of Benson. Mariska is worthy of a lot of praise for her good work with Joyful Heart and the No More campaign. Many women who have been raped or abused have great admiration for Mariska Hargitay.
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