Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 20, 1999 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (27)

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  • Great Beginning to a Great Show

    Now I must admit I have not been an avid fan of Law and Order: SVU for a long time. I simply started by watching reruns. However, it is always important to start with the beginning, just to see how the characters have evolved. Most pilots tend to be average if that, but "Payback" is one of the best episodes I have seen of SVU.

    This episode brings in a lot of moral questions. Does a victim stop being a victim because of their past? What about because of their actions in the present? Is it right to take matters into your own hands when the law has failed you? And is the law pliable or should it be? These questions came into my mind as I watched this episode. The story is not complex and it is simple enough to be understood. There are no fancy gimmicks, no crazy crimes. It is the simple story of revenge.

    But as we all know, revenge is never simple. In this episode, we see Olivia and Elliot struggle with what they believe is right and they have to deal with their own personal issues. I felt that in this particular episode, the chemistry was there and it work because the detectives bounced off each other.

    The ending, in my opinion, is sad and quite tragic. Eventually, the search leads to the two killers both which had their lives destroyed by the victim. This leads to another question of punishment: is it right to punish those that have already been tortured in ways unimaginable? The story kept me at the edge of my seat and the ending was the cherry on top. It honestly left me sad, something that TV does not do for me.

    This episode deals with ethical and moral dilemmas. For the first episode, it was brilliantly done. I enjoy it more than the recent episode. It dealt with a difficult question that could be best sum up with what Cragen says: "we don't pick the vic."