Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 13 Episode 1

Scorched Earth

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 21, 2011 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
87 votes
  • Time for a new era

    I must say, I wasn't quite sure if I'd still like the series after Stabler's leave. Not just because it's Stabler (I never really felt a connection to his character), but because it's a big change for a show that's been running for 12 years. And at first I didn't like this change. I couldn't really connect to the two new detectives (I guess Amaro's not in this first episode yet, but stil) and the story lines didn't feel so strong. So I stopped watching the show after a few episodes (not the first time I took a break, I also took a break in the middle of the 12th season, because I found the story lines quite boring, so I just kinda forgot about the show). But I picked it up again after a few months or maybe even a year, and I started to like it again. Rollins and Amaro are some nice new characters, I feel a connection. And I think it might be a good thing to have a second female detective on the show for once. And I think at the same time Munch and Tutuola got a bigger role in the series as well - and that's a good thing, because I really like them. And I think Benson kinda 'weakened' at the beginning of this season, but she pulled herself together quite fast and now (after a few episodes) she's as amazing as ever. Maybe the seperation of her and Stabler is even letting her bloom and shine again, so maybe this big change after so many years is a good thing for the series, so I hope this series will now last for many more years, because now it's one of my favourite series again!

    And this first episode of a new 'era' is quite good - after watching it a second time: nice story line.
  • Interesting and Very Sad

    I've been a fan of Law and Order SVU for years and one of the reasons why this show last was because of the phenomenal acting and partnership of Stabler and Benson. When first watching this episode and learning that Christopher Meloni wouldnt be coming back this shock the hell out of me. This episode allowed Mariska to shine and really show her acting abilities. Now its taken me a while to get used to this new cast, but i think SVU can make it besides they have Detective Amanda Rollins played by Kelli Giddish, who was on Chase and Detective Amaro played by Danny Pino from Cold Case. There is hope people give it time and remember the power that Detective Olivia Benson has had on us for years.
  • SVU at Its Best


    I have to say, seasons 11 & 12 were utter snooze-fests for me. The seasons had their good episodes here and there, but the majority of the episodes bored me to no end.

    This episode, however, has completely renewed my faith in the show. Well written. Well acted. Everything was on spot. I was dying during the commercial breaks for need to know what was going to happen next. Great to see Alex back as well! And the new character looks like she will be a great addition to the show!

    And the ending scene! Powerful! I've gotta hand it to Mariska, she is a terrific actress.

    Of course, Elliot not being in the show is a huge blow to any fan, but I think that, if things continue at this rate, the show can do well without him.

  • This episodeis an example ofwhat Law & Order: SVU is all about. Proof that the showdoesn't need Christopher Meloni to be: "engaging", "thrilling", "moving", and "awesome" with performances that'll just make you "feel moved to applaud"!


    So here we are, 13 years later. Christopher Meloni (Detective Stabler) has decided to depart the show to pursue a film career and B.D. Wong (Dr. Huang)has gone to another NBC series (Awake). Kelli Giddish (from NBC's Chase)joins the cast, coinciding with these changes as Detective Amanda Rollins, a detective from Atlanta who wishes to live in New York and be a Special Victims Unit detective. SVU also has a new show runner, Warren Leight (from Law & Order: Criminal Intent)

    The case: the rape of a hotel maid (Anika Rose). The attacker: an Italian diplomat (Franco Nero). Rose's performance playing this African maid was just mind-boggling and outstanding, and despite the fact that her character lied about some gruesome things that happened to her in Africa, when it happens in America the defense tries to "dirty her up" just to get off this Italian diplomat (Nero). If you ask me the new SVU writers are actuallytrying (and succeeding) to keep viewers interested, I neveronce turned away from the episode! Rose's performance was simply outstanding.

    The case is "ripped" from the Dominique Strauss-Kahn hotel rape but the trial seems to be more than just being about "another DSK". And since the tenth season I believe (episode "Lead") we see a full "trial" on SVU; arraignment, prelim hearing, the actual hearing,jury deliberation, closing arguments and the verdict -- basically SVU is back to 'the old days' (where it should have never left). Stephanie March's Alex Cabot returns from the Congo, full force. Linus Roache (who in my opinion had TOO much input in the case) is now playing B.C. Mike Cutter - Roache seemed 'bland' too me for some reason, he seemed to give the role more passion on the original Law & Order series.

    But on a more personal note with the SVU characters: Kelli Giddish did fairly well in the season premiere -- I know most people mostly hold resentment and animosity towards Giddish and Pino because Chris Meloniand B.D. Wong have gone but; SVU does not need them for the show to continue to be "engaging" and it's not like Stabler was just "up heaved" from the show, the writers had him mentioned all over the premiere episode.

    The end of the episode is the real topper though. Capt. Cragen (Dann Florek) tells Benson (Hargitay) that Elliot "signed his papers", meaning he's choosing to leave the SVU and retire from the NYPD. Liv leaves Cragen's office and tries to be alone as quick as she can, Fin (Ice-T), Munch (Belzer), and Rollins (Giddish) noticing a change in Liv. Benson goes to the interrogation room and breaks down.

    Mariska Hargitay's performance was well in the whole episode, but at the end she goes from "Excellent" to simply "Breathtaking". So I say again: SVU doesnot need Chris Meloni back to be "thrilling"! If SVU's writers keep it up like this, SVU is going to be around for along time. Thank goodness Neal Baer has decided to go on to "greener pastures" -- I don't like to think how this episode would be if he were still at SVU's helm.

    A 10/10 from me! I hope SVU continues down this path and doesn't stray back to what it became from the eighth season until it's twelveth!

  • 1301


    The show clearly did not prepare for the loss of Stabler as their explanation for his leaving was forced, but the show has done a lot to set itself up for another season. The new detective is annoying and could be the kiss of death for this show, but I'll give her more time before I form a true opinion.

    What I do know is that if they keep bringing us good cases like this then the show will be in a good position to keep its ratings up. The idea of SVU taking down a top foreign politician is farfetched, so I am glad they had him only get charged with a minor felony, but it was a very interesting storyline. That's what post-Stabler SVU will need.

  • A strong storyline to start off the season, but weakly reviews what transpired between this season and the last for Elliot Stabler.


    This show has always been entertaining to me with it's powerful and emotional stories, but part of the reason the show has been one of my favorites for so many seasons is because of (former) Detective Elliot Stabler.

    Now that Chris Meloni has left the cast, I have my doubts about the shows lifeline. Mariska is without a doubt a very powerful and talented actress, but seeing Olivia without Elliot won't be as gripping as the show should be.

    Fin, Munch and Cragen have always been strong and unique characters as well, but Stabler stood above them all.

    Detective Rollins seems like she'll be a very interesting and influential character, but we've seen many characters come and go: From Beck to Lake, and Novak to Paxton. I have yet to see the next detective in line, but I know for sure, he'll be no Elliot Stabler.

    I do plan to continue to watch the show, to see how the series progresses without one of its leading actors, who's been part of the show since the beginning, but I don't have my expectations very high.

  • F E M S (First Episode Minus Stabler)


    They're back for Season 13 with a bang. Benson gets to run the show now that Eliot has "retired." The new female detective was very impressive; let's hope she stays that way. It was good to see Linus Roache aka Mike Cutter in a new role and I hope we see more of him instead of just hearing about him. Looking forward to seeing Danny Pino next week (I loved Cold Case, wish it were still on the air). The story was based on the big wig from overseas and the maid accusing him of rape; it looked like they really did follow the actual story although we all know now in the real story the charges were dropped. Good to see Stephanie March back in the role that as far as I am concerned was made for her. Munch and Finn seem to be in supporting roles although with Stabler gone they should get some more "story time." I notice Tamara Tunie was not in the opening like she has been in the past. I will not miss Wong: I never cared much for his character and they can do without a regular shrink (too bad they can't bring back Skoda, with J. K. Simmons currently on another show).

  • Outstanding opening for 13th season!


    I got the opportunity to watch this episode a little early and I must say I loved it. This is one of the best opening episodes of the Law & Order SVU series. Of course, if you're not into this type of crimes, you won't find it as good. I noticed two people rated it before my review and placed it at 5.5. I just don't see how they can rate it so low, even if they aren't into SVU; something else must be up with the rating, but what I don't know.

    I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so I won't go into the specifics. From the opening to the end, the crime development and introduction of the new character was great. Hopefully, this series will continue to as energetic as this episode, which means we'll see it into its 20th and beyond season. SVU is like a great wine being properly maintained for the enjoyment of all people. Well, of course, people who like this type of wine. If you're into soda pop, it won't ever be your cup of tea.

    I'm rating this episode a 10, because I can't rate it the real score of 9.8 to 9.9 (so I'm rounding it up).