Benson Revisits Maddie’s Case — What’s Next?

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[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Law & Order: SVU Season 25 Episode 5, “Zone Rouge.”]

Law & Order: SVU kicked off its 25th season with a loss for Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay): The teen who had been kidnapped—and she’d seen in a van—was still missing at the end of the premiere. It’s haunted Benson ever since, with the captain wearing a bracelet with her name on it. But in “Zone Rouge,” the squad gets its best lead yet. Can the NYPD bring Maddie home?

After a kid passes a man on a train a note reading “Call NYPD,” it eventually ends up with SVU—days later. But Benson recognizes the kid in the photo they have: It’s Maddie, with short hair. (Her parents confirm it’s her and recognize her handwriting as well.) Tonya, the victim they’d saved in the premiere, confirms the man with her is George, the one who abducted her. She can also tell that he’s drugged Maddie.

Though initially there’s not enough to justify the trip, Benson still heads to Pittsburgh—where George and Maddie get off the train—and meets up with the FBI’s Agent Sykes. Together, they question the man who was given the note, and his girlfriend alerts them to George’s number on his phone. They’re able to use that to track George’s movements and find him back on a train, returning to Pittsburgh. The only problem: Maddie’s not with him. But he does have a boot full of cash. He sold her.

George’s lawyer says he’ll only cooperate if he talks to Benson and Sykes. He claims he thought he had a young man in his custody, not a teen girl, and he didn’t take Maddie. When Benson brings up that she saw him driving out of Manhattan with her in his van, he pivots: “I didn’t take her; you lost her. That’s gotta hurt.” But “you think you can hurt me for losing Maddie?” she asks. “That’s cute. You could never hurt me any more than I’ve already hurt myself.” He’ll tell them where Maddie is if he gets a view of the mountains from his prison cell. Then, George turns on Sykes, noting, “you know about lost things, don’t you?”

However, the feds recover deleted texts off his phone arranging the sale of Maddie, so they know who has her: a peeping Tom named Leonard. (“That’s gotta hurt,” Bensons tells George.) His house is clear, but a neighbor tells them where his mother used to live. It’s on the way there that Sykes opens up to Benson about her sister’s disappearance when they were kids. Remains were found, but a year later, the DNA results revealed they weren’t hers. Then, two years later, a box was found containing Polaroids of her. Sykes doesn’t feel her in the world anymore.

At Leonard’s, Benson finds Maddie in the basement and leaves her in Sykes and Fin’s (Ice-T) care while she chases down Leonard in the woods and arrests him. Maddie’s then reunited with her parents, and a press conference is held to announce her safe return.

This is also the first case that Captain Curry (Aimé Donna Kelly), having moved over from Internal Affairs, works with SVU, and she tries to get off to a good start with donuts. “Respect this: I got Benson’s back, first, last, and always,” Fin makes clear. He then questions Benson about the move, suggesting she “needed a Rollins.” Benson denies that’s what’s going on.

And while Curry had noted the “plethora of Y chromosomes” at SVU, it looks like Benson’s continuing to change that. Sykes is looking for a change, and that means the FBI embedding her with SVU. She can give Benson access to all kinds of cases and resources. For the past 10 years, she’s been bouncing all around the country, what she calls her lost years. The real her has been missing a long time. Benson’s on board with helping her find her.

Now that the Maddie case is closed, we can’t help but wonder how this is going to affect Benson going forward since we spent the past few episodes seeing how having it open—even though it was far from the first like that for the captain—impacted her. Did this give her the closure she needed, and might we see her back in therapy confirming that? Will she turn her focus to other aspects of her life, including her personal one?

After all, her therapist had suggested, “Is it possible it’s not just this case that’s troubling you, but certain other unknowns?” She’d also asked, referring to the compass Benson wears (a gift from Christopher Meloni‘s Stabler), what she’s hoping to navigate.

What do you think of how SVU wrapped up Maddie’s case? Let us know in the comments below.

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC

Originally published here.

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