‘Law And Order: SVU’ Season 18 Preview, Spoilers: How Will Mariska Hargitay’s Character Deal With The Death Of Sergeant Dodds?

'Law And Order: SVU' Season 18 Preview

The first episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 18 debuts on Wednesday night, September 21, and there’s plenty of anticipation leading up to the premiere. Showrunner Warren Leight has been replaced by former Law & Order producer Rick Eid for Season 18, which will make it interesting to see what direction Eid takes the show in.

Leight was essential in getting the show’s star, Mariska Hargitay, to stick around following the departure of Christopher Meloni after Season 12. He put more of an emphasis on character development and specialized storylines, according to TV Guide, which helped keep Hargitay around.

“I’m still here because it’s still challenging and interesting to me. I feel like we keep going deeper and mining out these new places. After 12 years [of doing SVU], I thought, ‘What are we going to do after 12 years?’ It was such an education for me because I had no idea,'” Hargitay told reporters.

Now, Hargitay says she’s excited to see what visions Eid has for the show.

“I’m newly invigorated and newly excited to have a new vision on the show, and the consistence and excellence of someone who understands it so deeply, and someone who loves us enough to want to join 18 years later,” Hargitay says. “It’s very exciting to me… and it still feels utterly fresh.”

If you’ll remember, Season 17 ended with Sergeant Dodds being shot by Correctional Officer Gary Munson after Dodds accompanied Olivia Benson to the Munson household to help Munson’s wife, Lisa, leave him. Munson took Lisa and Dodds hostage, there was a struggle for the gun, and the gun went off, hitting Dodds in the abdomen. He survived surgery, but suffered a stroke in the Intensive Care Unit and died after being pulled off life support.

Benson instantly feels guilty for the situation as she was the one that left Dodds alone with Munson and Lisa to take the kids to the car. It doesn’t help as Dodds’ father happens to be Olivia’s boss, Deputy Chief William Dodds, and he blames her for the death of his son.

Mariska Hargitay opened up to Entertainment Weekly about how Olivia Benson is feeling entering Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 18. The publication asked her to describe where her character is at entering the Season 18 premiere.

“It’s a few weeks after Mike Dodds’ murder, and Benson is still carrying a deep sense of guilt,” Hargitay said. “She blames herself for what happened and, as a result, will be even more protective of her team going forward. She and her squad are having to adjust to this new normal. Benson will also have to deal with how this affects her relationship with Chief Dodds, Mike’s father. Emotionally, it’s still raw and upsetting for Olivia; there’s a lot of guilt there, and we see it in her tension with Chief Dodds.”

In the interview, Hargitay also points out that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 18 will be the first season in which Benson is in charge of the entire squad room. With Mike Dodds gone, there is no second-in-command, although Hargitay does mention that Fin Tutuola would be a reluctant No. 2.

Despite entering its 18th season, there’s just as much excitement and anticipation for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit as there was 10 years ago. It’s one of the longest-standing shows on television and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Make sure to tune into NBC at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night to catch the premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 18.

[Featured Image by Rommel Demano/Getty Images]