Currently on TV, there’s arguably no onscreen officer more popular than Law & Order: SVU’s Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Not only has Benson been with the series for a record-breaking 23 seasons, but she’s also tough as nails and really the epitome of strength.
This is a cop who has been kidnapped more than once, held at gunpoint a few times, been assaulted while undercover and was completely ghosted by her best friend and partner for nearly a decade (Stabler may be back in the mix now on Law & Order: Organized Crime, but we’re still a little salty).
With all that said, fans are not pleased with Benson’s most recent actions. In the latest episode, "Confess Your Sins to Be Free," her first serious boyfriend Burton Lowe (Aidan Quinn) resurfaces, seeking to make amends. Fans will recall from Law & Order: SVU’s 500th episode that Lowe had a history of predatory behavior, including him dating an underage Benson. Now in his second appearance on the show, he is seeking a form of forgiveness from the SVU officer.
Initially, when Lowe tries apologizing to Benson she isn’t receptive to it. She clearly thinks he is trying to excuse some of his behavior by claiming to have been drunk during some of his misdeeds. Our beloved SVU leader sends him packing and tells Lowe to go acknowledge what he did to the other women first.
But then she goes to one of Lowe’s AA meetings and that persuades Benson to think perhaps he really is sorry. This is when things start to take a turn for viewers. During their conversation at the diner, he tells her that despite being older than her when they started dating and the power imbalance between the two back then, he loved her. Benson returns the feelings, which doesn’t sit well with some members of the audience given that they know what Lowe did to not only her but other women...
olivia benson admitted that this man sexually assaulted her and went on to say she loved him? because he was trying to right his wrongs? sexual assault, no matter how you spin it, should never be associated with love. that is a harmful message to anyone who went through similar.May 13, 2022
Then in a stroke of irony, while Lowe was on his apology tour, he came across a victim who recorded him trying to make amends and she decided to press charges. Rather than attempt to fight the allegations in court, he took a plea deal that put him on the registry.
So why are fans so protective of Benson?
Many don’t like the "redemptive" narrative of the storyline. Viewers were confused why writers seemingly were making it Benson’s responsibility to lead her "predator" on the path of redemption. As if it was her job as the victim to make her accuser feel better about himself.
In defense of Benson and the show’s writers, during the final conversation between her and Lowe, she says, "I want to forgive you," but it’s apparent that it’s not something she can do. This small nod to the SVU captain still being the victim in the scenario was not good enough for audience members who were unhappy with the episode.
Law & Order: SVU fans react to the recent episode
Law & Order: SVU fans understandably had very strong opinions about Olivia Benson’s recent storyline.
This redemption arc was not needed. You are allowing this man to make excuses for the CRIMES he committed just so his conscious is eased. Olivia Benson can get closure, but it's almost like this man isn't a serial groomer? We remember that right? #SVUMay 13, 2022
what bothers me about the burton storyline is that every time he’s acknowledged as an abuser, it’s after they revealed he’s done something *worse* than what he did to liv, which makes it feel like her situation wasn’t “enough.” there shouldn’t be this grey area around it. #svuMay 13, 2022
rapists & abusers don’t deserve redemption arcs #svu pic.twitter.com/GzRuWFKxrwMay 13, 2022
Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities. When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The Crown, WandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of Harlem. And a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.
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