When Mariska Hargitay conceded that she hadn’t watched the special episode of Law & Order: SVU, most fans thought it was a simple case of nerves.
Remember her interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan concerning episode No. 500?
“They sent me the link so many times and I was actually too nervous to watch it,” the OG of Law & Order: SVU told the talk show hosts.
“Obviously, I’ve been doing this show for so long and Olivia Benson is in me, but I think that the idea of the 500th episode was so much pressure or something on me. And I was so nervous coming to work this day.”
No. 500 was emotional and probably mentally intense for Hargitay, who immerses herself in Benson. After all, she’s played Olivia for 23 seasons. So in that episode, we saw Benson feeling a gamut of emotions.
She was sentimental when she first encountered Burton Lowe, her first love turned famous true-crime writer. She also was dedicated to all victims, including ones like Ian, who were wrongfully accused of raping and killing his girlfriend. Plus, seeing Lowe (Aidan Quinn) stirred up the butterflies in her gut.
Olivia likely also felt a bit vulnerable as she recounted, leaning on old episodes to do so, how she dated Lowe when she was 16 and he was 21. Her mother broke them up. Plus, everyone was looking back through the lens of 2021. A 21-year-old sleeping with a 16-year-old might’ve been acceptable in the late 1970s, early 80s, but it’s now viewed as statutory rape in some states.
Her relationship with Lowe was the timeline of No. 500 on Law & Order: SVU. With help from Lowe and former colleague Nick Amaro (Danny Pino), Benson helped clear Ian of rape. The tennis coach murdered Ian’s girlfriend 25 years ago. Ian stayed in prison for 25 years before clearing his name.
Olivia Rekindled Her Old Relationship on Law & Order: SVU
But Benson rekindled her relationship with Lowe, only to discover he might’ve been a 2021 version of a predator decades before. Despite getting older, Lowe still dated younger women. He pursued them in the same way, even after he became a famous writer. The power dynamic between Lowe and these women always was tilted in favor of him, not them. One accused Lowe of rape. Others stepped forward to tell how he might’ve been stalking them. Even Trevor Langan, played by Hargitay’s real-life husband Peter Hermann, warned her about Lowe’s reputation.
Nick suggested that Lowe might’ve been “grooming” Olivia when she was in high school. These are topics in every episode of Law & Order: SVU. But now it was happening to the captain.
But Benson, being the strong woman she is, confronted Lowe at his hotel room, then walked out on him. He was so irritated he threw a glass at the door.
Benson then pulled out the old mixtape Lowe created for her when they dated. She found it in a box and realized he made similar tapes for other women. She threw it in a pond.
No wonder Hargitay didn’t want to watch the 500th episode of Law & Order: SVU. It was emotionally tough on her character’s soul.