Law & Order: Special Victims Unit recap: Rollins bids farewell in a big episode of changes

Rollins farewell
Kelli Giddish bids farewell as Amanda Rollins on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

It was the end of an era of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. 

After a case involving a cop’s murdered child and Rollins getting a big offer, Rollins and Carisi took a huge step together.

This marked the end of Kelli Giddish’s 12-season run on the series as Rollins moved on to a major opportunity.

But before that could happen, the team had to handle a case bringing back Elias Olsen, the man who had held several women, prisoner.

That put Muncy in a tough spot while Benson and Rollins had to hash out some issues on Rollins’ departure. 

Benson was also in for a huge surprise when Noah discovers a shocking secret about his past. 

This made, And A Trauma In A Pear Tree a big send-off for Rollins while also leading to big changes for Benson in more ways than one. 

You are cordially invited…

Rollins and Carisi were in bed together and Rollins was surprised Elias Olsen wasn’t taking a deal. They were interrupted by Jesse and Billie getting into the Christmas spirit. 

Benson and Noah were leaving a restaurant to see someone cleaning off graffiti for a local gang. 

Muncy complained the Olsen trial was interfering with her plans to ski with her brother for Christmas. Carisi was in an elevator with a judge asking if he was “ready for this.”

Benson and Fin talked about Noah before getting a call Carisi wanted them at the courthouse fast. Carisi warned Muncy that Olsen’s lawyer was sharp and she had to be careful. He headed out as something fell out of his coat. 

Muncy caught up to Carisi to hand him an envelope, noting how nervous he was. The detectives arrived at the empty courthouse to be met by Carisi and Rollins in a lovely white gown with flowers. 

“Marriage is a lot like a crime,” Rollins noted. “We have motive and opportunity,” Carisi added they just needed witnesses. Benson hugged her as Carisi took out the envelope with the rings as the pair were married. 

The detectives gathered with family and friends at a bar for the reception. Carisi admitted his mother was planning a bigger wedding later on.

Noah revealed to Benson he had a Christmas surprise: A meeting with his big brother, Connor. 

It seemed Noah used a gift card from Fin to track a genetic website and find out his father had another child, Connor– adopted by Matt and Ginny McCann. Noah and Connor had been texting for a while and Noah wanted to meet in person.

Benson did what any cop would, asking Fin to run a full background check to make sure the McCanns were good people before Noah met them. 

At court, Mason Carter (Robbie Williams) was once more trying to delay with motions as he argued Elias was mentally unfit for trial. The judge held the case over. 

Rollins was annoyed their honeymoon was delayed as she admitted she was still thinking about the college offer. She also was trying to figure out what to tell Benson.

Meeting a new family and a new perp

Benson and Noah talked about Connor and were trying to keep Noah safe by checking on the McCanns. Noah’s words on Connor being “the only real family I have” hit Benson.

They drove to a nice suburban neighborhood, with Benson assuring Noah there were always bad guys around. She tried to warn Noah this might not work as well as he hoped as they met Matt (Gregory Abbey) and Ginny (Ana Belknap) along with Connor (Tre Ryder). Benson was affected watching the brothers hug. 

After dinner, the boys played video games as Benson tried to get to know the McCanns better. Benson broached the subject of Noah’s parents as the McCanns had briefly known Noah’s mom but not the details of who his dad was. 

Connor invited Noah to stay over and his pleas won Benson over to agree. She headed out as she saw Noah playing with the McCanns, both happy for her son but worried.

Benson checked into a local motel, taking a shower only to find the room had hidden cameras installed. She got a call from Rollins to talk about the camera and was suspicious of desk clerk Troy Hornberg (Michael Worden).

 Rollins volunteered to drive up and give Benson a hand. Benson admitted the McCanns were so sweet, she “kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.” 

At the McCanns, they wanted Benson to look into something. Muncy was at the courthouse as Carisi talked to the Singhs, who were still affected by the attack.

Just as Benson was about to come clean about Noah’s dad, Rollins called to join her at the hotel, checking out the room.

Benson knew Troy wasn’t smart enough to do this himself and Rollins tested him by mugging for the camera. They then headed to the lobby to find Troy watching the video and arrested him. 

Nisha testified about Elias shooting her and kidnapping Priya. Carter brought up that the shooter had a mask so Nisha couldn’t say it was Elias. 

Troy claimed it was his cousin Ray Sprague (Jesse Lehman) who installed the cameras but his having a relative in the local D.A.’s office made this trickier.

Priya testified about Elias holding her hostage. Carter surprisingly had no questions for her as Carisi called Muncy to the stand. 

Benson and Rollins went to a bar Ray frequented as Benson talked about the McCanns and having to tell them about Johnny D. Benson was more worried about Noah finding out more than the McCanns. Seeing Ray, the pair began putting the moves on him. 

Muncy testified on Elias, admitting to throwing a radio at his head to subdue him. Carter brought up Muncy’s temper, including insulting Elias and how she beat down Lukas Peeters a few weeks earlier.

Muncy lost it on the stand, screaming about Elias holding women hostage and even asking for “ten minutes alone with that animal!” She calmed down as she realized she’d just hurt the case. 

Farewell to a friend

Benson and Rollins brought a drunk Ray to the motel. Meanwhile, Muncy was also drinking at a bar as she figured her career was over. Fin, Velasco, and even a barfly all said this wasn’t the way to handle this as Fin and Velasco joined her.

Benson and Rollins soon got Ray to confess about the cameras and he and Troy were selling the videos (including one of Benson in the shower) online. Benson told a cop to use her video with the rest as “we ask rape victims to reveal everything. Why should I be exempt?”

The pair were soon enjoying some wine and celebrating Rollins’s marriage. Rollins joked about Benson and Stabler in a hotel room together. Benson admitted she thought Stabler “was my home. But he left me, Amanda. And I’m not over it.”

Benson admitted it might have been easier if Kathy hadn’t died as she was a “boundary” between her and Stabler. She was worried crossing that line could ruin a good friendship.

She turned that to Rollins being standoffish when she joined SVU but now close to her. Rollins finally brought up the job offer with Benson rocked about this. Rollins gave her time to cool off as Benson was shaken at another possible loss in her life. 

Benson checked out the next morning to learn Rollins had already left. Muncy wanted to apologize, but Carisi said the defense already rested and there was nothing else Muncy could do. 

Benson met the McCanns as they decided it was better to let the subject of Johnny D lie for now and let Connor learn when he was older. They did get a present for Benson, who was moved to realize how good these people were.

Carisi assured Rollins she’d be okay as she admitted she was taking the Fordham job. The trial ended up being a hung jury, with Carisi wanting to retry.

Rollins met Benson, who apologized for not taking the news well. The pair assured each other they’d still be friends as they embraced and admitted loving each other.

Rollins headed to the squad room to bid farewell to everyone, hugging both Velasco and Fin. Benson watched her go with a nice smile. 

It was a big episode bidding farewell to Rollins while also showing Benson some unique new paths ahead in her life.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 24 returns Thursday, January 5, 2023, at 9/8c on NBC.

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