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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: the 10 best Rollins episodes

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

The news of Kelli Giddish leaving Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has led to a lot of emotions from fans.

Over 12 seasons, Amanda Rollins has gone from a wet-behind-the-ear detective to an experienced member of the SVU team. She’s also had to adjust to a lot of personal changes.

Rollins has been through the wringer, from her gambling problem to her troublesome sister to becoming a mom to two kids, yet she keeps fighting for justice.

Over the last 12 seasons, Rollins has had several episodes focusing on her, from major drama to some lighter but important moments in her life.

Some episodes had Rollins as the key focus, while others briefly touched on important moments like realizing her pregnancy. Yet a few are much better than others.

These ten episodes stand out as the best for Rollins in her tenure on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and why fans will miss her so much. 

Home Invasions (Season 13 Episode 14)

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

The first Rollins-focused episode also was one of the best

It begins with the cops investigating the murder of a family. What seems to be a hate crime soon has ties to a gambling den.

When the owners’ thugs attack her, Rollins is forced to reveal her gambling addiction, which has already gotten her into some debt. That she frequents the very casino involved in the case complicates matters.

When the crooks are busted, one tries to flip on Rollins for a deal, exposing her problems.

Cragen brings up his drinking problem to press Rollins to get some help. Her turn in a support group has her touching on her issues with her father, which drove her to this.

While the case is good, it also began Rollins’ various challenges of her addiction and how that would lead to bigger problems for her down the road. 

Deadly Ambition (Season 14 Episode 16)

Amanda Rollins
Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) was arrested in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode Deadly Ambition. Pic credit: NBC

Rollins’ difficult family issues began in this dark episode.

It starts as Amanda’s younger sister Kim comes begging for help from her abusive boyfriend. So naturally, Amanda does her best to help Kim out. 

In a confrontation, Amanda shoots the guy, which lands her in trouble with Internal Affairs. It gets worse when Kim suddenly says that Amanda shot the guy in cold blood.

It turns out Kim’s whole thing was a huge scam to try and get an insurance payout and not care if her sister goes to jail for it. 

Fortunately, Amaro was able to trick Kim into a confession to clear Rollins’ name. But the ending is powerful of Amanda coming home to find Kim cleaned her out of everything, even the contents of the fridge.

Her collapsing in tears at how her own sister could do this to her showed Amanda’s blind spot for family, which could be a major issue. 

Rapists Anonymous (Season 15 Episode 9)

Law & Order: SVU
Rollins (Amanda Giddish) is questioned by Minnora Efron (Nia Vardalos) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Just as Amanda was getting her life together, this episode sent her on a downward spiral. 

Rollins seems to be hitting it off with her Gamblers Anonymous sponsor, Nate, and striking up a friendship with a woman in AA. When the woman claims she was raped, Amanda tries to help her.

The case takes a few twists and turns, as Rollins’ problems complicate the investigation. But she’s not prepared for the revelation that her boyfriend hooked up with the victim at the same time he was with Amanda. 

Having her entire relationship, and how she was fooled, aired in open court is one of the most humiliating moments the detective could imagine. 

For Amanda, realizing she completely missed all the signs of his actions is the worst part of the case, making her wonder about her skills.

This would send Amanda back into her gambling addiction and a path that would lead to an even darker case just a few episodes later. 

Gambler’s Fallacy (Season 15, Episode 17)

Rollins and Murphy
Rollins (Kelli Giddish) meets Declan Murphy (Donal Logue) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Rollins’ personal problems led to her hitting rock bottom in this episode.

Already deep in debt from gambling, Rollins is revealed as a cop to a club owner who forces Rollins to work for her.

With the woman’s enforcer (Donal Logue) breathing down her neck, Rollins has to falsify evidence that lets a crook walk on a brutal assault charge.

Rollins is clearly fraying, trying to figure a way out of this while lying to her fellow cops about how much trouble she’s in.

Luckily, the enforcer is really undercover cop Declan Murphy, who helps Rollins out of this jam. However, Benson is still furious about how Rollins lost much of her trust.

It made Amanda realize she had to get her life back on track while also introducing the future father of one of her children to make for a powerful episode. 

Forgiving Rollins (Season 16 Episode 10)

Amanda Rollins
Kelli Giddish as Amanda Rollins reacting to bad news on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

This fantastic episode shed light on Rollins’ dark past in Atlanta. 

It doesn’t take a detective to see Rollins is nervous when her former Deputy Chief from Atlanta is in New York for a conference. Their meetings are quite terse, with Amanda not wanting to be around him.

When another Atlanta cop is attacked, she claims the Chief did it. Rollins is forced to confess the man had also done it to her years before, and she kept quiet for fear of how it would affect her career.

That led to Rollins getting a bad reputation that added to her various issues and pushed her to leave for New York.

Rollins is guilt-stricken over her silence and fights for the truth as it becomes clear they’re not the only victims. She knows she faces a backlash from cops but is still intent on finding justice. 

In the end, Rollins stands tall against her former boss and her doubters to finally forgive herself for her past inaction.

Maternal Instincts (Season 17 Episode 6)

Rollins SVu
Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) with her mother (Virginia Madsen) and sister Kim (Lindsay Pulsipher) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Once more, Amanda’s sister Kim had to mess things up at the worst time for the detective.

It was bad enough for Amanda to deal with her judgemental mother (Virginia Madsen) in town while pregnant. But then Kim drugged a guy to rob him with the guy, and then he assaulted a woman in his drugged state.

While Rollins wanted to help Kim, she had to deal with the fact that their mother honestly thought Amanda was the one in the wrong and tried to help Kim evade justice. 

Rollins landed in hot water with Benson trying to handle this on her own, which gets more complicated when Kim stabs a guy in Amanda’s apartment.

It’s little wonder Amanda has a health scare in the hospital, and the trial goes pretty badly. Worse is her mother’s attitude, which explains how Amanda and Kim turned out.

It was another emotional wringer for Rollins to show how troublesome her family can be for her life. 

The Book Of Esther (Season 19 Episode 20)

Rollins SVU
Rollins (Kelli Giddish) comforts a victim on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

What looked like a simple case turned much darker for Rollins in this episode.

It starts with what looks like a teenage runaway, clearly fleeing from abuse. Rollins takes a personal stake in the case to help the girl out.

It turns out Esther is actually 27, and her “father” is a twisted cult figure. Rollins bucks Benson’s authority to try and help the girl out.

This puts her against Benson, but Rollins is right in the “father” has a lot of dark secrets to hide.

This leads to a wild shootout, during which Rollins makes a big mistake that haunts her for a while.

The final scene of Amanda collapsing in tears in front of Benson before going to church was a stunner to show Kelli Giddish’s acting talents and capping a dark episode for Rollins. 

A Story Of  More Woe  (Season 20 Episode 13)

Rollins SVu
Carisi (Peter Scanavino) comforts a pregnant Rollins (Kelli Giddish) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

While the case in this episode may seem a bit cliche, it does have some great focus on Rollins.

The main plotline has the SVU team investigating the murder of a father that’s tied to a kidnapping case.

Rollins’ time is interrupted when she goes into labor. She also faces a marriage proposal from the child’s father but is forced to realize she doesn’t love the guy.

It’s a good turn for Rollins as she reflects on how she’s better off being with herself than shackled to a loveless marriage just for “stability.” 

It also shows the clear romance between Carisi and Rollins as he openly tells her he won’t leave her side at the hospital and stays with her. 

It ends on a high note with her giving birth to a second daughter and surrounded by her true family, the SVU squad, reminding her what matters in life. 

Can’t Be Held Accountable/Must Be Held Accountable (Season 21 Episodes 9 & 10)

Law & Order SVU
Rollins (Kelli Giddish) is held hostage by Frank Bucci (Nicholas Turturro) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

This two-part episode has a good opening with Rollins, but the second part is more exciting. 

When a cop (Nicholas Turturro) shows up in the squad room looking for his missing daughter, the team races to help. It turns out the girl fell in with a predator who seems to skate by justice.

That drives the cop to interrupt a session between Rollins and her therapist to take Rollins hostage and forces the SVU team to bring in the perp.

Rollins has to play nice with the kidnapper, bringing up her own past with her difficult father and empathizing with the guy. At the same time, she has to be careful not to push him too far. 

While the team is racing to find her, Rollins has to hold herself together to avoid making things even worse in a fine job of controlling the situation.

It leads to a tough conclusion that never brings true justice to the case, yet Rollins holds her own against this terrifying moment even as she faces her inner demons. 

Eternal Relief From Pain (Season 21 Episode 16)

Law & Order SVU
Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) with her sister Kim (Lindsay Pulsipher) and father James (James Morrison) on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Once more, Rollins’ family causes her some major headaches in this episode.

After years away, Kim is back and is now a mother. However, she’s arrested after passing out doing drugs in a restroom. She tries to cut a deal by saying her doctor has been soliciting favors in exchange for drugs. 

While not sure she can trust her sister, Rollins still tries to help by going undercover to bust the guy.

But it gets more complicated when their wayward dad (James Morrison) enters the scene. It’s soon obvious the guy has his own issues that explain how Kim turned out.

As Amanda hopes to get custody of her nephew and the case against the doctor continues, her father suffers a drug relapse of his own with a sad ending.

This has Kim finally facing up to her problems to try to get some help. Amanda sums it up as, “no matter how fast or far you run, you can’t outrun your family.”

It showed how Amanda had adjusted her views of her family even as she handled how troublesome they could be. 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 24 premieres Thursday, September 22 at 9/8c on NBC.

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