'Law & Order: SVU' Star Mariska Hargitay Reveals How Benson Will Get Past Latest Trauma

"There are so many layers to play there, with someone who has been through that kind of trauma," the series star and producer tells THR about what comes next after the events of Wednesday's episode.
 Courtesy of Michael Parmalee/NBC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of Law & Order: SVU, "Townhouse Incident."]

The battle is over, or has it just begun?

Wednesday's episode was one of the toughest hours of Olivia Benson's life. After her babysitter asked Benson to go check on a family she believed might be in danger, the Lt. suddenly found herself right in harm's way and with a gun pointed at her head when she was taken hostage as part of a dangerous home invasion.

And she wasn't alone. In addition to trying to save herself, Benson was tasked with taking care of a teenage girl and her younger brother while their mom was out trying to get the mad men their money and their father was seriously injured.

Thanks to her many years on the job and her past hostage experiences (see: William Lewis), Benson was able to convince ring leader and chief antagonist Joe Utley (Joe Reegan) to release the father and then the two children, before she turned on him, literally, leaving room for the massive group of snipers waiting outside the townhouse to shoot him and put him down for good.

Also helping matters was Benson's squad, who quickly caught on to their boss' peculiar absence and also IAB captain Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke), who served as the chief negotiator with Utley when the latter insisted Benson get someone who cared about her well-being to speak with him.

The episode closed with a relieved, yet clearly traumatized Benson thanking Tucker moments after Utley's death, so the question remains: How will Benson deal with this traumatic event?

"Benson knows much more this time about taking care of herself. That can work against her too, in the sense that she might be tempted to say, 'I've been though this already, I got this,'" Hargitay tells The Hollywood Reporter. "And because there are more demands on her time now — she's a mom, she heads the squad — she may have even less patience for caring for herself."

Another big factor for Benson is how this will change her as a mother to Noah — something she never had to worry about during the William Lewis saga.

"There are so many layers to play there, with someone who has been through that kind of trauma. The interesting thing is also that at a time when she needs the world to be a safe place for her son, she has been given yet more evidence that it's simply not," Hargitay said. "It's an "interesting reality for a character to metabolize, to process, and try to overcome."

Part of Benson's determination to move past the home invasion will bring back Bill Irwin as her therapist Dr. Lindstrom, showrunner Warren Leight told THR earlier this month.

"She's not allowed to go back to work until a therapist signs off on her. But she's not in a mood to do a lot of processing or a lot of work or dealing with it," Leight says. "I think she clearly has PTSD, but the question is how much is she going to deal with it and how much is she going to bury it and does she have time to deal with PTSD? She doesn’t think she has time to deal with her PTSD."

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

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