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On September 22, Sgt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) teamed up with the legal backbone of Law & Order, Law & Order: Organized Crime, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to see justice served in an explosive crossover Premiere Event. (The event served as the season opener for each show.)
What happened in the three-part Law & Order Premiere Event?
What begins as a simple murder case quickly unfurls into a transnational terrorist operation in the three-hour special. Detective Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) witnesses 15-year-old Ava get shot in the street in cold blood. Cosgrove later discovers Ava was sex-trafficked by the crime boss Mark Sirenko. Sure enough, that brings the 27th Precinct into the same roadhouse as the Organized Crime and Special Victims Units, making it so that Cosgrove teams up with Stabler and Benson.
Turns out, Stabler is six months deep into an investigation on Sirenko's drug operation. The murder investigation complicates his ongoing undercover mission, risking Sirenko getting suspicious and the OC Unit losing the chance for a drug bust Through the investigation, they realize Sirenko is linked to a drug operation, plus a sex trafficking ring based out of the yacht Ava ran from (as well as her murder).
Stabler continues to investigate Sirenko for his involvement in the murder, discovering video footage of Sirenko, Ava, an unknown gentleman, and a young girl on the yacht. Benson and the Special Victims Unit track down the girl, 15-year-old Nicole, as a witness, bringing her into the investigation. Nicole reveals to Benson that Ava was chased down and murdered by Sirenko after she recorded a conversation with Sirenko's mystery colleague.
Based on Nicole's testimony, the SVU, OCU, and 27th Precinct raid Sirenko's home and discover the makings of a bomb. After a heinous chase, Stabler and Benson discover Sirenko intends to blow up a convention at a hotel downtown. Cosgrove and new detective Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) evacuate the building, with Sirenko fleeing on foot. Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish) tracks down Sirenko's location, and Stabler finally arrests him.
Benson speaks with Nicole about Sirenko's mystery friend on the yacht, and they uncover that it's Daniel Rublev, a senior liaison to Vladimir Putin and leader of an international crime ring. Ava recorded their interaction with Rublev, leading to her attack and murder. Unlocking this key evidence, Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and ADAs Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) and Samantha Moroun (Odelya Halevi) realize Sirenko is merely a cog in Rublev's plans. Rublev is responsible for orchestrating the murder, sex trafficking ring, and hotel bombing.
By interrogating an affiliate of Rublev's, Stabler and Nolan get their hands on Ava's phone. Her phone contains valuable footage of Rublev telling Ava and Nicole that Russia has "big" plans with a "very loud boom." Rublev realizes Ava recorded the conversation about the bomb, leading Sirenko to kill her.
Unsurprisingly, Rublev and Sirenko have a great lawyer. He causes the footage to become inadmissible in court due to their confidential informant. Out of options, Samantha pleads with Benson to get Nicole to testify, and Benson hesitantly agrees.
Meanwhile, Nicole was placed in a safe house during the trial. Rollins visits to tell Nicole she needs to go back to the city to speak with the authorities. As Rollins and Nicole leave, they suddenly hear gunshots as they are attacked by masked gunmen. Rollins is shot amid the chaos, and Benson rushes to the scene. Nicole admits that she had a hidden cell phone, leading Rublev's organization to be able to track down her location.
After the traumatic events, Benson pulls Nicole from the case and tells Nolan she has been moved to Toronto to get a fair chance at a normal life. This leaves Nolan and Samantha forced to cut a deal with Sirenko to get the evidence needed to prosecute Rublev. Ultimately, Sirenko is just as responsible as Rublev, but they agree to shorten Sirenko's sentence to 20 years if his testimony puts Rublev behind bars.
To build their case, Nolan and Samantha question Rublev. Shockingly, Rublev reveals the chain of command doesn't end with him: There is an even bigger boss with horrific plans. Rublev requests immunity to provide the ADAs with more information, but Nolan refuses. And in a gut-punch to their entire investigation, as Rublev leaves the meeting, he is gunned down in the street.
How does the Law & Order premiere end?
Rublev's mysterious assassination immediately cuts the trial short. The ADAs must confront the unfortunate reality of what happens to Sirenko now that Rublev is dead. In the episode's final moments, Sirenko's associates are arrested and his sex-trafficking victims are saved, but Sirenko is served only 20 years for his actions due to the deal. Rollins wakes up in the hospital from her injuries, Benson is revealed to be housing Nicole in the city, and Cosgrove reflects on the lack of justice surrounding the events. "We do the things we can do," Cosgrove tells his daughter. "Like rescuing the victims and making them feel safe, whole. We do our best to arrest the criminals and predators so they can't hurt anyone else."
"There's still a lot of good in this world," Cosgrove concludes. "So we need to remember that. The world isn't perfect, but it's still beautiful." The Law & Order Premiere Event explored the complex nature of tackling large-scale crimes and the many compromises needed along the way. While Benson, Stabler, and the 27th Precinct didn't see the ending they preferred, what matters most is, like always, the survivors are safe in the end.
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