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2 Things Happened in the SVU Premiere That Prove Benson's Thinking of Stabler

One, of course, included that iconic compass necklace — which Hargitay opened up about to NBC Insider in a recent interview. 

By Jessica White

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit returned for its historic 25th season on January 18, and it's clear Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) has been thinking about Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), as she continues to proudly wear his compass necklace. 

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on NBC and Peacock.

Fans will remember in the Season 3 finale of Law & Order: Organized Crime, Stabler visited Benson to give her a heartwarming gift: a compass necklace intended to "lead her to happiness." The duo's will-they-won't-they relationship remains a hallmark mystery of the SVU universe, and with Meloni's return in Law & Order: Organized Crime as a newly-single Stabler, the possibilities are endless.

The presence of the compass necklace in the Season 25 premiere is proof Stabler is still very much on Benson's mind. And there's one other thing from the episode that proves this, too. Read on. 

Law & Order: SVU Season 25 premiere: Benson isn't going on any dates at the moment

Benson was majorly hit on while celebrating the baptism of Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) and Sonny Carisi's (Peter Scanavino) baby, Nicky. While enjoying the festivities, Benson was brushing off advances after catching the eye of Carisi's family member. 

"Carisi tells me you're single," the man asked, his Staten Island accent giving away his affiliation.

"Oh, he just offered that up, huh?" Benson playfully asked.

"I asked," he clarified. "By the way, I'm divorced."

"Well, don't look at me," Benson cautioned. "Might as well toss your heart in a wood-chipper."

"Alright," he shrugged. "Fair enough."

As the man got Benson's hint and walked away, Carisi swooped in with questions, the ceaseless prosecutor.

"Hey, I see you met my cousin, Stevie," he said. 

Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) appears in Law & Order: SVU.

"Did you have to offer that up, Carisi?" Benson griped. "That I was single?"

"You are single," Carisi reminded her while defending Stevie's honor. Sergeant Fin (Ice T) took note of the exchange between his SVU colleagues, humorously flocking to his Captain's side. 

"Want me to run interference?" Fin asked, always down to have Benson's back. Benson assured him she could handle it, clearly unhappy with Carisi dishing out her romantic business.

Yes, Benson is technically single, but it appears her mind and heart are somewhere else. Perhaps, maybe, with Stabler? 

RELATED: Olivia Benson's Relationship Timeline on Law & Order: SVU

Benson talks the meaning of the compass necklace's mysterious lettering

Fan theories have been swirling about the compass necklace's meaning. Was it a touching gift from a Stabler, a friend, before he headed out of town? Or a romantic gesture designed to encourage Benson to follow her heart? While that mystery has yet to be solved, viewers were able to close one case: the meaning behind the compass' lettering. 

Eagle-eyed fans know that instead of depicting North, South, East, and West, Benson's compass replaces those with the letters L, C, J, and E. But what do they mean? Carisi's cousin, Stevie, proved to be quite a valuable investigator.

"What's with the compass?" Stevie asked.

"Oh!" Benson said, instinctively grabbing the pendant. "It was a gift."

"The letters are all wrong," Stevie noted.

"The J is for Joy," Benson explained. "The C is for compassion."

"And the L?" Stevie asked. 

"The L is for love," Benson revealed.

"It's been pointing you in the right direction?" Stevie asked as Benson's gaze drifted to Rollins and Carisi sharing a heartfelt embrace in the corner.

"Not yet," Benson pondered.

RELATED: Everything to Know About Law & Order: SVU Season 25

Mariska Hargitay reveals the significance behind Stabler's compass necklace

Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) appears in Law & Order: SVU.

During Law & Order: SVU's Season 25 premiere event, NBC Insider chatted with Hargitay on the red carpet about the significance of Stabler's necklace and what it means to Benson. 

"It was a really important moment in her life and in their friendship when [Benson and Stabler] realized the complexity of why they couldn't be together then," Hargitay said. "As much as it's building and as much as he thought that that's what he wanted."

"It was such a gesture of pure love," she continued. "When you really love somebody and have unconditional love for them, you really want what's best for them. And so it was such an incredible, selfless gesture that he made me feel safe because I knew that's what he wanted from me was peace and clarity."

Where will Benson's compass lead her next? Find out by watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.

Reporting by Stephanie Gomulka