[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Law & Order: SVU Season 24 Episode 3 “Mirror Effect.”]
After Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) was shot in the Law & Order premiere crossover and then spoke with Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) in the following SVU episode about realizing what she had to lose — her daughters and ADA Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino) — before seeming to still be bothered by her injury, we’re a bit worried. After all, we know that Giddish is leaving at some point this season, so now it’s just a question of whether this is all leading up to how Rollins will say goodbye to the squad or if there’s a twist coming.
As “Mirror Effect” begins, Rollins is in therapy and says she’s sleeping better; she avoids the question about her feelings of detachment though. Her therapist reminds her she said it’s easy for her to disappear, like she has a safe room inside herself. “It’s a place that feels familiar,” Rollins allows. She refuses to take anti-depressants. How are her daughters? It’s not easy pretending things are normal. But her therapist corrects her: “The goal is not normalcy or to adopt a faade for our children. The goal is to do the work. And to do that, first you need to show up.” If she misses appointments, the therapist must report her, and she could be removed from active duty. Rollins is distracted by a painting hanging on the wall.
Then while she and Carisi are out grabbing dinner, they witness a celeb couple, Kelsey (Julia Goldani-Telles) and Austin (Grant Anstine) fighting. He leaves her on the street, her dress is ripped, but she goes back to him. Carisi tells Rollins she did everything she could. “Why does it not feel like enough?” she asks. But then Kelsey comes into SVU to report an assault — only for Rollins and Carisi, soon after they’d been discussing how difficult it would be to get a conviction, see a news report of the couple’s engagement.
It’s then that Rollins and Carisi hear her daughters screaming from their room about a monster in the closet. Carisi goes to comfort them, while Rollins bursts in, with her gun, and goes to the closet. (It was a toy.) But her daughters are now scared of her.
Benson is the next one to see a change in Rollins’ behavior, as the detective tries (and fails) to push Kelsey into understanding that Austin proposed as “a sick attempt to distort your reality.” After, when the captain asks how her girls are doing, Rollins asks what Carisi told her. Nothing, Benson says.
It’s after another fight that Kelsey tells Benson and Rollins that Austin raped her, and he’s arrested. With a long night prepping for the trial ahead of him, Carisi tells Rollins he’ll meet her at home, but, “mind if I wait?” she asks him before admitting, “I don’t want to be alone right now.” He only warns her he’ll bore her within half an hour. “Boring’s really good. It’s about all I can handle right now,” she shares.
After Austin’s fans accuse Kelsey of lying in court, Rollins leaves — and the fans turn on her for arresting him. Rollins barely makes it to the elevator, where, once alone, she lets out a shaky breath. Then, when Kelsey’s worried about the social media response hurting her career, Rollins snaps at here to toughen up, and Benson asks her to leave. Soon after that, the two people who have noticed Rollins’ behavior talk. “Don’t worry. I’m driving her to therapy from now on. Wait outside if I have to,” Carisi tells Benson. “That’s real love,” she says.
As the trial wraps up — Austin is found guilty of rape in the third degree — Rollins finds Benson. “I know I’ve been a bit off my game lately,” she says, but as her captain points out, she’s still 10 times better than most detectives on it. Rollins tells her about pulling her gun out in her daughters’ room, pointing it at a monster in the closet. “Did you get him?” Benson asks. “Not yet, but I will,” Rollins says.
At the end of the episode, Rollins goes to Carisi and confesses, “I never thought I was capable of having a healthy relationship. But now that I have one…” He knows: “You’re afraid you’re going to mess it all up.” Not exactly, she says, but rather, “I’m afraid that I already have.” He assures her she hasn’t and “everybody’s got monsters in their closet. The question is: What do you want to do about it?” She wants to “evict the little bastard,” and he hugs her, promising, “it’s going to be OK.” But will it?
Law & Order: SVUThursdays, 9/8c, NBC