Philip Winchester on SVU: 5 highlights from Peter Stone’s first episode

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "The Undiscovered Country" Episode 1913 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Philip Winchester as Peter Stone, Sam Waterston as DA Jack McCoy -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "The Undiscovered Country" Episode 1913 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Philip Winchester as Peter Stone, Sam Waterston as DA Jack McCoy -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC) /

Philip Winchester’s SVU term started Wednesday, so what happened in his first episode? Here are the Philip Winchester and Peter Stone highlights from SVU.

Peter Stone began his Law & Order: SVU tenure Wednesday, as Philip Winchester brought his Chicago Justice character to the other Dick Wolf franchise.

SVU season 19, episode 13 was called “The Undiscovered Country” and saw Peter return to his former home for his father Ben Stone‘s funeral (tear), only to be offered a huge and very thorny assignment by District Attorney Jack McCoy (fellow guest star Sam Waterston). And it only got more intense from there.

If you missed any of Philip Winchester’s debut episode, or you’re a Chicago Justice fan who wants to know what Peter got up to, we’re breaking down the installment for you with the highlights for his character.

Here are the highlights from Peter Stone’s first SVU episode:

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1) Oh my God, they killed Ben Stone

SVU explained Peter Stone’s arrival in New York by saying that his father had fallen ill and Peter was in town for the funeral. Simple enough, but for those longtime Law & Order fans out there, this was a big deal.

Ben Stone was the franchise’s first prosecutor, and as played by Michael Moriarty, he was a living legend. Stone was a great character, an ordinary man who was superhuman in the courtroom and just had this great aura about him. To kill him off was like taking down a giant.

Sure, the odds of having father and son together on screen were always slim (as Moriarty hasn’t been acting regularly in years), but especially as we saw Peter finally reach out to Ben on Justice, you liked to think they’d get a kind of happy ending. And then they didn’t, and when Peter walked into that empty courtroom and finally broke down, it was like he was grieving for all of us.

(Sidenote: franchise fans may remember that the reason given for moving Connie Rubirosa from L&O to Law & Order: Los Angeles was to care for her sick mother. Now Peter comes back to New York for his dead father. Maybe time to come up with another explanation?)

2) Man, this guy knows how to make a (bad) entrance

You have to hand it to Peter Stone: he knows how to make a first impression. It’s just never a good one.

After being introduced on Chicago PD last year as the only thing standing between Kim Burgess and a prison sentence, Peter’s introduction on SVU was no less acrimonious. He showed up when McCoy was speaking with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), and when McCoy told her that Peter was special counsel for the state against SVU’s current prosecutor Rafael Barba, Benson did not want to shake his hand. At all.

In fact, she told him bluntly that she hoped he sucked.

If McCoy wanted to introduce Benson to Stone, that’s not the way to do it. Maybe don’t mention he’s prosecuting one of her friends (and the person many of us ‘ship her with)? And Peter, being Peter Stone, just took it on the chin. Philip Winchester’s face in that moment is kind of epic, as he’s being polite but knows this is a total disaster.

It’s like SVU’s version of how John Doggett was introduced to Dana Scully on The X-Files. Peter’s just lucky Benson didn’t have anything to throw in his face.

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3) Stone and McCoy doing, well, anything

First of all, let’s take two seconds to acknowledge that Sam Waterston is awesome and he could have spent this whole episode finishing his lunch and we would have been okay with it. That said, Philip Winchester’s scenes with Waterston in this episode were special. Much like watching Philip and Carl Weathers had this sort of boss-protege quality, this was like an uncle-nephew thing. And it was great.

Aside from McCoy’s terrible introduction of Stone to Benson, you have to love how McCoy tied the whole history of franchise lawyers together. He talked about Ben Stone’s influence on him, and we saw his influence on Peter Stone and even on Barba (Raul Esparza). There’s a certain charm in how fans can see how all this has come together—from Ben Stone, to Jack McCoy, to Peter Stone. So what’s next?

4) Stone goes on the attack

One of our biggest concerns about Philip Winchester’s move to Law & Order: SVU was whether or not Peter Stone would still be Peter Stone. If the intensity and idealism we saw on Chicago Justice would still exist when it was a new role on a new show. Well, “The Undiscovered Country” told us that in no uncertain terms, Peter Stone is still here to fight and win.

Even in the most terrible of cross-examinations—having to be critical of a dead baby’s mother and of Barba himself—Stone held his ground. He did his job. And he didn’t let up, either. He had some really sharp lines in the courtroom, all of which Philip Winchester delivered with the same poise and punch that made him so successful on Chicago Justice.

And then there was that look on his face when Barba said it wasn’t murder. Watching him square off with Raul Esparza will go down as one of the best scenes in SVU history, ever. Click below to watch two of TV’s best actors at their best:

5) Stone gets his verdict

Like his father, the greatest thing about Peter Stone is that he’s not only the people’s champion, but he’s one of the people. He didn’t get the conviction he was brought in to deliver, but you could see on his face that he understood it, nonetheless. It’s not about wins and losses for him; it’s more than that. That’s what makes him special. And that’s why we’re so glad he’s back.

Next: Philip Winchester discusses his SVU debut

New episodes of Law & Order: SVU resume on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. on NBC. For full show coverage, follow the Dick Wolf category at One Chicago Center.