This Law and Order: SVU scene made Peter Stone click

If you want to know the moment Law and Order SVU sold us on Peter Stone, look no further than last night’s episode and a scene that changed the character.

Peter Stone is an outstanding character, but he still had to earn his place on Law & Order: SVU. And on Wednesday night, one scene proved why he belongs—and changed the way we’ll look at him completely.

SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this article contains spoilers for Wednesday’s episode of Law & Order: SVU, “Chasing Demons.” If you missed any of the episode, you can find our highlights here.

Near the conclusion of “Chasing Demons,” Peter (Philip Winchester) found himself in the interview room with the episode’s perpetrator.

But it wasn’t an interrogation—rather, Peter was trying to level with the young man, who had killed a doctor who’d gotten off the legal hook for molesting his younger brother and who’d also done the same to the suspect years earlier.

The young man had been motivated to murder in part out of a sense of responsibility for what had happened to his brother, thinking that if he’d come forward himself, maybe that could have been avoided.

And thus, we had newly minted Assistant District Attorney Peter Stone opening up about his own family, and sense of failure after the incident that had changed his life, just as this young man’s life was about to change.

Stone: My whole identity was wrapped up in being a ballplayer. When I felt that ligament rip, it was like someone robbed me of who I was. Everything I could be…I didn’t have anyone to blame. Nowhere to put my anger. And it tore me up inside.

It was just a few lines, but even for those of us who faithfully watched Peter Stone on Chicago Justice, this scene opened our eyes to a new layer of the character.

It’s no secret that Peter never intended on becoming a lawyer. That was well established from the start; he didn’t want to live in the shadow of his famous father, Ben Stone, and only found his way to the law once his athletic dream was crushed.

But in allowing him to vocalize what he went through, Law & Order: SVU provided us with a look into Peter’s head in what was probably his lowest point in life. And it’s something that hit home in a way that was unexpected and poignant.

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Allow me to get up on my personal soapbox for a moment, but this SVU scene made me able to see directly through Peter Stone’s eyes. When I broke my legs six years ago, it wasn’t just the pain of the broken bones that I had to deal with.

It was the emotional pain of having my physical ability taken away from me. Just like Peter, my identity at the time was wrapped up in that. I never got to play for the Cubs, but I had fought my whole life to be able to walk after being born three months premature and being told that I’d live in a wheelchair.

I prided myself on teaching myself what wasn’t supposed to be possible. And after that, in being able to play baseball, and hockey, and anything else that I could get away with. My drive was to grow not only physically but mentally by continuing to get better, to be my best self through the challenge, and to prove everyone who said I couldn’t wrong.

Then in one fell swoop all of that was gone. Suddenly I found myself confined to a wheelchair again, unable to even do the most basic things. Not only was I in constant pain, but I didn’t have any pride. I didn’t have any purpose, because everything I loved to do was impossible. All those whispers in my ear were suddenly right. And all those years of hard work had just been reset.

I didn’t have the first, most fundamental clue of who I was anymore.

So as Peter Stone said in Wednesday’s SVU, I got angry and I let the anger get the better of me for a long time. You go to some pretty dark places, and you get angry at a lot of people, but you’re never more angry at anyone than you are at yourself. There’s such a degree of self-loathing, and in my case, the temptation to end it all.

Because what are you if you’re not what you’ve worked so hard to be?

But it’s a journey that you have to take, and that you have to take alone. No one else can define you, and no one else can tell you what will make you fight back. What made me whole again was seeing that what I write can help other people, and through that meeting people who loved me when I didn’t love myself.

Sometimes my heart still breaks at the things I used to do, that I’ll never be able to do again. There is a hole in my life I’ll never be able to fill, but now I have something else to fight for.


LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “Chasing Demons” Episode 1914 — Pictured: Philip Winchester as Peter Stone — (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC)

I bring all that up because that’s the turning point that was in front of Peter Stone, and that’s what will make him an effective part of the SVU family.

Bringing Philip Winchester’s character onto SVU is an uphill battle on two fronts. The writers have to prove to the SVU fans that Peter Stone is a right fit, and then show the Chicago Justice fans that they’re going to see something different here that they didn’t see last year. But this one scene was able to accomplish both those things, by laying him bare in front of the audience (and Benson).

We understand better now what drove Peter Stone into the law, and what probably still drives him today. He felt like he let his family (read: his father) down, so it makes sense that he’d gravitate to his father’s profession almost as a way of making amends. He could have done anything else after baseball, but he chose this for a reason, and now we have an idea of the reason.

And that’s what makes him so fascinating as a character. This isn’t just a job for him; it’s personal. He’s so deeply invested in what he’s doing. It’s not just what he does, but it’s who he is. It’s what defines him now, and what literally runs in his blood. He wants to run full speed at this wall, but it’s also what he has to do.

That’s why Law & Order: SVU needs Peter Stone as its next Assistant District Attorney. SVU as a show has an angle of personal experience and how it can be constructive through Benson’s past as a child of sexual assault and how she can relate to those she helps both as a detective and as a human being. Stone had that lightbulb moment in “Chasing Demons” of how he can use his own experience to connect with these cases and help close them, too.

He’s going to have to open up if he wants to be effective in New York. He’s going to have to use not just his skill, but his heart. That’s going to make him vulnerable, and it’s going to show fans a side of Peter we haven’t seen before, and because of all his history he’s going to have experiences to draw upon that any new character wouldn’t.

And maybe he needs SVU, because he’s going to have to grow and face what we know he never did in Chicago. It takes time, but he’ll have to make peace with the shadow of his father and with walking a road that you didn’t intend to travel. He’s done that to an extent, but doing it in New York is (dare we say it?) a whole new ballgame. Peter has a wound to heal, and when he does he’s going to come out better on the other side.

Peter Stone is an idealistic character, but this SVU scene taught us that he comes to that from a very human and flawed place. And there’s something very affecting, even inspiring, about seeing him talk about finding new strength out of a moment of failure, and knowing that he’s going to be able to build upon that on SVU.

It can be hard, and terrifying, and utterly demoralizing when your entire world comes crashing down on your shoulders, but sometimes you become the person you were meant to be through it. I was blessed enough to do that, and I can’t wait to see Peter Stone do that and find out who he becomes next.

Have you been watching Peter Stone on Law & Order: SVU? What do you think about the character in his new role? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC.