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lthough Mariska Hargitay has attracted plenty of

lthough Mariska Hargitay has attracted plenty of awards attention over the years for her intense portrayal of Detective Olivia Benson on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and although that attention is well-deserved, it's nice to see her equally talented co-star, Christopher Meloni, finally getting a few kudos of his own. As Benson's partner, Detective Elliot Stabler, Meloni has skillfully revealed character nuances over the show's seven seasons, even as the plot lines tend to remain focused on the crimes Benson and Stabler investigate. This season allowed him the chance to impress us even more. In one episode, Stabler loses control and becomes violent with an ex-partner. A subsequent visit to a counselor reveals abuse in the character's past, and Meloni played these scenes for all they were worth, believable as both a force of unleashed fury and a decent man trying desperately to escape the demons of his youth. In the space of an hour, Meloni ably conveyed the considerable complexity of the character, hitting notes explosive and subtle with equal skill.

—Sarah Kuhn

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