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Law & Order: SVU Boss on That Heartbreaking Finale and Season 20

Plus, he says Benson will be miserable next season

Keisha Hatchett

Ever since Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) replaced Barba (Raul Esparza) as SVU's go-to district attorney on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, audiences haven't exactly warmed up to him. However, Wednesday's heartbreaking finale may have been a turning point for how fans of the long-running series perceive his character.

Stone got the official initiation into the SVU club when a harrowing sex trafficking case hit way too close to home. As Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the rest of the crew closed in on a suspect, said criminal then kidnapped Stone's sister for leverage. And while they were able to make him crack, thus bringing justice to his victims, it came with at a major cost for Stone. He found his sibling -- who had been suffering from mental illness -- just in time to watch her die after being shot, a moment that made him wonder why he left Chicago in the first place. Although this experience will certainly hit him hard, he's sticking around New York City for good.

"He's a permanent member of the team now," showrunner Michael Chernuchin told TV Guide.

And it's a good thing that he's become an official member of the team. According to the SVU boss, the death of Stone's sister will continue to weigh on him but he won't handle it alone. "I think it will weigh on him personally, but not professionally. He is such a great lawyer that he will be able to mask any emotional problems that he has in the courtroom," added Chernuchin. "But when he's home alone, he's gonna have trouble. And [Benson] will come to his aide."

As he deals with the fallout from that, things are looking a bit more optimistic for Fin (Ice-T) who was recently promoted to sergeant. After putting it off for years, the seasoned detective finally took the sergeant's test and got his papers, but will somehow stay within the unit despite protocol that demands otherwise, and there's a perfectly good explanation for that -- you just didn't get to see it on air.

"There was a scene in the last episode with him in the new sergeant's job which we had to cut because of time. He saw what that was like and he used Dodds (Andy Karl) to get back to to the SVU unit," Chernuchin explained. The show will explore how Fin was able to accomplish the feat, which "had something to do with that memo that Fin waved around in front of Dodds," in an episode next season. But for now, fans can take solace in the fact that Finn is definitely here to stay.

Also sticking around is Benson who, let's face it, is hands-down the heart and soul of the show. And if you thought that after 19 seasons of emotional turmoil the show would finally give her a break, you'd be dead wrong.

"Maybe Sheila (Brooke Shields) will return. But she will go through some kind of personal problem [next season]," Chernuchin teased. "Deep down, I don't think the audience wants to see her happy. I think it's what makes her so relatable. She overcomes a lot of things."

Well, he has a point.

Law & Order: SVU returns this fall on NBC.

​Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Scott Gries/NBC