'Law and Order: SVU' season 18 spoilers, plot news 2016: Mariska Hargitay speaks on Tucker's role in Benson's life; Detective Elliot Stabler to return

Photo from the official Facebook page of "Law and Order: SVU" | Facebook/lawandordersvu

"Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU)" returns later this year for its much-hyped 18th season, and more interesting episodes are up ahead as the rest of the team continue to move on after the shocking death of Sgt. Mike Dodds (Andy Karl).

Lt. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) will definitely take it the hardest since she is the team leader, and she will reach a point of blaming herself for what happened. Benson will later on realize that she must find a way to cope with her emotions, and an important person in her life will possibly help her recover —  Captain Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke).

According to Hargitay, Tucker plays a huge role in Benson's character development particularly outside of the force. Since she lived a large part of her life alone, Tucker gives her a new perspective on life. "And then enter Tucker which has been such a game-changer for me because not only is he as powerful—she's such a powerful character—to have somebody that energetically matches her has been incredible," the actress told E! News. "But also have somebody that understands because he's even more complicated and a leader more than her. He's so masculine and so strong and so powerful that she can [exhale] because he's that, so [Benson] gets to be a different color."

Rumor has it that Benson's budding romance with Tucker may be short-lived as a character from the past might make a comeback and get in between their relationship. Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) is reportedly coming back to try to win Benson's affection, but it remains to be seen if he will indeed have a role in season 18. There are also rumors about the show nearing its end because it has been airing since 1999, but the network has yet to confirm this.

Catch all-new episodes of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU)" season 18 which premieres on Sept. 21, Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.