Mariska Hargitay, Olivia Benson

Michael Parmelee/NBC

"She thought the most traumatic event in her life was over." 

Prepare for one helluva intense episode, Law & Order: SVU fans as the Jan. 8 return of the NBC drama will feature one villain we all hoped we'd never see again.

In the season premiere, Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) was brutally tortured by Billy (Pablo Schreiber), a serial rapist, in one of the series' most shocking episodes in its 15-season run. Though she eventually got away, the emotional damage was done and now those wounds will be reopened as Billy comes back into her life when he is put on trial...and may walk.

So let's begin the "final chapter in the Save Benson saga" with an exclusive sneak peek at the sure-to-be epic episode, shall we? 

Wait, was that Billy pointing a gun at Benson?! All together now: Noooooo! "A new nightmare begins," indeed.

After the torture episode aired, E! News talked to Hargitay about filming the intense scenes. "It was hard and it was painful and it was scary," Hargitay admitted. "It's one of those scenes where you really don't know what's going to happen until you do it."

She also praised her costar Schreiber for pushing her to make the scenes the best they could be. 

"I had an amazing acting partner. Pablo did the most beautiful work," she gushed. "He was frightening and scary and the irony of all of it is that I really trusted him to be safe. I don't think I could have went as far as I went without knowing I was safe...He challenged me."

Law & Order: SVU returns Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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