Stephanie March and Linus Roache are reprising their roles for the season premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

In the Season 13 premiere of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Episode 13.1: Scorched Earth, the detectives of the Special Victims Unit are called to the scene when a hotel maid reports being assaulted by Italian diplomat Robert Distasio. Bureau Chief Mike Cutter (Linus Roache) and ADA Alex Cabot (Stephanie March) prosecute the high-profile case, which quickly grows more complicated as the maid's credibility is publicly questioned. Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) joins the Manhattan SVU from Atlanta, while Benson (Mariska Hargitay) struggles to cope with the fall-out from the shooting in the precinct. Stephanie March and Linus Roache recently held a conference call to discuss this new season of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Here's what they had to say below.

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How many episodes are you both doing and can you talk about the changes this season?

Stephanie March: I am certainly doing five episodes and as far as the changes this season, you know, we have a few new characters and a new team of writers so it has a familiar feel but it's invigorated with a lot of good, new blood. It's been a wonderful place to work so far.

Linus Roache: As far as I know, I'm doing four episodes and likewise with what Stephanie is saying, it feels like things are being mixed up in a very creative way and there's some interesting crosspollination going on. So I wouldn't be surprised if we also see a lot of other characters from the past appearing through this season and making the most of all the much loved characters from the Law & Order franchise.

What makes this season different than the other seasons?

Linus Roache: What makes this season different? Well I think we're going to find out over time. I mean listen. I don't have the ultimate answer. I think (Warren Light) would give you probably the best answer to that question.

But my sense is that the show is evolving very nicely, bringing in, you know, some more dynamic characters with Danny Pino and, you know, Kelli playing, you know, the other detective. So we've got new blood bringing old blood back into new situations.

For example, my character's not just coming back as an executive ADA. He's now (unintelligible) and he's got an extra responsibility.

So I think there's a sense of how the show is moving into new territory with the characters but I think what will stay the same is the emotional strength of the piece and just really - I was thinking over the weekend that I suddenly realized that of the three Law & Order shows, that the mothership was like the moral philosophical show that dealt with the moral issues of the law often and Criminal Intent was dealing with the psychological.

And SVU has really been very powerful because it stays very true to the emotional and I think that will continue to be its hook for the audience.

Stephanie March: Yeah. I think that's an excellent answer. I'm in complete agreement. I don't think we know exactly how the whole season is going to unfold but it does feel like a leaner, faster machine which is a great thing to be a part of.

So what can you tell us about your specific dynamic in the season premiere? It seems there's a little bit of tension between the two of you.

Linus Roache: Yes. But there's also a lot of respect. I - I mean I'm really looking forward to working more with Steph. You know we've only just done one episode together but I'm really looking forward to doing more together but I really like the fact that suddenly I find myself on the other side of the desk selling - telling someone who's very passionate to do the right thing that maybe they shouldn't do it but actually wanting them to do it.

So I find myself standing where Jack McCoy was standing before a little bit and that was very interesting and I'm really looking forward to taking the dynamic further because, you know, I really love working with Stephanie so it's going to be fun to continue.

Stephanie March: It's very mutual and I should tell you something about Linus. He knows his lines so well that he doesn't even bring the pages to rehearsal. That's how professional Linus is.

And working with Linus has been so much fun and it really is nice to revisit a familiar character in a new - working in a new capacity because you get to texture and layer a role that you've been working on for a long time with more authority, more passion, more politics. It's a real world application of what happens as people rise in the professional ranks and I really enjoy it. It makes a character that I have been working on for a long time - it adds a new dimension and I enjoy it.

What can you tell us about this first episode because I've heard that the writers had to rewrite some things on this story and stuff. So how have you been working on this episode?

Stephanie March: Well we've been working on it the way we would probably work on any episode which is adapt to what we believe would be a better story, making our interactions with each other a little bit more nuanced but I would not say it changed dramatically.

And, you know, we always tweak a storyline. Like, you know, as usual, the show will be a reflection of what is happening in the news but not exactly what is happening in the news and it will provide maybe an alternate perspective that I think the audience will find very interesting.

Linus Roache: I think that's a great answer and I think that word at the end that Stephanie just used is actually these dramas. They're very valuable and the fact that they can reflect and give a different perspective on something that's actually happened is an important way I think of exploring, you know, the current situation within the law and how effective is it and how does it work.

So drama has actually quite an important role. I mean documentary has an important role but sometimes we get so as you empathize with people through drama and can appreciate maybe another perspective on the case that we haven't seen before just through the news but obviously ending up in the end with the caveat that this is fiction so we can explore whatever we want.

Right now the show is going into the 13th season. What do you think has been the key of the success of the show?

Linus Roache: Well no I think I mentioned it earlier but I was thinking about this thing - what is the difference and why has this one been successful. And I think SVU is very visceral and emotional and, you know, there's a strong you know through Mariska's character - there's a strong identity with really getting into the hearts of what it's like to be a victim of these horrible crimes and how these people are fighting for justice.

So I think there's something about the show that's kind of very visceral in that way and I think that's been part of its attraction. I don't know the answer that leads to its success but that seems to me to be part of it.

Stephanie March: Yeah. I would say that the Mariska (Hargitay) character is certainly - she's such a draw and has so much empathy. The audience finds a voice through her and in her.

I would also like to say that I think part of the genius of any of the Law & Order shows was - is and was our guest stars and, you know, we draw from some of the best people in the theatrical community in New York on camera and off I should say and they do such a wonderful job with these really meaty, juicy roles. I think we owe a lot of our success to their performances.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit airs Wednesday nights at 10 PM ET on NBC.