“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Season 18 is set to premiere this week, and the latest installment of the long-running NBC crime drama is expected to be yet another exciting one. The previous season ended with the death of Mike Dodds (Andy Carl), which Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) will have to cope with in the upcoming installment. In addition, the unknown assailant threatening the life of Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) is still at large, and this could be another major storyline for Season 18.

While waiting for the Sept. 21 premiere of “Law & Order: SVU,” check out some things you need to know about the upcoming season of the NBC series!

New Showrunner

Rick Eid took over longtime “Law & Order: SVU” showrunner Warren Leight when he exited the series after Season 17, Variety reported in March. The former signed a deal with the studio behind the “Law & Order” franchise, Universal TV, to be the showrunner and executive producer of the series for two years.

Despite his new deal, Eid is certainly no newcomer to “Law & Order.” He served as co-executive producer of the franchise's flagship series from 2005 until 2007, supervising producer of “Law & Order: Trial By Jury” and a writer of both series.

Premiere Episode

“Law & Order: SVU” Season 18 will pick up a “month or so” after the Season 17 finale, according to Eid. Benson and the rest of the SVU team will still be mourning the loss of Dodds when the next season opens.

“We’re not super time-specific, so it’s not like it’s time-coded, but maybe a month or so after the death of Mike Dodds (Andy Karl) in Season 17, that’s how the finale ended. That is still weighing heavily on the SVU team and certainly the character of Benson. We pick up from there. It’s not the day after, some time has passed, but obviously the tragedy has not passed. So we pick up emotionally from that place,” he told Entertainment Weekly.

New Changes

Despite having a new showrunner, there won’t be any major changes in the upcoming season of “Law & Order: SVU” aside from “organic” developments, Eid told EW. The showrunner revealed that since the NBC series is “great and successful,” there was never any need to change things drastically in terms of characters and dynamic.

“There was never, ‘How do we change things up? What’s the new wrinkle?’ I think it’s more just like, 'How do we continue to tell great stories, powerful stories, stories in the zeitgeist, things that matter to people that are top of mind in the best way possible?' Any time there’s an influx of new writers, things will change organically. Having said that, our goal is to reward longtime viewers and to pick up on all the things we feel the fans have really connected with and are excited about,” he explained.

New Members

Since the team is one man down, it looks like there will be new members joining the squad next season. Eid teased that fans “may see new members,” but he can’t say which episode they will be introduced.

“We may see some new cast members. I’m not really sure exactly when or how we’re going to introduce some new faces, but we have definitely discussed the idea of new faces or a new face on the show. But I don’t know when we’ll see that,” he dished to EW.

Familiar Faces

Fans will also get to see some familiar faces returning in the next season of “Law & Order: SVU.” Eid confirmed to EW that the upcoming installment will see the return of Liz Marvel, Delaney Williams and several other actors.

“We will definitely have a lot of the rotating cast of defense lawyers,” he told the publication. “Liz Marvel appears in episode 1, she’s great. Delaney Williams appears in episode 2, so a lot of the familiar faces on the defense lawyer side come back. You never know who is going to pop through the door. We’ve got some interesting casting that we can talk about down the road, but until things are official I don’t want to talk about it. We’ll have some interesting guest stars and we may have a new face on the show as well.”

Premiere Episode Synopsis

The “Law & Order: SVU” Season 18, episode 1 official synopsis has been released online, and it teases the new case Liv and the team will be tackling when the new season opens.

“A young boy is found wandering alone in Central Park and the search for his parents leads to startling evidence of a planned mass casualty event in the city.  As the SVU works with the joint-terrorism task force to find the suspects and the motive, Lt. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) must also convince Barba (Raúl Esparza) to address allegations of rape and torture the boy’s mother discloses,” read the episode synopsis released by NBC, according to CarterMatt .

Special Guests

Hargitay posted on Twitter earlier this year that a special guest will be appearing in one of the episodes of “Law & Order: SVU” Season 18. United States Vice President Joe Biden will be making a cameo appearance as himself, likely as part of a case involving domestic violence, which is a cause he actively campaigns against in real life. The politician, who will be leaving office in November, will appear in an episode with Hargitay’s character. Check out the teaser photo of Biden’s cameo below!

Possible Crossovers

When asked if he’s planning any crossovers with the “Chicago” shows, Eid told EW that they don’t have any plans for it at the moment. However, it’s “very possible” that they will do a crossover between “Law & Order: SVU” and a “Chicago” show sometime in the future.

Are you excited for the new season of the NBC series? Watch “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Season 18 when it premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

law and order svu poster NBC has released the official synopsis for "Law & Order" Season 18, episode 1. Photo: NBC