Last night's episode of Law & Order: SVU was big news for the NBC drama: not only was Alec Baldwin welcomed as a larger than life reporter, but Mariska Hargitay, AKA Sgt. Olivia Benson, made her directorial debut. "Honored & humbled to have my name added to a long list of #SVU directors who have taught & inspired me over the years #grateful" tweeted Hargitay, who was greeted by praise and admiration.

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin Made His 'Law * Order: SVU' Debut Last Night.

Nowadays the show, which is chugging through its fifteenth season, rarely makes the headlines unless one of its plotlines closely echoes a very big real life case. Last night's episode was the exception though, generating two Twitter hashtags: "#MariskaDirects" and "#BaldwinOnSVU." Baldwin's arrival was especially big new because the former MSNBC host, who had his show dropped, announced in February that he was leaving the public eye.

Ironically, Baldwin played a character he'd despise in real life: a dogged, intrusive and arrogant reporter - the exact kind the actor has waged war against recently. Baldwin's February announcement was published in the NY Times on the exact same day filming began on his episode of SVU. His appearance on the show makes him the first person to have contributed to SVU's script, as he did in 1998, then later gain a starring role.

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay Made A Triumphant Directorial Debut In Last Night's 'SVU.'

Baldwin's pushy journo was the pretty stylised type that can only be found on screen nowadays, in other words; the kind whose column can influence the opinion of every single New Yorker. "Jimmy Mac don't retract, he don't apologize, he don't explain," was his motto, which he lived up to by writing inflammatory stories, clashing with Benson and showing no regard for the vulnerable victims in a sensitive case.

Alec Baldwin Cup Of Tea
Alec Baldwin's Journalist Character Echoed The Type He Hates In Real Life.

In typical SVU style, Baldwin's character was wrapped up neatly within the episode, writing a change-of-heart article on the paper's unethical practices. It's no accident that Baldwin's Jimmy seems to mirror exactly the kind of media figures the star would like to see in real life, i.e. one who sees the error of his ways and comes crawling humbly back. Though it's often based on true crimes and cases, SVU is still fictional and Baldwin should expect to be hounded just as fiercely as ever: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

More: Baldwin seriously hates paps and had to apologise after a homophobic rant directed at one.

More: Recently, Alec Baldwin became embroiled in a messy case involving a stalker. Read about the actress who claimed to be his girlfriend.