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Law & Order SVU: Looking Ahead to Season 24

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SVU fans, it’s almost time! Season 24 premieres next month, and the cast and crew have been hard at work filming on the streets of New York. Let’s take a look at where we last saw our squad in season 23, and what to expect in season 24.

By her own admission, Captain Benson hasn’t been happy for a while now. It’s been tough for everyone through the pandemic, and Olivia has had a lot going on: Raising her son Noah, losing squad members (we miss you, Kat & Garland) and managing the SVU caseload with a skeleton crew, pressure from Chief McGrath, her friendship with Barba hanging by a thread after his betrayal with Wheatley, the reappearance of Burton Lowe, aka the guy who groomed her many years ago (please stay far away from Olivia, thx) and of course: Elliot Stabler exploding back into her life when she’d probably given up hope that she’d ever see her ex-partner again. Benson finally let her guard down to her therapist Dr. Lindstrom, and admitted she was feeling sad. I think a lot of people found that scene highly relatable.

Benson is certainly a strong, independent woman who can deal with a lot on her own, as she’s shown throughout SVU’s entire run. During seasons 1-12, she knew Stabler always had her back. In season 13 it took some time for her to find her feet again, learning to work with a new partner and begrudgingly letting her new squad members into her circle. Throughout the years that followed, Olivia has grown so much both personally and professionally. Stabler’s return to the Law & Order universe with Organized Crime during season 22 turned her world upside down once again, reopening a door Olivia thought was closed. Naturally, Olivia is wary, and it has taken some time for him to regain her trust – with a lot still unsaid between the two.

Welcome to new showrunner David Graziano, known for his work on shows such as Lie to Me and In Plain Sight. Personally, I can’t wait to see what he does with SVU. When a show has been on the air as long as this one has, change and fresh ideas are often a good thing. When asked about Benson’s personal growth throughout season 24, Graziano’s reply to a fan via Instagram was “The recurring theme interlaced through the season can be summed up in three words: Deep. Trauma. Recovery.” Which is great, because I feel Olivia has been shoving everything down for a long time now and it’s about time we saw her processing her own trauma and beginning to heal. More Dr. Lindstrom scenes, please!

It’s also time for Benson and Stabler to have some proper conversations instead of dancing around them. I’d hate to see them rush into a romantic relationship without discussing the many ghosts between them first, such as William Lewis – does Elliot know what happened to Olivia and how it affected her? Noah’s adoption – a big moment in Olivia’s life that Elliot currently knows nothing about. Olivia’s relationship with Ed Tucker and his death – given Elliot’s earlier run-ins with Tucker, this one might come as a bit of a shock to him. The recent Burton Lowe debacle and how Olivia is coping with it. The letter incident, which was… something. While the two characters are on different shows, there appears to be at least two upcoming SVU/Organized Crime crossovers in the works. Graziano has hinted to fans via Instagram that he has a conversation about William Lewis in the pipeline, so we may finally see some progress this season.

Meanwhile, Benson could always count on Barba to help solve a problem – I find them to be a great example of platonic friendship in television. But during a crossover with Organized Crime, Barba instead created a problem by choosing to represent Richard Wheatley during his trial for the murder of Kathy Stabler, Elliot’s now-deceased wife. In the season 23 finale, Olivia is still angry at him for this choice. Barba expresses that he only defended Wheatley to protect Olivia, but Olivia is adamant she can look after herself. Like two siblings squabbling, I’m sure the two will mend their relationship in time. But as of August 2022, Raúl Esparza is not currently set to appear in season 24… so it may remain strained for some time yet.

Olivia’s son Noah has grown up so much in the past few seasons. Seeing him come out to his mom as bisexual was a beautiful moment in season 23, episode 11 and I’d love to see more Noah scenes in season 24. The Mother’s Day lunch at the end of season 23, episode 20 was another great example with Noah gifting his mom a photo collage before a chance meeting in the street saw him officially meet Elliot Stabler. It would be neat to see Noah hang out with the Rollins kids, and maybe this year we might get that Christmas meetup with the Stabler brood. While SVU is about the victims and their stories first and foremost, I enjoy it when the show lets us see the home lives of the squad and their families every once in a while.

Speaking of Rollins, it’s great to see her finally happy with Carisi. Amanda has grown so much from the scrappy southerner she arrived as in season 13. She has her girls Billie and Jesse and of course, Frannie the dog. She’s finally letting herself love and be loved by Sonny Carisi – who fell for Amanda years ago. During Fin and Phoebe’s wedding-that-wasn’t in the season 22 finale, the two finally took the plunge shared their first kiss. In season 23, episode 15 Carisi introduced Rollins to his mom and Amanda passed the test with flying colors. With Rollins and Carisi progressing past the steps of declaring their relationship to their bosses and meeting each other’s parents, is it time for the two to move in together? Amanda is sometimes nervous about things moving too fast and I’d hate to see her self-sabotage a good thing out of fear. I hope we see continued growth of their relationship this season without too many curveballs... though I expect some to come their way eventually. After all, SVU is a drama.

This season I’d also like to see Benson and Rollins spend more time together, whether it be on cases or simply being there for each other. Neither of them seem to have a lot of friends outside work, and while their friendship has grown gradually over the years they have a great bond now and I’d like to see more of that. Amanda passing on some life advice from her mother to Olivia in the season 23 finale was a fun comedic moment “Why don’t you two [Benson & Stabler] just go get a hotel room and get it out of your system?” Olivia wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Side note: Rollins and Stabler need to have a conversation. They haven’t yet!

Sergeant Odafin (Fin) Tutuola continues to be Benson’s second in command, keeping the squad running smoothly and keeping an eye on Rollins and Velasco. We haven’t seen Fin’s fiancée Phoebe lately, but maybe they’ll have another attempt at a wedding in the future. Meanwhile, I’m sure we’ll see more classic Fin one-liners and of course, he’s always got Benson’s back.

Joining the squad in season 24 is Detective Grace Muncy, played by Molly Burnett. The new addition is said to be blunt, smart, and have experience with gangs. I look forward to seeing what skills Grace brings to the team. Showrunner David Graziano has hinted that he is lining Detective Muncy up for a romance with Detective Velasco – personally, I don’t think the show needs a third straight ship. It would be nice if Grace brings some LGBTQ diversity back into the squad, as the show lost that with the exit of Detective Kat Tamin. Some fans asked Graziano via Instagram about the possibility of Muncy or Velasco being gay instead, which Graziano was open to. So we’ll see what happens in season 24!

Speaking of Detective Velasco, Joe is currently the baby of the squad. He was originally working for Chief McGrath in an undercover role during the season 23 premiere before being placed with SVU permanently in season 23, episode 4. He does his best, but still has a lot to learn. A case with mummified remains (season 23, episode 7) really horrified him, and showed him how grim some SVU cases can be. Later in the season, we learned a bit about Joe’s past and family in Mexico. In that same episode (season 23, episode 17) he finds himself in trouble when he disobeys Benson’s orders and goes undercover on his own, only to be arrested by another precinct. Benson and Fin rescue a very apologetic Velasco, who then works very hard to make it up to everyone and help close the case. If the tension between Benson and McGrath continues to escalate and Velasco has to choose between loyalty to his old mentor or his new squad… who will he choose?

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit returns September 22nd on NBC.

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