‘Law and Order: SVU’ Finale Recap: Benson and Barba in Season 23

Warning: This post contains vandals from Laws & Orders: SVU’s Season 23 finale. Proceed accordingly.

Law & Order: SVUSeason 23’s finale spent a lot of time hinting that Olivia Benson’s love life could be a more intriguing area in the future, and it has planted two main seeds in the form of returning former assistant district attorney Rafael Barba and absentee – though not less Presence – Det. Elliot Stabler.

In the early hours, Olivia’s therapy session with Dr. Lindstrom revealed that she was feeling unhappy and he theorized that it could stem from her lack of anger towards Barba about his role in the Wheatley case. Or maybe her feelings have something to do with her ex-partner?

“I think you and Elliot either need to see if there’s more there or move on,” Lindstrom told her. “This clinging idealized relationship prevents you from having real intimacy, Olivia, with him or with anyone else.”

aw-and-order-svu-final-recap-season-23-episode-22How convenient, when a victim of domestic abuse needed a top attorney, and Rollins was able to have Barba handle the case. (It really annoyed Carisi when he found out, but don’t worry: “Rollisi” recovered and even exchanged “I love you” at the end of the hour.) Of course, Barba won the game. courtroom. But it’s the scene between him and Olivia at Forlini’s at the end of the episode that really grabs us. When she reiterates her frustration at how the Wheatley ordeal turned out, Barba counters: “What I didn’t get: Why do you feel more angry at me than you ever let yourself be? feel with Stabler.” Shot!

The pair talked a lot, but in the end Rafael told her he understood why she defended Stabler, because “That’s what you do when you love someone unconditionally.” And then the charged conversation ends like this:

BENSON
Please don’t tell me how I feel.

BARBA
In this case, I can, because I know what it means
to love someone unconditionally. When you’re ready
Don’t feel betrayed anymore, I’ll be here.

BENSON
Rafa…

BARBA
What?

BENSON
I miss you too.

So yes, we took the opportunity to discuss it all with Raúl Esparza, who has returned Barba to the procedure for the second time this season. Read on for his thoughts on the finale.

TVLINE | I’ve never been happier than when SVU full “Let’s talk about our feelings.” So, as you can imagine, the finale got me very excited.
Yes, it doesn’t always work. [Laughs] But I’ll tell you when Warren [Leight, showrunner] sent me this particular script, I think it’s very nice.

aw-and-order-svu-final-recap-season-23-episode-22TVLINE | Barba returned to Benson’s orbit. Do you think he used this case specifically for that purpose?
In this case, personally, I think he would do it for her. Usually, Barba is the special type of person who will take on a case just to prove that he can do something no one else can. Of course, he’s attracted to that, but there’s a subtext throughout the script [that] it’s really about Benson.

Also, it follows up perfectly with the episode we did… the part where he defends Wheatley, obviously, that whole story.

TV | It’s correct.
And I think the fans are ready. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Do you think he regrets handling the Wheatley case, based on how it has affected his friendship with Olivia? Or would he do it again if he had to?
I think he would actually do it again if he had to. The most interesting thing about Barba as a character, and that’s certainly what Warren made of when he first wrote, is that he’s a bit like a villain. He was always written as someone who would confront Benson’s views directly, which was necessary. After Stabler left, there was no real balance in views the show had to maintain. I think the great secret, great to SVUIts success is that it never really makes you lose interest.

Benson is a character that forces you to sympathize and care, as opposed to other iterations of Law & Order, where it’s really just about intellectual interest in the case and what happens. Here, like there are no easy answers, they always live in a gray area, and she is a pickpocket. But Stabler is the rage and takes the opposite position. And without him there, I think the show clearly needed some background in the group that was created. And I felt like Barba – not trying to displace Stabler in any way because of the dissent – but Barba did a really good job, and he was the opposite of her. And so, sometimes I think it’s not very interesting that they’re best friends, because it’s not a great television. [Laughs]

TVLINE | It’s interesting to me to hear Barba talk about Stabler from the perspective of someone who grew up around bullies, because that’s not the point of view we get a lot of in. SVUpoem.
Never. And I think that’s the exciting and scary thing about [Benson and Barba’s] and part of why they’ve become a really good team together over the years. Even so, I can’t make it clear while I [a series regular], you know, because you’re doing a lot of episodes. And just I wouldn’t think there was a game plan, and I think there was. [Laughs] I think maybe the people running this show know what they’re doing.

aw-and-order-svu-final-recap-season-23-episode-22TVLINE | This episode gives a clearer, friendlier direction to Benson and Barba’s relationship than we’ve seen before. When you received the script, were you surprised to see what they were saying to each other here?
I think it can be done in a number of ways. So I’m surprised it’s given so explicitly, however, but not so much. There are fans who always want to get rid of that story. And Mariska [Hargitay] And I laugh about it too. Like, “Well, are we suddenly in a triangle here? What’s going on? ” [Laughs] It’s a thrill, because it’s really not how we play it. I think she and I always played it like best friends and sometimes almost siblings. However… I don’t know, I know what I was thinking when I said the words I said on the screen… I liked that it could be read in so many ways.

TVLINE | I’m thinking about the circumstances under which Barba originally left, and whether they were something that fundamentally changed him. Do you think he would feel the same way about her, or be in this situation with her, if he hadn’t experienced it yet?
I think that’s a good question, and I think you’re right. He wouldn’t feel that way, or be emotionally available, if those experiences hadn’t happened. She has definitely changed him over the years. The man who walked in was glossy and rather arrogant, he still is; that’s one of the coolest things about him, it’s the chip on his shoulder. He’s got a lot to prove, he dresses to threaten, he can be advertising – sort of, that’s cool, you know? And I was sarcastic, and the kind of constant mock fighting with Carisi, it was just fun, you know.

[Barba is] just one of those people who are not favored by society. But over time, he became much more empathetic and attuned to things that I didn’t think he was comfortable with initially in his life, and that’s because of the relationship with her. And so yeah, when things developed towards the end of last season he was there, I totally believe that changed him.

TVLINE | The episode and Olivia’s conversations with her therapist, especially the setup ability about something between Barba and Benson. Have you had any conversations about returning in Season 24?
No, we haven’t. Actually, we haven’t discussed it yet. You know, a lot of times I feel like Barba is a lot like Warren Leight’s imagination. [Editor’s note: Leight announced in May that he would step down as SVU showrunner at the end of Season 23.] I know that Warren has thought this through, so who knows? But he is also part of the universe Law & Order in both worlds and a very popular character…so we’ll see.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think about the finale? Rate it, and the entire season, via the polls below. Then hit the comment with your thoughts!

https://tvline.com/2022/05/19/law-and-order-svu-finale-recap-season-23-episode-22-benson-barba-raul-esparza-interview/ ‘Law and Order: SVU’ Finale Recap: Benson and Barba in Season 23

Emma James

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