Law & Order: SVU kicked off Season 21 with a big change to the status quo due to the departure fo Sonny Carisi as a Special Victims detective... only to join the DA's office as the new Assistant District Attorney. Actor Peter Scanavino didn't leave the show, but simply traded in his badge and gun as Detective Carisi to play Carisi as a lawyer. The switch opens up all kinds of story possibilities, not the least of which is if the connection between Carisi and Rollins will finally spark into something more than friendship.
SVU is a procedural, and obviously the criminal justice system investigating sexually based offenses that are considered especially heinous doesn't make for a whole lot of lighthearted romance. There's not really anything like a "meet cute" on Law & Order: SVU. Still, there have been times over the years that Carisi and Rollins seemed like they were gong in a romantic direction. Now that they're working in different departments rather than as partners, is SVU opening the door for a love connection?
Peter Scanavino, who has been on board SVU as Carisi since back in Season 16, said this about the state of Carisi/Rollins in Season 21:
It's always complicated with Rollins and Carisi. They're two very ambitious people with a lot on their plates, especially Rollins with the two young children. That's a thing that plays almost in what's not said and played with looks, but there's always something underneath the surface between them and that'll come out in some of the episodes coming up.
Just because they're no longer both detectives working in the same unit doesn't mean that any obstacles to a relationship are suddenly gone! Rollins is mom to two young children, and both Carisi and Rollins are prone to workaholism. They've also worked together for many years without venturing into anything other than friendship; even if they felt so inclined in Season 21, would they risk it? The stakes are awfully high.
Besides, it may be a challenge to keep their friendship going without some bumps along the way. While they had arguably one of the strongest bonds between SVU detectives since Benson and Stabler, they won't work as closely together any more or race into danger together.
The law and order sides of the various Law & Order series aren't always best friends, as the lawyers can't always prove what the investigators believe they know. And Special Victims will surely get at least one new detective now that they lost Carisi. Peter Scanavino went on in his chat with TV Insider to explain how things will be different between Carisi and Special Victims now that Carisi has gone to "the dark side" in Season 21:
You'll see a lot of how they start to see him in his new position. He's not the detective who was in the trenches with them these past seasons, but he's got this new job and just as he's getting comfortable with it himself, all the other characters are learning to deal with it.
No matter how it goes with Carisi as an ADA, fans can at least be happy that they didn't have to say goodbye to a character just because of a change in job. When Barba left his job as ADA, it was pretty definitive that he wasn't coming back, and Peter Stone was unceremoniously sent off. Stabler hasn't been seen for a while, and fans can only hope that he reappears at some point. It's unprecedented for a character to simply jump from detective to ADA over hiatus on SVU!
See more of Carisi the ADA with new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on NBC. At this point, it's not out of the realm of possibility that SVU and/or the Chicago shows in the same universe could one day cross over with FBI over on CBS, according to Dick Wolf, and FBI showrunner Rick Eid actually suggested that SVU would be a good fit for a crossover.