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Spoilers ahead for the 2021 premiere of Law & Order: SVU on NBC, called "Sightless in a Savage Land."
Law & Order: SVU has returned to NBC in 2021 after airing only three new episodes in Fall 2020, and as expected when it comes to the show about offenses that are especially heinous, "Sightless in a Savage Land" wasn't an hour of laughter and joy. That said, there were some bright spots of emotion, and they leave me wondering if Rollins and Carisi are finally heading toward romance.
Before I start connecting dots that may or may not be connectable when it comes to Rollins and Carisi's actual interactions in "Sightless in a Savage Land," I have to mention the big development when it comes to Fin and Phoebe that proves that SVU isn't afraid to advance relationships in Season 22. And that could always apply to more than one pairing on the show.
Fin popped the question to Phoebe with a pretty impressive engagement ring, despite one false start and a case of nerves. If he could power through some herbal tea, he could propose! Fortunately, Phoebe said yes, and we have an actually happy couple on Law & Order: SVU. Congratulations to Fin and Phoebe, and any other couples that might have some of this happiness coming their way!
A proposal going well isn't to say that disaster isn't on the way, and I've watched enough of the 22 seasons so far to be only cautiously optimistic, but something good on the relationship front has happened. And with Fin and Phoebe settled for now, I think it's time to look at what's happening (or not happening) between Rollins and Carisi. If SVU could give one duo a taste of romantic happiness, could it do the same for another?
The Rollisi of "Sightless in a Savage Land" started with Carisi's endearing and ongoing mission to get Rollins to eat by supplying her with coffee and bear claw, which turned into Rollins inviting him over for New Year's because it would be "bad luck" for him to ring in 2021 alone. He initially didn't want to crash, but when Rollins assured him that it would be a low-key evening with her daughters, pizza, and running out of steam before midnight, he agreed.
The evening turned into Carisi bringing the pizza and Rollins' oldest daughter gleefully greeting him, with Rollins looking pretty happy about it. The former partners were snuggled up on the couch before midnight, but it all really could have just been two close friends spending a platonic but very affectionate evening in together. The later scenes of the episode are actually what make me think that SVU might go in the romantic direction with Rollisi that it never did, for better or worse, with Benson and Stabler back in the day.
The first such scene was the moment when Rollins assured Kat that her girls were fine at home because they were with Carisi, which resulted in a pointed silence from Kat that prompted Rollins to give the excuse that he didn't have anywhere else to go. It was a quick moment that Kat didn't pursue further, but it had to be in there for a reason, right? That wasn't the end of their interactions for the episode either, even once the real drama started following Barba's return to oppose Carisi.
Rollins was more or less stuck in the middle, and Carisi said that it was "fine" if she was siding with Barba and Fin because Barba was there before him and Fin was her first partner, to which Rollins responded that that doesn't mean that she's more loyal to them than to him. They even got one last moment at the end of the episode during a group trip to a bar, and they shared a heart-to-heart when Kat walked off to get another round. All things considered, whether you like Rollins and Carisi as friends or potential romantic partners, this was a good episode for them.
And honestly, if not for the loaded moment of silence between Kat and Rollins in the first few minutes of the episode, I'd be on the side that this was just SVU building up their friendship, which wouldn't be a bad thing. They're great as friends, and I'm someone who never wanted Benson and Stabler to turn romantic.
Still, that early moment with Kat combined with Fin and Phoebe's engagement lead me to suspect that SVU might actually take Rollins and Carisi in a romantic direction. The show even removed one obstacle to a relationship last season by moving Carisi to the DA's office and out of Special Victims. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but I think the odds are better now than they have been in a while.