Law & Order: SVU is bringing back a familiar face to help out in the next episode, but that doesn't mean Olivia Benson and the rest of Special Victims will be in the mood for any celebrations. Wentworth Miller's return comes as part of an inexplicable case that will result in not only Olivia risking her career, but her colleagues in the Special Victims Unit and beyond as well.
In the January 21 episode of Law & Order: SVU, called "The Long Arm of the Witness," a powerful judge played by Josh Stamberg of Nashville and The Affair fame will inexplicably dismiss a rape case that involves a university student. SVU showrunner Warren Leight shed some light to TV Insider on the judge's decision and the risky way that Olivia and others (past and present) in Special Victims react:
The judge sees a fine young man, from a good home, about to have his bright future derailed by what he perceives to be a 'MeToo gone too far' incident. His decision sends shockwaves through both the SVU squad and the DAs office. At great risk to their own careers, the whole team decides to push back.
The showrunner didn't detail exactly how Olivia, the others in Special Victims, and presumably Carisi will risk their careers to push back, but any amount of pushback could cause professional problems depending on how powerful the judge is. Olivia and Fin have the highest ranks, but that could mean they have more to lose rather than more protection. Carisi is still relatively green as an ADA, and Kat has been struggling in the unit in 2021.
The pushing back is what will bring Wentworth Miller back into the mix as Isaiah Holmes, who has been promoted to lead Brooklyn District Attorney's Civil Rights Unit since he appeared on SVU back in Season 21. According to Warren Leight, Holmes won't actually pitch in to the case by lending his legal skills, but serve as more of a "witness." The showrunner said:
He was a scholarship student at Hudson University — of course — years ago, when an incident occurred, and was covered up. Years later, the shame and guilt he feels about his failure to act resurfaces. It may offer him a chance to atone, or it may be too late.
Honestly, I don't know why anybody in the Law & Order: SVU universe so much as steps foot on the Hudson University campus, let alone attends, based on everything that has happened there over the past 22 seasons. It sounds like Holmes' attendance at Hudson will pay off for SVU in "The Long Arm of the Witness," even if it unfortunately comes after years of "shame and guilt."
A big question is how this "incident" from when Holmes was a student connects to the new case, with the perpetrator as a "young man" rather than somebody who would have attended Hudson with Wentworth Miller's character. I'm guessing the reveal will be that the powerful judge who lets the young man off in the present had something to do with the case that was covered up in the past, but we'll have to wait and see when this Law & Order: SVU episode airs on Thursday, January 21 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC in the stacked winter schedule.
While SVU is never exactly the most fun show in primetime, there are some bright spots to look forward to as Season 22 continues. Christopher Meloni will make his very long-awaited return to the Law & Order universe with a guest appearance ahead of his upcoming Organized Crime spinoff, and a Criminal Intent alum is on the way as well to reprise her role nearly 15 years after last playing it.