Spoilers ahead for the April 8 episode of Law & Order: SVU on NBC, called "Welcome to the Pedo Hotel."
Law & Order: SVU more or less returned to business as usual with "Welcome to the Pedo Hotel," after the big crossover last week to reintroduce Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler, reunite him with Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson, and kick off the Law & Order: Organized Crime spinoff. "Welcome to the Pedo Hotel" was mostly about the case, but the end of the episode leaves me wondering not about the latest crime, but rather what SVU is doing with Rollins and Carisi.
Melodrama was always going to happen with whatever Benson and Stabler's dynamic is nowadays after how he left, but what on earth is happening with Rollisi after this episode? The Rollins/Carisi scene that had me reaching for the rewind button almost immediately to make sure that I had heard it correctly came at the end, starting with Carisi's half of a phone call:
That sounds great. That sounds great. I'll meet you there in an hour. Yeah, me too.
Rollins strolled in to deliver an update on the case, then flippantly asked if he had a hot date when he started putting on his coat to leave for the day, to which Carisi somewhat cryptically said "there's someone" before saying that he's been meaning to tell her something. It sounded an awful lot like he was about to tell her that he's seeing somebody, and Peter Scanavino's acting choices indicated that Carisi was about to start an awkward conversation, which in TV land can definitely mean "secret relationship bombshell."
Whatever he was going to say and however he was going to say it was interrupted when Rollins got a call from an Atlanta number. She learned that her dad had a stroke, and she tearfully related to Carisi that he's all alone in the hospital. Carisi immediately told her to get on a plane and go to see him, even dropping an "Amanda" in the process and promising to call her mom to look after Jesse and Billie, and to tell Olivia what's happening. Carisi capped off the scene by reassuring her that everything would be okay and walking her out, and I officially have no idea what SVU is doing with Rollins and Carisi.
His half of the phone conversation definitely sounded like a guy who was getting ready for a date after a rough case, and the awkwardness as he tried to explain whatever is going on to Rollins backs that up, but then he was the same Carisi that has had viewers speculating about Rollisi for years as soon as she got the call. Just take a look at the scene (and check out the title of the official Law & Order account's video for confirmation of what he was trying to say):
On the one hand, good for Carisi if he found something that makes him happy when nothing seemed to be moving forward with Rollins, and he's not obligated to share all the details of his private life at work. On the other hand, if this was Carisi revealing that he's been seeing somebody, it feels to me more like SVU dropping a bombshell on viewers than something Carisi would necessarily do in talking to Rollins.
He was his old Carisi self as soon as he saw something was wrong with Rollins, but that almost makes the scene worse, because it's very hard to gauge what SVU was trying to accomplish, and I spent too many years watching The X-Files to feel anything but foreboding at a long-running show seemingly going the extra mile not to bring characters together. And I say that as somebody who honestly loves Carisi and Rollins as friends and hasn't been particularly invested in them as a potential couple!
This isn't Benson and Stabler 2.0, after all, since Stabler was married during the original run of SVU and a romance there was never going to happen. In fact, I've always preferred those two as friends. SVU has just felt like it was building to something more with Rollisi, and in a show that relatively rarely focuses on developing the personal lives of characters, this came a little bit too out-of-nowhere for me.
All of this said, the sky isn't falling just because Carisi evidently has a secret girlfriend. The scene showed that he's still very much there for her as her friend, which she very much needed at that moment, and they're great as friends. See what happens next (or doesn't happen next) on the Rollisi front with new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, ahead of new episodes of Law & Order: Organized Crime. Rollins' dad will be making an appearance this season, so there is definitely still more to this story on her end.