Only one episode of Law & Order: SVU is left before the final credits roll on Season 22, and next week's finale will bring back a familiar face to close out the 2020-2021 TV season. Christopher Meloni, who has been fighting the organized crime of New York City as Elliot Stabler over on his spinoff, will return to his old SVU stomping grounds to appear in the Season 22 finale. That much has been revealed, but why will Stabler be back in the SVU mix?
The Season 22 finale of Law & Order: SVU is called "Wolves In Sheep's Clothing," and the official episode description confirms that Christopher Meloni will appear as a guest star. As to what else will be happening, the episode description yields some clues:
While Fin and Phoebe make wedding plans, Benson and Rollins try to help a homeless single mother who's being trafficked in exchange for safe housing.
The full episode description also reveals that Jennifer Esposito will appear as a guest star, so those wedding plans that Fin and Phoebe will be making won't have to happen with Ice-T off-screen while Benson and Rollins try to help the homeless single mother. The news that "Wolves In Sheep's Clothing" will at least touch on Fin and Phoebe's wedding could mean that Season 22 ends on a happier note than most episodes of SVU do, and that wedding could well be the reason for Christopher Meloni's return as Stabler.
This episode of SVU isn't being billed as half of a crossover with Law & Order: Organized Crime, and Stabler has been preoccupied with his own investigations over on his own show, so it might not make the most sense if he turns up for a case-related reason. At least, not unless Richard Wheatley somehow has something to do with the trafficking case that Benson and Rollins are investigating!
It might make more sense for Stabler to simply show up in "Wolves In Sheep's Clothing" as a guest at Fin's wedding. Despite all the awkwardness of him returning after nearly a decade away without staying in touch with Benson and Fin, they all seem to be on good enough terms with each other, so it would only be natural for Stabler to score an invite. And hey, it would be nice if he got to attend an occasion that doesn't get ruined by crime, after the plan to attend Benson's award ceremony fell apart (and launched a spinoff).
Of course, the episode description only notes that Fin and Phoebe are making wedding plans, and that doesn't necessarily translate to Fin and Phoebe tying the knot with guests in attendance in the Season 22 finale. Plus, the preview for the finale doesn't show anything at all about a wedding. Take a look:
Fin barely even appears in the promo for the finale, and Stabler not at all, so we can only speculate about what brings Stabler back for now. Perhaps it's wishful thinking that I'm imagining SVU bringing him back for a wholesome and innocent reason like a wedding rather than something actually related to law and order, but it would be nice for Season 22 to end on a slightly lighter note like Fin and Phoebe getting married.