Mariska Hargitay has been a primetime mainstay for over two decades now thanks to her role as Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, but Benson probably isn't going to be up and about quite as much as usual when SVU returns for Season 23. The actress suffered a number of injuries between the end of Season 22 and beginning of production on Season 23, including a broken ankle, which raised the question of if and how SVU would acknowledge the injury. Now, it turns out that the plan is not to just ignore the real-life injury.
Instead of simply hiding Benson behind her desk or other conveniently placed objects that would block any kind of cast or crutch from the camera to pretend that nothing happened to her ankle, a representative for Law & Order: SVU told TVLine that the ankle injury will be "addressed in the season premiere" but crutches will not appear on screen. So, it seems that SVU is going to directly address the injury, but Benson will not be moving around on crutches. I'm not ruling out a lot of desk action to start Season 23!
There aren't many details available about the plot of Season 23 that will take place around the ankle injury, but a video that Mariska Hargitay posted on Instagram indicates that Law & Order: SVU isn't going to return on a big time jump. The video shows Hargitay back in the same dress that Benson was wearing at what was supposed to be Fin and Phoebe's wedding, when she shared a toast to "partners" with Stabler while Rollins and Carisi were off finally making the move into romance.
The Season 22 finale didn't end on any kind of wild cliffhanger that Season 23 would need to pick up right where it left off to deal with an explosion or shooting or any other kind of catastrophe, so there are more questions than answers at this point. I'm personally wondering how SVU picking up where it left off would fit with the Law & Order: Organized Crime timeline.
The Organized Crime Season 1 finale aired after the SVU finale and featured Mariska Hargitay guest-starring as Benson. If Benson sustains an injury that will have to be addressed before a time jump, then we might have to assume that the Organized Crime finale actually took place before the SVU finale in the Dick Wolf universe timeline.
Another photo courtesy of Mariska Hargitay does suggest that Christopher Meloni (who recently caused a stir online for reasons unrelated to Law & Order) will also appear in the Season 23 premiere, although it unfortunately doesn't show enough of Meloni to confirm if he's still wearing the Stabler suit from Fin and Phoebe's wedding. Take a look:
The timeline remains a mystery, but one thing that we can be confident of is that Law & Order: SVU is handling Mariska Hargitay's injuries in a way that will allow her to continue to heal. If that means Benson is stuck behind a desk and mostly stationary for a couple of cases, then so be it! Still, hopefully Hargitay has as speedy and easy of a recovery as possible.
Law & Order: SVU will return for Season 23 (and the 500th episode down the line) on Thursday, September 23 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, followed by the Season 2 premiere of Christopher Meloni's Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. The planned Law & Order: For the Defense spinoff isn't happening after all, but there will still be plenty of Law & Order action to be found this fall.