When you’ve been as on the air for as long as Law & Order: SVU has, naturally there have been a lot of shakeups in the main cast. Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T may still be keeping the show anchored as Olivia Benson and Fin Tutola of the Special Victims Unit all these years later (the former having been part of the NBC show since the beginning, and the latter joining in Season 2), but many people have come and gone from their lives. Well, SVU Season 23 will kick off with its own departures, as Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes are leaving the series.
Both actors joined Law & Order: SVU as recurring stars in Season 21, and they were upgraded to the main cast for Season 22. However, according to Deadline, Jamie Gray Hyder’s Officer Kat Tamin and Demore Barnes’ Deputy Chief Christian Garland will exit in Season 23’s two-hour premiere, which will air on Thursday, September 23. Judging by the report, it sounds like their departures are for narrative reasons as opposed to issues with the actors behind the scenes, but at least fans can take comfort knowing they’ll see their characters one last time, as opposed to them having just disappeared when Season 23 starts.
In case you need a refresher on how Law & Order: SVU Season 22 ended, the season finale, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” saw Catalina Machado (played by Emergence star Zabryna Guevara) being arrested for her role in a scheme that saw single mothers being sex trafficked in exchange for housing. Machado now wants to turn on her bosses in a deal with the federal authorities. Christian Garland also ended the season on a rough note, as he was reprimanded by his superiors after he went on the record apologizing for systemic racism in the New York Police Department.
Law & Order: SVU Season 23’s first episode, “And the Empire Strikes Back,” picks up just hours after the Season 22 finale and sees Kelli Giddish’s Detective Amanda Rollins and Peter Scanavino’s ADA Sonny Carisi Jr. trying to keep their witnesses around after a powerful congressman is named as a suspect. Meanwhile, Olivia Benson’s loyalty to Christian Garland will be tested, no doubt laying the groundwork for the latter leaving. Then in Season 23’s second episode, “Never Turn Your Back on Them,” Fin Tutola and Kat Tamin will run into danger during their search for a missing witness, while Chief Tommy McGrath (played by Terry Serpico) pressures Benson and Garland to get a conviction.
Along with all of the above plot details, Law & Order: SVU Season 23 will see Christopher Meloni popping in as Elliot Stabler, having made his long-awaited return to the franchise in Season 22 as part of crossovers with Law & Order: Organized Crime. These will remain the only two Law & Order shows on NBC for now, as the network passed on the spinoff For the Defense. It’s also important to remember that SVU has already been renewed for Season 24.
While we wait for more news on what Law & Order: SVU Season 23 holds in store, look through our fall 2021 TV premiere guide to learn what other shows you should be on the lookout for in the coming months.
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