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As the creator of some of the most spinoff-ready dramas on TV like Law & Order and Chicago Fire, mega-producer Dick Wolf knows a thing or two about crossovers, and his newest NBC future-hit Chicago Justice will kick off with an appearance from a Law & Order character that hasn’t been seen in over a decade. Actress Lorraine Toussaint will reprise the role of Shambala Green in the new series’ backdoor pilot.
If the concept of backdoor pilots confuses you, let’s rephrase things. Toussaint will appear as defense attorney Green in Episode 21 of Chicago P.D., which will double up as the “first episode” of Chicago Justice in a way that introduces audiences to the spinoff’s lead characters months before they’ll be at the center of their own weekly drama. This approach to spinoffs used to be far more common, as were spinoffs in general, but the Dick Wolf empire still uses them seemingly on a yearly basis to introduce new NBC procedurals.
Though it’s not specified exactly what Lorraine Toussaint will be up to in the episode, THR notes that it’s just a guest star spot at this point, and we’re going out on a limb to guess she’ll be working when we see her again. A TV regular since the early 1990s, Toussaint first took on the role of Shambala Green back in 1990 for the second episode of the series. She went on to appear in six more installments of the show’s 456-episode run; five of them came during the next handful of seasons, and her last appearance on that show was for Season 14 in 2003.
This will be the first time the recurring character will make the jump from one series to another, although it’s not the first time Dick Wolf’s shows have swapped characters. (The Chicago franchise came together for a dodeca-crossover with Law & Order: SVU earlier this year.) Fans of Toussaint are probably hoping that her place within that universe gets expanded when Chicago Justice debuts later this year, but the actress is currently starring in Fox’s Rosewood, so her schedule probably wouldn’t allow Shambala Green to work her courtroom magic very often.
Thankfully, Chicago Justice already has a pretty killer cast going for it in these early days. The show added Strike Back’s Philip Winchester in the lead role, and he was soon joined by Justified’s Joelle Carter, Heroes Reborn’s Nazneen Contractor and Predator’s Carl Weathers. The show will, unsurprisingly, center on the law side of the Windy City.
Lorraine Toussaint has been all over television in recent years, from regular roles in Saving Grace and Forever to recurring parts in The Young and the Restless and Friday Night Lights. She was at her best, to me, as the vicious Vee Parker in Season 2 of Orange is the New Black. She was also seen on the big screen in Selma and The Night Before, among other films.
While there’s no telling when we’ll get that Law & Order revival that’s been run up the flagpole, the Chicago Justice backdoor pilot will take place during Episode 21 of Chicago P.D., which is currently set to air on May 11 on NBC.