How Law And Order: SVU's Next Episode Could Fully Incorporate Kat's Replacement Into The Team

octavio pisano joe velasco law and order svu season 23
(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order: SVU made big news over the summer well before the show even returned with new episodes, with the reveal that both Demore Barnes and Jamie Gray Hyder were leaving after the two-part Season 23 premiere. SVU replaced Barnes’ Deputy Chief Garland with the extremely unlikable Chief McGrath, while the show brought in Octavio Pisano as Detective Joe Velasco to fill Kat's spot in Special Victims. The new detective made his debut as an undercover cop and ally of McGrath’s, with most of SVU none the wiser at first. This combined with his status as Kat’s replacement has meant that, for me at least, Velasco hasn’t really felt like part of the team. That could change with the next episode after SVU takes a quick break. 

Octavio Pisano was bumped up to series regular status for SVU Season 23 after a few appearances, to fill in the vacant slot left by Kat after she decided to leave. (That was not the case for actress Jamie Gray Hyder, as she made clear when she confirmed her departure.) He almost immediately rubbed Fin the wrong way with his actions in the field, and Rollins was more lukewarm than actually warm in her welcome. He has felt like the newcomer in all of his appearances so far, not helped by suspicions that he’s a plant of McGrath’s. So, why could the next episode change that? Well, for that, we can look to the episode description. 

The next episode, called “They’d Already Disappeared,” will air on Thursday, November 4 at 9 p.m. ET after SVU doesn’t air a new episode on October 28. Not a whole lot of details are currently available about what the plot will entail, but the description gives some hints about how the investigation by Special Victims will go:

When a teenage sex worker disappears, Rollins and Velasco find a key clue in a pile of neglected missing persons reports.

On the one hand, the disappearance of a sex worker – even a teen – presumably isn’t something that has never happened before in 500 episodes of Law & Order: SVU. On the other hand, the case will evidently see Rollins and Velasco working closely together to go through missing persons reports for clues. Considering it wasn’t that long ago that Rollins was warning Carisi about Velasco, the two teaming up to search for clues could be a sign that Velasco is beginning to gel with the team more. 

At the very least, the description doesn’t say anything about more friction between Velasco and Fin or more suspicion of Velasco that outweighs what he brings to the unit as a detective. Velasco has had an uphill battle with his new coworkers as well as with SVU fans who were upset to lose Kat. He was always going to have a rocky reception for coming in on the heels of Kat leaving because she was written off, not because Jamie Gray Hyder had decided to leave. If he’s working with Rollins on a case in such a way, could “They’d Already Disappeared” mean that he’ll fully feel like a member of the team despite replacing Kat? 

Or am I being overly optimistic, and working closer with Rollins will tip him off about her secret relationship with Carisi, and Velasco tells McGrath about it to out them? The promo for the episode doesn’t yield any big clues, except to confirm that Rollins and Velasco will be hunting bad guys together in a case that even has Benson shaken. Take a look:

See what’s in store next with Velasco on Law & Order: SVU with the next episode on Thursday, November 4 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, ahead of Law & Order: Organized Crime. Hitting the 500-episode milestone was a big deal for SVU, and it seems that the show will keep on going strong for the foreseeable future. In fact, SVU has already been renewed for Season 24, so fans don’t need to worry that the show will end shortly after hitting 500

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.