Law And Order: SVU's Big Fin Episode Came With An Update On Munch, And Now I Miss The Old Days

Spoilers ahead for Episode 14 of Law & Order: SVU Season 24, called “Dutch Tears.”

Law & Order: SVU came back to primetime after some time off with an episode that shone the spotlight on Fin. The character’s night went from pretty great to pretty heavy when he went home after receiving an award, only to be confronted by a man who he’d put behind bars back in his Narcotics days. The man had been sexually assaulted repeatedly in prison, and wanted justice ASAP. That meant Fin and Bruno pulling an all-nighter as the Special Victims boots on the ground, and in the process, the sergeant dropped an update on his former partner: John Munch, played by Richard Belzer

Fin and Munch were partners for many years, after Ice-T joined SVU in Season 2. Richard Belzer also played his character on many shows, starting as Munch back in 1993 on NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street. He became a series regular on SVU once it premiered following the cancellation of Homicide in 1999, with appearances on other shows including Law & Order: Trial By Jury, The X-Files, and Arrested Development, to name just a few. He left SVU as a regular in 2014, at the end of Season 15, and was last featured on the show in 2016 as a Season 17 guest star.

While Belzer is credited with more than 300 episodes of SVU on IMDb, the show hasn’t addressed much about Munch's future after retiring from Manhattan’s Special Victims. Luckily, Fin went on a blast to the past while talking to Bruno, and it left me ready to hit up my Peacock Premium subscription to revisit the old days. Fin said:

See, I had a partner years ago, an old homicide detective. He had the same exact defense mechanism… He retired. I guess he just ran out of gas. Last I heard, he moved back to Baltimore. Met a divorced female rabbi. And he bought back his old cop bar. It’s 1:30 a.m. He’s probably cracking a joke to some barfly. That skinny bastard had a punchline for every second of the day.

“Moved back to Baltimore” is a nod to how Munch debuted for the first time in the Baltimore-set Homicide: Life on the Street, and the rest sounds pretty in-character for Munch even if this was the first that fans have heard of it. Bruno noted that it sounded like Fin missed his old partner with that speech, but Fin simply said that he’s “not into nostalgia” because “that stuff’s heavy” and “brings you down.” Bruno said that he was flattered by the comparison, which makes me wish that he could also visit the old days of SVU and meet the man who Fin described!

Even though plenty of time has passed and plenty of detectives have entered and exited Special Victims over the 24 seasons, I still find myself thinking of Benson, Stabler, Munch, Fin, and Cragen as the classic crew of SVU. Is that truly because they were the top team in the history of the show? Or is it just because theirs were the reruns that were always airing on USA when I watched in my youth? I can’t say for sure, but unlike Fin, I’m all about the nostalgia. Also unlike Fin, I can just use a streaming service to revisit the classic crew. 

Since the debut of Law & Order: Organized Crime, the L&O universe has been able to reunite Fin, Benson, and Stabler, while Cragen appeared in SVU’s 500th episode and again in Season 2 of OC. Old school fans had gotten recent updates on everybody except for Munch; now, that’s no longer the case. While the show presumably won’t be going on blasts to the past on a weekly basis, I enjoyed that Fin gave a shout-out to his old partner in “Dutch Tears.” As for what’s happening next week… well, Mariska Hargitay stepped behind the camera as well as in front! Take a look at the promo:

The next new episode of Law & Order: SVU was directed by Mariska Hargitay and airs on Thursday, February 23 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. One SVU actor recently opened up to CinemaBlend about working with Mariska Hargitay and watching Chris Meloni do splits, making it clear that behind-the-scenes in the L&O franchise is a lot more fun than being part of that TV universe! You can also find some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks on our 2023 TV premiere schedule.

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).