The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunners are promising some intriguing developments for the series this year.
In an interview, David Graziano and head writer Julie Martin discuss some of the plans for Season 24, which includes the long-simmering relationship between Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni).
While the pair are coy about a full romance between the detectives, they did indicate their relationship will take some unique steps.
They also discussed another key relationship on the show and how the planned three-part crossover with the other Law & Order shows will fall out.
The two also talked of some past characters they’d love to see back and plans for storylines on Benson’s son.
With a few weeks to go before the Season 24 premiere, their words hint at what will be coming on the drama this year.
The Benson-Stabler relationship heats up
Season 24 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will open with a big three-part crossover with Law & Order and Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Speaking to The Today Show, showrunner David Graziano and head writer Julie Martin shared how it will affect the rest of the season.
Graziano stated that the crossover would be “sort of in its own time and place” and not linked to either the Season 23 finale or following episodes. Thus, fans don’t need to worry that missing it will miss some plot developments.
Part of the crossover will involve Benson and Stabler on the case together. This plays on the pair’s growing relationship and the question if it can become romantic.
Graziano noted the challenge of such stories is that paying off on a couple can be trickier than the actual relationship.
“That’s something we hotly debate back and forth here every day, and some of the considerations about Benson and Stabler have nothing to do with narrative and they’re about just logistics of these two actors’ busy schedules.”
Martin added, “everybody knows the storytelling of will they or won’t they — we like to keep that question going as long as possible. So to answer, either way, is to sort of kill that anticipation. So I think our job — what they talked about at the end of last season is certainly something that percolates in both of their minds, in Benson’s mind and Rollins’ mind, and when she’ll actually act on that … it won’t be in the first episode.”
Graziano also stated that while he’s a firm believer in true love, he wants to ensure it gets that way naturally.
“We have a responsibility to Benson as a character, too. There have been a lot of events that have happened in the OC and also on our show, SVU, that would seem to preclude an easy relationship with the two of them. And so I think there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be unpacked first… I’m a firm believer in true love prevailing dramatically if not in real life. But before you can have a healthy relationship like that, if you have some monsters under your bed, you have to slay those first. Otherwise, they’re going to follow you into that relationship.”
While fans are looking forward to this, there’s another relationship on the drama to address.
What about the other Law & Order: Special Victims Unit relationships?
A possible wrinkle in a Benson-Stabler romance is that the Season 23 finale had a scene where Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) seemed to confess he was in love with Benson as well.
Martin clarified that the scene didn’t mean a romantic connection but simply a “deep love as friends.”
Another important relationship is between Carisi (Peter Scanavino) and Rollins (Kelli Giddish). The fact that Giddish will be leaving the series after Episode 9 does have fans worried about how the relationship continues.
Graziano shared the revelation that Carisi is planning to propose to Rollins but is trying to find the right time with their jobs.
“He’s got a drawer in her apartment, which is a pretty big commitment. … They start out with a very familial, comfortable relationship. We see that it’s advanced a little bit. He’s very good with the girls. There are a couple of moments in some of these scenes that he is just like a father figure to them. I think it’s important to dwell there and not rush things too fast and get to a wedding. My fervent wish for the show is to have some weird kind of Staten Island wedding.”
The pair also confirmed there will be further talk on Benson’s son Noah coming out as bisexual last year but that it wouldn’t be a major focus of the season.
The question turned to what past characters the pair would like to have back, and Graziano’s answer was a favorite for long-time fans: Richard Belzer’s John Munch.
“Munch! I would kill for that. I don’t think it’s going to happen. He seems to be happily wiling away his retirement in France. So I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.”
Martin added that she hopes Tamara Tunie returns as Medical Examiner Melinda Warner as “I always had a soft spot” for the character.
Martin half-joked she’d love to find a way to bring back FBI Agent Dana Lewis (Marcia Gay Harden) despite the character now being in prison. “Free Dana Lewis!”
With a few weeks before Season 24 kicks off, the showrunners seem to have some intriguing plans to prepare Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fans with a lot of drama this year.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 24 premieres Thursday, September 22 at 9/8c on NBC.More: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit