Expect a lot more of Detective Joe Velasco on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
After making his debut in the Season 23 premiere, Octavio Pisano has been upped to regular status on the NBC drama. His promotion, while expected, still is needed to fill the gap left by two exiting regulars in the same episode.
Velasco’s debut and rough time on the squad
The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 premiere had the SVU team tracking a human trafficking ring. That led to Congressman Howard (Ben Rappaport), who was throwing a big hotel party.
Among the guests was Danny Quinones, aka “Q,” a popular media influencer and donor. When Howard tried to take advantage of a woman, the SVU team burst in to arrest him with Q yelling at Howard setting him up.
As soon as Howard was out of the room, Q suddenly changed his voice to discuss bagging evidence. He was Detective Joe Velasco, an undercover cop sent in by Captain McGrath (Terry Serpico) without Chief Garland (Demore Barnes) knowing about it.
Velasco aided the SVU team in busting Howard, which led to Kat (Jamie Gray Hyder) being shot and leaving the squad. Garland also quit after realizing he couldn’t fight the politics of the NYPD anymore.
Velasco was then put onto SVU at McGrath’s request, with the rest of the squad worried he was working to undermine Benson (Mariska Hargitay).
What can we expect from Velasco as a regular?
So far, Velasco has been cagey about his past. He reached out to an abused girl by claiming his father had regularly beaten him. He told Rollins his dad wasn’t that bad, but it was clear that there’s more to the story.
Fin (Ice-T) is not a fan of Velasco so far. He chastised him for “profiling the victim” when investigating an assault. He was also upset when Velasco tackled a suspect against orders. Velasco seems to want to help, but the team is unsure whether or not to trust him.
Pisano has starred in TV shows such as If Loving You Was Wrong and Coyote. It was expected that he would be made a regular yet still an important promotion.
This season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has built on the tension between Benson and McGrath, who feels the SVU team should only investigate “real” attacks while Benson wants to protect all victims.
Fin is convinced Velasco is McGrath’s agent on the team, while Benson is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, it does appear that his presence is shaking up the team, who are already dealing with a difficult new boss.
As it stands, Pisano does supply Law & Order: Special Victims Unit with a much-needed new face that could throw the team’s dynamic for a dramatic loop.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 air Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.