Dominick Carisi is facing the trial of his life…and not just in the courtroom.
Peter Scanavino is previewing how his Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ADA is handling the upcoming trial of Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) and going up against mentor Rafael Barba (Raul Esparaza).
That will factor majorly into an event that promises to rock Law & Order fans.
Carisi steps up for a trial
A major shift for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was in Season 21 when, after years as just a detective, Carisi not only graduated the bar but made the SVU’s ADA.
It changed his dynamic as Carisi now had to handle the politics of a trial and clash with his former squad members on how complex a trial could be and forced to make some deals.
A big challenge for Carisi occurred in Season 22’s Sightless In a Savage Land when the SVU team tried to get former ADA Barba to help a disabled veteran who had shot the man who got his teenage daughter pregnant.
Rather than just negotiate a deal, Barba defended the man in court, meaning Carisi had to go up against the man who taught him the ropes in a tense trial. While Carisi won the case, it was a tough battle.
Now, Carisi and Barba face off again, this time with Barba defending Richard Wheatley, the man responsible for the murder of Elliot Stabler’s wife.
Speaking to TV Insider, Scanavino shared some insight into the case and how Carisi feels about Barba.
“I don’t know. Obviously you don’t want to be antagonistic with anybody that you respect, but I think he kind of sees it in that sense, right or wrong, everybody’s entitled to a defense and that may be how Barba sees it. Maybe he understands that that is part of the law and that we both exist as lawyers within the judicial system and that’s something that Barba can do. So I don’t think he sees it or takes it personally in the way that some others may in the in the squad or on our side.”
A major challenge for Carisi is the case rests on the testimony of Wheatley’s ex-wife, Angela. However, Angela is recovering from a murder attempt by Wheatley, which leaves her with memory holes that Barba can exploit.
Carisi on Benson-Stabler and Rollins
Another factor in the trial is the always violate Stabler (Christopher Meloni). While the two have briefly met, Carisi doesn’t have a connection with Stabler and might push him too far on the stand.
“With Angela, he knows there’s a past there, but hopefully, he thinks that if it gets exposed in this way, it could make Barba look bad, but Barba’s so good that he can expose faults in testimony but not come off like he’s being a jerk, and so that’s difficult. But then with Stabler, they can use his temper to fool the defense into thinking they’re driving him into a corner when in truth, he’s kind of controlling what’s happening. He’s the one that’s crafting what’s going to happen afterwards.”
The personal relationship of Stabler and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) can be another challenge in the trial, with Scanavino noting, “those personal relationships do complicate things, even if it’s not a real complication. But if it looks complicated, you have to be aware of all those things, the optics in the trial. It just provides an element of volatility in the trial, for sure.”
Of course, Carisi has another relationship in mind as, at long last, he and Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) are a couple. The pair have been seen rooming together and helping each other out in cases. So far, they’ve kept it quiet, but there’s always a chance the relationship can be made public for a conflict of interest.
“I think he’s very protective of it. They both understand the risks involved, given their positions and their jobs, that this could blow up in their face, but it’s also something that they both really want. So it’s just going to be interesting to see how they navigate this world in terms of how open they are about it or if they’re open at all about it with other people. There’s a lot of excitement between Carisi and Rollins, but then they also have to be very calm and levelheaded about this because it’s kind of explosive material.”
Things will become more complicated by an upcoming episode that brings back Declan Murphy (Donal Logue) and Hasim Khaldun (Ari’el Stachel). Not only have both men dated Rollins in the past, but Murphy is the father of her first child.
As it happens, there won’t be any on-screen confrontation between Carisi and Murphy, yet Scanavino knows it’ll affect Rollins.
“With Murphy being the father of Rollins’ kid, they’re definitely gonna talk about that, but I’m actually not even in that episode. So if there’s something that comes after that, that we want to talk about, sure. But not in the actual episode with me,” he stated.
While he’s coy on whether he’ll appear on the upcoming Law & Order Season 21 revival, Scanavino does indicate that Carisi’s professional and personal challenges will continue to affect the SVU team for a while.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.