After Philip Winchester's departure as Peter Stone last season, Law & Order: SVU fans have been wondering who would be stepping into the ADA position in Season 21. Wednesday's premiere, "I'm Going to Make You a Star," didn't waste any time before revealing the identity of the lawyer who would now be working closely with the SVU squad — and he's one of team's own.
After five years in SVU, Carisi (Peter Scanavino) finally opted to put his law degree to use, leaving the force to join the DA's office. "I know I'm a long way from doing a trial. But I'm not going to lie; it's not like I didn't practice Barba's summations in front of a mirror," Carisi told Rollins (Kelli Giddish) after packing up his desk.
Pursuing the law has always been a dream for Carisi, who attended night classes at Fordham and even assisted then-ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) during the trial of Lewis Hodda (Tom Sizemore). Although Carisi officially passed the bar in Season 17, at the time he decided to stay with the special victims unit — a choice that was influenced in no small part by the death of Sergeant Mike Dodds (Andy Karl) at the hands of serial rapist Gary Munson (Brad Garrett).
But in the Season 21 premiere, Carisi finally took the leap he'd been preparing years for. The squad celebrated Carisi's big move with a (bitter)sweet surprise party, at which his new boss, the DA's sex crimes bureau chief Vanessa Hadid, was also in attendance. But while Hadid was initially excited at her new recruit's close ties to the SVU squad, as they worked the sexual assault case against media mogul Sir Toby Moore (Ian McShane) together, it quickly became clear that Carisi's history with the SVU team is as much of an obstacle as it is a benefit. With Hadid and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) both expecting Carisi to be loyal to their dueling priorities, the former detective is discovering his new job is difficult in ways he hadn't anticipated.
We've seen Carisi come up against tougher odds than figuring out how to appease his new boss and his old one, though. Once Carisi finds his feet, we know he'll be the next great ADA in the SVU franchise. Barba would be so proud.
Unfortunately, after the tension that erupted between the DA's office and SVU during the investigation into Sir Toby, Dodds (Peter Gallagher) had to pay the price; the deputy chief was transferred to Staten Island's traffic and pedestrian safety task force. While we'll miss Dodds dearly, we have to admit we're kind of curious to see whether this vacancy means we'll see Benson once again moving up in the ranks.
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on NBC.