‘Law & Order’: Mehcad Brooks Teases Shaw Facing ‘Any Good Cop’s Worst Nightmare’

Detective Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) is going to be questioning himself in the Law & Order Season 22 fall finale.

In “The System,” airing December 8, a suspect arrested for murder escapes police custody after months of waiting for his day in court. As a hostage situation erupts, Shaw must re-examine his conduct as the arresting officer. Plus, Price (Hugh Dancy) questions his faith in the justice system.

Brooks looks ahead to the fall finale. Plus, watch an exclusive sneak peek above of Shaw on the stand when there’s a situation outside the courthouse.

Preview the case. When it begins, how much is he questioning his previous actions?

Mehcad Brooks: Shaw got a confession from a kid who appeared to have murdered someone, comes out later that he didn’t, and there’s video evidence to support that. That tears Shaw up inside, but this kid, much like Kalief Browder, he was in Rikers for something he didn’t do, and it was tearing this kid up inside. So I liken this kid Troy Booker to Kalief.

Troy makes a different decision. He escapes, and during this escape, a corrections officer is shot, put on life support, and then ends up passing away. And Troy takes a hostage and there’s some sympathy in that he’s doing whatever he can do to protect his own life and get away from a horrible situation which he does not deserve.

It makes Shaw question his own ability, his own instincts, his own confidence moving forward, for sure. I think that any good cop’s worst nightmare is to get a false confession and to be putting somebody away and tearing up a family that doesn’t deserve it, right? Shaw became a cop to get the bad guys off the street and keep innocent Black men out of prison. So becoming a guardian of a system in which you’re trying to fight is no less than traumatic.

Because of the nature of the case, Shaw’s a bit more involved in the trial side of it than usual. What can you say about his dynamic with Price because of that?

He respects Price, first and foremost, but he also knows that he and Price have extremely different lived experiences, right? Price might be aware of the system that traps people like Troy, but he’s never been a target of it and much less a survivor of it.

I think that there are plenty, tens of millions of people who look like Shaw who understand that system from a different perspective than Nolan Price ever could. And I think that while there is a mutual respect, while there is an understanding that Price does a great job and he’s doing all that he can within the framework of the DA’s office, Shaw also understands and recognizes and acknowledges that there is a lack of osmosis and compassion because Price does not have the same lived experience.

Mehcad Brooks and Jeffrey Donovan in 'Law & Order'

Will Hart/NBC

How’s Shaw feeling about being partnered with Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) at this point in the season? Because he did get thrown right into it with the premiere crossover.

It’s art imitating life. I love Jeffrey Donovan. He’s an amazing person, wonderful partner on and off screen. And I think Shaw feels the same way. Maybe he was a little unsure about the partnership at first, but the more these guys grow and progress with each other and these strong personalities sort of meld into each other, I think that Shaw’s having as much fun as Mehcad is. And I think that Cosgrove’s having as much fun as Donovan is.

It’s indicative of what’s worked in television before. It’s an odd couple, right? It’s these two opposites, who in some ways need each other, and I think those make for the best partnerships.

Law & Order, Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC