Elliot Stabler's 'Law & Order: SVU' Return Set for Season 22 Premiere
Law & Order: SVU Season 21 may have ended early, but fans can still get a dose of SVU goodness through the procedural's fan-centric podcast.
In the latest Squadroom episode, showrunner Warren Leight (joined by executive producer Julie Martin, Denis Hamill and Monet Hurst-Mendoza) looked back on the season and teased what's next for Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson and her team—particularly, one very important former SVU member.
As had previously been revealed, Stabler's (Christopher Meloni) wife Kathy and son were originally set to appear in the finale. "We had heard distant thunder about Chris Meloni coming back in the fall, and we were going to lay a little groundwork for that," Leight explains during the podcast. "We were going to see Kathy Stabler come back, very upset. Her son has been rolled by a team of ne'er-do-wells and may have been drugged, and we were going to revisit Simon's seeming overdose."
Furthermore, they were planning to reveal that not only did Stabler leave SVU back at the end of Season 12, but he'd left his family, too. The original finale was going to delve into the Stabler family dynamic since his departure, the showrunner continues. "We had the sense the first episode of SVU next year was going to bring Elliot back," he says. "We were going to foreshadow that and explain a little bit more of what happened to Simon."
But because of the change to the end of the season—it instead wrapped early with episode 20—what does that mean for when production resumes? Season 22 will include some version of the initially imagined Episodes 21, 22, and 23, but the plan for 24 is still up in the air. That will depend on the plan to launch Stabler's spinoff. However, Leight teases, "it's pretty clear that Elliot will be in the SVU season opener."
Ending the season early also meant bad news for Olivia. "The last four episodes were going to have a hint of spring in Olivia's life," Leight reveals, adding that they were anticipating the return of Rick Fox's Edgar Goodwin "in a more social way."
Another planned storyline viewers missed out on? Exploring the difficulties of Olivia and Carisi's (Peter Scanavino) relationship after his major career change this season, which included a "pretty nasty fight scene," according to Leight. "Essentially, the DA tells the cops what to do, but that's pretty hard for Olivia to accept since she brought Carisi into this world," he explains. "That's something I guess we'll see early next season, if we're lucky."
Finally, Leight provided an update on long-anticipated Law & Order: Hate Crimes. It's "an even tougher genre of crime, even tougher world of crime to depict on TV, because of network broadcasting standards," he explains. That said, he admitted the series could wind up on NBC's new streaming service, Peacock.