SVU Boss Warren Leight Previews Barba's Return : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: Warren Leight Previews Carisi and Barba’s Courtroom ‘Boxing Match’

January 5, 2021 by  

Barba SVU return

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “Guardians and Gladiators” Episode 22003 — Pictured: Peter Scanavino as Detective Sonny Carisi — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT kicks off its 2021 run with a bang, as former ADA Rafael Barba’s (Raúl Esparza) help is requested on a case during the January 7th hour, “Sightless in a Savage Land”…and it quickly spirals into Barba signing on to be the defense counsel.

“Over time, the politics of the DAs office wear down many ADAs,” executive producer Warren Leight teased via email. “And Barba’s departure certainly was not without conflict.”

Though Barba briefly appeared on-screen in season 21, his official exit was in season 19’s “The Undiscovered Country”; in the episode, Barba’s move to mercy-kill a dying infant led to his trial (and subsequent acquittal), and, ultimately, his decision to leave his job.

“We’d written earlier that Barba had been involved in political work last year; now that the election is (we hope) over, it was time for him to find a new purpose,” Leight said. “Many lawyers sell out and join a major firm, others go straight-up pro bono (say, working for the Innocence Project), but Barba I think both misses the action, and likes the attention that this particular case brings.”

Complicating matters is that Barba’s seat at the defense table puts him directly at odds with his old friend—and current ADA—Carisi (Peter Scanavino).

“When we wrote and prepped the script, we talked about the Carisi/Barba scenes as rounds of a boxing match,” Leight revealed. “One fighter, more or less, trained the other. Now they are in the ring, neither wanting to give an inch. Director (and EP) Norberto Barba brought a pugilistic approach to each round.”

The stakes are high for both men: Carisi has often struggled with his place as an ADA after working at the 1-6 for so many years, while Barba’s last time in a courtroom was when his own freedom was on the line.

“Emotionally, I think it’s obviously more loaded for Carisi than Barba–it’s never easy to go up against your mentor,” Leight acknowledged. “But Barba, too, has something to prove. He left the DA’s office under a cloud, and he comes back, seeking if not revenge, at least closure.”

But on a lighter note, Barba isn’t the only familiar face in the hour: “Old friends will return throughout the year. Next up, Fin’s former partner Phoebe Baker, in a great turn by Jennifer Esposito. She’ll return in time for New Year’s Eve.”



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Filed under Law & Order, SVU


2 Responses to “LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: Warren Leight Previews Carisi and Barba’s Courtroom ‘Boxing Match’”

  1. Sam on January 5th, 2021 12:51 pm

    I have high hopes for this episode; hopefully we’ll get some great Barba scenes during the courtroom battle, as well as some meaningful personal moments which will show us where Barba has been in the past 3 years, how his trial and leaving his job has affected him, and what he wants to do with his life from now on.

  2. Marlene Semesky on January 8th, 2021 10:28 am

    After watching the episode the first time I did not get that this was about Barba until he talked with Liv at the end. I will watch again.