LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT Season 23 Finale Recap: Did Benson and Barba Make Up? - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT Season 23 Finale Recap: Did Benson and Barba Make Up?

May 19, 2022 by  


LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “A Final Call at Forlini’s Bar” Episode 23022 — Pictured: Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT season 23 finale, “A Final Call at Forlini’s Bar.”]

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT’s Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Barba (Raúl Esparza) reunited in the season 23 finale—but it wasn’t exactly a warm reception.

After ending things on very bad terms in “People vs Richard Wheatley”—where Olivia felt betrayed by Barba defending Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), and she told him she didn’t know how she’d get over it—the duo still weren’t talking in “A Final Call at Forlini’s Bar.” In fact, when the squad needed to find a friendly defense lawyer who could help their domestic violence victim, Delia (Jordana Spiro), fight charges she murdered her husband, Olivia tried reaching out to a whole list of other people before Rollins (Kelli Giddish) pointed out the elephant in the room: They could call Barba.

Though Rollins officially made the call, Olivia met up with Barba before the trial started to thank him for taking Delia on as a client. Barba asked Olivia to stay and have a drink with him, but she declined. He noted it was possible for them to sit there together in silence—and that he missed her. Olivia still opted to leave.

Ultimately, Barba was successful in defending Delia: He was able to showcase she had brain trauma from the abuse she sustained, and he was able to get Maxwell (Betty Buckley) to drop the charges.

Things were more murky for Benson and Barba, though. He invited her to Forlini’s for last call, and she thanked him, again, for helping Delia, who was now in a position to move on with her life. But when Barba turned the conversation toward them, Olivia shut down.

Olivia pointed out she asked Barba to not defend Wheatley; Barba countered with the fact that Wheatley is now dead, and he was just trying to protect her. Olivia insisted that wasn’t what she wanted. Barba, finally, acknowledged he heard her. But he questioned why she was more upset with him than she was with Elliot (Christopher Meloni).

“You don’t know anything about my feelings for Elliot and you don’t know him,” Olivia retorted. (In Olivia’s defense, Barba was the third person in the episode to push her to talk about her feelings for Elliot: she was prompted by her therapist to essentially move out of the stagnancy of their relationship—either see what was there or move on—and Rollins not-so-subtly told her they should get a room to get it out of their system.)

Instead, Olivia told Barba that she had known Elliot for 23 years; he always had her back. Barba told her they would always view him through a different prism: She hadn’t had a father to protect her, whereas he was bullied, so he saw his actions differently.

Olivia kept insisting that it wasn’t about him, it was about her and Barba, and how Barba betrayed her. Barba acknowledged they were going around in circles, and that Olivia would always defend Elliot because “that’s what you do when you love someone unconditionally.” Olivia balked at that, but Barba said he was in a good position to speak to this: he knows what it means to love someone unconditionally, too.

But Barba was done with the conversation, for now. He told Olivia to tell him when she was ready to stop feeling betrayed by him. Olivia didn’t go that far, but before he left, she acknowledged she missed him, too.

Things were decidedly better for Rollins and Carisi (Peter Scanavino), who after a year of dating, finally exchanged “I love you”s. The move was a long time coming, with Scanavino saying last year, despite the wait, it “would be nice to see on-screen, if it happens.” 

“It’s definitely implied,” he said at the time. “And, also, we’re not spring chickens. When you’re at the age that we are, I don’t think you mess around. When something is real, you feel it, and you take it seriously.”

Rollins acknowledged the delay in their “I love you,” by finally dropping it after Carisi said there are “some things you hesitate to say out loud.” Carisi admitted, “It’s still nice to hear,” and told his girlfriend he loved her, too.



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