“Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime” return for the 2022-2023 season Thursday, Sept. 22 in an epic three-series crossover that will involve all three squads trying to prevent a bombing and shut down an international sex trafficking ring.
If you can’t remember what went down last season (or skipped a few episodes), here’s what you need to know for each series, from the trial of the man who ordered the hit on Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni)’s wife, Kathy (Isabel Gillies), to Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay)’s revived romance with a former fiancé that took an unexpected turn.
Law & Order Season 21 Recap
The original “mothership” returned for its 21st season 12 years after it was canceled, with series veteran Sam Waterston reprising his role as D.A. Jack McCoy and Anthony Anderson back as Senior Detective Kevin Bernard.
Season 21 added regulars Jeffrey Donovan as Junior Detective Frank Cosgrove, Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon, Hugh Dancy as Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price, and Odelya Halevi as Assistant District Attorney Samantha Maroun, who will all return for Season 22. Anthony Anderson exited after the season wrapped, and Mehcad Brooks of “Supergirl” was cast as Cosgrove’s new partner.
The team took on “ripped from the headlines” cases involving social media influencers, a Britney Spears-esque conservatorship, and a Bill Cosby-like rapist who was shot down by one of his victims. In the latter case, Cosgrove obtained a confession from the shooter, but Price didn’t like the way he got it, and Maroun was conflicted about the woman being found guilty after the other victims rallied around her.
Law & Order: SVU Season 23 Recap
The season began with Captain Benson being driven off the road and suffering a foot injury that kept her behind a desk and even considering retiring for a few episodes. She had a falling out with old friend Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) over his decision to represent mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) in his trial for the murder of Kathy Stabler. Barba mended the rift somewhat by successfully defending a battered woman who had killed her ex-boyfriend after years of abuse.
When Benson’s former fiancé, author Burton Lowe (Aidan Quinn), reentered her life, they immediately rekindled their romance, until a woman accused him of sexual assault. Both Benson and Lowe had to reevaluate the nature of their relationship, which began when Lowe was 21 and Olivia was only 16. After more assault accusations, Lowe pled guilty, accepting six years of probation and registering as a sex offender.
Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) was reluctant to make her relationship with A.D.A Dominick Carisi, Jr. (Peter Scanavino) public, but finally agreed to tell her co-workers. Carisi clashed with Trial Division Chief Lorraine Maxwell (Betty Buckley) about whether a sex-trafficking victim should be given leniency in her triple murder case, and convinced her to recommend community service instead of prison.
Detective Joe Velasco (Octavio Pisano) joined the squad and despite being new to the sex crimes unit, proved himself a valuable asset, earning the respect of Benson and Sergeant Fin Tutuola (Ice-T).
Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 Recap
The spinoff series crossed over with “SVU” for the high-stakes trial of mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) in the death of Stabler’s wife, Kathy. Despite Wheatley threatening A.D.A. Carisi on the stand, the trial ended in a hung jury. After being freed from prison, Wheatley hacked into the city’s power grid and demanded the release of his criminal cohort son, Richie (Nick Creegan), and that Stabler “confess” to framing him for Kathy’s murder. Richie was released, but was killed by his own father.
Wheatley then kidnapped Stabler’s mother Bernadette (Ellen Burstyn) and threatened to kill her too, but Stabler was able to rescue her. Wheatley attempted to flee with ex-wife Angela (Tamara Taylor), but when Stabler called Angela and told her about Richie, she drove her car into the ocean, trying to kill herself and Wheatley. Angela’s body was found later, but not Wheatley’s. (His return seems unlikely, given that McDermott is now starring on another Dick Wolf series, “FBI: Most Wanted.”)
Stabler went undercover to get the goods on dirty cop and old friend Frank Donnelly (Denis Leary), who ran a criminal gang called The Brotherhood. When Stabler revealed he knew about Donnelly’s criminal activities and tried to arrest him, Donnelly chose to commit suicide on the train tracks instead.