Law & Order: SVU finale recap: Celebrating the wedding that wasn’t

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" Episode 22016 -- Pictured: Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing" Episode 22016 -- Pictured: Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC) /

A lot happened in the Law & OrderSVU Season 22 finale. Here’s how the one thing that kind of…didn’t was the best part.

Captain Olivia Benson and her partners in (stopping) crime at the Special Victims Unit have been through a lot in Season 22. Ok, let’s be more clear: They’ve been through a lot in 22 years overall, but the most recent run of episodes has certainly taken its toll.

Storylines have included showing the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses and—more importantly—the people who run them. “In The Year We All Fell Down” was probably some of the series’s best storytelling all year, focusing on just how quickly we didn’t all just fall down, but also apart.

Then, of course, there’s the Jayvon Brown case, clearly inspired by Central Park Karen’s false report on Christian Cooper. Keeping that story of racial bias, even in the hands of our beloved SVU detectives, alive is the tiniest baby step in acknowledging that  the Law & Order universe’s years of shameless “copaganda” are no longer welcome.

Law & Order: SVU Season 22 finale
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” Episode 22016 — Pictured: (l-r) Ice T as Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, Jennifer Esposito as Sergeant Phoebe Baker — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC) /

What happened at the wedding in the Law & Order: SVU Season 22 finale

After viewing “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” it’s pretty obvious the Jayvon Brown case will continue to have an effect on Law & Order: SVU heading into next season. If Garland has any say in the matter—something that’s actually in question after the finale—the Special Victims Unit is going to see some long-overdue change.

Speaking of big changes in Olivia Benson’s world: Elliot Stabler is finally back in her orbit. But most of the forward movement in Bensler’s relationship has occurred on Organized Crime.

That all changed at Fin and Phoebe’s wedding (or, well, not-wedding), though. A lot of viewers might be disappointed to have been denied a big TV ceremony, complete with a fancy dress, cake, dancing…all that good stuff. Honestly, viewing an entire hour of television and waiting for a Big Moment that doesn’t quite come was frustrating in the moment.

Let’s take a step back, though.

The SVU Season 22 finale presented the entire squad with an absolutely heartbreaking case, one that exposed corruption from top to bottom. As the case showed, sometimes even people who claim to be “helping” the less fortunate are really doing the absolute worst to them. We need to acknowledge that and do better.

But what came after, even for the briefest of moments, was fitting. Sometimes, certain expectations—marriage, in this case—are placed on people and relationships, even when they don’t quite fit. Forcing two people who are fine just being who they are, like Fin and Phoebe, into something like that generally doesn’t work out in the end.

So, why not have a huge celebration of just…being with all of your friends? After the year we’ve all had, and a year the SVU squad has had, they just needed to go out on light note. Which they did. Even better is exactly what the wedding that wasn’t actually was: A chance to course-correct.

Continuity for Bensler was on the SVU wedding guest list

The two parts of the Law & Order Thursday whole have been mismatched in how they’ve dealt with EO. Watching Organized Crime has been an exercise in seeing the best slow burn entries from Archive of Our Own unfold on screen, complete with Elliot Stabler’s “I love you.”

Meanwhile, any time El’s name has been mentioned on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, it’s mostly been Liv’s colleagues telling her to stay away from him.

Not so in the SVU finale. Even if Fin Tutuola didn’t actually go through with tying the knot, someone sure gave him (and everyone else on the U.S.S. Bensler) some consistency as a wedding gift.

And, of course, they did it through subtleties and parallels. Let’s start with the latter and work our way back to the former.

"Fin and Phoebe were each other’s first partners. Over 20 years ago. A partnership is a lot like a marriage. You fight, then you make up. But at the end of the day, you always have each other’s backs. And if you had to, you’d take a bullet for each other. A bond like that…That never goes away."

Sure, this was Carisi’s speech, which he read to Rollins. And yeah, Rollisi finally kissed.


Who does the whole “over 20 years ago” thing sound like? And who did we cut back to right after the Rollisi kiss? Them.

Elliot and Olivia’s bond never did go away. By the looks of it, it’s stronger than ever.

So, that brings us to the subtext part of it all. We could talk about how, when Elliot showed up (late) to the Law & Order: SVU wedding, it was Olivia who was instantly pulled toward him. Or we could take a few hours out of our day to break down the sweetness of him retrieving her jacket and draping it over her shoulders when he noticed she was cold, all while she was off getting him a glass of wine.

But it’s more than that. It always is with these two. After Olivia gazed somewhat longingly at the happy not-marrieds, Elliot asked how Fin and Phoebe met. Liv’s answer?

"She’s a cop. His first partner."

…and then, the loaded looks. Enough said.

Was it annoying spending most of the Law & Order: SVU finale waiting for a wedding that didn’t quite happen and wasn’t an incredibly long scene when it finally did? Of course. But was it worth it?

Yes. Absolutely, one hundred percent.

Next. Freema Agyeman is grossly underrated. dark

Bensler can’t move forward on either series without both shows being on board. And uh. If “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing” was any indication, Law & Order: SVU is sailing that ship right out of Season 22 and into Season 23.

Here’s hoping, at least.

Law & Order: SVU is expected to return to NBC sometime in fall 2021. Do you think it will be the season of EO? Drop us a note!