law and order svu season 22 olivia benson mariska hargitay nbc

Law & Order: SVU is going strong despite production challenges as the show moves forward with Season 22, but moving forward isn't stopping the long-running show from revisiting the past to bring back familiar faces. Raúl Esparza already returned to reprise his role as Barba, and more familiar faces for Season 22 were already announced back in 2020. Now, another Law & Order franchise vet is on the way: Annabella Sciorra.

If you're a diehard SVU fan and that name doesn't ring a bell, don't worry. Annabella Sciorra appeared on a different series in the franchise, with her appearances in the fifth season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. On Criminal Intent, she played Detective Carolyn Barek as the partner to Chris Noth's Detective Mike Logan throughout the fifth season.

Barek is coming to SVU as a lieutenant in the Special Victims Unit operating out of the Bronx, according to TVLine. Annabella Sciorra's Barek is venturing beyond the Bronx to join voices with Captain Olivia Benson and Manhattan SVU to try and catch a serial rapist with a history of finding victims in both boroughs of New York City. The episode will reportedly air at some point in February.

Annabella Sciorra's Carolyn Barek is an interesting choice to return for Law & Order: SVU, and not just because she hails from a Law & Order spinoff that ended back in 2011. She appeared in only the fifth season of Criminal Intent, and then only 12 of the 22 episodes of that fifth season. Barek was transferred to a different department rather than killed off or booted from NYPD, however, so there's no reason why she couldn't return.

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Other returning actors in SVU Season 22 were more prominent to the series over the years, with Christopher Meloni's upcoming return as Elliot Stabler delivering something that many fans have been hoping for ever since he left SVU at the end of Season 12. Wentworth Miller, who debunked ever reprising his popular Prison Break character back in 2020, will also be back. Between Annabella Sciorra's SVU debut and the returns of previous SVU characters, the show has managed to recruit some familiar faces for a season that has had to adapt to the pandemic protocols.

Law & Order: SVU has incorporated some of the real-life changes due to the pandemic, including shields between people in the courtroom and face masks, even if the masks aren't worn constantly. Unfortunately, behind-the-scenes complications have meant that the Law & Order: Organized Crime spinoff hasn't debuted yet to give a double dose of Law & Order action with Stabler in the lead, but the latest episode of SVU led me to wonder if an SVU character will actually be joining Stabler over on Organized Crime.

For now, you can look forward to new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. If you want to check out Annabella Sciorra's performance as Carolyn Barek for yourself before she arrives on SVU, you can find Season 5 of Criminal Intent (along with all the other seasons of the series) streaming on Peacock now.

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