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Law & Order: SVU Recap: How Did Murphy's Return Shake Out?

law-and-order-svu-recap-season-23-episode-11-murphy-returns

The Tour of Men From Law & Order: SVU‘s Ladies’ Past continues with Thursday’s winter premiere, which brings Declan Murphy — as well as Hasim Khaldun — back into Rollins’ orbit.

aw-and-order-svu-recap-season-23-episode-11The circumstances under which Murphy and Khaldun come back into the fold are awful: The task force to which they’re assigned is investigating a wave of seemingly coordinated hate crimes across New York City, and SVU is called in to assist. Other members of the task force include Det. Mia Ruz, whom we met while she was working for Barek at Bronx SVU last season, and Det. Andy Parlato-Goldstein (played by American Pie‘s Jason Biggs).

(If you’re a little rusty on your SVU romances, hook-ups and meaningful looks, allow us to jog your memory: Murphy had a regular presence in Seasons 15-17 and is the father of Rollins’ older daughter, Jesse. Khaldun, a transit cop who spent some time with Benson’s group in Seasons 21 and 22, showed interest in seeing Rollins romantically and took her out on at least one date.)

aw-and-order-svu-recap-season-23-episode-11But yes, this show is a procedural, so here’s the part about “law” and “order.” The crimes take place on Christmas Eve; Liv gets the call as she and Noah are on their way home from church. Chief McGrath wants a quick resolution, and when the squad brings in a couple of teenagers responsible for acts of vandalism, he wants to wrap everything up like a shiny package under the tree. But Murphy and Benson and their teams realize that there’s a bigger, scarier, political campaign of hatred behind the more deadly acts, such as the stabbing of a sikh man.

While pounding the pavement on Christmas night, Murphy and Rollins have get a minute to talk about, uh, literally everything since the last time they saw each other. He laments that he’s missed all of Jesse’s life, but Rollins isn’t angry: “I told you I could do the parenting by myself, and I meant it,” she says.

We learn that he was undercover for a long time in places like Serbia and Croatia, working in sex trafficking rings and with refugees. But he got in too deep, and had to be pulled out by faking his death. The mandatory rehab stints that followed “gave me time to think,” and he’s wondering if maybe the fact that he was her supervisor was really not OK, in a #MeToo-kinda way?

aw-and-order-svu-recap-season-23-episode-11She points out that they were both adults, and she’s good with her decision. But he’s not done. “And then for me to leave like that, that was the biggest mistake of my life,” Murphy says. I cannot stress enough how “‘S’all good, man!” Rollins is in this scene, which I suppose would also be my stance if a well-coiffed, Italian-inclined assistant district attorney with a deep and unproblematic love for my children were stuffing my manicotti on the reg.

And Murphy seems to accept that, though he does ask, “Are you with somebody?” But the case interferes — that pesky pursuit of justice! — and she doesn’t have the chance to answer. Eventually, Rollins fakes being a white nationalist in order to gain access to a suspect’s apartment, where she and Fin find a ton of pressure-cooker bombs and other scary weapons.

That suspect leads them to a larger domestic terrorism ring, run by someone known as North Star. Eventually, the entire task force converges on North Star at a crowded Christmas market at Washington Square Park. And when he threatens to detonate the bomb he’s carrying in a backpack, Liv shoots him in the head. God bless us, every one!

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

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