‘Law & Order: SVU’: Raúl Esparza Discusses Potential Benson-Barba Romance

by Megan Molseed

It’s a reunion that started off kind of tense between two fan-favorite Law & Order: SVU characters. However, the long-awaited return of Raúl Esparza’s Rafael Barba in the recent season finale of the popular television drama series has now brought up some questions regarding one potential relationship. Could Mariska Hargitay’s Captain Olivia Benson and Esparza’s Barba be looking at a romance down the road?

Is A Complicated ‘Triangle’ Brewing With A Barba-Benson Romance?

Last year, former Law & Order: SVU detective Christorpher Meloni’s Elliot Stabler returned to the popular franchise in the latest spin-off series Law & Order: Organized Crime. With this return, the franchise brought some intense storylines including the murder of Stabler’s longtime wife; and the introduction of a potential romance between Stabler and his former SVU partner, Olivia Benson.

Now, another reunion may lead to another potential SVU romance for Benson, complicating things further. A romance that one of the SVU actors, current guest-star Raúl Esparza, is jokingly referring to as a triangle at this point.

“Mariska [Hargitay] and I kind of laughed about it,” Esparza tells TV Line.

“Like, ‘Well, are we suddenly in a triangle here? What’s going on?'” the SVU actor laughs of the romantic tension building between Barba and Benson in the Law & Order: SVU season finale. Esparza adds that this connection the characters built over the years, and later rekindled in Thursday’s finale, can be taken “a number of ways.”

“It surprised me to have it brought out so explicitly,” Esparza explains.

“However, but not too much,” he adds. “There are fans that have always wanted to kind of spin-off that story.”

Is Barba’s Return To Law & Order: SVU Simply Perfect Timing For Benson As She Struggles With Her Feelings?

In the Law & Order: SVU 23rd season finale, fans see Olivia Benson discussing feelings of unhappiness with her therapist Dr. Lindstrom. Then, the therapist suggests that maybe this unhappy feeling stems from unresolved feelings.

Primarily, unresolved feelings over anger Benson feels over Barba deciding to defend Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott). Fans know well, that it was McDermott’s Wheatley who is responsible for the murder of Elliot Stabler’s wife last season.

“I think that you and Elliot either need to see if there’s more there or move on,” Dr. Lindstrom says in the SVU season finale.

“This idealized relationship that’s hanging over you prevents you from true intimacy, Olivia,” the therapist explains. “Either with him or with anyone else.”

So, when Barba steps in at the request of Kelli Giddish’s Amanda Rollins to defend a domestic abuse victim, things start to get complicated. Benson and Barba finally discuss their feelings over the Wheatley trial.

“What I don’t get: Why you feel more anger at me than you ever let yourself feel toward Stabler,” Barba says to Benson.  Then, the two find common ground in a scene that some viewers note has a lot more sparks behind it than a simple rekindling of a friendship.

“Please don’t tell me how I feel,” Benson tells Barba. However, Barba wasn’t about to back down.

“In this case, I can,” the attorney responds.

“Because I do know what it means to love someone unconditionally,” he adds. “When you’re ready to
stop feeling betrayed by me, I’ll be here.”