‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Raúl Esparza Explains Why Barba Is the Right Man for the Job in Season 23 Finale

by Taylor Cunningham

The season finale of Law & Order: SVU is bringing back an old favorite, Rafael Barba. And the episode will see the ADA circle back to where he began.

It’s been over five months since we’ve seen Barba grace the screen in the Dick Wolf universe, which is surprising since he was a fan favorite for years. The highly-skilled attorney joined the cast during season 14 as a recurring character. And the following season, he was promoted to a regular.

The reason he gained the respect of both the fans and fellow characters was because of his ability to win seemingly impossible cases. And of course, that ability ended up being his downfall when he represented Richard Wheatley. But during the season finale, he may redeem himself by helping clear the victim of a disturbing crime.

As Barba’s actor Raúl Esparza told TVInsider, one of his old detective pals calls him back for the season finale when all hope seems to be lost.

“It’s one of those unprovable cases, one of those situations where people think there’s no way,” he shared. “You can’t get a woman off for having murdered her husband and done it obviously so and just sat there waiting. So one, I think that’s definitely part of what draws Barba to it— because he’s always drawn to cases like that that seem impossible.”

As Esparaza continued, he reminded us that Barba’s first case on Law & Order: SVU was another unwinnable trial. So this week’s story feels familiar. But the most important part of Barba’s return is to make things right with Olivia Benson.

Barba May Repair His Fractured Relationship With Benson on ‘Law & Order: SVU’

Benson and Barba once shared a famously close friendship on the series. But when Barba decided to help Richard Wheatley earlier this season, Benson lost all respect for him. Wheatley was on trial for many things, and one was the murder of Elliot Stabler’s wife. And Stabler is not only her former partner but also her closest friend.

As of yet, Benson has not been able to forgive Barba for his decision. But during his chat, Esparza teased that the two may be “stumbling towards reconciliation.”

The actor believes that the two are “too deeply tied into each other in too many ways” to not find their peace. And the season closure will follow Benson’s struggles with being a “workaholic without anything real and good and supportive in her life.”

“I don’t know that they’re actually on the road [to reconciliation],” he added. “But I feel like the episode sets them on a possible path. It ends with a beginning. And it’s a season finale that’s all about, what is suspended between them, whatever the next year brings. But there is some possibility in there.”