‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Raúl Esparza Opens Up About ‘Complicated’ Relationship Between Barba and Benson

by Megan Molseed

Sure, Law & Order: SVU fans may be sad to see their favorite NBC television drama series take a break as this season comes to a close. However, the season finale is one many cannot wait to see as one of our favorite attorneys, Raúl Esparza’s Rafael Barba, makes a return to the SVU courtrooms.

And, with this return, comes some big emotions. This is the first time Law & Order: SVU’s Barba comes face to face with Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson in quite some time. The two haven’t connected since the lawyer defended Dylan McDermott’s Richard Wheatley in a heart-pounding trial earlier this season.

Barba and Benson Come Face Their Complicated Relationship In Upcoming Law & Order: SVU Season Finale

In the Law & Order: SVU season finale, A Final Call at Forlini’s Bar, Esparza’s Rafael Barba is called to step in and help a defendant at the request of SVU detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish). And, it seems the attorney has two goals as he returns to the SVU. The first is to help the victim at the defendant’s table. The second reason, however, is to begin fixing his fractured friendship with SVU captain Olivia Benson. A storyline Raúl Esparza is happy to see finally come to fruition.

“Raúl loves that,” the actor quips about the Law & Order: SVU 23rd season finale storyline.

“The more complicated, the better,” the actor adds. “I think that just makes for good TV.”

Esparza notes that it is in SVU episodes such as this one that the stars are at their best. According to the SVU alum, it’s when the players get to “play opposite sides of the field and figure out how to crack that kind of storytelling.”

Raúl Esparza Notes That Barba May Have Underestimated The Consequences Of His Choices

Even the SVU fans had some big reaction to Barba’s defense of the man accused of killing Stabler’s (Chris Meloni) wife. However, Esparza notes that he believes his character may not have realized the damage his choices were about to make.

“Personally with Barba, I think, he might have underestimated how much damage it was going to cause,” Esparza says of Barba’s controversial choice.

“But it was another one of those cases where he felt like this is the law and I have to stand by it,” the actor explains. “And these things are absolute.”

Esparza relates that it is this sort of thing that Barba is quick to defend. However, it was often Benson who calmed this in the attorney when he went too far.

“He’s become a bit of a hard-ass about that stuff,” Esparza explains.

“He always was, but she tempered that a bit with him,” the actor adds. “Benson always gave him a bit more softness and empathy.” However, Esparza says, the Wheatley case was something different for his Law & Order: SVU character.

“In this case though, I think he bit and he wouldn’t let go,” Esparza explains.

“So after the fact, yeah, I think he’s definitely not regretting, but aware of how much damage was caused,” he explains. “And looking to see how things can be fixed.”