For starters: The expectation is that we will still see Law & Order: SVU season 22 this fall.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the production of many TV series at the end of last season, and SVU was no exception. As a result, season 21 of the popular NBC series abruptly ended four episodes early.
Not only that, but the crisis has raised question marks about whether or not production will resume in time for the Fall 2020 TV season. As of June, NBC remains confident that its fall line-up will soon enter production. A fall premiere looks likely, if not the usual September date.
So what's in store for SVU season 22?
Law & Order: SVU - The cast
As of now, no details lead us to believe that any main cast members are departing from the show. Expect to see Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, and Jamie Gray Hyder back for more in season 22.
Of course, one of the main headlines going into the new season is the return of "Det. Elliot Stabler" (Christopher Meloni) to the Law & Order universe. We now know that "Stabler" will lead his own SVU spin-off titled Organized Crime, but he's also scheduled to return to SVU for at least the premiere of season 22.
Organized Crime will take place in New York City, so it's also possible that crossovers between the two series could occur. (Watch for Organized Crime in the time slot after SVU!)
The return of "Stabler" also segues into consideration of the end of season 21. Showrunner Warren Leight revealed that "Stabler" actually would've been back in one of the four unfilmed episodes last season. There was a storyline involving his family, who are familiar to long-time viewers, but Leight said it "remains to be seen" if they will still appear alongside "Stabler" in season 22.
Law & Order: SVU season 21 - Loose threads?
We never got far enough into season 21 to see the "Stabler" storyline develop. But there were other cliffhangers that went unaddressed due to the early conclusion of season 21.
"Fin" had shot "Leon" amid a confrontation involving his son, which led to a wrongful death lawsuit. "Carisi" was finally going to launch the trial of "Sir Tobias Moore," and "Ivy Bucci" went into rehab.
Otherwise, Leight mentioned that areas that went unexplored in the final four episodes included tensions between "Benson" and "Carisi," as well as the return of "Edgar Goodwin." These and the storylines of the season 21 finale remain possibilities for the direction of season 22.
SVU season 22: Changes in the making due to COVID-19 and BLM?
In another recent interview, Leight discussed how SVU's season 22 writing room has plans to address COVID-19-related crimes such as domestic assaults, in addition to the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence and systemic racism.
In particular, SVU wants to rethink its approach to the "hero cop" narrative.
"Presumably our cops will still be trying to do the right thing, but it will be harder for them and they will understand why it will be harder for them," Leight said.
Taken altogether, SVU season 22 projects to be a busy one, especially early on. We have: 1) the return of "Stabler," 2) the addition of Organized Crimes, 3) unresolved cliffhangers from season 21's early conclusion, and 4) intents to address complex real-world social events.
Stay tuned for more on the show's return to production, eventual premiere date, and all other updates here.