This week's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was already hotly anticipated thanks to Rafael Barba's return, but the show packed in another surprise return. Former Blue Bloods star Jennifer Esposito made a guest appearance in the first new episode of 2021. Esposito played Sgt. Phoebe Baker, who first appeared in the shocking Season 20 episode "Brothel." Fin took his relationship with Baker to another level by the end of the hour.
"Sightless in a Savage Land" began with a surprisingly happy opening for an SVU episode, showing how the team tried to have fun during a New Year's Eve affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In Fin's (Ice-T) segment, he was shown at his apartment, where Baker was fixing breakfast. He took a long look at her, then kissed her on the cheek. Later, Fin showed Benson (Mariska Hargitay) an engagement ring he got Baker, and his boss was impressed. "After the year we've had, Fin, you found love! Hold on to it tight," she told him. That night, Fin planned to propose at dinner. The proposal had to wait though, because the SVU team had to look into an Amber alert.
HE WENT THROUGH WITH IT.January 8, 2021
The main plot of the episode kicked into high gear with that Amber alert. A 13-year-old girl in the foster care system was reported missing. Her foster parents said she was abducted. When they found the girl though, she insisted she was not mysteriously abducted. In fact, she said she was in love with her foster father, who also impregnated her! The daughter's biological parents are still alive, including her father, Mickey Davis (Brett Parks), a wounded veteran in rehab. Following the foster father's arraignment, Mickey shot and killed the suspect, even though Fin was right next to him and cameras were rolling.
This was where Barba (Rafael Esparza) came in. Benson and Fin sought Barba out to talk to Carisi (Peter Scanavino), hoping they might put their differences aside while discussing the case. Instead, things didn't go as planned. Barba began asking Crisis more questions about the case and decided to just defend Mickey himself, even though SVU hoped Mickey would take a deal. This would avoid a trial, where a jury might acquit Mickey. During the trial though, Carisi successfully convinced the jury that Mickey knew exactly what he was doing. However, the jury only convicted Mickey of manslaughter 2 and the judge sentenced Mickey to just three and a half years in prison, the minimum.
Barba met up with the rest of the SVU squad at their favorite bar. Once Fin arrived, he shared the good news. Baker said yes! "You went through with it!" an excited Rollins said. "Yeah, this morning. One condition - no more herbal tea," Fin said before leaving.
While this could have been a happy note to end the episode on, there was still one more scene. Benson caught Barba as he was leaving the bar. She suggested Barba was defending himself during the trial because of how he left. "Can't change the past," Barba reminded her. "I just miss it... and you, that's all," Benson said. "Me too. This past year has been all about losses," Barba said. "Let's hope that is year is a better one." They exchanged "Happy New Year" wishes as the two walked their separate ways. Benson and her team will be hard at work next week at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.