Law and Order SVU season 17 finale recap: 'Heartfelt Passages' | EW.com

TV Recaps | Law & Order: SVU

Law & Order SVU finale react: Someone from the squad doesn’t survive

Olivia grapples with guilt after an encounter with Brad Garrett’s CO character goes wrong

(Will Hart/NBC)

Law & Order: SVU

Season 17, Ep. 23 | Aired May 25

It was a simple decision — taking children out to a car — that left Olivia Benson on the other side of a hostage situation during Law & Order: SVU’s season 17 finale. And it left her wracked with guilt after that situation turned deadly for a member of her squad.

The finale episode picked up where last week’s left off, with the case of Brad Garrett’s Gary Munson, a prison CO accused of sexually assaulting women in and out of prison. His wife initially didn’t believe he could be capable of such horrific crimes, but changed her mind after getting tested for STDs. Now, she tells Olivia, she wants to leave him and take their children with her — but she’s scared of him and what he might do.

Olivia says it’s better to get out of the house before he gets released, but he makes bail before she can make a break for it. So Liv offers to go over to their house for a “close job,” just to keep everything calm while she packs up and heads out. Finn initially volunteers to join her, but then Dodds — on his last day at work before a planned departure from SVU to join a joint terrorism task force — offers to go instead.  

Of course, things don’t go calmly at all. When Olivia takes the kids out to the car, Munson grabs his wife and holds her at gunpoint, turning the “close job” into a hostage situation with Dodds still inside. Munson tells him to leave but he refuses and tries to reason with him inside as Liv and the cops wait outside.

When Dodds tries to wrestle the gun away, a shot goes off and hits him in the abdomen. He’s taken away in an ambulance, and Liv is distraught — the wife had told her Munson didn’t have any other guns besides his service weapon, which cops had previously confiscated, and she and Dodds didn’t search him when they entered the house. So this is all on her.

In the hospital, Dodds makes it through touch-and-go surgery and wakes up in the ICU, where he has a sweet moment with his dad (Peter Gallagher) and another with his fiancée. Ever the good cop, his first question when he woke up was if Lisa Munson was okay. But Olivia notices something seems off — he’s slurring his words, what he’s saying doesn’t make sense — and tells his doctors. He’s rushed for a CT, and you don’t have to be a Grey’s Anatomy fanatic to know this doesn’t look good. He had clots in his brain and suffered a massive stroke, leaving him brain dead. His father, Deputy Chief Dodds breaks down crying in Olivia’s arms.

The finale also showed ADA Barba is in danger, as he received death threats outside the courthouse and in an elevator. He’s given a police security detail, but he’s nervous even about that — he admits the threats started after he indicted the three cops who shot Terrence Reynolds, an unarmed black man, in an episode earlier this season. Security footage from the elevator helps Carisi and Rollins track down the man who threatened him, and the suspect admits he was paid to harass Barba but won’t say by whom.

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And Olivia wonders to her therapist about Dodds, and what happened if she had been in the house with Munson instead. He tells her no one could have predicted that outcome, and at the end of the episode she seems to have found a bit of peace — walking by the Hudson River with Ed Tucker, her beau from Internal Affairs. He explains why he joined that department (he felt he couldn’t trust anyone after his last relationship ended) and tells her he’s put in for a change to the hostage negotiation unit. Sounds like those trust issues are gone, thanks to Olivia and Noah. And he’s got another idea: That they get away for a while and go to Paris. Paris, you say? Mais oui!

Overall, this was a finale without any police work to it — the investigating was all done last week and this was just the fallout. The question of who’s threatening Barba still looms, but perhaps they’ll address that when the show returns. Right now, I just want Benson to be happy for a little while (and have some croissants).

What did you think of the SVU finale? Were you sad to see Dodds go? Tell us what you thought of the finale and the whole season in the comments below. 

We wrote a react for this episode, which means we just checked in for the finale, but if this is a show you’d like to read about each week next season, please let us know! You can email chat@ew.com with your feedback and suggestions.