Kelli Giddish is returning as Detective Amanda Rollins in both the penultimate episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime season 3 and the Law & Order: SVU season 24 finale. And we’ve got…thoughts. Are they good thoughts? Yes. But are they also bad thoughts? Sorta, kinda…yes. But, wait! Put the pitchforks away for a few minutes. Before anyone starts plotting our murders, thus leading our favorite fictional detectives to have to investigate, let us explain. Because most of the bad thoughts…aren’t entirely Rollins-specific.
On the side of good, bringing back a character who has meant so much to a large part of the fandom — especially one whose exit came as a huge surprise and kicked off the season on kind of a sour note — is always exciting. Ask any of us who were there when a certain
bald bitch other detective made his exit, and we’ll tell you all about it. And without a doubt, we would’ve done just about anything to see that guy back much, much sooner. So, far be it for us to deny people who really connected with Rollins their chance at the perfect ending we never had. (As a bonus, we really felt like we got the best out of Giddish right there at the end. So, if that trend continues, we’re completely here for it.)
So much for the happy ending
But, see, Rollins’ happy ending is actually what’s making us hesitate to celebrate this news.
Amanda’s story came to a beautiful conclusion, and bringing her back runs the risk of tainting it. At this point, if you’re on top of all things fandom as we are, you’re probably like, “but she’s pregnant!” Which, yeah. Ok. That’s…mazel tov (congrats) to Mrs. and Mr. Rollisi and all. But, to be perfectly honest, we actually have mixed feelings about that, too.
Like, seriously, do all women’s happy endings really need to be about marriage and babies?
While we’re at it, what does that say about Rollins’ overall journey? She already has two daughters, whom her new(ish) husband loves as if they’re his own flesh and blood. As he absolutely should. And, let’s be real: Carisi has basically been there for Jesse and Billie forever. So, what is this? “He wanted one of his own”? Or, wait: “It just happened.” Because…uh…those types of narratives run the risk of getting into very, very dangerous territory. Honestly, that part is complicated as hell, too.
So, yeah. For some people, “new husband, plus new baby” is exactly what a happy ending looks like. It’s a thing, and there’s no judgement here. But, at the same time, it’s not the ultimate ending for everyone. And at this point, we could do without another obligatory baby plot. As an alternative, we would’ve loved to have seen how “family” can mean a lot of different things. Maybe make it clear that no, just because you recently got hitched doesn’t mean you now have to take “the next step.” (Or whatever.) But sure, we’ll go the safer, more standard TV route instead.
How this particular piece of Rollins’ story affects her overall arc is really going to depend a lot on framing. Amanda’s two daughters already have two different fathers. Which, to be clear, that’s actually nobody’s fucking business or choice but hers…but we’re not looking forward to how the male gaze is going to frame Daddy Number Three. We also have neither the time nor the energy to deal with any segments of fandom who think they get to judge a woman — fictional or otherwise — based on this.
Besides, Baby Rollisi could pose an interesting storytelling development. After all, let’s go back to our earlier point about family meaning a lot of different things. Because there’s a lot to be said about blended families and truly showing, not just telling viewers, that
Mr. Rollisi Sonny Carisi loves all three of their kids equally. But unless yet another major casting shocker drops, there’s simply no time to tell that story. Not with Amanda’s point of view given the proper central focus, at least. A sweet little guest spot in a finale just isn’t going to cut it. So, yeah. We’re worried about the return, especially so soon, running the risk of messing with the happy ending.
May the odds be ever in Amanda’s favor.
Now, here’s the part of our complicated feelings that’s probably easy to write off as “bitter shippers.” In actuality, though, it’s about a lot more. This is more of the same, part of an overall tendency to try to shove way too much into way too little time, while failing to tie together any big, meaningful threads in any satisfying way. This has been a big stain on the second half of the SVU‘s 24th season. As a result, even otherwise good episodes get marred by just trying to throw way too many conflicting plot points out there at once.
How do we have the time, space, and effort for this, yet none of the promised “healing” for this season? Or is it that Rollins gets all the healing? Is that the deal here? All this, while the ultimate tortured Strong Female Character™, Captain Olivia Benson, just continues to suffer? Because, uh. Yikes. It has, yet again, not been her year.
Furthermore, last time we saw Kelli Giddish on Law & Order: SVU, Amanda and Liv had a little chat about the giant EO-flavored elephant in the room. And then, aside from Liv finally admitting to El that she wants to, that story has — as usual! — gone absolutely nowhere. So, to be clear. We don’t have time, or the ability to write in a line or two to show that someone still in the universe is, at the very least, sending Captain Benson texts with links to the latest “Tic-Tac” funnies. Or coffee via DoorDash — even a carrier pigeon with a note hanging from its little leg or whatever. It’s impossible to work on “healing” one of Olivia’s scarred-over, yet deepest and most likely to reopen, wounds. But there’s a clear plan for revisiting the one story with great closure this season?
Make it make sense. Or don’t. Whatever.
Not to mention, even the part where we have to feel like these two very important figures in Olivia’s life have to be in competition for her (and our) time is absurd. But, well. Here we are. What does it even say about the current state of this series, or about any of these characters at all? Seriously, it’s not a good look knowing we can’t just enjoy having one of Olivia Benson’s very good friends back for a chat.
Viewers who love Amanda but hate Elliot are probably going to have another “girl talk” about Liv’s non-existent romantic endeavors again…and feel cheated. Because why should this friendship always be a way to start a conversation about that one? (Worse yet, what if the talk reveals a bunch of things have been happening behind the scenes, without viewers having a clue? Keep it. Seriously. Just…no.)
On the flip side, fans who love Stabler but hate Rollins may see any time spent on Liv’s friendship with Amanda instead of EO’s…wtfever it is…and feel cheated. Because, seriously, when is anyone going to bother working on literally anything that might be categorized as “fixing” this giant nothing-burger? So far, it’s just bait and crumbs, to the point where even a 10-episode streaming special with “adult” content won’t actually count as a satisfying ending.
So, yeah. Like it or not (we do not), it winds up being a competition for time and effort, both in the real world and the fictional one. In the real world, there’s the Herculean task of making all the schedules and scripts work to get people on the same set, at the same time, saying words to each other. Or, at the very least, folks being both willing and able to find a way to tell that story with only half of the relevant people present. And, in the fictional world, there’s the problem of Benson and Stabler finding the time and the trust to speak. (Much less the emotional maturity from either of them to admit anything important, whatsoever.)
Frustrated tangent there, yeah. But that’s kind of the point, in a way. There has, rightfully, been a lot of hard work done to give Giddish and Rollins a good exit. Even after her “last” episode, though, Olivia’s other significant relationship has been neglected — at best. So, it’s interesting to want to spend time at the end of the season on what got the bulk of the best work at the beginning, complete with great closure, when the rest…is what it is. Through Rollins’ “end,” we have evidence that emotional, character-driven stories are possible. Not just possible, but there’s a ton of talent for getting it done. And yet.
Basically, even a good thing comes at a cost. As usual. And even if “we” win with a specific overdue plot point, we’ve still lost far too much. And that’s a shame. Because there’s really a lot to offer here, both on the Rollins front (to stick to the original discussion) and on the EO front. Always has been, and always will be.
But. Well. Look around for a second…that part.
So, here’s our final take on this one: If you’re happy to have Kelli Giddish back as Amanda Rollins, regardless of when or how you’re getting her, congratulations. That may sound sarcastic after the grumping about. But we seriously don’t intend for it to be, honestly. And if you’re not happy about it, try not to go creating extra company for your misery. There’s plenty of that to go around — we promise. Let’s take what we can get and hope this doesn’t go wrong in any of the many, many ways it could.