Carisi-centric thoughts on Ep 19x03
Yet another solid episode! This season is going to be a winner. Also, THE BARISI CORNER IS OFFICIALLY BACK :D
OK, this wasn’t much to write home about, but it was more than serviceable. All three actresses were very good so they
kept me engaged, the case was pleasantly twisty but not convoluted, Sonny had
significant input as a lawyer (and I loved how Liv was all “we’ll follow Carisi’s
suggestion!”) and Barba delivered a heated and eloquent closing argument. I
sharing of personal information! I swear, Sonny and Fin have talked to each other
more in these last two episodes than they did in the previous
3 2 seasons! And they
didn’t need some random case-related segue, either. This week, they were just driving
to a crime scene, and they were shooting the breeze on the way there. You know,
like normal colleagues do. Like real people do. Not cardboard cutouts. Something
small like that, something as silly as stealing candy as a little boy, it can breathe
life into a scene which would otherwise be mundane.
The thing is, even when an episode is not as exciting, it’s still worth watching just to see our characters interacting and being friends. That’s what SVU seemed to have forgotten, and it’s also the key to making a watchable procedural. Let’s face it, all the cases have been done before (often by SVU itself, because it’s been on for a hundred years), but the team interactions can )and should) be enough to maintain the viewers’ interest. This season, it’s clear the team dynamics are being cultivated, instead of being ignored, and that makes me happy.
The Barisi Corner
Just like I hoped, it’s like
S18 never happened. We’re back to the S17 Barisi
dynamic of friendly teasing and inside jokes. In the deleted scene from the
premiere, we got the classic “booyah, Fordham law” type of
interaction, except in its advanced S17 form. Where in S16 Barba would be
biting with his remarks, in S17 and in the 19x01 deleted scene he was just
making a joke for the sake of a joke, because that’s what they do. Sonny tries
to impress Barba, Barba is totally impressed, and then he makes a joke to
pretend he’s not actually appreciative of Sonny’s input.
In this episode, we got an even more advanced interaction. We got Sonny making a smart legal observation not just to impress Barba, but because he wanted to contribute to the case. And, just like in S17, Barba was impressed, and then he used a joke not to diss Sonny, but to praise him.
See, there are two kinds of humorous Barisi interactions.
There’s “Sassy Sonny Tries to Impress Barba” which comes complete with Sonny’s dimples, and Sonny’s smirks, and Sonny’s cocky remarks like, “Oh, Rafael, are you mad you didn’t think about it first?” This type of Barisi interaction always ends with a Barba side-eye and a snarky comeback. When Barba knows that Sonny is flaunting, he’s always quick to shut it down. That’s the joke. Sonny starts blathering on about a hypothetical argument, just to show off his legal skillz, and Barba is amused, but he also acknowledges the alterior motive, i.e. Sonny’s desire to get Barba’s approval.
there’s “Dedicated Sonny Tries to Crack the Case” which comes with
Sonny’s frown and Sonny’s desire to get justice, and Sonny’s casual use of legal terminology like “obfuscated.” This type of Barisi interaction always
ends with Barba subtly praising Sonny, using a joke to cover up a genuine
compliment. When Barba knows that Sonny is trying to be helpful, he’s always
quick to encourage it. That’s Barba’s favorite thing. Seeing Sonny creatively
solving a legal problem with no ulterior motive. Sure, their games are fun, and
they’ve been fun for
seasons now, but at the end of the day they’re both trying to get justice, and
Barba loves it when Sonny focuses on their work.
thing. Both Sonny and Barba have evolved. Sonny used to thirst for Barba’s
approval, early on, in S16, but soon after that he found his confidence, and
his footing, and his place on the team. He still tries to show off for Barba, because
it’s fun, but that’s no longer his main motivator when he speaks legalese.
Sonny isn’t a law student looking to get that A, he’s a lawyer
looking to get that D. And his actions and words have come
to reflect that. Now he doesn’t just state the obvious as Barba jokes
“save it for night school.” Now, Sonny has original ideas which can
actually help SVU.
who treated Sonny so condescendingly at first, Barba has come to see the change
in Sonny as well. The humorous element of their interactions persists, because
Barba is a snarky bastard, but now those same interactions are loaded with
respect. With friendship.
flirtation. Barba is no longer dismissive of Sonny, and hasn’t been for
a long while. Barba sees Sonny as a useful presence in the squad, with legal knowledge
the other cops don’t possess, and it’s clear he welcomes Sonny’s observations. It’s right there in his smile smirk. Barba is willing to listen, and he’s even willing
to entertain the notion that Sonny just might think of something he didn’t, which is beautiful to see :’)
Now all I
want is that other type of S17 interaction, the quiet support. Sonny always
supported Barba in tougher moments, like the death threats
(what death threats lol?), or a trial gone
wrong, but Barba also supported Sonny, especially during that Catholic Church
case, as we all remember. I’m loving the new showrunner’s tendency to use humor to display the
bonds between our characters, it’s just the perfect thing to balance out the
grim nature of the cases, but I’d love to see some more muted, more emotional
moments between them (between all of them, but Barba/Carisi especially, lol).
We have an entire season ahead, so there’s still plenty of time. I’ll be
For now, I’m just happy the classic Barisi dynamic is back.
I’ve said it time and time again, and I don’t even mean romantically (that’s what fic is for). Those two characters, Barba and Carisi, they have a dynamic that’s gold. Clashing personalities (Sonny is dorkier, Barba is more sarcastic), contrasting temperaments (Sonny is sunnier, Barba is a little more bitter), common interests (the law), a reluctant mentor-mentee relationship (which has evolved now that the student is no longer a student, though he’s far from being a master), a constant willingness to joke back-and-forth (which keeps building up their relationship and strengthens their bond), fundamental differences which breed a potential for unexpectedly emotional moments (“I admire your…”, because Sonny is an openly affectionate person, and Barba and his wide eyes tend to shy away from affection), it’s all there.
Good writing, plus a willingness to explore that bond, plus the natural ease Peter and Raul have with each other as actors, plus Sonny’s sweetness and Barba’s sass = television gold. And Barisi gold :’)
Barba was flirting. End of story. Textbook “there is no heterosexual explanation for this.” And I’m grateful.
I’ve always said it, I prefer seeing “shrewd legal mind” Barba instead of “slave to his emotions” Barba, but the latter sure is fun to watch. That closing was intense, and you could see that Raul really dug his teeth into those lines. I mean, damn. It’s not every week that he gets to really show off, with more than an eyebrow raise or a smirk, but when he does, wow. I was just thinking, they rarely let Raul have a legitimate monologue, even though he’s a lawyer and theoretically we could be watching his opening and/or closing arguments every week. This episode tells me that the writers might be saving those moments, and using them sparingly, so they’ll have more of an impact. And I think they’re right.
That said, I wonder if we’ll be seeing a focus on Barba’s more emotional side, to better juxtapose him to the upcoming ADA, who’ll be more black-and-white and (I’m assuming) less emotional. If so, this was a smart way to start doing that. In this episode, we still saw how smart Barba was, but we also saw a passion we don’t often see from him. I’m assuming Barba and Peter Stone will clash on more than their positions, they’ll clash on philosophy, as well, and I hope this was an example of that. We have to see the “new” (but old) Barba, he has to be established first, under the new showrunner’s reign, and then we can be introduced to Stone, and see what they have in common and what they’ll never agree on.
Just like I thought, last week’s dramatic ending (and Sonny’s potential subsequent trauma) was not directly referenced. It may come up again in the future, but again, as I said in last week’s post, this is classic Original L&O stuff, a self-contained dramatic episode which ends and is never mentioned again. L&O in its earlier seasons was much less serialized, and I think the new showrunner is bringing that back. I don’t mind it.
Another thing I didn’t mind? Flirty Sonny using his masculine wiles to cozy up to that witness and get her to help. Now that’s how you use your assets :D
“CONFIRMED.” I love Fin.
That old high school pic? I love that NBC employs people who have a passion for graphic design :’)
More background on Sonny’s family! The show remembers he has a niece! His mom used to cover for him for childhood shenanigans! He went to confession for stealing candy! Classic Carisi material. And continuity galore. This is the Sonny we know and love.
dismissively saying “pills, booze” to judge a woman who was on prescribed anxiety meds and
enjoyed, like, a beer? Never change, Amanda.
actually, please change (that said, yay for continuity!)
What a waste of Annabeth Gish.
So Brooke Shields is the grandma? Wasn’t that what everyone guessed? I was trying to come up with other guesses because I actually believed them when they said “no one has guessed who she’ll play”. Oh well. That said, she looked amazing, and I’ve always liked her. It’ll be nice to have someone with a (seemingly) kinder demeanor fighting against Liv. Not a criminal or a lawyer, you know? We haven’t seen that before.
Amanda and Liv’s jackets keep slaying my existence every week.
WEE SONNY’S REACTION TO “YUMMY”???? HUH???? WHERE IS THAT CLOSE-UP OF HIS SMIRKY DIMPLY LIL’ FACE???
Did I write more than 900 words of this post about a 5-second Barisi interaction? HELL YEAH I DID :D