Fin's wedding was supposed to be a feel-good break from SVU's serious cases, including the one they just finished investigating.
If you were hoping for an actual wedding, though, Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 16 might have disappointed you. But the last five minutes still provided plenty of happiness.
Well... except for Chief Garland, whose job status provided one of the more interesting SVU season finale cliffhangers.
Garland has been an asset to SVU since he first replaced Chief Dodds and has been especially important during the second half of Law & Order: SVU Season 22.
Most of the time. He's been involved in typical SVU cases, though the Jayvon Brown case has been hanging over everyone's head all season, and Garland has made it clear he's on the side of police reform.
So we haven't been privy to much of the pressure on him to put loyalty to the cops over what he knows is happening to his community, yet it wasn't much of a surprise that he was caught in the middle.
Chief McGrath was especially obnoxious. In some ways, that was a bit heavyhanded -- it's clear who the writers want us to side with -- but it's also, sadly, realistic.
Whether Garland ends up getting pushed out or not, I admired his attitude.
Garland: I also got a call from my dad. He's retired but he's still in touch with some guys on the job. The Old Guard wants to take me out.
Benson: What does that mean?
Garland: Dirty me up, force me off the job.
Benson: Oh Chief, I'm sorry.
Garland: It's all right. No matter what happens, I'm not going to go quietly.
But the more interesting question is what's going on with his health. He mentioned his doctor running some tests, and when Benson told him about Machado's involvement in the trafficking operation, it seemed like he was about to have a literal heart attack.
The way he was breathing hard and touching his chest made me think a collapse was imminent, but instead, he walked past a bunch of cops who turned their backs on him.
But could all the stress be taking its toll on Garland?
As for the case, it was fairly compelling. This one wasn't much of a whodunnit; it didn't take long to prove Machado's involvement with the trafficking operation.
But that wasn't the point. The story here was about getting these women to talk so that there was a chance in hell of catching the major players.
There were so many big names involved that it didn't seem realistic how neatly it was all wrapped up.
After Machado's arrest, she named names, and Benson told Rosa that all the bigwigs with who she had been forced to have sex were in jail, and she could keep her apartment without having to do sexual favors for anyone anymore. The end.
In reality, catching and prosecuting men in positions of political power isn't that simple.
The kinds of people SVU was going after this time had money and connections, not much different from Law & Order: Organized Crime's Richard Wheatley.
With Stabler strolling into the wedding late, it wouldn't have been a bad idea for Benson or Carisi to mention something to him. These kinds of involved conspiracies are what the Organized Crime division is supposed to put a stop to.
Kat: What now?
Fin: Well she admitted she had sex with Ruben Ortiz. That's enough to bring him in. My guess, he'll sing to save his own ass.
Could a crossover be coming for Law & Order: SVU Season 23 and Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2?
The case's conclusion felt rushed as if the writers wanted to hurry up and get to the feel-good party before they ran out of time.
But that doesn't mean the threads of this case won't be picked up again next season, which is what I'm hoping for.
Kat: Lots of post-pandemic weddings. It's gonna be hard to find a venue.
Fin: I don't need a venue.
Rollins: Yes you do, and you need someone to marry you. [Carisi comes in] Carisi, you still have your minister's license, right?
Carisi: You don't need me to -
Rollins: Yes, we do. For Fin.
Fin: Friday the 28th. I don't know where, but be there.
As for the party itself, Fin and Phoebe's decision not to get married seemed to come out of nowhere. Fin was irritated that Phoebe wanted a huge party that defied COVID protocols, and he didn't see a need for a venue at all, but that didn't quite line up with not wanting the ceremony at all!
It turned out not to matter. Half the guests were late, and nobody except Carisi seemed to be disappointed.
And even he had to rush through this ceremony because he had calls to make about the plea deal Machado wanted.
Despite the bizarre lack of ceremony, though, the party scenes did provide the feel-good ending to the season that SVU was going for.
The most important thing about these scenes was the movement of the love stories.
Where are my fellow Rollisi shippers? I can't be the only one who cheered that these two FINALLY kissed after what seems like years of unaddressed tension.
Of course, Carisi has to get rid of Nicole and her belief that the marriage he longs for is a tool of the patriarchy before he can really be with Rollins. No soap-opera-like sneaking around, please.
But still. This kiss was well worth the wait and is full of promise for Law & Order: SVU Season 22.
I was glad Stabler came to the wedding, too.
His usual persona these days is a mixture of gruff and tormented. This party was probably the first time he's relaxed since Kathy's death.
I was surprised he was invited since everyone is always telling Benson to stay away from Stabler before he drags her reputation through the mud.
But he absolutely belonged there. He seemed so much happier and more like the old Stabler I remember from the first 12 seasons of Law & Order: SVU.
As for Stabler and Benson's conversation about how Fin and Phoebe met, very subtle, guys.
We all know that Stabler was Benson's first partner too.
Stabler: They make a great couple. How did they meet?
Benson: She's a cop. She was Fin's first partner.
So is there any doubt where this is going after that conversation?
Your turn, Law & Order: SVU fanatics. What did you think of the season finale, and what are your hopes for Law & Order: SVU Season 23?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.
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Law & Order: SVU airs on NBC on Thursdays at 9 PM EST/PST. It will return for its historic 23rd season in the fall of 2021.