The LAW & ORDER: SVU squad is getting a new member: Sergeant Mike Dodds (Chief Dodds’ son). Mike joins the team in this week’s episode, which also includes the return of Rollins’ fugitive sister, Kim. Andy Karl (who will play Mike Dodds) and Executive Producer Warren Leight got on the phone to discuss Mike’s arrival, how he’ll mesh with the rest of the team, and what’s coming up in the next few episodes.
How Will Mike Adjust to the SVU Squad? “He’s never been an investigator in Special Victims Unit,” Karl explained. “So there’s a lot of nuances that go along with that type of investigation. He comes from anti-crime which is really, you know, going out and busting the perps and bringing them back and throwing them in jail kind of way. So now the interrogations and things like that have a little bit of a nuance to find out more information that’s very important to SVU. I think that’s probably going to be the hardest thing for him to deal with. I [also] don’t think he’s ever had a strong woman boss, which I find very interesting. Lieutenant Benson is a very strong presence and she’s very knowledgeable and making sure that he shows her respect is top of the list too.”
How Will Benson’s Relationship With Chief Dodds Affect Working With His Son? “I think as – coming from my perspective as Mike Dodds, he doesn’t like to depend on his father for work but he loves to live up to the reputation of being really good at his job,” Karl said. “I think I’m going to have a lot to prove and I’m not afraid of that. There’s actually one of the lines in my first episode is ‘sink or swim’ that Chief Dodds says to me and I think I’d choose to swim. I think there’s definitely some sort of some mix of awkwardness between [Benson's] relationship with my father but something I don’t think Mike Dodds really brings up in any way. I don’t view her as ‘Oh, you and my father have a working relationship, and therefore, I need to sort of go along those lines.’ It’s more about I’m coming in here to kick some butt pretty much as much as I can. But I think there’s going to be lessons to be learned because Lieutenant Benson is a very strong force and making sure that I don’t, you know, step over the lines is sort of priority one of Mike Dodds. And he respects SVU for what it is. He’s certainly not going to try to take any privileges by being the son of the chief.”
How Will the Team Adjust to Mike? Leight said that “The new guy is the son of an important guy, the police department played by Peter Gallagher, and it’s so – everybody’s usual way of doing things is thrown off at this time…..[For] everybody in the squad room, even though Mike Dodds is doing his best to be one of the guys, everybody is walking on egg shells because they don’t know if he’s going to rat them out. And there’s a lot of tension about nobody wants to work with the boss’s son. And that’s one of the things we’re enjoying. And when I think Fin’s character is particularly put out by it and then [in an] upcoming episode Benson looks right at Fin and goes ‘I offered you the chance to be sergeant. You weren’t interested. Shut up.’ So there’s a ripple effect when the boss’s son comes to work with you.”
The Issues of the Day. “We have [an episode] coming up about a religious family that, you know, tries to impose their morality on the viewers of their reality show and features one thing, but may have a dirty secret festering within their home,” Leight teased. “So we’re – a lot of what we’re going after this year is hypocrisy. It seems like it was the summer of hypocrisy in a lot. You know, [with] these iconic figures, we certainly saw story after story about the former – I think we read today the former Speaker of the House just took a plea deal rather than admit to why he was bribing somebody. Obviously we saw the Cosby story, we’ve seen the Duggar story. There’s just been a state of stories about powerful men behaving badly and doing their best to cover it up. And that’s an interesting area for us to explore as the season goes on. And we almost began the season with obviously a powerful rich man almost getting away with multiple murders. So I think for better or for worse, what we see in the news – I think we do it here as it’s our responsibility to discuss these issues.”
The October 20th Episode. Leight teased that “The next episode up is called ‘Maternal Instincts’. And it is the return of Rollins’ sister. We start off with a celebrated musician accused of a crime that he doesn’t remember. And the reason he doesn’t remember it is he had taken after this performance he had met an escort in the hotel bar, brought her up to his room and, according to him, she drugged him and he has no memory of the assault that he gets accused of. So we start there. And then it gets murky because the escort turns out to be Rollins’ sister who’s got outstanding warrants on her and is, you know, just the person who has been dragging Amanda Rollins down. Her mother is up seemingly there to help and the sister shows up. And we call the nickname for the episode around the set was SVU of Osage County. This is the most dysfunctional family drama we’ve done in a long time. And it’s just – it’s almost too much pressure for Rollins to bear and her mom (played by Virginia Madsen), as is often the case in dysfunctional families, the one who got away and did good is the one that’s considered to be the one who’s betrayed the family.”
A Religious Family Episode. After the October 20 episode “we go to our religious family episode,” Leight said. “We have Geneva Carr and Chris Sieber in that episode as the parents of ten kids and there’s a reality show that’s the Baker family and the reality show is ‘The Baker’s Dozen’. Chris Elliott, whom you may remember from a lot of different things in the ‘Letterman Show’ and stuff like that, plays the cameraman. Ryan Devlin plays the pastor in the family. We opened [with] a purity ball in that episode when a young girl promises her dad she will be faithful to him and virginal until the day he gives her away in marriage. And you kind of know if SVU opens with a purity ball it’s not going to go well. The dad is the head of the clan [who] have this purity ball and they’re dancing together and she faints and that’s when we and they find out that she’s pregnant and how is that even possible.”
An Episode Focusing on Dodds. Leight continued to tease another episode by saying “The episode after [the religious family one] is the one I think that we wrote very much in mind of Dodds, [who] has been with us at this point for two episodes. It’s called ‘Melancholy Pursuit.’ And it’s the episode that either makes or breaks Dodds at SVU. It’s the episode that Mike makes some detective think ‘I can’t do this. It’s a really difficult haunt for a missing girl against the clock.’ And the investigation is an extremely difficult one and everyone that Detective Dodds runs into, everyone we meet in this episode, is in some way or another a victim of a long-buried tragedy. And it’s stepping to the island and it’s one of those episodes that’s self-contained. It’s a 42-minute heartbreak. And we’ll see how Dodds responds to that. We have exciting things planned for the end of November and then we’ll be off the air in December and then there’s talk of a crossover with Chicago PD somewhere between January or early February and you’ll be hearing more about that crossover if it happens.”
Don’t miss an all new episode of LAW & ORDER: SVU on October 21 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.