'Law & Order: SVU' Star on Carisi's "Brush With Death," Future With Rollins

"I don't think his days as a cop are numbered, because things like this tend to give people like Carisi more resolve," Peter Scanavino tells THR.
Michael Parmelee/NBC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of Law & Order: SVU, "Next Chapter."]

For its first episode in nearly two months, Law & Order: SVU came back in a powerful way with one of its own in the line of fire.

After Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Carisi (Peter Scanavino) discovered it was a retired cop who was guilty of assaulting and then kidnapping a young woman, Carisi found himself begging for his life when he tried to rescue the hostage. As he stared down at the barrel of the retired cop's gun, it was Benson who saved him, shooting the cop in the head just as he seemed ready to shoot Carisi. It was an interesting turn of events not only because of Benson's similarly harrowing moments in the past on the job, but also because of Carisi's own comments about the difficulties of the job earlier in the same episode, when he told Benson he believes being a cop changes people for the worse, not the better.

In light of the dangerous turn of events, THR had a few burning questions for Scanavino about Carisi's new "resolve," his potential future as a lawyer and a few "tender" Carisi-Rollins scenes to come in the episodes ahead.

Carisi had a close brush with death in this episode when Sgt. Cole points a gun right at him with a seeming intent to shoot. How will this incident impact Carisi going forward?

I think any close brush with death would put a lot of things into perspective for anybody. I think Carisi has always realized the dangers of the job, but perhaps this event makes him think about the things he hasn't done in his life. I know he wants to dedicate himself to others, whether that be in law enforcement or in the judicial process, but I also know he'd love to have a family of his own one day, and maybe being at the end of the barrel makes him realize that life is short. 

This was similar to events Benson has gone through, like the hostage episode last season and the William Lewis saga in the past. How will this particular incident impact their working relationship? Does this bring them closer together as colleagues?

Of course it does. Benson and Carisi have always had a very special relationship. Obviously, Carisi looks up to her, but after she saves his life there's a sense that no matter what, my lieutenant has my back.

At the beginning of the episode, it sounded like being a cop was possibly starting to harden Carisi when he was talking to Benson. How do you think this incident changed or didn’t change his perspective? Do you think his days as a cop are numbered? Why or why not?

Carisi realizes that everyone, cops included, is an individual, responsible for their own actions. There was a nice juxtaposition between Tom Cole and Benson in this episode. Both veterans of the force, but something in him took him down his path, and something inside Benson has taken her down a very different one, and that's because of who they are, not because of the uniform they wear. I don't think his days as a cop are numbered, because things like this tend to give people like Carisi more resolve, more purpose.

Carisi passed the bar at the end of last season and spoke with the Brooklyn DA about a possible job. What can you say about his current ambitions to work as a lawyer? How will those ambitions play out in the second half of the season?

Honestly, I'm not really sure, but the general feeling I've had this season is that he's really settling in as a detective. He's hitting his stride. That being said, things can always change, new problems can arise. Anything is possible.

There were hints in the past about something more between Carisi and Rollins, but not as much in recent episodes. How likely do you see that as happening in the near future? Can you tease any big cases or moments for them in the episodes to come? 

I’m curious about them myself! I think it's definitely possible that something could happen between them in the future and there are some tender Carisi and Rollins scenes coming in the next few episodes. What's great about these two characters is that the audience has been able to track their relationship from the beginning. She was annoyed at Carisi, then there were glimmers of respect, then a real friendship where they're watching reality TV together. Who knows what the next step is? I’m as eager to find out as anybody.

Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.