When Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) first meets Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) in Season 14 of Law & Order: SVU, he asks her interim captain if it’s Daughter to Work Day or not. No. Benson, a Special Victims Unit detective with nearly two decades of experience, nodded politely to the new assistant district attorney with a look that promised she wouldn’t forget the small remark. there. During the series’ early post-Stabler (Chris Meloni) era – during which the series struggles to find the right balance between personalities and frequently transitions to new characters – Barba’s introduction seemingly ready to rekindle the carefully balanced energy that always exists between law and order turning into chaos. But despite their rough start, Barba became Benson’s most attractive partner in SVU’s entire 21 seasons.

Barba’s slick, arrogant, morally questionable methods for his first special victim case in “Twenty Five Acts” – including bullying a rape survivor forcing her to testify by threatening her with charges of perjury, causing her university professor to ruin her professional career, and her reputation in the press – keeping him from being investigated. SVU’s most benevolent martyrs respect. But just as Benson was ready to criticize him for being the type of lawyer more interested in his professional record than in demanding justice, Barba took off his belt, draped it around his neck, and demanded the defendant in the jury chair. The crew took the other end and demonstrated how he strangled the victim. In a courtroom scene unlike any other on SVU, Barba’s stunt double revealed the man’s true violent nature to the jury, who were about to acquit him. about rape. Despite Barba’s blunt and sharp treatment of the survivor to keep the case private, when pressed, he rose above the courtroom to get a conviction. – and that dedication is something Benson understands and can respect.

After finding that common ground, their friction steadily boiled over. When Barba’s childhood friend became embroiled in a bribery and sex texting scandal during his run for mayor, Barba reached out to Benson to make sure he didn’t cross any career boundaries in his career. while the investigation is ongoing. When Benson’s frustration at judicial loopholes clouded her testimony in a chilling case involving child molestation and murder, it was Barba who reminded her of the victim’s mother and her reasons. why she needed to stay calm on the stand. When Benson learned who the biological father of his adopted child Noah was and discovered he was a criminal, it was Barba who guided her with legal theories and reassured her that Noah’s father could not object to adoption. feed. Each instance of working together for five seasons, win or lose, has brought the pair closer together.