Law & Order SVU Spoilers: Barba's 'Emotional' Return

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We've known for a few weeks now that Law & Order SVU is bringing back former star Raúl Esparza, and now we have some intel on it.

NBC released a new synopsis for the next episode of the beloved procedural, which is currently set to air Thursday, January 7.

"The squad spends New Year’s Eve tracking down an Amber Alert, and Carisi faces off against Counselor Rafael Barba in an emotional courtroom battle," reads the short and sweet logline for the episode, which is titled "Sightless in a Savage Land."

Barba's Anguish - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12

That's all NBC teased, but it's hard not to wonder why Carisi and Barba will be locking horns in the courtroom.

Bhavesh Patel (The Good Wife), Brett Parks (The Punisher), and Vanessa Carrasco are also set to guest star in the episode.

Yes, Esparza is back in a guest-starring role, meaning that Barba's arc could come full circle by the end of the emotional installment.

Raul Esparza

Then again, he may continue to pop up here and there, as opposed to signing up for a recurring role. Only time will tell.

Esparza first appeared on Law & Order: SVU Season 14, and stuck with the show until Law & Order: SVU Season 19.

His exit storyline involved DA Jack McCoy trying Barba for murder after he disconnected the life support for a comatose infant with indecisive parents.

Despite not being found guilty, Barba was shaken up by the whole experience, prompting him to quit the team, and his job.

 Raul Esparza Attends NBC Upfronts

This is not the first time he has returned to the series, however, with the character popping up in a small cameo last season.

“Goodbye Barba. Thank you. You changed my life. My squad. And you, you always, my Liv, my friend Mariska. I will always treasure my time with all of you,” the actor said at the time of his departure.

“It has truly been an honor writing for Raul. The power, sensitivity, and morality he brought to the character of Rafael Barba never failed to elevate our scripts,” showrunner Michael Chernuchin said at the time of his exit.

Fin and Barba - Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 11

“Raul is family, and we look forward to seeing his talent shine in new projects. As for Barba, SVU fans may see him again soon.”

What are your thoughts on the big return storyline?

Hit the comments.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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