Law & Order Season 23 Premiere: Here’s How Jeffrey Donovan’s Cosgrove Was Written Out

Veep’s Reid Scott has officially clocked in.

Law & Order returned for Season 23 on Thursday with a new detective, Vincent Riley (played by Scott), joining the squad to fill the void left by Jeffrey Donovan’s Frank Cosgrove. As TVLine previously reported, Donovan will not reprise his role as Cosgrove after two seasons for creative reasons.

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The hour, titled “Freedom of Expression,” explained Cosgrove’s off-screen departure in a short conversation between Riley and Det. Shaw (Mehcad Brooks). Riley asked whatever happened to Shaw’s last partner, and Shaw replied that Cosgrove was a “great cop” who just got “jammed up [about] being too honest about things people aren’t too honest about these days.”

Meanwhile, Riley and Shaw’s new partnership got off to a slighty rocky start as they investigated a murder on a college campus. Riley didn’t appreciate it when Shaw disarmed a man holding a knife right after he threatened to shoot the man for not dropping the weapon.

“Don’t ever do that again,” Riley warned.

At a recent red carpet event celebrating Law & Order: SVU’s 25th season premiere, Brooks described Shaw and Riley’s dynamic as “two guys of the same generation who are different because they have different perspectives in life.”

It’s a bit of a contrast to Cosgrove and Shaw’s mentor/mentee relationship in Seasons 21 and 22, which often found them at odds because of their age difference. But that doesn’t mean this new team-up will be conflict-free. Riley is holding onto a deep secret that will come to light in Episode 4 during a case involving a serial killer. According to Brooks, this withheld information will shift the dynamic with Shaw.

“Riley is on a redemptive path and Shaw finds that out later than he would like, and that causes some amicable conflict,” the actor teased. “It causes Shaw to slow the evolution of the relationship, and it causes him to ask some questions internally and externally. And because of the nation of the case which [Riley’s] secret comes out, Shaw has some questions.”

Riley was personally recruited to the squad by Lt. Kate Dixon — played by Camryn Manheim, who says that we’ll learn the true nature of their relationship in the season’s fourth episode.

“They have a very tight history,” Manheim shares. “There’s a lot of challenges and adversity that happened between them, and it’s taken [Dixon] a long time to get him back over to her squad in Precinct 27.”

Additional reporting by Kim Roots.

What did you make of Reid Scott’s Det. Riley in Law & Order’s Season 23 premiere? Grade the episode below, and then share your thoughts in the comments.

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