Law & Order’s Tony Goldwyn Talks DA Baxter’s ‘Quite Progressive’ Approach, Taking Over McCoy’s Office

Law & Order has officially entered its Tony Goldwyn Era.

The Scandal alum made his memorable debut as incoming DA Nicholas Baxter in Thursday’s episode, dropping by an active murder scene, much to Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) and Riley’s (Reid Scott) surprise. He replaces Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), who resigned to protect Price following a high-profile case involving the mayor’s son.

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After an enthusiastic introduction, Baxter assured both detectives that he would do everything in his power to ensure that his office and the police department had a good working relationship.

The newbie head honcho then began implementing a few changes, like firing the ADAs who weren’t in line with his vision and putting some personal touches on McCoy’s old office, which he would now call home. For Goldwyn, shaking up McCoy’s former working space was a necessary move for Baxter, and it sends a strong message to everyone around him.

“He’s coming into a space where Jack McCoy was an icon, and it hasn’t been touched for 30-some years. So, how does one make one’s mark?” the actor tells TVLine. “Part of it is your leadership style [and] the way that you communicate to your team. But also, in an office like this, everything sends a message. So, the design of his office has got to be an expression of him and his leadership style and a new approach.”

However, the actor assures that Baxter won’t be doing anything outrageous with the office space. “No disco balls,” he notes. “[Baxter] wants it to be more modern.”

After all, Baxter is what many would consider a modern district attorney. As we saw in this week’s episode when he pushed Price to strike a deal for reduced charges with a murder suspect who said she had a recorded confession by a serial rapist, he prefers to look at the bigger picture.

“He really takes in broader social implications. How this case might impact other cases, [and] do we want to make a deal on this case to catch a bigger fish down the line?” Goldwyn explains. “He looks at broader implications and that creates tension with Price and Maroun.”

Baxter is not afraid to speak up about the issues that concern him, including making sure the punishment his office dishes out is just. In the coming episodes, he’ll put up a convictions review board to examine potential wrongful convictions.

“Historically, when people are wrongfully convicted, the DA’s office does not like to admit that they are at fault,” Goldwyn shares. “Baxter is a guy who believes that we need to review our mistakes, so he’s quite progressive in that in that way. He’s not afraid to delve into things that might be considered political.”

The issue is close to heart for the Law & Order newcomer, who serves on the board of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit committed to exonerating those who’ve been wrongfully convicted.

“That happened to be something of interest to me,” he adds. “There will be many things like that, and I liked that about him.”

But will Baxter be as thoughtful with Price? When the team couldn’t track down the alleged victims quickly enough to prove that multiple rapes occurred — as was stated in the video confession — Price was forced to choose between securing the plea deal or proceeding with his original plan to prosecute their witness for murder. With Baxter ignoring his texts, Price went to trial and got the guilty verdict, leaving his fate up in the air.

What did you think of Tony Goldwyn’s debut as DA Nicholas Baxter? Grade the episode below, and then share your impressions in the comments.

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