Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of Law & Order Season 23, called "Human Innovation."
The detectives and prosecutors of Law & Order were out of their element in "Human Innovation." The victim of the week was a prominent tech CEO, and what could have been a straightforward trial was complicated by a confession being thrown out and the possibility that video evidence may have been deepfaked. Detective Riley, who debuted on L&O in last week's premiere in the 2024 TV schedule, accidentally made a mistake that could have sabotaged the case completely. Between that and the preview for the next episode, it looks like viewers are about to get a look into Riley's past, which gives me hope for some answers about Cosgrove.
Jeffrey Donovan's Exit As Frank Cosgrove
Jeffrey Donovan played Frank Cosgrove during the first two revival seasons of Law & Order, and Season 22 ended on Sam Waterston's 400th episode with no indication that the character was going anywhere. News broke over the hiatus – which was prolonged due to the WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike – that Donovan wouldn't be back for Season 23, and would be replaced by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Reid Scott.
The Season 23 premiere didn't drop many details about the switch from Cosgrove to Riley, but a conversation between the newcomer and Mehcad Brooks' Detective Jalen Shaw shed a little bit of light. Shaw said that his former partner "just got jammed up" for "being too honest about things people aren't too honest about these days." That's not the update that has me wondering about what's up in the next episode, however.
In the premiere (streaming now via Peacock Premium subscription), Riley also mentioned that he knew Cosgrove "a little bit back in the day," without shedding any light on the how, when, or why they encountered each other. Although nobody name-dropped Jeffrey Donovan's character in "Human Innovation," the preview for the next episode indicates that Riley's past will come into question, which just makes me think again of Cosgrove.
What's Next For Detective Riley?
While there's only so much you can tell about an episode from 15 seconds of preview footage, the promo for the next installment of Law & Order suggests that a case from Riley's past is about to cause some problems. In the footage, Riley admits that a case involving three murdered women had been his, and Price can be seen pointing how that the detective missed something. Based on McCoy incredulously asking Price if he intends to go after a detective, Riley could be in some trouble on the witness stand.
And all of that points toward an intense episode of Law & Order, but it's the reveal that the case is going to revisit Riley's past that makes me start crossing my fingers for some more info on Cosgrove. We know that they knew each other at least a little bit, and I'm hoping that the premiere dropping that detail was a sign that more info will be revealed down the line.
Does that automatically mean Cosgrove will get a mention in the episode that airs on February 1? Definitely not, but Riley's past being revisited at least raises the possibility. Take a look at the preview, if you missed it:
New episodes of Law & Order will continue airing on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET in 2024, ahead of new episodes of Law & Order: SVU at 9 p.m. ET and Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET. You can also revisit all three series streaming via Peacock.