'Law & Order: SVU' season 18 spoilers: Transition looms in front of and behind the camera

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“Law and Order” prepares for gear shift when it comes back for its 18<sup>th season sometime later this year.

Together with the wrap up for season 17 is the departure of executive producer Warren Leight from the long-running police procedural. Leight who went on board in the franchise on 2011 is stepping down in exchange for an overall contract with Sony Pictures. With the change in personnel behind the camera, retaining EP Julie Martin hints that it might as well carry the effect of transition on screen.

What Warren and I were feeling is how do you keep the job relevant and interesting and keep doing the consistent level of good work that you’ve done, but also how do you grow and how do you change and what’s the next steps? Those questions of transition have been built into the two-part finale,” Martin told The Hollywood Reporter regarding where “SVU’s” main players story arcs will eventually go next season.

The interconnected penultimate episode and finale saw the Manhattan SVU in a tricky situation against a corrupt penitentiary officer, Gary Munson (Brad Garrett). With the workers union backing Munson, ADA Barba (Raul Esparza) started receiving threats against his life and while Barba survived season 17, Dodds (Andy Karl), unfortunately, did not. The officer was shot close range in the abdomen by Munson when the latter rolled out a hostage crisis. Despite surviving the surgery to save his life, Dodds suffered a stroke while recuperating in the ICU which ultimately spelled his death.

The final two episodes of season 17 may have put the spotlight on Barba and later on to Dodds, but the events that transpired definitely has a bigger impact for the rest of the team. Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) for one feels the guilt over leaving Dodds alone in Munson dingy house and failing to secure his gun. Martin reveals that it is part of their grand scheme in leaving everyone something to ponder on going to the show’s hiatus.

“There were will definitely be a few threads left unanswered, things for the fans to obsess about over the summer for sure but not as big of a cliffhanger as we’ve done in the past,” she explained.