It's safe to say that no one saw Lt. Declan Murphy's return coming on Law & Order: SVU.
Declan (Donal Logue) first appeared on the NBC drama (Wednesdays, 9/8c) in March as a sleazy and ruthless manager at an underground club to whom Rollins (Kelli Giddish) became tied through her dangerous gambling addiction. Just when it seemed like Rollins was going to lose her job or her life, or both, Declan revealed himself to be an undercover police lieutenant and saved the day.
Now the question is whether Declan — or should we say Lt. Murphy — can do the same for the rest of the SVU squad? "I think they smartly left the door open," Logue tells TVGuide.com of his character's comeback.
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Logue, who is also currently starring on Vikings, returned in the most recent episode to take over the reins from Benson (Mariska Hargitay) after William Lewis' escape from prison. Although Lewis committed suicide and put an end to Benson's "worst nightmare" forever, that doesn't mean Murphy is going anywhere. Logue's character will remain in command for the rest of the season — the latest of many personnel shakeups for the squad following Munch and Cragen's retirements and Benson's promotion. Suffice it to say, this latest transition won't be easy for the team.
"He's just very hard and he takes kind of an old-school policeman view to a form of police work," he says. "He's kind of this weird stranger where you don't really know where he comes from. He has connections with powerful people, but you can't really place him. They really don't know what the provenance on this guy is. He comes in and just takes control of this world that's been fairly comfortable for a while."
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The squad will be initially resistant to the outsider, but Murphy's past good deeds will work to his advantage. "He's abrasive, but at the same time I think they realize he's good at what he does. When push comes to shove, he could have thrown [Rollins] under the bus, but he helped out Rollins," Logue says. "These are tight, tight groups of people so when you come in as a newcomer I think you have to be respectful and prepared and you have to prove your worth and have respect for what went down before you, but also you become part of a family."
Murphy will get the chance to prove his worth as soon as this Wednesday's episode, when Benson faces the repercussions of confessing to perjury. "She's in this dilemma where the truth might actually be so far-fetched that it might get her in trouble," Logue says. "We know what the moral truth is with a capital t and then we know all these other little truths. Did he deserve to be cuffed and beaten? Hell yes. But does that put her in the realm of police brutality?"
They might have gotten off to a rough start, but it will be smooth sailing ahead for Murphy and Benson. "I think that they work well together," Logue says. "There's a lot of mutual respect."
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Having now spent several weeks on set, Logue compares his character's budding relationship with Benson to his own friendship with Hargitay. "I don't know what it's like to have to be the person who carries the flag for something for 15 years, but there's a big family there. What's amazing to me is how much care that goes into it, every scene and every take, and how much she's hyper-aware that there's a world that exists that is kind of dependent upon her involvement in it and she feels a responsibility to the broader families, the teamsters and the crew," he says. "She's the mama bear of the place and an amazing one, and a really awesome, giving human being. And that's kind of what Benson is.
Although his character faces some initial bumps trying to fit in, Logue experienced no such difficulties on the set of the long-running procedural. "I haven't been there that long, but they've certainly taken me under their wing and I've become very, very close to those people," Logue says.
So does that mean Logue, and by extension Murphy, will stick around past the season finale? Although SVU has yet to be renewed, and Logue has already signed on for a major role in the Batman spin-off pilot Gotham, the actor is leaving the door open again. "From being undercover for a long time [Murphy]'s probably like me: living out of a duffel bag out of hotels all the time," he says. "That may be that's what he craves, but he's kind of such a gypsy. It's hard to say."
Watch a clip of Benson and Murphy from Wednesday's episode:
Law & Order: SVU airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC. What do you think of Murphy's addition to the squad?
(Additional reporting by Sadie Gennis)