However you would describe Robert Goren on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” over the years, the words “happy” and “well-adjusted” probably wouldn’t be too high on the list.
So as “Criminal Intent” begins its final season on USA Sunday (May 1), Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) is not just back on the Major Case Squad with his long-time partner Alex Eames (Kathryn Erbe). He’s also on the couch, getting counseling from a police psychologist (Julia Ormond in a recurring role).
“One of the things that’s different in these eight [episodes] is that he’s getting some shrinkage,” D’Onofrio told reporters recently. “You’re getting to see time with him, with the shrink, and that’s very interesting. We’ve shot two of the shrink scenes already with Julia Ormond, who’s just amazing in them. I was just floored by what she was doing. … You’re getting an insight into Goren that you would have never gotten unless we did this. So it’s very, very interesting stuff.”
Ormond’s character is a condition of Goren’s return to the Major Case Squad. He was fired for insubordination at the end of the show’s eighth season, but a new captain (Jay O. Sanders) has pushed through a request to bring the brilliant, if not always stable, detective back into the fold.
“I think over the course of the eight episodes you’re going to see something of the redemptive power of psychotherapy as well as a conscious attempt to move Vincent over these eight episodes back to the psychologically complete or more wholesomely complete detective that he was in the first season of the show,” “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf says. “I think that as a subtextual theme throughout these episodes, it’s really interesting.”
D’Onofrio and Wolf both say the new season feels very much like vintage “Criminal Intent”: “There’s fast-paced, good storytelling, high-stakes stuff going on with Goren being his usual self that he was back in the day when we started doing this show,” D’Onofrio says. “He’s thinking on the fly. He’s a bit quirkier than you would expect a Major Case Squad detective to be, but he’s coming up with the answers. So it’s highly dramatic in that way.”
As for this being the final season of “Criminal Intent”? USA has been touting it as such and has given no indication that it’s looking to renew the series again, but Wolf remains an “unbridled optimist.”
“I hope that … if this is a final season, that it’s one that is enormously satisfying for the fans,” Wolf says. “And hopefully enough of them will come out so that the powers that be reconsider the decision, because I have to tell you, I don’t think Vincent and Katie have been any better ever in the series. I think it’s back to the real power of the first two seasons.”
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” airs at 9 p.m. ET Sunday on USA.