The television universe just became dangerously unstable with the news that the man at the center of it, Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch, is retiring. Munch turned in his retirement papers on last night’s episode of Law & Order: SVU, with selfish disregard for both Mariska Hargitay—who’s already suffered the loss of Christopher Meloni, leaving her pretty much down to Ice-T—and the fabrics of the various intertwined TV realities he’s connected ever since his 1993 introduction on Homicide: Life On The Street, everything from The Wire to Arrested Development to The X-Files.
Next week’s episode will see Munch get an official send-off with a retirement party that, according to the episode description, also features a rape victim, because everything in Law & Order: SVU does. On that show you can’t even go out for coffee without tripping over a rape victim, which may explain why Munch is retiring—presumably to concentrate on his hobbies like “not talking about rape.” Fortunately for the stability of television, Munch is expected to pop up here and there on the show, extending his tenure as TV’s longest-running character by ensuring that it doesn’t go spinning into oblivion.
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