Law & Order SVU — The Agent Sykes Character Explain

Agent Sykes is a character introduced in a later season of Law & Order: SVU and keen-eyed viewers will recognize the actress from her previous projects. With 25 seasons of Law & Order: SVU, there has been an almost soap opera number of actors to come through the police procedural. Many of these new faces often only stick around for an episode or two. Those guest stars in Law & Order: SVU are a defining aspect of the show, with many notable actors having a stint on the series.

Along with the guest stars, there are plenty of characters not part of the main cast who appear in substantial roles and contribute to the story for a season or even longer. Agent Shannah Sykes may not have been on the series for years, but her entrance into the cast is more significant than someone coming in for a minor villain or victim role. Season 25 of Law & Order: SVU premiered on January 18, 2024, and with only 13 episodes, it’s the shortest in the series’ history, but it’s still enough time to introduce one key character.

Agent Shannah Sykes Worked For The FBI Before Joining SVU

She Has Expert Knowledge Of Child Kidnappings Due To A Traumatic Incident In Her Past

Shannah Sykes (Jordana Spiro) carrying coffees in Law & Order SVU.
Agent Shannah Sykes is an FBI agent “on loan” from the Federal offices to the New York City Special Victims Unit. She first appears in season 25, episode 5, “Zone Rouge”, where she helps the SVU during the Maddie Flynn (Allison Elaine) case, using her intimate knowledge of child kidnappings as her sister was abducted and killed when she was young.

After the case is solved, Sykes asks Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) if she can join SVU on a loan basis, offering up the FBI’s considerable resources to Benson’s department. Sykes remains a fixture in the series, popping in to help with some key cases, including Leah Tan’s (Anastasia Lin) sexual assault case.

Sykes brings a personal urgency to the Flynn case and her internal struggle as those old memories come flooding back is effectively conveyed by Jordana Spiro. Spiro makes it clear that Sykes is joining Benson’s team out of a sense of obligation towards her sister and hope to resolve the issues of her past, rather than as some ambitious career move or exciting pursuit.

Agent Sykes Actress Jordana Spiro Starred In Ozark & My BoysRoy (Jason Butler Harner) and Rachel (Jordana Spiro) talking in Ozark

Dr. Grace Devlin (Jordana Spiro) working on a patient in The Mob Doctor.

Jordana Spiro has had a prolific career in both television and movies, starting in 1995 when she appeared in a one-episode role on Maybe This Time as a character named Chase. Notably, she played Rachel Garrison in the crime thriller series Ozark and starred as P.J. Franklin in the sitcom My Boys. These three characters are all very different and illustrate Spiro’s wide range as an actor.

Agent Sykes is a talented and capable officer, unafraid to ask for what she wants or push herself. Rachel, on the other hand, is much less self-assured and her descent into Marty Byrde’s (Jason Bateman) criminal world is distressing as she’s coerced into increasingly illegal acts. Then, as P.J., she’s once again confident, but in a much more self-conscious and humorous manner, as a Chicago sportswriter who finds it hard to date with her loving but needy group of male friends constantly involved in her business.

P.J. Franklin (Jordana Spiro) smiling in My Boys.

Interestingly, Spiro appeared as a different character in Law & Order: SVU season 23, episode 22, “A Final Call at Forlini’s Bar”. She played Delia Hackman, a woman who murdered her abusive husband. It’s unknown if Agent Sykes will remain on Law & Order: SVU, but Spiro has plenty of range to make the character compelling for seasons to come.

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