Elizabeth Olivet

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Dr. Elizabeth Olivet
Law & Order character
Elizabeth Olivet.jpg
First appearance "Confession"
Last appearance "Human Flesh Search Engine" (L&O)
"Deadly Ambition" (L&O: SVU)
Portrayed by Carolyn McCormick
Time on show 1991–1997, 1999, 2002–2009, 2013
Succeeded by Emil Skoda

Dr. Elizabeth Olivet is a fictional character on the TV crime drama Law & Order. She was portrayed by Carolyn McCormick from 1991 to 1997 and in 1999. The character was revived in 2002, but made far less frequent appearances on the show.

Olivet is one of only five characters who have appeared in all four of the Law & Order series set in New York City. The other four are Lennie Briscoe, Ed Green, Arthur Branch, and Elizabeth Rodgers. Olivet and police psychiatrist Emil Skoda are the only Law & Order characters to make crossover appearances on New York Undercover, another series produced by Dick Wolf. She has appeared in 92 episodes of the franchise (87 episodes of Law & Order, 4 episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 1 episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and 1 episode of Law & Order: Trial by Jury).

Character biography[edit]

Olivet is introduced as a clinical psychologist who performs consultation work for the 27th Detective Squad and District Attorney's office in Manhattan. She is usually tasked with interviewing murder suspects to assess whether or not they are legally sane, and to assist the DA's office in forming psychological profiles.

In her first appearance, she is hired by the precinct as a grief counselor when Max Greevey is murdered in the line of duty (L&O: "Confession"). After a rocky start, she helps Greevey's partner, Det. Mike Logan, cope with the loss, and the two form a close bond. The character appears in several episodes afterward.

Her therapeutic philosophy is gradually revealed throughout her tenure on the show. She is very by the book, and hates, especially as shown in Season 3, Episode 14, therapists who exploit their relationships with patients. While able to see through a suspect who is malingering, she does not offer easy answers with more complicated cases. This tendency results some frustration to Executive ADA Ben Stone and particularly to his successor, Jack McCoy, whose prosecution strategies are sometimes hampered by her diagnoses. She is also generally in favor of compassionate, involved psychotherapy in mental institutions, rather than imprisonment or antipsychotic drugs, for genuinely disturbed criminals; this is often shown to clash with the detectives' sense of justice.

In the 1992 episode "Helpless", Olivet is molested and raped by a gynecologist she is attempting to investigate. While the doctor is eventually incarcerated, Olivet's emotional scars never truly heal. In the 1994 episode "Breeder", she reveals that she has never been married. Several years later, as she is talking to Logan in the 2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "To the Bone", she is implied to have started a family.

The character was effectively written out of the show in 1997; in the Law & Order universe, Olivet goes into private practice. She is replaced by Dr. Emil Skoda. In the 2002 season, she returns to do freelance work with the DA's office. She would later appear in several episodes of L&O.

In the 2008 episode "Betrayal", McCoy reveals that, in her days as a grief counselor, Olivet had sex with a police detective whose partner had been murdered; while not directly stated, it is implied that the detective was Logan. In "Betrayal", Olivet feels compelled to contradict the prosecution's expert witness, Dr. Lydia Stronach, who had done studies that were officially censured as dangerous and damaging by the authoritative body in her field. When Olivet informs McCoy that she will be testifying for the defense, he feels he has no other choice but to provide Michael Cutter, his successor as Executive ADA, with information that could be used in their favor when cross-examining Olivet. When Cutter questions Olivet during the trial, she confirms the affair, but adds that she stopped treating the (still unnamed) detective shortly after the relationship began.

McCoy's volatile relationship with Olivet begins with his first encounter with her in the 1994 episode "Blue Bamboo". In that episode, Olivet interviews a defendant who had murdered a sexually abusive employer and informs McCoy professionally that she believes the woman was traumatized by the abuse she suffered. McCoy retorts belligerently that she does not belong on his witness list. Since then, McCoy has had a tenuous relationship with Olivet, and it is not clear why. At times, he has retreated from his defensive position to convince her to help; examples include the episode "Privileged", in which McCoy needs her expert testimony to convict an alcoholic accused of murdering his foster parents.

Appearance outside of Law & Order[edit]

  • In the 1996 New York Undercover episode "Smack Is Back", she counsels Detective Nina Moreno.
  • In the 2000 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Baby Killer", she is hired by a defense attorney to help defend a young boy accused of murder and finds herself at odds with a former colleague, Alexandra Cabot. She also makes brief appearances in the SVU episodes "...Or Just Look Like One", "Abuse" and "Deadly Ambition".
  • In the Law & Order: Trial by Jury episode "Day", Olivet consults with Tracey Kibre on the mental stability of a rape suspect that Kibre is prosecuting.
  • In the 2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "To the Bone", Logan asks her for advice after he accidentally kills an undercover police officer.
  • Also on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Olivet treats Detective Alexandra Eames after her abduction ("Siren Call"), and Detective Robert Goren while he is on suspension ("Purgatory").

External links[edit]