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Baxter doesn’t ‘want to be the next Jack McCoy’ in 1st look at ‘Law & Order’ 500th episode: EXCLUSIVE

"Law & Order" star Tony Goldwyn once told us to expect "quite a lot of tension" after his character took over as the district attorney, and tonight, he's proven correct.
/ Source: TODAY

It’s only right that a big episode of television also features a big showdown between two main characters — and that’s what fans can expect during tonight’s 500th episode of "Law & Order."

In the May 9 episode "No Good Deed," Detectives Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) and Vincent Riley (Reid Scott) investigate the death of a therapist, who had many troubled clients. On the legal side of things, District Attorney Nicholas Baxter (Tony Goldwyn) takes over for his subordinate Executive Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) during the trial after a disturbing connection to the defendant is discovered, according to NBC's logline for the episode.

Baxter has only been with the team for a short while, as longtime DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) stepped down in February, but he and Price haven't gotten off to the best start. The two haven't seen eye to eye when it comes to how certain cases should be handled, and it's taking Price awhile to adjust to working with a DA who has a completely different style than McCoy.

Their tension comes to a head in the show’s 500th episode. The show will become just one of a few scripted prime-time TV shows to ever achieve the milestone, behind series like “The Simpsons” and “Law & Order: SVU,” which, coincidentally, will mark its 550th episode May 9.

"Law & Order" began airing in 1990 and ran for 20 seasons until it went off the air in 2010. In 2022, NBC brought back the show for a 21st season with veteran star Sam Waterston and a new cast, including Dancy, Camryn Manheim and Odelya Halevi.

Law & Order
Price (left) and Baxter (right) have a long way to go in their working relationship since Baxter first joined the team as the DA after McCoy stepped down. Virginia Sherwood / NBC

TODAY.com has an exclusive sneak peek at a heated scene with Baxter and Price from tonight's episode of "Law & Order."

A busy Baxter sits behind his desk and says to Price: "The damage has already been done. She said what she said. The jury will either believe her or not."

Price, standing in front of Baxter's desk, takes a step back and responds, "If that's what you think."

"No, what I think is that it would've been nice to know about the ex-girlfriend before trial," Baxter says, possibly answering the question of Price’s “disturbing connection” to the defendant, referenced in the episode's logline.

A bumbling Price agrees but points out Baxter "wanted to fast-track the case."

The DA replies that's no excuse, to which Price says: "No, that's a fact."

Baxter broadens the conversation by saying Price's "perception" of him is "starting to affect" their relationship.

"Excuse me?" Price asks.

"Let's just cut to the chase," Baxter responds. "You think I'm using this trial to get reelected, to get my name in the press." (After McCoy stepped down, the governor appointed Baxter to fill his place before the election.)

Baxter then gives Price the floor to share his honest opinion about him.

"Yes, I think the upcoming election was part of your calculus," Price says.

"And because of that you think I'm more politician than prosecutor," Baxter responds.

"No, I never said that," Price answers.

"But you think it," Baxter says.

"Jack McCoy is gone," he continues, "and I'm sorry if that distorted your sense of stability and security. But let me be as transparent as I possibly can: I am not trying to be the next Jack McCoy. I don't want to be the next Jack McCoy. I don't care how he ran this office, or how he conducted himself with the press. But that does not mean that I am some sort of political carnival barker looking to whore out this office to advance my ambition."

After a beat of silence, he continues, acknowledging Price isn't "entirely wrong."

"I am well aware that this case is getting lots of press attention. And yes, that was part of my plan, and yes, I want to win this election very badly because I love this job. And I love trying cases, and if you don't understand or respect that — or me — then you are free to get the hell out."

Law & Order
(l-r) DA Nicholas Baxter (Tony Goldwyn) with his team of ADAs, Samantha Maroun (Odelya Halevi) and Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy).Virginia Sherwood / NBC

In March, Goldwyn told TODAY.com that Baxter and Price would be "kind of sniffing each other out" in his initial episodes, as Baxter tries to assemble his team.

"They’re trying to figure out where we come from, so there’s quite a lot of tension in addition to some really interesting cases that I was really happy to see," he explained.

That tension will clearly be on display in tonight's 500th episode, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, before new episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" at 9 p.m. and "Law & Order: Organized Crime" at 10 p.m. The episodes will also stream the following day on Peacock.

(Peacock is part of our parent company, NBCUniversal.)