I never did catch the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode last season that reintroduced Det. Mike Logan. I don’t think it ever got syndicated on USA.

So pretty much tonight’s (10/02) CI is the first time I’ve seen Logan back in action. (And no, I didn’t watch Exile.)

I rather like how Det. Carolyn Barek (Annabella Sciorra) is the Goren of the team. She talks to herself, and she speaks six different languages. She’s also perceptive enough to catch Logan’s “rum punch” crack to use it during the big interrogation scene.

I also like how Logan’s backstory gets more pronounced in the CI realm. He owns his exile to Staten Island when roughs up the fence in the pool hall, and the pained expression on his face when his partner calls him out on the “rum punch” — a mix of hurt and WTF? — is just great.

Of course, the shoutout to Briscoe put a twist in my heart.

Goren is such a star overachiever, it seems like Capt. Deakins never worries. It’s nice to see Deakins stress out over Logan’s and Barek’s progress.

And yet …

The episode seemed to lack much fire. It’s been 10 years since Logan has been a part of the Law & Order universe, so it’s natural he seems a lot more hardened and haunted than he was back in the early ’90s. And yet Noth seems to be playing him a bit too cool.

Cool, though, is better than twitchy, so Noth’s presence on the show is a nice antidote to Vincent D’Onofrio’s scenery-chewing. D’Onofrio’s presence has become so overwhelming in the last two seasons, the other cast members seem like props.

I’m hoping the more even-keeled partnership between Barek and Logan creates some sparks. I’m thinking Logan’s loose cannon rep is going to butt against Barek’s loner investigative style. I just hope it happens soon.