‘Law and Order: Organized Crime’ is not ‘SVU,’ and that’s not a bad thing
The Bensler reunion SVU enthusiasts have been waiting for finally arrived.
Apr. 14, 2021
By Dominique Hodge
When people think of Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), they think of his legacy on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.'' Ten years after leaving SVU, Stabler is back with a vengeance in “Law and Order: Organized Crime.” The spinoff may be drastically different, but it serves as a reminder of why SVU fans loved Stabler.
Stabler was initially reintroduced in the SVU episode “Return of the Prodigal Son” before debuting. In the episode, Stabler reunites with his former partner, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), after 10 years in Rome. This was a big deal for fans because of the history and chemistry between the two.
Their split in 2011 was a shock, as the dynamic duo were the main focus of the show since SVU first aired. Adding to the shock, a large number of SVU fans believe that Benson and Stabler have romantic feelings toward one another. So, for fans who wanted their theories confirmed, the split was devastating.
With the partners reunited, fans are excited for the future. As the episode progresses, Stabler endures a traumatic loss that inspires his recruitment to the organized crime task force.
In “Law and Order: Organized Crime,” Stabler actively seeks justice for his loss by joining the organized crime task force that is handling the case. In classic Stabler fashion, he uses his hot temper and quick thinking to figure out who was responsible. Stabler is taken off guard, however, when he realizes that the city and criminal justice system has changed. In this new show, the new show portrays NYPD with a greater emphasis on boundaries and ethics.
These changes are no match for detective Elliot Stabler. In the first two episodes, Stabler makes breakthroughs in the long-running investigation involving the Wheatley family, mainly Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott). The Wheatley family are the bosses of New York City’s most powerful crime syndicate. The task force struggles to find slip-ups and clues within the operation. Stabler arrives and, like in his SVU days, reads between the lines and forms connections to pull the operation apart.
The series distinguishes itself in a difficult way for Law & Order fans looking for an SVU-like model. For starters, the theme song is the SVU theme with a deeper tone. On top of that, the story format is different from SVU — because every episode is a continuation of the last one rather than every episode being a different case. The story also follows both the detectives and the criminals. These differences can become daunting for someone expecting the series to resemble SVU.
With the given changes, Benson’s recurring presence in the spinoff adds a touch of familiarity. The reunion lived past one SVU episode and there has not been an episode without Benson and Stabler together. The fire between them is inextinguishable even after 10 years of being apart.
The most enjoyable aspect of the series, besides the speculated romance, is the progression and return of Stabler’s character. In his SVU days, detective Stabler was a family man with a hunger for justice and snarky attitude. Oftentimes, he acted like a father figure to victims, seeing his kids in all of them. He worked alongside Benson, who calmed down his antics on the job. However, his methods and dedication brought justice to many victims over the years.
For the most part, Stabler’s character remains the same but with a greater intensity. His recent loss has taken a toll on his mental health and it shows. He still has a heart for family and a hunger for justice. Yet this hunger is more powerful than ever. This Stabler is angrier, more determined and less family friendly.
However, these changes do not make Stabler an unlikeable character. They instead make his character more admirable. After enduring a great loss, his determination to keep it together for the sake of his duty makes him relatable. He still has his fair share of sweet moments, too, like when he admits the truth about his newfound motivation to his captain.
“Law and Order: Organized Crime” is only two episodes in but guarantees promise. The series may be different in format and other changes, but the creators honor who Stabler is and what he meant for SVU. The opportunity in the air and the observable growth in Stabler’s nature, relationships and policing tactics make this show a worthy watch.
Edited by Chloe Konrad | firstname.lastname@example.org