Fans of the record-breaking hit Law & Order: SVU have been hoping, praying and probably writing some very emotional letters to producers to try and get Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler and Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson back on screen together since Meloni left the character behind in 2011. Now, of course, we know that a reunion in imminent, with both the SVU Season 22 premiere and the arrival of Meloni's spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, this fall. But, how does Meloni feel about his character being able to join his old friend once again?
While we know that Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay have remained friends off camera in the almost 10 years since he left Stabler and the SVU behind, fans haven't seen or heard of his tough and dedicated (but sometimes troubled) cop since the Season 13 premiere, when it was revealed that he'd retired from the force off screen. So, audiences have no idea what to expect when Stabler meets up with his former partner and friend again. With all of the expectations surrounding this reunion, here's what Meloni told the New York Post about Benson and Stabler coming back together:
It just has to be. Benson and Stabler are inextricably linked, locked and connected. I think there is truly and deeply a worthwhile, inherent drama in exploring that relationship and the complexity of how Stabler left — the unresolved emotions both characters feel and how the fans feel.
Well, Christopher Meloni is certainly correct in thinking that a reunion between Stabler and Benson "just has to be." Long-time viewers of Law & Order: SVU were largely devastated when he left the series, and have been wondering about the prospects of seeing his character again ever since. Plus, many fans were hoping (despite the fact that Stabler has a wife, Kathy) that he and Benson would have some time to do things that naked, consenting adults like to do, which never happened during his original tenure on the show, much to their (OK, fine...our) collective chagrin.
As I mentioned above, the character did not leave the show in the most satisfying way for fans. To have watched Stabler's ups and downs for 12 seasons, and then have him written off without the character getting a proper send-off on camera was a huge disappointment. Also, the ensuing years of Benson continuing to grow in her role on the force, without ever talking about the man who was once her very good friend, have seemed a bit odd.
As such, fans have always had a ton of questions about how Stabler left and what it would look like when he and Benson saw each other again, because it's appeared that the two haven't spoken, much less seen each other in person, in almost a decade. Did Stabler ever bother to talk to his former partner after he retired from the force? Have they kept in contact, but he asked that Benson not talk about him at work? Is Stabler still married, or can he and Benson finally bone now?
Warren Leight, SVU's showrunner, has pretty much confirmed that Stabler will be in the premiere of that series when it returns, but with fans likely being hungry for as much of Stabler and Benson together as possible, here's what Christopher Meloni had to say about the chances we could see more than one such interaction:
How my character left was really unsatisfying, I think. It almost feels that we won’t do one or two [crossover] episodes and move on our merry way. I just think there will always be possibilities there. People will always be hungry to see how we interact and how that dynamic has changed.
I don't doubt it at all. Honestly, if they did another spinoff and just called it Law & Order: BenStab, literally everyone would watch it, even with that terrible title.
Hopefully, we'll have some idea of how much we can see Stabler and Benson's new dynamic before too long, with Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime both (again, hopefully) coming to NBC this fall. Until then, you can see what's coming to TV in the next few weeks!