Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay in Law and Order:SVU

2021 strikes again - but this time, it’s so good. The long running, NBC staple crime series Law and Order: SVU has returned for its 22nd season and a longtime favorite duo will be reuniting this year. After a 10-year absence, Detective Elliot Stabler will be returning to the screen and teaming up with Detective Olivia Benson once more but, now, you can see the two character reunited in a behind-the-scenes photo.

Christopher Meloni, who plays Stabler, posted a picture of himself with Mariska Hargitay, who is Olivia Benson, to his Instagram with the caption “We’re getting closer.” With Meloni’s return already confirmed for season 22, it looks like he’ll be appearing fairly soon. Check out Meloni's post down below:

Fans seem to have noticed Christopher Meloni is wearing Stabler’s classic suit and tie look in the photo, and they are going wild. Fans are commenting on Meloni’s post with ten years worth of suppressed Benson/Stabler shipping. While the hopes of romance blooming between the two have long been buried, having them on the screen together again has seemed to more than satisfy the Bensler-starved fandom.

NBC itself commented on the photo saying “the MOST [fire] duo”, and fans seem to wholeheartedly agree. The reactions to the photo have a wide range of excitement from “CRYIN IN DA CLUB” to “I’m a little bit DEAD”. Needless to say, NBC knew exactly what the fans wanted, and the network definitely delivered.

In fact, not only will Stabler return to Law and Order: SVU in some capacity this season, but he is getting his own spinoff series. Law and Order: Organized Crime is confirmed to be headed by Stabler, as he returns to the NYPD after suffering a huge personal loss. As of right now, it’s unclear in how Benson might crossover into this new spinoff. Fans have high hopes, and it seems rather likely that it’ll be a solid reunion. It would be unlikely that Stabler’s return to SVU would be unrelated to the start of Organized Crime.

This new series has perked a lot of interest, especially concerning the personal loss of Stabler’s that has been teased. Stabler is known as a hothead, and he experienced plenty of repercussions for this when he was a detective for SVU ten years ago. This can be expected to also play a part in how he responds to this loss and his return to the NYPD in the Organized Crime Unit.

Of course, this is only speculation for now. We can expect some answers when Stabler appears on screen in SVU. New episodes of Law and Order: SVU air on NBC Thursday’s at 9 p.m. ET. Law and Order: Organized Crime was pushed back due to the pandemic, but is set to air sometime this year.

Cinemablend will continue to stay up to date on Law & Order but, until more news on this is released, check out our current updated TV schedule.

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