Is Law And Order: Organized Crime Making Stabler Too Messy In Season 1?

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(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for the fourth episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime, called "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of."

Law & Order: Organized Crime continued exploring the aftermath of the murder of Kathy Stabler this week with new revelations, and the arc probably isn't going to wrap any time soon. Understandably, her husband was traumatized by her violent death, and is continuing to deal with PTSD. That said, as much as it makes sense for Elliot Stabler to be an emotional mess after suddenly losing Kathy, I'm beginning to think that he's way too messy for the launch of a brand new series.

While Stabler's dogged approach to investigating the death of his wife led to the breakthrough that Kathy had been the target of the bomb rather than Stabler himself, he's pretty much a wreck in every other part of his life. In "The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of," his sudden realization that social media location tags could lead him to finding a couple with photos of the site of the explosion was followed by nearly hitting a cyclist and causing a car accident, all with Eli in the car.

The nightmares are continuing, and he's been refusing to open up to anybody, to the point that Kathleen Stabler tearfully met with Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson in another guest appearance from Law & Order: SVU to recruit her for an intervention on Stabler, with all five kids on hand as well, saying that the only way the intervention could work would be if Benson was part of it. Benson was reluctant, which I can't blame her for after how Stabler handled their earlier interactions in Organized Crime to that point.

She agreed to stage the intervention with the Stabler kids, and it went about as well as could be expected for an Elliot Stabler intervention: not well. He opened up enough to say that he felt like he was drowning, but everybody trying to help was just making it worse. He also looked Benson straight in the face and told her he loved her, and it was several long moments before he seemed to realize that he said it out loud in front of all his kids and added that he loved all of them.

Look, I'm as much of a fan of the Benson/Stabler dynamic as anybody (although I tend to prefer them as very close friends to the prospect of anything romantic), but Stabler blurting those three little words out in front of his kids at the intervention they staged after the murder of their mother was possibly the messiest thing that has happened in Organized Crime so far, since it didn't even involve the case. His struggles to deal with the case are bleeding through to his personal life more than ever, and it's not healthy.

And it's obviously not supposed to be healthy, or else Organized Crime wouldn't keep bringing in Benson to try and help Stabler, but Stabler being such a wreck is really distracting me so early in the series. When I look at this version of Stabler, I don't want him working as an officer of law or holding a position of authority or even really driving a car after he just caused an accident with his teenage son in the passenger seat, because he's obviously suffering and needs an outlet other than investigating the murder of his wife.

Considering that not all Organized Crime viewers presumably come from enough of an SVU background to give Stabler the benefit of the doubt based on him at his best, I really am starting to believe that Organized Crime went too far in breaking him down. At the same time, Stabler does of course need to mourn his wife, and Kathy deserves that at least after everything, so there's a delicate balance. I'm just not sure that Organized Crime has found that balance yet.

Be sure to vote in our poll below as to whether Stabler is too messy to start this series! Law & Order: Organized Crime will be off for another couple of weeks, but will return for another big two-part crossover with Law & Order: SVU, so it should be interesting to see any differences between this crossover and the one that launched Organized Crime in the first place. SVU and Organized Crime come together again on Thursday, May 13 starting with SVU at 9 p.m. ET and finishing with Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET, all on NBC.

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Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.