Why Law And Order: SVU's Benson Could Be Essential To Stabler's Undercover Journey On Organized Crime

law and order organized crime season 1 finale stabler and benson nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

Law & Order: Organized Crime and Law & Order: SVU are just days away from finally returning for their next seasons on NBC. While neither ended their previous season on a life-or-death cliffhanger, it's safe to say that things never stay too calm when it comes to the Law & Order shows. In fact, Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler will be going undercover when Season 2 of Organized Crime premieres. Even though Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson will undoubtedly have plenty happening on her own show, some comments from Meloni combined with Benson and Stabler's dynamic may indicate that she'll be essential to his undercover journey.

Details are scarce so far about what Stabler will be doing undercover and how deeply he'll be buried, but Gina's fate in Season 1 was proof that things can go sideways very quickly when a cop is under. Stabler does have some history with undercover work thanks to his years on SVU. Going incognito with members of the organized crime underbelly of New York City probably won't be especially good for Stabler after what he went through in Season 1, but that may be where Benson comes in. Speaking at NBCUniversal's Summer TCA press tour, Meloni previewed what's in store for Stabler:

You know, from what I've heard from the undercovers I've spoken with, you really kind of do lose yourself in the job. And I think we find Elliot in that place, whether it's intentional or unconsciously intentional. Because I think he was introduced back into the franchise under very stressful circumstances, obviously, both vis-a-vis his life and, you know, trying to come to terms with what exactly Benson is to him and his new life, both personally and professionally. So, we now have Elliot undercover, and I think Benson recognizes certain telltale signs that he might need to talk to people or, you know, maybe it's not the most healthy place for him to be in the moment. But it does put a strain on how Benson and Stabler engage each other, and – but also the writers from both shows have written it in such a way that our lives do overlap and intersect. So, you know, we engage each other I guess from a more professional angle there for a few shows, and a little bit from the personal side.

Stabler losing himself in the job of working undercover wouldn't be too surprising, considering how invested in cases he can get, going all the way back to Christopher Meloni's days on Law & Order: SVU. Following the death of Kathy (and really probably before as well), Benson knows Stabler better than anybody else, and her being able to pick up on "telltale signs" that he needs help could make her incredibly important to Organized Crime in Season 2, even though she presumably spends most of her time investigating sex crimes on her own show, especially with a reduced cast of returning regulars.

That's not to say that Stabler would accept Benson attempting to get him to open up right off the bat, no matter whether she does it out of professional interest or personal concern as their lives overlap in certain ways. He may have recovered somewhat from the emotional wringer of Season 1, but he's still Elliot Stabler. She could definitely be essential when it comes to keeping Stabler from going too deep and losing himself too much in the job, even if he wouldn't necessarily appreciate it at first.

Not everything will necessarily be doom and gloom for Stabler and Benson in Organized Crime Season 2 and SVU Season 23, however. His return last season proved that their bond can survive pretty much anything, for better or worse. Plus, Christopher Meloni dropped some interesting comments in response to the question of whether Law & Order fans should hold out hope for a romance between Stabler and Benson. Meloni said:

Hope springs eternal. I mean, why not? I think it's going to be a collaborative effort between both showrunners for SVU and OC, and I believe with Mariska and I to kind of figure it all out. It's a complicated relationship. So, we'll see.

Whatever happens for Stabler and Benson on Organized Crime and SVU in the 2021-2022 TV season, I just hope that fans find out the contents of Stabler's mysterious letter at some point! Fortunately, both shows will soon be back on the airwaves, regardless of whether or not that letter makes an appearance. Law & Order: SVU returns to NBC with a two-hour Season 23 premiere on September 23, starting at 8 p.m. ET. Law & Order: Organized Crime will finish out the night at 10 p.m. ET.

The Dick Wolf TV universe that includes both Law & Order shows is growing this season, even though the plans for another Law & Order spinoff to premiere this fall fell through. Another FBI series will premiere on CBS next week as well, bringing the total number of shows sharing a universe (including SVU and Organized Crime) up to eight, thanks to the FBIs and One Chicago.

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 and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).