Did Law And Order: Organized Crime Already Set Up Richard Wheatley's Fate In The SVU Crossover?

dylan mcdermott as richard wheatley law and order organized crime
(Image credit: NBC)

The first season of Law & Order: Organized Crime was all about Elliot Stabler’s efforts to get enough evidence to nail Richard Wheatley for the murder of his wife, and now the trial is nearly here to determine whether or not he’ll go down for Kathy’s death. There seems to be plenty of evidence that he’s guilty, but there’s no guarantee that the slippery Richard Wheatley hasn’t used his time in jail to scheme a way out of his situation. Although his fate will officially be decided in the upcoming crossover with Law & Order: SVU, it’s possible that OC already gave away what will happen. Or, at the very least, what won’t happen. Fans shouldn’t count on saying goodbye to him any time soon.

Interestingly, Wheatley’s trial isn’t actually happening in the winter finale of Law & Order: Organized Crime, but earlier in the night of December 9 in the winter finale of Law & Order: SVU, with Carisi trying him for Kathy’s murder and Benson getting the unwelcome news of Barba taking on his defense. The title of the episode is “People Vs. Richard Wheatley” and the promo makes it pretty clear that there will be a strong OC presence on SVU as Season 23 decides whether he’ll go free or go to prison for a very long time. 

But one thing is safe to say: Dylan McDermott isn’t going anywhere, and that presumably means that either Wheatley will be acquitted or Wheatley will be convicted but kept close to New York City to continue playing a part in the series. McDermott was a regular in Season 1, but bumped down to recurring in Season 2. Early reports ahead of the second season indicated that he would appear in eight episodes, so there should be plenty of him still ahead even beyond Wheatley's trial.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll be exonerated, of course. He undoubtedly has some information and insight on the criminal underworld that could be of use to Stabler if found guilty, and he seemingly had fun toying with the detective in Season 1 to the point that I could imagine a back-and-forth between them as Stabler is forced to use him as a resource. 

It’s worth noting that OC wrapped up the arc with the Kosta Organization pretty definitively, and the show is poised to move on to the middle third of the season. Dick Wolf previously said that Season 2 would be split into three sections, with the first like The Godfather, the second like American Gangster, and the third like Scarface

Whatever happens in the fall finale will seemingly set up whatever happens as Organized Crime enters the American Gangster phase of Season 2, for better or worse. Plus, back in early Season 2, OC showrunner Ilene Chaiken dropped some interesting comments to Give Me My Remote about what’s in store for Wheatley. She of course didn’t reveal what would happen with his trial, but said:

Whether he will be held responsible is another matter. [In the second pod of the season] we’ll go on to tell a story about Richard Wheatley that isn’t necessarily about Kathy Stabler’s murder.

Ilene Chaiken went on to confirm that Angela Wheatley, played by Tamara Taylor and left in rough condition after her medical crisis at the end of Season 1, will “play a major role in the next chapter of the Richard Wheatley story” in the second portion of the season. Whatever the outcome of his trial in SVU, Wheatley isn’t going anywhere, and his story will even expand. The news about Dylan McDermott as a recurring actor and the Wheatleys having prominent roles in the second arc broke months ago; recent episodes of both shows provided the context of what might happen. 

Find out Richard Wheatley’s fate in the eyes of the law with the winter finale of Law & Order: SVU on Thursday, December 9 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, followed by the winter finale of Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET. Wheatley will appear in that episode as well, so it seems safe to say that the second arc is opening just as OC closes for 2021. For when both Law & Order shows will return in the new year (along with the original series for its revival), check out our 2022 winter and spring premiere schedule!

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. 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).