Spoilers ahead for Episode 8 of Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3, called “Whipping Post.”
With the midseason finale coming up very soon, Law & Order: Organized Crime is presumably nearing the end of the first arc of Season 3. “Whipping Post” ended with the task force on the verge of being disbanded, with Bell taking a well-deserved promotion. At the same time, it seems like a pretty safe bet that the task force ultimately won’t be permanently shut down and the detectives will close the current case. The reveal of this episode that’s harder to figure out is what will happen after Stabler evidently made a drunken declaration of love to Tia… and it’s almost certainly about Benson.
See, when I say “drunken declaration,” I mean that it sounds like he more or less announced that he’s in love with somebody to Tia while they were getting hammered together, following the last episode’s cliffhanger. Organized Crime didn’t actually show whatever he said, so we have to rely on what Tia said about it:
Stabler – bless his messy heart – went a full 14 seconds without saying anything before coming up with “I did?” and then focusing all his energy on buttering his toast. The expression on Tia’s face made it clear that yes, he absolutely did say that. He evidently didn’t drop a name, but of the women in his circle, I think that fans can probably agree that he was thinking of Benson. In fact, this wouldn’t even be the first time that he said he loved her and then took way too long to process what he’d done.
For her part, Tia seemed to take pity on him and decided to drop some advice on him rather than keep hinting about learning the name of the woman he loves, saying:
To Stabler’s credit, he didn’t respond to “Love shouldn’t be complicated” by starting to spill 20+ years of stories about his previous partner on Tia (or suggesting a Peacock subscription to binge-watch twelve seasons of SVU), which would have proved to her just how incredibly complicated his and Benson’s relationship has become in the years since the pilot. He never said much of anything whenever she alluded to whatever he said, in fact, and fans will have to look at Christopher Meloni’s performance for interpretation.
Now, as somebody who enjoys the drama of the ambiguity and complications of the Benson/Stabler relationship – whether it’s professional, platonic, or romantic – the good detective drunkenly unloading his feelings on the woman who may or may not have dropped by with the goal of seducing him was a fun surprise, but it also leaves me wondering: does OC (or SVU, for that matter) actually have a plan to go anywhere with this?
The sticky issue that has kept me from ever going all-in on seeing too much of Benson and Stabler together is simply that Mariska Hargitay (who was recently described as a “female powerhouse”) is the star of SVU and Christopher Meloni is the star of OC. The two shows are very different, and run by different people, and the two stars haven’t even done much crossing over to each other’s show this season.
If there’s a plan in place, then fans could be in for a development between Benson and Stabler. If not… well, fans may need to prepare themselves to just see Benson’s take on the relationship every once in a while on SVU and Stabler’s take every once in a while on OC. I personally enjoy the ambiguity and get a kick out of whenever either of them mentions the other, but 24 seasons of SVU and three seasons of OC already are a long time to wait for any fans who will want more after getting these clues about Stabler’s feelings.
Only one more episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime is left in 2022, and Benson doesn’t appear in the promo, so viewers probably shouldn’t start hoping that Mariska Hargitay will make a guest appearance. See how OC wraps up the current arc (and hopefully stays together as one task force) with the fall finale on Thursday, December 8 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following the SVU finale that may just see Rollins and Carisi tie the knot in honor of Kelli Giddish’s exit. For when all three Law & Order shows will return in the new year, check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule.
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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.
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