How Law And Order: SVU And Organized Crime Set A New Standard For Crossovers With Benson And Stabler

Law & Order: Organized Crime SVU Stabler and Benson
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for the May 5 crossover episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime on NBC.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime have been crossing over ever since OC debuted with a backdoor pilot on SVU. The crossovers can be as minor as a character from one show briefly popping up on the other and as major as a two-part event requiring all hands on deck. The episodes on May 5 made for a two-parter, but handled in a different enough way that I would say that SVU and OC just set a new standard for Benson and Stabler partnering up. 

Of course, the current seasons of both shows are nearly over, so this may have been the last major crossover for the foreseeable future (although that’s not guaranteed), but there are some takeaways from this two-parter that could make any future events all the better.

It Actually Started On SVU

Even though the two shows star characters who were partners for over a decade (which you can revisit streaming with a Hulu subscription), they’re also very different. SVU is plot-based and procedural, whereas OC is serialized with more focus on characterization. The tones and even productions feel different to watch, which has jarred me on other crossovers. This one worked thanks to SVU taking the last few minutes of its mostly separate episode to start mixing in with Organized Crime to combine the tones. The case may have really only been explored on OC, but it was introduced on SVU, and it worked.

Both Units Were Necessary

The kidnapping of a young girl would normally be a Special Victims kind of case, but this crossover guaranteed that both units were necessary by making that young girl the daughter of a Brotherhood cop. It didn’t feel like a crossover that happened just for the sake of putting Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni back together again, although I’ll never turn that down! Everybody had something to do that fell under their area of expertise, so it felt like a true joining of forces instead of Hargitay and Octavio Pisano as Velasco guest-starring to help.

Benson And Stabler Are Getting Back To Normal

I love the Benson/Stabler dynamic as much as any longtime SVU viewer who was thrilled to learn that Christopher Meloni was reprising his role, but things have been tense between them for a long time, due originally to Stabler’s long absence and Kathy’s death, and then because of his undercover work and that pesky letter with its devastating backstory. This time, they were working as partners as much as was possible considering that she now outranks him, and he was even opening up about his dad. They’re the anchors of their respective shows, so a crossover just feels more balanced when they’re solid with each other. 

Stabler Met Noah

There was a brief window of time between the Special Victims squad closing their case of the week and Benson getting the news of young Sarah’s abduction, and Stabler met Noah Benson while he and his mom were out to celebrate Mother’s Day. No, it wasn’t Noah trying to Parent Trap them and Benson might not have introduced them if they hadn’t met by chance, but Stabler meeting Noah feels like something that is important and will stick for both shows. The cases of all the Law & Order shows only last for so long, even on the serialized OC, so something as major as Stabler meeting Noah is bound to matter in some way or other for both of the former partners. 

Law & Order: SVU has already been renewed for Season 24 with a change on the way, so there are plenty more episodes on the horizon even after the upcoming finale. Organized Crime and the Law & Order revival haven’t yet been renewed, but there can be little doubt that they’ll return in the 2022-2023 TV season as well. For now, you can continue finding new episodes of SVU at 9 p.m. ET and OC at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday nights on NBC, and check out our spring TV finale schedule for when these and more big shows are ending for the season.

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).