Is Law And Order: Organized Crime Preparing Stabler To Settle Down (Whether He Likes It Or Not)?

Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler in Law & Order: Organized Crime
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3, called “All That Glitters.”

The Law & Order: Organized Crime task force was on the case of some gold smugglers in “All That Glitters,” which had some light moments despite a very serious criminal operation. On top of Jet and Whelan going undercover as an engaged couple, an Italian cop by the name of Tia who had worked with Stabler during his post-SVU years arrived, and reunited with him to try and help close the case. By the end of the hour, I found myself wondering: is OC doing the seemingly impossible and preparing Stabler to actually settle down?

Admittedly, given that this is Stabler we’re talking about, "settling down" might just amount to him being less of a (sometimes reckless) wild card rather than becoming more domestic overnight. Plus, the twist that benched him in “All That Glitters” was out of his control, so he might not even want to do any settling. Still, between a comment from Bell, the arrival of Tia, and his own realizations about his family, change may be on the horizon for the former SVU detective. 

He Can’t Go Undercover Anymore

Stabler spent a good portion of Season 2 undercover, first as Eddie with the Albanian mob and then as himself to get his way into the NYPD’s corrupt Brotherhood. As Bell pointed out in “All That Glitters,” Stabler’s face has been all over the news due to the Brotherhood trial, so Reyes had to do an undercover operation in his place. Going undercover last season helped him not only to escape the problems of his own life, but go rogue without nearly as much oversight as he has as plain old Detective Stabler. He learned early in Season 3 that going rogue won't fly anymore after some conflict with Bell, and he seems more or less okay with it. 

He's An Empty-Nester

Organized Crime made me feel very old as a longtime Law & Order: SVU fan with the reveal that Eli Stabler (who was born in a memorable episode of SVU) was away at college. Stabler also revealed that his mom had been staying with her grandkids for a month, and admitted that he is an “empty nester” to Tia. For some characters, suddenly living alone in an empty nest might mean the opposite of settling down more, but Stabler seemed more reflective than ready to live out a mid-life crisis with some wild oats to sow. It seems that instead of wanting to enjoy not having any kids or his mom on hand, he’s – to quote Tia – a “lonely bird.”

He Didn’t Immediately Open The Door

Tia called Stabler at the end of the episode to say that she could use a drink, and Stabler stalled by asking where she was. The reveal that she was right outside of his door meant that he had to make a decision: let her inside after she dropped some suggestive comments, or not open the door. Earlier in Organized Crime, I can imagine that Stabler would have opened it up without much internal debate, but the episode ended with both characters standing on opposite sides of the closed door. Fans ultimately didn’t see whether he did ever let her in, but the last thing he did in “All That Glitters” was heave a big sigh. 

There’s no indication that Ayelet Zurer is coming back to Organized Crime to reprise her role as Tia as a series regular, so it seems unlikely that this was the beginning of a relationship storyline. This may have been meant to say more about Stabler’s character (and increased willingness to settle down) than setting something up for them in the long run. Plus, the promo for the next episode features Stabler saying that his “heart and soul are in this place” in response to the possibility that the task force could be shut down. Could he be in for some soul-searching and realizations about his life? 

Or am I just being too optimistic about Stabler becoming a lot more self-aware than he has been since returning for his spinoff? I’m self-aware enough to know that I’m also hoping for a Benson/Stabler reunion after he makes some realizations about himself, and there’s no news of another crossover on the way. I’d settle for some more crossover-free nods to their relationship, though!

Find out where Stabler’s head is with new episodes of Law & Order: Organized Crime on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. You can also start planning ahead for the new year with our 2023 winter premiere schedule, and/or revisit earlier episodes of OC streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription

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.