Why Law And Order: Organized Crime's Conflict Within The Unit Is A Good Thing For Stabler

Chris Meloni as Elliot Stabler in Law and Order: Organized Crime
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 2 of Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3, called “Everybody Knows the Dice are Loaded.”

The first episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime was one third of the three-part crossover with the original Law & Order and SVU last week, but Stabler, Bell, and the rest were back to business as usual with the second episode. The first arc of Season 3 centers on Stabler wanting to take down the Silas family as they get their hands dirty in trying to build a casino in New York. Stabler wanted to investigate the mysterious death of the only man who stood in the way of the family getting to start construction in earnest. In the process, the detective caused some conflict in the Organized Crime unit, but that’s not a bad thing.

Part of what fueled Stabler’s drive to investigate the death of Henry Cole – who had refused to leave his apartment and allow the full casino construction to commence – was his immediate dislike of Teddy Silas, and the young man’s extremely transparent attempt to turn an apology into an alliance. The official story behind Cole’s demise was that he’d gotten drunk and fallen off his balcony to his death, which pretty much everybody except for Stabler believed. It was an extremely long shot in a politically fraught situation, which resulted in Bell specifically telling Stabler not to make any moves without speaking with her first. 

Well, anybody who watched twelve seasons of Christopher Meloni’s character on SVU and/or two full seasons of Organized Crime probably won’t be surprised that he did the exact opposite of what his sergeant told him. When Bell found out what he’d done instead of just showing the ropes to the task force newcomer as she'd instructed, she flat-out asked him if he respected her. When he said that “of course” he does, she wanted to know why he didn’t follow her orders. He kind of tried to play dumb that he’d done anything against what she’d told him, but she wasn’t having it. Bell said:

You’re not asking me questions. I’m asking you questions. Now, we have been down this road before. I will not be undermined. Is that clear? … I told you to wait. Elliot, everything that has to do with this casino is political dynamite, and it has to be handled with tact, strategy.

You tell him, Bell! When Stabler pointed out that “those aren’t exactly my strong suits,” she replied that they are hers, and he dropped two important words that don’t always come easily to him: “I’m sorry.” It was an important conversation, and their later interactions in the episode proved that neither one of them was holding a grudge about it, but it’s a good thing for Bell to put him in his place. 

He may be older, was technically right with his hunch in this case, and has enough of an infamous reputation that Mariska Hargitay’s Captain Benson is still getting flak about working with him over on SVU, but Bell outranks him. (And Hargitay certainly got no flak for her adorable Emmy moments with Chris Meloni!) 

When he went rogue on the procedural SVU, it generally only caused problems for one case before the show moved on. With Organized Crime as a serialized show, Stabler going rogue can cause problems on a massive scale. Bell can’t be as lenient with him as Cragen (who made an appearance in OC last season) was, and he should be setting an example for the younger detectives this time around. He had to think on his feet without running everything by his sergeant when he was undercover; that’s not the case anymore, and he needed this conflict and lecture from Bell to start Season 3. 

Will this lesson actually stick with Stabler? That remains to be seen, so keep tuning in to NBC on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of Law & Order: Organized Crime, following Law & Order: SVU at 9 p.m. and Law & Order at 8 p.m. You can also watch episodes streaming with a Peacock subscription the day after they air on NBC. For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, be sure to check out our 2022 TV 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. 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).