Christopher Meloni Returns To ‘Law & Order’ World With ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’
The Law and Order franchise aired a new spinoff on Thursday that reintroduced Detective Eliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), an alum of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) and the focal point of this new show, Law and Order: Organized Crime.
Stabler was last seen in the Law and Order universe on the SVU season 12 finale. In the episode, a rape victim was killed by her rapist and the victim’s daughter went after the rapist, killing him and opening fire on the station house with a gun. Stabler shot and killed the daughter, making her the sixth person he’d killed during his time on the show.
At the start of the next season, writers explained Stabler’s absence by saying he didn’t want to follow the protocol necessary to be reinstated after shooting someone. In reality, Meloni’s contract with the show had expired and negotiations fell through.
SVU continued on without Stabler for 10 more seasons, focusing on Mariska Hargitay’s character, Detective (now Captain) Olivia Benson. Benson and Stabler had been partners for the first 12 seasons of the show, occasionally acknowledging a will they/won’t they romance. After Stabler’s departure, Benson was left feeling abandoned and figuring out what was next for her in the SVU unit.
Ten years later, Stabler has returned, guest starring on an episode of SVU that led into the series premiere of Organized Crime. In the episode, Stabler’s wife, Kathy, is killed after a car bombing. Benson is on the scene, checking on the victim without realizing its Stabler’s wife. The two are thrown back into it together, trying to figure out what happened.
The writers explained what Stabler had been up to all these years, saying he worked in private security and then was the NYPD’s liaison in Rome. He and Kathy were apparently back in the city to testify at a trial and attend a ceremony that honored Benson.
Through the rest of the episode, the same hot-headed, stubborn Stabler returns to the NYPD, setting the scene for him to find his wife’s killer throughout the rest of the Organized Crime season. The new show introduces Stabler’s new boss in the Intelligence Unit, Sgt. Ayanna Bell, who challenges Stabler’s older ways of doing things and holds him accountable for his actions.
This new spin off of Law and Order comes at a time when many crime drama and cop focused TV shows are grappling with how to continue producing their shows given the spotlight on police brutality over the last year.
Organized Crime seems to be less focused on this though, and more focused on dealing with Italian and Russian mob families while Stabler searches for justice after his wife’s death.