Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×06 “Unforgivable” further blurred the line between undercover fiction and reality for Elliot Stabler. Sure, he’s still in the middle of an increasingly dangerous undercover operation, as he has been for all of season 2. Obviously, Christopher Meloni and his assets remain front and center. Nothing’s really changed there…But what about Detective Stabler’s sense of family, which has always been a huge defining part of his sense of self?
Olivia Benson warned us. Or, well, she warned him when she told Elliot she wanted him to come home before there was none of him left. It’s really subtle as of right now, but if you take a look at Stabler’s touching interactions with both his mom and Eli over the past five episodes, then look at his quick trip home in 2×06 “Unforgivable,” there’s a marked difference. Instead of being the loving son toward Bernie, he was all irritation and refusing his breakfast. Rather than bonding, all smiles, over chatting about joining the soccer team with Eli like we saw in the Law & Order: Organized Crime season 2 premiere, he was back to the “tough” dad we saw with the older kids back in the SVU days.
Granted, when you think about Eli’s recent behavior, Elliot’s tougher love isn’t exactly out of character for the “new” Stabler. And bickering with one’s mother, especially when over-stressed and in a rush to get back to something as dangerous and difficult as infiltrating the Kosta Organization, doesn’t have to be a sign of losing oneself.
…but then there were the very specific choices made in terms of dialogue in this episode.
When Stabler stormed into the squad room to ask how they’d overlooked the real Eddie Wagner having a son, he responded to what they learned about Louis Chinasky by identifying with Eddie in the first person: “Not only am I an arsonist, but I am also a child abuser.” Or there’s also “he came looking for his piece of trash father, and I convinced him I’m still a piece of trash.” It’s subtle, but it’s there. And it’s not at all surprising that Olivia saw it coming before pretty much anyone else did.
And again, it’s not, “oh, Elliot is out of his mind” or anything like that—it’s just that he could go there, with just the right push. Or maybe he’s not headed down the path of too much Eddie; the problem could just as easily be that too much Elliot is pouring through the cracks in the facade.
Elliot should be looking out for his own son, yet isn’t—that’s already well established. But when Bell tells him to get rid of Eddie’s son, he can’t quite make that work either. In some Stabler guilt complex sort of way, he just can’t bring himself to be a mean enough bastard to scare off someone he knows was abused as child. Instead, all he does is give Louis someone to look up to:
“I don’t want to be like my father. My father was an abusive sociopath. I want to be like you.”
Which…can we take a minute to think about how bad Louis’ life has been, that he wants to be like whatever “Eddie Wagner” persona Elliot has created? It’s awful on so many levels. And you know who definitely realizes that? Elliot Stabler.
Louis wasn’t alone in getting the benefit of the Zaddy Stabler experience. When he interacted with Reggie Bogdani in Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×06 “Unforgivable,” he had to fill a “family” role, moreso than usual. Reggie was pouring his heart out, mentioned wishing his dad was around, and managed to give El just what he needed to dig for more information. It’s highly probable that his conscience will eat at him for taking gross advantage here because that’s just who our guy is.
And again, he’s either become too attached to whatever bond his fake identity has with Reggie, is just being too much of himself in this conversation, or some blurred, convoluted version of both. The same softening that Meloni has usually given us whenever his character is around Bernie or Eli made an appearance in Eddie’s heart to heart with Reggie. It fits with his need to “work” the guy for information, but it’s still really interesting to watch. Again, it was definitely a choice in terms of both performance and story.
And the words coming out of Stabler’s mouth…Well. Imagine him saying them to someone else. (But, like, definitely not the “you’re my boy” part. That’d be weird.)
“Why? Because of what we’ve been through—you and me. All the things that you’ve done for me.”
Reggie’s missing his dad, so just like with Louis, it falls on “Eddie” to fill that role. Because there’s a real father figure hiding out in there, and his name is Elliot. And that would be great, if the Albanians weren’t already wary of trusting an outsider. But they are. And he’s the type of outsider who’s not so great at being whoever it is he’s supposed to be, one way or another.
Between the Kosta Organization’s leadership knowing there’s a rat and just these teeny, tiny snippets of hints about just how deep Elliot is and how close—even under a false identity—he’s gotten to Reggie, Law & Order: Organized Crime is clearly signaling that this particular investigation is near its end. Or, you know, there’s also that whole thing where the series was already described in terms of having these chunks of seven or eight episodes. But still. The actual plot is pointing us toward some closure here, and it’s all out of necessity.
Even Stabler’s whole “kinda nice not to be me for a while” thing isn’t going to hold up much longer. Not only is it causing Eli to act out…but he’s also not exactly using his “Eddie” persona as a method of escaping his trauma anymore if he’s witnessing it happening to other people. Elliot was the driver when Teddy Garcia heard his wife being shot over the phone. As he snuck back to his life as “Eddie,” there’s no way he missed hearing Garcia’s wailing for help while he clutched his dead (dying?) wife.
It hasn’t been quite so long since El witnessed his own wife’s murder by a member of a prominent crime organization. This wasn’t the exact same situation, but it was close enough for someone who buried himself in the job, running away to another life, to get away from working through his issues. The potential harm there, of setting back Detective Stabler’s recovery, is almost scarier than what could happen to him (but won’t, seeing as how Law & Order: Organized Crime is, you know, his star vehicle) if Kosta ever found out who he really was.
Random Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×06 thoughts
- “This way, he can suffer awhile.” Let’s just hope Garcia’s wife was actually the one true love of his life. Criminals have been known to make mistakes on how to make married men suffer before…
- Yeah. We just had to use the episodic photo with the cake for scientific reasons.
- The tongue…Nope. Just nope.
- Also, please leave Elliot Stabler’s tongue alone. Break his legs if you must, but Olivia Benson has been waiting for way, way too long…
- …he still needs to sanitize it before he puts it anywhere near her after this whole Flutura mess, though.
- Speaking of: What—and I mean this sincerely—the everloving fuck was her idea of sexy dancing? Girl, no.
- “All men are pigs. Once in a while, one of you comes through.” On the other hand, girl yes.
- She’s really a victim herself and involved in that side of the business to try to keep those girls from suffering worse. I hate it here. For her, for them, for far too many.
- Petty!Liv would be shook to learn this.
- Speaking of: Olivia Benson slapping Elliot Stabler like that when.
- “If history has taught us anything, it’s that you can kill whoever you want in America.” I mean, if you’re a white cop going after a person of color, sure. The rest…eh, it gets more complicated.
- Grief, tragedy, anger and saving people. Our Zaddy in a nutshell. So true.
- Sooo, Bell knows Kilbride is dirty now…
- “I just want to tell you, just because I boned your mom…don’t make me your father.” Anyone else with theories snort a little?
- The cases with kids were always the worst for Stabler. It’s no surprise he took his “Eddie” ass over to a boxing ring after learning about what the real Wagner did to Louis as a kid.
- “Women are weak. They gossip, talk too much.” I need another crossover so Captain Benson can come show Kosta who the weak one actually is. Ok? Ok.
- “How’s your misguided son?” “Eli or Louis?” That, right there, basically sums up the whole episode.