Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×13 “As Hubris Is To Oedipus” was another chance for this series to show that an hour of network time is never, ever enough. We can’t say as we haven’t had more than enough time with Richard Wheatley, though…Like, can this guy just go already? We get it: He’s evil. Do we really have to chat about it all season?
With that being said, the plan Wheatley orchestrated in this episode was certainly yet another messy, high stakes, terrifying sort of affair. He was able to manipulate a ton of people into doing terrible things, but it took him kidnapping Sebastian McClane to accomplish anything at all. Again. Without McClane, he couldn’t have gone after his five—surprise! Six!—targets. There would be no bombs, much less a power grid shutdown. As in: Men like Wheatley are useless without the “little” guys like us. Jot that down.
Sebastian and his followers had an ideal vision of getting corrupt billionaires out of power and destroying the system. We’ve known that about McClane all along. He’s Organized Crime‘s antihero of sorts. (And literally, I’m still begging real-life hacker masterminds to destroy the student loan databases like this king did. Begging.) But as Stabler pointed out to Brother Bill, all of these devotees who wanted to take the power back, who got sucked into “Project Bedlam,” were actually…still “just pawns in someone else’s gig.” At the end of the day, it was just same shit, different billionaire.
“…that billionaire dude who thinks he’s above the law. That billionaire dude who killed my wife and walked away free. So, believe me when I tell you he will lie, cheat, steal, kill…and make damned sure guys like you—and me—pay the cost. Same way it’s always been.”
Maybe that’s our fate, to always be in service to billionaire dudes and suffer the consequences of their actions. And it definitely sucks.
Therein lies the “As Hubris Is To Oedpius” aspect of Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×13: Not to get all English 101 on main here, but Oedipus tried to avoid his fate and failed. Miserably. He didn’t want to kill his father and marry his mother—which, like, who in their right mind would?—but nothing he did to prevent those very acts worked out. And nothing McClane’s people did to get away from a “government of the few, by the few, for the few” has been successful either. The hacker wound up in jail, then repeatedly forced to do Wheatley’s bidding. Nothing has gotten better, only worse. It’s pretty bleak, really. Or, well. It sucks. A lot.
Then again, another thought on the episode title: Maybe there’s the idea of committing hubris in the way of just aiming way too high, as Wheatley does in taking down the entire city’s power grid. He’s flying too close to the sun and, hopefully, will crash and burn because of it. Then again…This wasn’t Oedipus’ act of hubris. That’s someone else’s. So, who knows?
How is this man even alive after that burn?
A major thread that’s been running through this whole, dragged-out Wheatley affair is, of course, the idea of just trying to figure out where Elliot Stabler’s mind is. So, let’s check in on Zaddy. (And thank you to whomever filmed him from behind when he squatted down to untie McClane).
We learned pretty early on in Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×13 that Teddy Garcia realized he’d made a mistake in trusting Wheatley. So, Detective Stabler’s reputation is better there…But, like, all politicians, Garcia’s all about appearances. So, no, he couldn’t bother to make a public apology and get Elliot’s name out of the mud that he’d helped Wheatley drag it into. After all, why do the right thing when you can do the self-serving thing?
Where does that leave Elliot, though? In the first place, he’s still our Officer Monte Cristo. No matter what happens, this is still the same El who will risk blowing an entire operation to save a young girl. During his undercover stint with the Albanians, he rescued Rita from her life with the crime family. In Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×13, he saved Ana, one of McClane’s followers, from becoming more of Wheatley’s collateral damage.
“We want change. We all want change, but if that bomb had gone off, Ana…There would have been no turning back for you. Trust me. I know that from personal experience.”
Although letting her go was probably not completely in line with procedure, he bent the rules a bit. Because sometimes, what’s right and what’s “legal” are not always the same. Elliot has learned that, unlearned it, and re-learned it plenty of times. It’s part of why we love him…even if we occasionally want to throttle him.
After all, he’s imperfect. Detective Stabler needs to have his (lovely) ass handed to him every once in a while. Luckily, he has a very good partner in Sgt. Ayanna Bell, who is more than capable of handling that. Not-so-luckily, there is probably zero ointment left in the entire fictional version of this planet after the way she burned Stabler right up in this episode.
“Oh, you want to talk about what’s fair now? Nothing’s fair, Elliot. I have a list of grievances that would make your head spin! I don’t deal with them by changing my identity and running away from actual life.”
You’ve got to admire Ayanna Bell’s ability to drown the guy once dubbed “the poster boy for rage” in such scalding hot tea, he was temporarily speechless. And while we’re at it: If this is what Bell did to this man, rest in peace to him when Benson finally gets her chance to go off.
But all jokes aside, there was something so very special about the way Danielle Moné Truitt and Christopher Meloni played this moment, with the tensions running just high enough without putting the way their characters worked together in jeopardy. It’s also so very interesting to see that, yeah, they have a good, functional partnership…But it’s still a very different dynamic than what El had with Liv all those years—as it should be. Nothing is ever going to be quite like that.
And all commentary on the aloe plant going extinct in service of healing that burn aside, Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×13 also proved, yet again, just how fantastic of a leader Ayanna Bell is. She destroyed this man when it was called for. But by the end of the episode, she was also prepared to own up to her mistake in not quite trusting him enough. Stabler might be an overly-determined fool who loves to act without always thinking, but the instincts that motivate those actions? Those are good. And Bell knows.
Just before it was time to deal with Wheatley’s latest, Bell and Stabler made sure they were back on the same page, operating as a cohesive unit. And they needed that, considering the absolute chaos that came after. Bye, bye power grid.
And we can, yet again, point out that the Elliot Stabler from previous decades would have needed to storm off and punish a locker—or a wall, or a perp—for his partner (rightfully) calling him out here. But the very clear image—that he’s not who he used to be—seems to be lost on some folks, so…whatever, I guess.
As random thoughts are to this Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×13 review…
- Ok but when neither the mothership nor SVU acknowledges the city-wide blackout, you’ll know Marsha was telling the truth. (Whisper voice: “Our shows are so separate…)
- Not sure why McClane’s followers had to all dress like the Newsies or what the video game Big Boss music was about when they were gathering. But ok.
- On the other hand…“It is time to force the oppressors to pay for their crimes. Time to pry open their eyes and blind them with their own greed and corruption.” Fuck it. Sign me up for the Newsies and video game music cult.
- “And I will lead you one step closer to the Promised Land.” Sebastian, bless your heart, you’re not Moses.
- “I’m not the bad guy here.” Louder for the haters, Elliot.
- Elliot’s like “down with billionaires. But he also gave his mom a hard time about the Bernie Sanders ornament on their Christmas tree that one time. Elliot Stabler, Elizabeth Warren stan? I’m calling it.
- This man has been in law enforcement for how long, and spent how much time being the perfect actor as Eddie Ashes…but he sucked that much at controlling his smirk in the group meeting? I mean, I have trouble controlling my face, so I can’t blame him. But what is continuity?
- I just think that Jalachi…
- Like, the way Jet smirked when those fanboys were asking him the bad trivia? She’s down bad.
- I, too, am down bad after this: “Listen, Baldy, don’t ever embarrass me in front of my Brothers again…” And, apparently, it was an ad lib from Wesam Keesh? We have no choice but to stan.
- “He’s going to kick my ass for that, isn’t he?” “Oh, definitely.” And her smirk. Smitten. We ship it. So freakin’ hard.
- Speaking of our girl, Jet Slootmaekers: Ainsley Seiger nailed the absolute boredom of having to constantly be the smartest person in the room and explain everything to everyone. I feel so represented.
- Tag yourself. I’m McClane being absolutely disgusted and telling the Wheatleys they deserver each other. (But Tamara Taylor doesn’t deserve to have to gross-villain-kiss with that dude.)
- “HELLO STABLER” in NES-quality “graphics” on that ancient-looking laptop…Does this man think he’s Cyber Ghostface taunting Sidney Prescott or.
- “Never underestimate the sheer audacity of a white man with nothing to lose.” Ayanna. Bell.