Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×15 “Takeover” was supposed to be an episode that introduced us to Elliot Stabler’s latest investigation. And, technically, it was. But um. That is definitely not the takeaway from “Takeover.” It was more about a couple of flirty “friends” than anything else. Basically, the EO breadcrumbs are real.
That’s not to say that there’s not yet another high stakes case hiding under all the thirst-quenching stuff. With Stabler under an internal investigation after the way the Wheatley mess concluded—assuming Organized Crime doesn’t tap into that polluted well again, at least—that left him free to go undercover as…himself. (Insert flirty, soft Benson voice here.) But we’ve seen characters like Jack Donnelly (Denis Leary) plenty of times before, both on this series and others. In fact, on a certain other procedural, the Donnelly “type” is often somehow painted as the hero, when he’s obviously the villain.
At least Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×15 made it obvious, from the jump, that Donnelly and his band of Blue Line gang bros were…not the guys we should be rooting for. They were, indeed, some “January 6 looking dudes,” with way too much audacity. And if anything about the stolen drug money and generalized “rawr, rawr disgraced cop brotherhood” vibe was unclear, the “kiss my white ass. What are they going to do, call the cops” bit cemented it. And sure, the way this is all tangled up with the Marcy Killers, Congressman Kilbride, and everything else is sure to be a big deal going forward.
But. This episode failed to make any sense, whatsoever, after a couple (couple!) of former partners interacted and caused complete brain rot. So, let’s take a deep dive into the Bensler trash fire, realize we’re quite probably being played here, and still not care at all about that because…Well. We’ve been starved for 23 years. And hope, however foolish, is still one hell of a drug.
EO were sick for this, and I’m not even mad about it
Look: You know whenever Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni are in the same scene, Benson and Stabler’s story become the center of the universe. And minds are going to become steaming piles of mush…But, like, happy mush instead of what the hell ever lack of continuity—did they go to the Meloni Christmas shindig or not, folks???—lack of conversation, rage-mush that, unfortunately, is the usual mood these days. Instead, Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×15 was like, “here. You’ve been starved since the holidays. Have a morsel. It will feel like a meal.”
And in the name of Our Lady and Savior, Mariska Hargitay, it truly felt like a buffet.
If we’re being totally honest here, it was the only thing that mattered in “Takeover,” and that’s just yet another reminder of how much power Elliot and Olivia’s relationship has over those of us who have followed their long, slow journey. It’s becoming more and more difficult to comprehend why this franchise has two actors with this much chemistry, and with this type of talent (even separately), yet doesn’t take full advantage of it.
That’s the first thing we need to get out of the way: This shouldn’t be such a rare occurrence. And, while these tidbits were delicious, it’s past time to go for a multi-course spread.
Now, let’s talk about what the Bensler of it all
did to us meant in this episode. The first interaction was the heated argument, which…honestly? If it had been legitimate instead of staged? I still would’ve been here for it.
If we look at the brilliance of Meloni, Hargitay, and their combined powers of destroying lives, what’s not to love? The fight was pure fire. It felt wonderfully familiar to anyone who has watched their many spats from the partnership days over and over—y’all remember the mid-precinct “screw you” knockdown drag-out? It was giving that for me—and seeing Olivia Benson decimate this man will never not be satisfying.
It’s even more satisfying knowing that not only was the fight staged, but Bensler did not at all feel good about it.
“That was uncomfortable.”
“It really was.”
Yes, Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×15 gave us EO using their words and expressing their feelings about a situation, even a pre-planned one, that put them at odds. That alone is a growth for two people who spent 12 years pretending there were no feelings at all and sniping at each other over little things whenever the elephant in the room got too loud.
And then. We had…
…the “my friend” throwback. But it wasn’t just a reference to how Olivia asked, in “The Christmas Episode,” if they could call their complicated relationship a friendship (for now). If you watch the very particular way Hargitay and Meloni played this, it was a step beyond that agreement. There were also literal steps taken, as Olivia physically put herself closer to Elliot’s body before telling her “friend” (sure, Liv) he was doing the right thing. And it was, by the end of the scene, several steps and several levels of heat more than the last time EO got flirty in that exact same spot.
Was this scene enough of a step toward endgame, after so long? Rationally, no. In my heart, though…I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything is totally fine. (Narrator: No one was remotely fine.)
Even the way Hargitay softened her voice when Olivia told Elliot he was undercover as Elliot Stabler spoke volumes. (Honestly, when does every tiny detail of her performance not?) But then, there was the back and forth of “Elliot, my friend” and “Olivia, my friend,” combined with the inching closer, combining to make “my friend” sound like something that belonged in the bedroom. (When.)
Should this relationship’s development continue to rely on the pure genius and attention to detail that the actors bring to every interaction? No. Of course not. Bensler shippers are long, long overdue for some real conversations about what happened during the 10 years Elliot Stabler was undercover as “bald bitch who doesn’t care about the one true love of his life.”
But there’s a reason a single scene can steal an entire episode. And there’s a reason viewers keep coming back for more. It’s them. It’s what they bring to the table and how they are incapable of anything but delivering. It’s also the characters’ history, every important moment from those first 12 seasons that made people invested in the first place and, more recently, made Organized Crime‘s very existence possible.
But that’s not all!
We can also take a look at the weekend lunch invitation. And, of course, by “we can,” I mean let‘s. Elliot Stabler is interested in Olivia Benson’s life. He obviously wants her all to himself (who in their right mind wouldn’t), but during both scenes where he’s invited her to do something completely outside of the job, he’s invited Noah along as well. This man knows how important being a mother is to Liv, and he’s fully aware that he can’t have any kind of “friendship” with her if Noah doesn’t approve. He’s making his intentions to stick around and be something much more pretty clear…Or, well. It’d be clear to literally anyone other than these two idiots.
The deflection about how Noah gets attached easily shouldn’t be too discouraging, at least…not outside of the “waiting forever” of it all. In the first place, it’s totally code for “I’m so scared, but I’m not admitting it. What if you leave again.” Moreover, maybe Liv just wants to have lunch with her
man friend alone? Or, likely, we’re seeing the door opening…but not quite open enough yet.
Organized Crime and SVU are running out of time to break that damned door down and make it make sense. But we’re going to keep coming back anyway because of them.
More on how Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×15 has taken over my thoughts
- This man should not look this good in his stupid hoodie. But thank you to whoever decided he should continue to be unaware of how zippers work.
- “That Black chick you used to work with…” The disrespect. She has a name. It is Sergeant Ayanna Bell, and she will end you.
- “No one person is indispensable.” It’s giving Abby Lee Miller.
- “We had each other’s backs.” Not every partnership is like that, El.
- Mariska Hargitay’s face in all of the things…but especially when Liv was pretending to be pissed off about Bell’s “it’s been handled” line. I will not shut up about it.
- …or at least, I wouldn’t if there wasn’t so much EO to spiral over.
- “So much EO,” as in two whole scenes and some subtext.
- We’ve gone from rank kink to “friend” kink. I swear to God, they’re the sickest. (Never change.)
- Is this arc going to have us deal with some of Elliot Stabler’s daddy issues? I’d be here for it.
- Jennifer Beals has great evil crime boss vibes already…
- …but if Stabler and his tongue go anywhere near her, I’m unstanning Flashdance.
- “Nothing unites people like annoying bill collectors.” So true.
- “I want to talk to you today about love.” Nova’s brother, the pastor, saw the EO scene and wrote a whole-ass d’var on it, just like me. Iconic. (That’s a sermon, for the non-Jewish folk.)
- “You’re in his official personnel file. I’m in his DMs. We are not the same.” Still a Jet Slootmaekers stan account.
- If it’s between the dirty cops and Mr. Webb’s organization, I’m choosing Mr. Webb. Sorry, not sorry.
- That deranged smirk in the “learn to duck” scene? It’s a totally different flavor from everything else, including whatever shit El pulled with Wheatley. Meloni’s skills do not get enough praise. Ever.
- …and also. The chemistry. With. Her.
- Something about a second wife and a sixth kid? Noah Benson Stabler has entered the chat.
- “…but the disrespect…That can’t stand. Somebody’s gotta pay.” Me whenever someone talks shit on Captain Benson’s friend.
- Boy, when your friend Olivia sees that fugly new tattoo…
- Hank Voight is going to hear about Donnelly’s gang and book a flight to New York so he can get himself tramp stamped with his new idol. So true.
- Tag yourself: I’m Eli lurking and silently judging Elliot.
- …but I’m also just lurking and looking respectfully while Stabler showers. He should feel free to bring his friend along next time, though.
Got thoughts and/or spirals about Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×15 “Takeover”? Drop us a comment! (Yes, we can translate keyboard smash.)