Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×20 “Lost One” is the kind of episode that just…feels good to watch. Sure, a case about a missing child isn’t a “feel good” story; neither is the knowledge that Mr. Webb has it out for Elliot Stabler’s ass (and not in the way that most of us do). No. It’s…it’s just it’s them. Benson and Stabler, working as partners, always so in sync.
When we talk about an hour of television working, sometimes, it’s just as simple as this: We see characters we’ve grown to love, doing the thing that made us love them in the first place. That’s it. Small things are sometimes really big, actually.
The EO partnership has always, always, always been a gem. It has been the draw, since the very first time Elliot and Olivia appeared together on SVU. But Stabler’s return after a decade of ghosting his “for better or worse” has been, to put it mildly, uneven. Part of that makes sense—is unavoidable in ways people in production can explain far better than we ever could.
Within the narrative, too, the inconsistent nature of Bensler’s return to them is not as much of a disorganized crime as our hearts might tell us either. We realize this, somewhere in the back of our minds, even when we don’t want to admit it to ourselves—even when we’re WTFing our way through life.
After all, how do you rebuild something that was forged in blood, sweat, and tears, after the seemingly unbreakable foundation has been ripped out from under your feet? It’s a tough question and one that has not, overall, been answered in the best of ways to date. That’s especially true, considering the wronged party, the one who needed that foundation so much, has not only never received an explanation…but also has never quite gotten to experience her own rebuilding.
Organized Crime has done a great job in the character department. And nearly all of the best Bensler moments since Stabler’s return have been on this series. So, thumbs up to that…but as long as SVU continues to shy away from Olivia’s perspective, in Olivia’s world, we’ll have to continue to feel unbalanced, off-kilter, missing…something.
But this is about Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×20, not anything else. So, join me in absolutely having a meltdown about a partnership that defies time and separation. As one does.
That EO vibe
Even after everything, including the mess that went down in the Navarro case, the Bensler searching for Sara Santos in Organized Crime 2×20 is the EO. There’s a certain dynamic that only Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni can bring to the screen. And in this episode, it’s in full effect. Rather than holding back on it, or including a bit of caution on Olivia’s part like she has done fairly consistently since Meloni’s (and hence, Elliot’s) return, Hargitay makes sure Liv is all in here.
Viewers get the complete Benson and Stabler experience—just like old times. The partnership feeling is in the wordless conversations, the interrogation rhythm like none seen on any procedural before or since, and even the way Elliot and Olivia occupy a space. They are never far from one another, often with one partner right at the other’s back, or right by their side, always presenting a united front. It’s there in the quiet moments, the loaded looks, the skeptically conferring with one another in a tilt of the head or twist of the mouth…
We’ve seen it all before, and yet it’s been so long since we’ve seen it like this. And so, while it’s over two decades old and feels like coming home, it also feels almost brand new.
Of course, not every display of support is symbolic or quiet. Nothing quite hits like Elliot Stabler throwing himself in front of a bullet to protect Olivia Benson, after all.
After being asked to stand down, Benson and Stabler bounce theories off of one another, finishing each other’s sentences before they come to their trademark conclusion: Let’s not stand down. Screw authority—even with Liv as an authority figure now!—we’ve got this, together. We don’t need backup because nobody can back us up like we can back each other up.
That alone would have been enough to cause an undignified amount of shrieking (spoiler: it did). But! The best part of the EO partnership dynamic in Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×20 comes after all the action. And no, it’s not the conversation in the car. We’ll get there in a minute.
It’s Olivia Benson, initiating physical contact. Not hesitantly and not out of either partner’s grief but just because she can, because she wants to. Because her partner is back, and they just did something good together. The stupid, goofy grins that cap off yet another decades-long conversation through looks alone…Those are icing on the cake.
That’s not to say Organized Crime 2×20 is should have any kind alternate title along the lines of “Shiny, Happy Bensler.” If it did, it wouldn’t be the Benson and Stabler we know and love (and sometimes want to throttle).
When Elliot speaks a little too positively about Frank Donnelly, Olivia is…Well. She’s Olivia. She makes her disbelief and irritation with him clear as day; she’s obviously wondering at how stupid this man can be, with his smug sonofabitch audacity. But there’s a definite difference in the way she reacts to this brand of Elliot Stabler stupidity to, say…Flutura. And El, his old nickname fully-restored and used more than once in “Lost One,” just shrugs it off.
This is, after all, normal. She’s Benson; he’s Stabler. It’s what they do. They argue, challenge one another, and then, they take on the world together.
They also protect one another—from everyone but themselves—with a fierce devotion. We all remember when EO were considered too close to stay partners, yet too good as partners to be separated, right?
Elliot’s been pretty good at hiding his distaste for Frank’s methods throughout this entire undercover operation. But Stabler’s thin grip on restraint is pretty transparent when the man dares to question Captain Benson. And Meloni’s body is practically vibrating with the detective’s need to interfere—either with words or fists, take your pick—when Donnelly catches him and his former partner making googly eyes at each other at the end of Organized Crime 2×20.
But Olivia stepped up with her particular brand of undercover charm, and it worked…ish. For now?
Lost my one brain cell on Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×20
- The way Santos’ wife kicked Stabler’s ass, then collapsed against him, crying…all while he just…let her have at it? When is it Olivia’s turn.
- Truly, the only thing Kathy Stabler ever got right was “always so in sync.” And, you know, that thing about Olivia scaring the pants off her.
- “I was waiting for your call.” Bitch, wait 10 years.
- “Yeah, I thought it would be better in person.” Mrs. Benson Stabler, ma’am. We are still in a pandemic.
- “I’ll leave you guys alone.” Jet Slootmaekers with the only appropriate way to respond, as a coworker, when EO are about to start eye-fucking.
- Poor Bell, having to stick around with the very real risk of a mutual EO stoke-fest, too.
- “What do you say, partner?” And his idiotic grin. He is literally a 12-year-old with a crush.
- Side note: “Partner” is an improvement from “my friend,” right? Right.
- Jennifer Beals in hot pink: Yes. That red scarf with the pink: No.
- The way Liv leans on that table in interrogation, though. Old. Times.
- “Look closer, genius.” Jet gets me.
- This man could not control how excited he was to work with “my old partner,” had to brag about it to anyone who would listen.
- Literally everyone gets to have a son named after Elliot but Olivia, huh? Canon rewrite: Noah Elliot Porter Benson (soon to be Benson Stabler). I don’t make the rules.
- Speaking of: Part 1…of this crossover…It happened. They met. Anyone who tells you otherwise, or edits an already-short episode down even further to try to erase that performance, is not valid.
- “This guy, with the tough guy act? He’s all cotton candy on the inside.” We have been saying this about Elliot for 23 years, but some of y’all have been too dumb to listen. So, to quote Jet again: Look closer, genius[es].
- Love theme. “…people are complicated…” Elliot, offering up personal information as conversation—casually, to chat, instead of expecting Olivia to hold him up. Inject it. All of it. In my veins.
- El. She called him El. More than once.
- …and that’s all she needs to do to get him to immediately do what she wants, how she wants. Just say El.
- “Donnelly cares about Donnelly.” Oh, ok. We know what a real partner looks like again after flirting with our Number One, huh?
- Olivia Benson, with the bashful smile and glance to the side. It’s 1999 all over again, babes.
- “I’m a little jealous. Because Elliot, here, tells me you’re the second best partner he ever had.” She…could not even pretend, for the sake of working their target, that she is anything but El’s Number One.
- …and the smug bastard grinning at her, all smitten-like, when she says it. They’re insane.
- “When you didn’t call, I thought you were blowing me off. I guess I freaked out a little.” Jalachi continue to be more emotionally mature than EO ever were, huh?
- Super Ego scaled that fence just to show off his strength and make me thirsty, huh?
- #bensonlikes it indeed
So, did you survive Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×20? Come brain rot with us in the comments!
Law & Order: Organized Crime airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.