Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21 somehow manages to fit Detective Stabler’s Action Hero Film, Elliot Stabler’s Family Angst Drama, and a whole lot of other stuff…into a single TV broadcast hour. At this point, we probably shouldn’t be surprised by just how action-packed, how touching, and how…eh, well, everything else this episode is. After all, the series seems to do so much, of all of the above, week after week.
And yet, here we are. The bar just got raised. A lot. Far from “generic star vehicle for Christopher Meloni’s Super Ego™,” this is a series that proves, episode after episode, that a procedural doesn’t have to be a generic anything. Personal growth and strengthening relationships are actually a vital part of any drama—even those claiming to be “for the victims.” And they’re not something you sacrifice just for the sake of patting yourself on the back over drama.
Someone at Organized Crime gets that. Is it always perfect? No. But the series still works, for both its main purpose and so many others, most of the time. Would that more creatives would learn from this example.
Until then, though, let’s share our praise for the many things that worked for Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21.
Zaddy Stabler’s best girls
Stabler spends most of “Streets Is Watching” fighting for his life. There’s a hit out on him courtesy of Mr. Webb. It’s obvious that there’s plenty of mistrust and tension between Donnelly and him, too.
But the thing is, it’s always been the person Elliot Stabler is when he’s not fighting crime that’s mattered most.
His home life, the way he values fatherhood, and yeah, the way he used to be such a great friend and partner to Benson…All of these things made us fall in love with him—years ago.
Seeing Elliot in Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21 as the concerned son, going to visit his “best girl,” his “mama,” after all the action…That’s where the emotional pull of “Streets Is Watching,” and really this series as a whole, comes from. Moments like this. The quiet after the storm, even as the storm is still raging instead our boy.
It’s the contrast between this gentle, loving man—who wraps his adult daughter up in his arms and gives his mom a wink after telling her to get some (unnecessary) beauty sleep—and the one we see most of the episode that makes Elliot someone worth rooting for. The layers to this character, whether as his undercover persona with all that tension underneath, or the seasoned detective, or…this guy are endless.
Admittedly, I could’ve done without an already-agitated Bernie hearing her son almost get shot over the phone? But then again…the contradiction of trying to reassure her while panting, ducking behind the car, and trying to spot the shooter was genius.
We couldn’t have all of that without a leading man who possesses Meloni’s level of skill. There is, in fact, a lot about the series that shouldn’t work. But it does because of Meloni. In the wrong hands, Detective Stabler would be just another dude on yet another cop show.
But notice…Although he talked about visiting his best girl (singular), we’re talking about Elliot’s best girls (plural) here. In the first place, Kathleen is literally right there.
On the other, family isn’t just blood. It’s also about the people you choose, and who choose you, along the way. Enter Jet Slootmaekers and Ayanna Bell.
Admittedly, Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21 shows more of the family connection between Jet and Elliot than that between Ayanna and him. But she still belongs because she’s part of that family, because she has his back and worries about him even when he doesn’t want to worry about himself.
It’s amazing that this series is only in its second season, with the first having been so short, and we know so much about the bond between these people already. We care so much about them, and they care so much about each other.
Organized Crime‘s work daughter
Seeing Jet, who’s usually so reserved and a little allergic to excess displays of emotion—particularly physical ones—throw her arms around El: That’s an experience. A good one. It shows growth for the character, and it’s…relatable. Even for those of us who usually hold back, the big moments cause big displays of affection.
Is she comfortable in the moment? No. She’s worried, doesn’t know how to express it, and kinda…snuggling up to a guy who is typically does his best to appear anything but snuggly. And right now, Stabler’s barely holding it together. But he gets that Jet needs the comfort, so he finds it in himself to assure her he’s not going anywhere.
It kicks you in the guts…But, like, in a good way. And you can tell both Elliot and Ayanna just get it, based on their shared look when Jet initiates the unexpected display of affection.
There’s even the more subtle show of extra closeness before that, when Elliot asks her for a favor with the slug from the tree. Ainsley Seiger shows another change there. She doesn’t give off the same level of unease her character has had, in the past, whenever Detective Stabler has invited himself to sit on her desk. It’s a subtle opening up, and it’s delightful to watch.
Later, Jet’s reaction to finding out about Joe’s shooting…Yeah, that hit all the right notes, too. There’s the shock, the little moment where she has to clear her head, or maybe shake it as a “no,” after realizing why Elliot wanted to know about that slug. And when he assures her she did what she asked and doesn’t need to be sorry, she says she’s “still sorry.” Because she just cares.
It’s just two words but…enough. Same with her offer to help him clean up the wreckage of his destroyed home. He tells her he’s got it covered…and her answer just…there’s so much truth: “No, you don’t. But thank you for letting me off the hook.”
This relationship is built on so much care and understanding—so much trust—and I’d watch a whole series that was just this. Any day.
But, of course, there’s more.
Elliot Stabler: Action Hero?
Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21 somehow takes a series that’s always felt like an action movie and makes it more. I’ve seen less compelling sequences in actual feature films. The stunt workers on this series are absolute killers. Period.
The race through the parked traffic, the fashion show, leaping over those boxes, racing across the roof…It was. A lot.
And it’s really just utterly and completely brilliant to think that an white male cop got his ass utterly handed to him by a Black woman. On television. There are a few places, including when he’s just trying to keep up with his hitwoman, that Detective Stabler is just…out of breath. He’s tapping into something deep and desperate just to survive.
The man is in god-tier shape, yet it’s still nearly not enough. In fact, the only reason Stabler bests Belladona in the big apartment fight scene is because of his experience. He’s a bit quicker to think, a bit more resourceful, and happens to know their surroundings better because the fight happens in his actual home.
Otherwise…eh. Good luck this man.
I also appreciate that there’s no misogyny, masquerading as chivalry, here. This woman is lethal. Elliot Stabler is trying to stay alive while she kicks the living shit out of him. Therefore, he does not hold back because “it’s a delicate flower of a woman.” Nah. He does whatever it takes.
At the risk of over-simplifying, that’s…what actually respecting women looks like. Stabler sees Natalie as a worthy, possibly stronger, opponent and treats her as such. Period.
“Girl’s metal” indeed.
Thoughts is watching Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21
- Granzaddy knows about Airbnb? Sure.
- The father/daughter vibes are giving “Jet Slootmaekers: EO love child, confirmed.”
- Speaking of: Olivia Benson kicking the everloving shit out of this man when. (Assuming, of course, she is returned to her body after her recent alien takeover.)
- As pointed out by multiple viewers before me, the only thighs anyone wants to see around El’s face are Liv’s. Or. Well. If we ever see the real Olivia Benson again, after her recent body-snatching, we want her to have that experience. She deserves.
- We deserve.
- He deserves.
- “Oh, why don’t you just wrap me in bubble wrap and drop me off at the nearest antique store?” Literally me.
- The crime whatever dude who got shot at the beginning? That loud print on his shirt was clearly borrowed from Mr. Meloni’s personal collection.
- It…could not be easy for Nova to have to shoot her own brother to maintain her cover and save his life.
- “If she’s half as good as you, I know she’ll deliver.” I love him.
- “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Eh. Ghost. Ghosted for 10 years…Close enough.
- “Lived for 10 years in Italy. Puglia, to be exact.” Excuse y’all.
- “We’ve got your back, Stabler. I know you do.” This whole team.
- “Release the spirit of vengeance from my heart. I need strength that I can’t find. Take this burden from my hands.” A prayer by those of us utterly over the bad mismanagement of EO.
- No, but he’s so rigid and ready to break shit in that scene with Webb, so terrified out of his mind after he’s nearly shot, and so soft with the ones he loves.
- “Stabler. You are are either out of your mind, suicidal, or both.” Eh. He’s just Stabler.
- The peace sign. A true icon. We stan.
- “You saw their reaction. They hate this!” Donnelly listens to Elliot about as well as The Powers That Be listen to us.
- Bell: Elliot, no. Stabler: Elliot, yes! Us: That’s it. That’s the show.
- Elliot at Bell: “I’m fine.” Us at Elliot: “Sounds familiar.”
- I’m not talking about Donnelly much because basically, he’s a cowardly little dirty cop POS and doesn’t deserve much attention. Just…This finale is giving me a case of the feels before it ever happens. That’s all I know.
- I’m scared.
- Oh. And. “You’re a little tense.” Congratulations, Frank. You’ve met Elliot Stabler.
- The lasting image of Elliot, alone in his destroyed apartment, back turned to Jet as she left him to pick up his own pieces…wow.
Thoughts on Law & Order: Organized Crime 2×21 “Streets Is Watching”? Drop us a comment!