When we last left her, Sergeant Ayanna Bell was not in a good place — to say the least. So, when we spoke with Law & Order: Organized Crime showrunner Bryan Goluboff ahead of the series’ third season, one of the main things we wanted to know about was what, exactly, might be next for her. And we’re glad we made it a point to ask. Because, from what we discussed, there’s a lot to come.
In the first place, Goluboff assured us he’s “working really closely” with Danielle Moné Truitt, who plays OCCB’S commanding officer. But, of course, it’s not just that she’s the Sergeant in charge. After all, Bell is a woman, Black, and a lesbian in a job that doesn’t exactly boast equal representation for any of the above — much less someone who’s all three. Add to that the huge loss that came at the end of last season, and there are plenty of avenues for storytelling. Thankfully, the current plan for season 3 is to address it all.
According to the showrunner, “this is not [just] another season for Bell. This is a special season for Bell.”
The natural question, of course, is how much input Truitt has into her character’s story. After all, representation doesn’t work unless someone with the appropriate perspective is involved in the storytelling. Luckily, we didn’t even really have to ask the question. We already got the answer we were hoping for.
“It’s been really fun — and exciting — to get Danielle’s input on everything, from how she goes about trying to reclaim her life, to how she navigates the politics of the NYPD and her particular purview in it.” And Bell’s development won’t be a one-off either. Goluboff assured us he doesn’t “mean we’re going to get to it in episode 16 for [only] one episode.”
Sergeant Bell and Detective Stabler: A partnership all its own.
One natural place to explore everything that Sergeant Bell has lost because of the job is, well, the job. And, not just work in general — her partnership with Detective Stabler.
To be clear: we aren’t saying our favorite Sergeant only exists in relation to, or in service to, her white male subordinate.
Instead, it’s more of a question of mutual support for two people who get it. Elliot has been there, done that. And, with his son in California and his mom now living at Kathleen’s, Elliot’s “rattling around” in an empty home. So, with Ayanna also “facing an empty house of her own” after Denise left her and took Jack, that means “the squad room becomes kind of a place a of solace. And it deepens their partnership.”
Because they’re saying, “‘we’ve lost everything. We made a million sacrifices to do this work. Is it worth it — is what we do worth it?’ And they start to examine why they do the job.” Additionally, Bell and Stabler wonder if they can “be actual human beings and do this work in the way [they] do it.” It leads them to make a decision. “If it’s all going to be about the job, let’s be the best in this job that we can be.”
Which, according to Goluboff, causes “that partnership [to kick] into another level.” But it also “truly delineates what’s different about what Bell does from what Stabler does.”
After all, Sergeant Bell “is his boss — she fights different battles.” And, during Organized Crime season 3, “he is Elliot Stabler as Elliot Stabler.” Regardless of what he’s done in the past, he’s “a detective in the OCCB under her command.” What that means, for the partnership, is “they have to learn how to do cases together, and they become close. They learn how to respect what each other does and…brings to the table.”
It’s not necessarily all about work, though. “This squad room becomes a home for them — a place of solace for them — and it’s a real partnership. But it’s hard won.” Be on the lookout for Ayanna and Elliot to “find a way to do their own dance.” It’s not, and not trying to be, EO.
As Goluboff assured us, “the magic of what was Stabler/Benson…is a different thing.” The Bell/Stabler partnership is “going to have friction, and it’s going to have reward, and we’re just really excited to dig into that task force as a thing in itself.”
Basically, as you tune in to Organized Crime season 3 and see how Bell runs her task force, just look out for it “to be its own great TV team.”
Looking forward to Sergeant Bell’s storyline in Law & Order: Organized Crime season 3? What do you want to see most? Leave us a comment!
And stay tuned for more news ahead of Law & Order‘s big premiere event, combining all three series, on September 22.