Last season, it seemed like every time Bensler (Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, in case you’re new here) made any kind of progress on on Law & Order: Organized Crime or Law & Order: SVU, it didn’t really go anywhere. And to be fair, when someone has been gone for 10 years and suddenly reappears, that’s at least partially to be expected. Especially when there’s grief and ghosting involved.
But…it’s also frustrating for a fanbase that has been thirsting over EO since 1999. So, when we chatted with Law & Order: Organized Crime showrunner Bryan Goluboff ahead of season 3, we made sure to ask about Them.
(Yes, capital T.)
Continuity for Bensler
When we discussed the EO of it all with the showrunner, we specifically brought up our hope for more continuity. And Goluboff didn’t disappoint. He was very clear about having every intention of honoring the fictional criminal justice system’s dedicated
detectives viewers. “It’s a loyal, passionate fanbase, and I want to respect their investment in these people. And so, we’re going to try and have the shows have some synchronicity.” While it’s maybe “tricky because you’re also existing in your own timelines and your own cases,” he also shared that he and SVU executive producer Julie Martin are “already talking a lot.”
Having worked closely with Martin on different seasons, including the devastating 13th that immediately followed Christopher Meloni’s departure, the collaboration should come with ease. And, from the sounds of it, it does. “I’ll give you a great example: I’m starting to build in a crossover, and I’m able to call over and go, ‘what’s going on in Olivia’s life? If we’re going to do this…what’s happening — what’s happening in your universe that I can carry over?”
So, sorry to anyone — including this lady who looks a lot like Mariska Hargitay but calls herself Marsha, apparently — who insists SVU and Organized Crime are “so separate,” but that’s not reality. Goluboff assured us he and Martin “do want the shows to exist in the same universe.”
And, just as a reminder: He wrote one of our absolute favorite moments from SVU season 23. “You know, I wrote that little scene last year where he met Noah,” Goluboff told us.
(Yes, thank him for that. It might have disappeared by the time the episode was online. But no, we won’t remove it from our brains — ever.)
One of the biggest hurdles to repairing the Benson and Stabler relationship to date has been Elliot’s tendency to hide from reality with work as an excuse. But in Law & Order: Organized Crime season 3, “he is not undercover — he’s not incognito. He’s not ghosting her. They’re friends — they’re connected.”
And that connection is fun to work with, regardless of whether Liv and El are in harmony or decidedly, um, not. Remember the Gabe Navarro case? Goluboff specifically referenced that crossover before telling us, “it’s very satisfying to have them in opposition.” But don’t worry, friends. Because “it’s equally satisfying to have them in lockstep. So, one of the things that I’m feeling is, look: They were one of the — if not the — one of the greatest detective teams in television history. People like to watch them work cases. It’s how they dance; it’s how they communicate. And the result of that is they bring catharsis to victims. They put monsters away. And I think it’s extremely satisfying, emotionally, to watch.”
Within the Law & Order universe, and for Goluboff specifically, it’s the partnership “dance” of
these two detectives Captain Benson and Detective Stabler that’s the main focus. “When they’re activated, and they have a monster to fight, it’s what attracts me to them,” he told us, “it’s having them activated against a real enemy, that we need protection from. Because, to me, that’s what worked about SVU for 12 years. It was, someone was hurt. And Olivia was Mommy, and she was going to believe you and talk to you. And he was Daddy, and he was going to go out, and find that guy, and kick his ass.”
Forget EO, and forget Bensler. It’s Mommy and Daddy now? No complaints. 10/10, no notes, as they say.
So, as you watch Benson and Stabler in Organized Crime season 3, think about the main idea being that crime-fighting vibe. “That team worked, right? So, sometimes, we want Mommy and Daddy back together. We want to be protected by them; we want that feeling back. And that’s not them talking — that’s them working. So, that’s my take on it.”
But lest the Bensler nation interpret that negatively: That is not, however, to say that the personal relationship isn’t still important.
Going into this season, the thing about Bensler is “they’re in each other’s orbits, but they’re both extremely busy and dealing with a lot in their own workplaces, in their own lives.” Which, to be honest? That’s fair, true to who Elliot and Olivia are, and it makes perfect sense. After all, Benson is here for the victims. And Stabler is trying to figure out a lot. (Some of which we shared when we discussed Bell’s season 3 arc.)
But “that doesn’t mean feelings don’t come up, both between them and in the audience” when they do get to work together. (Side note: It’s here that we can confirm, yes, the audience does have feelings when EO are in sync.) “And of course, while they’re doing that, they’re going to catch up with each other. They’re going to do things.”
What kinds of things? Well, Goluboff also shared an interesting thought with us. We’re guessing this is probably something that’s more of a possibility for breaks during, and/or the aftermath of, a case. But. Well. Let’s just say we needed extensive time to recover after hearing it.
Because…here we go…
Olivia “has to be strong for her squad. She can’t show a lot of cracks,” and Elliot “has to be the same for his. And he’s mentoring some people this season.” However, “they can collapse with each other — they can say, ‘this is hard, man.’ They don’t have to be…They can let their guard down with each other, have each other’s backs” in all the ways that matter.
Partners, for better or worse, indeed.