Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×04 “Spirit In The Sky” puts the newest member of the team at risk in an undercover operation that pays off…but not without some major casualties. And it’s in focusing on how the group deals with some of their more difficult choices, for better or worse, that the episode makes its impact.
The story also starts to do a bit better job of exposing some of the cracks in Teddy and Pearl’s relationship, which makes the episode’s ending — with Detective Stabler starting to lean on Pearl a little bit — probably the only logical one possible. That’s kind of both a good thing and a bad one. Getting the bad out of the way: As viewers, we want to be surprised. Following a series of familiar and natural steps doesn’t completely do that for us.
Then again, a twist is only a good one if it’s earned. So, taking all the natural and logical steps now keeps the story believable enough to (hopefully) drop a bigger bombshell later. Regardless, to loop back to the beginning here: It’s in the personal elements that Organized Crime 3×04 is at its best. And that’s really all we ever want anyway.
So, let’s talk Detective Reyes’ time undercover in Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×04. In the first place, it’s obviously not something Sergeant Bell even wants. She doesn’t want to hear why he thinks OCCB needs an inside man, much less why he thinks it should be him.
So far, Bell has been the one taking him under her wing. So, it strikes a nerve and has to cut deeper than if she were “only” worrying about any other member of her team. She has the weight of the world on her shoulders as it is. After all, she’s responsible for all of them and still feels guilty about Gina. But the responsibility she’s feels for Reyes, specifically, hits harder.
So, while it doesn’t feel like we get as much focus on Bell in this episode as we did in the previous one, what we do get speaks volumes. So, she kind of shows up as much as she can but also knows when to step aside. When to let her partner have her back.
Somewhere, deep down, Ayanna has to understand that sending Bobby in is the right move. But she very, very much does not like it. It’s yet another good moment — or series of good ones, really — from Danielle Moné Truitt. And, of course, the best comes when Reyes makes a very bad error.
At the end of the day, Detective Reyes is good — but still a bit green. He makes a really good transition into his undercover identity. But he doesn’t know how to pace himself, so he fails to give it enough time before he brings up calling the guys who hired Kenny.
Even so, it’s not that mistake that gets him stabbed. Green or not, he actually does a fine job of covering that one up.
Just like Elliot, Bobby puts himself at risk by being too decent. He notices the guy who’s trying to kill Kenny (you bastard? South Park reference? No?), and his cop instincts just…kick in. So, he saves the day and gains Kenny’s trust. But uh, there’s a price. To say the least.
And boy, is the moment where Reyes notices his wound great stuff from Rick Gonzalez. Whether the character is telling the truth in the hospital or not is kind of fuzzy, though. Is the wound really no big deal? Either way, the reaction in the moment — whether played up for Kenny’s benefit or true shock and horror — is stunning.
Beyond that, Reyes is a really fast learner. He does exactly what Stabler tells him when he gets back to prison. And it works. It was a little bit difficult to get a read on this character earlier in the season because we had so much more time with
Mini Stabler Whelan. Thankfully, the balance swung the other way in Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×04.
Elliot Stabler: Guard Dog? Or Puppy.
Yeah, I went there.
Because Meloni does all that, he
needs Tommie Copper has a certain presence, which means Detective Stabler has the same presence — and then some. So, when he turns it on, Elliot is kinda terrifying. Or at least, he would be if we, as viewers, didn’t know better at this point.
But there are places in Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×04 where it’s almost like…In an alternate universe, he would be Sergeant Bell’s enforcer. Like, imagine Bell as the crime boss and Elliot as the muscle. Take a second…
Maybe, in some ways, Stabler even plays that role in this universe. Case in point: There’s something about how he…kind of…casually leans against the board in Bell’s office as Reyes makes his request to go undercover. And, while Bell is in charge here — and that’s not remotely in question — she gives him a look, like she’s interested in his opinion on the matter. Which, of course she’s interested. They’re partners, and she trusts him; she respects his experience and what he has to say.
(Not that his quiet support of Reyes is exactly what Bell was hoping to hear, though.)
There’s also something about how calm Elliot is when he’s trying to get Kenny to talk. He’s barely affected by the guy calling his Sergeant “that bitch” (maybe I snapped on his behalf)…except for the part where he is affected. He’s somehow more of a predator for the rest of the conversation, even without really being threatening.
Or, well. Not exactly threatening. But there’s something about that quiet threat that screams “enforcer” and is, quite frankly, much scarier than when he actually attacks someone.
Stabler does give Kenny a little taste of reality, though.
“Look at me: I’m the last best chance you’ve got at not having your throat slit in the shower. Think about it.”
He’s also incredibly unbothered during the car chase and when he’s interrogation Kenny at the prison. It’s as if nothing can shake him. (We know better.)
Even if he’s not Bell’s bodyguard, Stabler’s still, without a doubt, her backup.
As Detective Reyes is recovering from a stab wound in the hospital, Elliot has Sergeant Bell’s back. While all three characters are in the hospital room, he’s giving honest opinions. Inconveniently enough for Ayanna, they again happen to support Bobby’s decision to go back to the prison.
But when Ayanna leaves the room, it’s again all practiced calm when he shuts that door and gives the younger man a talking to. He can in control all he wants, but he’s also going to step in and stick up for his partner when it counts. She just doesn’t need to be there to hear it because it’s not about a show. And he doesn’t need to remind her of what she’s struggling with out loud anyway.
“No. You look. And listen. That woman carries Gina Cappelletti’s ghost with her every day of her life.”
Make no mistake about it: Elliot Stabler is the ranking member of the Ayanna Bell Defense Squad. And, considering how many folks are gladly a part of that, that’s saying a lot.
But, as viewers, we know that’s not all Elliot is.
For someone who was so unaffected by all the action — all the life-or-death stuff — in “Spirit In The Sky,” he’s frantic to get to Vincent when he hears that gunshot. There’s also a very real sense of urgency and panic when it comes to keeping the kids from seeing their father like that. And while he’s this pillar of strength keeping the wife out of the room, it’s when no one else is looking that we see everything Elliot is feeling.
It’s Detective Guilt Complex and alter-ego Detective Anguish, back for yet another visit with us. Yes, he’s the guy who comforts people when they need it. And he’s definitely the one who worries about kids. No question. But he’s also someone who, quite frankly, just needs someone else to give him a hug. Not that he’d ask for it, anyway.
There’s so much to Elliot Stabler, like when he’s the guy cracking the “pin cushion” jokes with Reyes after lecturing him on how to “be smart” undercover. He’s still a great mentor to Whelan here, too, checking in on his nerves as they’re tracking Dominic. And there’s…whatever that posture was at OCCB Headquarters. (It was giving “paint me like one of your French girls.”)
But Meloni always does such a good job of reminding us about exactly how much turmoil is underneath. Are some things absolutely his fault? Yes. (Like, Sir, you didn’t need to go that hard when Dominic pulled his gun.) But, in comparison with how much he blames himself for, and how much he clearly can not stand himself…precious little of that blame is really valid.
What we’re saying here is we remain in pain.
Sure, we knew it was coming. But who cares? It’s good.
Throughout “Spirit In The Sky,” you see the puzzle pieces falling into place. Pearl Serrano has certain…how you say…lines she’s not willing to cross. And our
old man boy El can spot that mentality from a mile a way, then put pressure on it to get things done.
Pearl’s seen enough tragic deaths, accidents caused by what she calls “unskilled stand-ins,” and isn’t willing to sacrifice more lives for the build. Or, well. As of now, she’s not willing to sacrifice them via actual accidents. It’s still unclear on the whole “hey, here’s what your family’s doing” part. Maybe family’s a stronger line in the sand?
So, the question — and it’s really intriguing throughout the episode, trying to figure out if there’s an answer hiding somewhere — is whether her taking charge is more of the “weird mutual fuckery” (I take great notes when I watch, folks) from 3×03 or her really acting based on basic human decency. Maybe it’s both. That’d be a fun one.
We leave the episode with Elliot starting to work his work on yet another target’s wife, which seems to be Organized Crime‘s formula of choice. As long as he’s not ickily — that’s a word now — working Pearl a la Flutura or Angela, it’s one worth seeing play out.
Is Pearl the weak link because she’s a woman? Or because she has an actual conscience and is looking for any excuse to act on it? That’s the most important question. Its answer will be the deciding factor in whether or not the formula is effective here.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×04 “Spirit In The Sky”
- Elliot remembered what buttons are this week. Progress? Or regression.
- Me: Ok but what’s with those heels and all white at a construction site? Girl, that’s gonna get ruined. The scene, before I even finish typing my reaction: She’s gonna get on her knees in the dirt and use that jacket as a tourniquet to save a life. Me: I have become that shrugging Oprah gif, yet again.
- “Shut. It. Down!” A queen? I hope?
- For the record, Sergeant Bell is not “that bitch” (derogatory). However, she is 100% That Bitch (in awe).
- Imagine waking up to that leaning over your bed. (Olivia Benson when.)
- “So, you want me to throw raw meat into a shark tank.” “Story of my life.” Can we get more of that story or.
- It’s the “you know he’s right” and the pause before Elliot leaves for me.
- Also: “You too.” Get out, guard dog. Begone! Dismissed.
- “You’re about as friendly as syphilis, pal.” What if I cracked the fuck up and clapped?
- Sergeant Bell and Detective Stabler, both taking turns looking nervous as hell for Reyes…I’d call it co-parenting, but. Would that be weird?
- “You have no idea what you’re doing.” “Yes, I do. I’m leading.” Ok, ok. I’m listening.
- “I’m a damn warlock.” And I’m damn in love.
- Elliot Stabler, are you an insurance salesman or a therapist or…Literally, what’s with the seated body position in Reyes’ hospital room? Also…the leaning? On the back of Jet’s chair? And…the aforementioned posture immediately before that????? Sir.
- No, but the “shhh!” when he cuts Reyes’ explanation off.
- “Now, you’re going to do this my way.” Ok. Tell me more. “You’re going to be smart of this, you understand?” Smart???? Did you mispronounce “a coward who ghosted us for 10 years and then dropped that awful letter” or.
- (Chill, y’all. You know I love this man. It was just too easy.)
- The fist bump. Shut up.
- “I’m trying to read here.” If y’all follow me on the personal twitter, ask for the Baby!Shana pic that is the epitome of this mood.
- “Nothing matters to them. I don’t matter. No one matters.” Absolutely loved Michael Drayer here…
- …but uh. “I don’t matter to anyone, really.” Y’all could @ me next time.
- “Sweet lord. If you wrote a Mafia for Idiots: Revised Edition, Dominic Russo would be in the first chapter.” More Jet here! Still not enough. But more!
- “How do you say Yahtzee in Italian?” “Yahtzee.” I actually hate them right now.
- “All bravery is, is doing what you gotta do despite being scared to death.” Sounds familiar.
- “Kids, go watch TV.” Gladly.
- “I’m just suggesting maybe you want to be a little more honest with yourself. About your life. The people in it.” Do I even need to…
- …because I’m gonna. Be honest with your damned self, Elliot. Work your shit out. Literally no one is getting any younger here.
- Anyway. There’s a place to end.
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