Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×05 “Behind Blue Eyes” has several really strong elements but nearly as many questionable ones. As a much-anticipated episode, with an appearance from SVU‘s Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish), that’s really disappointing to have to say. But here we are.
The episode is definitely the kind of hour of television that makes you need to see more by the end of it. But while most of that need comes from unfinished business and a case we’re definitely invested in…the rest, not so much. As in, we’re at about 50% “????” here, for lack of a better way of putting it.
So, let’s dive in…for better or worse.
Welcome to Organized Crime, Detective Rollins. Now, someone please explain.
So, Detectives Rollins and Stabler work well together. In a parallel universe, that wouldn’t be at all surprising. After all, they both have one very special person —with whom they both work very, very well — and a dedication to survivors in common. But, and it’s been agonizingly clear for well over a decade now (or over two decades, really), this is not a parallel universe.
In this universe, Amanda has been a wee bit (a lot) skeptical of Elliot since he came bursting back into Olivia’s life. It’s hard to blame her for that, considering she only knows what he did to Liv by leaving her, yet didn’t get to see the EO magic until the past couple of years. And that magic is in a weird, “baby deer tripping all over its own feet as it learns to walk” phase right now. So, yeah.
As a reminder, it wasn’t that long ago that Amanda actively pressed Liv to question whether or not her former partner was still the same person she once knew —or whether he could be even trusted.
Sure, by the end of the season, there was that friendly advice about a hotel room. But. Well. What is development? How did we get from Point A to Point B? Nobody knows!
We certainly can’t hold this series accountable for another show’s stumbles, but the lack of continuity is still aggravating. Especially when the only continuous element here is the consistent lack of continuity. That is…not good.
Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×05 is another case of “how,” with yet another frustrated answer of “who knows.” Which, to be fair, Stabler and Rollins just working well together isn’t terribly perplexing. It’s more other aspects of their dynamic. Like, there’s the way the two characters greeted each other, as if they’re old pals now. Then, there’s the body language and the physical closeness while they’re talking to the survivors. In short, the Stabler/Rollins scenes in this episode speak to a relationship that has not, in the least bit, been earned.
It just…doesn’t make sense. Or, there’s too much that we, as viewers, need to fill in with assumptions for it to make sense. Clearly, something has changed over time; and clearly, there’s been a reasonable amount of time for it to change.
But. How did it change??? A crumb of dialogue here or there would go a long way.
Equally confusing, if not moreso, is the way Detective Rollins actually uses the word “friend” when introducing Stabler to their victim.
Like, whose friend is he? Not Amanda’s — at least, not according to any actual storytelling that isn’t in fanfiction. And sure, Elliot’s supposed to be Olivia’s friend…
…but they apparently never talk. Because, you know, El’s like, “hey. We’re at the hospital to interview victims of a brutal crime, but let me ask how the Captain’s doing.” Shouldn’t a friend know?
Get your Gen. Z
adopted daughter colleague to teach you how to text, old man, and ask “the Captain” yourself. This is exhausting.
Next, did Amanda really say something about Elliot being the person she was telling Maria about? Telling her what? “Oh, he was my Captain’s partner for over a decade, but then he abandoned her. I saw the aftermath, and it was absolutely brutal. But he came back! Except, then he ghosted her again…until they were in sweet, yet stilted and frozen, ‘friendship for now’ territory. And now, literally nobody knows what they’re doing. But hey, don’t worry about all that! He’s a good cop, and he cares! He polices the police!”
Is that what she told Maria? Because, uh, that’s the story to date.
So, while what I’d like to do is say how wonderful it was to see Giddish on this series, and how brilliantly she and Christopher Meloni worked their scenes together — which they did! — it’s difficult to do so. Because the universe seems to be intent on making it difficult.
Still undeniably good
Case work, questionable sudden bffs, and everything else aside, the partnership between Sergeant Bell and Detective Stabler continues to be the most precious of gems. It’s not always easy, but that’s ok. Because even when Bell is having to (yet again) shut Stabler down to avoid getting them both in trouble, we still have that natural mutual respect and the strong foundation of trust they’ve built, and continue to build, together.
That applies to the little things, like Ayanna asking Elliot what he thinks after visiting the foster home, their show of unity marching through the mob as they leave the courthouse, or even just the good rhythm they have in the field. But the big things are, of course, usually the ones that stick out.
Organized Crime 3×05 probably does the best job of highlighting how and why this partnership continues to work so well in the scene where Sergeant Bell has to defend it, alone, to the Deputy Inspector. Mainly, that strength rests on Danielle Moné Truitt’s shoulders. She sells Ayanna’s unwavering support in her partner beautifully, even as the character has to stay completely in control of just how much emotion she’s allowed to show here.
“Stabler is my friend. He’s best damn detective I have ever worked with. I will not abandon him for doing the right thing.”
It’s not just that Ayanna says the right words, or that Truitt delivers them incredibly well, though. There’s more to it than that. Sergeant Bell is sticking by OCCB, and sticking by her partner, in the face of immense pressure from the top. It’s not just political pressure either (though there’s clearly plenty of that). And this is where it gets icky: Here we have another woman on the job, trying to get Ayanna to abandon this task force…by baiting her with a mention of her son. This is what we call a very low blow, folks. Add to it the fact that this woman had the audacity to call Sergeant Bell by her first name in a professional setting, when they’re not on personal terms — then again, who knows?! See above — and we’re adding blatant disrespect to the list of reasons to want to smack this new character.
But Bell…can’t do that. She can’t overstep with her superior and can’t really flinch, at all. And, no matter what, she can’t dare let on that she’s angry. She has to follow a much, much different set of rules here. On multiple levels.
Regardless of anything else, we’ll keep tuning in to see how Bell’s story plays out, how she continues to be an amazing leader, and how this partnership continues to flourish in spite of the powers that be trying to squash it.
Spy vs. Spy NYPD vs. NYPD
With the case itself, “Behind Blue Eyes” is, again, mostly hit…with a touch of miss. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: At no point did anyone need to see quite so much detail in the scene with Tiana tied up. The same message, of Vaughn being an unhinged abuser who tries to gaslight Dante into thinking his own crimes are Dante’s fault, could’ve worked just as well without going the extra mile. Most viewers are longtime SVU fans, a disproportionate number of whom have their own trauma.
We’re certainly not saying that the gritty10:00 slot can’t show any violence or needs to be sterilized in any way. But, especially when they don’t serve a purpose that can’t otherwise be served without them, certain visuals just aren’t worth it.
Another problem here is probably going to piss off all the right people, so let’s go for it: A lot of the people this group attacked would’ve never trusted those stolen (I’m guessing????) NYPD uniforms anyway. So, if we’re exploring the idea of another group doing with the Brotherhood did — but on a much, much more heinous scale — just keep it with actual cops being the problem. Because they are.
With that in mind as a caveat, this storyline does do an excellent job of being a sick parallel to the Brotherhood case, which Elliot still feels a lot of guilt over. Make no mistake about it: That opening church scene with Meloni was fantastic, as was the defiant way Detective Stabler dealt with the circus outside the court. And, when you view the two scenes back to back, it says so incredibly much about what’s going on behind the Big, Tough Detective Stabler facade.
The timing for this case works, too. It’s always just when you think you’re finally ready to put something behind you that you get a reminder that, in the hardest of ways, proves you’re not.
It’s also pretty easy to see where this is all headed. Elliot’s going to wind up relating this back to his own experience when it comes time to press Dante for evidence — assuming, of course, he lives. It’s a sensible way of getting El to keep fighting those demons and, with God as our backup, maybe he’ll even stop beating himself up so much. (Unlikely, but we can hope.)
Even with a clear trajectory in sight, the arc doesn’t appear as if it’s going to be blandly predictable. The twist, with our “good” cops being shot at by their backup, was definitely unexpected. And then, there’s the Reyes of it all. Not only was that a surprise, but there’s also an opportunity to show the multiple layers of how growing up in the system can affect people. The story just needs to be handled with a certain level of care, though, because we don’t want to talk about “good” survivors like Bobby Reyes versus “bad” or “weak” ones like this Vaughn dude.
Our demands, answered
(No. Not those demands. As if.)
If we have had one ongoing complaint about Organized Crime season 3 so far, it has been that we haven’t seen nearly as much of Jet as we’d like. Finally, “Behind Blue Eyes” delivered.
Honestly, seeing Detective Slootmaekers out in the field, taking the lead and utterly unafraid to confront people when she and Detective Whelan knocked on doors, would’ve been enough to get us excited. But this episode gave us way, way more. There’s Jamie trying to work through all her protective barriers, which is really interesting on a lot of levels. Some of us have trouble opening up to new people, so it’s always nice to see a character that speaks to us in that way — especially when it’s someone like Jet, who (so far) kind of just…is who she is. No tragic backstory needed that “made” her that way or anything.
But we’re also getting the impression that Whelan is just really looking to make some kind of connection. And he’s right that there has to be at least some semblance of trust between Jet and himself for them to be able to work together. The question just becomes where the hard boundary is, if and how it will move, and whether or not Jame can be interested and seek to know more about her without letting it cross the line into being invasive. So far, it feels like a natural curiosity, true concern about the extra anxiety, and maybe even a little bit of awe. (Which, same on that awe, buddy.)
And speaking of awe. The underground speakeasy scene…with Jet undercover…Um, wow. Just. Wow.
Ainsley Seiger absolutely knocked that one out of the park. What a truly insane departure from Jet’s usual…everything, really. And it was exactly what the team needed her to be. Just as impressive — and maybe even moreso — was the way she just flawlessly slipped in and out of the flirty girl who answers calls with “hey, handsome” to her usual stuff back in the squad room. It should be jarring, but it’s just not. Because Seiger is so good.
As a bonus, we got Elliot acting like a protective father while Ayanna tried to keep him calm. And then, her “I told you so” proud look when Jet came through.
Here’s hoping we don’t have to sit through another four-episode Jet drought to get more of this.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×05
- Starting to think “orbit” means as Pluto is to the sun.
- No, really. Ask her yourself.
- “Liv said it was ok to give you a call.” …call him yourself, Liv.
- The emotional journey Elliot goes through as Amanda tells him what happened to Maria and Jasmine…Anger, denial, heartbreak, more anger, probably another dose of rage…It’s Meloni fangirling hours, folks. (When isn’t it?)
- “Only God can punish them.” “So, help me be his backup.” Kind of a genius move to have Elliot talk about getting backup from God in the church scene, only to turn it on its head with Maria, actually.
- “Ayanna, I have your best interests at heart. Trust me…” No.
- “Cruella? Too long.” Seriously.
- “I’ll do the talking. I’ll do the talking.” It’s true, Sarge. You do have to repeat yourself, and put the emphasis on the operative word, when you’re dealing with the old dude. Smart.
- So. Much. Angst. In. That. Church.
- It’s also nice to see that, even if there’s no continuity with some parts of Elliot’s life, we’re definitely not dropping the fallout of that last big undercover stint. It would’ve done a huge disservice to the character and viewers if we had.
- Me with most SVU reviews: Just put Hargitay in a room with a camera. Who needs dialogue? Organized Crime: Great idea! We’re gonna do that with Meloni. In a church. Catholic guilt! Me: Ok but this hurts. I take it back, for both of them.
- “Anything you need to get off your chest?” “Plenty. But not today. Not here, not now.” That self-deprecating smile. Oof. And, uh: Ok but when.
- “We’re really the NYPD here.” Literally the opposite of reassuring.
- “He means I’m gon’ shoot you.” People died.
- “He had these crazy blue eyes.” “…piece of cake.” Priest’s nephew is Chris…I see what y’all are doing here.
- “Do you ever think about…what we went through? Foster care with that bastard? No help from the cops?” I actually can’t argue with this.
- The Robin Hood metaphor got to be a bit…much.
- “I don’t think he wants to talk.” I don’t think anyone has a better deadpan.
- “Do you want to turn your back on the one person who stood up for you when you couldn’t? Go ahead. Leave.” This is so manipulative and gross.
- “They live their lives online.” Y’all should just name me by name next time. (Sadly not under 20 anymore, though.)
- “Ok, Boomer.” “Right, Gen. Z?” I love them.
- …and shoutout to Stabler for being goofy with his adopted Gen. Z daughter instead of dragging millennials the way a certain someone did. A king.
- “Do you get all your lines from the cheese counter?” I can’t.
- “She’s good.” “Yeah.” “You might want to tell yourself that.” “I will as soon as I stop worrying.” Parents!
- That. Dress.
- “Guys like that have no idea what to do when a woman takes charge.” Tea.
- …but really, those communities don’t fear the police because of some impersonators. It’s because of what the actual police do to POC.
- Not this man with dorky AF dad jokes about Virginia.
- That reaction from Rick Gonzalez when Detective Reyes is watching Dante bleed out on the ground…gut-wrenching. This show really does have a. cast.
- “Not all cops are crooked now, Elliot.” Uh…We’re just talking these two fictional squads being the good guys and no other cops, right? Because otherwise…
- The “hey” from Bell. The look from Reyes when she asks him what happened in that house…
- IT ENDED THERE?!!!! WTF?!
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