Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×08 “Whipping Post” is kind of a story in three parts. The most important part involves putting Sergeant Bell in a difficult situation, concluding with a pretty epic argument between her and Detective Stabler. Then, there’s a best-case-scenario sort of conclusion to the pointless mess set up in the previous episode.
The third element of this episode is, of course, the actual investigation surrounding an attempt on Pearl Serrano’s life. While the case takes some fun twists and turns — in true Organized Crime fashion — the actual police work remains far less interesting than all the personal stories.
With that being said, there is some potential for deeper storytelling there. After finding out his own father is responsible for the hit on his wife, Teddy Silas has to make a choice. He can either let that slide and stay beholden to his, quite frankly, terrible excuse for a dad. Or, he can do something about it. From there, if he does decide to do something, that could go in any number of directions. One thing’s for certain, though: Elliot Stabler knows all about bad fathers, so he’s worth keeping in the loop.
…assuming, of course, he still has a job by the end of the fall finale. (Which we’re assuming it’ll all work out somehow, seeing as how the series hasn’t received a mid-season cancellation. At least, not that we know of!)
So, with that more or less covered, let’s break down the two Very Big Deals in Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×08.
Let’s get the sigh of relief out of the way
So, yes, Elliot let Tia in. But no — thank Elliot’s God — he didn’t set his (mostly non-existent) progress with Olivia back another two decades. That’s a very, very good thing.
But wait! It gets better!
“You said there was a woman you were in love with.”
(Insert head exploding gif here.)
Just like he stumbled to Olivia’s door while drugged, Drunk!Elliot decided to confess his feelings for Liv to Tia. Now, all we have to do is load him full of the substance of his choice and have him share that with the actual “one true love of his life,” and we’ll be golden. And no, that blurted “I love you,” in the middle of an intervention, for as entertaining as it was, doesn’t count.
It counts in the sense that it’s real, and we should absolutely freak out about it. But it doesn’t count as actually confessing and doing the real work to make amends after a decade of radio silence, plus whatever these past couple of years have been.
To give our boy credit, turning down someone who was obviously willing — and practically throwing herself at him, which remains icky in terms of using women as a plot device — definitely shows progress. After all, this is a man who has swapped spit with Angela Wheatley and had his “horny altar boy having sex for the first time” thing with Flutura Briscu. So, this is the first time Elliot’s been in his (mostly, save for the alcohol) “right” mind, not clouded by grief or in a life-and-death situation, and totally free to make his own choices. And he chose Olivia. As uncertain as the status of that relationship may be, both for him and for us, this is a big deal.
An even bigger deal: After Benson and Stabler were forever using “it’s complicated” as a way to dodge the issue of their feelings, Tia’s commentary about how love shouldn’t be complicated is probably the best part of this whole storyline. Forget not going for the easy hookup — we’re totally calling real love what it is and washing away the biggest, messiest excuse of them all.
We also can’t leave out the completely stunned look on Elliot’s face when Tia reminded him of what he said. It’s like every time anyone admits to knowing what we’ve all known all along, this man is shook. Deer-in-headlights, forgot-to-breathe, shook. So much goes on in those awkward pauses, and those stunned looks are absolutely everything. Blink and you’ll miss it, but the way he draws his eyebrows together in confusion over the whole thing is a lot.
Basically, Christopher Meloni knows what he’s doing to us. And he’s doing it very, very well.
Honestly, if this were a true third season with our slow burn, this would’ve been a great “ok. Got us” type of plot — right down to the Knockoff!Liv vibes, and even the nasty trick of showing Elliot all unkempt first thing in the morning with Tia walking out of the bedroom…before we learned he’d slept on his couch. But it’s just so late in the game for this kind of misdirect. Luckily, it seems to have only been a brief thing. (Tia did go back to Italy, by the end, right?)
Even with a clear purpose, though, it still feels like kind of a waste. Not a complete and total ragefest of one, at least. But it’s just difficult to believe there will be follow-through, especially when theres remains a very short supply of shared EO screen time this season. Beyond that, if we’re going to be distracted from the danger to the task force’s very existence, we’d prefer for that distraction involve someone we already know and love. Not a temporary imitation.
The bigger story
For the record, Sergeant Bell deserves a promotion without strings attached. She’s earned it, regardless of the fact that there’s obviously some nonsense at play here. Period.
Unfortunately, we learn in “Whipping Post” that Deputy Inspector Bell will only be a reality once the task force is split up. So, instead of getting to celebrate the news, Ayanna’s got the weight of the world on her shoulders. First, she’s defending her people to Goldfarb…and then, she’s lashing out at those very same people.
And, for lack of a better way of putting things, it sucks.
For starters, I’m admittedly not the right person to ask about this, but something doesn’t quite settle right about seeing a Black woman in power have to hide her accomplishments in an effort to spare a (mostly) white group of subordinates. But even within my lane, the situation is…not great. Because, of course, those subordinates aren’t “just” people who work under Ayanna. She cares about them, and they care about her. It’s a chosen family, with varying levels of mutual care and connection. And at the top of the list, in terms of closeness, is Elliot.
So, yeah. It’s not at all surprising that Ayanna gets a bit snappy with anyone who gets even a little bit close to the truth in Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×08. She’s on the defense, and when you’re on the defense, it often looks a lot like offense. Is it painful to watch? Uh, yes. Especially when Jet just gets so small and confused every time Bell pushes back on something she says. There’s this real sense, especially outside interrogation, that Jet doesn’t even recognize this person.
In some ways, neither do we. But in others, it just makes sense. Bell’s clearly struggling with all of this, which Danielle Moné Truitt makes abundantly clear…And, sometimes, when you’re struggling, you lash out at the people you love. It’s not right, but it is human.
“Maybe you were just pissed that I didn’t ask for your permission.”
Ultimately, even with all her eavesdropping and subtle hints that she knows something, it’s not Jet who gets the story straight from Ayanna’s mouth. It’s Elliot. And…what. a. scene.
We’ve not exactly been quiet about our love for the bond between Sergeant Bell and Detective Stabler, especially as it’s become much stronger this season. And for as much of an emotional punch as their closeness packs, their argument in “Whipping Post” is so much more powerful.
Truitt and Meloni are so good together, to the point where I don’t even know how to begin explaining it. Then, after a confrontation that begins with Stabler trying so hard to hold it all in that he looks like he swallowed a particularly slithery bug, then builds so quickly to something much less contained, Bell still has to go out and face the rest of the team.
That “so, you all knew” line is just laced with pain. There are so many layers to what’s going on here, and they basically all go right for the throat. The way Jamie looks like he’s almost quietly begging Bell to reassure him before she speaks, followed by him, Bobby, and Jet just…walking away…
It’s a killer, ok?
Oof. What a way to end.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×08
- Everyone who knows me knows I’ve been obsessed with that time Elliot sniffed Olivia’s hair, mid-hug, when he came back. So, even with all the talk of being in love with someone else, the way he did a slightly-less-enthusiastic version of that when saying goodbye to Tia is actually a personal attack.
- “I did?” He is so small. Like, “oh? I said I…I love someone? What?” A mess…but a mess we kinda love, even when if pisses us off from time to time.
- “Love shouldn’t be complicated. Love affairs? Yes. They can get messy. But love…that’s different.” !!!!
- “Around here, a closed door sends a message.” And then, this bitch closes Sergeant Bell’s door anyway. Rude.
- “Mankind has been on the moon, and this is still the cutting edge of coffee making? I don’t get it.” Same, Jamie. Same. Actually, I’m so very here for coffee talk in general. Just saying.
- “What’s going on in there?” “The end of days.” Jet gets me.
- “No reason for me to stay…is there?” Nope. Bye.
- “You call your father?” Not Mr. Daddy Issues asking this.
- Bell: Elliot, no. Elliot: Copy. Also Elliot: Elliot, yes.
- “Do I need to be under a deadline for you to do what I tell you to do?” Her face before she said that. People died!
- Speaking of faces: I do not 100% understand the one Meloni makes when Whelan shows Stabler his phone after “guess they were going for a type.” But I like it anyway.
- “People do love to post about the rich and famous, don’t they?” Yes, Jet. They totally do. Some even like to take it way too far with the invasive bullshit, too.
- Another great Truitt/Meloni confrontation: the whole “a lot of things around here we don’t know” and “you broke your word” scene. Bonus points for uncomfortable Jet in the background.
- “If you dig a little deeper into that article, her name’s in it.” Ask me if I care.
- “Jet, you’re amazing.” “I know.” “And humble.” I continue to love Elliot Stabler and his new daughter.
- Ok but did they need to be so in sync.
- “You know how to use this? The numbers are in English, but uh..” I know this man isn’t trying to tease someone else about being unable to use a phone…
- “Maybe somebody got nervous at the top, and they’re worried we might come after them, too.” I’m with Reyes here. He’s a smart one, and if this series really wants to go there, this setup works. If not…more of the same.
- “It’s good to trust, but it’s better not to.” Me.
- “Whoever it is you’re in love with, she’s a lucky woman.” Except not. She’s been through hell, this bald bitch wasn’t even here for it and — as far as viewers know — still doesn’t even know about it…and on top of all that, she’s suffered all these years of “it’s complicated.”
- With that being said, Elliot’s a good (if frustrating) guy, which is what Tia was obviously getting at, with her lack of a history lesson, here. Elliot needed to hear that from someone who knows him, and his little smile speaks to him possibly even accepting it. It’s yet more progress…
- …that I am begging this series to follow through on.
- Stabler praying. Yes.
- Gus Halper knocked it out of the park toward the end here. Not sure what it says about him or me that he’s much more compelling in that jail scene than as the uber villain type…but here we are.
- That “look, we’re friends” sounded a lot like the opposite.
- “My heart and soul are in this place. And you knew that. So, either you chose to ignore it, or you decided that it didn’t matter.” Ouch???
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