Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×10 “Trap” is a fun setup for the series’ latest arc, which positions itself as Detective Whelan’s time to shine. If nothing else, it certainly cements the idea of Jamie being the second coming of Elliot Stabler. While that story is entertaining enough, and we get to start seeing a bit more of the new guy — picking him apart and getting more development than “guy with SpongeBob tattoo who is definitely like El” — it doesn’t own the spotlight in this episode. That goes, as is usually the case, to the partnership between Elliot and Sergeant Ayanna Bell.
Then, of course…there’s Elliot’s personal life — or lack thereof, really. For as much as the other “main” elements of “Trap” are fantastic, the scenes where we’re supposed to get a look inside Stabler’s head just don’t make sense. The performance from Christopher Meloni, especially when you put the two therapy scenes against each other, is top tier. But the sessions don’t really reveal much new information, and what they do reveal, at the risk of being too repetitive here, just don’t make sense.
Is there hope for this man? Sure, if we’ve got all the time in the world to crawl along at a snail’s pace. But what about hope for viewers, who have suffered for what seems like forever? (And, for some of the younger members of the fanbase…yeah. Forever.) Let’s take a look and see.
Something about fast cars
It’s always nice when you start to find out little things about new characters that are both surprising and, somehow, fitting. That definitely applies to this nugget about Jamie’s past as a stock car racer. It’s like…I truly never would’ve guessed it, but it just…It checks out, ok? It does.
When he goes undercover, Detective Whelan does a great job of thinking on his feet. Some of it, to the outside observer, looks a lot like not thinking at all. But when you watch some of these scenes multiple times, things start to click. The task force’s failure to inform other cops of their mission results in Whelan’s target getting arrested. So, what does he do? He…pulls an Elliot and hits someone. Which. Ok. Bad idea, probably — especially considering how punching that cop comes back to bite him in the ass. Or, um. To punch him in the face, rather.
But…let’s think about it. If he’d just stood back and done nothing, he wouldn’t have gotten time alone with Cristobal in holding. Even if he had been arrested for being part of the race, how would he have made himself look worthy of becoming a driver? Right. He wouldn’t. Then, there’s the final action sequence at the end. While ditching the wire is not really the best idea of all time, let’s focus on what makes Jamie use his skills to lose Jet and Bobby. Cristobal mentions dealing with this “the real, real way” and how he wants to “blast these fools.” So, really, when Whelan goes full Speed Racer, he’s making himself look like he’s one of “them” while actually protecting the rest of the squad. It’s actually kind of genius…in a Stabler sort of way.
Throughout all of this, Brent Antonello does an amazing job of showing Whelan’s tension without being so overt as to make the character obvious to others in the scene. It’s a delicate dance, as well as a well executed one. And even if he is making “Baby Elliot” moves, watching him make these sorts of mistakes isn’t anywhere near as frustrating as watching Stabler make them. Because he hasn’t been doing it for 84 years. Hopefully, he’ll learn. If not, we at least have that footage of him getting punched.
The best friends will call you out
One thing Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×10 does extremely well — really the best part of this episode…and most episodes this season, actually — is building this great partnership between Bell and Stabler. It’s very obvious, in every single interaction, that the old adage is true. The tension from earlier this season didn’t kill Ayanna and Elliot’s friendship, so now, it’s stronger than ever. Even as the characters are having kind of a light-hearted moment about Stabler being reinstated, there’s a sense of warmth and care. Something about that “it’s good to be back” just hits in a real, emotional way.
The same could be said about a lot of other lines because throughout “Trap,” their banter is never just banter. Somehow, it simultaneously manages to feel like it belongs on a sitcom and address some deep, emotional…stuff. There’s really no better word for it. Just. Stuff. (Always in italics. Not stuff. Stuff.)
So, sure. I might have choked from laughing so hard when Bell told Stabler, “there is hope for you yet.” (Because, like…is there hope for this man? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell!) But even as she’s making it obvious that Ayanna’s giving her partner a hard time, Danielle Moné Truitt also infuses the line with just enough heart as to show her character is really, truly proud that Elliot booked that second therapy appointment. Yeah, she was tough on him in that surveillance van — and ma’am, if you think the lack of opening up irritates you, just think how viewers who have been with this man since September 20, 1999 feel — but that’s actually what a good friend does.
Ayanna Bell is not here just to coddle Stabler, or to only support him with the fun cop humor. She’s someone who knows when he needs a push and is more than happy to do the pushing. And that’s what we all need, from time to time. Someone who won’t listen to our excuses for not doing what we need to do to better ourselves…but who will be there, giving us the nudge when necessary and making that nudge a demand if, and when, that becomes necessary, too. We could all use a friend like her.
In which Elliot Stabler forces us to become the confused math lady meme
(If you don’t know the “confused math lady,” clickety click for that gif…and realize, your friendly local fangirl reviewer also has an advanced degree in Mathematics, so it takes a lot to “confused math” her.)
Is seeing Elliot Stabler in therapy a welcome sight? Uh. Yes. But…does anything he says to Dr. Newsom in “Trap” make sense? Not really. In the first place, seeing this man go back to bottling everything up in the opening session — while brilliantly acted. We’re never taking away from the performances here — takes “irritating” to a whole new level. Also, what is he talking about with not liking endings? My dude, you put in your papers and disappeared us for 10 years. Let’s be real. And he said whatnow about working to provide for his family? Eli is literally the only youth left to provide for. I’d make a Noah Benson-Stabler joke here, but well. That would require Elliot to speak to Olivia…
…and we all know Elliot isn’t speaking to Olivia. He can’t even be bothered (apparently????) to reach out after her latest trauma. Which, they’re both in the same city??? The Bronx even gets a mention here, which is where Liv is working now??? Ok then. Or is this episode somehow supposed to take place before that, even though Elliot was out of work for two weeks after shooting someone as part of his last case, which fell around Christmas? Then again, maybe this is after the January 2-5 timeframe of SVU 24×10. But like. If he spent part of his two weeks talking to his former partner…where’s the evidence?
Insert Olivia Benson “it just doesn’t make sense” gif here. Or, better yet: Just tattoo it across every square inch of my skin at this point.
That brings us to Elliot’s second therapy session. It…definitely shows much, much more progress. No question about that. And if the first session was well acted, this one was Meloni deciding he wanted to redefine what that phrase even means. However. Elliot “recently lost a friend. A very close friend. Partner.” Recently?! My dude, you abandoned her over a decade ago. Or, ok. Maybe he’s talking about Tia? But then…that doesn’t make sense with the how of it all. In Elliot’s own words, the loss came about “through neglect. On my part. Fear. Selfishness.” There was no neglect with the other partner he recently lost, and I know damned well he had better not be talking some “fear” or “selfishness” mess about Frank Donnelly.
Does this mean that a decade-plus is “recent” to someone his age? Or did something actually happen recently that we…somehow have to read creatives’ minds to know about? Regardless, viewers should not have to do this kind of detective work. And if it all starts to make sense later, great or whatever. But to be at this point after so many years, with so many completely dropped threads…is, to put bluntly, a total waste that provides way too many senseless distractions from otherwise good work.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×10
- “Trap” clearly has a double meaning because there’s the obvious tie-in with the cars/the case…but also, walking into any situation in which we think we might actually get some answers is a complete and total trap.
- Please tell me I’m not the only one who hears “Tino” and thinks about Little Tino from MSCL…
- Doc: “The question is why.”
Me: We keep asking that about him leaving and getting no answers. Do tell.
Elliot: “The guy had a gun pointed at my sergeant.”
Me: That’s…not what I was asking.
Doc: “The question is why do you want to go back to work?”
Me: …no, it isn’t.
- “Let’s talk about your family.” “Let’s not.” Ok. I did snort here. You got me, Baldy.
- Every single reaction Bell has to this new guy who got the promotion she turned down…Oh, I can’t wait to see what happens. There are just layers upon layers of commentary in every single one of her Truitt’s facial expressions that are telling me something’s up. Or, at least, Bell is not here for how thick Ray is laying it on. Which, same.
- “I’ve been a big fan for a while.” “How old are you?” …how I respond when I gatekeep my fandoms from the youths.
- “Sure you got the right guy?” And that little confused squint. Help.
- “He’s not as tough as he looks.” Correct.
- I know Fernanda is supposed to be “the bad guy” and all, but um. I support women’s wrongs.
- “Building a trap is illegal in New York state. Just because you don’t ask questions doesn’t make you innocent.” Don’t know how to put it other than to say it’s impressive because it’s giving “classic, smug sonofabitch Stabler.”
- “You know, I never looked at your entire file when you first joined the team.” “Even though I told him he had to.” “Probably why I didn’t.” “You ready to say sorry now?” And he ignores her. It’s a sitcom!
- “That means he’s impressed.” “No. I never said that.” Organized Crime is a buddy comedy. Fight me.
- “Sarge, I think we’re off to the races.” And the way she shakes her head over that before that “no.” The old man jokes have got to go!
- “He didn’t have to. I’m a woman.” “WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?” The man has at least four biological children (fan theories on Eli…y’all know if you know). And he doesn’t know what “I’m a woman” means. Good God.
- “It just irritates me that you’ve been given an opportunity to talk and you won’t take it. Unburden yourself.” Over. 20. Years.
- Every single line is delivered so, so perfectly. But that “we’re talking about you” is…no words for that one.
- “He’s just like you.” Yep.
- “I say that to myself every morning in the mirror.” I do not.
- “Sounds like you’re a man in need of a new beginning.” YEAH. WITH OLIVIA.
- “…not going in guns blazing.” She said this old man is not shooting more people!
- “I could show you…tan lines, but I should buy you dinner first. Right?” I mean, Stabler has a personal vendetta against buttons, so you may as well fully embrace the Elliot Junior vibe and skip dinner.
- There was a line in this week’s SVU about who’s softer between Fin and Amanda. But um. The softest is Elliot Stabler. Exhibit A: The shushing and cupping the back of this poor traumatized woman’s head…Haters will find a way to hate anyway, though. Their loss.
- Ummmm…and speaking of SVU: WHY AREN’T YOU CHECKING ON OLIVIA, ELLIOT????????? Obnoxious man. I’m exhausted.
Thoughts on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×10 “Trap”? Leave us a comment!