Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×14 “All In The Game” makes the incredible performances from its predecessor almost look weak. There is just an insane amount of talent on display here from Danielle Moné Truitt and Ainsley Seiger, to the point where trying to come up with the right superlatives, much less enough of them, is impossible. While that might sound like hyperbole, it’s actually an attempt at avoiding lumping in so many adjectives here that all the words become pointless. But the problem is, the words really are pointless in this situation.
That’s not to say that the episode is completely perfect — Stabler really shot someone again, only to then be the “not how we do this” guy about shooting folks, huh. But, at the same time, the complaints don’t come anywhere close to mattering when measured against the performance elements and what they reveal about these characters, who they are, and how deeply they feel. We also get a really clear picture about how important it is to know when to have those feelings…and when to remember that it’s dangerous to be emotionally involved in a case, one way or another. The inconvenient truth, of course, is that even the best of the best simply can’t help being human from time to time. It may be the greatest strength the members of this task force share, but it also, most assuredly, runs the risk of being their greatest weakness, too.
She’s got this. (And we never doubted her.)
First and foremost, I’m glad we don’t have to start any riots in the streets — Jet Slootmaekers is alive and well. We might have to send some therapy bills to someone at Wolf Entertainment, though, because that was tense there for a while. Thankfully, as it turns out, we didn’t need to worry. Detective Slootmaekers is way more than capable — even while alone, in the dark, and unarmed. And sure, plenty of backup might’ve been involved in the end, but let’s make no mistake about it: She saved herself.
There are these wonderful moments throughout the opening scenes, where it’s obvious that Jet is afraid for her life. Yet, there’s never a sense that she has any intention of giving up. And it’s when she uses her skills, when she plays on that connection she’s built with Seamus and negotiates until she can get close enough to strike, that we’re reminded yet again to never take her for granted. She’s not just the closed off and often unreadable tech genius. Jet is so much more. We’ve seen glimpses of this over the course of the series, especially in these recent episodes, but Organized Crime 3×14 takes that up several notches.
Once the immediate threat has settled and we see the aftermath of it all — the toll this case has taken on Jet — that’s when we really get the measure of this character’s strength and bravery. Seiger makes it very obvious that no, Jet’s not “fine” (just as no character in the history of entertainment has ever been when uttering that line). And yes, she is more attached to Seamus than is at all appropriate. In spite of all that, though, she’s still up for doing what needs to be done. To keep facing the danger, regardless of the terror in those woods, and to keep playing on that unexpected, unwanted, and unavoidable care she has for Seamus.
Sure, we can talk about the places where Jet is outwardly emotional. Plenty of them exist, and they’re all stellar work from Seiger. But it’s in the quieter heartbreak, those little moments with Seamus in the hospital or sitting at her desk, alone, in the end, that everything feels all too real. It’s isolating, feeling something you know you shouldn’t feel and definitely don’t want to go through. And loss is loss, regardless of how it comes about or how much you tried not to have anything to lose in the first place. Unfortunately, we don’t actually get to choose not to care, though. Not all the time, at least.
Luckily for Jet, she’s got the likes of Ayanna and Elliot to look after her as she grapples with…well, everything. They’ve both been there, Bell’s there now in a lot of ways, and they’ll even go there again. So, she’s really in the best of hands. Ands she’s in a space where she can go through these things and, hopefully, grow. Or, maybe she’ll even stumble a bit first. One way or another, it will be very interesting to see what this arc creates, overall, in terms of character development. Has Jet learned something from all this? If so, what? And can she do “better” at turning off her emotions in the future? In some sense, I hope the answer is no because she’s kind of hidden herself from everyone for too long.
On the other hand, maybe if she finds a way to open herself up to the right people more, we can all avoid the pain of her connecting with someone on the “wrong” side of things. Jet and Seamus are most certainly a cautionary tale, they’re also some fascinating shade of gray. Looking back over the course of this arc, all of Bell’s concerns were spot on…while Slootmaekers still managed to, somehow, prove her wrong. That’s what makes the entire case interesting, though — that push and pull between what really is “too deep” undercover and what counts as the perfect act because just enough of it is rooted in truth.
So, basically, we can go just about anywhere from here. And whatever happens, I, for one, can’t wait to see what Seiger does with it.
“I don’t ever want to be that close again.”
Sergeant Bell really gets her time to show what she’s made of in “All In The Game,” and it’s plain glorious to watch. (But, yes, there’s also plenty of pain.) As Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×14 opens, Ayanna has to balance her concern for Jet against what she needs to do, as a leader, to get her detective back. Then, as the episode continues, she has to manage putting the finishing touches on her case with the extra annoyance of Teddy Silas trying to break free. And she gets so close to finding justice for her old partner. So, so close…only for things to end in the worst possible way.
As it all unfolds, pretty much every single moment that Truitt is on screen is more special than the last. It’s impossible to pick a favorite scene, especially with so many different layers of this character coming into play. Is she at her best when she’s getting the team into action, despite it being very clear that Sergeant Bell is nearly frantic with worry for Jet? Or is it when Ayanna and Elliot are checking up on her once she’s safe? Should we appreciate the tough-as-nails, determined, and practically lethal woman we see in interrogation the most? Or the vigilante who comes within an inch of killing the man she can’t bring to justice?
Maybe, instead, it’s simply the heartbroken woman, leaning on the partner who kept her from making a terrible choice…all while showing us that grief doesn’t ever really leave us. Or is it the mentor, back in charge, delivering devastating news to Jet while she’s still devastated herself? The person who’s trying to explain why they have to count the smallest win — they know Murphy killed Jennings, even if no one else does — in the face of an overall loss…even as we know she may not completely be feeling that right now?
All of those options don’t even begin to capture how stunning Truitt’s performance here really is, much less what an incredible character Ayanna Bell continues to be. She has this great inner strength, real belief in her…sort of…mission, and ability to work both with, and for, her people that continues to be truly noteworthy. However, she doesn’t tend to fall into anything too idealized or tropey, instead remaining very human and grounded. That’s down to both the way she’s played and the way the writing doesn’t put her on a pedestal.
(Even if, as a fan, yeah. We’re not worthy and all that good stuff. Pedestal time in this house.)
Case in point: it bears mentioning that going after Murphy the way she did is yet another cautionary tale. Unlike Jet’s, hers is more about how easy it is to let our pain control us. As Elliot reminds Ayanna, though, she walked away. That’s the most important part — that she didn’t cross that line, no matter how close she came. And arguably, much like how Jet saves herself earlier in the episode, Ayanna could’ve saved herself here. Would have, really, even if El had never showed up.
It’s really nice to have someone who will show up like that, though. I guess this is the point where I (again) say this is really one of the best on-screen partnerships ever. But if we look at Sergeant Bell in terms of the partnership only, however awesome it is, we’re doing her, and ourselves, a disservice.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×14
- No but just Seiger’s eyes when Jet’s in the trunk…wow. How was that only the beginning?
- I’m going with “quiet, desperate horror” as my description of the moment Jet sees that open grave in the woods.
- Which, incidentally: Does every criminal in town use the same woods to kill and hide people? Like, was that one of the holes good ol’ Eddie Ashes dug or.
- Seamus, my dude, I’m with you on the whole trusting people sucks thing.
- “I gotta give it to you, though. You are really good at your job.” Literally all of us — or anyone with any taste, whatsoever, at least — at Seiger and Truitt.
- “Because I cared about you. I never lied about that.” I am. Hurt.
- Proud of the bald man for actually waiting for backup, rather than trying to single-handedly rush to be Jet’s savior and getting them both in deep(er) shit while he was at it.
- How many shootings are we up to, El? Also: THIS.
- Can we talk about Elliot Stabler recommending therapy to someone? Is this…growth? I’ll even take it in the form of “do as I say, not as I do” at this point.
- …and he and Bell are great as Jet’s “parents,” so to speak. Love them, love this family, love all of this.
- I have no idea what new guy/guy Bell and I hate/boss dude/fake Tar Heel was saying in that hospital because I was too busy watching Bell’s face. Oh. And the shared glances with El that were basically the embodiment of “relentless shit-talking” but…without actual words.
- Not Reyes and Whelan bickering like old marrieds.
- “It’s just a doodle. It means nothing” is, apparently, the new “I’m fine.”
- “Jet…You’ve been through enough. You have done enough.”
- “I didn’t want to hurt her.” “Funny, she said the same thing about you.”
- The shot of Bell’s reflection staring at Murphy through that glass is art.
- “He’s not talking to you. I am.” Yes, ma’am. I’m listening!
- Elliot’s so great about just…being quietly supportive, yet maybe just a bit dangerous, in the background, too.
- Actually, that’s Christopher Meloni’s role in this entire episode, and it works. He does such a good job of supporting what everyone else around him is doing, and I hope people understand how much value is in how present he remains without taking over.
- I guess if I’m always talking about a Livterrogation on SVU, we gotta come up with a word for what Bell did here. Because, uh. Seriously. WOW. Bellterrogation? Interrayanna? Something.
- “You didn’t do anything wrong. I did.” Logically, she probably knows that. Emotions, however, are not logical. Guilt, in particular, is a bitch.
- “Let’s rest up. You’ve earned it.” A partner!
- I just…so. much. pain. when the FBI comes and starts trying to take that photo…
- While we’re at it, how does it feel to have to physically hold someone back and talk them down off that ledge, El? Have you figured out how much of a pain in everyone’s ass, especially Liv’s, you are yet? No? Typical.
- I have no idea which part of the Bell/Murphy/Stabler scene prompted my “FUCK. ME.” note, but…yeah. That.
- Truitt and Meloni are so…just no words. Right in the feels, whatever they are.
- “We did our job. That’s all we can do.” It’s giving, “if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. Because that’s all there is. What we do. Now. Today.” If you suffered through that pain with me, you get it. But if not…basically, you do what you can. There is no great reward at the end, but you just keep doing what you can.
- Blanket statement: That dog deserves better.
- “Only question is who’s gonna do it? Scumbag like you. It could be anyone. Even me. Watch your back.” Tell me you’re leaving things open-ended without telling me.
- Also: Why is this man so hot when he’s doing his “smug sonofabitch” thing, especially when it also involves making not-at-all-veiled threats???
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Law & Order: Organized Crime airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.