Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×15 “The Wild and The Innocent” is an episode that brings us a personal case involving someone from Elliot’s time in the Marines, which should provide for a meaningful, memorable sort of viewing experience. Bizarrely enough, even with great work from the entire cast, it just…doesn’t deliver. In the end, it simply feels like filler with a few scenes we’ll keep in our back pockets for future reference — and not much else. Is it bad? No. But does it come anywhere near what we know is possible? Also no.
Somewhere along the line, the “obligatory shootout” and “obligatory high-speed chase” formula has started to feel just like that —formulaic. And after the previous several episodes featured some really intense emotional work, coming back to the usual routine, with everyone back in their set places, just doesn’t have the same excitement. That’s probably both the problem here and a reason to give this one a little bit more benefit of the doubt, though. After all, coming down from that level of high probably feels a lot more like a crash than it actually is…right?
Eh. Who knows? If/when this series gets to syndication and starts showing up in weekend marathons, we have a feeling Organized Crime 3×15 will be one of the ones we’re happy to watch…while doing several other things. But it’s not all a waste. Not exactly, anyway.
“That counts for something.”
If there’s one thing Elliot Stabler is going to do, it’s find a way to feel guilty. This week’s Stabler guilt crisis is about David Carver, a platoon leader who apparently saved his ass in Kuwait. Evidently, El and David fell out of touch when the poster boy for
grief rage went to the Academy, and it’s all Detective Stabler’s fault he didn’t save Carver from himself. But here’s something that’s very difficult, especially for Detective Guilt Complex, to get: There is nothing you can do for someone who doesn’t want to be “fixed.” Period.
So, it’s only now, in the present day, that Elliot can do anything. It’s only now, when Carver has already been considering getting out of the biker gang life because he’s looking to the future and grandkids, that he grudgingly accepts any help at all. And Stabler goes above and beyond when the time comes, even with the risk to his own life and several other people’s. As usual.
Along the way, there are a few interesting moments between Elliot and David, like a line about Elliot “always trying to save the world,” but they just don’t get enough time to go anywhere. Or, at least, they start the journey and get to some kind of place but not the best possible one…if that makes any sense, whatsoever. Probably the best thing that comes out of any of their scenes together is the whole “nature versus nurture” debate. El seems to think he can overcome something intrinsic in his own nature by fighting against it day by day…but David tells him he might “be a lot happier” if he gave it up.
Which, first of all: Hi, Biker Man. Thank you for telling Guilty McGuilterson about his toxic loyalty and his well-meaning, yet often misplaced, senses of honor and duty. Please feel free to continue whenever, wherever, forever. Because if that wasn’t so much of Elliot’s identity, maybe he would be happier. Imagine the parallel universe, if you will. (Too soon?)
Unfortunately, though, it’s not like David can exactly say he’s living his best life either. His choices put his daughter in danger and, even before ruining her moment of happiness, weren’t exactly anything to be proud of. Case in point: It’s wondering about what future grandkids will think about him that made him consider, however briefly, to find a way out in the first place. Realistically, one might even go so far as to say it’s his daughter’s opinion of him, not actually Elliot’s pleading (ouch, Mr. Meloni), that keeps him from shooting whatshisname at the end, too. So, eh. It’s not like “Deep Thoughts with David Carver” should be a place where Elliot Stabler looks for any kind of insight into much of anything.
Overall, Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×15 puts the character stuff aside in favor of a case that should be just sort of there. But if we shorten some action sequences here or there (or cut some out completely), spend less time being like “rah, rah biker bar party,” and maybe actually find space to let it all breathe, the stuff that matters can actually feel like it matters. The potential was there, especially with the heart of the episode being placed in the very capable hands of Christopher Meloni. But I’m not entirely certain we ever fully realize said potential.
With that being said, the scene where Elliot tells everyone how he knows Carver — after initially playing Mr. Secretive with Janelle’s ID — is a highlight. The same could be said for the Bell/Stabler moment immediately after. Meloni does his usual killer job with the character, this time with a certain look in his eye that really gives the impression that Stabler is being transported back in time just by relaying the story. This happens again, but to an even greater extent, during Ayanna and El’s last scene. Which, of course, that end scene is the real highlight and saving grace of this entire episode.
It’s vitally important that this man feels like he has a family, and she’s basically it right now. Or, at least, she’s all we see. Is he speaking with any other family? Hopefully. But whether or not that’s the case, he still has Ayanna there as a shoulder to lean on and has recently been that for her in that capacity, as well. It goes both ways, after all.
In this episode, Bell knows Stabler is going to need someone but will try to deny it, so she just shows up. And she tells him what he needs to hear — that he did all he could do for David back then and is the reason the man’s daughter is safe now. Through this, she absolves him of whatever crime it is he thinks he committed. Now, the hard part: He needs to internalize that, believe her, and work on atoning for his actual crime (abandonment).
I know I’m remaining a broken record here, but Stabler and Bell’s partnership really is something special. All these little personal moments add up to constantly reinforcing that notion, while also giving us a little bit of an idea of how much better Elliot’s getting at opening up and dealing with everything. The problem, of course, is since that’s the story, the series needs to be honest with itself and viewers about that. This is the real heart — the connections between the characters — so enough with the formula. I promise we’ll all survive if Elliot Stabler doesn’t shoot someone every week. We might even thrive, actually.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×15
- “You wouldn’t take it back?” “Are you kidding me? I love you!” Janelle Carver not the same as Maxwell Sheffield, confirmed.
- “There’s good news?” Elliot gets me.
- On a less cheeky note, even seeing Bell and Stabler joke around at a crime scene winds up being important, content-wise because their partnership is just so good. And at nearly every possible turn, this series does a fantastic job with all the little details to prove that.
- Cursed Crew sounds like the name of an emo band that couldn’t even sell records during the height of the emo era.
- “If it were my daughter, I would feel the exact same way. Trust me.” We know, Elliot. We. Know.
- “You do it your way. I’ll do it mine.” Is this…is this where El learned how to be this dangerously dumb?
- So…no continuity or followup with all the trauma Jet just experienced? It’s some random’s rap sheet keeping her up at night? Ok then. Fab. She’s really on the Olivia Benson track.
- “Once upon a time, I trusted him with my life.” Speaking of the Olivia Benson track…not that this situation is at all the same, but this really does sound like all the times she had to defend her man when he first came back.
- The look Bell gives Stabler when she asks for the real debriefing, then just…waits him out. Not the huge emotion of the Jennings case. Still excellent from Truitt.
- I do enjoy that Janelle’s completely helpless in that situation, yet still not afraid to get as close to the leader’s face as her constraints will allow.
- Smug Sonofabitch Stabler in that interrogation with the prospect guy. Yes. Love. We have been fed.
- “I’m not an evil man. I just want my daughter back.” Sit down. You’re not Liam Neeson, and this ain’t Taken.
- Ok. Sure, 3D printer guns. Why not?
- The actual Brotherhood arc was superior to all this brother-speak. Just saying.
- “Rembrandt was a painter. You mean Michaelangelo, the sculptor.” Love Jet being Jet…but definitely hope Ainsley Seiger gets to do more again soon.
- “I would love it if we got lucky…” She should call Olivia Benson on your ass. Not that she needs Liv when she’s got a glare like that and Ayanna here to back her up with a look like that…but still. Dude, no. If the looks weren’t enough, “ok, Bruce” ought to be. And yet.
- What is Jet’s password. Tell me. Basically, we are all Bell’s reaction to Jet having Jamie take her off speakerphone here. All of us.
- …interesting that she gave it to Whelan and no one else, too.
- “You got a pen?” “No, I’ve got a brain.” I. Love. Now, who’s writing the Spencer Reid/Jet Slootmaekers super-brain competition fic?
- …ok but Sergeant Bell with that badge and stalking toward that Julius guy. Yes, ma’am.
- Bell in interrogation. Yes, ma’am.
- “You never were a good judge of character.” On the one hand, I could make a joke about how awful Kathy was. But on the other, Detective Stabler’s closure rate speaks for itself. And so does his taste in partners.
- Sure. Put him in a motorcycle gang’s jacket and a little hat. That’ll make him less recognizable.
- No, but really. Someone please get Bruce to stop drooling all over Jet.
- “I didn’t call because I knew you were going to say you were fine.” “I am fine.” Not sure if should snort or reach through the TV and smack him.
- “I reached out, but he wouldn’t answer.” And yet, knowing how it feels, he still…ok then.
- “Never leave a man behind,” but he can leave The woman behind. Ok then.
- “To brothers.” “To friends.” Their little smiles. Help.
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Law & Order: Organized Crime airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC. The series returns on March 23.