Is ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Already Teasing a Future Benson-Stabler Romance?

Law Order Organized Crime Pilot Stabler Benson
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 22, Episode 11 of Law & Order: SVU, “Our Words Will Not Be Heard.”]

Is there about to be another crossover romance in the Dick Wolf universe? It seems like Law & Order is at least hinting at the possibility, thanks to an awkward conversation in the April 15 episode of SVU.

After discussing Internal Affairs and the lack of change in the NYPD when it comes to policing, Sergeant Fin Tutuola (Ice-T) turns his conversation with Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) to her former partner, Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), now part of his own spinoff, Organized Crime.

“Speaking of IAB, did you tell Stabler about you and Tucker?” Fin asks, and it’s as forced as it sounds.

“What? No,” Benson replies. “He has too much going on as is and, to be honest with you, the last time I saw him, he flat out told me to leave him alone.”

“Just so you know, I mentioned to him that you were involved with somebody while he was gone,” Fin says. (In case you forgot, that happened while Stabler’s wife, Kathy, played by Isabel Gillies, was in the hospital after getting blown up by a car bomb — at a time when he should’ve had “too much going on” to care.)

Benson Fin Law Order SVU Season 22

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

“Did you?” Benson asks. “I think right now that’s the last thing on his mind.”

As you’ll recall, SVU never got along with Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke) when he was with IAB; they clashed multiple times over the years. Then in Season 17, Benson started seeing him. The relationship didn’t last, though it was serious.

Now, this conversation suggests that Stabler would care about Benson and Tucker — and not just because he didn’t like the guy when they were both with the NYPD. We can’t help but remember how much the SVU episode that was part of the crossover that kicked off Organized Crime focused on Benson and Stabler’s relationship. That might not have been a problem, considering they hadn’t seen each other in a decade and how he left, except that it was also the episode in which Kathy died.

Benson Chases Stabler Law Order SVU Crossover

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

While Stabler may be grieving over on Organized Crime, that doesn’t erase the fact that so much of the focus remains on his relationship with Benson. We know he’ll be back on SVU later in the season. And anytime those two are on screen together, there will be the question of where it might be headed, especially since they are no longer partners or even in the same unit (considering she’s now a captain).

Let’s not forget Stabler’s “You mean the world to me” when Benson appeared in Episode 2 of Organized Crime. Even if the two don’t get together — at all or anytime soon — their scenes are loaded enough that we can’t help but wonder exactly what the point of such moments is if not an eventual romance.

Law & Order: SVU, Thursdays, 9/8c, NBC

Law & Order: Organized Crime, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC