‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ Boss on That Wheatley Shocker and Stabler’s Reaction
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Law & Order: Organized Crime Episode 5 “An Inferior Product.”]
The second Law & Order crossover of SVU and Organized Crime not only provided Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) with closure about her brother Simon’s (Michael Weston) death, it also dropped a bombshell on her former partner, Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).
First, SVU’s case led the squad to a knockoff version of mobster Richard Wheatley’s (Dylan McDermott) purple magic. Simon got caught up in the middle of a group of women targeting rich men because of his friend. Then, new evidence connected Richard’s right-hand man Izak Bekher (Ibrahim Renno) to the bombing that killed Stabler’s wife Kathy (Isabel Gillies). But when the task force confronted Izak, who’s now working as a mole for them, he shocked Stabler by revealing that Richard wasn’t the one to order his wife’s death. The mobster’s ex-wife Angela (Tamara Taylor) — whom Stabler has been growing close to and kissed in this episode — did!
TV Insider turned to Organized Crime showrunner Ilene Chaiken for (some) answers and teases about what’s coming up as we head for the finale.
Nice bombshell there with Angela! How early on in planning this season did that come up?
Ilene Chaiken: That was one of our earliest ideas. We’ve known from the very beginning that in some form that was going to be Angela’s role. We didn’t know in the very beginning that Stabler would have a nascent romantic relationship with her. We contemplated it but weren’t sure it was gonna be the right way to go. But we always knew that she was going to turn out to have, in some sense, called for the hit on Kathy.
What did you want to do with Stabler and Angela leading up to the reveal of this twist? They have these emotional conversations, they shared a kiss …
The most important thing about it was not the romance or potential romance or even hookup — I don’t know which it is — but more that they developed a deep relationship that I believe and the actors portraying these characters also believe wound up being authentic. They both really did bond over shared grief. Of course, she knew something that he didn’t know, and what we were drawn to was the incredible complexity and irony and ultimately tragedy of that.
Is there anything you can see is about why Angela gave the order to kill Kathy? Could she be targeting Stabler because of a past case?
We will find out in the next episode.
What can you tease about how Stabler handles that gut punch other than the shock that he’s in at the end of this episode?
I really shouldn’t say anything beyond what you see at the end of this episode, because there are so many ways that Stabler could handle this, given who he’s been and who he’s become.
Since the premiere, it was obvious that Angela’s somehow involved in the shadier side of things, at least more than [Richard’s wife] Pilar [Shauna Harley]. What can you say about how much she is involved and how you want to unveil that?
A lot that remains to be seen. We’ve already made it clear that she knows a good bit about her ex-husband and his business dealings, though how much she knows isn’t altogether clear. One of the things that hopefully the audience wants to know at this point is how corrupt she is, whether there’s more to the story than what Stabler knows and what we know, or whether she really is a darker character than she’s appeared to be.
Should we be looking at Angela and Richard’s interactions up to now through another lens?
I think you should be looking at some in whatever way you’re feeling them right now. I hope that everybody is wondering the same thing that you just asked me.
What did you want to explore with Stabler’s mindset and PTSD up to this point?
We wanted to explore the truth of what Stabler would be going through. It seemed almost irresponsible not to tell this story, given who he is, all of the things he’s been through in his life. We talked to a lot of cops who worked in these kinds of fields to get a sense of how likely it is that someone like Stabler would be experiencing PTSD or how likely it is that he wouldn’t. It’s extremely unlikely that he wouldn’t be experiencing some kind of PTSD. Given that he saw his wife murdered in front of his eyes, the intensity of that and what it carries with it seemed rich to explore and, as I said, irresponsible not to explore.
Did he need to be confronted with that before seeing that Kathy was the target and before learning about Angela?
From our story point of view, I would say yes, but more importantly, he needed to be confronted with it because it was happening and it was undeniable and his family did the loving and difficult thing.
How much more are we going to see if his family this season?
They’re very much a presence. I’m not sure that we’ll see a ton of them on screen, but they’re certainly there and in our story, and assuming that we get to go on telling the story in future seasons, they’re very much a part of his life. He’s a single father now, and he’s a single father of a teenage son, so that’s good to be in his story. One of the things that defines this Law & Order show is that, although it’s a police show, it spends a good deal of time in character and those kinds of details that haven’t always gotten as much time in the Law & Order universe.
What did you want to do with Stabler vs. Richard at this point in the season approaching the finale?
We really look at them as well-matched adversaries and between now and the end of the season, we plan to just drill down and drill down on that. I wouldn’t call it a relationship — although in a certain sense it’s a relationship — but [more of an] adversarial encounter. It’s going to play out in the course of this season. It concludes in some sense, although these things never truly conclude. But we want to see those two men face off in as many ways as possible within the confines of our story,
Moving on to the lawsuit that now means that [Sergeant Ayanna] Bell’s [Danielle Moné Truitt] career is over if the task force doesn’t accomplish what it was set up to do, how is Bell handling that moving forward? [Bell’s nephew was an innocent bystander attacked by police, who were chasing after other teenagers. His hand was crushed.]
It’s a huge challenge for her and whether she’s able to be true to herself, her own moral and ethical convictions, and still do her job as a cop is going to be a big facet of the story we tell for her and something we really want to explore for her. We know that not only is this a timely issue but rather than looking at it just in terms of the politics of the story, we hope to look at it from the character point of view. What is that like for one Black cop who happens to be one of our heroes? And how does she reconcile these countervailing forces in her life? … It will inevitably come out and more people will become aware of it and it will complicate her life.
Richard’s visit to [undercover detective] Gina Cappelletti’s [Charlotte Sullivan] apartment — was it just part of the security check or is he suspicious?
He’s suspicious of everyone. Does he trust her now? I don’t know. He goes above and beyond propriety in trying to find out who someone is and whether they’re on his team or not.
What else can you tease about the finale and how it sets up a potential second season? Is there a cliffhanger?
There are some cliffhangers in the finale, but it’s conclusive to the point that our plan, assuming there’s a second season, is you may see some of these characters again. They may appear in stories, but we’ll tell a new story in Season 2 and in Season 2.1 or however it is we parse it out. As Dick Wolf said, we’re going to tell stories in pods. However many episodes we wind up doing, we’ll play out an arc and then begin a new story. The show is serialized. There will be some mostly character elements, but also some threads that carry over, but we won’t be exclusively telling the Richard Wheatley story in a new season. There will be a new main adversary for Stabler and Bell, should there be a second season.
Would the task force all stay the same or could any characters besides Stabler and Bell switch out?
It remains to be seen depending on what happens between now and then.
Law & Order: Organized Crime, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC