Sometimes silence says more than all the words in the world.
If anyone had any doubt that Christopher Meloni is a powerhouse of an actor, Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 1 Episode 4 proved it.
Stabler's reactions while alone in his home at the beginning and end of the hour were among some of the strongest moments in the series thus far, plus we got some of the best, most accurate depictions of PTSD on television.
A good chunk of time was dedicated to Stabler's decompensation.
His nightmares are getting worse, and he seems to be consumed with the idea of finding Kathy's killer, to the point that he doesn't care about anything else.
Stabler: There was a couple on the street where the car blew up, taking selfies.
Other cop: Do you know what time it is?
Stabler: No. I wasn't paying attention. But I need that photo.
Other cop: Next time, pay attention. We'll discuss this later today.
He woke both Benson and the detective in charge of Kathy's case when he discovered a clue in the middle of the night, and sooner or later, he's probably going to run afoul of Bell's admonishment not to let that investigation interfere with his day job.
For now, though, it's amazing that he is as functional as he is at work.
Stabler: Coney Island. Wonder Wheel. 9 PM.
Lawyer: My client has no idea what you're talking about.
Stabler: Everyone in this room knows that's BS.
Bell: Let's indulge them.
Stabler: Your boss ordered a hit on me and missed, killing my wife. He then set up his father to take the fall, but the old man was wise to him. How am I doing so far?
Lawyer: Haven't heard anything that points to my client.
Stabler: Okay, Manfriedi Sinatra asked to meet with me. Wanna guess where? Wonder Wheel, 9 PM. It was a Tuesday. He was gonna tell me Richard Wheatley murdered my wife, but you beat him there, and you murdered him before he could rat out your boss. Better?
He handled Izak's interrogation better than I thought he would. There was no rolling up of the sleeves or attempts to physically intimidate the suspect for Bell to intervene with. Instead, they both did solid police work, and it wasn't surprising that Izak eventually agreed to cooperate.
Hopefully, the cops don't get too cocky, though. Very little gets by Wheatley, and he has spies everywhere. It's doubtful that he isn't aware that Izak has been talking to a different lawyer than the one the Wheatleys provided for him.
Speaking of which, how creepy were those scenes with Wheatley and Gina?
This is one tense cat-and-mouse game, with Gina totally aware Wheatley is onto her and playing the role of the stereotypical dumb blonde waitress to perfection.
I thought Wheatley might come onto her or otherwise make things uncomfortable for her sexually during the scene in the wine cellar, and I was shocked that she managed to get the bug placed.
How did she do it, and what will Wheatley do about it?
The scenes at Richie's birthday party were underwhelming, though. Nothing major happened other than Richie walking off in a huff and Gina managing to place that bug.
I was expecting something bigger after all the build-up to it. But that's how organized crime investigations work: in drips and drabs instead of the major events that crime dramas are normally famous for.
In any case, the party scenes were perfectly juxtaposed with the intervention at the Stabler home.
I knew that intervention wasn't going to go well.
Despite what reality television may suggest, those kinds of interventions rarely do. The whole process catches the subject off-guard and makes them more defensive, which is exactly what happened here.
And in Stabler's case, the last time he saw Benson, he told her to leave him alone, and it wasn't clear whether they'd talked since. So her presence was sure to be jarring for him even though he cares deeply about her.
So jarring that he made a shocking admission.
I've never been a Stabler/Benson shipper. I've always thought that they had a deep, close friendship but that Kathy was Stabler's one true love.
That's half of why he's suffering so badly now -- he doesn't know how to deal with the loss of his other half, especially when he feels responsible for her death.
But whether he meant it romantically or not, there's no doubt that his first "I love you" was directed toward Benson in particular, not the family as a whole.
And Stabler's discomfort right after it slipped out made it questionable whether he meant it platonically or otherwise.
The intervention scenes and the one between Stabler and Angie afterward were some of the most powerful discussions about PTSD ever.
Benson: Elliot, listen to me. Listen. Everyone in this room recognizes that something's not right. Everyone but you.
Stabler: I'm drowning. How's that for recognitiont?
Benson: Then take our hand. Grab onto us.
Elliot: I know you're trying to help, all of you are trying to help, but all you are doing is pushing me further under. It's like a weight that is dragging me down.
Benson did what Benson always does and acted more like a clinical social worker than a cop, trying to get her old friend to open up, and Stabler's admission that he was drowning brought tears to my eyes.
But I was waiting for her to tell him that she has struggled with PTSD too. Keeping the spotlight exclusively on him made him uncomfortable, and hearing about her experiences might have helped.
Of course, he might have tried to deflect by going into a lengthy apology about not having been around during the William Lewis saga, but still, it would have been a logical segue that she just didn't take.
Anyway, was anyone else thrown for a loop when he showed up at Angie's after? I wasn't expecting that at all!
Angie: Should I talk, or should I listen?
Stabler: I don't know. I'm a cop.
Angie: Yes. I know.
Stabler: And I feel like I'm missing something.
Angie: You are. Her name is Kathy.
It made sense in retrospect. They're both grieving the loss of a loved one to Wheatley's operations.
I still don't trust Angie, though. No matter how much she says that the conversation with Stabler was her first sane one of the evening, she's playing both sides, and I don't think she's done with her attraction to Wheatley.
Maybe she is what she says she is and is trying to protect her surviving children from Wheatley, but something still feels off about her.
I was confused as to why Stabler was entirely isolated after the intervention, though. It seemed like his family decided to cut him off until he gets help, including Benson.
That doesn't make sense, psychologically. I know that's what the stereotypical intervention playbook is, but it seemed counterproductive.
It makes sense for Eli not to stay with his dad (though I'm surprised he agreed to it!) since Stabler caused an accident with him in the car. And Benson absolutely should set reasonable boundaries like not answering his calls in the middle of the night.
But ignoring Stabler altogether makes it harder for him to reach out when he's ready to get help and makes it more likely he will self-destruct. So what exactly was the point of that?
I'm interested in what Stabler discovered at the end of the hour, It's a step forward in the investigation, but more importantly, if Kathy was the target and not Stabler, can he stop blaming himself for her death?
Your turn, Organized Crime fanatics! Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought.
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Law & Order: Organized Crime continues to air on NBC on Thursdays at 10 PM EST/PST.