Law & Order Organized Crime Review: In Deep With a Violent MobJack Ori at . Updated at .
When that victim told Stabler that the Albanian mob was crazy, she wasn't exaggerating.
Some of the violence was so graphic I had to avert my eyes, and Stabler narrowly became the mob's latest victim.
Bell tried more than once to convince him to let her pull him from the case on Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 Episode 2 and Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 Episode 3, but that just made Stabler more determined to see it to the end. But will that decision blow up in his face in a big way?
The deeper Stabler gets into the mob, the more they expect him to do cleanup work for them, which means plenty of acts of violence that ordinarily would land him in jail for years.
It's all forgiven because he's undercover, but the question is: do the Albanians trust him, or are they playing him too?
Reggie: When you're with the KO, you get free food. You're with me, you're with the KO.
Stabler: I'll just leave a tip.
Reggie: We don't do that.
Reggie does, but Albi took pains to clarify that he doesn't share his nephew's naivety, and Stabler almost got himself killed following Albi to a gay bar.
The scenes at the graveyard were intense. Of course, Stabler was going to have to get out of this -- for now. It wouldn't be much of a series if he were killed off, after all.
Still, though, it was only his years of experience talking suspects down that got him off the hook, and it wasn't guaranteed that he was going to get out of this without the rest of the team rescuing him at the last second.
Also, did anyone think that Mama Stabler's instability may interfere with Stabler's cover?
She needs round-the-clock care that she will do her damnedest not to receive -- after all, she fired her last caretaker.
She may pull Stabler away from the case at inconvenient moments, leaving him with tough choices to make and possibly causing the Albanians to b become suspicious.
And on top of that, "Eddie" told Reggie that his mother was dead. So if Stabler slips up or is caught talking to his mother on the phone when he's supposed to be undercover, that will raise red flags.
Of course, Stabler is an experienced detective, but with all the stress surrounding his mom's illness, something could happen that shouldn't.
There's also the issue of Stabler having to disappear for days, if not weeks or months, at a time, which will be problematic if his mother is this ill. There's no way the kids can take care of her by themselves!
She disappeared from the canvas after the first half of the story, but I'm sure this is going to come up again, and it's going to be heartwrenching!
I had to wonder if she had Alzheimer's or another type of cognitive decline, too.
So far, her symptoms have been attributed to bipolar disorder, but she didn't recognize Stabler at first, forgot Kathy died and called her by Olivia's name. All of that is consistent with dementia. Will that turn out to be the case later?
Elsewhere, the story took a tragic turn when Penda died, especially when Nova turned out to be an undercover cop.
Nova was insanely good at her job. I didn't guess for a second that she was a cop. But did the mob catch on?
Right now, everyone's theory is that the hit on Nova and Penda was retaliation for the three murders that Stabler covered up. But it could just as easily have been someone trying to eliminate Nova after finding out who she really was.
Either way, Penda's loss was heartbreaking.
Penda's life had been threatened before when Hugo stole cocaine from the Albanians, and Nova was quick to cooperate to save her.
She loved Penda, and Brewster's refusal to even acknowledge her grief was annoying, to say the least.
I didn't blame Nova for wanting to quit. She'd just lost the love of her life, and Brewster displayed no empathy whatsoever.
Yes, he had a case to close, but he could have at least acted like Penda was important rather than some random gang member with whom Nova should never have gotten involved.
Brewster is not an endearing character anyway. His sole purpose seems to be to oppose Bell at every turn, and it's already getting old.
Speaking of which, Bell's interaction with Congressman Kilbride was interesting.
Kilbride is involved with the Marcy Killers, of course, so his passionate insistence that making new laws as a legislator is easier than trying to change the system as a cop rang somewhat hollow.
Still, though, he's got his eye on Bell, and he's used to getting what he wants, so he's not going to leave her alone. The only question here is where all this is going to lead.
Meanwhile, Jett more than proved her worth. Her hacking skills not only got her to catch a previously uncatchable criminal but to get a real name and a decryption key out of him.
No one had better treat her as less than a full member of the team again. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Brewster.)
Finally, let's talk about Stabler's drugged confession.
That conversation was built up into something it wasn't on the trailer. Stabler was barely lucid, and Benson had more critical concerns on her mind.
Still, Kathy having written the letter -- and the revelation that its contents were more or less a break up -- was a compelling twist.
Stabler is in love with Benson, and Kathy never got over her jealousy even though in her last years she claimed to be.
But does Benson feel the same way? She might have, once upon a time, but now Stabler doesn't seem to be the same man he once was, and anyway, Kathy died less than a year ago.
Plus, Stabler tends to go off the grid for long periods. He always seems to return to Benson, but that inconsistent presence isn't what she wants, especially not when she has to think about Noah's wellbeing too.
Your turn, Law & Order fanatics!
What did you think of Stabler's attempts to get in deeper with the mob, Penda's death, and the reveal about that letter Stabler gave Benson?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know.
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Law & Order: Organized Crime airs on NBC on Thursdays at 10 PM EST/PST.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.