SPOILER ALERT: This report contains details about tonight’s episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Elliot Stabler is back. Actor Christopher Meloni returned Thursday night in a crossover television event marked by tragedy that nudged him across primetime from SVU into his own spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, premiering just after.
The NYPD detective he played for years, now based in Rome—battling terrorism, sex trafficking, and organized crime—was reunited with longtime partner Mariska Hargitay, now Captain Benson, who has a tough time digesting his sudden reappearance in NYC.
The duo starred together on the first 12 seasons of SVU from 1999-2011 until Stabler abruptly retired from the force, off-camera, in the Season 13 premiere.
A clip released in late February teased the reunion, at a crime scene, as Stabler called out “Liv!” and a shocked Benson turned quickly, whispering “Elliot!”
Now we know why. Seconds after opening credits roll Benson responds to a call, a car bomb, and recognizes the “vic” — Stabler’s wife Kathy. Looking up, she locks eyes with her former partner. They’ve had no contact for 10 years. “They tried to kill Kathy,” he says. And they’re off.
It seems Stabler got stuck in a ripped-from-the-headlines anti-curfew protest where police vehicles were being targeted. He had stepped out of his car to make a call. The bomb of course was meant for Elliot.
Why did he really leave New York in the first place? We don’t know. Why is he back? To testify against two suspects he rounded up in Puglia, he says.
Why is he still roughing guys up in interrogation? So last decade. “Please don’t tell me, ‘We don’t do it that way anymore,’ I’ve been living in Europe, not under a rock!” he bellows at Olivia.
Had he even been planning to call her? Seems not.
Kathy doesn’t make it. Segue to Law & Order: Organized Crime where Stabler will look to rebuild his life after the devastating loss as part of a new elite task force that is taking down the city’s most powerful criminal syndicates one by one.
The series, filmed in New York, is produced by Wolf Entertainment and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group.