Law & Order crossover recap: the three squads join on one epic case

Sam Waterston
Sam Waterston as Jack McCoy on Law & Order. Pic credit: NBC

The Law & Order crossover event was as epic as fans had hoped for.

What began as a simple murder case soon had all three squads joining together to stop a possible bombing attack and uncover a conspiracy.

This had additions of a new cop for Law & Order as well as a dramatic turn for an SVU detective that could pave the way for a tough exit.

It was also terrific just seeing all three shows working together for one storyline with some intriguing team-ups.

While the ending was a bit bittersweet, it did remind fans of how much the cops and prosecutors care for the victims to see justice done.

In the course of three hours, Gimmie Shelter was a true event that made Law & Order’s season premieres an exciting ride. 

A new partnership begins

In March of 2022, a family raced through the streets of Bucha, Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion. The mother and son were killed while the father and his daughter tried to get away. The father was finally gunned down by soldiers as the girl smartly played dead. 

It then cut to that same young woman fighting a man on a yacht in New York City before running away.

At a cafe, Cosgrove talked to his daughter, Lily (Alayana Hester), who wanted to transfer to a new school as she was terrified of school shootings. They were interrupted by that woman running by, her head covered with blood. 

As Cosgrove ran after her, the woman raced into the streets and was hit by a car. Cosgrove showed her his badge to try to help her as the girl babbled “he” was after her. As Cosgrove met the ambulance, a man came up and shot the girl.

Cosgrove chased the man down the streets, but he got away. He met Detective Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks) as Cosgrove insisted on taking the lead and Shaw agreed to work with him on the case. 

Cosgrove was worried he couldn’t find Lily at the cafe and found her by the crime scene, telling her, “The next time you hear gunshots, you run from them, not toward them.” Lily figured the girl was dead and when Cosgrove said the man “would pay for it,” Lily scoffed it wouldn’t change the girl being dead, which left Cosgrove taken aback.

At the precinct, Dixon told Shaw he was welcome to join them on the case as Cosgrove watched video of the murder. The girl was identified as Ava Marchenko, a Ukrainian refugee who had been reported missing.

Cosgrove and Shaw went to the aunt as Shaw wanted to take the lead in breaking the bad news. Mrs. Marchenko didn’t take it well, slapping Jalen before crying. 

Calming down, Mrs. Marchenko said that Ava thought New York was “an amusement park” after life in war-torn Ukraine and was worried she wouldn’t realize how dangerous it was. She just left one day and the police were no help in finding her. 

Cosgrove told Shaw he did a good job as they went to the morgue, with Shaw shaken seeing Ava’s body. The M.E. confirmed Ava showed signs of having been trafficked and with high-end caviar in her stomach and salt water on her hands.

That led the cops to the docks, where a worker told them a fancy yacht had been in the area. Cosgrove showed an attitude telling the clerk to get the information, with Shaw smirking at “enjoying your swag.”

When Shaw brought up the legal problems of Cosgrove’s threats, he revealed he’d been a practicing lawyer but decided to become a cop. They had a bit more banter before finding the boat was owned by attorney Stuart Potter (James Mount). He denied knowing Ava and had actually chartered the boat to someone else. 

Bringing in the other squads

The pair checked in with Benson on how a shell company had rented the boat and Cosgrove figured this was all part of a trafficking ring.

She agreed with them, but it was tricky figuring out who could have been the true owner. As it happened, SVU had put cameras in the area just for these occasions. 

The footage showed Ava running on the docks as they figured she must have stumbled onto some crime and ran in panic. They talked to the owner of a limo company who tried to brush them off, with Shaw showing his own attitude, convincing him to talk, which impressed Cosgrove. 

The search led the pair to Mark Sirenko (Beau Knapp), an apparent millionaire with a criminal record. They showed footage of Sirenko chasing Ava, with him refusing to talk. Cosgrove grabbed Sirenko and snarled, “I’m coming for you,” before Shaw pulled him away.

At the precinct, Stabler burst in to yell at Cosgrove as the Organized Crime Task Force had spent six months looking at Sirenko and Cosgrove was going to scare him off. Stabler declared the case was his, but Cosgrove refused to back down. 

Cosgrove and Shaw arrived at the Task Force headquarters as Bell informed them they’d been looking into Sirenko. Stabler had an informant looking into a drug connection, but having him ask about a murder would compromise him. He knew they were up to something big but wanted to build a better case.

Cosgrove refused to look at the big picture and wanted Sirenko for Ava’s murder. “I heard Elliot Stabler was a cop who’d do anything to get justice for a girl like Ava. I guess I heard wrong.” That shook even Bell to give Stabler food for thought. 

At a bar, Stabler checked in with his CI, Vince (Andrew Yackel), who was busy with a backyard fight. Vince was surprised to hear of the murder as Stabler wanted him to clone Sirenko’s burner phone. Stabler urged Vince to be careful.

Vince arrived at a club with Jet and Stabler, watching as he actually tried to steal the phone. They could tell Sirenko was on edge as Stabler warned Vince to just get out of there. Realizing it was getting out of hand, Stabler headed in. 

Sirenko confronted Vince in his office, which nearly got him strangled. Yet, he still managed to palm a data card inside and slipped it to Stabler on his way out.

Stabler explained to Cosgrove he met Vince beating a guy twice his size and the guy asked him for a job. They found video on the card of young women on the yacht being trafficked and needed to find another girl shown with Ava. 

Stabler checked in with Benson, who agreed to check on a woman shown running the girls. She told the team to start looking for “Mother Hen” and speculated she might have been a victim herself before turning into a pimp.

Velasco found Sam Ellis (Stephanie Gunn), who fit the profile and looked like the woman in the video. The cops raided the house, leading to a brief firefight before Ellis was arrested. Cosgrove found himself attacked by a woman who begged she’d rather die than be caught as Part 1 ended. 

The stakes get raised 

Part 2 began with Benson and Fin trying to talk to the girl, Nicole (Jaci Marie Calderon), who refused to talk as she “had people who can help.” Benson gave her a wakeup call by showing Cosgrove and Shaw interrogating Sam, who denied knowing the girl at all or caring about her. 

The girl tried to brush it off with Sam “protecting” her, but Benson got through to convince her to help find justice for Ava. A teenage runaway, Nicole said that Sirenko had a guy at the yacht but didn’t know his name.

Sirenko discovered Ava had been recording the happenings on the yacht and the man attacked her as Ava fought back and then ran. That man ordered Sirenko to find Ava before “she ruins everything.”

The squads united to take Sirenko down, Jet literally opening the gates of his mansion for them. They found the place empty with an escape tunnel connected to a room packed with bomb materials. 

Benson and Stabler realized they’d stumbled onto something bigger than just trafficking as there were enough materials for a bomb big enough to take down a building. Stabler was confused as there was no evidence of Sirenko working for terrorists and they needed to call in the FBI. 

Dixon wanted all high-profile potential targets in New York shut down only to hit the usual political red tape. Hearing how big the bomb was convinced the deputy mayor to start calling his bosses. 

Stabler turned to Vince again to trick Sirenko into giving away the bomb’s location, once more warning the kid to be careful. The cops watched as some black vans showed up at the scene.

Sirenko led Vince into a nearby garment factory as Vince pressed about “the cops questioning me” on the bomb. Stabler warned Vince to ease up as the camera signal started breaking up. 

Jet saw there was a concrete mixer in the room as Stabler realized this whole thing was a hit. Vince realized it too and took off running just as a guy took a shot at him. He got on the elevator as Sirenko caught him.

The cops raced inside, Stabler hearing gunshots and traded gunfire with Sirenko. He was distracted by Vince lying shot on the ground, dying before the others arrived.

An explosive chase ensues

Vince’s death shook Stabler and Jet as Stabler wanted Sirenko more than ever. 

They questioned the gunman arrested at the scene, but all the man said was he wanted a lawyer…and then taunted Stabler with “tick, tick, boom.”

The deputy mayor made the mistake of chastising Stabler for this, with Benson having to hold him back from punching the guy. She then tore into the politician verbally on not questioning them.

Jet managed to track Sirenko’s van to a house in Queens rented by John Kent (Vinny Randazzo). Claiming he was just a pawn, Kent explained he was tricked by an underage girl he met online and Sirenko used it to blackmail Kent about information on a hotel he worked at that was hosting an event for NATO.

The teams raced to the hotel as Sirenko drove the van with the bomb into the parking lot and set the timer for ten minutes.

The deputy mayor was once more arguing about this, but the cops and FBI overruled him to start evacuating the hotel. The Secretary-General of NATO was talking about defending Ukraine when the cops started clearing the rooms. 

Cosgrove saw Sirenko amid the crowd as he tried to escape. Shaw found the van with the bomb with less than four minutes to go. He refused to evacuate but finally listened to Dixon. 

Cosgrove spotted Sirenko outside and managed to tackle him down just as the bomb went off, blowing the building apart. Sirenko managed to escape in the chaos. The teams split up to search the area. 

Rollins spotted Sirenko and called for backup. Hemmed in by the cops, Sirenko grabbed a woman as a hostage and headed into a store with other customers. 

Benson tried to talk Sirenko down, telling him there was nowhere to go as Sirenko demanded a car. Sirenko finally sent the hostages out while holding that woman. He let her go to try and run, only for Stabler to beat him down for the arrest. 

Sirenko reached for his gun, only for Stabler to hold his own and say, “Give me a chance.” Cosgrove, for once, was the voice of reason calming Stabler down. Sirenko was cuffed and led away to conclude Part 2.

Who was the real mastermind?

Price was confident of a strong case against Sirenko, from murder to trafficking to the bombing, with three people unable to get out of the building in time to add to the charges.

That still left the motive as even if Sirenko was from Chechnya, going from criminal enterprises to terrorism was a jump. 

Nicole talked more of the man Sirenko had met, who she believed was from Chechnya, who loved showing off a star-shaped medal. Rollins learned there had been a party at the Russian embassy the night before Ava was killed.

The man was identified as Daniel Rublev (Pasha D. Lychnikoff), a close friend of Vladimir Putin. Price speculated that Rublev was the real mastermind of this whole thing as blowing up a NATO event would impress his bosses. 

They found a video of Sirenko knowing Rublev and his connections but needed more proof. That meant finding Andre Lenkov (Gene Farber), a member of the local branch of the Russian mob. 

Andre was little help as he wanted to mind his own business, although obviously afraid of talking. When threatened with arrest, he revealed he’d found Ava’s phone from the boat.

The phone’s video showed a drunk Rublev telling Ava and Nicole of a great life waiting in Russia and, “Soon, I’ll be even more powerful,” after a big event with “a very loud boom.” When Rublev realized Ava had taped his confession, he attacked her. On McCoy’s orders, Rublev was arrested.

A cop comes under fire

Price was wary of the case as there was more evidence on Sirenko and two trials at once was tricky. Evan Braun (Michael Kostroff) managed to have the video suppressed, leaving them with circumstantial evidence.

With Andre now refusing to talk, that left Nicole to testify. Benson was wary as Nicole had a rough life from losing her mom to COVID-19 to bad foster homes and wanted to protect her. Maroun understood but pressed Benson to talk to her. 

Rollins and a cop named Dawson had Nicole at a safehouse playing video games as Nicole noted her game style as “playing it safe is no fun.” She was more like a typical teenager wanting to see a store and listen to music.

As they exited, some gunmen took shots at them, with Rollins and Shaw firing back. A frightened Nicole ran and when Rollins went to help, she was shot. A gunman was ready to finish her off, but Dawson shot him before checking on Rollins. 

Benson was upset as she came on the scene and had to help a tearful Carisi, pointing out how strong Rollins was.

Cosgrove talked to a shaken Nicole, with Benson also trying to help her cope. Nicole blamed herself for this as she had responded to someone online and realized that’s how the Russians tracked her. 

While Rollins was in stable condition, Price pressed that they still needed Nicole to get Sirenko and Rublev. Price wasn’t happy to learn Nicole was now living with a relative in Toronto, with Benson saying she had to care for that girl more than the case. 

A bittersweet verdict

McCoy was just as ticked, wanting a court order to bring the girl back but blocked by red tape. Maroun agreed with Benson and that the defense could break Nicole on the stand. 

Maroun said their best option was to cut a deal with Sirenko to flip on Rublev. Price was upset at letting Sirenko slide on killing Ava, but McCoy stated getting Rublev was a higher priority. 

Sirenko talked of having been upstairs when he saw Ava run and Rublev telling him how Ava was going to tell the police of their plans and Sirenko was to kill her. He even chuckled at Rublev being so stupid to brag about it to a “hooker,” which got Maroun angry. 

Naturally, Stabler was not happy about Sirenko getting a deal with him and Price getting into a shouting match before the courthouse. Price played he was “just following orders” from higher-ups while Stabler snapped on how he’d make sure to tell Vince’s mother that.

Sirenko testified on the murder and bombing, with Price getting him to admit killing Vince was Sirenko’s own idea. Braun used Sirenko’s deal to throw doubt on his testimony even as he replied, “Just because I kill people doesn’t mean I’m a liar.”

Rublev decided to cut his own deal to give away scores of Russian secrets in exchange for leniency. Price didn’t want “the State Department to drive the train” as they didn’t care about the actual victims in this, but McCoy said they had little choice. 

Rublev played at being arrogant, but when Price threatened to shut the deal down, Rublev begged him to make sure his family was safe. 

As Price and Maroun argued on the case, they watched Rublev be led out of the safehouse by officers. Suddenly, a man on a bike shot him and then took off. Price found Rublev begging for help and, after a brief pause, tried to aid him, but the man died in his arms. 

At a press conference, Price announced that with Rublev dead, Sirenko got the benefits of the plea bargain. He felt justice was still done as Stabler led a raid on some of Sirenko’s operations to free some captured girls. 

Cosgrove talked to his daughter about how twenty years in prison seemed a low punishment for Sirenko. He agreed there should have been better justice and did a long speech on how there was still good in the world to fight for.

As he talked, Carisi checked in on a wounded Rollins in the hospital while Benson visited Nicole, who turned out to have been in New York all along.

Cosgrove summed it all up with, “The world isn’t perfect, Lily, but it’s still beautiful.”

Thus, while justice was done in a way, there’s still some jobs left for the police and a reminder of why Law & Order is always needed.

Law & Order Thursdays begin with Law & Order Season 22 at 8/7c on NBC.

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