Law & Order: Mariska Hargitay talks of Benson’s ‘love’ for Stabler

Benson and Stabler
Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) face off on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Hope may be springing again for Law & Order fans eager for a grand romance.

In a recent interview, Mariska Hargitay has confirmed the feelings her character Olivia Benson has for former partner Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). 

The question now is if either side or the writers for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime are willing to act upon it. 

The Benson-Stabler dynamic over the years

A lot of TV shows enjoy pushing the “will they or won’t they” romantic tension between the two main characters. When Law & Order: Special Victims Unit began in 1999, that wasn’t the case.

Benson and Stabler were friends and partners who trusted each other, but that was as far as it went. The fact Stabler was happily married to wife Kathy with several children seemed to rule out any possibility of romance. 

However, as the series went on, the pair kept growing closer, especially when Elliot and Kathy had their issues because of his job. At one point, Kathy even filed for divorce while noting Benson understood Stabler in a way Kathy never could.

This dynamic ended with Stabler leaving the SVU team after shooting a teenager in the Season 12 finale. Benson was walloped, not just by the absence but by Stabler not even talking to her about it first. 

That was the last they saw each other until Kathy’s murder brought Stabler back in the crossover setting up Law & Order: Organized Crime. The pair continue to connect, dancing about their feelings even as other characters note their connection.

A telling episode had Stabler talking of a letter Kathy had written where he’d added a line on how, without Kathy, it would always be him and Benson. 

That’s fueled more discussions if the pair will get together, which is now being added on by one of the key players.

Hargitay talks the Benson-Stabler romantic chances

Appearing on The Drew Barrymore Show earlier this week, Hargitay was pressed by Barrymore on Benson and Stabler as a couple with jokes including “what kind of coitus to call it.”

“Listen, we’re trying to figure it out, what to do,” Hargitay joked. “We’re really trying to figure out what to do. We’ve done hoitus coitus.”

Barrymore brought up how Kathy’s death means Stabler is free again even as he still mourns her. Hargitay’s answer will no doubt fuel many fans’ hopes.

“He is free, and I think he’s got eyes for me. But Olivia Benson is hurt! I mean, he left me in a lurch for 10 years. She’s frightened. The energy’s there. Olivia’s been in love with him for many a year.”

So far, the pair have remained tense even amid a few crossover appearances between the two shows. Benson is still smarting over Stabler leaving her with no warning a decade ago, while Stabler is focused on bringing down the man responsible for Kathy’s murder, mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott).

This wasn’t the only romance discussed as Hargitay also mentioned her real-life marriage to actor Peter Hermann.

The pair met on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where Hermann has a regular recurring role as defense attorney Trevor Langan. The pair hit it off on set with Hermann asking her on a date. 

“I was 35, and my friends are like, ‘Mariska you need to get out more nobody is just going to show up on your show and ask you to marry them.’… Do you know where our first date was? It’s a little too good to be true. Our first date he asked me to go to church with him. And I was moving and I said, ‘Peter, I would love to but not today I am moving today.’ He was like, ‘Oh come on it’s an hour. It’s an hour.’ It was so funny, I just couldn’t resist so I went to church. And it was that day I remember we went to church… and I am crying and he thinks I am so moved by the sermon and I am crying because I am like, ‘I know I am going to marry him. I found my husband. I love him.’”

While the talk on her real love life is fun, Hargitay’s words are a good indication that fans’ dreams for the long-time partners to finally become a romantic couple may be happening sooner than they think.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 and Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 return with new episodes Thursday February 24 starting at 9/8c on NBC.

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