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Law & Order: Organized Crime brings back a favorite face of the franchise

Dann Florek
Dann Florek returns as Donald Cragen on Law & Order: Organized Crime. Pic credit: NBC

Elliot Stabler is about to meet an old friend. 

Dann Florek will reprise his role as former Captain Donald Cragen on an upcoming episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime. 

However, the reunion may not be pleasant as Cragen’s revelations may send Stabler on a darker path. 

The return of Cragen

Donald Cragen is one of the oldest characters in the history of Law & Order.

When the original series debuted in 1990, Cragen was the lieutenant in charge of the detectives, a no-nonsense boss willing to do what it took to solve a case. 

Cragen’s background was touched on as he was a recovering alcoholic and his wife died in a plane crash. He left the series after its third season but returned in the 1995 TV movie Exiled: A Law & Order Story starring Chris Noth. 

When Law & Order: Special Victims Unit began, Cragen was now promoted to Captain and the head of the SVU team. It delved more into his background, with some cases involving connections to his past. He’d also mellowed a bit from his sharper early years yet still a gruff boss.

Cragen put up with a lot on the team, including being framed for the murder of a call girl. Midway through Season 15, Cragen hit mandatory retirement age, leaving Benson in charge of the SVU team.

Cragen returned in Season 17 to help on an old case he’d worked on. He also popped up in the recent 500th episode to discuss a case and congratulate Benson on her good work. 

Why is Cragen returning to Law & Order?

Law & Order
Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Cragen (Dann Florek) talk about a case on Law & Order: Special Victim Unit. Pic credit; NBC

The current arc for Law & Order: Organized Crime has Stabler (Christopher Meloni) going undercover in the Brotherhood, a pack of corrupt cops working for gangster Preston Webb (Mykelti Williamson).

Stabler is working with Frank Donnelly (Denis Leary), whose father was friends with Stabler’s dad. Stabler plays he needs the money to aid the Brotherhood in order to get the goods about them. 

According to a synopsis from TV Line, the April 7 episode will show what happens “when Donnelly’s (Denis Leary) version of events don’t match up to what Stabler remembers about his father’s heroic rescue on the job, Stabler turns to his friend and mentor Donald Cragen for help sorting out the truths from the lies.”

This will mark the first time Stabler and Cragen have shared the screen since Stabler quit SVU following the Season 12 finale. 

While Law & Order: Organized Crime has had a few appearances by Olivia Benson, bringing back an old face like Cragen is a great link to the franchise’s history. 

Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.

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