It may not be a very jolly Christmas season for the Stabler family.
Law & Order: Organized Crime producer Ilene Chaiken previews the upcoming crossover with the series and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on December 9.
While the focus is on an important trial, it will also show how Stabler’s (Christopher Meloni) family adjusts to a difficult holiday…which may get even worse.
The Stabler family struggles
To say the Stabler family has been put through the wringer in 2021 would be a vast understatement.
A decade after he left the SVU team, Stabler returned to New York when his wife Kathy was mortally wounded in a bombing. The culprit was Angela Wheatley (Tamara Taylor), who believed Stabler had killed her son in a raid.
It turned out the real killer was Angela’s ex-husband Richard (Dylan McDermott), a ruthless pharmaceutical CEO turned mobster. He eliminated his own stepson for stealing his product and manipulated Angela into ordering the hit on Kathy.
The Season 1 finale of Law & Order: Organized Crime had Wheatley arrested while trying to have Angela killed. The Season 2 premiere revealed Wheatley had cut a deal with the feds to skate on all charges except Kathy’s murder with Angela the key witness against him.
Meanwhile, Stabler has been busy with a tough undercover assignment. This took its toll as son Eli (Nicky Torchia) began acting out. That included stealing the medication of Elliot’s mentally-addled mother Bernadette (Ellen Burstyn), who’s living with the family.
Now, as they face their first Christmas without Kathy, the Stabler family will be dealing with another huge challenge.
What’s ahead for the Stablers at Christmas?
After a few weeks, off, Law & Order Thursdays return on December 9 with a crossover beginning on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in what’s titled The People vs Richard Wheatley.
As the title implies, Wheatley is on trial with none other than former ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) defending him. Naturally, that will lead to tension with Stabler and the SVU team.
That leads to the Law & Order: Organized Crime episode, simply titled The Christmas Episode, which Chaiken, speaking to Give Me My Remote, promises will feature the holidays.
“It all does take place in the lead-up to Christmas,” Chaiken previews. “You’ll certainly see Christmas paraphernalia.”
Chaiken explains that there will be more focus on the Stabler family with both Eli and daughter Kathleen (Allison Siko), who are grateful Stabler has let go of his undercover persona of Eddie “Ashes” Wagner.
“We’ll see his kids now that he’s home. We’ll see his family, we’ll see his mother. We will now live in his life as Elliot Stabler rather than Eddie Ashes. We’re telling some stories about this family, and, in some ways, going deeper than we have before.”
A prominent face has been Bernadette, who made just one appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2009. The woman is suffering signs of dementia but can still give her son some advice.
While there are no plans to show more of Stabler’s family (he’s established as having three brothers and two sisters), Bernadette does add an important link to the family.
“We hope that she’s playing a very large role in his story. But…this has been an estranged family and an estranged relationship. It feels like they’re finding one another again. And we want to explore whether or not that can last, whether it can be a real family, and whether both the sins of the past and the difficulties of having a mother who is bipolar can be managed by Elliot Stabler.”
However, the plotline for the episode involves Eli going missing just as Wheatley is on trial, making it appear as if the two events are connected. Chaiken won’t confirm the connection but did leave this warning:
“We want you to feel very Christmas-y. And I hope that we don’t ruin Christmas for you.”
With those foreboding words, this may not be a very Merry Christmas for Stabler.
Law & Order: Organized Crime returns Thursday, December 9 at 10/9c on NBC.