Law & Order: Organized Crime recap: Stabler has some big family problems

Ellen Burstyn
Ellen Burstyn returns as Stabler’s mother on Law & Order: Organized Crime. Pic credit: NBC

A double dose of Law & Order: Organized Crime brought double the headaches for Stabler.

In these two hours, he had to deal with a growing gang conflict, a tough undercover job, his relationship with Olivia Benson, and worst of all…his mother. 

Stabler’s burning down the house

New World Order opened with Reggie and Nova (Nona Parker Johnson) working together to attack a low-level drug operation with Reggie literally biting a guy’s ear off.  

Stabler came to his RV to find Albi waiting for him. He took Stabler on a drive while pressing “Ashes” on his loyalty, with Stabler stating he was loyal to the mob. Stabler had to keep up his cover by torching the place to hide the bodies.

Stabler went to see Bell and Brewster to reveal he’d kept the cut-off thumbs of the dead dealers for identification. They talked of how it would be good to have a contact with the Marcy Killers and Stabler suggested flipping Nova. Nova was giving her girlfriend, Penda, her own salon as a gift. 

Stabler and Reggie were at a diner with Stabler claiming his mother was long dead as he encouraged Reggie to stay in touch with his mother. Stabler was called in to investigate a Kosta-owned restaurant whose owner claimed a fire there was accidental. When Stabler hesitated in calling it arson, Albi just shot the guy. 

Not surprisingly, that sent Stabler to church only it was Bell in the confessional booth. She assured him it wasn’t his fault as she investigated to discover the murdered owner had been paying “protection” to the Italians, but the Kosta Organization just wanted too much, driving the owner to extremes. 

Stabler’s family problems 

As if Stabler didn’t have enough on his plate, his mother, Bernadette (Ellen Burstyn) was arrested for slapping a boy in the park she mistook for a young Elliot. It was apparent the woman’s mental state was getting worse, forgetting some past visits and asking, “How was Olivia’s funeral?”

Stabler, Kathleen, and Eli brought Bernadette to her apartment, where she had fired her maid and even owned several cats. Kathleen and Eli insisted that their grandmother stay with them, and Stabler, while not happy, couldn’t refuse. 

Bell and her wife talked about a terrible lowball offer regarding Bell’s lawsuit that would have meant no real changes or consequences. 

Nova and Penda made a quick stop outside the diner where Stabler and Reggie talked. A car drove up to riddle the place with bullets, with Reggie figuring it was the Italian mobster Frugatti. Nova was shot in the arm, but Penda was killed instantly. 

Bell and Jet tracked down Nova figuring they could use the shooting to turn her with Nova refusing. Brewster was upset about Stabler not knowing about the hi.t..and then Nova walked right into the command center.

A new player and a growing war

As Stabler, Bell, and Jet stared in confusion, Brewster snapped at Nova getting so involved with Penda and her firing back she had loved her. It turned out “Nova” was Detective Carmen Riley, Brewster’s own undercover operative in the Marcy Killers. 

Bell was naturally ticked off she had no idea about this with Brewster dealing a low shot on how “you couldn’t keep your last undercover alive.” 

Kosta met with Frugatti at a gas station where the Italian made it clear that they wouldn’t work with the K-O. Guns were drawn before Stabler ended the impasse as only he could: by threatening to blow the entire place up with a rocket launcher. 

Stabler was soon in a wild victory party that included drinking and even making out with a woman who slipped him a drug. In a drunken haze, he entered an apartment building to knock on a door that was answered by Benson. 

The letter’s contents are revealed

The second hour, The Outlaw Eddie Wagner, picked right up with a drugged Stabler slumping into Benson’s arms, slurring, “I need you to let me in.” 

Stabler brought up the tension regarding the case of Gabe Navarro, with Benson not wanting to discuss it. Stabler then confessed that he didn’t write the letter he gave Benson in Season 1, Kathy had, but he did add the final line that “in a parallel universe, it would always be you and I.”

Stabler then woke up the next morning…in Bell’s apartment as Benson had called her to pick Stabler to keep his cover quiet. 

Stabler was called to a parking lot by Albi, who wanted him to dispose of a body. Stabler buried it and then called Bell and Brewster to find the corpse. Jet worked her tech magic on the phone from Albi, which was amazingly sophisticated and the work of a mysterious hacker named Malachi.

Bell met with Congressman Kilbride, who suggested his old legal firm help Bell with her lawsuit. Bell was unsure because of the optics and suspected that Kilbride (a cop for 26 years) had an ulterior motive. 

At the gym, Stabler realized he was being hit on by Albi’s wife, Flutura, with Reggie warning him Albi was very protective of her. The body was identified as a low-level hood named Tristian, with Bell confused as to why Albi would kill him.

She used a couple of cops to give Stabler the guy’s ID so he could check the guy’s apartment and figured he’d been sleeping with Flutura and Albi killed him. 

Stabler digs himself deeper

Brewster was upset when Nova failed to make a meeting and planned to go to Penda’s funeral. As he pressed on focusing on her job, Nova turned in her badge and gun on the spot. 

Bell tried to talk to Nova, who snapped that Bell was a desk jockey while she’d been undercover for six years and Penda was the only good thing in that time. That pushed Bell to accept Kilbride’s offer to aid in the lawsuit as she could help truly change the system. 

Jet hit a meeting of hackers, where she managed to flush out Malachi and even got some action chasing him down. She then pulled a nice trick in interrogation to get him to give up the Albanian codes. 

Stabler and Flutura had a flirtatious meeting with her claiming to have not known Tristian but making it clear she and Albi both regularly cheated on each other.

Following Albi to a gay club, Stabler realized the truth: Tristan had been Albi’s lover, not Flutura’s and Albi had to keep it quiet as if it got out he was into men, his “family” would shun him.

Albi confronted him and brought Stabler back to that same field to have him dig his own grave. Stabler was able to win him over by pointing out he wasn’t bound by “the code” and would keep Albi’s secret. 

Bell met with Carmen at a church and talked her into coming back to the force to finish her job. She got back into it, welcoming Hugo out of jail to go see Webb. 

Kosta dropped by the gym and Albi invited Stabler to take part in the meeting with Stabler finally welcomed into the inner circle. 

So while dealing with family issues of several kinds, Stabler also got deeper into his role than ever.

Law & Order: Organized Crime airs Thursdays at 9/8c on NBC.

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