Sometimes, an unexpected reunion can be a good thing.
This had Stabler literally running into an old friend from his time in Italy, a feisty cop out to capture the same crook.
The episode also had intriguing insight into Jet’s past as she, Whelan, and Reyes all got undercover work.
There were also developments in the Silas investigation as Pearl made some moves against her husband.
This made All That Glitters a compelling case while also giving Stabler an interesting new development on the personal front.
Stabler runs into an old friend
In a high-scale jewelry store, Jet and Whelan posed as a wealthy couple to meet Jay (Rajesh Bose), the store owner. The team was looking for Mikael Abramov (Mark Ivanir), an international crook who laundered gold via New York shops. The cops would hurt Abramov’s business by shutting off his gold supply.
Stabler and Bell enjoyed Velasco and Jet playing as if they were tense about their money. A woman (Ayelet Zurer) entered with a bag, and the team figured she was Abramov’s courier.
Whelan stepped outside with Jet watching the woman go. As soon as she hit the street, she realized Reyes was following her. As the cops moved in, the woman ran before being tackled by Stabler.
The two briefly fought before the woman stopped to blurt out, “Elliot?” Stabler was just as surprised to recognize her as “Tia” while the rest of the team just stared.
At the station, Reyes and Whelan mused who Tia was as Jet found a social media page indicating she was just a regular accountant. She was Tia Leonetti; an Italian federal agent Stabler had met overseas.
The pair was coy about their relationship as Tia apologized for not letting the NYPD know her agency was working on Abramov too. He was actually in New York, giving them a big chance to bust him.
Bell agreed to at least let Tia watch as she insisted this was her case, but Stabler teased she could tag along. He also mocked Whelan on his “date” with Jet.
Stabler was set to interrogate Jay as Tia noted the “new Elliot who played by the rules.” She asked him to “at least put on a good show.”
Stabler did so, telling Jay that as soon as Abramov found out he was arrested, he’d figure Jay would flip and eliminate him. He made it sound like they had an informant in Jay’s shop to get him to talk. He then admitted to Tia they had no informant.
At a factory, a man watched his workers put together the gold for melting. He was thrown when Abramov showed up, revealing he’d known the man was stealing from him and made him ask for more. Once he did, Abramov gave it to him by having his goons pour a vial of boiling liquid gold down the man’s throat.
Stabler was at home when Tia called and realized she was outside his door. She gave him some reports on Abramov as she noted Stabler was now an empty nester. Tia talked about Kathy with Stabler apologizing for not returning her calls at the time but thankful to Tia for caring.
“You’re special,” Tia noted before getting down to business. Stabler asked what Tia was doing in the U.S. and knew about being obsessed with a case. Tia admitted she’d nearly captured Abramov two years earlier, but he’d killed a witness and his entire family Tia was trying to protect.
Tia blamed herself even as Stabler said it wasn’t her fault. Tia was determined to bring Abramov down one way or another. Stabler promised he had her back.
Reyes working his way inside
Bell wasn’t happy about Tia taking charge by going undercover with Reyes volunteering.
At a restaurant, Whelan met with Pearl, who only wanted to talk to Stabler. She was ready to leave, but Whelan brought up her background, realizing the man she had married and wanting a way out.
Whelan offered protection as Pearl insisted she could take care of herself before handing over a thumb drive of information on Teddy’s shady deals. She left while promising to keep her eyes open.
Reyes was getting into character as a local dealer as Bell talked to Stabler about Tia being on a rogue mission. Stabler said he’d been burned out in Italy and Tia had talked him back onto the job. Kathy had also liked Tia and that alone earned Stabler’s trust.
Whelan and Jet talked about the earlier “date,” with Whelan apologizing for going a bit too far on the ad-lib about Jet’s parents. Jet made the surprising revelation she’d been married briefly, and her parents still didn’t talk to her for that mistake.
Reyes met Abramov to watch soccer as Abramov pressed Reyes on his fake background. He noticed a woman, Joy (Anastasis Mirabelle), had marks on her hands indicating she worked at a gold factory.
Abramov seemed open to a deal, but Reyes would have to wait. Reyes wanted it sooner but decided it was better to back off. He returned to the van to show how Joy could be a way inside.
Reyes met Joy, revealing he was a cop. She was terrified of talking, admitting how she’d seen Abramov have a man killed but shared how he treated the women like slaves. She only put up with this for her daughter.
Jet raced to press Joy on the van ride that took her to the factory. Using her information, Jet narrowed the location to a factory owned by one of Abramov’s front companies. Tia offered Jet a job if she ever moved to Italy, with Whelan thrown at that.
The cops raided the factory, finding no inside. They opened a furnace to discover a gold skull left behind.
Stabler faces a tricky choice
With Abramov in the wind, the team was at square one. The skull matched a gold mine in Sudan, which meant someone had to help him cut through the red tape of flights.
Stabler and Tia headed to the Sudanese embassy to discuss closing in on Abramov. Tia said she knew Stabler would never quit and admired him for “being born for this job.”
The pair talked to Yousef Deng (Tom Ukah) at the embassy, who claimed not to know Abramov and was wary of helping. Stabler brought up how Deng wanted to help his people, as did Stabler.
Deng said he couldn’t help but played the old “I’ll just step out of the room” trick while leaving behind a flight manifest on Abramov heading out of a local airport.
Abramov arrived as his men loaded up the plane. The cops also showed up, leading to a massive gun battle. Abramov ran into the plane as the cops surrounded it.
One gunman tried to shoot Stabler, only for Tia to stop him. Stabler got on the plane to arrest Abramov. The police soon rescued the slave workers from closing out the case.
Pearl returned home with Teddy, noting how down she looked. She suggested they take a trip and maybe never come back. Teddy wondered why she felt this way when they were so close to achieving greatness. Pearl just walked away as she realized how trapped she was.
Stabler was enjoying a quiet night with music as Tia called to say it felt good working with him again. Stabler asked when she was returning, as Tia noted there was still cleanup work, and she might stick around for a bit.
She asked if Stabler was open for a drink, then revealed she was once more outside his door. He stood before it as Tia asked if she would let him in.
The question of what Stabler does is a very intriguing one to keep fans waiting for Season 3 to continue.
Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3 airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.More: Law & Order: Organized Crime