Richard Wheatley’s trial is shaping up to be an explosive affair.
Law & Order: Organized Crime showrunner Ilene Chaiken is sharing insight into the upcoming crossover with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where Dylan McDermott’s sinister crime boss goes on trial for the murder of Kathy Stabler.
With an unexpected face on his side, Wheatley may be able to walk out a free man…but not if Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) can help it.
The People vs Richard Wheatley
On its face, the case against Richard Wheatley should be rock-solid. The man was arrested on multiple crimes, from selling vaccines on the black market to tricking ex-wife Angela (Tamara Taylor) into ordering the murder of Kathy Stabler and then trying to have her killed.
However, Wheatley is smart enough to have some sharp legal aid. That helped him cut a deal with the feds to give up other criminals in exchange for nearly all the charges against him being dropped.
Now, on December 9, Wheatley goes to trial for Kathy’s murder. But what should be an easy case is complicated by the fact Wheatley is being defended by former ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparaza).
Speaking to Give Me My Remote, Law & Order: Organized Crime showrunner Ilene Chaiken shared how she and the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit writers worked to bring this two-episode crossover about.
“They collaborated on our hour, we collaborated on their hour. We were telling a story that truly is a crossover. And we both shared ideas and respected one another’s mythology, if you will.”
The conflict is clearly Benson not believing Barba is actually defending Wheatley. Stabler, who doesn’t know Barba, isn’t going to be happy with some slick lawyer letting his wife’s killer go free.
As for Wheatley himself, Chaiken is sarcastic about how “he’s been very well-behaved,” as the man clearly enjoys the chaos he’s creating for Stabler.
How will the trial come out?
Given Barba’s experience with cops, he’ll know how to press a witness. Danielle Mone Truitt, who plays Sergeant Bell, shared how she and Barba will clash in court.
“You’ll see [Bell] speak the truth of what happened with our case, and what she believes to be true about Wheatley. Raúl was awesome. We had so much fun on set just shooting the court scene. I was testifying and [Barba] was badgering me with crazy questions and assumptions. It was a lot of him saying certain stuff and me looking at him like he’s crazy.
There’s a whole bunch of ‘objection,’ ‘objection,’ ‘objection’ when he was there, because he was just spouting off stuff that has nothing to do with the case—he knows what he’s doing, He’s doing it on purpose, because regardless if it has to do with the case or not, it can paint a picture with the jury. He’s definitely good at what he does.”
An issue with Angela testifying against her ex-husband is that she’s still recovering from being poisoned in the Season 1 finale. That’s left her with memory problems Barba can pounce on.
Another factor is Richard’s son, Richie (Nik Creegan), who tried to prove his loyalty to his father only to then attempt to eliminate him.
Chaiken jokes that Richie is “in prison in Canada on a CW show,” referring to Creegan now starring on Batwoman. However, they are finding a way to integrate him into the trial.
Benson and Stabler will be focused on Wheatley, while the second episode synopsis indicates a search for Stabler’s missing son, Eli (Nicky Torchia). Wheatley would be the obvious suspect for that as well as the crash that injured Benson in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 premiere.
Chaiken is wary of confirming Wheatley is behind either of those but that it will come up.
“I’m not going to answer too explicitly, because I think that that would be spoilers, but know that we get into it. I would say more in the first hour than in the second, but it’s definitely there. It’s present throughout. And you’ll begin to see how Wheatley is proceeding with his nefarious plan.”
As the trial builds, the tension grows as this Law & Order crossover event promises to shake up both shows going into 2022.
The Law & Order Special Victims Unit/Law & Order: Organized Crime crossover airs Thursday, December 9 at 9/8c on NBC.