Law & Order: Organized Crime is mixing up the formula for Season 3.
New showrunner Bryan Goluboff has confirmed that in the new season of the spinoff, Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) will finally be investigating crimes as himself.
While Season 1 had Stabler hunting for the murderer of his wife, Season 2 focused on him going undercover in a mob and then a pack of corrupt cops.
This put Stabler through an emotional wringer while wrestling with his place as a detective.
But Season 3 will put that aside as Stabler will be out in the open investigating crimes without the undercover work.
This plays into a new pair of possible villains whose casino business is tied to a potential criminal operation.
This new format may be different from what Law & Order: Organized Crime fans are used to but makes Season 3 more interesting to watch.
Stabler and his undercover duties
The first season of Law & Order: Organized Crime was dominated by Stabler returning to New York to hunt for Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), the man behind the murder of Stabler’s wife, Kathy.
Season 2 broke the story into three separate arcs, the first of which had Stabler going undercover in an Albanian mob. The second had Stabler and Wheatley once more clashing, ending in Wheatley’s apparent death.
The third arc had Stabler undercover once more, this time in the Brotherhood, a pack of corrupt cops.
“This is the first season where he’s actually a detective working cases as Elliot Stabler.”
The key reason for the change is that given the attention put on Stabler in his past cases, it’s harder to believe he can be effective going undercover.
“I think you can’t do anything that begs credulity—and he’s a very famous cop right now. So unless it’s out of state or international, I don’t think he can easily mesh with criminals in an undercover way in New York.”
While the focus will be on the job, Stabler also has problems in his personal life which coincide with his boss.
Where are Stabler and Bell in Season 3?
The Season 2 finale had Stabler forced to realize his father had faked being shot to cover up his part in a wrongful shooting.
Meanwhile, Bell (Danielle Monee Truitt) was rocked when her wife Denise left her after Bell arrested Denise’s boss, corrupt Congressman Kilbride (Ron Cephas Jones).
Both Stabler and Bell now have to adjust to living alone while trying to keep focused on the job.
“[Stabler’s] in a weird time of his life: He just dropped Eli off at college in California; his mother is now staying with Kathleen,” Goluboff teases. “He’s got an empty nest, and he’s looking at his life. What was the cost of this job and what did he give up? It’s been a blur. And Bell, at the end of last season, her wife left—she took the baby, as a result of the way Bell did her job.”
Both Bell and Stabler will try to throw themselves into work to ignore their personal problems but those will affect their jobs.
“[Bell] and Stabler are looking at [their empty] houses, and work becomes a place where they come together,” Goluboff continued. “Where they say, ‘We lost everything because of our jobs. We’re gonna do our jobs as well as we possibly can, and it’s the bad guys who are gonna pay for what we sacrificed.’ The unit comes together in a much deeper way because of where their lives are at.”
The first focus of Season 3 is a new casino opening in New York run by Teddy Silas and Pearl Serrano (Gus Halper and Camilla Belle).
In addition, Rick Gonzalez and Brent Antonello will join as new detectives for the Organized Crime Task Force.
According to Goluboff, rather than “story pods,” the series will do short arcs but connect them.
“We’re gonna have an overarching story for the season, but it’s one that we can go away from—and we’re going to a lot of sort of two and three episodes quick-hitters [outside of the main arc]. There is going to be a lot of variety [to the episodes]—a lot of them are going to be sort of connected to our main story in various ways.
The serialized story aspect of it is also going to come from our squad. We’re really trying to invest in our people, our characters, making [them] the home base. So there’s a lot of different work that we’re doing. But there is a big story that we’re gonna follow from beginning to end, but we’re gonna be able to pivot from it and do a lot of different things.”
The Season 3 premiere will kick off an epic three-part crossover of the Law & Order shows before moving to its regular time slot on September 29.
While some fans may be wary of the series shifting its format, it can allow newer viewers to catch an episode and get into it faster.
With a new focus on storytelling and the personal lives of the characters, Law & Order: Organized Crime looks to embrace a new direction but keep the same drama for Season 3.
Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3 premieres Thursday, September 22 at 8/7c on NBC.