Angela Wheatley is going to find herself in the crosshairs again.
Actress Tamara Taylor is previewing the upcoming Law & Order: Special Victims Unit/Law & Order: Organized Crime crossover as mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) goes on trial for the murder of Kathy Stabler.
However, between her poor health and complex feelings for Stabler, Angela may be causing more trouble for the trial.
Angela’s major problems
Season 1 of Law & Order: Organized Crime had Stabler (Christopher Meloni) convinced that pharmaceutical CEO turned mobster Richard Wheatley was behind the murder of his wife, Kathy.
To get close to Wheatley, Stabler cozied up to his ex-wife, Angela. The two seemed to have a good connection going before Angela realized who Stabler was.
It turned out Angela had ordered the hit on Kathy as revenge for Stabler killing her son in a police raid. But Stabler broke it to Angela that she’d been used as Richard himself killed her son for stealing his product.
After he was arrested, Wheatley had Angela poisoned in the Season 1 finale. The Season 2 premiere opened with Wheatley cutting a deal with the feds to skate on almost all charges except Kathy’s murder.
Having survived, Angela is now the key witness against her ex-husband. However, as Taylor related to TV Insider, Angela is suffering from some health problems that can damage the case.
“It’s interesting because we explored delving into the truth of recovering from a nerve agent. Most people don’t. What can sometimes happen is you can get worse before you get better…She’s using a cane, so there’s a difficulty walking. Certainly her motor skills are not what they were. The memory is not quite back. Speech is a little more impaired than it was.”
That is going to be a major problem given Wheatley is being defended by former ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparaza). A sharp attorney like Barba will seize on any miscues from Angela to make her out to be lying.
“It goes as well as one would expect given her state. Certainly Raúl’s character gets her between a rock and a hard place and unfortunately exposes — just gets his point across, which is not as fun as it could be because of course, we want Richard to go down. I think she kind of maybe flubs it up there on the stand, not purposefully, but I just don’t know if she was the tight and strong witness that Bell and Stabler hoped she would be.”
While Angela is intent on putting Richard behind bars, her health problems may undermine her testimony and risk getting Wheatley acquitted.
What’s Angela’s relationship with Stabler and Wheatley?
Another key question is how Angela feels about Stabler and Wheatley, given the complex relationships with both.
“To say the least, a little bit messy. She is reluctantly and surprisingly still in love with (Stabler), and people say, well, how did she fall for him so fast? And how could she fall for him if she thought that he was the one that had murdered her son? I think pretty early on in Season 1, she deduced that Stabler was not who she thought he was. As they talk about grief can be a bonding thing, it’s not entirely surprising that they have this bizarre, messy connection. I think it’s inconvenient. I think it’s uncomfortable. I think they’d both rather not have this strange, messy connection. And still, life is messy.”
As for Wheatley, Taylor suggests Angela “if she could take him out herself, she would because she’s a mama bear.” After all, killing her own son and tricking her into ordering a woman’s murder seems a dealbreaker in any reconciliation.
Another dynamic is between Angela and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) with Benson’s obvious feelings about Stabler coming up. But Taylor suggests that the pair might actually end up bonding.
“There’s an understanding. I think that there is a gentleness and just — Benson’s just lovely is the truth. I think she just understands Stabler better than anybody else and also understands that life can be messy and strange and uncomfortable in moments. You’d think that they would be archenemies, but I don’t think they are. I just don’t think that’s how it’s landing.”
Obviously, Taylor isn’t sharing what the outcome of the trial will be but does leave an ominous hint of how it can unfold for Angela and Richard.
“Whatever unfolds this season, I hope the audience remembers that she knows what he did and you don’t forget. I don’t think you forget those things.”
The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime crossover airs on Thursday, December 9 at 9/8c on NBC.