[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 2 of Law & Order: Organized Crime, “Not Your Father’s Organized Crime.”]
“You mean the world to me,” Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) tells his former partner, now SVU‘s Captain, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), in the second episode of his spinoff … right before telling her to “back off” when she expresses concerns that he has PTSD.
After he brushed her off in the lobby of his building at the end of the premiere, Olivia’s (rightfully) worried. “You practically jumped out of your skin. I thought you were going to unload your weapon on me,” she says. But he claims she just startled him and confirms he wants her to “back off.”
She doesn’t leave it there. “You have PTSD,” she says. He scoffs: “I’ve been on the job 35 years.” But it was only very recently that those years included his wife being killed in front of him, she says.
“Elliot, I’m a captain now and my job is to take care of my people and to make sure they’re good and they’re solid and they’re together enough to do the work,” she says, and he agrees to “take care of it.”
She encourages him to speak with his boss on the task force, Sergeant Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt), about where he was the night Manfredi Sinatra (Chazz Palminteri) was killed. Olivia can tell he’s not doing well: he’s jumpy, he looks exhausted, and there are circles under his eyes. But while Elliot may be glad to hear she’s concerned, he still reiterates before leaving, “Back off.”
Olivia’s not the only one to notice that something’s going on with Elliot. His son, Eli (Nicky Torchia), does as well when he hears the detective having a nightmare about his wife, Kathy (Isabel Gillies), where he’s sleeping on the couch in the living room. He’s fine, he assures his kid.
“We’re going to be alright,” Elliot promises, but considering he has a murder board up in the dining room, “alright” may be a relative term.
We may question just how much crossover there should be between Elliot’s old stomping ground SVU and his new one of Organized Crime — the scenes featuring him and Olivia can be distracting from the actual casework — but it works in this episode. There needs to be that push and Olivia can’t be too involved or too in the know or it wouldn’t make sense for there to not be a crossover every week.
Plus, someone needs to call out Elliot right now and there’s no one else around who can do so except for Olivia. (Eli’s 13 or 14, the kid’s not going to jump to a PTSD diagnosis.) He met everyone else involved right now after Kathy’s murder; they won’t see the difference.
But Bell may be in the best position to see a reason to keep an eye out. She is the one by his side when he first comes face to face with mobster Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), who was with his father, Sinatra, right before his death.
“Dick!” Elliot calls out, but Richard’s nowhere near as delighted as anyone else by the use of that nickname. (He doesn’t like Richie, either, as we learn later on.) He questions the mobster about his whereabouts the night before at the time of Sinatra’s murder, and Richard uses his ex-wife Angela Wheatley (Tamara Taylor) as an alibi.
But Elliot calls him out on being at the scene of the crime. “Extraordinary accusations call for extraordinary evidence, detective,” Richard says, not backing down in a scene that lives up to the high expectations set with the two facing off for the first time. (The smiles really elevate it.)
“What was your name again?” Richard even dares to ask. But Elliot knows, “You know my name.”
Nothing proves that like masked men arriving at Elliot’s building at the end of the episode. (Masked men are also responsible for stealing COVID-19 vaccines earlier and are linked back to Richard.) After sending Eli inside, Elliot stops one from getting in a van and ends up engaging — and (surprisingly?) holding his own against — the two in a fistfight. Elliot is left bleeding and bruised on the sidewalk, but it could’ve been worse. It’s clearly meant to send a message — they, and by extension Richard, know where he lives, so it might be time to move — since one of the men uses a gun to hit, not shoot, him.
Law & Order: Organized Crime, Thursdays, 10/9c, NBC