What happened in the Law & Order: #SVUxOC crossover? No, seriously. What happened? There was so much EO/Bensler content, the plot went out the window.
Last time we saw Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson in the same room, it was on Law & Order: Organized Crime. Liv was helping El’s kids with an intervention while Elliot spiraling through his grief, and his “I love you” caused longtime fans to spiral in other ways.
The episode closed with everyone’s favorite former “just partners” (sure, Jan) on rocky terms: Elliot tried to reach Olivia in the middle of the night to talk about something he’d learned in his insomnia-fueled investigation into his wife’s murder…But Captain Benson glared at her phone, rolled over, and went back to sleep. (Relatable, every time the morning alarm goes off.)
Well. The latest SVU and Organized Crime crossover event picked up right where that moment left off. It turns out Liv wasn’t able to just let El’s voicemail go unanswered, and (we’re maybe filling in the blanks here), it turned out she was just tired from her second COVID-19 vaccine, which caused her to sleep for 12 hours straight. And the rest, as they say…Eh. There’s a plot hidden somewhere behind all the reasons to squeal.
The Law & Order crossover was full of Benson and Stabler moments
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 22, Episode 13 kicked off the two-parter with Olivia returning Elliot’s phone call. The way Mariska Hargitay added inflection to her voice on that “please” when Benson asked Stabler to call her back was really something. Let’s just say it’s going to keep folks up at night.
(Hi. I’m “folks.”)
Their first moment on screen together, in a parking garage, all breathy voices-like, was a continuation of all the angst between the two characters that was started on Organized Crime Episode 4. Olivia outright begged Elliot to take better care of himself, supposedly just for himself and for his kids…but that pause with all the non-verbal communication filled in a very loud “for me.”
(Side note on that scene: I’m going to need the names and numbers of everyone telling Benson to stay away from Stabler. Because of reasons.)
It was when Melinda Warner connected Special Victims’ investigation to an ongoing Organized Crime case, through the “purple magic” drug cocktail that killed Olivia’s brother, that the old gang really got back together. Sergeant Fin Tutuola helped Bensler track down leads, and what they found set up the huge cliffhanger that would’ve been impossible to survive if it hadn’t merely been leading into the next hour.
(Additional sidebar: Fin, Liv, and El tracked down some leads…all working a single case…What year is it, and can we stay here forever?)
Anyway. To paraphrase the late Kathy Stabler, watching EO interrogate Jade together was just another example of the two of them together…so in sync. Elliot didn’t even need to jump in and play bad cop because his Olivia simply had the toughness factor covered on her own.
Of note: When Olivia was so overcome by what she saw in that cell phone video, she had to take a seat? Elliot was right there, close enough to catch and support her if she needed him. And, of course, there was him literally shielding her from a hail of bullets as SVU came to a close.
This was just the first hour. Still breathing? We’re not sure we are.
What was with the Angela stuff in the second half of Law & Order: SVUxOC?
Anyone who survived Special Victims Unit enough to get to Organized Crime knows, at least on the EO front, that this hour was a mixed bag. So, let’s get the absolute garbage fire, keyboard smash of it all out of the way: The way Olivia held Elliot’s hand after that interrogation and didn’t let go. And the way he grinned when she told him he looks better. Stop.
Actually, don’t. Like, ever.
In the middle of all the loaded looks and smitten grins, plus director Eriq La Salle (apparently) instructing Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni to take turns leaning on set pieces like models, there was a lot of pure cringe. This is where we get past the fangirling and do a little bit of analysis, folks.
Yes, Bell told Stabler he needed to “find someone else,” and when he asked what for, she said to “move on.” Sure, Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 1, Episode 5 saw Elliot try to hook up with Angela Wheatley…and not be able to go through with it. (The most awkward on-screen almost-kiss? Or the most awkward everything?)
Elliot Stabler is obviously not ready for a relationship so soon after losing his wife, even something meaningless. Which, in case anyone is wondering, it would totally have been meaningless.
The attempt at “romance” between Angela and Elliot was awful to watch. Whatever she had to say later about not being ready for him? Let’s not go there.
So, here’s what’s important: Elliot is a complete and total mess, and he’s one half of a partnership of two people who need to heal. Bensler are two people, wrapped up in their losses, just trying to find some answers and closure. They’re both just trying to find a moment of calm in the storm of angst.
Olivia is a bit freer now that she has answers about Simon, but she’s still been through a lot in the decade Elliot’s been gone. They need to have a real conversation about that abandonment before anything happens.
Not to mention, El really did just lose his wife, like, five minutes ago.
There’s way too much history to jump into some kind of rebound and mess things up. All you have to do is watch the former “partners” (sure, whatever) basically just talk to each other only when surrounded by their colleagues, or check out Elliot’s little grin when Olivia calls him her “friend” while talking to a child witness, and you’ll see whatever made viewers root for them to be together these past 20-plus years? It’s still there. Moreso than ever.
Bensler just need time to heal old wounds and get Elliot’s head on straight. It’ll happen…maybe not right away. But they’re endgame. They have to be. (Or else Law & Order has been baiting viewers. Whichever.)
There were lines throughout this second #SVUxOC crossover that were about completely unrelated things, but if you read them as subtext, they’re pointing to something that ought to be obvious: It’s “strictly business” until Elliot “put[s] the dragons down,” not with Angela, but with Olivia. After all, as Bell says to Benson:
"Detective Stabler thought it’d be best to wait for you."
In the context of the scene where the line showed up, it doesn’t say anything important. But when you take a look at it, in the context of Elliot’s bashful, sixth-grader-asking-a-girl-to-the-dance vibe in that hallway? That’s a whole different story.
At the very least, it’s beautiful fuel for fanfiction. What it ought to be, though, is the beginning of that special something.
Where is this thing with Bensler going? Is it where we hope it’ll end up, where all signs point to it heading? Catch Law & Order Thursdays, starting at 9/8c, on NBC to find out.