LAW & ORDER: SVU and ORGANIZED CRIME: Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni Break Down Olivia and Elliot's Messy Reunion - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: SVU and ORGANIZED CRIME: Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni Break Down Olivia and Elliot’s Messy Reunion

April 2, 2021 by  

Elliot Olivia SVU reunion

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME — “What Happens in Puglia” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson, Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT and ORGANIZED CRIME crossover.]

More than a year after it was first announced, Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) reunited with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) on the Thursday, April 1 episode of LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT.

For Hargitay, the moment—which was delayed by ORGANIZED CRIME being pushed to midseason—was well worth the wait. “For me, personally, I’ve waited so many years that the pandemic delays were not a huge problem, because it was years in the making,” she said on the official SVU podcast, “Squadroom.” “So for me I was ready to wait as long as it happened. But very exciting and happy that there’s so much excitement around it. And there’s something that feels very natural…things are coming full circle. Because of the abrupt nature in which Chris left and the character departed, it’s so nice to have a moment to revisit that and complete it in whatever sense it’s going to be completed. So, to me, it’s very exciting.”

Meloni originally exited the series in 2011, after the season 12 finale aired, due to contract negotiations falling apart. Last viewers saw Elliot, he had fatally shot a teen girl—who had gone on a deadly shooting spree—in the precinct. In the season 13 premiere, Olivia was told Elliot quit…but he never returned a message from her in the nearly ten years that passed.

“I’m feeling overwhelmed,” Meloni admitted. “Certain suddenness to a life-changing experience, redux, all over again, part two. Feeling the sense of ‘Oh, right.’ A sense of correctness, a sense of, ‘This was inevitable; inevitability.’ That surprised me, because I, personally, did not feel that my return was inevitable in any shape or form. It was satisfying on my part.”

Trying to figure out how Elliot and Olivia reunited after all of these years. In “Return of the Prodigal Son,” Olivia gets called to a crime scene, only to learn that Elliot’s wife, Kathy (Isabel Gillies) was wounded in a car explosion. Only then do the former partners come face to face.

“It was really a puzzle to put together,” Hargitay noted “And it was something I was excited about, and it took a lot of work, and quite a group of people to do. But I was also, at the same time, so confident in the knowing that we would figure it out, and we had all this extra time because of the order of the scripts, and there were so many changes of when we were going to do this…I am so happy with where we ended up.”

“I think that one of the biggest gifts is this innate knowing that Chris and I can navigate a scene where it needs to be; that we sort of know, better than anyone, really, what the scene is because of our history,” she continued. “And that’s exciting. Because if we read something it’s not quite right or it’s just like it’s sort of more of a rough draft, and it has a beautiful shape—but it’s not quite as nuanced as we want it to be—or not exactly right, emotionally, we can get there. And I think that was what was so fun about shooting the first part of the two-parter, was that everything sort of fell into place so seamlessly…And we sort of fell into these safe and familiar patterns, and yet at the same time, came back together as two different people who’ve been apart for ten years, with a whole lot to bring to it. And it was really beautiful and really exciting…because there was so much unknowing and yet so many invisible strings.”

Added Meloni, “I’ll go out on a limb and say the hardest job was for [episode writers/executive producers] Warren Leight and Julie Martin, because they were tasked with introducing my character that everyone knew, but they had never written for. And at the core of it was the reunion of a relationship that they had never truly engaged…they watched it like everybody else. So I think that they had a Sisyphean task, a very difficult task, and they did a great job. And there were a lot of debates and discussions and disagreements. And in the end, it was a good, hard fought battle. I felt it was honest and true. And painful and unresolved…I think [Mariska] and I had the easiest task, which was getting into a warm bath, the waters of Benson and Stabler, and really just playing around.”

Last year, prior to the pandemic altering production, Leight told the “Squadroom” podcast that the initial plan to reintroduce the Stabler family into the SVU world was by bringing Kathy into the planned season 21 closer via a threat to her son. That would have allowed the show to properly bring Meloni back as Elliot timed to the launch of the at-the-time-unannounced spinoff ORGANIZED CRIME.

“If you were talking to Warren and Julie, they would tell you how truly difficult this was for them, but for so many reasons,” Hargitay allowed. “And one of which, for them, the actual story kept changing. Because there was so much pressure, excitement, expectation around this, people just cared more than ever, everyone was putting in their two cents. And so there were certainly more eyeballs on the story, and things kept changing, obviously, because of the pandemic. So they rewrote the script many, many, many, many, many times.”

As Elliot and Olivia tried to figure out who was responsible for the attack on Kathy, the duo stepped into the interrogation room—after Elliot pled his case to Olivia and promised he could handle it—only for things to spiral when the suspect baited Elliot.

“There are a number of scenes, both in SVU and in the OC, in the first two episodes where I said, ‘I want 50 percent of people, hopefully, to say, ‘Oh he’s this.’ And I want the other 50 percent to say, ‘Oh, he’s that,’’” Meloni said.

Hargitay noted that same push-pull played out as Olivia defended her former partner to her boss, Garland (Demore Barnes): ”’You don’t understand who and what he is. I’m the only one that knows who and what is. He is a defender and the protector.’ And what it looks like, in the culture now, and that complexity is, again, a beautiful thing to mine. And certainly a topical one.'”

“That’s the beauty in the writing, too,” she continued. “Because the point is, it is my house now, it is different. But Olivia is still…you see somebody, and you immediately fall back into your old patterns, and what we were was partners, that shared a brain, and there was so much trust. So when he says, ‘Let me’ and [she pushes back, but then he says] ‘Liv, trust me.’ ‘Okay, I do. I know you, and this is how we work it And this is how we do it.’ And yet, it’s a different time now and I think that was so beautiful. I love the scene on the roof [after she pulls him off the suspect], where that is the moment of release, that is the moment of explosion, about that and so many other things.”

Though Elliot and Olivia had a few moments of honest communication in the hour (as Olivia confronted him over his abandonment and he admitted he wouldn’t have been able to leave if he heard her voice) and the ORGANIZED CRIME premiere saw him giving her a letter (that she read, off-screen), things aren’t exactly resolved.

“Elliot’s departure and what has transpired and [is] bringing [the characters] back together—it’s still being worked out,” Meloni said. “Which is the way it should be. Which is true: two people, ten years apart, they are incommunicado? You are not getting that sewn up, coherently, and satisfying, in one or two or three episodes. That’s false. I would argue that the Benson and Stabler reunion will continue to figure itself out through these two people and their history.”

“To be quite frank, I don’t think anyone knows what has authentically and truly transpired in Stabler’s life,” he continued “I think a lot of it rests and falls with Stabler: she was the one being acted upon and he was the one doing the action, which is leaving and not communicating. And then it feels that we’ve dropped hints, but I just think that nobody [knows the full story].”

For Hargitay, digging into Olivia’s emotions about Elliot’s return was fairly straightforward. “In this situation, I don’t have to make up anything: I lived it,” she said. “I lived my relationship with him. I lived my relationship with this department. I lived my relationship with his wife, and I lived my relationship with my loneliness. And so, it was one of those things, like in life, where fifty things happen all at once. And I think that when that happens in acting, that’s also really exciting, because there are so many ways for you to go.”

The longtime friends also relied on each other when they couldn’t quite get the right approach to a scene. After struggling with how to handle a particular moment, Hargitay called Meloni and ”we sort of talked it out and argued it out,” she recalled. “And that’s the way we found the scene, by saying, ‘This is how I feel.’ ‘This is how I feel.’ And then the scene was born. But there has to be these extra conversations, because everybody does have a different perspective. Which is perfect conflict.”

Olivia appeared open to discussing things further with Elliot at the end of the ORGANIZED CRIME pilot, but their conversation was delayed as he was called into work.

“This didn’t solve everything and have a little bow at the end of the episode,” Meloni said. “That would have been completely false, because that’s not what happens to people when they talk. There’s an answer: ‘Why did you do what you did? What’s the answer?’ Well, it’s complicated. It’s going to take a while to unpack; it’s not so much a bow, as it is kind of the opposite—the unpacking of the complications.”

“Exactly,” Hargitay agreed. “Some people don’t know exactly why they did what they did. We act all the time from all these complexities. So everyone’s trying to figure it out.”

With Olivia officially taken off the case Elliot is working on, the two are “sort of wading through all of that now and figuring out what it’s going to be,” Hargitay said. “I do think that there’s a lot to unpack with what happened. Obviously, we’re going to be in each other’s lives. I’m not sure to what capacity and how much crossover there’s going to be with the actual case….What are we going to be to each other? And how? And now that we’re back together, can we go on without each other? Or I don’t even know what this is or what it can be; what are we supposed to do now?”

As to whether Elliot’s return might bring Olivia some much-deserved happiness, “It’s very interesting, I don’t know if I can talk about in terms of happiness or sadness,” Hargitay admitted. “I mean, it’s so complex, the feelings. And that I think that is the beauty of the story is the complexity. There’s so many things happening at the same time, and so many feelings.”

“Everything that happens when you see somebody that you loved so much, that was your life, who abandoned you, who was married…and then their life was crushed and their life was a mess,” she continued. “Where do you fit in now? It’s not the same anymore. You don’t even know. There’s just so much that is unknown. I think that’s what’s exciting to mine: so much of now is defining what it was. There was so much unspoken, so much that was underneath and wasn’t able to be mined because we had so much work to do…there were a lot of pulls in different directions. I don’t know what it is yet. We’re sort of finding our way through it. And I don’t know exactly who he is anymore. And he doesn’t know who I am anymore, and so there’s all that in there, too.”




Follow @GiveMeMyRemote and @marisaroffman on Twitter for the latest TV news. Connect with other TV fans on GIVE ME MY REMOTE’s official Facebook page.

And be the first to see our exclusive videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made through links/ads placed on the site.

Comments Off on LAW & ORDER: SVU and ORGANIZED CRIME: Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni Break Down Olivia and Elliot’s Messy Reunion


Comments are closed.