LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME Post-Mortem: Dann Florek Breaks Down Cragen and Stabler's Reunion - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME Post-Mortem: Dann Florek Breaks Down Cragen and Stabler’s Reunion

April 7, 2022 by  

Dann Florek Cragen

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME — “Can’t Knock The Hustle” Episode 217 — Pictured: Dann Florek as Donald Cragen — (Photo by: Zach Dilgard/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Thursday, April 7 episode, “Can’t Knock the Hustle.”]

After a decade apart on-screen, Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Don Cragen (Dann Florek) reunited on the Thursday, April 7 episode of LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME.

Stabler sought out Cragen to try and get answers about why, exactly, Joseph Stabler was awarded a combat cross for valor—Stabler was under the impression he had been shot in the line of duty, but Frank Donnelly (Denis Leary) shared that Joe had been shot by his own partner, as a way to justify an unlawful search and the shooting of an unarmed kid. Stabler tried talking to his mom, Bernie (Ellen Burstyn), but she became distraught and confused…but implied Joe had been suspended.

Cragen, who was a rookie officer when this all went down, didn’t exactly have answers for Elliot—but he noted policing was different back then.

“One of the things that Cragen offers is, look, [Joe] was a good man, and he was a great cop in his day. Things were very different,” Florek points out. “It’s not excusing. [And] the father was abusive, too. It’s just saying it’s hard to look back all that time and not understand that the city was bankrupt, and the police department was broken. And it’s [real life cop/whistleblower Frank] Serpico—the cost of a bullet to the face; that’s what happened to cops who didn’t keep their mouth shut. And that’s where it’s very powerful.”

Rather than look at the medal for its intended value, Cragen said it’s possible it could be used as something to aspire to: Honor and respect.

“[Cragen is saying,] ‘Look, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know what you would have done,'” Florek says. “He basically is saying, ‘We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. And what I love about that is it leaves it hanging. It made me wonder, ‘Wow, we could go there.’ What did happen? But I like it because there’s not a ‘the end.’ I think it offers hope and it offers the possibility for forgiveness.”

The ambiguity was something Florek embraced. “[Cragen] can’t answer all the questions,” he acknowledges. “There’s a lot of things left unsaid, but by the end he kind of leaves it with Elliot: ‘Look, who hasn’t screwed up?’ And that, to me, was very powerful…I think they both handle it pretty well. It’s an emotional situation. You want to be truthful, but you don’t also don’t want to hurt anybody.”

“I don’t know that there’s guilt [about not having an answer],” he continues. “I think there’s a feeling of, ‘I wish I could be more helpful, but since you’ve come to me, I’m going to tell you what I know.’ By the end, I think he’s doing everything he can as a man, as a mentor, and as a friend, because he says, ‘Look, I’m guessing that maybe for your father, this was a kind of act of contrition.’ And then he also says maybe it was his way of saying, ‘You do better and you honor that cross and everything that it represents.’ And that to me is more important than if I could say to him, ‘Well, this is what happened.’ It feeds the soul in a different way.” 

Florek compared the sequence to a scene he shared with Meloni with in SPECIAL VICTIM UNIT’s 2005 episode “Blood.” “One of my favorite scenes—and after over 400 episodes and counting, [that is out of] like 15,000 scenes—ever, was with Chris, and it was when his daughter got a DUI and then he went to fix it,” Florek recalls. “I found out, and I had to call him out on it, and read him the riot act. [I had to] say not only is that being a bad cop, that’s not being a good parent. And it was a very powerful scene. I loved doing it, and [after] all this time, that’s still one that’s crystal clear in my head. And when I got [to set for ORGANIZED CRIME], I mentioned that to Chris, and he said, ‘Me too, one of my favorites.’ [This] scene kind of went more that way.”

With the focus on Joe, the encounter didn’t shed a whole lot of information on what relationship—if any—Cragen and Stabler maintained during the decade since the latter left SVU. (Stabler, notoriously, did not keep in contact with his former partner in that time period; Olivia, upon their reunion, pointed out she had to find out he quit the force through Cragen.)

“I had to kind of create something in my mind,” Florek acknowledges, noting he drew from his own real-life relationship with Meloni for his guess about what kind of contact the duo might have had prior to “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” “My feeling, in a way, is he would stay in touch with Stabler. But it might just be something about a case or what do you remember about this?”

The scene also didn’t allow for the duo to discuss Olivia or how Elliot has been coping in the aftermath of, well, everything.

“Clearly there could be years [of catching up] and all kinds of things to discuss—there could be small talk,” Florek says. “There was a line that we cut, but at one point, right as Stabler shows up at the door, Cragen said something like, ‘What’s on your mind? Because I heard trouble in your voice when you called.’ And that’s why it’s about this. It’s about, ‘Why are you here? What are you bringing me?’ And then I see what it is…and it’s like, ‘Oh, okay. It’s not about anybody else. It’s not about that.’ This is: ‘Okay. You came to the wise man on the hill. I will be as wise as I can. And I will give you what I can. And then it’s up to you, pal.'”

But could Cragen return? After all, in addition to his ties to Elliot on OC, he was previously a main character on both LAW & ORDER and SVU. (And popped up in SVU’s 500th episode earlier this season.)

“I’ve heard rumblings,” Florek admits. “But I leave it out there; it’s somebody else’s call. And the fact that Chris [and I] just had such a good connection, and when he called me and said, ‘I really want you to be there,’ that’s all I needed.”

“Obviously, my fingerprints and heartbeat are all over SVU, really,” he continues. “And connecting with Chris made sense.”

If Cragen does return to OC, he has an idea for a way to bring the character in: “Cragen was in Organized Crime in the LAW & ORDER movie of the week [EXILED], way back. He was in Organized Crime before he came to SVU. Who knows what could be there? And who knows who dealt with?”

But with the other shows, “with the original, the mothership as we always call it, I obviously worked with Sam [Waterston], with Jack McCoy; we have history. And also I worked a little bit with Anthony [Anderson, on SVU],” he points out. “To me, it’s an honor if they call and then it’s [the question of] what is it? What do you want me to do? Hopefully, it’s something meaty and meaningful. And even like this: it’s one scene, but it’s a beautiful scene. It’s powerful and it works on so many levels. So it’s not about, ‘I have to go do a whole bunch of stuff.’ But I’m open to hear from them about any of them…I leave it out there until the phone rings.”



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: ORGANIZED CRIME Post-Mortem: Dann Florek Breaks Down Cragen and Stabler’s Reunion


Comments are closed.