About Last Night...LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, and LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote


January 27, 2023 by  


LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT — “Blood Out” Episode 24012 — Pictured: (l-r) Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson, Peter Scanavino as A.D.A Sonny Carisi, Goya Robles as Oscar Papa — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

Let’s talk about Thursday night’s TV!

LAW & ORDER: Well, that TikTok house was a certain kind of hell. (And yikes to the parents who trusted the lawyer of someone trying to sell out their kid?!) A solid episode, and a good start to the night, which is what it needed to be.

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: Well, we reached the end of the BX9/Bronx trilogy. At the beginning of the arc, I acknowledged some of my concerns might be negated by the time the three episodes wrapped; spoiler alert, they weren’t.

So we’re going to do what we’ve been doing lately—bullet points, followed by a deep dive into the thing you saw everywhere over the past two weeks:

  • I love Fin and Olivia’s relationship. I love that she could express her concerns he might leave her, but she was quickly reassured she was stuck with him…they got to have jokes, but also be there for each other when things got bad. (Fin pretending to be Amanda? My heart.)
  • I also really loved the first real scene between Olivia and Carisi. His perspective was desperately needed, and I’m so glad he tried to remind her, uh, yeah, her concern should be on her kid, not the person who tried to kill her and her son. I respect and love that Olivia has a lot of compassion, but this wasn’t someone who just used words to threaten her. The kid and his friends had freakin’ machetes, and would have killed her and Noah. You can want them out of a bad situation and also not make them the total priority. Especially when you’ve been separated from your kid for two weeks. (I’m also glad she got to tell Carisi just how much she trusts Elliot, and he just accepted and acknowledged it.)
  • I understand SVU’s cast rotates out of episodes, but it felt like a wild disservice to have Muncy MIA for this episode. She worked with Duarte; it would have been nice to have that relationship mined given his brutal death. (RIP, Duarte.)
  • What are we doing with this Velasco storyline? Carisi made it clear they could/should get dirty, so was there a legit deal/decision made between the two of them we didn’t see? Did he go rogue? Because it also feels like this is a very, very, very thin line to walk for everyone involved. If he’s effectively dirty, he shouldn’t be with the unit. If he’s dirty and Carisi (or Velasco’s SVU team) helps him cover it up, that’s really not great. And if you were going to play with his questionable loyalties, why not do it last season when we didn’t know him/it was clear McGrath wanted him in that unit? Or even pre-Amanda’s exit? We’ve had enough squad shakeups over the past 16 months, so the threat of another just isn’t enjoyable.
  • (That being said, Bruno and Fin are absolute gems together. Bruno can come visit to help with SVU cases as much as he likes.)
  • So, uh, were there just no SVU cases for more than two weeks while all of their team members were off in the Bronx?
  • Given how long Duarte and Oscar Papa were circling each other—not to mention Oscar Papa dismissed payback on him when the episode started because he didn’t have a kid—it seemed very convenient with how fast the BX9 leader caved/agreed to not go after Noah. Alas.
  • I talked about this at the beginning of the arc, but Olivia Benson has been through countless traumas in the past few years, and if the show had an interest in having her actually heal, there were so many recent things they could have dug into as a way to explore that. Instead, this arc…traumatized her more. Kept her away from her kid—who was also traumatized—for weeks. What was the purpose?

And then…there was the Elliot and Olivia of it all.

One thing I think it’s safe to say—before we dive into the actual content—is if you already watch the show, that promo…sigh. Look, this is being written before knowing what impact it had on ratings. Anecdotally, I can say the mainstream coverage was more intense than maybe anything outside of OC’s launch, and the number of people I saw saying they wanted to tune in, specifically, to see if Elliot and Olivia kissed either as new viewers or after many years away…it was more than a handful. And if NBC gets season-high ratings, I’m sure it’ll be worth it to them. 

But there are two cardinal rules of promo-making, at least to me: One, don’t straight-up lie. Two, don’t reveal anything in the last ten minutes of the episode. Well, they showed things from the literal last scene. And given they used takes that drastically changed the tone of the scene…that’s messy, too. I deeply wish it had never been a part of any promo, period, because I think the surprise of that moment unfolding naturally could have been an incredible experience. (Show Meloni is in the episode! I get that need, which does quasi-break rule #2. But you could have just as easily shown them close together, before the almost kiss.) The scene wasn’t long to begin with, and the crux of it being in the promo meant there wasn’t a lot left unspoiled. Which, again, if they got the casual viewers in, I’m sure it’s considered a win. But it’s a bummer to/for those who stick with the show every week.

As for the scene itself: It was an incredible, heartbreaking interaction, while also being deeply frustrating. It was entirely earned within the context of their relationship, while deeply unearned within the context of this season. It was a big step forward for them, while also not giving the audience any new information and making Elliot/Olivia’s already confusing relationship even more baffling. It was Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni at their best, while also serving to remind viewers how the relationship (and their dynamic) has been neglected in the past year.

For months, we’ve been hearing Elliot and Olivia tell others how they feel about each other. The last time they directly addressed their relationship together was in OC’s “The Christmas Episode,” when Elliot told Olivia he wanted to find balance and Olivia said they were friends for now. In the time since, we had everyone and their brother tell Olivia how she felt about Elliot in the SVU season 23 finale; we had Elliot drunkenly confess to Tia he was in love with Olivia, and Olivia tipsily talk about Elliot being her home/being scared of moving forward.

So, yes, Elliot straight-up telling Olivia she’s his family and he cares about her (probably best to not drop another “I love you” in the middle of a deeply traumatic situation, to be fair) is a big deal. She deserves to hear that, clearly, coherently, and when she needs someone. And Olivia acknowledging she wants them is a huge step, even if she also acknowledges she isn’t ready.

But it came with zero build-up. Both SVU and OC have been overly coy about what the heck was going on with Elliot and Olivia in the present day, to the point that it’s detracted from the very few scenes we’ve gotten where they’ve been mentioned on the other shows. Elliot indicated he and Olivia had a falling out.* Now, after Olivia being afraid to let Elliot and Noah interact—and the duo only briefly meeting, on accident—she had the two of them spend hours together alone in a car? (My kingdom to have heard a snippet of that car ride. Elliot might have a billion questions about Olivia’s life without him, but you just know Noah had as many for his mom’s former partner.) She’s right that Noah was safe with Elliot—there’s absolutely zero doubt in my mind that Elliot would take a bullet for either Benson—but have they been talking this whole time? Hanging out, going to brunch, being friends?

Look, there is no realistic world in which we’ll see all of that, but it’s relevant to have any context about the state of their relationship. If Elliot decided to make a move after not seeing her in six months, that’s a very different thing than him making a move after seeing her three weeks ago and them keeping in regular contact with texting or calls or whatever.

(*Still not clear when the hell that took place given the muddy timelines. Their interaction here could absolutely make a case for Elliot’s therapy scenes being in reaction to this, I guess, but it’s just as plausible the shows didn’t think to actually sync up their calendars, despite it being necessary.)

As it was, the scene felt, in many ways, half-finished. Elliot wanted to know why Olivia didn’t call him, but in what world would he not KNOW already? It was weeks after her initial attack, which clearly spread to other units. (Heck, Dixon knew when she came to help Olivia days after.) So are we just supposed to believe he had no clue Olivia was attacked until she called to ask for his help with Noah? It would have been a billion times more believable if there was a throwaway line earlier in the arc, where either Olivia or Fin mentioned Elliot knew and was being kept away…or if Olivia asked him in this scene how he claimed to care, but was so removed from her life he didn’t hear about her nearly being killed. 

And, yes, the scene was short, but how was this not the open door into the Lewis conversation? (And if the show does not have the bandwidth or the interest in showing it on-screen, a literal line would have sufficed to make it clear they had already discussed it.) Again, Olivia was very publicly, brutally, attacked by BX9. She’s clearly traumatized. Elliot is here for her now, when he wasn’t there for her then. As far as we know, he doesn’t even know the ocean of PTSD he waded into. Short of the duo going to therapy together or ending up in the once-promised quasi-bottle episode, it’s hard to imagine a more natural way for one of the biggest question marks of their time apart to be dealt with.

To be clear, A) I’m not upset the duo didn’t kiss. Olivia is absolutely correct to be hesitant about starting a relationship with Elliot, even if we as an audience know he loves her and isn’t leaving. We’ve barely seen her get answers about his exit and she’s only just started to express (to him) the damage it did to her. They don’t need to be perfectly healed to start a relationship, but they certainly need to have an important talk or two. And there is no possible way these two can be casual daters. When they cross that line—one they’ve built up themselves, at this point, too—that’s it. So they do need to be sure and on the same page, because they cannot mess it up, and we’ve seen time and time again, they’re not exactly the best at facing their feelings for each other/communicating. B) I would honestly be deeply disappointed and upset if the show used more trauma bestowed upon Olivia as a way to move the relationship forward. Seriously, the job is hard enough; he couldn’t just be making her tea after a long day or a “regular” hard case? I truly hope when that step is taken, it isn’t used as a “make-good” for Olivia being brutalized.

And that lack of comfort is something I have thought about every time I watched the end scene. Olivia went through deep, deep trauma in this arc. She was too tired to pick up her kid; she allowed herself to ask for help. A huge step. But my God, when she pulled away from Elliot, the final shot of her leaning her face against the fridge, seemingly not even able to hold herself up? An absolute kick in the gut. She seemed so distressed by the fact she couldn’t allow herself to take that leap, and it was just such a hard image to end on, especially given how literally and figuratively kicked she was this entire arc. Would it have been easier if we hadn’t seen the promo? Maybe. It’s not out of character for Olivia to try and do things alone, even when it’s breaking her. But we saw an image of her being taken care of, and even if literally not a single word changed, Elliot being allowed to support her would have been huge. He said she was family and he cared about her; even if she wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship with him, you cannot tell me that man would not have held her to give her comfort.

(Also: For as much as Olivia’s “I want to, but I can’t” and “I’m not ready for this” were absolutely expected…what now? Again, another instance where a half-line would have made a world of difference. If Elliot said, “It’s okay, I’ll be here when you are,” that would have given us any guidance. Instead, we were left with what we knew: Olivia isn’t ready to take the chance yet.)

With all that being said, that doesn’t negate the absolutely stunning work Hargitay and Meloni did. The hurt, yet gentle, way Meloni had Elliot try to figure out why Olivia didn’t call him—and carefully, but confidently, reiterate her importance in his life—was gorgeous. Hargitay playing Olivia’s nervous and stressed energy, while also refusing to turn around while Elliot was baring his heart (in a real echo to her “where’s the exit?” moment), was pitch-perfect.

Then when they collided, literally and figuratively…it was masterful to watch. For as emotionally close as Elliot and Olivia were during their tenure as partners, their physical touching decreased when season 2 started. Heck, throughout SVU’s 24-year history (and OC’s three-season run), they’ve only shared a handful of hugs and one close undercover encounter. Watching Meloni and Hargitay navigate Elliot and Olivia through a highly emotional conversation while also being physically entwined was such a treat; after so many hundreds of hours of watching their interplay, this was truly something new to experience them working out on-screen. And I’ll be thinking about Hargitay having Olivia go back to press her cheek against Elliot’s one last time after she told him she wasn’t ready, almost as if Olivia knew she might need that extra bit of comfort to get through it all, for a long time. No one knows Olivia and Elliot better than these two, but the scene was visceral in a way we don’t often get to see them dig into.

(But, good lord, let it not be another 11 episodes before we see them together again. This is rarefied chemistry, and while they can’t be together every week, obviously, it sure would be nice if the franchise actually utilized the gift they have.)

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME: Okay, this was fun. This was what I was hoping to get from the casino arc the first time around, and I’m really glad we got this little bit of shady glitz and glamour in the mini-arc.

First of all, let’s give it up for Danielle Moné Truitt and Ainsley Seiger who were so great in this episode, taking on two different, but difficult, beats.

Ayanna Bell realizing that her partner’s killer was still out there, and had gotten away with it? Incredible. Fierce. She walked straight up to the line of maaaaybe inappropriateness (good luck to her future relationship with Thurman), but didn’t completely cross it. We got to see her balance her guilt and her grief and her quest for vengeance. I’m so excited to see what Truitt gives us in the rest of the arc when Ayanna actually gets the justice she and her partner deserve.

And Jet undercover? Love it, thank you. (Of course she is a pro with cards.)

Yes, this is going to be the part where I repeat myself that Elliot Stabler should not be going undercover. Look, it’s a shame, because he is fun at it, and I do realistically understand this is different than, say, the Albanians. But this man has been on TV as a cop so many times in the past 13 months. He cannot feasibly go undercover, even like this, in New York. As much fun as this is, I hope this is the last time we see Elliot undercover for a bit. Let the rest of the team go!!! They’re clearly good at it.

(I will also give my kingdom for this franchise to remember that Elliot and Olivia were partners for 13 years, please, and thanks. But, hey, I’m glad we saw him attempting to reach out to Olivia in this episode. Yay for acknowledging they’re currently in the same universe.)

Bell and Stabler remain perfect, but let’s not sleep on the underrated comedy of Jet having to deal with them. The whole exchange post-first night (“Nobody hip says hip.” “I can dig it.”) was just exquisite.

Which shows did you watch last night?

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