January 19, 2024 by  


LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME — “Memory Lane” Episode 401 — Pictured: (l-r) Ainsley Seiger as Det. Jet Slootmaekers, Rick Gonzalez as Det. Bobby Reyes — (Photo by: Will Hart/NBC)

Let’s talk about Thursday night’s TV!

PRESS YOUR LUCK: Three whammies in a row?! Is that a record?! Sorry to Kayla, because that was insane. And then Inger Whammied out? Howard won by default!

But thank goodness for a smart and reasonable studio audience chanting for him to walk away—YES. That is the right move with three whammies and a sizable bank. And thank God he did, because after the first two contestants Whammied out…that wasn’t going to end well.

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: Welcome back to the SVU world, where it’s been eight months since we’ve last seen these characters. (Yes, I did go back to check that the finale’s time cards were mid-May; the premiere is set in mid-January. Yes, I am an absolute nerd. Sorry.) It’s been a long time away, but the show doesn’t spend a lot of real estate catching us up on what we’ve missed. (Which, honestly, I’m fine with. That kind of exposition is very, very, very tricky to get right.)

Apparently in that time Liv…honed her Spidey sense? Look, this isn’t the first time Olivia has seen someone who would soon be a part of her case before she/the squad was officially assigned, but the guilt of not doing more on top of the weight she would have already felt for a missing kid case is a whole lot of pain to start off the season. It certainly made Olivia struggle more with everyone and everything.

I’ve been hit/miss with recent multi-part arcs, but I think this was the strongest start we’ve had yet. And it was deeply disturbing. Going to bullet point a few lows and highlights…

  • Love Bruno, hope we get to see him as much as possible, but I’m also really hoping we get some more women in the squadroom soon, please. (I did enjoy the very little bit of Detective Parrish that we got.)
  • Having four series regulars could be an interesting move, story-wise. A short season is almost always more expensive, which is a problem all shows are going to face this year, but hopefully that budget and character real estate can be funneled into exploring the regulars we do have/notable guest stars.
  • Fundamentally, this show will always be a procedural, so I understand the vast, vast majority of the screen time has to be dedicated to the case. I’m not expecting this show to turn into something it won’t ever be. That being said, I do wish we could have gotten 10 seconds of Rollins, Carisi, the girls, and baby Nicky actually interacting. Like, I would have traded that baptism scene for a few extra seconds at the restaurant really seeing the new family unit.
  • I’m not claiming to have an answer/solution to this, but I truly hope if/when Amanda pops up again to help with a case there’s a better balance of how they utilize her. Amanda absolutely has experience and knows what she’s talking about—but it shouldn’t be at the expense of making Olivia look, well, bad and inept at her job. The fact their kidnapper was possibly someone who was escalating was apparent to me early on, and I’m just someone who has watched almost 550 episodes of this show. Olivia has been in SVU for over 25 years and a cop for even longer; she’s worked cases where people escalate in similar ways. How would she (or the squad) have not thought about it by that point in the investigation? (And even if you want to argue Olivia’s distraught and not thinking clearly, A) there’s still Fin, who has been there almost 24 years, and B) then she shouldn’t be working the case/needs a break and she’s being irresponsible in a different way.)
  • I am, however, very glad it appears Amanda has stopped shutting Olivia out. The decision to have her hide her pregnancy until she was very, very far along remains one of the weirder character decisions from last season.
  • I’m intrigued by the voice-over. A one-time thing? A preview of a speech/lecture she’s giving later in the season/book she’s writing/interview she’s doing?
  • That opening montage of past cases/moments?! Loved it. I also appreciated that while some of it was very obvious from the moments in Olivia’s past (like finding Maria in “9-1-1”) there were also some genuinely niche/unexpected beats in it.
  • I’m really glad they worked Peter Scanavino into the episode more. In hours without court scenes, sometimes it feels like he can vanish/he’s used as a bonus cop. Olivia utilizing him both as a work ally and a bit of emotional support was nice.
  • Olivia caressing the compass in times of stress? Oh, my heart.
  • On one hand, I think we should take every single opportunity to honor Munch. On the other hand, I couldn’t really tell if they were just randomly toasting him or if we were supposed to infer that the character passed during the time away. (Also, Carisi barely knew Munch; I’m sure he’s heard stories, but Amanda was right there! Let her be a part of the toast, too.)
  • Sorry to Stevie, but the best part of him trying (twice) to hit on Olivia was Fin and Carisi in the background, laughing like children. They set you up to fail, sir.
  • Fingers crossed Martha got Noah the pizza he wanted.

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME: There’s so (so, so, so) much to say about the premiere, but as I alluded to on social media, that Jet and Reyes reveal was the first time my jaw dropped at any of my shows all season. I missed this show so much.

I was a little worried going into the season how they would handle Elliot being undercover, because…well, we’ve been down this road. It’s hard to believe that Elliot would still work as a long-term undercover person given how much he’s been on the news in the past few years, so the vagueness of how/where/why he was leaving in the season 3 finale made me pause. (And, yes, I can logistically understand they needed to find a way to pause and not tie the eventual new showrunner’s hands with what they set up and also explain why he might be MIA on SVU if the shows had returned in their original time frame. I also know it’s a TV show; in the real world, the squad wouldn’t also almost die every episode.)

But it worked well. We saw enough of Elliot’s sad UC life and it ended before the opening credits. Bam. Hopefully that’s the last bit of his extended UC work given the mess at home.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty…

  • How did everyone almost die?! Again?! In one episode! Bell needs a raise, a vacation, and the team to actually listen to her.
  • My first scream of the season went to the moment when the voicemail from Rita started. Never did I expect we’d get an Officer Monte Cristo callback. I loved the Albanian arc and that subplot remains one of the highlights. What a gift. (And what a promising sign this new writing team knows the show and Elliot.)
  • Danielle Moné Truitt shared that the fentanyl drug operation is playing a role in the season so far, so I’m very curious how that spine is worked into other cases. We’ve seen so many different ways of telling an OC story, so what does season 4 look like?
  • If you know me, you know this is a top-tier compliment: The premiere felt like ORGANIZED CRIMExTHE X-FILESxBREAKING BAD. Give me this, please. (And, yes, John Shiban, the new showrunner, worked on both TXF/BB.)
  • (Relatedly: LOL to Area 51.)
  • Between what happened last year on SVU with Duarte and this OC premiere…is the machete the Official Weapon of L&O Bad Guys™?
  • No stick to light the prayer candles…anyone else hear Elliot telling Olivia you can always fix things in your head as he was scrambling trying to use the other candles to light the ones he wanted?
  • Don’t get me wrong: I’m absolutely thrilled SVUxOC are on the same timeline right now. (Like, “could nearly kiss the TV” overjoyed.) But, man, it’s sad to think that Elliot missed another eight months of his real life for this job. His birthday. The holidays. Potential summer break with Eli. Was he able to come home the way he did when he was Eddie? Talk to his kids, his mom, Olivia?
  • I’m really glad Bell was visibly frustrated with Elliot at points. He chose to run away after Jamie’s death. The rest of the squad didn’t have that luxury and had to deal—or not deal—with their grief there. He can’t just run away every time his heart hurts.
  • Chris Meloni, king of micro-expressions. The myriad of emotions on his face when he was simply leaving Olivia a message…absolutely incredible. Sure, Olivia briefly worked on the Rita situation, but this man just wanted to talk to her, hear her voice, and he said as much. (An argument could be made that for as much as he said he had to run from her voice after Jenna/quitting, the moment he got home he wanted to hear her voice to ground him/keep him there.) Of course, then he panicked, but it allowed for incredible acting from Meloni.
  • (And for the love of all that is holy and unholy, find you someone who adoringly gazes at a PHOTO OF YOU ON THE TV the way Elliot Stabler looked at that old photo of Olivia/the McGrath press conference about SVU’s good work.)
  • If I stick my head in the sand about how much Bernie is deteriorating, will it make what may be coming less painful? Asking for me. But in all seriousness, what a gift every time we have scenes with Meloni and Ellen Burstyn; I treasure every moment we get with Elliot and Bernie.
  • I have approximately 75 questions about the Jet and Reyes, uh, connection, but most importantly (maybe?) is did they initially say they were going to stop after one time? After months of grief-inspired hooking up? How deep into this are they? (Also, is he still married?! He was wearing a ring earlier in the episode—which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re still together; Elliot wore his ring on SVU for a bit post-separating with Kathy and, uh, briefly put it back on at the end of last season—but had it off when he went to Jet’s apartment.) Do these two people think they’re being subtle at work?!
  • Elliot seeing Jet and Reyes touch the way he and Olivia used to touch in SVU season 1 (or season 12) and immediately clocking it? Ouch. As much as Bell is aware of what’s going on, I’m curious what, if anything, Elliot says to them. Specifically, I’m so, so curious what conversations he and Reyes may have about this given how protective Elliot may be of Jet and the parallels in the lives of the two men: Again, in theory, Reyes is married with a gaggle of kids, but has also thrown himself into dangerous work. Elliot knows what it’s like to shut your spouse out (Kathy was calling him out in SVU season 1 about talking to Olivia and not her), to bond with someone who is there every day. The difference is Elliot never crossed that line and, as mentioned above, literally ran to a different freaking continent to avoid doing what Reyes and Jet seem to have stumbled into.

[For more on ORGANIZED CRIME, here’s what Truitt shared about the premiere.]

Which shows did you watch last night?

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