LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME: Tate Ellington Previews the 'Intense' Boone Farm Lockdown and the Ongoing Impact of Sam's Death - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME: Tate Ellington Previews the ‘Intense’ Boone Farm Lockdown and the Ongoing Impact of Sam’s Death

April 29, 2024 by  

Organized Crime Vargas

LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME — “End Of Innocence” Episode 403 — Pictured: Tate Ellington as Dr. Vargas — (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

The members of the Organized Crime Control Bureau are still reeling over the loss of Sam (Abubakr Ali)—who was killed during an ongoing investigation—when LAW & ORDER: ORGANIZED CRIME returns on Thursday, May 2.

“I think it’s a very pivotal thing, especially for the following episodes…day to day, it’s building towards the finale,” Tate Ellington, who plays Vargas, the team’s new AI tech guru, tells Give Me My Remote. “It’s had a pretty profound effect on [Vargas] and on the team. I think he probably doesn’t know how to deal with it, in [many] ways, so he’s maybe not addressing it as much.”

Though the team is, unfortunately, well-versed in losing people they care about, “it’s the first time [Vargas has] been around this—he’s new to this group,” Ellington says. “He’s not used to finding out somebody who [he] works with [has been killed]—normally he’s in a room doing computer stuff. He’s not used to this, and I think it definitely has an effect. I think it also gives him a drive to want the system he’s working on to work, to want to do even more—as much as you possibly can—to help the team. And to do everything to help bring [who killed] Sam to justice; to find a way to help and to honor [Sam’s] memory.”

“That’s for all the team,” he continues. “I think they’re all really hit with it…He doesn’t know how to react. Reyes, Jet, Stabler, and Bell…they’ve obviously dealt with this recently, in the not-too-distant past. But it still hit extremely close because Sam was adorable. He was delightful. An extremely kind, wonderful young man. And it was like, ‘Oh God, no’—he has kids, he has a wife. He has a family. And because Stabler has a family, he’s lost his wife, I think it’s very personal for him.”

Stabler (Christopher Meloni) remains undercover in “Redcoat”—and under lockdown, as Angus (Stephen Lang) prepares for war with the mysterious Redcoat—and OCCB tries to help from afar.

“It’s fairly intense,” Ellington previews of what the OCCB task force is dealing with. “There’s some really intense things coming up because they’re about to go, possibly, to a place where everybody’s armed. There’s a lot of fear there. And then Stabler’s in there—we don’t know how to extract him or how to get him out. Moving forward into this episode, it starts to really get fairly intense. And, for Stabler, he’s in a compromising situation. He, I think, does understand—in some ways—what Angus is trying to do, but also knows he has to stop it and that it’s wrong.”

And Vargas quickly realizes there’s a curveball even he didn’t see coming. “It is also [one] of the first times he’s met his match on the tech side,” Ellington teases. “[There is] a jam where he’s not able to have eyes on everything that’s going on. And that’s sort of terrifying for him. He wants to do his best for this team and to help as much as possible. He sort of met his match on some stuff—same for Jet. We were trying to figure out how to help and we can’t get eyes on the situation. So I think that’s a ticking clock for Vargas, especially, wanting to come through for the team.”

Organized Crime Vargas

Photo credit: Screenshot/NBC

And Vargas has gone above and beyond for the team in recent episodes, including getting Elliot’s brother, Randall (Dean Norris), out of jail. The unexpectedly delightful duo was as much of a shock to the actors, who met on the day of filming the scene where Vargas picked up Randall after his release.

“That was absolutely a surprise when I read it because most of the time, it was Stabler’s family [separate from the team]—we’re not meeting them,” Ellington recalls. “I tend to not see them. So when I read the script and saw the Randall scene, I was like, ‘Oh, thank God, this is great.’”

“I had the absolute best time shooting that scene,” he continues. “I’m a big fan of Dean’s, so it was wonderful to have a scene with him…It was kind of an easy thing to act. [Executive producer] Jon Cassar, who was the director for the episode…they’ve been wonderful, sometimes they’ll let us stick some [ad-libbed] things in—for the most part, you pretty much try to stick to the script. But as we were heading to the car at one point, Dean was still standing there and I was just like, ‘Oh, it’s unlocked.’ And so I did that. And then we did [another take] and I didn’t say it, and Jon was like, ‘Where’s the door’s unlocked line? That was great.’ And I was so happy to keep it in the script and it stayed in the show.”

The little comedy break “was wonderful,” Ellington gushes. “I was trying not to crack up every time I’d be looking at Dean, looking at me—I was really trying to hold it together and just not start losing it. So [it was] a blast.”

Ellington does have a tie to one ORGANIZED CRIME performer: Ellen Burstyn, who played his on-screen mother in the 2006 film THE ELEPHANT KING. (Burstyn has off-on played Bernie Stabler, the Stabler matriarch, in the LAW & ORDER world since 2008.) In a lovely social media post days into starting his OC tenure, the actor shared his gratitude about the experience thus far—and noted he was “desperately hoping to have a small reunion with my one time on-screen mom, a legend of our craft.”

While being on the same show as Burstyn has “meant everything,” Ellington acknowledges their paths haven’t crossed again yet. The actor—who is also a long-time fan of the LAW & ORDER franchise—was supposed to overlap with Burstyn’s filming in his first episode…only for him to get COVID for the first time, causing his production schedule to be overhauled. 

Even without the official reunion, “I’ve been watching the show and it’s been amazing seeing all the scenes she’s in,” Ellington enthuses. “She’s a powerhouse. She is a Hollywood legend, and I highly recommend her book. I read it after we worked together…she couldn’t have been lovelier [on THE ELEPHANT KING]. We just had wonderful conversations on set. She was absolutely dear to me and was a mom.”

“I’m still hoping somehow it works out where I see her, because I love her,” he continues. “She’s an absolutely wonderful, amazing, powerful woman. I can’t say enough good things.”

Update (Wednesday, May 1): Watch a scene from “Redcoat,” as Vargas cracks a crucial clue…



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