Stabler trying to bust the Albanians for sex trafficking while undercover was never going to end well.
On Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 Episode 5, Stabler’s impulsivity and concern about Rita turned out to be his Achilles’ heel, but it wasn’t surprising the mob was suspicious.
The Organized Crime unit made some mistakes, too, all leading to a situation where Stabler’s lost the trust he’s worked so hard to build with the mob.
In theory, there was nothing wrong with Stabler working with his old friends at SVU to rescue the trafficked girls.
It was the execution of the operation that was severely flawed, and some of that was Stabler’s own fault.
The NYPD suddenly bursting in on a sex party that Stabler pushed his way into at the last second was bound to raise eyebrows, especially since the cops didn’t make any attempt to arrest him, and he more or less disappeared afterward.
He shouldn’t have been allowed to be at that party — or if he was, the cops should have arrested him too to make it look like he was as much on their radar as anyone else.
Instead, Bell let him go, and Benson asked Bell about him before all the bad guys had been rounded up, so someone could have overheard.
Plus, Stabler disappeared. The mob might have assumed that he was on the run from the cops, but that didn’t do much to help him look like anything but a rat.
I’m not sure why Bell used her real name and allowed Ross to ID her as a sergeant when she went to the party, either. You’d think that people who are doing illegal things wouldn’t want cops at this type of event!
But the worst problem seemed to be Stabler’s obsession with rescuing Rita.
He had made a connection with her when she was working in the restaurant, plus his original training as an SVU cop kicked in.
But he kept trying to help her at the expense of the operation.
He got jumped by those guys because she screamed, and I’m not sure whether they were as alone as he thought when he told Rita he was a cop and that she and her son were safe now.
He stopped to try to help her in the first place when he was supposed to be getting out of there before the rest of the cops showed up, which might have contributed to the mob realizing he’s a cop.
All of this was sloppy and could have been avoided had Stabler trusted Benson and SVU to take care of Rita and not allowed his desire to help her to keep getting him sidetracked.
Incidentally, whatever happened to Amelia?
Stabler: What happened to you? Amelia, look at me. Who did this to you?
Amelia: It was my fault. I didn’t have a happy smile and a friendly attitude.
Early on in the hour, Bell made a big deal out of trying to rescue her from the abusive situation she was in, but then Amelia blended in with all the other sex trafficking victims and wasn’t seen again.
Hopefully, she was rescued with the other girls, and there will be some mention of what happened to her later on. It seemed like Organized Crime made a big deal out of her abuse, and then she just faded away, so there has to be more to her story.
Stabler was so busy trying to rescue Rita that Amelia likely got lost in the shuffle!
Meanwhile, there was a ton of interesting stuff happening on the homefront.
Stabler’s absence is taking more of a toll on Eli than anyone thought, and I’m curious as to how this will develop.
Stabler’s gone through this before. Kathleen got a DUI and engaged in other problematic behavior before her bipolar disorder was diagnosed, and Stabler had a hard time not enabling her throughout that mess.
He may need Benson’s support to get Eli straightened out now, but I’d also like for him to lean on Kathleen a bit.
After all, she got to the other side of her legal and psychological troubles eventually, so she’d be the best person to advise him now.
Eli needs help ASAP. He’s taking advantage of his grandmother’s fragile mental state, stealing her meds and assuming no one will believe her if she claims he did it.
That’s some out-of-control behavior there, and Eli’s defending his grandmother’s condition to the idiot who was influencing him doesn’t change how wrong it is.
Stabler needs to get him help right away. And yes, he needs to be home a bit more often.
Benson: I agree with Bernie. You need to come home before it’s too late.
Stabler: I’m being careful.
Benson: I mean, before Eddie Wagoner takes over and Elliot Stabler is nowhere to be found.
At this point, I’m not sure that Benson’s fear of Stabler turning into a mobster is well-founded, though.
Stabler seemed to snap back into cop mode as soon as he realized Rita was in trouble, and he didn’t do a hell of a lot of stuff that would make sense to the mob.
The issue is more that Eli is spiraling down and Stabler isn’t there, and his mom also needs help that he’s not able to give her.
That said, I did feel a pang of sadness that Stabler was going to lose his friendship with Reggie. As mobsters go, he’s more sympathetic than most of the rest of them, and he let Stabler see his human side.
If circumstances were different, the two of them could have bonded over taking care of their mothers.
Your turn, Organized Crime fanatics.
What did you think? Did Stabler screw up the undercover operation? Is Benson right that he’s in danger of losing himself to his mob persona? And is there any hope for intervening in Eli’s behavior before it’s too late?
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Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.