Thursday, November 11, 2021

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler and Bell Chase Down the Heads of the Kosta Organization in 'Ashes to Ashes'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 2.08 "Ashes to Ashes"

A deadly bombing rocks the NYPD and leaves several suspects in the wind. Nova makes a major discovery.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime.

"Ashes to Ashes" was written by Kimberly Ann Harrison & Nichole Beattie and directed by Jean de Segonzac

Before the season started, the creative team announced that the second season would be broken into three distinct story arcs - each spanning around eight episodes. "Ashes to Ashes" brings to a close Stabler's time undercover with the Albanian crime family. At the start of the season, it was stark just how different this particular story was from what occurred in the first season. It wasn't necessary for the show to continue with the Wheatley family drama in order to maintain any sense of urgency or emotional resonance. But it was starting over with a new story arc that was so impersonal. That was a major change of pace. The first season was driven so much by how personal it was for Stabler and his family. It was all about him getting justice against the people who killed his wife. It was building to the climatic image of the Stabler family standing strong as they descended the courthouse steps demanding the justice system hold Richard Wheatley accountable. That was a luxury afforded to them as Bell and her colleagues noted at the time. Of course, Stabler also trusts Bell completely. He is concerned about her as they advance upon the gym hoping to bring Kosta and Albi into custody. It's a much more dragged out affair. However, that too highlights just how personal this story has been for Stabler. He has crossed lines that oppose his natural state with the NYPD. He was always resolute in his devotion to the job. Sometimes, that came at the expense of his family. He always strived to make it work. Going undercover was different for him. He still excelled in that role. The crime family trusted Eddie. They never suspected him of being the rat. That may be an oversimplification. Looking back, they each had plenty of reasons to be distrustful of this outsider to the family. However, they gave their trust to Eddie. And now, they each feel betrayed by seeing him as his true self. They confided in him. And now, their lives are completely destroyed as a result. The lines were blurred though. Stabler kept Albi's secret. He didn't use his sexuality as a weapon to force him into cooperation. That wasn't important to Stabler. He saw the genuine connection between Albi and Flutura. Sure, that didn't stop him from becoming romantically involved with her. That too felt like a performance that could earn him admonishment. This is still a victory though. Every person in this crime family is rounded up and arrested. They are arraigned and await being put on trial. It's a messy and chaotic conclusion. It reveals more about where this story is going as well. Not every element that has been at play this season is neatly resolved here. Bell and Nova learn just how much influence Congressman Kilbride actually wields in the criminal underworld. He too has been playing the long game in the hopes of corrupting Bell. She is aware of that now. It still comes as a surprise. She has been knocked back. It's not in the way she expected. It's still striking when Agnes is the one who disrupts the court proceedings. It's outrageous that she smuggled in a gun somehow. And yet, she was always more aware of Stabler's true intentions than others in the family. She just wasn't in a place of power to do anything about it. She remained loyal even though she was left disfigured by the family. She loves her son. He is taken away from her. That is tragic as well. He is free. That's not the fate he wanted. He wants to care for others. Instead, he is abandoned in a desolate area. That appears to be his final fate. The rest of the family will stand trial. That may play out in the future. But right now, the symbolism comes from Stabler being able to come home. He shaves the beard and returns to the role he has always known. He is comfortable in that position. And yet, he can't shake off all that he has done and seen as Eddie Wagner that quickly. That may be a slow transition for him. That trauma may linger. The job doesn't stop though. A new threat is just around the corner. His family has been pleading for him to come home. They need that support. Bell's family does as well. And now, she may need to be the one to grow closer with the criminal elements of the city. The narrative does carefully weave that balance between Stabler and Bell. It's a partnership. One where they have their own internal lives and dynamics. The symmetry is apparent as well. They are kindred spirits even though they have such drastically different experiences in the world. They aren't equally given the same opportunities nor do they wish to pursue the same options. But Bell's life may be taking center stage for a little bit even if Stabler's drama always remains pivotal and relevant too.