Friday, March 11, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Goes Undercover Once More to Investigate Dirty Cobs in 'Takeover'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 2.15 "Takeover"

Bell's task force investigates the connection between Congressman Kilbride and the Marcy Organization. Stabler makes new friends with a group of close-knit cops. Nova receives a promotion just as her two worlds begin to collide.

"Takeover" was written by Eric Haywood and directed by John Polson

Stabler has been suspended from the NYPD for his conduct during the investigation into Richard Wheatley. That story arc concluded with Angela dead and Wheatley presumed dead. That seems like the show giving itself the option to return to that character in the future if they want. That would be a terrible idea because the show has already suffered from going to outlandish and improbable places with that character. The only way he could be beat is if control was literally taken out of his hands in one singular moment. It was Angela who made the fatal decision to send their car off a cliff. It was a tragedy. It means Stabler can never get justice in the courtroom for his wife's murder. He's simply expected to go back undercover right away in a new case. The seeds were already being planted for that. In fact, the Marcy Organization has been consistently threaded through the previous two story arcs of the season. They were more directly involved with the Kosta Organization. Since that arc concluded, it's mostly felt like background noise the show had to mention every once in awhile to ensure the interest was maintained. And now, it's coming into more focus. Preston is given a wife in Jennifer Beals' Cassandra who is every bit involved in the criminal gang as he is. They present as the new power couple who are plotting to take over the criminal underworld. Meanwhile, Congressman Kilbride sits well-connected and able to profit off his various deeds. Nova is in the middle of it all. She knows she is a fantastic undercover officer. And yet, her worlds are starting to merge. Bell fears she is getting in too deep. She is worried about her well-being. She doesn't want to make the same mistakes she did with Gina. That resulted in an officer dying under Bell's watch because she got too close to the target of her investigation. Nova now has to embrace her actual brother as part of her cover story simply because Preston and Cassandra see her attending his religious service. Nova knows how to adapt to the changing situations. Preston even promotes her. In the great reorganization of his gang, she is given all the responsibilities over the elements that once operated independently. He treats this entire thing like a business. One that has given him a ton of success. He sees that drive and consideration in Nova. That reliability makes her an asset. It also sets up the inevitable personal betrayal because of her true loyalties.

This episode is really just establishing the new story arc. Stabler is getting closer with Donnelly because of rumors he is a dirty cop running his own corrupt organization. He leads a gang profiting off the city's criminal elements. It's a lifestyle he created in order to afford the increasing responsibilities he has. He has five children just like Stabler. He is expecting a sixth. The job doesn't given him enough resources to keep all of them happy and secure. He must take more. He wants to justify his actions. He isn't leading a gang. He hates Stabler using that word to describe what the Brotherhood is. It's simply an extension of what it means to be a cop. This group of people is more inclined to protect each other. They look out for their own in a world that is increasingly targeting them. Cameras have held them accountable. They can never make a single mistake. If it's caught on film, then it only leads to despair and the inability to maintain the lives they've grown accustomed to. As such, they have to take that corrupt turn. It's nothing new though. It's part of the generational lessons learned on the job. Donnelly learned this behavior from his father. Stabler's own father played a role in this environment. That explains the way he has always conducted himself on the job. He's not as blatantly corrupt as this group of officers are. However, he can easily get a group of protestors together in outrage over the number of shootings he has been involved in. It truly is an excessive number. Part of that is simply from the drama repeating itself and feeling the need to escalate its stories. That was the easy solution once upon a time. It can no longer be acceptable. As such, Stabler needs to be challenged for his past behavior. He still has trust and respect on the job. Benson and Bell support him as he embarks on this new journey. But it's also him completely focused on the work. He is trying to make the force better. He seeks to eliminate corruption. That also prevents him from doing any of the reflection necessary to prove he is ultimately better. He gives himself completely over to the demands of the job. It has come at the expense of his family over and over again. Kathy has died. Bernadette was kidnapped. Eli is lashing out as he doesn't know what to do with these pent up emotions. Stabler has to protect his family. He must do whatever it takes. That sacrifice is necessary. Yet it can often feel like the show going around in circles instead of offering something new.