Thursday, March 17, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Realizes His Fellow Officers Are Scared of Donnelly in 'Guns & Roses'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 2.16 "Guns & Roses"

The task force investigates a connection between the Marcy Organization and the murder of a lawyer and her client. Stabler settles into a new assignment. Bell reminds Nova who she really works for.

"Guns & Roses" was written by Juliet Lashinsky-Revene and directed by Jean de Segonzac

Stabler knows what he's doing is right. And yet, it still feels wrong to be investigating cops. He believes in the brotherhood of those on the job. They need to protect their own from outside threats who don't understand what it takes to do this work. But he also wants corrupt figures off the force. No one is safe if they are in charge. An entire precinct is corrupt. It's not one bad apple. It's been endemic for years. It traces back to the work Stabler's father was doing. Everything in Stabler's life has seemingly led to this moment. He was proud of his father. He became a cop to honor him. He has always been a hero. And now, he's starting to hear stories that don't match up to that reality. It shakes him to his core. It may leave him even more unstable. That has the potential to make him more volatile in the field. When he was undercover before, he could escape into the life of Eddie Wagner. The personal turmoil of being away from his family was carried internally. He's undercover once more. This time that turmoil has become externalized. Donnelly is a figure who knows so much about Stabler and his family. They are kindred spirits. That's why they have bonded so quickly. Two episodes into this investigation, Donnelly is already willing to take a bullet for Stabler. That takes true trust. It creates problems. The detectives have to explain what they were doing there in the first place. They were engaging in the criminal scheme that makes them rich. It's the only way they know how to service in this line of work. Donnelly has no problem threatening people with extralegal maneuvers to get what he wants. Across this universe, it's been okay for cops to lie to suspects to get the information they want. It has always been treated as an uncomfortable but acceptable part of the job. In this instance, it's heinous because it has the potential to destroy so many lives. Stabler is at the center of all of it. He can't hide from the truth any longer either. He is told his father would be proud of him. However, that may simply be said to convince him to continue doing the job. It's not based on any understanding of the man and what Stabler has always projected onto him. That's much more complicated and requires even more self-reflection. Stabler doesn't have the time for that. He's barely surviving on the job. He has a purpose. It just all seems to come at some severe cost. That's the burden of this work. It's been evident in every story he's investigated since the series started.

Nova has changed as a result of her undercover work too. She is also feeling sympathetic to the criminals she is targeting. A lawyer and her client are killed. Nova doesn't believe Hugo did it. And yet, his gun was the murder weapon and he was the last person to contact her. The evidence is damning. Nova remains loyal to the job. She tells Bell exactly where to find Hugo. More investigating has to be done to prove he isn't responsible for this crime. Moreover, Nova cites Preston Webb's ideology as a criminal. He doesn't support sex trafficking. That's a line he will not cross. He wouldn't allow anyone working within his organization to be running it either. As such, the hour has to spin a bunch of complications around to showcase how these many crimes actually connect the Marcy Organization and the Brotherhood. It's all a little too complicated. It works as drama when it focuses on the characters at the root of it all. Right now, that's Stabler and Nova. They are undercover. They are placing it all on the line without any certainty it will work. They face daunting opponents too. None of this is going to be easy. They may be corrupted along the way. Stabler has enough of a sense to know something is wrong with Van Aller. He is the true killer. He's full of remorse mostly for how Donnelly will react. Stabler promises to help him navigate the Internal Affairs investigation. He doesn't have to pretend to hate that particular unit and how it targets cops. But the threat he faces runs much deeper. It makes it so Van Aller can see suicide as his only option. He dies right in front of Stabler. The detective chooses not to process that whatsoever. Instead, it's more confirmation to do the job right. He receives that clarity. But again, he is shaken by the revelation his father staged a crime scene and was rewarded for it by the department. That runs deep too. This new story arc has proven to be even more focused on analyzing Stabler's psyche. Bell and Nova are trying to do their jobs too. They have to share that focus with him. He remains central. He is the one with the most turmoil. It can be overbearing at times. Every action he takes could be used to further condemn him on the force. He is continually given more power and responsibility. He is free in that way while Nova and Bell are not. That dichotomy is important. The show only seems aware of that some of the time though.