Sunday, April 10, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Reckons With the Noble Image He's Had of His Father in 'Can't Knock the Hustle'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 2.17 "Can't Knock the Hustle"

A new ADA on the case urges the task force to flip a member of the brotherhood to get the evidence they need. Stabler must come to terms with the legacy his father left him. Bell and Nova's worlds start to overlap in more ways than one.

"Can't Knock the Hustle" was written by Kimberly Ann Harrison & Emmy Higgins and directed by Jonathan Brown

Police culture builds up this legacy of the profession. They protect and serve the community. They have long been a noble institution. And yet, the job has always been riddled with corruption. It's nothing new. It can't just be accepted as part of the job. It's necessary to hold people accountable when they are blatantly breaking the rules of society as well. The Brotherhood believes they have to protect their own while stealing from criminals because it's the only way they can maintain their own lives. The only people looking out for them are the other members of the Brotherhood. Police unions are strong. They can't provide Donnelly with the resources to provide for his family. They can't maintain Stabler's reputation. No protection and support can be found. Of course, that too is a lie. It's a way to justify the actions these particular cops are willing to make. It has exposed them to new trouble. Stabler has been tasked with investigating the Brotherhood. It connects back to the task force targeting the Marcy Organization. However, it's also forcing Stabler to reckon with how he has idolized his own father on the job. Joe was an honorable man and loyal partner. He was shot in the line of duty. He was honored for his heroic actions. He was given a symbol for that sacrifice. Stabler has long cherished that medal. And now, he realizes the story may have been a complete lie. He shot himself in order to cover up for the mistake his partner made. He placed protecting the police above all else. Nothing can prevent these particular people from being on the job. Anything can happen. They are still deserving of this greatness. It's an honor to be on the force though. It should be taken away from those who abuse it. Stabler now has to look at this medal and see it as inspiration to do better. He has always been perceived as a good cop. Of course, that too has been challenged in hindsight. The new ADA doesn't want to have Stabler testify given how terrible it went the last time. In the Richard Wheatley trial, it was all incredibly personal. This new story has quickly become that as well. It forces Stabler to reach out to his past. This is the first time he has seen Captain Cragen since he left SVU. Cragen has been retired for several years now. He too served as a fatherly figure when Stabler was handling those sensitive cases alongside Olivia Benson. Now, Olivia serves as that inspiration for the next generation. Meanwhile, Stabler remains haunted by the past. That shows how their lives have gone in separate directions in ways beyond headlining two completely different shows.

Stabler is tasked with getting someone in the Brotherhood to flip against Donnelly. It's certainly going to become more precarious now that Donnelly is actually a killer. That may be too convenient to showcase how evil the guy is. It's an action used to symbolize the truly high stakes of this world. That has been a focus of each story the show has produced so far. And yes, this is a dangerous environment. Nova's brother worries about her upon learning she is actually an undercover police officer. Their father did this work and was killed. He didn't want either of his children to follow the same path. Nova did exactly that. She views it as a way to honor him as well as get justice for what happened. She needs to achieve that no matter what the cost may be for her personally. She has to reckon with the life she can have outside of this work. She has been isolated for so long. She has a lifeline in Bell. The sergeant is looking out for her. She is incredibly protective. The investigation has gotten more personal. It too has become more and more lethal. Nova has more responsibilities within the gang. That provides her with so much access and insight. It may not mean much if she loses everything else that is suppose to have meaning in her life. She doesn't know who she is if she isn't doing this work. That's a fascinating place to position her character. She is great at what she does. It's all she knows. The rest of the task force can work cohesively to ensure they achieve their objectives. Detective Santos is arrested. Bell and Jet take that action. Now comes the hard work of getting him to testify against the people who are supportive of his extracurricular activities. He was tempted into this corrupt life because his daughter got sick and needed special treatment to survive. A regular police salary wouldn't cover what she needed. That highlights the humanity present in this situation. It makes it more complicated. Everyone in this story is human. They have lives that inform their actions. It's not a simple case of one person being an over-the-top antagonist. That's no longer what the show is doing. It wants the complexity of each situation. It can never be easy. That can make the narrative too serious too often. It never feels like Bell and Stabler have something to be joyous about in their lives. The story remains propulsive though. And so, the narrative continues to chug along as the task force makes their moves to prove their case against the people taking advantage of the city and its resources.