Friday, September 30, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Trusts His Instincts About a Murder in 'Everybody Knows the Dice Are Loaded'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 3.02 "Everybody Knows the Dice Are Loaded"

As ground breaks on the city's first casino, Stabler investigates the death of a friend whose refusal to sell his home on the site has stalled construction. Jet breaks in two new detectives. Bell splits her focus between work and her looming divorce.

"Everybody Knows the Dice Are Loaded" was written by Bryan Goluboff and directed by John Polson

The Brotherhood isn't the only major takedown in Stabler's work with the Organized Crime Task Force. However, it's the most prominent for how the rank-and-file officers of the NYPD view him. Previously, various individuals on the force could be offered different stories. He had one reputation with the task force and the people who oversee it. He could then shift to another persona while undercover to arrest corrupt cops. But now, everyone has complete clarity on who Stabler is. Some find it absolutely despicable. As a fellow officer, he is meant to protect anyone who puts on the badge to protect the city. They have to shield their own from accountability no matter what they do. That's an absurdly heinous perspective. One that Stabler doesn't abide by. Some officers view that as the most personal betrayal. He has proven that he doesn't have their backs when their lives may be on the line. And yet, some officers are genuinely inspired by what Stabler did. They see the existence and protection of bad cops as corrupting the entire institution. They can't be trusted as an organization if these problems are allowed to grow and be rewarded. That makes them no better than the criminals they vow to arrest. All of this shapes the personnel of the task force. After three seasons, it's clear that Stabler, Bell and Jet are meant to be the only consistency in this unit. They are the only officers who stay beyond one season. It's not from some clash over the objectives of the work. It's simply saying goodbye to some supporting characters with no distinguishable personalities in favor of introducing more characters with the same blank slates. This premiere offers some reasons to be hopeful. Detectives Jamie Whelan and Bobby Reyes were inspired to join the unit specifically because they took down the Brotherhood. They see and understand those noble ambitions. That doesn't mean Stabler should inherently be trusted when his gut tells him a man was murdered so a prominent family can buy his property. He doesn't listen to Bell when she asks him to let it go. Of course, Stabler is ultimately proven right. There was so much more to this case than it initially seemed. He brings the new detectives along to get a feel for how they behave in the field. Bobby is creative and quick at going undercover without detection. Meanwhile, Jamie acts before thinking. They each believe they have a great deal to learn from working with this unit. Stabler is mostly annoyed not to have any seasoned detectives joining the fray. Instead, it's still more of the same of him and Bell having to lead the charge and deal with any blowback that may come as a result. That is always a distinct possibility because of the criminals they target. It also weighs heavily in their personal lives - which are just as turbulent as ever before.

Stabler doesn't inherently like navigating the politics of the job. He believes that's often a distraction from the work that must be done. It clouds people's judgment. It takes them further away from the ideals of what this job is suppose to offer to the citizens of the city. Bell does a much better job of dealing with the bureaucracy. And yet, she too has carried some things personally. She brought the work home with her. That's why Denise has filed for divorce. That's inevitable now. They can't escape it. They can't figure things out together. Stabler understands this plight. He recognizes that he was a difficult husband. The only reason why his marriage lasted so long was because Kathy made the choice to make it work. Denise doesn't make that same choice. She shouldn't have to be willing to make those sacrifices either. Nor should Kathy be shamed because she chose differently. Again, every situation is different. Stabler's marriage ended in tragedy. That was a result of the work as well. He has barely been hanging on after Kathy's murder. He can provide some more clarity and comfort to others now. He still conducts himself on the job as boldly as ever before. That is appreciated because he sees certain details others overlook. It's strange how many bite marks the victim has on his feet from rats. That's the curious detail that reveals how the killer pulled off the murder. It's with that information that the medical examiner is willing to label the case a homicide. Stabler has his eyes focused on the Silas family. He believes they are responsible because they have the most to gain. They are already one of the most powerful and influential families in the city. But now, they are building a new casino. They need to keep construction on track. One person was preventing that. Teddy certainly comes across as a shady individual. Meanwhile, Robert is the domineering father who believes it's foolish for his son to continually be chasing his affection. They understand how the optics look. They have to handle this carefully. And yet, they still threaten people openly because they expect to get whatever they want. That's how much influence they ultimately have. The dealmaking skills that made Robert so successful may not work for Teddy. They have two different visions for the future. They are united with this project. Construction has started. The criticism is severe and noticed by the press. Those stakes carry far-reaching consequences throughout the city. And yet, the stakes still aspire to remain small as the cliffhanger revolves around the killer running to evade capture for as long as possible. He's not the extent of this story. He's simply the first investigative step the unit must take in order to get to the truth of the latest corruption in New York City.