Friday, October 28, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Investigates a Gang of Criminals Pretending to Be Police in 'Behind Blue Eyes'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 3.05 "Behind Blue Eyes"

While Stabler is called to testify against the Brotherhood in court, the task force sets their sights on a dangerous criminal gang posing as police. Reyes finds a surprising connection to the suspects they're after. Bell receives some unwelcome news.

"Behind Blue Eyes" was written by Barry O'Brien and directed by John Polson

What does the future of the Organized Crime Task Force look like? This unit was originally created to make a unified effort against Richard Wheatley. That threat has been eliminated. The unit has carried out several additional investigations. In fact, Stabler's reputation within the NYPD has completely changed as a result of his undercover work with the Brotherhood. He deals with lingering consequences too. When he calls for backup, he's not sure if he will receive it. It may not be all that helpful if it arrives. He fears that's what happens when he's dealing with this latest investigation. He fixates on that idea. He's being targeted because he turned against his fellow officers. He took down dirty cops. He remains haunted by Donnelly's death. Stabler still does his job. He testifies against the remaining members of the Brotherhood. He represents himself as someone who can hold the police accountable. That's not entirely true. It's not the basis for the work he now does. He goes after organized crime. These efforts are multi-pronged and last beyond a typical investigation in the Law & Order universe. Not everything is neatly resolved within the span of an episode. These concerns linger. That provides more time for the cases to leave a personal impact on the detectives. That's true long before Reyes recognizes the targets of the latest investigation. This episode stands out because it doesn't continue dealing with the Silas family and their determination to build a casino in the city no matter what. That's a change-of-pace. Nothing here directly interacts with that ongoing concern. The show teased more details left to be revealed. The narrative isn't in a race to address those. Instead, it takes a more reflective tone. The story embraces Stabler's nature. He was trusted as an SVU detective before making this transition to organized crime. He has a long history with Olivia Benson. Of course, she's not the one leading the charge against a group pretending to be cops in order to steal drugs and rape women. Rollins carries that mantle. Her first day at SVU was the morning Captain Cragen told Olivia that Stabler had left. Stabler couldn't say goodbye. They are back in each other's lives now. Distance still remains. Moreover, Stabler and Rollins have never worked a case together. Olivia has her own rapport with her detective. She trusts her completely. As such, Stabler honors that bond. And yet, he has the resources to lead this investigation. Rollins is present when it comes to interacting with the victims. She helps get a positive identification. Other than that though, her role is fairly limited. That's to be expected given how significant the crossover was at the start of the season. It's simply a small inclusion of her here which doesn't immediately make it worth it. Of course, that might change because the case hasn't been solved completely yet.

The task force goes all-in on this case because they want to fight against the public perception of corrupt cops getting away with whatever they want. These criminals play into those preconceived notions as a way of projecting power in their own lives. They are taking back what was taken away from them. However, it wasn't the police who committed the abuse that started this tragic cycle. Instead, it was the foster care system. These criminals were all placed in the same home. The same man injured all of them. And yet, they still had separate choices about the lives that followed them afterwards. Reyes has become a family man also married to the job. He wanted to work with this unit because he was inspired by what they did. He wants to continue that presentation of good cops doing honest and legal work. All of that may be threatened by his connections to this case. He identifies Vaughn, Dante and Manny. Of course, it's not until Dante is shot. He remains in critical condition. Meanwhile, Manny refuses to cooperate. Vaughn is clearly seen as the leader. He came up with this scheme. It's all about stealing from the drug dealers to pay for an extravagant life of luxury for himself and his friends. Dressed as a cop, he believes he's entitled to whatever he wants as well. That includes any women who happen to be at the homes he hits. They deserve this punishment. It's the cycle of violence repeating itself. Manny gives in to that abuse as well. Dante calls it out because he's new to the crew. He has recently been released from prison. He was locked up on a marijuana possession charge. His release is justified. He is immediately thrown into this world and made to suffer the most dire consequences. Vaughn leaves him behind like it's nothing. Manny shows some compassion. That gets him thrown into custody. That matters too. Stabler and Bell try to get his cooperation without honoring his request for a lawyer. It's not as simple as that. They remain committed to the work though. That remains clear and consistent. However, talk has started about shutting down the task force because it has already achieved its original goal. Everyone has done great work. They will be promoted. They can climb the ladders of this system and exert more of their influence over how the job gets down. Stabler has concerns about the mentality of his fellow officers. That proves the need to continue investigating those who abuse their power no matter who they are. That doesn't win over many friends. That's the nature of this work. Jet fears the worst will happen. As such, she doesn't want to get more emotionally attached to her colleagues. This is just a job after all. Her work is significant. It shouldn't define who she is. Those lines are already coming into focus though. The threats are real but the unit stands strong and unified. The results should speak for themselves. They are just in the middle of several new investigations that carry as much merit as the work that has come previously.