Friday, December 9, 2022

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler and Bell Work One Last Case With the Task Force in 'Last Christmas'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 3.09 "Last Christmas"

The fate of the task force is at stake when a meeting with Robert Silas goes sideways. With danger closing in, Bell and Stabler take creative measures to keep their team alive.

"Last Christmas" was written by Sean Jablonski and directed by Jean de Segonzac

Lillian was the driving force behind the plot to shut down the Organized Crime task force. She did so because she wanted Bell promoted. She wanted her as an ally higher up in police headquarters. Bell agreed because she thought that would provide a better way to manage her family and career. She offers that explanation to Stabler once they finally stop fighting with each other. The task force was always meant to be a temporary assignment. And yet, no one can argue against the results they have produced. The task force can take any case they want. Stabler and Bell lead with integrity and a willingness to hold people accountable. They are united in that cause. That's what made it devastating when this work was destined to end. No one within the unit actually wanted that to happen though. Jamie and Reyes are still newcomers learning how to conduct themselves in this particular work. Jamie wants to hand Robert Silas over to the people who want to kill him so he can't expose their operation. In fairness though, he was just shot. Meanwhile, Jet is the only person willing to search for another job if the task force truly shuts down. She couldn't keep that secret from Bell. Again, this unit is full of detectives. Secrets aren't a thing between them. Bell was shocked by that. However, she offers her complete support to Jet for wanting to move to Italy to work with Tia. Of course, it's not the job Jet actually wants. She wants to continue with the task force. They are a family. They are bonded together by the many traumatic encounters they have endured. In what's suppose to be their last day, they have to face yet another one. Robert Silas is willing to negotiate a deal for his surrender. He wants to testify against his organized crime connections in exchange for the charges against Teddy being dropped. That's a deal the task force can't make. Even the lawyers are skeptical about such leniency. However, this story isn't about Teddy at all. Instead, it's Robert stepping into the spotlight. He has the chance to make a difference. Stabler comments on how every person who has made a deal with the Silas family has come to regret it. That same fate could await the task force given the ambush while meeting with Robert. They still overcome the disruption and threat against their lives. In fact, that further showcases the heroism of this unit. They are shockingly more cohesive than ever before. They refuse to leave anyone behind. Bell and Jamie are injured. They still have a job to do. They must protect each other and the criminal in their custody. They have to protect their case against these dangerous individuals who will do whatever it takes to continue exploiting the world's resources to their benefit. The tension created in the moment and after they prevail serves as complete clarity for what these characters want moving forward.

Again, it was always a false tease to suggest the task force would be shutting down. The premise of the show would no longer exist if that was the case. It was simply a matter of how the task force would evolve as a result of this decision. It offers no real change to the leadership structure. It simply affirms the commitment everyone has to the task force. That was never really questioned before. It's still necessary to reevaluate feelings after a few years to see how life has developed beyond what this task force was initially established to do. Stabler needed to get justice for his wife's murder. And now, he's an empty nester. The members of his family are now off living their own separate lives. He has always been committed to the job. But now, that's all that he seemingly has. He understands what Bell is going through as well. She found the comfort of family for a time. That no longer exists. She wants that once more. She doesn't know how to find it while also dealing with the demands and pressures of the job. She still doesn't have that perfect balance. The task force itself isn't the problem. There was no guarantee she would find bliss in another job in the department. This is simply a burden she must face herself. She has to make family a priority. It has to matter just as much as the job does. She doesn't want to lose it completely. It still takes plenty of work to make that a reality once more. Cleansing the office acts as a symbolic reset for what the task force aspires to do in the future. They protect Robert Silas from the invaders. He promises to stay alive long enough to offer testimony against his many co-conspirators. He has a reason to live. He sees the power of having a grandchild in his life. He recognizes the error of his ways in trying to have Pearl killed. The Silas family is still dysfunctional and may never heal. Decisions are made to do the right thing now. The task force protects that ideal. They have a case they wish to prosecute. The uncertainty comes from the unit not having a regular prosecutor to work with the detectives and make these deals. They always have to call someone else in. That's impersonal. It creates the opening for this disaster to strike. It doesn't tear the task force apart though. It brings them together even though Stabler throws Reyes' new phone off the roof of the building. It miraculously survives and even alerts the police to the showdown happening. That's a little too fantastical. It also shows the power and reach of new technology. That's the world Stabler is now living in. He has to adjust to every single development. He at least has a team loyal to the cause and willing to evolve alongside him. It's difficult for each of them. The path on the job is clear. That's enough for now even if they struggle elsewhere in their personal lives.