Thursday, May 11, 2023

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - The Task Force Exposes a Criminal Operation Operating Across the Globe in 'Shadowërk'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 3.21 "Shadowërk"

When DNA from an SVU rape investigation connects to an OCCB unsolved murder, Stabler and Benson uncover a revenge-for-hire scheme on the dark web. While Bell and Jet follow the money trail to expose the website's anonymous creator, Stabler asks Professor Rollins for help with a key clue.

"Shadowërk" was directed by Tess Malone with story by David Graziano and teleplay by Brendan Feeny & Candice Sanchez McFarlane

The task force recently unraveled a plot where prison guards gave inmates furlough in order for them to commit heinous crimes with the perfect alibi. However, Stabler had one unsolved murder that just didn't line up with everything else in the case. He saw plenty of people with a motive to kill. They simply didn't have the criminal connections to actually order a professional hit. This scheme is actually much larger than the task force realized. It brings the unit together with the SVU squad led by Olivia Benson. Stabler and Benson have such an easy connection. She recognizes that he's wearing his wedding ring again. She comforts him by reminding him he is a survivor. He wasn't the victim of the attack that killed his wife. He's still dealing with the trauma associated with that event. That may always linger. It presents a new hurdle the two would have to overcome if they were to ever pursue a romantic relationship. They clearly yearn for each other in that way. Right now though, it's more important for them to work together in a professional capacity. SVU was investigating numerous rapes in which total strangers knew personal details about their victims and took pictures during the act. All of this uncovers a website in which people can order hits for whatever revenge they want inflicted. That includes rape and murder. It's a new decentralized platform that opens the entire world to these heinous impulses. The narrative goes for broad comedic observations. The people targeted don't take the threats seriously because they don't believe anyone would hate them so much to want them dead. They are upset that their murder isn't worth more either. Meanwhile, others view this as a convenient way to earn money fast. It's a new kind of get rich quick scheme. It plays into the potential of cryptocurrencies. It operates in a world with little oversight. Once the task force receives the invite to the website, law enforcement around the world is let in. It has far-reaching consequences. It's not just people in New York being targeted. These attacks can be ordered anywhere. Anyone with access and opportunity can accept these jobs. It presents as a way to dramatically change a person's outlook on life. Suddenly, this depravity is easily available. The perfect opportunity is presented. As such, more people are taking advantage of it than ever before. It has repercussions on the local, federal and international levels. The task force has the connections to ensure other organizations are aware of these threats. The vast number of requests for revenge is staggering. People have their own unique reasonings for wanting someone else to suffer. However, the true criminal is the mastermind who put this organization into action. That's where the investigation must go next. In that case, Stabler assembles a team armed with the proper resources. And yet, they are still fighting a daunting battle against a ghost who already makes his presence known by killing a federal judge.

It's incredibly ominous that Oscar Papa happens to be at the prison where these criminal schemes are first uncovered. He ordered a hit on Benson for disrupting his criminal organization. That resulted in a multi-episode arc where her life was completely upended. Stabler offered a brief moment of support. He still obviously feels heightened emotions over what happened. Benson believes in the resolution that was achieved. However, Oscar Papa has had significant impact in this world previously. That makes his inclusion convenient. It doesn't indicate anything beyond that initial scene in the prison computer lab. Jet uncovers how the devices were hacked so the inmates could actually get online and communicate with others operating in this criminal organization. It's one way of coordinating this operation. But again, that doesn't truly convey the scope of what's uncovered. It certainly makes things more personal for Benson. That's achieved later on as well when Stabler reaches out to Rollins for a psychological profile on the creator of Shadowërk. That too includes updates to consequential character arcs from SVU. It's not completely in line with what matters on Organized Crime. That's a fine distinction. It's simply notable that Rollins expressing boredom as a professor occurs on this show and not the one she starred in for a decade. She was given her big sendoff earlier this year. That was a consequential action. It shook up the dynamic in the SVU squad room. Of course, everyone is thrilled by her pregnancy. She and Carisi are going to be parents. Rollins is living a life she never expected to have. She loves it. It's constantly surprising her. She just doesn't want to disappoint the people she loves and respects so much. And yet, she's invigorated by being in the field and working on a complex case. Stabler essentially presents her with an offer that's too good to pass up. She knows her stuff in the classroom. She enjoys interacting with the students. The promise of actual police work is still more thrilling. She's going through that transitional period. Everything is changing. Stabler basically springs Rollins on Benson by surprise. It's a happy reunion. One that's awkward because they haven't exactly talked in a little bit. They still share so much love and appreciation. But Rollins and Stabler also know the pain that comes from leaving Benson. The bonds have shifted. They are still capable of rising above it all to execute their jobs perfectly. These relationships are so much more than that as well. That is all too rarely acknowledged. This case may be too big for them to focus on anything else. And yet, it's also strikingly personal because it presents as a new way for people to unlock inner darkness. It's up to these veteran detectives to adjust. They do so despite the daunting promise of a radically new world where these crimes hold more potential and devastation than ever before. As a result, it should be more personal for Stabler, Benson and Rollins as well. That potential impact resonates because of the longevity of the characters. Meanwhile, the rest of the Organized Crime ensemble functions as backup for whatever demands the story needs.