Saturday, February 3, 2024

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Ignores His Family to Give Himself Fully to the Job in 'End of Innocence'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 4.03 "End of Innocence"

Stabler and Officer Bashir track down a missing father and son who could lead to the answers they need. After an undercover operation goes sideways, Bell relegates Reyes to desk duty. Stabler reunites with his younger brother.

"End of Innocence" was written by Amy Berg & Katrina Cabrera Ortega and directed by Jon Cassar

A spiritual leader was assassinated because he discovered criminals were exploiting Afghan refugee program he set up. They were being exploited to smuggle emeralds out of the country. When one dies, they are simply replaced with another. The operation requires continuous trips. These humans are treated as nothing more than containers to ship these precious minerals. It's a criminal enterprise that emerged out of convenience. Officer Bashir highlights the ways in which many organizations quickly rose to power in the country. It wasn't just the Taliban. The chaos has fueled a lot of new danger to emerge. Law enforcement must remain vigilant. Not every life is saved. However, the task force tries to protect as many as possible. They tangle with a trained hitman who has evaded the law throughout the world. His luck finally runs out after meeting Stabler. This exploitation of human suffering ends now. Stabler takes pride in that. The job is finished. He arrests those responsible. He ensures they can't harm anyone else. He also reunites a father with his son.

The narrative explores the many ways in which people prioritize their personal profits despite the suffering it causes on others. Through this investigation, the task force takes down a guns-for-hire operation. The woman in charge justifies it by saying she isn't responsible for any deaths. She has a mind for details. She never forgets a face. She also holds a grudge. She provides the detail that helps the task force find the blonde assassin. However, she's unmoved by witnessing the horrors her customers enact with her products. She provides them with weapons they otherwise wouldn't have access to. The criminal justice system knows these people will act with violence. As such, they shouldn't be given the opportunity to do so. Instead, they have to explore illegal methods to accomplish their goals. This business makes it available. The international operation probably would have found another way to tie up loose ends. However, this conversation also provides a way in that highlights how American society also contributes to the problem in a very unique way because of the proliferation of guns.

The detectives also become compromised in their ability to do the job. They rely on this work to provide them with structure and meaning. And yet, they still have the potential to lose control. Reyes acts out with violence. He goes too far in the field. Bell punishes him with desk duty. She still tries to protect him. She doesn't report his actions through the official channels. However, she requires him to speak to her therapist. He hasn't processed his emotions stemming from Jamie's death. Instead, he has deflected by having an affair with Jet. He isn't healthy. He can't hide it either. He doesn't listen to Stabler when he warns him that he's getting out of control. Stabler doesn't lead by example. He frequently runs away in order to avoid the difficult emotions in his personal life. He has always reliably stood on the job. He has had to adapt to the times. That has happened slowly. He's trusted to do the work again. Reyes may arrive at that point eventually too. It requires his fellow officers to look out for him. They need to know when to support him and when to question his judgment. Friendship is still possible between him and Jet. That's not exactly a step towards healing. He is at least willing to acknowledge that there's a problem that is now disrupting every aspect of his life. It's not just contained to his family outside of the job.

Meanwhile, Stabler realizes there is so little that he actually knows about his family. He doesn't know how Eli is doing in college. He didn't know Randall saw him recently. He didn't know his younger brother Joe Jr. was back in town. He was discharged from his service overseas. That's news to Stabler. Bernie's deteriorating health requires the family to come together. Stabler hasn't had to rely on his siblings. He's always had to support them. That has caused animosity to flourish over the years. Randall is capable of stepping up and helping provide Bernie with the support she needs. He also doesn't wall himself off from the rest of the family. That's how Stabler conducts himself. That's the only way he knows how to give himself fully to the job. That's more important. Everything else falls away. He can't function like that anymore. He has to acknowledge what's actually going on in the lives of his family members. He needs to care. He also needs to listen to what they want. He can't dictate how others should live. He needs to be in their lives without judging their decisions. That's difficult for him. Of course, it's also easy to immediately jump into a loving sibling dynamic once Stabler, Randall and Joe Jr. go out to a bar. That's a fun sight to close out the episode.