Friday, February 23, 2024

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Searches for Someone He Thought He Already Saved in 'Missing Persons'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 4.05 "Missing Persons"

A rescued victim from Stabler's past goes missing. Bell recovers in the hospital while Jet, Reyes and Bashir are all questioned by IAB. Joe Jr. shows off his new career path.

"Missing Persons" was written by Amy Berg & Davon Briggs and directed by Nelson McCormick

Stabler saved Rita once. He rescued her after she was trafficked by the Albanians in the second season. Now, he's tasked with doing so once more. He thought she accepted a deal to live a new life in London with her son. Instead, she opted to stay in New York until she made enough money to provide for her family. She knew she could always reach out to Stabler if she was ever in danger. He was her savior. She called while he was undercover with Los Santos. That allowed him to reminiscence and reach out to Olivia for the work they did together. The former partners are still just leaving voicemails. They continue to just miss contact. They allow space for each other to address their issues. Stabler has always been more reluctant to stay still and handle the emotional turmoil in his life. It's not in his nature. He has gotten in trouble on the job several times because of that recklessness. He has still saved countless lives. He's good at what he does. Every suspension is eventually reversed. He's a good cop who deserves trust and loyalty. He still sets a bad example for those under his command. He also believes he's righteous in his cause.

Stabler has no judgment towards Rita's career as a sex worker. He just needs to find her. He thought he already saved her. That previous action was heroic. It didn't guarantee that she would forever be secure. There was always the potential for something new and tragic to occur. She wanted to offer something better. Instead, she became a victim in a serial killer's reign of terror. That's just the latest traumatic event Stabler has to endure. This entire series has thrown him through the emotional ringer. He focuses on work to deflect from the pain. That only pushes people away. Plus, the job provides its own tragedies as well. Rita will always be someone Stabler must protect and defend. He has no jurisdiction in Long Island. He has no authority as a detective. He's simply doing a favor for a friend. That's what keeps him calm. It's what he knows. His family wants him to be more involved in their lives. However, he only worries them when he calls for no reason whatsoever. He's concerned about what he finds in the garbage after the family dinner. He can't confront anyone about it. Instead, he must slowly integrate into their lives to see who needs help.

Stabler doesn't want anyone on the task force to help him in this investigation. He recruits Vargas for technical support. He doesn't view him as a member of the team. Now, others may come to a different conclusion. Vargas has a contract with the police department to provide this technology on a trial basis for the task force. He's eager to prove its effectiveness. He believes Stabler is beginning to trust him now. It's just a matter of convenience for the seasoned detective. The other members of the team have his loyalty. He aims to protect them. They are already caught up in the IAB investigation. They know better than to lie for him. Bell trusts the process. She believes the facts will exonerate Stabler. They may not provide immediate results. It's not a complicated case. It only causes frustration because of the how widespread the Los Santos case is. The prosecutors don't want anything to ruin their attempt to take down this massive criminal operation. The task force isn't focused on that case any longer. It's out of their hands now. They have work that must be done elsewhere. That means providing backup for Stabler. And yet, they stumble upon a gravesite that extends far beyond the search for Rita and another local disappearance.

Rita shares a striking resemblance to Christine, who works at a diner and has also gone missing. District Attorney Noah Cahill presents as the power player who arranges for these parties where young women serve as the entertainment. That's where the killer found his targets. Rita was comfortable enough with her killer that she got into a car with him. And then, she was drugged. She was buried on the beach. Stabler was too late to prevent that fate. He wanted to save her. He rescues Christine. Her family is forever grateful. Christine never saw the face of her abductor. She remains haunted by the eery goodbye he issued all the time. This is a pattern he has engaged in many times before. The police find at least three other victims buried on the beach. The task force joins the investigation as observers. People were skeptical that the authorities in Westbrook would allow a story like this to be released before the start of the tourist season. What's uncovered can't be ignored. Stabler spends a night in the drunk tank as an effort to prove he isn't in charge here. However, he relentlessly pursues this case. He finds all the evidence that leads to the major discovery on the beach. He's invested. He lost his personal connection to the case. He still wants justice for Rita. More lives can't be lost because he refused to do his job. That's his nature. A suspension won't stop him from doing all that he can.