Friday, May 17, 2024

REVIEW: 'Law & Order: Organized Crime' - Stabler Worries Over the Limitations Keeping His Family Safe in 'Stabler's Lament'

NBC's Law & Order: Organized Crime - Episode 4.13 "Stabler's Lament"

When the ATF bureau plans a raid of Redcoat's warehouse, Trisha promises to help Stabler keep Joe Jr. safe. Bell comes face to face with the man who killed Sam. Another Stabler family dinner causes tensions to run high.

"Stabler's Lament" was written by John Shiban and directed by Jon Cassar

Stabler doesn't recognize life sometimes. So many things have changed. Yet he still gets comfort from visiting Kathleen's grave and talking things out with her. He doesn't know the extend of the peril his family is in. He doesn't know what the future holds. However, he finds a way to be grateful and excited about the news he has to share. Sure, not everything reaches a satisfying conclusion in the season finale. The story largely ends on a cliffhanger. Things aren't resolved with Julian Emery's operation. He has proven himself as a cunning criminal who always has a backup plan to evade arrest. A significant blow still comes for his criminal enterprise. He remains free. Moreover, Joey is in even more danger. That's a serious threat. One where Stabler may not be able to protect his brother. He's terrified by that. So many members of his family have come back into his life. He doesn't want anything bad to happen to them. He has held Joey accountable for his mistakes. Joey is trying to make things right. Stabler has to give everyone the freedom to make their own decisions. He has to accept that. The distance he's placed in these relationships has shaped them in recent years. He has to reckon with that too.

Everyone is immediately happy upon learning Eli is expecting a baby with his girlfriend and has applied to the police academy. Bernie believes a celebratory dinner is required. The family doesn't have a strong track record in those going well. They believe it couldn't be any worse than the prior one. It isn't even though the same issues persist. Things are happening within the family that Stabler doesn't know about. He's absent from their lives. He breezes in and out. It seems like he doesn't care. He doesn't want this life for his son. But he's also happy for Eli. It takes him a beat to arrive at that. In that regard, the dinner is ultimately an improvement. Sure, the amount of plot in the finale means the dinner can only take up a limited amount of time. It doesn't have the luxury of delving into the complexity of the moment. Stabler has to quickly get called back into action. However, he needed to hear about the fear everyone in the family has about his job. They have learned to live with it. He will have to do the same with Eli. That's new for him. His worries are justified given the people he has lost on this job in recent years. That's not a good enough reason to push Eli away. The family has to emerge stronger.

For a moment though, the ATF worries the task force's informant has double crossed them. The operation at the warehouse was nothing more than a distraction. It was meant to highlight how Emery knew he was being watched by law enforcement. Moreover, he knows someone in his organization is sharing details with the feds. He doesn't let on if he knows it's Joey or not. He does like to test Joey to see if he remains committed to the job. Even then, he still views him as disposable. Colin and Tobias were justifiable casualties. Bell and Stabler get justice for Sam's death. They take out the man who killed him. They aren't worried about any blowback for their actions either. The chaos on the runway is intense with deaths on both sides. That confusion provides some leeway. Emery still has enough time to escape. He also possesses six canisters of a chemical weapon developed by the Soviet Union. The threat remains that hundreds or thousands of lives could be killed. Joey is now charged with delivering the package to the buyer. Emery trusts him enough for that job. He even talks about it being a promotion. It only further intensifies the situation. The peril Joey is in remains profound and extreme. Stabler feels the pressure to save his brother despite not knowing where Emery's plane lands.

The viewer operates with the knowledge that Joey is sharing information about Emery's operation. He is kept in the dark about certain details. That proves he only has a limited amount of trust. Meanwhile, no progress is made to uncover the person within the federal government working for Emery. Trisha's cover was exposed because of that cooperation. Of course, there is no one who would serve as a satisfying reveal in that regard. Her boss only exists to question Bell's tactical decisions. He pushes to be included in the operation. He's killed early on in the gunfight. Moreover, the narrative is more intrigued by romantic developments within the unit. Trisha flirts with Vargas. Meanwhile, Jet shares that things are complicated between her and Reyes. That's probably too vague to be satisfying at this point. It still highlights how these characters have lives outside of work too. They are committed to the job. It doesn't come at the expense of everything else. Sure, the narrative thrives on them making these arrests and taking down these massive criminal organizations. That isn't the only reason why they are compelling characters in an engaging drama. Much of the attention still focuses on Stabler and the turmoil within his personal life. However, the show largely knows when to share the narrative weight elsewhere with characters who are capable of also having intriguing inner worlds.