Law & Order: Organized Crime Offered the Perfect Blend of Suspense and Family Drama

Spoilers

Don’t forget to breathe now that the credits rolled!

Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 4 featured a horrifying shootout.

Stabler racing toward a dark house where men lurked in the shadows with machine guns, a surprise twist, and an unexpected injury all got my adrenalin pumping. How about you?

The shootout was the climax of a riveting episode.

The situation at the Stabler family home paralleled Kiki’s resentment and foolish sabotage of the plan to go into witness protection, adding to the tension. I couldn’t decide which part of the hour fascinated me more: the case or the family stuff — and that’s unusual.

Stabler’s issues with Randall, Eli’s resentment that his father is always working, and Bernie’s cognitive decline all came to a head at once.

Elliot Stabler has been the family’s black sheep for a while, and these exchanges made that clear.

Not only did he know nothing about Joe Jr being back in New York until recently, but he also didn’t know that Randall had once been kicked out of the house… or that his father beat his mother.

That last one was strange. I thought Stabler already knew that — wasn’t a big part of Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 devoted to learning the real reason Joe Sr left the police force? And didn’t Stabler, at that point, hate his father for how he treated Bernie?

Maybe I imagined that. But Randall’s claim that Stabler was too selfish and stupid to know what was going on seemed to contradict that story, and his final comment about the senior Stabler doing something stupid when he was suspended also felt like a retread.

I thought Joe Sr committed suicide and that Stabler knew that when he looked into whether he was part of the Brotherhood.

But that seeming inconsistency was a minor blip in what was otherwise a near-perfect episode.

I wish the family had spent more time with Bernie and reacted in various ways to her cognitive decline, but the two family crises worked so well together that I can’t complain.

Kiki’s story was one that I wish we’d had time to develop over weeks or months before we got to this point. She was being influenced by her evil uncle Carlo, who encouraged her to betray her mother and then delete the text so that no one would know about it,

He manipulated a vulnerable teenage girl who, like most kids her age, didn’t want to uproot her life, especially when she didn’t understand the necessity. She had no idea she was helping him try to kill her mother in the most violent way possible.

She was terrified as the family had to hunker down and allow the cops to protect them from the automatic rifles outside. We didn’t get much of her reaction, but she’d learned her lesson.

That shootout was so suspenseful! Was anyone worried that Jet had accidentally shot Stabler when she emptied her gun into someone who broke into the house?

The darkness made for a scary situation where anyone could make a mistake and cost someone their life.

And just when it seemed like the crisis was over, Luke pulled a gun on Stabler and tried to get revenge for his father’s death.

That was a twist I never saw coming.

Luke seemed like a quiet kid thrilled with the idea of starting over. In some ways, he was similar to Eli, who is also quiet and, in the past, has been isolated.

But unlike Eli, who’s annoyed that Stabler can’t ever let go of his job, Luke was utterly loyal to his late father.

How did he know that Stabler killed his father? Did Kiki tell him, or did he learn some other way?

Luke’s upset flew under the radar because the story focused so much on Kiki. She was rebellious and angry and did a lot of stupid things that could have gotten everyone killed — and almost did.

That distracted my attention so that it never occurred to me that Luke could cause a problem. Brilliant misdirection on the writers’ part!

Did Luke die? Shah said that Stabler “assaulted a minor” and broke Luke’s skull, but she didn’t accuse him of manslaughter, so presumably, he’s in rehab somewhere.

It wasn’t clear, though. He’s not going into Witness Protection with his family, at least not right now, so he could be dead. Either way that’ll be a rough start to his family’s new life.

When the dust settled, Stabler was suspended, and Bryana and Kiki were on their way to their new life. Stabler’s suspension seemed unfair, but this isn’t the first time that’s happened.

It would have been more potent if he hadn’t bounced back from it before, but that’s okay. This is set up for something I’ve been expecting and waiting for all season long: Stabler jumping in to help Olivia Benson find a missing child.

Now that he has all this free time, Stabler can break the rules even more by going on unsanctioned missions, and that’s about to happen.

I was surprised that Bell getting shot didn’t trigger anyone’s feelings about Whelan.

Reyes and Stabler were relieved that Bell would be okay, and that was that.

Reyes still had some resentment of Bashir and maybe of Vargas, too. That needs to go ASAP; it’s becoming a tired TV trope that doesn’t go anywhere.

I’m glad Bashir has moved to the Organized Crime unit on a more permanent basis.

He’s a strong addition, though I will forever wish Hate Crimes had become a real spinoff.

Your turn, Law & Order: Organized Crime fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and tell us what you thought of these two family crises.

Law & Order: Organized Crime airs on NBC on Thursdays at 10/9c. New episodes drop on Peacock the day after they air.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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