Keith Carradine’s Creepy Guest Appearance on Law & Order: Organized Crime Maximized the Horror

Spoilers

Was this Law & Order: Organized Crime or a Stephen King miniseries?

Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 6 featured the second part of a multi-episode story about a serial killer based in a small town where everyone knows each other.

It had all the ingredients for a horrific tale… and then Keith Carridine drove it home with his performance.

I’m a sucker for stories set in seemingly perfect small towns where horrific secrets are kept carefully under wraps, and doubly so when the people in power are desperate to keep their secrets buried.

That made this story a near-perfect hour of television for me. Sometimes, the story reminded me of Twin Peaks without the surreal weirdness, so double-win!

I was surprised that the formerly hostile Chief Bonner readily accepted Stabler’s help searching for a serial killer — until she succumbed to her father’s pressure.

Bonner: I have history with these people, this town. Five generations of Bonners have lived and died in this town and I’ll be damned if I let your investigation —
Stabler: My investigation? This is your investigation, our investigation.
Bonner: Fine. Our investigation. I will be damned if I let it ruin the reputation of people in this town.

She didn’t like her influential dad insisting the town’s reputation was more important than the truth about who was killing young women.

Yet, when push came to shove, she was willing to distance herself from the investigation and accuse Stabler of threatening to destroy the reputation of a town she loved.

Elliot Stabler is a lot of things, but accepting small-town political BS is not something he will ever be capable of or interested in. And Chief Bonner probably knew that going in.

I’m not sure what she expected when she asked for his help, but she was a fool if she thought he would help her bury her secrets.

I almost felt sorry for her. She’s trapped between a rock and a hard place, wanting to know the truth but afraid to cross her father.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, either. The serial killer is preying on young women, and even though Bonner justifies it by claiming sex workers “made bad choices,” eventually, someone the town cares about will die if the culprit isn’t caught.

But is he the serial killer?

He killed Cahill after learning that Eric had been at one of his debauchery-filled parties, but that might have been about protecting his family’s reputation more than anything else.

Still, you can’t put anything past Bonner. He’s almost like a Days of Our Lives supervillain, with eyes and ears everywhere (how did he know Stabler was wanted at 1PP?)

After breaking up that interrogation session, he knew Cahill was a security risk. The guy was about to get caught.

So, was his murder about protecting Eric or permanently silencing a man who knew how to work the legal system and might talk to save his skin?

Neither Stabler nor Chief Bonner believes that Cahill is the serial killer, but is the chief ready to face the possibility that the man she’s looking for may be her father?

Keith Carradine’s performance is doubly outstanding because I remember his role as President Dalton on Madam Secretary.

Dalton was the polar opposite of this role; he was a genuinely good guy who tried to do the right thing.

The only thing the two characters have in common is being seasoned, savvy politicians!

His constant interruptions, demands that secrets stay buried, and demand that Eric thank him for killing Cahill sent shivers up my spine.

Organized Crime has often been violent, but it has never been scary. But this story was an exception, and I loved it!

However, I have a bone to pick with Heidi. Why did she have to go along with the tired TV trope of wandering off when she needed to stay put?

I get she wanted to do something nice for Jet, but it didn’t make sense for her to go out and buy flowers while hiding in Jet’s apartment.

This woman was so terrified that she’d meet a violent end that she begged Stabler for help, saying she couldn’t sleep and sobbing that she was sure no one cared enough to protect her.

So then, why did she decide to gallivant around town while Jet wasn’t home? Someone that scared wouldn’t go out and buy flowers, even if it was broad daylight.

That felt contrived for the sake of drama.

It’s not the first time victims on a Law & Order show have been that stupid — on Law & Order: SVU, Noah’s birth mother died because she decided to wander around after being put into witness protection while waiting to testify against a gang leader.

That plot device was annoying then and annoying now. If you’re hiding from violent people who appear to be untouchable, stay in your safe house!

Stabler faced political pressure from all sides as he was forced to sit through a farcical IAB meeting right after Bonner interfered with his interrogation of Cahill.

That IAB officer was incredibly biased. There was no reason to bring Stabler’s father into it; whatever Joe Sr did or didn’t do has no bearing on whether STabler used excessive force.

It was reasonable to question Stabler based on his record, though this emphasis on him “injuring a minor” when said minor was busy emptying his firearm into people is ridiculous.

But there is no such violation of police ethics as “being similar to your father who I hated.”

For some reason, TV IAB agents are almost always like this. They live to punish innocent cops for perceived wrongs related to the past.

In reality, IAB performs a vital function, policing the police and (in theory) holding bad cops accountable.

Their job is often thankless and made more complicated by cops protecting their own instead of getting rid of bad apples.

IAB is far more realistic on Blue Bloods. Here, the IAB agent’s only role seemed to be to make viewers hate him for his ridiculous attitude.

Even a corrupt IAB official should realize that Stabler is far more dangerous to institutions with secrets if he’s suspended for spurious reasons. He has nothing to lose, so he’s free to do whatever it takes to expose ugly truths and bring down bad guys — even those the system is designed to protect.

Finally, we had some more movement on the Jet/Reyes story.

I disliked this couple and their affair but felt bad for Jet. She never gets the guy, ever. Either he dies, or some major self-sabotage gets in the way.

Reyes is leaving temporarily, so where does that leave her?

Hopefully, she will be undistracted so she can focus on police work. But I wouldn’t mind her gaining some genuine happiness with someone who isn’t attached to someone else and isn’t a gangster she’s supposed to be getting evidence against.

Your turn, Organized Crime fanatics!

Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and tell us what you thought of the episode.

Law & Order: Organized Crime airs 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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