It’s good to have Mama Stabler back, even if she has deteriorated.
Something’s been missing since Stabler’s family was written out, especially his spitfire of a mother.
On Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 3 Episode 19, she returned, but Stabler struggled to deal with her worsening dementia while trying to catch the person responsible for attacking a diplomat.
Stabler’s case was different than his usual assignments. Rather than trying to topple a crime family’s empire, he had to deal with the type of political intrigue that made me miss Madam Secretary.
Global relations were at stake as India prepared to take a stand one way or the other rather than remaining neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. So narrowing down a suspect could have been difficult if Stabler didn’t have Jet’s computer expertise and access to AI tools to help.
But the best lead came from Stabler’s mother. She might have lost the capacity to go on a walk without getting lost, but she still remembered a boyfriend from half a century ago — and the type of cigarettes he smoked.
Don’t be mad. I went for a walk and now I don’t know where I am.
That lead helped the team zero in on Ivan. Without it, they might not have gotten anywhere.
The mystery’s solution was somewhat on the convoluted side. The diplomat and her bodyguard purchased stolen semi-conductors and smuggled them back to India so that they could build their own weapons and not rely on Russia for defense.
I didn’t think Veer was involved in anything illegal; I bought that his dislike of Stabler came from distrusting non-Indians. From the beginning, Veer seemed to view Stabler as competition, so I was surprised when he turned out to have a more nefarious motive for wanting to eject Stabler from the premises.
Once Veer had been caught, and Diya focused on packing her case with super-secret contents, I figured she had the semi-conductors. It was somewhat obvious; they were missing, and she suddenly wanted to leave and wouldn’t divulge the contents of that case.
Sure enough, Stabler got a confession out of her. His diplomatic solution was elegant and allowed her to return to her own country.
But as he pointed out, she didn’t get off scot-free. Presumably, organized crime groups in India wanted those semi-conductors, and we all know how people like that deal with their associates’ failures.
Bell: I have that court date today. Can’t miss it.
Stabler: Jack’s custody hearing?
Bell: If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.
Meanwhile, we got glimpses into Bell and Stabler’s personal lives, and neither was happy.
Mama Stabler’s deterioration was heartbreaking. She forgot that she’d put the tea kettle on and got lost going for a walk. But the worst part was how upset she seemed that Stabler didn’t want her to stay alone.
She got sarcastic and snippy when he asked her if she’d be all right for a few hours, and she tried to tell Jet that she didn’t need a babysitter.
Her comment that she was being put out to pasture said it all. She doesn’t want to face her loss of independence or mental deterioration.
Thankfully, she seemed to have made her peace with it, asking only for an assisted living facility that has walking trails so that she can continue going on her daily walks.
Bensler shippers might have appreciated her comment that she wants Stabler to be happy. That can easily be interpreted as her hoping he and Benson get together before she’s too out of it to share in their joy.
That final scene was sweet, but I hope her transition to assisted living doesn’t occur entirely off-screen. This is an emotional arc that should feature all the Stablers.
Kathleen will forever be indebted to her grandmother for convincing her to get on medication for bipolar disorder, and Eli is close with her, so it would be a shame if these two didn’t get a goodbye scene with her.
It’s bad enough that Bell’s custody hearing was off-screen. A character who is so rooted in Law & Order: SVU’s history (Mama Stabler made her first appearance on Law & Order: SVU Season 10 Episode 3) should get an on-screen send-off!
Besides, Ellen Burstyn adds so much. More Mama Stabler is always a good thing!
It was weird that Bell’s custody hearing was off-screen. Maybe the writers didn’t have room for it with everything else going on, but Bell’s stress level would have made more sense if we had any clue what was happening.
There were a couple of other tidbits sprinkled through the hour. Did we know that Reyes was an alcoholic or addict before now?
I’d like to know more about his history and why his contact thinks he must attend meetings!
I also was confused as to why he didn’t like wearing Whalen’s pants.
He kept complaining that he felt weird wearing pants that weren’t his, but he works undercover regularly!
So he is always wearing clothes that he’s not used to.
Your turn, Organized Crime fanatics.
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts about this episode.
Don’t forget you can watch Law & Order: Organized Crime online whenever you’d like.
Law & Order: Organized Crime airs on NBC on Thursdays at 10 PM EST / PST.
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.