It’s time for Benson and Stabler to reunite on Law & Order

The Law and order The franchise is known for depicting grisly crimes and the moral complexities of the American criminal justice system. But it also has a lot of good, old-school relationship drama. Her most complicated interpersonal dynamic is that between Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and its fallout Law and order: organized crime. This latest show just dropped a major hint that the pair could finally become a romantic couple after one of the longest stretches in television history. But as exciting as the tease is, it also points out that the franchise’s slow approach to the relationship becomes more frustrating than interesting.

CO just completed a two-episode story arc in which Elliot reunited with Tia Leonetti (Ayelet Zürer), an Interpol agent he has known since working as a New York City Police Department liaison in Italy. After they finished investigating a case together, Tia came late at night to Elliot’s apartment, obviously hoping to seduce him and maybe even start a romantic relationship. The two woke up the next morning, but they didn’t sleep together, spending the night talking, with a drunk Elliot revealing he’s in love with another woman. However, Tia has been drinking so much that she cannot remember the woman’s name, and Elliot claims not either. But fans of the franchise know that can only refer to Olivia.

The story of Benson and Stabler

Olivia and Elliot were introduced as main characters in the first season of SVU in 1999. They were partner detectives with the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, which investigates sexual assault and similar crimes. It is implied that they have been working together for some time prior to the first events of the series, as they already have a strong and effective professional partnership and a close personal friendship. Elliot has a wife named Kathy (Isabelle Gillies) and four children, but his dedication to his work and the effects of the brutal crimes he faces strain his family relationships. Olivia struggles to develop a fulfilling personal life for similar reasons and early in the series her partnership with Elliot seemed like the easiest and most comfortable dynamic of both of their lives.

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However, over the years, their bond also caused problems in their work and personal lives, with Kathy and some of Stabler’s children fearing that Elliot was or would eventually have an affair with Olivia. The various stresses on their marriage led to Kathy and Elliot officially going their separate ways for a time. Olivia also at one point asked for a new partner, fearing that continuing to work together would hurt her personal relationship with Elliot. Elliot was able to reconcile with the two of them, and although the sexual and romantic tension between him and Olivia remained, their and Olivia’s dynamic with the rest of the Stablers healed, she even saved Kathy’s life and the rest of the Stablers. helped deliver Elliot’s fifth child, Eli. , after they both had a horrific car accident.

The melons are gone SVU after the 12th season following the failure of contract negotiations. Thankfully, the season finale provided a dramatic enough reason for the character to exit. When Jenna Ortega (Hayley McFarland), the daughter of a murder victim, encountered her mother’s killer at SVU headquarters, she pulled out a gun and killed him. After that, she seemed to panic and continued firing wildly, forcing Elliot to shoot and kill her to protect himself and the rest of the compound. In the Season 13 premiere, Captain Cragen (Dan Florek) told Olivia that despite being cleared of any wrongdoing in the internal investigation into the shooting, Elliot has decided to retire from the NYPD.

His departure deeply upset Olivia, and the series continued to make frequent references to their partnership and his departure, even as Olivia bonded with new co-workers like Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) and Amanda Rollins (Kelly Giddish). One of the most prominent mentions of Elliot after his departure came in the episode “Acceptable Loss” when Olivia worked with Alexandra Eames, with Catherine Erbe resuming his role as Law and order: criminal intent. Eames reflected on his own partnership with Bobby Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio), which was somewhat similar to Elliot and Olivia’s, saying, “All this time together, it’s like we were married,” to which Olivia sadly replies, “But you weren’t.”

Stabler’s return to the franchise

Meloni’s return to the franchise and Organized crime were announced in 2020. Elliot first reappeared in the SVU Season 22 episode, “Return of the Prodigal Son,” which established the premise of CO. He and Kathy had returned to New York to surprise Olivia at an awards dinner, where she was being honored, when they are caught up in a bombing, with Kathy sustaining life-threatening injuries. After being shocked to see them at the crime scene, Olivia works with Elliot to find the perpetrators, but the attack turns out to be part of an elaborate plot. Although Olivia doesn’t want to discuss it, Elliot begins to explain why he left without saying anything. Olivia responds by telling him how hurt she was, because at that time he was “the most important person in my life.” Their professional relationship is also strained, with Elliot’s tendency to break police rules threatening Olivia’s reputation in her new position as captain.

Kathy dies and Elliot continues to seek justice for her murder on CO, joining the Organized Crime Bureau. Eventually, it is revealed that the attack was orchestrated by Richard (Dylan McDermott) and Angela Wheatley (Tamara Taylor), gangsters whose organization Elliot was investigating in Italy after he came out of retirement. CO and SVU have arranged frequent crossovers since the start of the first, with Olivia and Elliot working on cases together, and Olivia helping Elliot process the trauma of Kathy’s death while mending their relationship.

The duo is much better placed in the current seasons of the series (COis third and SVUis 24). The Wheatleys were presumed dead and the season-opening crossover, “Gimme Shelter” (which also included the original Law and order series), showed Elliot and Olivia functioning as an effective crime-fighting team once again. They’ve also found their personal dynamics in a healthy place, and Elliot has had enough time to mourn Kathy, so there’s really no in-universe reason why the couple can’t get together romantically anymore.

The seemingly inevitable coupling’s constant delay becomes frustrating for fans, especially since both shows frequently tease it in scenes like the one with Tia. Putting together a full-fledged romance between characters who now star on different shows seems difficult, but wouldn’t require Meloni or Hargitay to appear much more often on the other’s show than they already do. The big problem is that the series seems to have different interpretations of character dynamics.

Since Elliot’s return, SVU has often hinted that despite the strength of their bond, he may actually be a bad influence on Olivia, threatening the personal and professional progress she has made in his absence. CO, on the other hand, thinks their relationship and a potential romance can only have positive effects. The snail’s pace of relationship development starts to look even dumber when SVUthe other great love story, between Rollins and Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino), has developed from inception to what appears to be an upcoming marriage in a relatively short eight years. The creators of the series must be on the same page and committed to really exploring a romance. It’s not like putting Elliot and Olivia together would remove any conflict from their dynamic. They would have a lot of challenges to overcome while balancing being in relation to their work. This could be just as interesting as the question of whether they will ever reunite has been. And they ultimately don’t have to stay together if the story calls for them to part ways eventually. But there must be some sort of payoff to what is now almost a quarter century of teasing and development.

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