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Just at the moment Law & Order: Organized Crime‘s Det. Stabler thinks the Albanian drug cartel is his main concern, there are two more equally pressing problems to come — and much closer to home, the NBC series showrunner tells TVLine.
(And no, one of those isn’t Benson’s letter — though we’ll know more about that shortly.)
As viewers saw in last week’s season premiere, Stabler is deep undercover as an ex-con known as “Eddie Ashes” working to infiltrate a large criminal organization. That means limited time for the family — in the premiere, he had a brief but enjoyable check-in with Eli outside the kid’s school — which will have repercussions as the season progresses, teases Ilene Chaiken.
Stabler is a somewhat absent-minded father who genuinely does his best to be there for all of his children, but especially for his teenage son who has just lost his mother. This will pose problems and problems that will develop” over the course of the first eight episodes of the season, the EP says. “And without getting too spoilery, Eli will take the brunt.”
She adds that around episode 8 or so, we’ll find out exactly how this new aspect of Elliot’s job has affected his grieving son. But before then, El will have to deal with the return of his mother, Bernie.
Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn returns to the part she originated from Law & Order: SVU in the first of this Thursday’s back-to-back episodes (NBC, 9/8c). Burstyn first played Bernadette “Bernie” Stabler in a Season 10 episode of Law & Order: SVU in which her granddaughter, Kathleen, was arrested. During her visit, we found out that Bernie is bipolar and that she almost killed Elliot when he was a little boy.
When Bernie makes her OC debut, “She’s Got Some Problems”, Chaiken looks ahead. “Her son is called in to help with those issues, which is like stacking for Stabler. It’s like, how much can he handle?” The EP adds that Grandma Stabler “will also play a part in the aforementioned ramifications for Eli — both the good and the bad part maybe.”
“It’s exciting to work with [Burstyn]”But it’s more exciting to see her and Chris working together,” Chaiken says with a laugh when she finds herself gushing. “And she’s very much a part of our universe this season.” (Per the show’s rep, Burstyn returns in Episode 6.)
But sure something will go well for Stabler soon, right? Maybe in his professional life? Don’t count on it, says the showrunner. She teases that, though Stabler and Sgt. Bell will continue to have a strong, collegial partnership, “she gets involved — not romantically — but in a career relationship with someone that will turn out to be very complicated.”
Think Congressman Kilbride (played by This is usRon Cephas Jones), who was briefly featured in last week’s premiere? “He’s interested in Bell’s career, which may or may not be what he appears to be,” Chaiken says. “And that will eventually create tension with her and Stabler.”
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