Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8 Review: Elliot Stabler’s Family Tragedy Takes a Back Seat to Exposing a Corrupt Judge

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Stabler’s family is falling apart, but at least he knocked someone else’s corrupt father off his throne.


Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8 featured the powerful end of the Bonner saga alongside Bernie’s move out of Stabler’s home — and an equally tragic secret she’s been holding onto forever.


The dialogue and deep emotion made the hour feel more like the last act of a classic film than an episodic TV show. What a fantastic story!


Meredith Bonner’s struggle with guilt and pain was fascinating. This character began as a corrupt police chief who had Stabler arrested to get him out of her way, but she didn’t seem like the same person anymore.


Losing her brother and realizing what enabling her father had gotten her opened her eyes, and she became the heroine she should have been all along instead of part of the problem.


Meredith was a tragic figure. Unaware that her father had killed her mother, she twisted herself out of shape to prove her loyalty to him.


Her refusal to put the truth over what he wanted to be led to her having to shoot her brother on Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 7, and once the dust had settled, she was left with a ton of guilt and shame.


Powerful Performances as the Small-Town Saga Came to an End


The dialogue for Meredith, Stabler, and Judge Bonner helped make this story must-see TV.

Eric wasn’t the smartest kid, but he was the sweetest. There were no signs then of what he would become. Or maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

Chief Bonner


Meredith’s lines were exceptionally well done, demonstrating her guilt via beautiful prose that is rare for an episodic television series. That dialogue contributed to the epic feel of this story.


Keith Carradine continued to impress me. Judge Bonner was a complex, multilayered character incredibly different from the well-meaning President Dalton he portrayed on Madam Secretary.


Judge Bonner was creepy and coldhearted, yet he believed entirely that he was a good father who had done everything he could to protect his daughter — even though he’d caused her pain by killing her mother and lying about it.


His final scene was especially well done. I wasn’t sure if he ever intended to shoot himself or if he was trying to manipulate Meredith into proving she loved him.


She couldn’t let him die, but she didn’t give an inch, either. As soon as she’d disarmed him, she arrested him.


But did she catch him, or did he purposely surrender to her out of a twisted sense of family obligation?


That ambiguity is what made Bonner such a strong villain.


Even when showing a softer, more vulnerable side, it was never clear if it was authentic or calculated to get the emotional reactions he wanted.


He was the kind of horrible person I wouldn’t want to hang out with in real life, but he was a fascinating character!


Meredith Made Poor Choices


Although I applauded Meredith’s standing up to her father and kicking him out of her home, it was a terrible idea.


The man had killed her mother for standing up to him, so accusing him of that old murder and kicking him out of the house couldn’t lead anywhere good.


Judge Bonner’s Achilles’ heel was his love for Meredith and desire for a relationship with her. But how long would his orders to protect her have lasted even if his staff hadn’t gone rogue?


Eliminating Elliot Stabler wouldn’t have quelled her rebellion, not now that she knew the truth about her mother.


Bonner had nothing to lose except her, and she had nothing to lose at all, making her a formidable adversary for him.


Their psychological battle was as fascinating as all the action throughout the hour, especially its climax.


Judge Bonner thought killing the men who had attacked Meredith would bring her back to his side as if he hadn’t put everything in motion with his manipulations.


The men attacking her were rebelling against his orders. He’d lost control for a reason, and his attempts to manipulate them led to this violent outcome.


Stabler’s Precarious Career Situation Parelleled Bonner’s Story


The IAB storyline directly intersected with the Bonner investigation when Bonner’s goons went after Stabler in the diner.


Stabler and Cragen’s teamwork was a fun diversion from the main plot. But before that happened, Cragen explained why the IAB guy had it in for Stabler.

Stabler: I know Hanson is no fan of mine.
Cragen: Was. He died about six weeks ago.
Stabler: I hadn’t heard. So Warren’s after me because he bequeathed his grudge?


The IAB agent’s vendetta made him no less corrupt than Bonner, especially since he was trying to avenge a dirty cop.


Ayanna Bell had some of the best lines of the hour when she confronted the rogue agent about his nonsense and made it clear she wasn’t putting up with losing her best detective because of his anger.


Bell picking up her cane and walking out was the perfect ending for these scenes.


She’s come a long way from when she viewed Stabler as a perpetual thorn in her side who never followed orders and made it harder for her to do her job!


Stabler’s Family Tragedy Provided a Fascinating Parallel, But Didn’t We Know This Already?


I could have sworn we already knew that Joe Stabler Sr. had killed himself. Maybe I imagined it, but I thought it was, at the very least, strongly implied when Stabler was investigating the Brotherhood.


This revelation could have easily become a tired TV trope, but it was handled perfectly.


Bernie Stabler‘s insistence that Randall tells Elliot the truth, voicing that truth herself, and then handing Elliot a quilt with his name on it was about as perfect an emotional sequence as you can get.


I’m sad that she’s moving in with Randall. I’ve enjoyed every scene she’s had in Elliot’s home, and I don’t want her shuffled off-screen!


As for Randall’s various revelations about how much of an abusive asshole Joe Sr. was, those were the perfect parallel to Meredith’s situation.


Like Meredith, Stabler ignored a ton of red flags about his family situation.


His mother and brothers are still alive, but there’s still a lot of pain that could have been prevented if Stabler had realized the truth earlier.


He and Meredith share traumatic childhoods and ugly family secrets, yet their friendship was far more than mere trauma bonding.


I almost wished Meredith wasn’t being so noble and risking jail time. I’d love for her and Stabler’s friendship to continue to develop.


What about you, Organized Crime fanatics?


Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know your thoughts.


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

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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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