Does This 'Law & Order' Return Hint at The 'Personal Tragedy' in 'Organized Crime' Spinoff?

Detective Elliot Stabler is returning to the Law & Order universe with the new Law & Order: Organized Crime spinoff, and he is bringing all his family baggage with him. At least three members of Stabler's family will appear in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Return of the Prodigal Son," which will kick-off a crossover special on Thursday, April 1. NBC has confirmed that a "personal tragedy" will lead Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni, to return to the New York Police Department after 10 years away.

Last week, Give Me My Remote confirmed that Isabel Gillies, Allison Siko, and Jeffrey Scaperrotta will all appear in the SVU half of the crossover with Organized Crime. Gillies plays Stabler's wife Kathy, while Siko played his daughter Kathleen, Scaperrotta played Stabler's son Dickie. All three actors regularly appeared on the show until Stabler left in 2011. In "Return of the Prodigal Son," there is a threat to Stabler's family, and the SVU does their best to keep them safe. It's possible that something goes wrong, which leads to the "personal tragedy" mentioned in NBC's episode descriptions.

Gillies appeared in the first episode of SVU and made 31 appearances on the show. Kathy and Stabler had four children, Maureen, Kathleen, Dickie, and Elliot Jr. During Season 6, Kathy left Stabler and took the children, but Stabler did not sign the divorce documents until Season 8. During that same season though, the two reunited and Kathy was pregnant. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) later convinced Kathy not to leave Stabler a second time, and it looked like they were back on good terms the last time they were seen.

SVU showrunner Warren Leight initially planned to feature Gillies in the SVU Season 21 finale, which would set up Stabler's return to the franchise so Organized Crime could debut in fall 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic prevented SVU from filming its intended season finale last year, and everything changed. "We were going to lay a little groundwork for [Stabler's return]," Leight explained on the SVU podcast Squadroom last year. "We were going to see Kathy Stabler come back, very upset—her son has been rolled by a team of ne'er-do-wells and may have been drugged."

"We were going to revisit Simon's seeming overdose and get to know the stressors on the Stabler family," Leight said, referring to Benson's late brother Simon. "What had happened to the Stabler family after Elliot both left SVU and apparently left them? We were going to lay some groundwork down in anticipation of Elliot's return, of course, with his own series. We had the sense that the first episode of next year was going to bring Elliot back. We were going to foreshadow that and kind of explain a little more of what happened to Simon."

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SVU returns on NBC Thursday, April 1 at 9 p.m. ET, with the Organized Crime pilot airing right after. The new show will feature Stabler leading a squad with the mission to take down crime syndicates in New York City. Dylan McDermott, Tamara Taylor, Danielle Mone Truitt, and Ainsley Seiger also star.