Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fans got another surprise during this week's episode, as NBC showed another teaser for Elliot Stabler's long-awaited return. This new preview focused on the SVU side of the crossover with Law & Order: Organized Crime, the new series featuring Christopher Meloni as Stabler for the first time in a decade. The special event starts with SVU on Thursday, April 1 at 9 p.m. ET, with the first Organized Crime episode immediately following it.
The 30-second spot begins with old clips of Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson talking about how close she became with Stabler. This is followed by the dramatic scene from the Season 13 premiere when Capt. Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) told her that Stabler retired from the NYPD. The spot then skips ahead to 2021, where Benson, who is now captain of the Manhattan SVU team, is at the scene of a crime. "Liv," she hears Stabler call out, much to her surprise. "Elliot," she said just before the end of the spot.
This was the second preview for Stabler's return. Last week, NBC showed a very brief spot where Stabler was shown speaking to someone off-camera in a bar. "You know how much time has passed that you can't reach out? Days turn into months turn into years and I just kept waiting for the right moment," Stabler said. It was not clear who he was talking to, but it would not be farfetched to think the person was Benson.
Meloni left SVU at the end of Season 12, back in 2011. His departure was frustrating, as he never got a proper sendoff. The show just returned the following season without Stabler, whose departure was explained only in dialogue. In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Meloni said he always felt the contract dispute that led to him leaving was "inelegant."
"At the end of the day, how it was handled was, 'Okay, see you later.' So I went, 'That's fine. We're all big boys and girls here. See you later,'" Meloni recalled. "And I was off on new adventures and doing what I wanted to do." Although he has been away from the show for a decade, he said he "stayed connected" with Hargitay. Their chemistry returned the second Meloni arrived.
"There was so much shorthand between us, which all goes back to the trust we have," Hargitay explained to PEOPLE. "He's always made me feel like I could just jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me, in so many ways, whether it was comedy or acting or friendship." Meloni later added, "It's simple, we have each other's back."