Back in late August, Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay sent the Law & Order fandom into a tizzy with a steamy photo of the two taken during production. The two recreated the photo on the Today Show Thursday morning, ahead of the season premieres for both Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime. SVU starts its 23rd season at 8 p.m. ET with a two-hour episode before Organized Crime starts its second season at 10 p.m. ET.
When a photo of Meloni and Hargitay appearing to kiss as they hugged each other on the set surfaced, Meloni responded by posting a photo of the two stars with their noses touching. "Rehearsing what [Hargitay]?" Meloni asked his co-star. "Are you blushing? It's getting hot in here," Hargitay responded. "Our eyesight just got so bad that it's the old, 'Is that you? Is that you?'" Meloni joked on Today.
We are thrilled to have @Mariska and @Chris_Meloni in the studio to talk about the return of @lawandordertv #SVU and #OrganizedCrime!— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 23, 2021
Tune in to #LawAndOrder tonight starting at 8/7c on @NBC pic.twitter.com/pIQos7VAnv
Considering how close Meloni's Elliot Stabler and Hargitay's Olivia Benson got during the first season of Organized Crime, there's been hope that the two characters might finally start a romance. During the first 11 seasons of SVU, the two were almost inseparable, but they each had their own private lives. Stabler was even married with children. In OC Season 1, Stabler's wife was killed, removing that major roadblock.
"It's all underneath percolating," Hargitay said of the two characters' relationship. "Right now after Stabler being gone for 10 years and the way that he left and the complexity of what's happened and how he came back surprising me, we're still finding our way. But it's complex and real, and I think what I love about it most is that it's earned. This relationship is truly earned. Not a lot of people have a 23-year relationship."
Meloni also explained a little more about the shocking OC Season 1 moment when Stabler told Benson "I love you" during an attempted family intervention. Stabler was "under emotional duress," Meloni said. "I was saying it because I was in the midst of an intervention. My family was coming together with the help of Olivia Benson for an intervention. One of my daughters said, 'I love you,' but I was looking at Mariska."
SVU mostly picks up right where Season 22 left off after Fin (Ice-T) and Baker (Jennifer Esposito) had a wedding ceremony that ended without them getting married. The writers did have to add something in at the last moment though to address Hargitay's leg injuries. She broke her right ankle before filming began, and needed two plates and 13 pins inserted during surgery. Viewers will finally see how the injury impacts Benson's fight against crime.