Why We're Not OK With Stabler Confessing His Love to Benson on Law & Order

We've been waiting for Detective Elliot Stabler to say "I love you" to former partner Olivia Benson on Law & Order for years. So, why does it feel wrong?

By Alyssa Ray Apr 23, 2021 7:17 PMTags
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Be careful what you wish for.

That's how we're feeling after the April 22 episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime. Like other fans of the franchise, we have been secretly shipping former partners Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) for decades. Yet, even though Stabler and his wife Kathy (Isabel Gillies) briefly separated on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the quick-to-anger detective was still loyal to her, his high school sweetheart.

But, when Kathy died from injuries sustained in a bombing in the new SVU spinoff series, we wondered if this meant Stabler and Benson would finally take their palpable connection to the next level. And, at long last, in the all-new episode, Stabler seemingly confessed his feelings for Benson.

So, why do we feel so weird about the declaration of love? Well, for starters, Stabler said "I love you" to Benson in front of his five children during an intervention about his PTSD. Not really the right setting for this long-awaited intimate moment, if you ask us.

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"They're worried about you because of all the things that we have witnessed," Benson told him during the intervention. "They're worried about you, Elliot because they care about you. So, do you think you could just sit down right now and listen?"

After refusing to do so, Stabler told Benson and his family to talk to Sgt. Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt). Per the struggling detective, his superior would recognize if there were any problems with him.

Not backing down, Benson demanded, "Elliot, tell us what you need."


Then, seemingly out of the blue, Stabler said the three words we've been waiting for him to say to Benson: "I love you."

The declaration appeared to catch Benson and Stabler off guard but not his children, which was odd since they just lost their mother. Trying to compose himself, Stabler clarified, "I love all of you and I don't think I can do this."

So awkward, right? It felt like Stabler wasn't even sure what he was saying so, in essence, the "I love you" didn't feel real.

Catch the tense scene for yourself in the episode highlight above.

Law & Order Thursdays returns to NBC on May 13 with SVU airing at 9 p.m. and Organized Crime at 10 p.m.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family).

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