Starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC, the latest two-parter kicks off with “People vs. Richard Wheatley,” which Truitt teases will feel like an old-school episode as things return to the courtroom. “People who have been longtime Law & Order fans will appreciate the nostalgia of that,” she says.
In the SVU episode, written by Julie Martin and Warren Leight (with a teleplay by Brendan Feeney, Monet Hurst-Mendoza and Candice Sanchez McFarlane), Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) is on trial for Kathy Stabler’s murder. But there’s tension among the unit when they realize former ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza) is defending the crime lord.
Not only that, but everyone -- Bell especially – is concerned how the outcome of the trial will affect Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). After all the other charges against Wheatley were dropped, this is the only chance they have to hold him accountable for what he did and keep him behind bars.
“She’s thinking about how much that verdict and that outcome will take a toll on his mental health. She's very concerned about that,” Truitt says of Bell and where she’s at at this point in the season, noting that everything she’s gone through recently. “Not to mention, she’s a juggler. The Kosta organization is one ball. The Wheatley family and Stabler’s mental health is another ball. Her having a newborn and a wife is another. Then the whole Killbride [situation] is another and there’s Brewster.”
In the meantime, the trial is her main focus, especially since she spent time early on convincing Wheatley’s ex-wife, Angela (Tamara Taylor), to take the stand, despite his attempt to kill her at the end of Organized Crime's first season. And of course there’s some worry over Angela’s credibility as a witness. “Bell is definitely not confident in that,” Truitt teases.
However, there’s no question about what Bell has to do when she takes the stand. “Bell is very confident of her testimony and the facts and the things that the organized crime task force discovered,” Truitt says.
“She’s going to get up there and speak the truth and let the chips fall where they may,” she adds, noting that this is the end of a years-long investigation. And even after the FBI meddled in her case, she knows she did what she had to do to bring Wheatley down.
What will happen during the trial remains to be seen, but the evening ends with “The Christmas Episode,” which will be a very different vibe. “The whole episode is going to be a shock to the audience, because it’s not going to go in the direction that you think,” Truitt warns.
In the Organized Crime episode, written by Zachary Reiter and Rick Marin, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and the task force come to Stabler’s aid after his son, Eli (Nicky Torchia), goes missing while Wheatley considers his future. And what follows will be a surprise to fans.
“It’s hard for me to even talk about, because I don’t want to give anything away. But people are going to be like, ‘Oh, OK. I didn’t see that coming.’ It's that type of episode,” Truitt teases, joking that everyone should settle in with a glass of spiked eggnog to enjoy this two-parter.
While the Wheatley storyline is front and center during the crossover, things involving Congressman Killbride (Ron Cephas Jones) and Lieutenant William Brewster (Guillermo Díaz) will pick up again in the new year, when the series returns in January. “She’s going to be moving forward to whatever’s next, while also trying to protect herself from any harm that can be done with regards to the congressman,” Truitt teases.
And as to where things go for Bell in the future, the actress is excited for fans to see what comes next. “I look forward to playing parts of Bell that are a little uglier... and show how everything is not cut and dry,” Truitt says. “I’m looking forward to more moments of tension between the relationships in Bell’s life and more tension with herself. And I think that might come into play during this last portion of the season with the Marcy Killers and Killbride.”
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Organized Crime air Thursdays starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.