'Law & Order' Crossover: Tamara Taylor on Angela's 'Usual Suspects' Moment (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Thursday’s Law & Order crossover between Special Victims Unit and Organized Crime may not have been as cheerful as the title, “The Christmas Episode,” implied, but it delivered plenty of shocking gifts for fans of both series as Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) took the stand for the murder of Elliot Stabler’s (Christopher Meloni) wife, Kathy. And one of the biggest revelations came courtesy of Wheatley’s ex-wife, Angela (Tamara Taylor), who made a surprising return after being left physically and emotionally damaged after Richard attempted to have her killed at the end of season 1.
“The cliffhanger of last season has thrown a whole new monkey wrench into Angela’s world,” Taylor tells ET. But what appeared to be one thing turned out to be another by the time the two-parter, “People vs. Richard Wheatley” and “The Christmas Episode,” came to an end.
In the SVU episode, ADA Carisi (Peter Scanavino) attempted to put Wheatley away once and for all as he puts everyone, including Stabler, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt), and Richard’s son, Richie (Nick Creegan), on the stand. While Stabler loses his cool, it’s Angela who had everyone worried leading up to her testimony, given her inability to recall certain names and facts during trial prep. “She’s facing some memory issues,” Taylor says, admitting that it made her “iffy when it comes to being a credible witness.”
And in the end, she crumbles on the stand and admits -- to the surprise of everyone in court -- that she's still in love with Stabler. When asked about Angela’s feelings for him, Taylor says that “for whatever reason, these two human beings connected through grief and just have this odd connection.”
“Even though the relationship came to a screeching halt, and even though I think both of them would like to not feel what they feel, every time they’re around each other there’s this sort of this bizarre, undeniable tension,” she continues.
Despite this, Wheatley is granted a mistrial and finds himself free again -- at least for now. But it’s not until later, in the Organized Crime episode, that the real shocker is revealed.
After trying to figure out who framed Stabler’s son, Eli (Nicky Torchia), for murder, the investigation leads them back to Wheatley, who admits that his daughter, Dana (Christina Marie Karis), may have something to do with it.
And in the process of tracking Dana down, Bell and Stabler encounter Angela, who still appears shaken and claims to not know who her daughter is or the last time she’s seen her. But as soon as the two cops leave, Angela reveals that she’s been putting on an act this entire time. Not only is she healthy -- but she also knows where Dana is and warns her daughter to lay low for a while. “It’s funny, we called it 'the Usual Suspects moment,’” Taylor says, referring to the classic 1995 crime thriller.
While the revelation certainly casts doubt on Angela’s innocence in everything that’s taken place during the mistrial, Taylor insists that it was all to save herself. “It is absolutely to protect herself from Wheatley, because if she doesn’t pose a threat then he doesn’t go after her,” she explains. “Not only is Richard free, but Angela is no longer being protected. So, she’s kind of left on her own and hoping her husband doesn’t try to kill her again. I think Angela’s a survivor and I think she’s a few steps out ahead of it.”
She adds, “So, as diabolical as it appears, I think it’s just survival. We’ll be surprised what she’s going to do this season in order to survive.”
That said, Angela hasn’t also forgotten the fact that Wheatley is responsible for the death of their eldest son, Rafiq, and the fact that their youngest, Richie, is behind bars. “No mom ever forgets that. So, regardless of how things appear, she hasn’t forgotten that,” Taylor says, adding that Dana is her last hope and she won’t let Wheatley destroy her, too. “She’s a little too close to Richard for Angela’s comfort. So, even though things appear one way, I think what she’s trying to do is make sure that she is close enough to keep Dana safe from him.”
When it comes to things moving forward, expect to see more of Angela, who Taylor says “has plans of her own.”
“It’ll be very interesting to see it all unfold because she’s always five paces ahead of everybody. She is a smart one and usually the smartest one in the room,” Taylor continues, noting that one thing that likely won’t happen is seeing Stabler and Angela rekindling their feelings. “I think if the writers hate me and want the fans to kill me on the streets of New York, then they’ll do that.”
New episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Organized Crime air Thursdays on NBC.