After taking down Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) and his internet drug cartel, at least for now, Stabler is turning his attention to infiltrating a notorious crime family aiming to take over New York City’s cocaine trade. “We’re dealing with an Albanian crime family. You get to see a little bit of the hierarchy and it’s very much a family organization,” Meloni says, teasing that “there’s a Shakespearan intrigue surrounding it.”
Among the family members is Albi Briscu, “an Eastern European gangster who is the last remaining member of the organization from the old country.” He’ll be played by Vinnie Jones, the British actor famous for his roles in Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels. Law & Order True Crime actress Lolita Davidovich will play Albi’s wife, Flutura Briscu.
And when it comes to Wheatley, don’t count him out yet. “I think it’s going to be a barn-burner,” the actor says of his return in the new episodes. “I think he’s going to go nonstop. I mean, this is a guy who is plotting, who is scheming, who is doing push-ups all day long and getting ready to get out [of prison].”
And once he does, he adds, “Look out! Because there’s no stopping him now. He’s unleashed.”
Other New Characters
While the official cast for the start of season 2 includes Meloni, Danielle Moné Truitt as Sgt. Ayanna Bell, Ainsley Seiger as Jet Slootmaekers, as well as McDermott and Tamara Taylor as Richard’s ex-wife, Angela, there are a number of new and recurring stars joining over the course of the new episodes.
Among them is Jones (This Is Us) as Congressman Leon Kilbride, a “born politician who fosters connections and always plays his cards right.” “You’re gonna love him. He’s charming, he’s articulate. He’s a lawyer [and] a head of a sort of a Black caucus type organization,” Jones says. “But he also has some background.”
In addition to Jones, the other major addition is Díaz (Scandal) as Brewster, the head of the Narcotics task force who was previously Bell’s boss before she was transferred to the Organized Crime Control Bureau.
Brewster, Díaz reveals, “has been tracking all these shipments of cocaine from Colombia and he collides with Sgt. Bell’s world.” Despite having worked together, they don’t like each other much “because [Brewster] is intimidated by Bell’s ambition and her drive and her talent,” the actor says, teasing that he’s got quite a big ego. And because of that, “he comes in very explosively.”
Other characters include Mykelti Williamson (Ray Donovan) as Preston Webb and Dash Mihok (Forrest Gump) as Reggie Bogdani, Stable’s boss during his time undercover.
The Return of Stabler’s Mother
After first appearing as Bernadette Stabler in a 2008 episode of Law & Order: SVU, Ellen Burstyn will reprise her Emmy-winning role in season 2. She’s the latest Stabler family member to return on Organized Crime, following the appearance of his wife, Kathy (Isabel Gillies), in the premiere and his children, Kathleen (Allison Siko), Dickie (Jeffrey Scaperrotta), Maureen (Autumn Mirassou), Elizabeth (Kaitlyn Davidson) and Eli (now played by Nicky Torchia) in subsequent episodes.
“I can tell you that I’ve already done numerous scenes with her,” Meloni says. “It’s warmed my heart; it’s such a joy to work with her.” He adds, “There are a handful of actors that I’ve had the privilege of working with that makes the career that much greater.”
For those who don’t remember, in Burstyn’s debut episode as Bernadette, it’s revealed that she has bipolar disorder and is going through a manic phase when her son tries to visit.
For former showrunner and executive producer Neal Baer, it’s one of his favorite moments of the series. “It's a really moving scene that really gets into Stabler's fears about who he is, who his parents [are], where he's from, how he's tried to overcome and maybe ignore or be in denial about his roots. We see a side of him that he's tried to keep repressed, which I love,” he previously told ET while looking back on 400 episodes of SVU.
While Meloni acknowledges that it’s not a farfetched question, it’s a matter of patience as showrunner Ilene Chaiken has expressed in the past. “I think it’s going to be a collaborative effort between both showrunners and Mariska and I to figure it all out. It’s a complicated relationship, so we’ll see,” Meloni says.
And with Stabler going undercover in season 2, Meloni teases that it will add new pressures to the dynamic between the two as they continue to rebuild their personal and professional relationship. “Benson recognizes certain telltale signs that he might need to talk to people and that it might not be the healthiest place for him to be in the moment,” he says, noting that Stabler is still coming to terms with Kathy’s murder.
At the end of the day, Meloni is just happy that fans have accepted Stabler back after a ten-year absence and abrupt departure. “It goes to show that whatever our chemistry was, whatever we did on screen in our SVU days together stuck with the people and there was a sense that it was not finished correctly or properly,” the actor says.