Earlier this month, Law & Order: SVU fans were treated to an early holiday present in the form of Christopher Meloni (Happy!) joining a table read his upcoming return to the series. Stabler's reunion with Benson (Mariska Hargitay) is also being used as a backdoor pilot for another entry in Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" franchise: Law & Order: Organized Crime. Now, Meloni is showing us just how far along with his transformation back into Stabler he's gotten. In a recent Instagram post, Meloni showed off his forearm with some fresh "old" temp ink work designating Stabler's USMC tattoo, along with the hashtag #firstdayofschool.
Law & Order: Organized Crime features Meloni returning to his Law & Order: SVU role as Elliot Stabler, rejoining the NYPD to battle organized crime after a devastating personal loss. However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he's been away, and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Throughout the series, viewers will follow Stabler's journey to find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city's most powerful criminal syndicates one by one. Wolf executive produces Law & Order: Organized Crime alongside Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski for Wolf Entertainment and Universal TV, a division of NBCUniversal Content Studios.
During an interview on the Variety After-Show in late July, Meloni had the opportunity to discuss the spinoff series- including how it came about. Revealing that "they just came out of the blue with a new show" when he was only expecting a multi-episode arc to wrap Stabler's storyline on SVU, Meloni was more than willing to stay a little longer in Stabler's world: "I think I maybe wanted to be less of a journeyman or a nomad because I've been doing that. It's been great…but after a while, you're like, 'Let's look for a home base again for a while."
While Meloni believes Stabler has a strong sense of his faults as well as justice, he also knows that society's views on law enforcement have changed since Stabler was back in the precinct full time: "I think he was a guy on the right side of justice. Nowadays that's commendable, but you can't use that as an excuse to go outside the boundaries just because you think my cause is the just cause because these lines have been — not blurring — they have been broken and people are fed up."
This is why Meloni believes it will be a different Stabler that viewers are introduced to when they see him- especially when they see him reunited with Benson. Meloni had this to say when he appeared on The Talk: "There are a lot of unanswered questions about how he left, why the silence vis-à-vis Olivia Benson. I think, in real terms, society, and what we are dealing with in society, has changed dramatically. It's just changed. So, I think you have to address that. And, I think the person Elliot was… I think we all evolved. I think all those things are going to be put into play when you see his return."