Law & Order: Organized Crime spent the first season on a very personal tragedy for Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler, freshly returned to New York from working as the NYPD's man in Rome only for his wife to be murdered in an explosion. The good news for Stabler is that he solved the case and caught the culprits before the end of the season (although not without some emotional collateral damage along the way), but the bad news for Stabler is that the latest casting information about Season 2 confirms that he's not done with Dylan McDermott's Richard Wheatley.
Even though Angela Wheatley was technically the one who ordered the hit on Kathy Stabler, Richard was undeniably the big bad of the season, and the season ended with him behind bars, with his efforts to kill Angela and stop her from testifying seemingly (although not definitively) thwarted. Now, however, Deadline reports that Dylan McDermott will be back as Richard Wheatley in Season 2, and that news is enough to start the speculation about what it probably means for when Organized Crime returns.
Richard Wheatley Is Not The Big Bad
Dylan McDermott was a series regular during the first season of Law & Order: Organized Crime, but has been bumped down to recurring status for Season 2. That doesn't mean he'll no longer be a dangerous man, but the Season 1 finale guaranteed that he won't have the same criminal means as he did before he was arrested and not handed over to the feds on all counts. Plus, executive producer Dick Wolf shared his vision for a 24-episode Season 2, with the first third being like The Godfather, the second third like American Gangster, and the third like Scarface.
Dylan McDermott is reportedly on board Season 2 for just eight episodes, which indicates that either he'll only be a main player in one of the thirds or that he'll appear sparingly throughout the season. Either way, Richard Wheatley almost certainly won't cast as long of a shadow in Season 2 as he did in Season 1, even if he still has enough means at his disposal to be a dangerous man behind bars. Organized Crime will seemingly move on to other big cases, with Wheatley still in the mix somehow.
The Case Might Not Be Fully Closed
Stabler, Bell and Co. caught Richard Wheatley and guaranteed that he wouldn't receive a sweet deal from the feds that got him fully out of serving time, but that doesn't mean the case is fully closed. Richie put out a hit on his dad after finding out that Richard killed his own father, and Richard didn't exactly hold his tongue once he was in custody. The case was bigger than Kathy Stabler, and the fact that Richard Wheatley was able to orchestrate SVU's Benson arriving on the scene at the end of the finale proves that he's not done with his dirty deeds just because he's in the clink.
Stabler Might Need His Help
As distasteful as Stabler would undoubtedly find it, it's possible that he'll actually need Richard Wheatley's help in Season 2. Wheatley surely didn't burn all of his criminal bridges after he was arrested and could have valuable intel for Stabler about organized crime in New York City. That's not to say that Wheatley would be highly motivated to lend a hand unless doing so could reduce his time in jail, but Wheatley did seem to enjoy toying with Stabler in Season 1. He could do so again if and when Stabler needs his help in Season 2. Stabler needing help could result in visits to wherever Wheatley is being held, allowing Dylan McDermott to recur.
The Stablers Aren't Safe
The Stablers might be somewhat safer in Season 2 by virtue of Richard Wheatley not having all of his former criminal means at his disposal while behind bars, but Wheatley has more reason than ever to have a bone to pick with Elliot, and the Season 1 finale proved that if Wheatley wants to get a message to the outside, he can do it. Hopefully Eli continues living with one of his sisters so that Elliot can at least lessen the odds of any of them getting hurt during an attempt on his life. As long as Wheatley is alive and in the mix, the Stablers won't be entirely safe.
Benson Is In Danger
If the Stablers aren't safe, then Olivia Benson certainly isn't safe either, although Mariska Hargitay's status as star of Law & Order: SVU at least means that fans won't have to worry about Organized Crime killing her off. In the Season 1 finale, Wheatley managed to lure Benson to the hospital where his mole would try to kill Angela (again), and even though it's not 100% clear why, I can only imagine that he didn't exactly have her best interests at heart.
I think it's safe to say that Benson is who Wheatley was referring to about the "love of [Stabler's] life," and he actually met Benson in the Season 1 finale. Benson may have some danger to deal with from Organized Crime as well as SVU in the 2021-2022 TV season. Now, if only that danger could result in Benson and Stabler having an on-screen conversation about that mysterious letter!
Angela Could Be Out Of Commission
Angela Wheatley was in the midst of a health crisis at the end of Season 1, and although Stabler, Benson, and Bell arrived on the scene before she could die, there's no guarantee that she actually survived long enough to testify against her ex. And if she's not around to cooperate with the task force, will the case against Wheatley be so weak that Stabler needs to keep digging into him, and that's what keeps Dylan McDermott around on a recurring basis? And Angela wouldn't necessarily need to be dead for this to be the case – this is TV, after all. She could be in a coma!
Tamara Taylor hasn't been confirmed one way or the other about returning as Angela for Season 2, so a lot could depend on whether or not Angela is able to recover from her ordeal in the finale. The one thing that fans can count on with certainty at this point is that Dylan McDermott will be back on a recurring basis as Richard Wheatley. Find out what Wheatley has in store for Stabler when Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 2 premieres on Thursday, September 23 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, following the Season 23 premiere of Law & Order: SVU at 9 p.m. in the fall TV lineup.