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Donald Cragen Just Made a Shocking Return to Law & Order — With a Stabler Warning

A familiar face made an appearance on Season 4, Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime, with an important message. 

By Elisabeth Ford

A familiar face made an appearance on Season 4, Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime, one that fans of the wider franchise should recognize.

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Organized Crime on NBC and Peacock.

Things have been rocky at the Organized Crime Control Bureau since Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) was suspended earlier in the season, and with Sergeant Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) recovering from a gunshot wound.

RELATED: Where Was Sergeant Ayanna Bell on the Latest Law & Order: Organized Crime Episode?

Bell has been wondering what's going on with Stabler's investigation by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, and she's not getting many answers from the detective himself. So, she attempted to get some answers from those who know him. 

Near the end of the episode, retired captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) showed up to give her some intel — and it's not great news for Stabler.

While Stabler was helping a local police captain take down a Long Island serial killer, Cragen told Bell all about the investigator who may have a beef with her detective.

Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) appears in Season 4 Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Who is Donald Cragen?

Cragen appeared on Law & Order during that show's first three seasons, and then led the Manhattan Special Victims Unit until his retirement in Season 15 of Law & Order: SVU.

The captain was the boss of both Stabler and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) until he stepped down. Benson, now captain of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, was promoted to sergeant at the time.

Since then, Cragen appeared on Organized Crime in a couple of Season 2 episodes before showing up again in Season 4. 

RELATED: Detective Reyes Gets Divorced After Affair with Jet on Law & Order: Organized Crime

Near the end of the episode, Bell, still recovering from being shot, was walking outside with a cane when Cragen met up with her. Bell asked, “Find out anything?”

It soon became clear that Bell had asked Cragen to look into Moses Warren (Malcolm Goodwin), the Internal Affairs Bureau investigator who's on Stabler's case. (The detective is being investigated for seriously injuring a teen who pulled a gun on him and his team).

Sergeant Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) and Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) appear in Season 4 Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Cragen gave Bell details about the investigator looking into Stabler

Cragen replied: “Unfortunately, yes. You were right. There is something hinky going on with Stabler’s IAB case. His investigator, Warren... Gus Hanson was Warren’s rabbi.”

Bell responded, “Stabler’s dad’s ex-partner, Gus Hanson?” 

Cragen: “It seems he recently retired the hard way.” 

A shocked Bell asked when, and Cragen replied, "He ate his gun about six weeks ago.”

RELATED: The 3 Stabler Brothers Had an Explosive, Secret-Revealing Dinner with Their Mom

Bell then said, “That’s awful. But what does that have to do with Stabler?”

Cragen explained, “Warren blames Elliott for what happened to his mentor.”

Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) appears in Season 4 Episode 7 of Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Stabler and Hanson have a difficult past. In Season 2 of Organized Crime, Stabler confronted Hanson about a shooting of an unarmed kid that Hanson and his late father were involved in. Hanson defended both his and Stabler’s father’s actions that day.

RELATED: [Spoiler] Is Shot & Stabler Got Suspended in the New Law & Order: Organized Crime

While Stabler was troubled by the idea of his father being a corrupt cop, Cragen offered a different take at the time.

“Was there corruption? Of course there was. Were there bad cops? Absolutely,” Cragen told Stabler in Season 2, Episode 17 of Organized Crime. “That was the world that your father was working in. It was a dangerous time.”

To find out what will happen with Stabler’s internal affairs case, watch Law & Order: Organized Crime on Thursdays at 10/9c p.m. on NBC or stream episodes the next day on Peacock.