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The Horrifying Way the Organized Crime Finale Ended for Stabler’s Brother, Joe Jr.

As Detective Stabler and his squad closed in on a dangerous arms dealer, things were not looking good for his younger brother. 

By Ethan Sacks

As it turned out, Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) had good reason to fear for his brother’s safety when Joe Jr. (Michael Trotter) agreed to turn police informant and stay in the inner circle of a ruthless arms dealer.

What happened to Stabler's brother Joe Jr. in the Organized Crime Season 4 finale?

By the end of the explosive Season 4 finale of Law & Order: Organized Crime, the youngest of the Stabler brothers found himself with a briefcase full of a deadly Russian nerve agent handcuffed to his wrist. And as he headed off aboard the private jet of criminal mastermind Julian Emery (Thomas Payne), his cover may already have been blown. 

Whether Joe Stabler, Jr. will survive the experience — or if Emery knows that Joe was secretly tipping off the NYPD's Organized Crime Control Bureau — won’t be known until Season 5 arrives on Peacock.

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

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Joe's addiction to heroin led to him working for Emery, known in one underground circle as Redcoat, and strained relations with his family ever since viewers were introduced to Stabler's brothers earlier in Season 4. After discovering traces of heroin on foil in the bathroom garbage of his home after a family dinner, Stabler and the OCCB traced the source of the heroin used by Joe Jr. to a region in Afghanistan where he served.

Joseph Stabler Jr. and Tobias Krychek in Law & Order: Organized Crime, Season 4 Episode 13

Infiltrating a militia of ex-Marines working out of a Staten Island honey farm tied to that heroin, Detective Stabler followed a trail that led to Redcoat and his brother. After Stabler and his older brother, Randall (Dean Norris), kidnapped their youngest sibling in a desperate intervention attempt, Joe Jr. ultimately came out the other side of his long battle with the drug.

In Episode 12, the newly clean ex-soldier returned to Emery’s fold, this time determined to atone for his past actions by becoming an undercover informant for the OCCB. Detective Stabler was reluctant to put his brother in danger, but this was the only chance to both bust the person behind the murder of one of his squad’s own, Detective Samir Bashir, and intercept a dangerous arms shipment bound for New York.

RELATED: Why Stabler Kidnapped His Own Brother on Law & Order: Organized Crime

The hunt for Emery's stolen weapons 

At the opening of Season 4, Episode 13, the OCCB and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were working together to find the cargo ship containing that shipment of stolen Soviet-era weapons, which Emery planned to sell to the highest bidders.

Joe Jr., who was deep undercover at a tire warehouse earmarked for delivery of those weapons, was able to ferret out information about a storm delaying the ship at a Russian port. But before he could leave his hotel room to deliver that clue, he was paid an unexpected visit by Emery.

His boss put down a foil containing heroin, in case Joe Jr. needed a pick-me-up.

“Is this a test?,” asks Joe. Jr., who was clean after an intervention by his brothers in Episode 12.  

“Call it insurance,” Emery answered.

Eliiot Stabler and Ayanna Bell in Law & Order: Organized Crime, Season 4 Episode 13.

After finally making it to the meeting with his brother, Joe Jr. gave Stabler both the heroin — a sign that he was  fighting off his addiction — and the intel on the shipment. That information led Dr. Kyle Vargas (Tate Ellington) and Detective Jet Slootmakers (Ainsley Seiger) to successfully track down the location of the cargo vessel. The ATF agent in charge wanted to raid the ship before it arrived at port, but Sgt. Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) told him that they still have to catch Emery with the shipment to make charges stick.

So, it was back to surveillance of the warehouse for the members of the joint operation.

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As they waited for Emery to arrive, Trisha (Rivera Reese), the ATF agent who's been working with Stabler since both were undercover at the honey farm, asked Jet if she has something going on with the “cute” guy she worked with. Assuming the ATF agent was talking about Detective Bobby Reyes (Rick Gonzalez), with whom she shares an on-again, off-again affair, Jet mumbled that “it’s complicated.”

“It’s okay,” Trisha answered. “Guys with glasses don’t usually go for me anyway.”

“You’re talking about Vargas?,” asked a stunned Jet.

Julian Emery and Giles Emery in Law & Order: Organized Crime, Season 4 Episode 13.

Emery murdered someone on camera using chemical weapons

The surveillance team watched as Emery's white Rolls Royce SUV made its way into the warehouse. Though they didn’t get visual confirmation that the criminal mastermind was inside, his trademark sensor jammer scrambled the OCCB’s cameras.

While the OCCB was monitoring a transmission sent to deep-pocketed buyers interested in Emery’s weapon cache, they saw that the live video showed Tyler (Jonathan Holtzman), one of the militia members who had “betrayed” Emery, bound and gagged in a plexiglass enclosure. 

"Some of you have been asking for tangible evidence that I have what I promised," said Emery, who was recognizable despite the distortion of his face to hide his identity on the video transmission. "So, to quell any doubts, I decided to perform a little proof of concept demonstration."

He added, "Assisting me in this will be a former colleague, who betrayed me. I don’t tolerate disloyalty.”

RELATED: Stabler’s Brother Gives Cryptic Warning That the Family’s in Danger on Organized Crime

Emery dropped a vial of a deadly chemical agent used in KGB assassinations into Tyler’s enclosure with horrific results.

Tyler’s grisly murder forced the OCCB and the ATF to raid the warehouse — only to find they were set up. The driver of Emery’s Rolls Royce was hired to deliver the car to the site, but ignorant of the identity and whereabouts of his employer. Crates that the feds had presumed to contain stolen weapons yielded only high-end tires. Emery was broadcasting from a different location.

“We’ve been played,” Stabler said.

Joseph Stabler Jr on Law And Order Oc Episode 409

Worse, Joe Jr. was missing and Stabler had no idea how to get his brother to safety.

Joe Jr. learned from Emery’s head of security, Tobias (Nikolai Nikolaeff), that the warehouse was a ruse to throw off the police they knew were watching. Joe Jr. feigned ignorance about the surveillance, but was still whisked away without further explanation. 

After Joe reunited with Emery, the criminal mastermind ordered his team to leave immediately for his private jet. He then denied Joe's request to go back to his hotel to retrieve his belongings (and the opportunity to get word out to his brother).

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Meanwhile, back at the OCCB headquarters, Jet managed to identify the toxin used to kill Tyler.

“There’s enough to kill hundreds, if not thousands,” Trisha chimed in.

“And Emery just auctioned off six to America’s most wanted,” Reyes added. 

The stakes for not stopping Emery got even higher.   

Eliiot Stabler, Ayanna Bell, and Bobby Reyes in Law & Order: Organized Crime, Season 4 Episode 13

Joe Jr. used Emery's son's game to communicate with the OCCB

As it turned out, Emery wasn't the only one to come up with an ingenious countermove.

Taking advantage of his closeness with Emery’s 10-year-old son, Joe Jr. used a video game console to send a direct message to the OCCB with the location of the private airfield from which Emery planned to make his escape. Joe knew there was a lot at stake as he saw a courier handcuffed to a briefcase containing those vials of deadly nerve gas.

RELATED: Stabler Had an Explosive Intervention with His Brother About Drugs on Organized Crime

The message from Joe gave the team and their ATF counterparts the chance to mount a raid on the airfield as Emery and Joe Jr. were boarding the jet. But before they could stop the plane from taking off, shots rang out, killing the lead ATF agent. Emery left Tobias and several gunmen behind to make sure the courier was safe to deliver the weapons.

Amid a hail of bullets, Stabler, Bell, and Reyes followed the courier with the neurotoxin into a hanger where they exchanged fire with Tobias and his thugs. The gunfight ultimately left Tobias dead, the courier wounded, and the briefcase in police custody. 

Joseph Stabler Jr. on Law and order organized crime episode 413

Emery escaped by flying off with Joe Jr. 

But Emery eluded capture once again by flying off, and Joe Jr. was with him.

On the plane, Emery seemed to still be receiving intel from someone aware of what happened between the ATF/OCCB and his men. He informed Joe Jr. of Tobias’ death and the courier’s capture, but revealed that this is only a minor setback. He had a second briefcase full of the neurotoxin onboard the plane. Emery's every word oozed menace, leaving it ambiguous as to whether he knew his longtime employee was the informant tipping off police.

He congratulated Joe Jr. on a “promotion," adding with glee, “You’re my new delivery boy."  

“As you know I’m a big fan of insurance. Always have a backup plan. And back-up goods.”

Emery handcuffed that briefcase, along with its deadly contents, onto Joe Jr.’s wrist.

As Joe looked out the window, his face betrayed his fear. The future was as unknown to him as to viewers waiting eagerly for Season 5 of Organized Crime.

To revisit any episode in the first four seasons of Law & Order: Organized Crime, stream them on Peacock.