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The 3 Stabler Brothers Had an Explosive, Secret-Revealing Dinner with Their Mom
Dark family secrets were revealed when Stabler family matriarch Bernadette brought up the past and apologized to one of her sons for something.
The Stabler brothers are at it again.
A week after Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) was lured by older brother Randall into an unplanned reunion with their younger sibling Joe Jr. that was teeming with tension, the latest episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime delivered an even more disastrous family gathering.
This time, in Season 4, Episode 4 of the series, the wider Stabler family was on hand, including their mother Bernadette Stabler (Ellen Burstyn), along with plenty of her grandkids and even some great-grandkids.
The family members were gathered at Stabler's apartment after Randall (Dean Norris) told his brother in the prior episode that he wanted to have "a big dinner" there and invite the whole family as a "nice sendoff for mom" before she goes to an assisted living facility.
Stabler wasn't thrilled with the dinner plan to begin with. But after he was ordered by his boss to step away from a certain aspect of an ongoing drug gang case he's been working on, he had no choice but to join the fam.
When Stabler arrived home after work, his mom and Randall were there, getting ready for the big dinner. Bernadette, who has been having trouble remembering things as she ages, was looking at photos of family members and saying their names aloud to make sure she could recall them.
Randall and Stabler briefly argued about who was going to grill the steak, and when their younger brother Joe Jr. (Michael Trotter) — clearly the favorite — showed up, Bernadette gushed, “I’m so glad you’re here.” Joe brought his mom a gift, causing Randall to shake his head and tell Stabler that their younger brother was a "suck up."
Stabler asks brother Joe Jr. about his dishonorable discharge from the Army
In a private moment with Joe Jr. outside, Stabler took the opportunity to ask his younger brother about his dishonorable discharge from the military, which he'd only recently found out about, and from Randall. Joe Jr. also hadn't told Stabler that he'd been back in New York for months.
Joe Jr. told Stabler that his platoon was raiding houses one night, and one of them had a shelf full of trinkets, so he put a few in his pack, figuring he'd sell them when he got home. "I didn’t realize I was stealing artifacts of cultural significance, which is what they charged me with,” Joe Jr. said, adding that the Army gave him a choice — do time in a prison in Afghanistan or take the dishonorable discharge.
Meanwhile, back inside, things began to heat up. One of Bernadette's granddaughters asked her why Joe Jr. was named after his father, rather than one of his older brothers.
Bernadette explained of her late husband, “That was your grandfather's doing. He used to say, ‘Randall and Elliot, ugliest babies ever born in Queens.' And it wasn’t until I gave birth to my youngest that he felt he was an attractive enough child to bear his name."
Randall did not seem amused upon hearing this.
Other tensions flared, including Stabler's son Elliot "Eli" Jr. growing annoyed that his dad was on a work call. Randall, trying to comfort Eli, told him that whatever Stabler was doing on the phone, it must be important.
Bernadette and Randall Stabler reveal ugly family secrets
Once the family finally sat down for dinner, things got much worse. Bernadette randomly announced that she remembered what she wanted to say, and looking at Randall, said she wanted to apologize. Randall was confused, asking her what she wanted to apologize for.
"You know, for what happened," Bernadette explained. "For the reason that you sent me the bus tickets." Randall told her that they didn't need to talk about that now, but she insisted on it, yelling, "Now, don't talk to me like I'm a child. I can still slap you upside the head, you know."
She then said she wanted the whole family to know "what really happened."
Bernadette told Randall, "I'm sorry that I threw you out of the house. No mother should ever do that."
Stabler told his mom that she didn't throw Randall out, he left. But she insisted that's not what happened, and that she kicked him out.
Confused, Stabler asked Randall why he never told him this. And Randall explained, "Because then I'd have to tell you why."
When Joe Jr. tried to defuse the situation, both of his brothers yelled at him to shut up and stay out of it.
Elliot and Randall Stabler get physical
Randall then goaded his brother Elliot with, "You don't know? You can't figure it out? I thought you were supposed to be some kind of super cop?"
They continued to argue, and Randall then asked, "You remember those days, huh? All the crap that was going on in that madhouse? What was going on?"
Stabler answered, "Pop was drinking a lot ... because he got suspended for misconduct." Like Stabler, their father Joe was also an NYPD detective.
"Yeah, somebody called internal affairs and told them all the nastiness he was into," Randall said. "Guess who that was? Me! I did it! I ratted pop out."
Stabler asked his older brother why he'd do that, and Randall explained, signaling towards their mother, "Because good old dad was beating the crap out of this woman on a nightly basis."
Bernadette began to cry. "He just did it where it didn't show," Randall continued, yelling at Stabler, "and you were too goddamn young and stupid to notice."
A sobbing Bernadette snapped, "No, he wasn't stupid! I didn't allow it. I put my foot down because he was too young."
Randall yelled back, "I don't care, mom, he should have known. But he was just too selfish. You were too selfish! You thought dad only had it out for you, right?"
Stabler replied that all Randall had to do was tell him what was going on.
"You would have taken dad's side," Randall screamed, as they both rose up of their chairs. Before they could lunge at each other, one of Stabler's daughters held up a phone and said that Det. Reyes was on the line.
When Stabler asked Reyes why he was calling his land line, Reyes told him that he wasn't picking up his other phone and asked, "Didn't you get the alarm?"
Just then, Randall took Stabler's cell out of his pocket and mockingly waved it around. Stabler demanded his phone back from his brother, and tried to take it out of his hand, but Randall waved his arm away, breaking some nearby glass.
Stabler continued trying to get his phone from his brother, who wouldn't give it up, and ultimately ended up knocking Randall to the ground to get it back.
By the end of the episode, the siblings were on speaking terms again, but not before ruining everyone's night and exposing dark family secrets.
To find out what's next for the Stabler family, watch Law & Order: Organized Crime Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC or stream episodes the next day on Peacock.