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What's Happened to Kyle Vargas, Law & Order: Organized Crime's AI Specialist?

The Season 4 recruit has been the Organized Crime Control Bureau's secret weapon since his first day.

By Jessica White

Season 4 of Law & Order: Organized Crime has been a thrilling watch, especially with the introduction of a new member of the Organized Crime Control Bureau, Dr. Kyle Vargas (Tate Ellington).

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Organized Crime Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

RELATED: What to Know About Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4

As the OCCB's new Artificial Intelligence specialist, Vargas has hit the ground running to make a good impression among the detectives. While many Law & Order detectives deliver grit, Vargas serves a refreshing dose of humor and data-driven forensics.

Knowing the OCCB needs to be ahead of the game when identifying how criminal organizations operate, Vargas was ushered in to modernize their operations and shed light on how AI can innovate crime scene investigation. Of course, Vargas has his work cut out for him working with the old-fashioned Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).

Kyle Vargas (Tate Ellington) appears during Law and Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 3.

When did Kyle Vargas first appear on Law & Order: Organized Crime?

Dr. Kyle Vargas, played by Tate Ellington, is an AI specialist brought into the OCCB in Law & Order: OC's Season 4 premiere ("Memory Lane").

Vargas was recruited by Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) to accelerate investigations and help the team gain a new perspective on their cases. He has an affinity for acronyms and sarcasm, and represents a new world of forensic and investigative capabilities. However, his passion for modern technology means he's often been overlooked by his colleagues.

Vargas' personal life hasn't come up much as he's settled into the squad, but it's clear that he has a good head on his shoulders with an authentic passion for dismantling organized crime.

In an interview with NBC Insider, Ellington revealed he loves becoming the show's comic relief as the detectives head off on whirlwind investigations while Vargas sticks to the squad room.

"I’m fairly self-deprecating and also I’m happy to be the butt of a joke so those [scenes] are easy to shoot for me,” Ellington said about his character's humorous treatment. “Every time we add in something else or when I’m reading the script and I see, ‘Vargas is left alone,’ I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s great.’”

Kyle Vargas (Tate Ellington) appears during Law and Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 1.

How do the other detectives on Law & Order: Organized Crime feel about Kyle Vargas?

Vargas did not get a particularly wam welcome at the squad in Season 4.

He joined the OCCB after death of their colleague Jamie Whelan (Brent Antonello) and, when he attempted to put his belongings on Whelan's desk on his first day, the entire squad lashed out. The head of the squad, Bell, ultimately told him to find a different desk.

His enthusiastic presentation on the value of implementing AI into OCCB investigations got a poor reaction from some of the old-hat members of the squad like Stabler and Bobby Reyes (Rick Gonzalez), who correctly noted that bias plays a dangerous role in AI development.

After Stabler questioned how long the AI specialist would be there, Bell informed him that Vargas was an official member of the OCCB and there to stay.

Vargas' main ally within the squad is Jet Slootmaekers (Ainsley Seiger), who is well-educated on Vargas' efforts. They met at a tech conference just before he joined the OCCB.


Law And Order Organized Crime 404 Kyle VargasKyle Vargas (Tate Ellington) appears during Law and Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 4.

What's happened to Kyle Vargas in Season 4 of Law & Order: Organized Crime?

Vargas has proven time and time again that his intel is sound while assisting on various OCCB cases.

Sometimes, however, his AI-assisted reports anger his colleagues — like in Season 4, Episode 2 ("Deliver Us From Evil"), when he reported that if Stabler had made a different call while on an undercover mission, his criminal informant might have survived. (His statements earned one of Stabler's trademark glares.)

However, the majority of Vargas' AI-assisted forensic analysis has been more productive.

RELATED: This Organized Crime Star Once Had a "Fascinating" Guest Role on Law & Order

In Season 4, Episode 3 ("End of Innocence"), Stabler called Vargas for help, and the tech was able to track down a perp's location after running the details through his database.

Stabler needed help again in Episode 5 ("Missing Persons") on a kidnapping case. During the investigation, Vargas admitted to Stabler that he was happy to become a trusted resource, but was sad that Stabler didn't consider him a true member of the squad.

Vargas continued to prove himself in Episode 7 ("Original Sin") when he used AI to recreate the facial structure of a victim seen in a photo, leading to a successful identification.

When Stabler's brother, Randall (Dean Norris), ended up in jail in Season 4, Episode 10 ("Crossroads"), it was Vargas to the rescue. At the time, Stabler was working undercover at a Staten Island honey farm trafficking heroin and had left his phone with the OCCB. When Randall reached out to get bailed him out, it was Vargas who took the call and bailed Randall out of jail, proving how far he's willing to go to make a friend out of the curmudgeonly Stabler.

Tate Ellington attends NBC And The Cinema Society Host A Party For The Casts Of NBC Midseason 2020

What movies and TV shows has Tate Ellington been in?

His role on Law & Order: Organized Crime's newest detective, but it's not the actor's first go-around with series creator Dick Wolf: In 2022, Ellington guest starred in the original Law & Order in Season 21, Episode 8 ("Severance"). 

Ellington has also guest starred in NBC's The Blacklist and Parenthood, as well The Good Wife (2010), Psych (2013), The Walking Dead, and Shameless (2016). He additionally played FBI recruit Simon Asher on Quantico and starred as Noah Morgenthau in NBC's military thriller The Brave from 2017 to 2018. 

He made his big screen debut in 2006 in the drama The Elephant King. In 2010, Ellington starred alongside Robert Pattinson in the romantic drama Remember Me. He later starred in the historical drama Straight Outta Compton and the horror sequel Sinister 2 in 2015.

Some of Ellington's most recent acting credits include a guest appearance in Lessons in Chemistry and a role Peacock's 2023 film Genie, where Ellington starred alongside Melissa McCarthy. 

While chatting with NBC Insider about his "dream come true" role in Organized Crime, Ellington shed some light on what it's been like joining the Law & Order family.

“I usually go to set beaming, smiling every day, and leave smiling every day,” Ellington told us. “This cast and crew [are] an absolute delight to work with. They are an extremely kind bunch. They’re a family and it’s nice coming in. Sometimes it can be really intimidating to come into an already-established show and be the new guy, but they have been absolutely welcoming the entire time.”

To see where Dr. Kyle Vargas heads next, watch Law & Order: Organized Crime on NBC and Peacock.

- Reporting by Stephanie Gomulka