Law & Order Crossover Premiere Review: Gimme Shelter

Fans have hoped for a three-show crossover ever since Law & Order Thursday became a thing, and the one we got packed a powerful punch.

If  Law & Order Organized Crime Season 3 Episode 1, Law & Order: SVU Season 24 Episode 1, and Law & Order Season 22 Episode 1 are any indication, the new seasons of these shows are going to be different from what came before. That’s a good thing.

The premieres were gritty and tense without straying too far from the types of stories we’ve been accustomed to for over two decades. If anything, it seemed like the franchise had returned to its roots.

By far, the best change that the series made: humanizing Cosgrove.

During Law & Order Season 21, Cosgrove was obnoxious. He seemed like the stereotypical white cis male cop as if he were the embodiment of everything people find objectionable about the police.

He made snide remarks, was often borderline racist, and seemed not to have much depth beyond being a reason for Anthony Anderson’s character to go off on him.

A lot of that’s in the past; hopefully, it’ll stay that way.

Bernard is gone (Anthony Anderson chose to leave), and Cosgrove has a new partner who challenges him without being annoying about it.

Shaw: It’s not that hard to get a subpoena, so maybe refrain from threatening people.
Cosgrove: That wasn’t threatening. It was encouraging.
Shaw: All we need is an encouraged idiot telling our virtuous ADA that we threatened him to get the records.

Shaw is a rookie detective who is eager to learn but isn’t above calling out Cosgrove on behavior that might hurt the case. He’s eager to jump in and learn his job, and he’s by the book without being judgy about it.

I’m eager for more of him. Hopefully, he’ll get a personal story too, but so far, he’s a compelling character even without one.

Cosgrove’s relationship with his daughter also helped soften the character.

Lili’s already anxious about violence in school; now, she has witnessed Ava’s murder and her father’s insistence on running off to find the bad guys without taking the time to process the trauma with her.

This may stay with her for a while, and Cosgrove’s conflict between wanting to be there for his daughter and wanting to keep her and everyone else safe might be interesting.

Back in SVU’s early days, Stabler’s family life added another dimension to the series. His daughter Maureen had a similar experience when she witnessed a man being burned alive while with her dad.

Maureen is now a well-adjusted adult who often helps with the family; it would be interesting if she and Lili ever met.

Lili’s presence also gave Cosgrove a stronger motivation for taking charge of this case than he usually gets.

Every time he shouted that Ava was only 15 years old, there was an unspoken second half of the thought: Just like Lili.

I’m curious as to how Cosgrove will be when he’s in standalone episodes again, but during the crossover, it worked well.

Cosgrove and Stabler butted heads because they’re so similar, too.

You know, I heard that Elliot Stabler was this great cop who would do anything to get justice for a girl like Ava. Guess I heard wrong.


Had their positions been reversed, Stabler would have fought for that case because he wanted a safer world for his children, just as Cosgrove did. And Cosgrove’s cutting remark about how he thought Stabler would do anything to get a young girl justice ultimately changed Stabler’s mind about working together.

Sadly, Cosgrove and Stabler discovered another thing they had in common after Vince died.

Vince was more or less a minor character, but his death was one of the most emotional scenes Law & Order has had in a while!

Stabler’s restrained response belied his heartbreak, and the way he brushed aside everyone’s condolences to get back to work was classic Stabler.

Cosgrove was aware of how much Stabler had sacrificed after Vince’s death, and he returned the favor by stopping Stabler from killing the suspect, which would have only ruined Stabler’s career.

Nice. Even though these shows all need to stand on their own now, I hope Stabler and Cosgrove’s friendship continues. Both of these men could use more friends.

This had to be one of the more violent episodes in Law & Order history. Six people died, Rollins ended up in critical condition, and a 14-year-old girl was traumatized.

The violence was necessary — after all, the cops were dealing with well-connected Russian mobsters. Still, it felt like there was a shootout every time anyone turned around.

When Price decided to try to help Rublev after he was shot, the pleas to stay alive and realize he was with the shooting victim were all too familiar. Cosgrove had made similar pleas to Ava, and Stabler had done the same thing when Vince was shot.

Thank goodness Rollins survived! Kelli Giddish is slated to leave halfway through the season, but the writers could have chosen to kill her character off now, which would have been too painful.

It was hard enough when Mike Dodds died during a hostage situation; Rollins’ death would have been as hard for me to bear as it would have been for Carisi and Benson.

Before Rollins was shot, I wondered if she would end up adopting Nicole herself. She had a great rapport, and no one seemed to want Nicole. That would have been a great way to write the character out!

The entire story flowed together nicely. It made sense that these three units worked together even though SVU’s involvement felt more like SVU during the first hour than during the part of the story allotted to SVU’s usual time slot.

It was almost like Law & Order: The Movie. Cosgrove’s voiceover at the end felt especially cinematic, as we wrapped up all three stories while he was speaking.

Your turn, Law & Order fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know what you thought of the crossover event and your hopes for the seasons of each of these shows going forward!

Don’t forget that you can watch Law & Order online on TV Fanatic whenever you’d like.

Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order: Organized Crime air on NBC on Thursdays, starting at 8 PM EST / PST.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.

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