Law & Order: SVU‘s Kathy Stabler may be dead, but she’s certainly not resting in peace.
Isabel Gillies, who played the recurring character on both SVU and its spinoff Law & Order: Organized Crime, penned a Substack post Tuesday detailing how fan vitriol over a recent, Kathy-related plot development invaded her social media feed and brought her to tears.
“Gliding over links and threads, memes and emojis, I started, well, crying,” Gillies writes. “‘KATHY STABLER IS BURNING IN THE DEEPEST PART OF HELL.’ Scroll, scroll…’YOU DESERVE TO BLOW UP!’ Scroll, scroll…’Good morning to absolutely everyone except Kathy Stabler’s ghost.’ Scroll, scroll… ‘This girl is the nastiest, skank bitch I’ve ever met!’ Met? I’m sorry, have we met?”
The outrage was sparked by a late September SVU/Organized Crime crossover involving a plot point first raised in Organized Crime‘s series premiere. Elliot Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) gave his former New York Police Department partner Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) a letter regarding their longtime friendship… including his resigning from SVU at the end of Season 12 and the decade of estrangement that followed it. Though Olivia later read the letter, prior to the most recent crossover, viewers were not privy to what it said.
That changed when Elliot, who’d been dosed during an undercover assignment with an Albanian drug ring, showed up at Olivia’s apartment and started talking about the message in question. During their conversation, Elliot confessed that it had been his wife’s idea to write the letter, to ease conversation between the partners after such a long period of radio silence. He also revealed that Kathy, his wife of many years, had ghostwritten the letter, which talked about how what El and Liv were to each other “was never real” and that they “got in the way of each other being who and where” they needed to be. But Elliot did write one crucial part.
“‘But in a parallel universe,” Benson whispered, quoting the note. “‘It will always be you and I,'” Stabler finished. “I wrote that. I slipped it in there before sealing the envelope.” (Read a full recap of the SVU and Organized Crime portions of the crossover.)
Some fans of the franchise saw the scene as posthumous manipulation on the part of Gillies’ character, who died in the SVU episode that set up Organized Crime‘s premiere. And, apparently, they made Gillies aware of that.
“Throughout the 23 seasons of SVU, there has been a love story between Elliot and Mariska Hargitay’s character, Olivia Benson. It started as a simmer and has been heading toward a rolling boil,” Gillies writes. “Like Moonlighting and countless TV love stories of, there’s a tried and true, will-they-get-together-or-not-plot, that has the show’s millions of fans all riled up. Some want Elliot and Olivia to get it on, and some don’t. There’s a divide, and even though Kathy Stabler has departed from this earth, she’s still smack in the middle of it. And there was this letter which to this day, I still don’t know what the heck was in it — truth — I don’t care.”
The actress writes that she read a lot of “the personal attacks, barbs, jabs and just plain ol’ meanness,” eventually talking with Hargitay and “accepting her invitation to the higher road called don’t take it personally.” Gillies then invited her readers, no matter what subject they’re passionate about, to “please all take it down a notch” and put whatever they’re about to post on social media a fail-safe called T.H.I.N.K.: “Is it thoughtful? Is it honest? Is it interesting? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”