In the next Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime crossover, Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) is on trial for Kathy Stabler’s (Isabel Gillies) murder. But who wants him to end up behind bars more, Kathy’s husband Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) or Richard’s ex-wife Angela Wheatley (Tamara Taylor)?
Well, Angela will be taking the stand against Richard, but when we saw her in the Organized Crime Season 2 premiere, she was still recovering from him poisoning her in last spring’s finale. For her, walking three blocks was progress (she used to run six miles every morning), and she appeared to be having memory problems as well. So what does that mean when she’s faced with the questions from Wheatley’s lawyer, none other than SVU‘s Rafael Barba (the returning Raúl Esparza)? Taylor tells us that and more.
Last we saw Angela in the premiere, she wasn’t exactly far along on the road to recovery. How’s she doing heading into the trial — physically, emotionally, and psychologically?
Tamara Taylor: It’s interesting because we explored delving into the truth of recovering from a nerve agent. Most people don’t. What can sometimes happen is you can get worse before you get better. What we’ll see leading up to the trial is that Angela almost seems worse than she did when [Sergeant Ayanna] Bell [Danielle Moné Truitt] came to visit her and she was doing a crossword. She’s using a cane, so there’s a difficulty walking. Certainly her motor skills are not what they were. The memory is not quite back. Speech is a little more impaired than it was.
And this is at the worst time because she has to take the stand and she’s a key witness in this trial. How does that go?
It goes as well as one would expect given her state. Certainly Raúl’s character gets her between a rock and a hard place and unfortunately exposes — just gets his point across, which is not as fun as it could be because of course, we want Richard to go down. I think she kind of maybe flubs it up there on the stand, not purposefully, but I just don’t know if she was the tight and strong witness that Bell and Stabler hoped she would be.
Talk about that for Angela, to be facing someone like Barba in the courtroom.
Oh my God, just as an actor, I felt like it was like an acting clinic watching him work. It’s just like, holy God, this man is amazing. And not only is Raúl so good — he’s just such an amazing actor — but Barba’s great at his job. He’s insane and really tough to go up against, so I as an actor was a little nervous and certainly I’m guessing Angela was.
How’s Angela feeling about Stabler at this point? Because their relationship was complicated to say the least.
To say the least, a little bit messy. She is reluctantly and surprisingly still in love with him, and people say, well, how did she fall for him so fast? And how could she fall for him if she thought that he was the one that had murdered her son? I think pretty early on in Season 1, she deduced that Stabler was not who she thought he was. As they talk about grief can be a bonding thing, it’s not entirely surprising that they have this bizarre, messy connection. I think it’s inconvenient. I think it’s uncomfortable. I think they’d both rather not have this strange, messy connection. And still, life is messy.
Speaking of messy, Angela and Richard’s relationship — how is she feeling about him at this point? Complete hatred? Any mixed emotions?
Every actor has sort of a different method of doing it, but I always say, how would you feel if your husband killed your son and then tried to kill you twice? I don’t think she likes him very much. I’m willing to guess if she could take him out herself, she would because she’s a mama bear and he’s also put our other two children at risk. He’s almost taken down the entire family and tried to kill me as well. Whatever unfolds this season, I hope the audience remembers that she knows what he did and you don’t forget. I don’t think you forget those things.
Given everything going on, Angela and [Captain Olivia] Benson’s [Mariska Hargitay] dynamic has to be very interesting.
There’s an understanding. I think that there is a gentleness and just — Benson’s just lovely is the truth. I think she just understands Stabler better than anybody else and also understands that life can be messy and strange and uncomfortable in moments. You’d think that they would be archenemies, but I don’t think they are. I just don’t think that’s how it’s landing.
Law & Order: SVU–Organized Crime Crossover, Thursday, December 9, 9/8c, NBC