Law & Order: Organized Crime hit the ground running in the 2024 TV schedule with the aftermath of one detective's death, a very messy affair within the task force, and a new showrunner on board behind the scenes. The next episode is set to welcome a longtime familiar face from Law & Order: SVU, as Tamara Tunie reprises her role as ME Melinda Warner. The actress spoke with CinemaBlend about coming to OC and what it was like to work with Christopher Meloni again.
Tamara Tunie makes her Organized Crime debut in the new episode on January 25, called "Deliver Us From Evil," which will introduce one of Elliot Stabler's brothers for the very first time, played by Breaking Bad's Dean Norris. The case of the week will lead Stabler and Warner to cross paths, and Tunie opened up about what it was like to reprise her role for OC:
I said to Christopher, 'It's like riding a bike, but it isn't.' It's a muscle, but it's a very comfortable muscle. It's like putting on a pair of old jeans but the jeans had been laundered so they're a little snug and then you got to wear them for a little while to stretch them out and get them to fit like they used to. It was kind of like that.
While Tamara Tunie has a place on the list of Law & Order actors who have appeared in the most episodes across the franchise, her most recent appearance prior to her OC arrival was in the milestone 500th episode of SVU back in 2021. With Christopher Meloni leaving SVU as a series regular back after Season 12, fans haven't exactly seen a ton of Warner and Stabler on screen together in recent years. When I asked Tunie how working with Meloni on Organized Crime compares to Meloni on SVU, she shared:
As a scene partner, the same. It's nothing really different in that way, but his character is a little different from when he was on SVU, because a lot has happened to him in his life. It was great for Warner to be able to reconnect with him and kind of see where he is at this point in his life with what has happened to him over the years.
A lot certainly has happened in Stabler's life between the end of SVU Season 12 and where OC Season 4 picked up for him, not the least of which was the death of his wife and subsequent attempts to rebuild his relationship with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). It remains to be seen if Warner's arrival on OC includes any callbacks to working SVU cases with Stabler, but after how key she was to so many of those cases, is there any question that she would be an asset to him in the wake of a deadly bombing in the next episode?
When I noted that there aren't many characters left in the L&O franchise who have history with Stabler going back as far as Warner (who debuted on SVU in Season 2), Tamara Tunie shared what it was like for her to come to OC compared to when she has returned to SVU:
It's the same but it's different, because I walk in and it's the morgue and it all seems very familiar. But then there are all these new faces with the crew, and the hair and makeup departments. And I don't know any of these people, so it was weird because it was like, 'Wait, this should feel familiar, but at the same time, it doesn't.' The only really familiar face was Christopher's, so it was interesting. It was a bit of, 'Wait, where am I? Who am I? What am I doing?' [laughs]
Fortunately, fans don't have to wait too much longer to see Christopher Meloni and Tamara Tunie sharing the screen again. The episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime that brings back Warner (and introduces the eldest Stabler brother) airs on Thursday, January 25 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. Take a look at a preview:
You can also revisit earlier days of Warner and Stabler with every season of Law & Order: SVU streaming via Peacock Premium subscription now. As always, new episodes of OC finish NBC's Law & Order Thursdays, which start with the original Law & Order at 8 p.m. and continue with SVU at 9 p.m. before wrapping on Organized Crime. I'm still hoping to see the secret of Jet and Reyes' affair get out to Bell and Stabler, but only time will tell on that front!