With Christopher Meloni back in the "Law & Order" universe (in "Organized Crime") as Elliot Stabler, there's one thing fans seem to most want to know: Will he and his former partner Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay, of "SVU") finally, finally have a romance?
"There's a world of possibility," Meloni, 60, told People magazine during an interview hosted by Wolf Entertainment on Friday.
That is not exactly helpful! But it is a bit hopeful. Fans have enjoyed the intense chemistry between Benson and Stabler since they were first paired in 1999 on "Law & Order: SVU," but the entire time Stabler was a (mostly) happily married man with a slew of children — and the relationship never got past being close friends who worked in a pressure-cooker environment.
Well (spoiler alert), with Stabler now a widow as of the early-April crossover between "SVU" and "OC," it's true that there are a lot of new possibilities. But franchise creator Dick Wolf is not exactly giving fans a lot to go on — earlier this week he told TODAY during a news conference that he'd only consider crossing the characters over "whenever it gives both shows a different way to shine."
Still, Meloni acknowledged that fan interest in the interplay between Stabler and Benson was something that both he and Hargitay, 57, noticed.
"Obviously, we recognized it when we were together on 'SVU'," he said. "We were always kind of toying with that, leaning into that, teasing with that."
For now, Benson and Stabler have only just started talking to each other again, after he abruptly left "SVU" after a shooting. It's good that they're in touch (he even wrote her a letter, the contents of which we don't know yet), but they're still a long way from crossing that line of friendship.
Noted "OC" co-creator Ilene Chaiken, "I'm ... just girding myself for the onslaught. No matter what story we wind up telling, I know that there are some folks that are going to want the other story, and we'll see."
"I think we're going to stumble bumble, as I think most human beings do, through complicated areas or difficult terrain, emotional terrain," said Meloni. "What are the answers? There are no answers right now. And I think that's the art and the beauty of what we do, the writers get together and they create these connections or circumstances and the actors get to play them out, so I'm excited. I think there's a world of possibility."