Every day it becomes more apparent that the late '90s and 2000s are coming back with a vengeance: Britney Spears is pregnant, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are engaged (again) and Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni are hitting the streets of New York City to film for "Law & Order" together over 20 years after "SVU" first premiered — and one year after Meloni reprised Elliot Stabler after a 10-year absence.
These new photos of the two shooting together for “Law & Order: Organized Crime” Wednesday had us feeling some kind of way, and feeling some type of whiplash, because the snaps echo back to their early days together as partners in the Special Victims Unit.
Meloni returned to the franchise last year on his own spinoff, "Law & Order: Organized Crime," and since then, fans have been blessed with seeing him and Hargitay together on screen again on both "Organized Crime" and "SVU" thanks to crossover episodes and special guest appearances. (Will we ever not get chills when we see "Special Guest Star Mariska Hargitay" on our screens? No.)
These past few weeks, in particular, have been a treat for Hargitay and Meloni's fans. They recently filmed together with Ryan Buggle, who plays Benson's son, Noah, which has us jazzed up thinking that Stabler will soon meet the child of his "friend" "for now."
During the early years of "SVU," Benson often commented about her desires to be part of a family and even have a child of her own. Benson is a product of her mother's rape and never had the chance to meet her biological father. In initial seasons, viewers also saw Benson grapple with her mom's struggles with alcohol, which took a toll on their relationship as did her mother's death, which resulted from injuries sustained during a fall while she was drunk in a Season Two episode.
And there by her side through it all was her partner, Stabler, who by contrast has a large family. Over the years, Benson formed bonds with the five Stabler kids and even helped Stabler's wife, Kathy, deliver their youngest one, Eli, when she and Kathy were involved in a car accident. (Run, don't walk, and watch it all play out in the Season Nine episode "Paternity.") And who could forget when she secretly visited Stabler's somewhat estranged mom, Bernie, for her help when one of Stabler's other kids, Kathleen, got into trouble. Luckily for fans watching "Organized Crime" now, Bernie, who's played by the exemplary Ellen Burstyn, has returned in a recurring role and shared many adorable scenes with her son, whom she now also lives with.
And for Meloni's birthday earlier this month, fans were treated to a steamy snap Hargitay shared from a disco-themed celebration.
"Happy 61 @chris_meloni you’re aging like a fine wine cheers," she wrote, along with the hashtag #HeStillGotIt.
Other "Law & Order" stars like Danielle Moné Truitt, Ainsley Seiger and Camryn Manheim also attended the bash.
Truitt recently talked to TODAY about the fun event and said her favorite part of the night was Meloni's outfit and that it was enjoyable to socialize outside of work.
"It was just nice to come to a space as ourselves, not as our characters, and let our hair down and have fun and get to know each other on a different level," she said.
We're also hoping Benson and Stabler soon take their relationship to a different level.
In Stabler's return episode last April, his wife died from injuries she sustained after a car bomb exploded, and ever since then, it appears Benson and Stabler are slowly rebuilding their relationship into one that, for the first time in their 20+-year history, could actually be romantic.
Meloni told TODAY in February that his character is "in the middle of realizing" his feelings for Benson.
"This is a guy who’s got to figure out a lot of things on the move, right?" he said. "He’s got to figure out what life is now without his wife and all that. I mean that’s like a real unit, that was a thing and then all of a sudden all of the emotions … my wife is gone so I’m now allowed to act upon or — I just think there’s a lot of peeling of the onion that needs to happen."
At the time, Hargitay told TODAY Stabler was the first person in Benson's life "that really had her back" and that his "focus was to protect" her.
"So, I think that spending that much time with somebody, but then knowing that it could never be — but the chemistry has been undeniable: It’s been a complicated, a complicated factor in their relationship," she explained. "So I think that it’s the man that she was closest to, the man that understands her the most, the man that she understands the most, and a deeply complex relationship."