They've also been waiting patiently (since April!) to find out what was in that letter that he gave her upon his triumphant return. Sure, he's been busy starring in his own spinoff, "Organized Crime," but that's no excuse. It's also what crossover are for.
"Special Victims Unit" and "Organized Crime" staged just such a crossover as part of a massive night of "Law & Order" Thursday night. So what better time to address the elephant in the room.
As we've come to expect, there was plenty of tension between Stabler and Benson, but they've learned to lean into the job and just let it simmer on the back burner. Well, in this week's episode, as things got complicated undercover, Stabler found himself drugged.
He managed to extricate himself from a situation where he might have exposed his real identity -- because the drugs were clearly inspiring some truth telling -- but instead wound up on Benson's doorstep.
He was drugged, but clearly not out of his mind, as he told her that it was time they finally talked about it. Olivia thought he was talking about the case but he put her straight that "we never talked about what happened" means we never talked about "us."
That's when he dropped the biggest bombshell of the three-hour "L&O" night. "I didn't write the letter," he told her. Stabler first gave Benson the letter during his big return to the franchise on April 1, shortly after his wife had died.
Its contents had not been revealed, so fans were anticipating that big reveal. Was it the love confession they've all been wanting? Something else? Little did they know there was a twist like this behind who even wrote the damned thing. Even more shocking was who did.
Benson picked up on what he was suggesting, asking him if his wife Kathy had actually written it. "Yes, it was her idea," Stabler admitted, barely able to talk clearly with the drugs ravaging his system.
Kathy thought it would be easier for him and Benson to talk after all those years if he had some thoughts written down like this already. And she had some ideas what specific thoughts he should be putting across, whether they were his truth or not!
At this point, Stabler interrupted her to finish that line: "--It will always be you and I." He then added, "I wrote that. I slipped it in there before sealing the envelope." So not only did he write it, he hid that he had done so from his wife. His truth.
There was no follow-up to this revelation, though, as having unburdened himself Stabler promptly passed out. When he awoke, Benson had handed him off to his partner, Sgt. Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt). Bell's concern was that Stabler might have blown his cover.
Fans were concerned about that really meaningful look that passed between Benson and Stabler before he passed into unconsciousness. And they were none too pleased with Kathy's involvement with that letter!