Chris Meloni’s Law & Order: Organized Crime spinoff — the return of Elliot Stabler to the Dick Wolf-created universe after a decade away — turned out to be a runaway hit. That was no surprise, given Stabler’s enormous popularity and how well the spinoff dragged him while incrementally dismantling those good-ol’-boy tendencies that won’t (and can’t) fly with cops on TV anymore. And she show scored a swift renewal for Season 2 while Law & Order: SVU keeps on cranking after 21 seasons, and now we’re getting Meloni guest appearances there, too. It’s all good, but there was the lingering question of whether Dylan McDermott, who portrayed what many fans called the greatest Law & Order villain of the franchise, would be back.
McDermott had a fabulous time as mafia-brat antagonist Wheatley, a Bond-baddie-esque character who uses a Dippin Dots’-imitator company as a front for his crime. He’ll kill anyone at the blink of an eye (or maybe trap someone in his cage/wine cellar), but his most nefarious scene included him wielding an octopus as an intimidation tool. It’s a delightfully chilling turn from McDermott, who generally doesn’t have much fun with his intense-yet-stiff roles that likely fill his wallet but (and I’m guessing here) not his soul. Perhaps that’s why he’s been tweeting (and retweeting) up a storm ever since the season finale, when Wheatley was put behind bars for his role in Stabler’s wife’s murder. Whether or not he’d be back looked to be up in the air, but McDermott clearly wanted another shot (as he even declared on Twitter) and kept on going:
Maybe I’m not who you think I am… pic.twitter.com/ioVlZhHjRI
— Dylan McDermott (@DylanMcDermott) June 10, 2021
Sir Richard Wheatley takes a selfie in Chinatown pic.twitter.com/gc6yxkRGF4
— Dylan McDermott (@DylanMcDermott) June 5, 2021
— 𝐋𝐀𝐖 & 𝐎𝐑𝐃𝐄𝐑 (@lawandordertv) June 4, 2021
— Dianne J Smith (@xxdianney) June 4, 2021
Well, good news. Even though Wheatley’s behind bars, that may not last for long? McDermott’s been signed for a “major recurring arc” for the coming season, and it sounds like he’s getting handsomely paid. Via Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva:
McDermott originally signed on as a series regular with a one-year deal to play Stabler’s (Meloni) Season 1 nemesis. His character was so well received by fans that NBC and Wolf approached The Practice alum about coming back. After negotiations, I hear McDermott has committed to return for eight episodes of Season 2 in what is believed to be one of the most lucrative guest-star deals on network television.
Will there be more cephalopod scenes in Wheatley’s future? Only time will tell, but if they ever decide (god forbid) to kill him off, he’ll need to go out like this: