too close?

The subject of Elliot and Olivia's closeness can be difficult to think about. Are they too close? If they are, then separating them only seems cruel because they are so close. But if there closeness affects their work in such a way that people will be hurt because of it, then what other choice is there? It's a tough call to make, and has been covered in the series a couple of times.

One of the episodes which touches upon this subject is "Fault". Olivia gets cut in the neck by the perp she and the rest of SVU are after, a man named Victor Gitano, who has kidnapped a young boy and girl. Elliot witnesses this attack on Olivia, and is torn between running to her side to help her or grabbing the kidnapped boy while he is out of Victor's reach. Elliot ends up choosing Olivia, who is relatively okay, and she tells him to go after the boy, but it is too late by this time. Victor has the boy again, and kills him before fleeing with the girl.

Elliot is, of course, upset over the boy's death. But he is also upset at how he struggled to choose between him and Olivia. He even takes out his anger on her. When the two of them find Victor again, Elliot is taken hostage by him. Now it is Olivia who finds herself in a very complicated position. She has her gun aimed at Victor, and even though she won't take it off him, she knows that if she shoots him, he would probably kill Elliot. Elliot tells her to shoot anyway, but she never has to make the choice, because a sniper takes Victor out and Elliot is saved. Later on, at the hospital, Elliot and Olivia have this conversation.
Elliot: If that sniper hadn't beaten you to it... I know you would have taken that shot, Olivia.
Olivia: No, I wouldn't have. Did you really expect me to? Did you really expect me to cause your death? What about your kids?
Elliot: I don't know. I just couldn't get that boy out of my head.
Olivia: [softly] What about me?
Elliot: Look, we both chose each other over the job. We can never let that happen again. Otherwise... we can't be partners.
Olivia: I can't believe you're saying that.
Elliot: Look, you and this job are about the only things that I've got anymore. I don't want to wreck that. I couldn't take it.
- "Fault"
After that, Olivia walks into Cragen's office and asks for a new partner. I still have trouble figuring out why she does this, especially after what Elliot said in that last line. I think she is okay with being so close to Elliot, but she doesn't like the fact that Elliot is not okay with it. Perhaps she is different from him in that she doesn't see their closeness as a bad thing. So, she leaves him.

Eventually, thankfully, she does come back to be his partner. However, this still does not answer the question of whether or not they are too close.

In the episode "Philadelphia", where Olivia is investigating her half-brother Simon, she runs into trouble. Simon is actually being investigated by another, outside jurisdiction. They happen to catch Olivia and take her into their station. Along with Elliot, who was watching her. It is here where Olivia states she doesn't want Elliot to get involved because this is personal to her, but Elliot has her back anyway. Throughout the episode, the two of them are interviewed by a psychiatrist on how they view each other, how close they are, and if that closeness is affecting their work. Olivia's mission to find out about her brother affects her work, and a group of rapists that the SVU are currently after happen to get away because of it (they are later caught, though). When Olivia is questioned on this, Elliot makes an excuse for her. Cragen later finds out that Olivia was talking on the phone when she should have been concentrating on following the perps' van. So he knows that Elliot and Olivia will not hesitate to cover for each other.

At the end of the episode, Cragen asks the psychiatrist who has been talking to Olivia and Elliot, "Should I separate them?", to which she replies, "If you want to lose your two best detectives."

Yes, Olivia and Elliot are close. Very. And yes, maybe they are too close. But they are good together, and they respect and trust each other, which is very important for two people who work together in such a dangerous job. After what happened in "Fault", and because they were able to become partners again after their separation, I think both Elliot and Olivia would never let something like that happen again. If anything, being aware of their closeness might make them better at not letting it get in their way.

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