Thursday, September 26, 2013
Law & Order SVU “Surrender Benson – Imprisoned Lives” Recap & Review
The anticipation is over. After waiting all summer, fans finally found out how Olivia Benson is saved and by whom. Short answer – she saved herself.
Law & Order SVU closed season 14 with Benson held at gunpoint in her own apartment by the “especially heinous” sexual predator and sadist William Lewis (episode: “Her Negotiation”). Fans stewed for months wondering what would happen to Benson, the “#SaveBenson” Twitter hashtag gaining traction as the summer progressed. This campaign triggered some debate within the fan base. Some fans objected to making Benson a victim as a cheap ratings stunt; some were overly concerned about Benson to the point of making themselves ill with worry. Over the last few months, I’ve had to remind quite a few panicked fans that Law & Order SVU is a TV show and Olivia Benson is a fictional character, and that a TV show that can’t generate buzz is one that gets canceled.
After Mariska Hargitays’s contract status for season 15 was made clear, viewers HAD to know that Benson would be saved from the peril at hand. My interest in the premiere of season 15 was not that Benson would be saved, but HOW she would get out of her horrific predicament and at what cost. The “woman in peril” storyline is an overused plot device for many TV shows and it gets tiresome at times. But, sometimes for a character to grow – especially one such as Olivia Benson who has been around for so long – drastic measures need to be taken. Benson’s hellish experience could have long lasting effects on her and this season we’ll likely see her navigate the process of saving herself from the physical and mental torment inflicted on her by William Lewis.
Mariska pulled out all the stops to make viewers feel that Benson was in the fight of her life. It was troubling to watch a beloved character endure such torture. It also became very easy to wish that she would exact the ultimate revenge on Lewis. While watching the story unfold, the one question I asked myself is why, when Benson had control of her gun and could have easily shot Lewis to either incapacitate or kill him, that she didn’t simply shoot him and be done with it? In fact, at the end of the episode, Benson is asked that very question by another detective, and she rationalizes bludgeoning Lewis rather than shooting him as a judgment call. I would think that her police instincts would have told her that, once she had her gun, to shoot first to incapacitate the attacker, rather than taking some time and then beating someone within an inch of their life. Forensics could indicate that some of Lewis’ major injuries were sustained when he was prone, so will her account of what transpired come back to haunt her? It surprised me that her answer was acceptable to Benson’s superiors but I assume that they cut her slack since her judgment had to be impaired from all of what Lewis did to her.
The case in the episode “Imprisoned Lives” took place two months after Benson’s release from capture. It was a “ripped from the headlines" story based loosely on the real life story of Ariel Castro’s abduction and imprisonment of 3 young girls in Cleveland, Ohio. While working this case, Cragen describes Benson as still being “raw” and this has become painfully evident as the episode progressed. But, this seemed to be a perfect case for Benson to help her reconnect with helping victims, at the same time seeing a little of her own pain in those same victims. I must note the hypocrisy of the writers having Benson express outrage about the “feeding frenzy” of reporters. I hold similar disdain for “ripped from the headlines” story lines and suspect writers of police procedurals were chomping at the bit to adapt the story of the kidnapping and imprisonment of those 3 girls in Cleveland. There are a lot of people in news and entertainment that make a living off the pain of other people (and I’m glad I’m not one of them).
This was an excellent start to season 15 – probably the best premiere that SVU has had in years.
Here is the recap:
Mariska Hargitay – Detective Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Richard Belzer – Sergeant John Munch
Dann Florek – Captain Don Cragen
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Guest stars (Surrender Benson)
Pablo Schreiber – William Lewis
Dean Winters – Uniform Brian Cassidy
Susan Pellegrino – Mrs. Mayer
Sue-Anne Morrow – Unnamed Detective
Robin de Jesus X – Jose Silva/Halfway House Inhabitant
Kecia Lewis-Evans – Arraignment Judge
Bill Irwin – Doctor Lindstrom
Lauren Ambrose – Vanessa Mayer
Bárbara Jimenez – Viva Núñez (as Barbara Jimenez)
Zach Appelman – Officer Jimmy Hamilton
Brian Keane – Clerk
Ned Luke – Mr. Thurber
Corey Patrick – EMT
Stowe Brown – Janey Thurber
Jasmine Rampage Rodriguez – Luisa Núñez
Guest Stars (Imprisoned Lives)
Bill Irwin – Doctor Lindstrom
Michael Massee – Michael Williams AKA Pa
Angela Christian – April Hendricks AKA Ma
Agatha Nowicki – Kayla Greyland
Xander Franco – Buddy Greyland
Dashiell Eaves – Times Square Uni
Henny Russell – Faith Greyland
Donald Sage Mackay – Scott Greyland (as Donald Mackay)
Sanja Danilovic – Dagmara Williams
Omar Scroggins – George Brown
Rick Lyon – Mo-Mo
Angela Lewis – Rhonda Davis AKA Auntie
T.J. Mannix – Tony Minetti
Sidné Anderson – Colleen Bedford
Sydney James Harcourt – State Trooper
Benson is unconscious, bound, with her mouth taped shut with duct tape. Lewis kicks her, holding a gun on her. She begins to open her eyes, groggy. He comments about her big, beautiful brown eyes and notes she is still feeling woozy. She sees an ashtray on the floor, filled with cigarette butts. As he sits her up, he tells her they have time. He strokes her hair and drops his hand, which still is holding a gun, between her legs. Benson resists but Lewis tells her don’t be shy, they are past that, and she was so sweet when she was knocked out. She struggles to focus her eyes and Lewis opens a bottle of whiskey and asks if she wants another drink, and then adds he should take off the tape so she can say yes. He puts the gun to her face and says if she screams again, he’ll shove her own gun right down her throat. He pulls off the tape and she spits at him. He silently steps back and Benson. She tells him “You know what? Shoot me.” He smiles and says “that’s the end game, sweetheart.” He adds that he has a lot of shock and awe before he does that. He takes his fingers and wipes her spit off his forehead and then licks his fingers. Benson is revolted. He grabs her face and squeezes – and her cell phone rings.
Back at the Bronx County Clerk’s office, Brian Cassidy is at the desk, and he’s leaving a message for Benson.
At Benson’s apartment, the messages beeps on her cell phone and she tells Lewis it is her boyfriend who is NYPD and is on his way over to her apartment now. Lewis asks if he has keys and Benson says yes. Lewis checks the message on the phone and comments there isn’t much of her boyfriend’s stuff around and asks if she is lying. Benson tells Lewis to think about what he is doing now. Lewis says he is thinking about it. Benson suggest if he walks out that door right now, no one will know anything happened to her. He asks what about that pert little detective the blond one, won’t she notice all the bruises and cuts? Benson suggests a story that the cab stopped short and she hit her face on the divider. He puts his hand on her chest, and she screams in pain, and he asks what about these burns. He comments that Rollins is like a dog with a bone. Benson replies that he’s done far worse and gotten away with it, and his lawyer friend the redhead will accuse NYPD of framing him after the trial. He corrects her that it was a mistrial. Benson tells him to go and get the hell out of New York and if he walks out the door they will pretend this never happened. He strokes her hair and moves close to her face and asks that she wouldn’t pretend this didn’t happen. He pulls her hair, drawing her head back, and Benson feels pain. He accuses her of lying. He tugs at her hair once more, and then walks over to get her cell phone, saying there is something that she should hear. He plays back the voice mail from Cassidy explaining they talked about getting together tomorrow but the guys are jerking him around over there and he has to pull a double and don’t be mad at him. Benson stares off as Cassidy adds that he is the one stuck at the Bronx courthouse. Lewis continues to stroke Benson’s hair as she listens to the message, as Cassidy says he is sorry about this, he owes her one. Lewis lets the phone drop to the floor and comments that he guesses that Cassidy is not coming. Benson explains she is offering Lewis a way out. He gets angry and holds the gun to her head, asking if she is bargaining with him, saying they are past that. Benson stares into his face as he continues to hold the gun on her, reminds him she is an NYPD detective and her partner and her squad and the entire department will hunt him down. She says that he thinks he put people through hell, it will rain back down on him. He moves the gun away and says, “You know what?” and, after a long pause, adds, “Let it rain” as he takes his gun and strikes her with it.
Back at SVU, Munch stops Amaro and complains that Amaro hasn’t paid his coffee kitty dues since March. Amaro counters that he doesn’t drink coffee. Munch says the unis see that as bad for morale, not putting in. Amaro replies “Seriously?” and then offers Munch $10. When Munch scoffs and Amaro ups it to $20, Munch says it is below his dignity. Amaro hands him $30 and Munch tells Amaro “today you are a man.” Amaro grabs a cup to pour himself some coffee, and Munch comments that Amaro said he doesn’t drink coffee. Amaro retorts that he is paying for it, he’s taking it. Brian Cassidy enters with a bouquet of flowers looking for Benson. He asks Munch and Amaro if they have seen Liv. Amaro explains that Cragen gave her two days off, and Munch questions that Benson didn’t tell him. Cassidy explains that they were supposed to hook up yesterday but he got roped into a double shift. Amaro comments that Cassidy stood her up, adding “nice move.” Cassidy replies that he left her a couple messages and he hadn’t heard back from her. Cragen walks up and asks Cassidy how Liv is doing, and Munch answers that Cassidy hasn’t seen her. Cragen asks when the last time was that he spoke to her, and Cassidy says Monday, he left a few messages. Cragen comments that she was pretty down when Lewis got released. Cassidy counters can they blame her, they just let this guy walk. Amaro, who is trying to call Benson, comments the call went straight to voice mail. He leaves a message for her to give him a call. Munch speculates that Benson can’t turn it off and she is deep into Lewis’ case file. Cragen says, “Still…” and Fin and Rollins enter, Fin explaining that pizza boy folded like a slice. Cragen comments on the good work but then asks Fin and Rollins to swing by Benson’s before the punch out. Rollins asks if everything is all right, and Cragen answers yeah, he just wants to be sure she hasn’t gone down one of her rabbit holes. Rollins asks Cassidy if he is coming with, but he explains he is back on tour in 30. He asks Rollins if she talks to Benson to have he give him a call. Munch say “Easy Romeo” and tells Rollins to just check in on her.
At Benson’s apartment (at 203 West 89th Street) Fin and Rollins approach Benson’s apartment door to see mail and newspapers on the floor outside. Rollins thinks Benson had a tough week and is just catching up on her sleep, but Fin questions for 35 hours? Fin knocks and calls her name, and Rollins comments that Benson either hasn’t come home or hasn’t left her apartment in 2 days. Fin knocks harder and continues to call out to her but there is no response.
Later, with the SVU squad on the scene at Benson’s apartment, they find it is trashed and Cragen says it’s him – it’s Lewis. Rollins explains that he tied up and duct taped Benson’s mouth, adding her hair and her blood is everywhere. Amaro adds that Lewis took her down the fire escape, her window is open and her bedding is gone. Cragen asks if there is any sign of her cell phone, and Rollins replies it is not in her apartment and TARU is tracking it. Cragen instructs them to canvas the building and the neighborhood and to check all surveillance cams. Fin notes there is a pan on the stove with keys and it smells like burnt hair or flesh. Amaro and Rollins look stunned and Cragen comments, “Son of a bitch.” Cragen tells another detective on scene that a detective has been kidnapped and they need to bag everything, and he has to call One PP. He points to Amaro and tell him to find him. Rollins gets a message saying they got a ping of her cell in Bushwick – Lewis’s halfway house.
At the halfway house, Fin and Amaro rough up Lewis’ roommate for information. Fin calls Benson’s cell phone and hears it ring on a nearby bed. The roommate says he last saw Lewis there yesterday morning early before breakfast and Lewis took his aunt’s Lincoln. After more prodding, he goes on to say Lewis was last there morning with the lawyer.
At arraignment court, Rollins and Cragen interrupt a case in progress to question Counselor Mayer as Cragen explains the urgency. As they walk to the courtroom lobby, Mayer insists they have a vendetta against Lewis, but as Cragen and Rollins explains the sordid details and show proof, Mayer insists she was with him all day yesterday when they drove out to Long Island – in a Lincoln. Rollins explains the car was stolen and Mayer then admits Lewis wanted to go to the beach to clear his head, and when Rollins asks if he checked the trunk, Mayer says no. Cragen says they believe Benson was in that car but Mayer says the car was empty. She goes on to say she had to go back to the city and before he dropped her off at the train station they stopped for dinner at her parent’s house. Cragen asks if they were there.
As the detectives race to Mayer’s parent’s house, Amaro and Cragen see the Lincoln parked there. Fin checks the trunk and Rollins and Amaro enter the house to find Mayer’s father dead and a blood trail. In the trunk, Fin finds a bloody bedspread and Benson’s necklace hidden by the spare tire – Fin believes she left it for them. Cragen says she was alive in the trunk and instructs the other officers to canvas the neighborhood. Fin and Cragen open the garage doors to find the parent’s car missing. Cragen tells him to call the lawyer and find out what car her parent’s drive.
Back in the house, Amaro and Rollins find Mayer’s mother barely clothed and hanging by her arms in the closet. She is still alive and Amaro calls out for an ambulance. Later, as they race to the hospital with her, she explains that Lewis came back after dropping off her daughter and made the woman with her watch while he raped her. She explains the other woman passed out. As Rollins continues to press if Benson was still alive, the EMT tells Rollins she is done.
Back at SVU, Munch is on the phone telling the caller there were no hits on the easy pass and they have alarms out on t he couple’s SUV, credit cards, bank cards. Cassidy asks Munch for information and then tells Munch he is going out. Munch stops him and says he can’t go out there, he is involved with the victim, and Cassidy is shaken by hearing Benson referred to as a victim. Munch explains the zone is flooded and that Cassidy won’t see something they don’t. Cassidy worries about what Lewis has done to her for two days, and Munch urges Cassidy not to think like that, and tries to assure Cassidy that Benson is alive and she is a survivor.
Elsewhere, Lewis opens the back door of the car and Benson is laying there. He brings in supplies and then gets her to sit up. She is still bound and gagged, and he explained all the stuff he got at the hardware store. He taunts her with the promise of a drink of water but forces her to drink vodka first. He mentions the sleeping pills giving her dry mouth, and then says he keeps his promises, including those to that other lady, and then gives her only a sip of water. He says they will find someplace special soon, and then spills out all the remaining water in the bottle, crushing the plastic bottle against her face. He tapes her mouth and then forces a kiss on her, then tells her one move and it’s lights out, he’ll do her cold/
Back at SVU, Cragen has returned to a waiting Cassidy, who asks if they are still searching. Cragen informs Cassidy that they are still searching and the last witness they have saw her alive. Cassidy asks if Liv was OK, and Cragen replies that compared to the witness, yeah. Cassidy says they know this guy’s car and where he has been, and he just ups and disappears? Rollins explains that Lewis has done this before, she and Munch have gone over Lewis’ M.O. Munch states that Lewis doesn’t pre-plan, he’s a savant, instinctual. Rollins adds that he does follow certain patterns, like a cat playing with a mouse. When he can, he moves them to a safe house and he takes his time. Munch goes on to say that in Kentucky, his girlfriend’s mother, he offers her a lift in the Circle K parking lot, stops at a hardware store and gets duct tape, rope and a soldering iron and then he stops at a liquor store. Rollins adds that Lewis ties the vic up and force feed her alcohol and drugs and drives around until he can find an abandoned mobile home out in the woods. He works her and leaves her there, a hunter finds her. Cragen asks about the two girls in Alabama, and Rollins explains they were roommates; Lewis broke into their apartment, puts them in the trunk of their own car, and drives them to a fishing cabin. He holds them there for 3 days and rapes and tortures them. He leaves them there tied up but they manage to escape. Cassidy comments, “So he lets them all live.” Rollins shakes her head and informs him not always, his first lawyer girlfriend in Maryland to a foreclosed house and held her there for almost two days and leaves her for dead. Munch informs them no news is good news, the car has not been spotted at any bridges and tunnels or ferries. Cragen thinks Lewis is still on Long Island. Rollins explains Lewis told his lawyer that he wanted to clear his mind and go to the beach. Cassidy wonders which beach, the north shore, south shore, the bay, asking if she knows how many beach houses there are on Long Island.
As Lewis continues to drive, he happily signs along with the song, :Ain’t We Got Fun.” He gets pulled over by a patrol man and Lewis tells Benson the cop is young and one move and he’s dead. As the officer explains Lewis ran through a blinking red light and asks the usual questions, but Lewis does not have his driver’s license. The officer sees the bottle on the floor and asks if he has been drinking. When the officer asks what he has in the back seat, he punches the officer, pulls him closer and puts a gun to his head and says he thinks his job there is done – and he shoots. Benson’s eye open wide with shock.
Later and elsewhere, the SVU detectives are on the scene as the body of Officer Jimmy Hamilton is being removed and Amaro explains to Cragen the Lewis took his gun and badge. They find evidence in the car Lewis left that Benson was in the back seat. Lewis took Hamilton’s squad car to pull over another driver and pistol whipped her and locked her and her baby in the squad car trunk and took her minivan. Fin adds they have a BOLO out for a white minivan with Connecticut plates. Amaro explains they have moved the grid search and are checking every home and ever boats, and Cragen orders them to check hardware stores and gas stations between here and Montauk.
Meanwhile, Lewis arrives at a house where mail is piled up in the mailbox. He brings Benson in and throws her forcefully on the bed. He explains he has to lose the car and it won’t take him long. He asks is she will miss him. He sees the bathroom and then says it’s been a long time – all that vodka, and then says let/s go. She needs help to get up and he pulls her to stand and then moves her toward the bathroom.
Elsewhere, Amaro and Fin are at Yaphank Hardware in Yaphank, NY, and the manager identifies Lewis from the photo, saying Lewis was using his wife’s credit card. His terminal was down and did not know the card was stolen until the morning. His wife was in the car. Lewis was there are 7”45 and bought tarp, rope, wire, and a hand held blow torch and said he and his wife were going camping. Fin gives him a look and grabs the receipt out of the manager’s hand.
Meanwhile, Benson is at the house while Lewis is away ditching the car, and she tries to escape. He returns and asks if she is going somewhere. He throws her back on the bed and yells at her, saying he told her he’d be right back. He taunts her on how he will tie her up on the iron bed. He asks if she wants her clothes burned off or cut off, and decides on scissors. As he goes to the kitchen to look for scissors she struggles to free herself. He finds a can opener instead. He asks if she is feeling sad, thinking about someone she will never see again. He continues to taunt her as he cuts her clothes. He thinks she is thinking of someone she would give anything to see again and he says she will cry his name out at some point – they always do. Benson suggests they he might want to keep her around as she knows what he likes, and thinks he wants someone hard to get and begging for it. She explains she knows more details about his past than he does and that he is not some punk. He thinks she is playing him but she insists no, and then she continues to outline what he’s done in the past. She tries to get him to loosen the cuffs or take them off, and he likes the struggle, but this angers him. He climbs up on her and puts the gun in her mouth, saying she does not tell him what to do. He then says, “now you say…” and Benson replies “I want to live, I’ll do anything.” She continues to say that she will do anything. He says, “Yes you will.” But a knock on the door is heard, and Benson screams out “Helllllp!” and quickly Lewis covers her mouth. A woman calls out and says he can’t find her key. Lewis answers the door, and it is the maid and her daughter, and the maid says he will call Linda. As Lewis makes small talk with her daughter, the maid gets more suspicious and says she will come back later. Benson continues to struggle. Lewis pulls the daughter inside and her mother is forced to follow.
Elsewhere, police arrive at the home where a man found a strange white van in the driveway, the one he saw on the news, and tells Fin and Amaro he called 911. The police told him to wait outside for detectives to arrive. He sees his daughter’s bike parked there and Fin and Amaro enter the house, where they find his daughter just hanging out in the bedroom with a guy.
Back at the house, Lewis tells Benson he hates to be rude but they have to hurry. He pulls off the tape and says the maid showed up with her daughter, calling her a cutie. Benson asks old ladies and little girls, asking what is it with him, is Lewis afraid of her? He said he just wanted to take his time, but she reminds him they have been together for 4 days and he is all talk and no action, She continues to taunt him about not being able to get it up for a real woman. She explains she profiles him, he’s a tyrannical sadist who preys on the weak and she thinks he is afraid of her. As she taunts him, he gets ready to remove his pants and says let’s get to the action. She pulls off one of the metal bars on the bed and hits him in the face with it, then beats his arm with it and then kicks him in the groin. As he moans in pain, she pulls the gun on him and tells him not to move. She says one move and lights out. He says if she wants to be in control for a while, he can play that. She hits him with the gun, knocking him out.
Later, Lewis is cuffed to the bed as Benson urges the maid to leave and say nothing, and explains she is the police. Benson says if the police find out the maid is there they will take her daughter. The maid flees. Benson comes back into the room and looks at herself in the mirror. She looks at Lewis and kicks him to wake him, but he seems out cold. She talks out loud about all the things she’d like to do to him, and she lights the blowtorch. She thinks he might enjoy that too. She says he knows what to do, his whole life he knew what to do, but what she wants to do…and she point the gun at him, saying she wants to shoot him in the head right now and watch him bleed out. But she thinks that may be too easy. She said her old partner would know what to do, he wouldn’t question himself after what Lewis has done. He would kick his teeth in, break his legs, arm, back and his face, and maybe Lewis should call him. Maybe she should get him to use that metal bar on him and make him pay. As she gets close to his face, he lurches towards her and she quickly moves back. He tells her to do it, please, complaining about her speech, it was the saddest think he’s heard in his life. She tells him to shut up. He says her partner and he would know what to do but she’s just standing there wondering what to do? She replies she will hurt him and he tells her to take the cuffs off. She orders him to stop talking and he asks or what – she’ll shoot him? He says she doesn’t have it in her, she wants to but she can’t, she’s a nice girl. Benson retorts that he doesn’t know what he is dealing with. Lewis replies her old partner sounds very macho and it must have been tough for her, all those long nights alone in the car. Benson sternly replies Lewis doesn’t get to talk about him, but Lewis asks if her partner ever did her, and then says he did, didn’t he? Lewis thinks she still wants him, he can hear it in her voice and she is all bottled up. He goes on to say all her life she has been listening to women telling her the worst stories of their lives and what about her, what is she working through? As she yells at him to shut up, he asks if it is something her daddy did to her, and says he can always smell a victim. She kicks him and then says point taken, daddy is off limits. He starts to talk about his father used to leave him at the babysitters and take her out back and do her on the water bed. One day he got wasted and he passed out and the babysitter came out of the room and she asked Lewis is he wanted to play. She put Lewis in her mouth and it felt good and then his daddy came out and slapped her in the face. She was bleeding from the nose and mouth and he grabbed her and pulled her to the floor and did her while she screamed, begging him to stop. Benson says, “While you watched? Are you kidding me?” and whispers, “Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?” Lewis smiles and asks sorry?...she missed the point. His daddy got up, pulled up his pants, took him to the car and then to Dairy Queen for ice cream, it was ht best day of his life, the moment he knew what he was put here for. He knows what he wants, what about her? She says she knows exactly what she wants – and as she points the gun at him, she says she wants him dead with a bullet in his head, she wants him in the ground. Nobody will miss him or mourn him, and as she has the gun to his head. Lewis urges her to do it now, while she is angry, just shoot him and it will feel so good, don’t let it go to trial he has a long history of winning streaks and he will get off. As she pulls back Lewis says no no no in disappointment. Benson puts the gun down and Lewis says he knew it, she doesn’t have the balls. She looks at herself in the mirror and then picks up the metal bar from the bed and as she screams, she bludgeons him 7 times, the last hit accompanied by a horrific crunching noise.
Later, Amaro, telling her it is over, leads Benson out of the house, and Fin comments to her she is still alive. She replies she does not know how. Fin tells Benson she did what she had to do. Amaro suggests they get her out of there.
Back at SVU and in Cragen’s office, Benson explains to a detective that she was able to break free from her restraints and there was a struggle, and she managed to incapacitate the suspect and get the gun. She got the handcuff key from his pocket and freed herself and called for backup. The detective comments that before the police arrived, the suspect tried to escape, and Benson confirms that Lewis managed to get to a standing position and lunge at her and she used the metal bar from the bed frame to subdue him. The detective asks if this was rather than shoot him at point blank range, and Benson nods, saying she made a judgment call. The detective thanks Benson and then tells Cragen she will forward Benson’s statement with the case file and rape kit with forensics to the DA and tells Benson he will be in touch. Benson looks out into the squad room, and then thanks the detective. After the detective leaves, Cragen tells Benson as far as the department is concerned, she is a hero and they will want a press tour as soon as she is up to it. He tells her the lawyer’s mother is doing better and will be released from the hospital tonight. Benson asks where the woman will go now, she can’t go back to the house, and then wonders herself where she will go. Cragen explains that her place is a crime scene and the department will put her up in a hotel. When Benson asks for how long, Cragen tells her not to worry about it, she has a concussion and a broken wrist and cracked ribs, and what she’s been through, she is on mandatory leave until she recovers and he does not want any arguments. She nods and says she is not going to give him any. Cassidy enters the office and says there is a lot of press outside and he should get Liv out of there. He asks Benson if she wants to go to the hotel, but she suggests they go to his place. As Benson walks through the squad room, her colleagues stand and watch her leave as she stares straight ahead. They all look dejected.
Back at Cassidy’s, Benson looks in the mirror and then begins to put her hair, crying as her hair hits the floor.
At a later time in a psychiatrists’ office, Benson recounts her ordeal. He explains she was in a vulnerable state and it sounds like she is blaming herself. Benson claims she knows better but he still got to her – but not the way the doctor thinks.
Two months later, Benson returns to her apartment along with Cassidy, and the place is still in the mess it was in when she was initially held captive. She recalls what happened there as Cassidy says he wishes he’d let her do this for her. She explains she wants to open some windows. Cassidy tried to stop her when she moves to pick up a chair but she says she’s got it and says she is fine.
Later, she appears to be in a self defense class, and then back in the doctor’s office explaining that she knows Lewis is locked up and can’t get to her but she feels very angry and explains her regrets about the others. When the doctor mentions her being raped, Benson says that was not rape, that was an ugly , violent, assault. The doctor thinks Benson is trying to say she is fine, and reminds her she has undergone a traumatic experience and that even she is not a superwoman. She explains she went to the apartment for the first time today after the assault and it was not good. When the doctor explains that returning for the first time can be a trigger, she cuts him off and says she knows all about that. She then apologizes, then adds her place was so dark and she realized that she hasn’t thrived there. He says they can talk about that some more, and she suggests at their next session – or not. She says she knows that she is just ready to go back to work. He knows she is antsy but wonders if SVU is the best place for her, he hears she is reevaluating her home, her relationship, and he wonders if she has given any thought to the toll her job takes. She replies not for a second – Lewis doesn’t get to take that from her. He asks if the thought of doing something different frightens her, and she says what she is afraid of is walking back into her squad room and have everyone look at her and wonder if she is OK.
As Benson walks into the squad room, they all turn and look and she greets them. She seems happy and so do they. She sees a welcome back bouquet and asks what, no cake? Rollins explains they were going to get cupcakes but Benson assures them she was joking; She thanks them all as Cragen welcomes her back.
At the busy Times Square intersection, a young boy walks up to “Momo”, a man in a large purple fuzzy/furry costume. As the boy hugs Momo, a man races up and pulls the boy away, calling him Buddy and chiding him for walking away from him. The man tells Momo to back off and an officer takes notice. The man races off and leaves the kid standing there, calling out for “Pa.” The officer asks the boy for his name and the boy does not answer, looking frightened.
Back at SVU, Benson twirls her shorter hair and stares off as she recalls cutting it and her being held captive. She catches Amaro looking at him and he says he is sorry. She says it is OK, and asks if he does not like her haircut. He says it will grow. She laughs and then asks where is his ring. He explains it is what it is. Cragen enters and says there is an abandoned kid in Times Square, another “Momo” incident. Rollins asks what it is with that guy and Cragen tells her to wake up her partner and find out, but Benson says they have this. Cragen reminds her it is just her second day back. She complains that they pay her to be there and sent her home yesterday after 2 hours, reminding him it is a lost kid, adding please, she can handle this. Amaro steps up and says they are good. Cragen agrees.
At Times Square, Benson questions the officer, who says the boy doesn’t speak much and just wants to go home, thinking something is off developmentally. Amaro speaks with Momo who explains the dad started it and the kid clung to Momo like he was real. Benson tries to establish contact with the boy and looks at his hands. He says his name is Buddy.
In Cragen’s office, he thinks it is not good for the man to have taken off once he saw police. Fin explains Momo is getting a police sketch and TARU is checking security cameras. Amaro says the doctors state the boy is underweight for his age but bright and seems unharmed. While Benson is in the other room with Buddy, Rollins adds that they ran his profile through missing persons and there are no matches and no hits, either maternal or paternal, on his DNA.
In the room with the body, Benson talks about Buddy’s drawings and says he lives in house with his Ma, Auntie and Sissy and when she asks about the man, he says he will come back and be mad. He calls the man Pa when he lives at house, he goes sometimes but he always comes back. Benson asks if Buddy knows where Pa goes, and he says – don’t ask, be quiet, then he won’t be mad, if you’re quiet you’ll get ice cream or be out. She asks if they walked to see Momo and he says they walked a long way and then went upstairs to the train high up. He looks out the window and it got dark. Sissy taught him a way to make the walk go faster, to count the cracks in the sidewalk. He adds he and Sissy have lots of tricks and they count lots of things. She asks if they count the train stops and he nods yes.
At Pulaski Bridge in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Amaro is driving the car and Benson is in the back seat with Buddy as he gives them information. He recognizes the bridge that they cross and says there are 100 cracks to get that far from house. As they get closer he says 55 cracks. He points out “house.”
Later, with Fin and Rollins and more officers on the scene, Fin knocks on the door, calling out it is the police. A neighbor comes out onto the porch and asks if they are looking for Tony, and Rollins says the house is owned by Angie Manetti. The neighbor explains that Tony is her son and they live together. He has not seen Tony since yesterday. Amaro breaks down the door and they all enter and it seems he left in a hurry. Amaro heads into the basement and they find 3 cages where it appears people were being held. There is someone in one cell and they cut off the lock and Fin sees that the woman there needs an ambulance. She is chained, and Rollins and Amaro explain they are the police and she is safe.
Later, Cragen is on the scene with DA Barba and comments there is no sign Tony and that he may have left with two other women. Rollins describes the house of horror and Barba comments it is another Ariel Castro, asking what do they have on him. Rollins says he is Tony Manetti, son of homeowner Angie Manetti. No one has seen the mother in years but her social security check is being direct deposited. Amaro says there have been 3 complaints to the local precinct this year including a woman tied up outside in the doghouse, cops showed up, no answer so they left. Fin speaks with the neighbor who has never been in the house, they would just have a smoke in the backyard. The boy is quiet and Tony said it was his girlfriend’s nephew but if could have been his son.
Back in the car with Benson, Buddy identifies the woman from the house as Auntie and asks if he can see Sissy. Before Benson can answer there is a knock on the car window. Benson sees reporters nearby and then recalls being freed from Lewis. After another knock, Benson steps out of the car to a waiting Barba, and she asks if they have something. Barba explains Fin and Amaro are en route with the woman and that the woman has “issues.” He asks Benson if he is OK with all this and she asks is he? She has a 7 year old in the car who spent his entire life in a basement and god knows what else went on. They have no idea where this “Pa” is or who he is – Benson is showing more frustration – and she raises her voice and points to the reporters and says no the feeding frenzy begins? She shakes her head and gets back into the car and after she slams the door, Barba comments, “Welcome back.”
Back at SVU, Cragen explains to Barba there are no signs of the other women and they are bringing him in. Barba asks Benson what they know about the first vic. She explains that Rhonda Davis, 24, has been missing since 2002. Barba wonders how she ended up in that basement. Benson replies that Rollins says it has been slow going as the woman seems to have diminished mental capacity. She grew up in Delaware and has been in and out of foster care, parents are deceased, last they know she was living in a group home in Brooklyn, they did not report her missing until 2 years after she ran away. Barba suspects they wanted the government checks to keep coming. Fin and Amaro enter with Tony Manetti in cuffs, who seems clueless as to what is going on.
In interrogation, Tony tells Amaro and Fin he has not been in that crap house for 20 years. He has not seen his mother in 2 decades. Fin asks where he picked up Rhonda, and Tony says that he never saw her before. When Amaro says they found her chained up in his home, he counters that it is not his house, he doesn’t even like woman. He is gay, which is why his mother hates him; when he came out she spit in his face and told him he was going to straight to hell. He thinks his mother set him up.
Meanwhile, Rollins is with Rhonda who says the man they are questioning is not Pa. She begins to panic and wants out. Rollins suggests they get something to eat like ice cream, and Rhonda says Sissy says that is for Buddy. Rollins tries to get information about Sissy, and Rhonda says she sleeps with Pa except when he sleeps with her. He doesn’t sleep but he stays awake, and awake, and awake. Pa took only Ma and Pumpkin Pie – when Sissy came to live with them, Pa said Sissy was their Pumpkin Pie, their Thanksgiving blessing.
Later, in the bullpen, explains to the other that they think one of the other women is Kayla Greyland, Barba adding she went missing in the Poconos area 9 years ago around Thanksgiving, it was a big media case. Benson comments that Buddy ID’d the age progression photo. They are also checking the sketch of the third woman against old missing persons records, no hits so far. Benson wonders if it isn’t Angie Manetti, and Fin thinks it is unlikely, Angie is 85 and Angie’s real son has no idea who was impersonating him. Barba asks who is this guy? Amaro says there is no mail, no prescriptions bottle, utilities are all in Angie’s name, paid direct deposit. Rollins adds CSU ran prints and there are no hits. Barba comments they are no closer to finding this guy than the other two women. Benson counters at least they can tell Kayla’s parents that their daughter is still alive. Cragen tells them to take the police sketch, predators tend to work their own neighborhoods.
Amaro and Rollins are at the home of Scott and Faith Greyland in Poconos, Pennsylvania, who don’t know anyone that looks like the sketch. They seem hopeful she is still alive despite what the police previously told them. Scott mentions the boy in the house and Rollins cuts him off and comments the police didn’t ask for items to get a DNA sample, and Scott said the police said there was no point unless they had a body. Amaro asks if they saved her things and her mother says she has her first lost tooth and she moves to get it. Scott comments that the man kept her alive 9 years and he must be attached, and wonders if he would do anything now. Amaro does not answer.
Back at SVU, Cragen gets off his phone and tells Benson CSU found skeletal remains in the back yard wrapped in a bedspread – and Benson has another flashback. Cragen calls her back to reality, and she asks if it was another girl. Cragen replies they are checking dental records, it might be Angie Manetti. When Benson speculates he killed the old woman, Cragen says it could have been natural causes, and as Benson continues to speculate about a murder, Cragen adds the ME found no evidence of foul play. She goes on about how he keeps cashing the checks and raping the girls over and over and Cragen stops her, asking when is the last time she slept. Benson gives him a look and says she is fine, but he retorts “Fine. Even so, take a few hours.” Benson tells Cragen he has to stop treating her like she is broke, and Cragen replies nobody is saying that. Fin knocks on the office door and enters, and informs them they found Kayla.
In the squad room, Fin shows the news story about Kayla, saying she got picked up by New Jersey police shoplifting at K-mart. Benson thinks she wanted to get caught. Fin says the suspect bolted, a witness said he was with an older woman in her 30s, he thought they were family. They watch the TV coverage where Kayla explains to the media she was missing for 9 years, and she wants to see her mom and dad and Buddy. She wants to go home.
Later, at a hospital with her parents, Kayla speaks with Benson, Barba, and Rollins. Scott asks when they can take her home. Barba says the doctors have a few more tests and they have a few more questions. Her mother says Kayla does not need to be upset right now. Barba suggests the parents come with him to get a cup of coffee, but Scott says he is not leaving her. Rollins assures him Kayla is safe here. Kayla tells them it is OK and they more to leave, Benson telling Barba she will stay. Kayla asks about Buddy and he is his baby. Benson explains Auntie said Buddy is Kayla’s son but he doesn’t know it/ Kayla said their names were Auntie and Ma. Rollins asks her to tell them about Ma and Pa, and Kayla says Ma was in the car when Pa took her. She said she was watching TV at a friend’s house her mom called and said the turkey was ready so she started walking home. A car pulled up and Ma was driving and she asked for directions. The back door opened and she felt jolted and was shaking. Benson comments he tasered her. When she woke up, she was chained to the wall and there was a bucket and they told her they were her new family – Ma and Pa – and she would learn to love them. Maybe after about a week, Pa said it was time for her to help her and it would be better if she was unchained. He took off her clothes and his and had sex with her. She didn’t even know that is what that was called but Ma explained it to her and said she was lucky that she was Pa’s favorite. Ma was not locked up, she went upstairs and sometimes Pa would go away and she would ask her to let her go but she couldn’t as Pa was coming back.
Meanwhile, Amaro and Fin are at the Pennsylvania State Police, and they have a woman who was just sitting in McDonalds for 5 hours and the manager finally called the cops. There was no sign of the man she was with. The officer thinks he dumped her and left her with no cash. The woman just told them she had to wait there, and it took two of them to haul her into the car. Amaro sits down next to the woman and asks if she is Ma. Fin moves to touch her and says she needs to come with them. But she pulls away and says no, Pa is coming back, and is worried he won’t find her.
Back at SVU, Amaro and Fin bring Ma into the interrogation room. Rollins questions Cragen as to why they brought her in, and Cragen explains they need to interrogate her. Rollins says she is a victim, but Benson reminds her she could be a suspect, they heard Kayla, Ma was in on the kidnap and she had free rein of the house. But Rollins thinks Ma has classic Stockholm syndrome and she needs a psych eval. Cragen reminds her the guy is getting away and she won’t tell them her name or his. Benson says she is covering for him, and Rollins counters that maybe she does not know it. Cragen thinks they both could be right, at the very least, she had the guy’s trust and is their best shot to apprehend him. Rollins questions if the woman will open up to two male cops who cuffed her and dragged her in there against her will. Benson suggests Cragen let her and Rollins talk to her.
Soon afterwards, Benson and Rollins enter the interrogation room. They try to get her real name, or Pa’s real name. She doesn’t know his name. Benson explains what they know that she did for him, and mentions the other girls names. Ma wants to go and says she hasn’t done anything, but Benson turns up the heat and says what she will be charged with, and when one of the charges Benson mentions is rape, Ma growls and says she didn’t rape anybody. But Benson explains otherwise. AS Benson continues to get in Ma’s face. Rollins looks taken aback. As Benson continues to press very hard and Ma screams for her to stop, Rollins looks shocked and Cragen enters and calls Benson out of the room.
In Cragen’s office, Benson tells him she was getting somewhere, but Cragen says he attacked her and she was shutting down. He says he made a mistake, Benson is too raw. Benson feels that Ma knows who he is and where he is and she is going back in there. As she moves to the room, Cragen stops her and says she is not going back in, she is going home, it was too soon for her to come back to SVU. She takes a deep breath and storms out of the room. She marches to her desk, grabs her jacket, and walks out.
Benson continues to flashback to the beating she gave to William Lewis as the elevator doors open, and she exits just as the doors are about to close. She is at the hospital with Kayla as Kayla watches Buddy play. Kayla comments about people who are sending toys and money, and Benson says people want to help her and Buddy. Kayla says sometimes it feels like the top of her head is flying off, now she can do whatever she wants but all she wants to do is stay in bed. She is tired of everyone looking at her like she is going to break. She saw on TV that they found Ma, and Buddy wants to see her. She does not know how to tell him Ma is not is Ma, and Benson says the doctors will help her out. Kayla thinks Ma must miss him, all the time they were on the road Ma just kept saying that she hopes Buddy did not think they left him behind. Kayla comments that if Ma wants to see Buddy it is find with her, she does not want to take anything from anybody.
Later, outside the precinct, Benson calls out to Amaro as he exits the building. He tells her if Cragen sees her he’s gonna…and Benson interrupts and asks if he talks to Ma today. Amaro says yeah but she is traumatized. Benson hands her a paper and says it is something to trade for – but she needs to do this.
In Cragen’s office, Fin asks how long this is going to take as Pa could be in South Carolina by now, and Rollins says if they keep going at Ma she will shut down for good. The door opens and Benson walks into the office with Amaro and admits she was wrong before, but Ma knows who he is and she can get Ma to tell her. Barba asks how, and Benson explains that she talked to Kayla, and Cragen reminded her she is off the case. Amaro says Benson can get through to her. Benson tells Cragen if he can’t trust her then she is done. He agrees.
Benson shows Ma a drawing Buddy made and Ma asks if Buddy made that for her. Benson says yes and says Buddy misses her. She says she misses him. Benson explains that Sissy said it was fine if Ma sees Buddy but Ma does not believe Benson. Benson says Kayla has a good heart and she knows Sissy would not lie about that. Benson adds Ma can have Buddy in her life but not as his mother, he needs to know the truth, but they can still be family, all she has to do is talk to them. Benson asks if she can tell them Pa’s name, but Ma says she can’t, Benson asks if Ma can tell her her name, and Ma says she just can’t. Benson hands her a legal pad and asks if Ma can write it down. She thinks about it, and Benson asks her to tell her the name they used to call her when she was a little girl. Ma takes the pen.
Later, Rollins says Ma’s name is April Hendricks and she went missing 18 years ago in Greenpoint. Barba comments she grew up two blocks from that house. Cragen asks if there is any connection to the Manettis, and Amaro replies none that they can find, she was raised by a single mother, now deceased, junkie. Rollins adds there were allegations of abuse from the mother’s drug dealing boyfriend. April ran away from home multiple times, and Barba notes NYPD did not work the case. Amaro said police questioned a few suspects and two are dead, but one Michael Williams – whereabouts unknown – was a maintenance worker at her parochial school. Some of the students say she had a crush on him. Fin says Williams claimed he was counseling her and the police ruled him out. Rollins explains that the school closed down 5 years ago. Cragen tells them to track down everybody who has worked there and see if they know where he is.
At St. Horatio’s parochial school in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, they speak to a woman who was a teacher there. She says Michael Williams now works at this school and she can get his phone number; he had an accident a few days ago and is on sick leave.
Later, Amaro, Rollins and Fin are at Williams house with reinforcements. Amaro beats on the door and Rollins orders Williams to open up. A woman who says she is his wife answers the door and she says he is in the back playing with their boys. As Amaro and Fin go out back, Rollins moves the wife inside the house. Amaro goes into the back yard and pulls Williams away from the kids and pushed him toward Fin who tells him the game is over. His wife races over to hug her two boys.
In SVU interrogation, Amaro and Fin question Williams who says he was the slave, he worked his ass off for them. Meanwhile, Rollins speaks with his wife in the interview room who says she worked at Angie Manetti’s house for 18 years taking care of his mother and she would have known. Rollins says that was not his mother, they didn’t share the same last name. William’s wife said after his parent’s divorce, his mother went back to her maiden name. Meanwhile, Williams insist the women came after him, saying he saved April and Rhonda was on drugs and he was the only stability in their life. Meanwhile, his wife does not know the 3 woman and said he took care of his mother, and Rollins asks if it was until she died. But his wife insists his mother is not dead, she has Alzheimer’s, saying Michael stays with her all week long taking care of her. Rollins explains that is NOT who he was taking care of, Angie died 3 years ago.
Amaro continues to press Williams about Kayla and Williams said she was special and it was for the greater good. He says he is not evil, he has problems and after her, he did not need the others. But his wife insists he is a good man, he is good with the boys and taught her English and helped her stay in this country. Rollins asks if that was by marrying her and moving her to the Poconos. Rollins asks to hear more about that. He told her it would be better for the children as the city would be filled with bad men.
Williams explains that Angie Manetti was a friend of his mother’s and he took care of her. He was like a son to her, and says she didn’t find out about the girls and no he did not kill her, one day he took her breakfast and she was gone. He did not kill her. Fin asks what did he think would happen to Rhonda, the girl he left chained in the basement when he took off. Williams replies you can’t save them all but says he would go and get her once he found them a place but the Kayla took off, what was he supposed to do with just Ma. He says he saved those girls and they are live because of him, and he gave Kayla a son.
Cragen asks Rollins if his wife believed all this, and Rollins explains it was a green card marriage so she was compliant. Barba comments that April knew all of this, but Benson reminds him she was taken when she was 12 and she thinks it was consensual because he saved her from her mother’s boyfriend. Cragen tells Barba that he cannot be thinking of charging her. Barba counters that she did help keep Kayla and Rhonda imprisoned, but Benson says she is scared to death that she is a shell. Rollins adds she needs long term help, not more punishment. Barba says he hears them and that she suffered enough, but looks to Williams and says this guy there is not enough suffering on earth for him and he will not see the light of day again.
Later, Fin looks in on Williams and says the guy is a coward, he kept those girls locked up all that time and wonders how long he will last in prison. Amaro wonders if he will kill himself, and Fin replies so what if he does?
Later, outside Kayla’s parents home where reporters and others are outside. and in a car with Benson, Kayla asks why can’t the go? Benson explains they are working on moving the press away. Benson warns Kayla this will not be easy. Kayla does not care about her, it’s Buddy. She did not want to teach Buddy too much as she was afraid he would want things he could not have. She wants him to go to school and have friends and family and a normal life. As the car moves, Kayla asks Benson if Buddy will ever be normal. Benson does not answer, and Kayla goes on to sat Buddy does not even have a name. Benson explains that from what she has seen, is that people who have gone through unfair, horrific experiences that they have this will, and when they get support, a chance, they cannot only survive, they can thrive. Both get teary eyed. Kayla wakes Buddy and says they are home. They get out of the car and Benson gives her a reassuring smile.
Later, back in the doctor’s office, he tells Benson he is glad she decided to come back. He asks how she has been. She says better, and as she smiles. We fade to black.
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