It’s rare that I watch an SVU episode and find myself becoming increasingly disinterested - to the point of total boredom - as the story progresses. “Parents’ Nightmare” was one of those rare times. The story was predictable and the characters unsympathetic; more like a bad dream than a nightmare. It felt like a weak Criminal Intent episode. I was even unmoved when Owen ran out into the street between two parked cars and almost right into a taxi. One would think that living in an area as they did he would have learned to look first before leaping into the street. But, I suppose with having two dysfunctional parents, teaching a child the simple things tends to fall through the cracks.
I groaned at the opening scene where Benson finally gets Noah into a day care. The Noah story line will be prominent in the season finale and I can only hope they bring some closure to it as I find it tiresome.
The only segments of the episode that I enjoyed were Lt. (“Mother”) Tucker (acting likeable, god forbid!) giving a heads up to Benson about One PP wanting a Lieutenant at SVU; and the ending scene where she seems to anoint Fin as her #2. Fin says he wants no part of it but I suspect that look on Amaro’s face at the end may mean Amaro WOULD want it. With many rumors swirling about whether Danny Pino will be returning to the show, and with the tease for the season finale, “Surrendering Noah,” we can only speculate what will happen with Amaro/Danny. Fans will just have to tune in.
Benson continues to show her naiveté with suspects when she states, “A mother would never do that to her own son.” Working at SVU as long as she has, she should know by now that not all women are saints and not all mothers are perfect. Her comment also implies that the men/fathers are always the bad guys. We know Benson would never do something like this to a child but that doesn’t mean another mother wouldn’t use her child for her own gain. It turns out the father WAS the "bad guy" here but it could have easily gone the other way. Benson needs to keep an open mind and not use her own personal opinions and experiences about motherhood to cloud her judgement.
We get the courtesy of hearing that Barba is in St. Barts but nothing about Rollins’ absence. Were viewers supposed to think that the back of the blond woman’s head looking at traffic cams was supposed to be Rollins hard at work?
I hoped for a more exciting episode leading into the season finale; hopefully the promo tease will help bring in the viewers.
Here is the recap:
Mariska Hargitay – Sergeant Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.
Robert John Burke - Lt. Ed Tucker
Brooke Bloom – Dana Farhidi
Navid Negahban – Sam Farhidi
Frankie Alvarez - Javier Rojas
Carmen Cabrera - Fabiana Caldera
Steve Rosen – Javier’s Attorney
Keened Ruparel - Owen Farhidi
Nancy Nagrant - Linda
Toni D'Antonio - Principal Jo Ann Stanwick
Lauren Elder - Mrs. Dugan
Amy Tribbey – Dr. Naomi Grodman
Jessie Barr - Yanina
Edmerald Gan = Diego
David Mason - Roy
Reggie Green – Clyde
Benson takes Noah to a day care for the first time and when she senses Noah may be upset, a day care worker suggests a quick and loving goodbye. Benson does so and Noah cries as she leaves.
Meanwhile, Owen Farhidi and his mother Dana Farhidi get him ready to go to school. She is dressed too casually to walk him to school and gets a neighbor, Roy, walking with his son, to take Owen with them. She promises to pick him up from school. Owen nearly gets hit by a taxi as he rushes across the street without looking. As they walk to school, Owen says hello to a familiar homeless man. Another man appears and begins to follow them.
At SVU, Lt. Tucker is already waiting in Benson’s office as she arrives for work. She asks to what does she owe the pleasure, and he asks can’t he just pop in? She replies no and asks what is going on. He says he was sniffing around One PP and heard they want a Lieutenant in SVU and they are not happy with a Sergeant running the squad. She comments the last that she checked she was doing a pretty good job and cites her recent successes. He counters that they have noticed and they are open to the prospect of her staying on, which is why he told them she filed for the Lieutenant’s exam. Shocked, she comments that she hasn’t, and he tells her to do it, and not to make a liar out of him. She says she is quite happy with the way things are, but he emphasizes they want a Lieutenant, and if it is not her, it has to be somebody else. She shakes her head and says she does not know what to say, and he states dryly, “That’s a first.” She gives him a glare and he tells her to think about it, and to also think about who her second in command would be; it’s better she pick than a blind draw.
Later, the man who was following Owen arrives at the school playground looking for Owen Farhidi, and tells Mrs. Dugan, the dismissal supervisor, that Mr. Farhidi called. She asks if his name is Carlos and he says yes so she points out Carlos. He walks over to Owen and says he is Fabiana’s friend and his mother told him to pick him up. When Own looks at him strangely, the man tells him he fixed his mother’s sink once. Owen seems more comfortable and takes the man’s hand.
As they walk, Owen pulls at the man’s hand when he senses the man is walking somewhere else, he tells him home is another way. The man says they are going to stop first, it is a surprise. Owen agrees and they continue to walk off.
Later, Owen’s mother Dana races into the school and apologizes for being late, asking where is Owen. Mrs. Dugan looks shocked.
Meanwhile, Owen is now asking the man where are they going? The man barks to do as he says, and as he pulls Owen by the hand, Owen complains he is hurting him. The man tells him to be quiet and get into a van. Owen resists but the man orders him in and forces him into the fan.
Mrs. Dugan and Dana race into the school yard and out to the street. Mrs. Dugan comments that Owen seemed to know the man. Dana asks the school guards if they have seen Owen, and then she continues to race off, shouting his name.
Later, Benson and Fin arrive on the scene where Amaro and Carisi are already working. Amaro explains that Owen was last seen with a Hispanic man and no one got a good look at him. Carisi adds the man wrote his name as Carlos Riva on the sign out sheet and said he was a friend of the family. They are met by Principal Stanwick and Mrs. Dugan, their dismissal supervisor, who signed Owen out. Dana is in her office. Mrs. Dugan thought Mr. Farhidi authorized Carlos to take Owen . Stanwick says they contacted Mr. Farhidi after Dana arrived late to pick up Owen and he insisted he did not make the call. She adds they are recently divorced.
Inside, a scatterbrained Dana tells Benson and Carisi usually her friend’s nanny Fabiana picks up Owen. When Carisi asks her to make sure and check her phone, she can’t find it. She thinks she last used it before yoga. She has been separated a few months now and says there are huge custody issues. Sam is Iranian and he wanted to take Owen there over spring break and she wouldn’t let him. She worries that Sam is behind this. Carisi asks if her son has a passport and Dana says the judge ordered Sam to give it to her but then can’t recall if she ever got it. She is not sure of anything now, she just wants Owen back.
Afterwards, Carisi tells Benson that Dana is a space cadet. He tells Benson they will call Port Authority and ICE and put an alert out on the kid and his passport. Benson instructs him to radio the squad car and keep Mr. Farhidi at his restaurant – at the moment, he is a suspect. Fin arrives along with Amaro and Fin explains they have the security footage and they also pulled all the traffic cams in the area. Amaro adds the unis have canvassed and so far there are no witnesses. Benson tells them to check other surveillance and see if they can get the kidnapper walking away. She tells Fin to get a sketch artist for Mrs. Dugan and Amaro should go to the restaurant and speak with Mr. Farhidi; there are passport issues and custody issues – the works. Fin asks about Mrs. Farhidi, and Benson instructs him to take her to the precinct. She tells Carisi to go the yoga class and find that phone. He says he is on it and he races off.
Carisi arrives at the yoga class and explains he is there to pick up a cell phone. But the attendant tries to block him from going in an interrupting. He says he will be quiet but she isn’t having it and tells him unless he has a warrant he can’t disturb the class. He calls the phone number and it rings loudly inside the room and then goes in and grabs it and leaves.
Meanwhile, at Farhidi’s on Tuesday, May 5, Amaro speaks with Sam Farhidi about the situation and he says he did not call the school. Amaro checks Sam’s phone, and Sam thinks they are looking at him as a terrorist as Dana used that card during the custody battle. Sam shows his anger about Dana getting the judge to block Owen coming to Iran with him, but insists he did not take Owen, Dana was supposed to pick him up. Amaro seems unmoved. When Amaro says she was running late, Sam angrily says “Again?” adding he knew something like this would happen. Sam swears he did not send a male Hispanic to pick up Owen.
Back at SVU, Benson is looking at images from the security video and Fin says it is pretty grainy and not much help. Dana rushes in and she asks where is Sam and if they talked to him and asks if he has Owen. Benson replies they don’t think so but there is a detective with him now. They have her look at the images and Fin asks if she recognizes the man. She does not but admits she can’t see his face. Benson states they need her to come with her, and she brings her into the interview room and shuts the door. She asks Fin if there is anything else, and he explains the rest of the security footage is no help. Benson observes that the kidnapper knew to keep his head down and hide his face. She asks if there is anything on the traffic cams, and he replies they are going through them now. Carisi enters and says he has the mom’s cell phone; there were 8 missed calls - ignore the one from him - and there were two messages from a blocked number which she can’t access without a password. Benson tells Carisi that Dana is in the interview room and adds to get the images to Amaro and see if the father can make an ID.
In Benson’s offices, Dana gives Benson and Carisi her voice mail code – OWEN – and they listen to voice mails from Owen begging her to answer her phone.
Meanwhile, Amaro shows Sam the photo of the man and he does not know him. He says Owen is too trusting.
At SVU, Fin shows Benson and Carisi the photos from the traffic cams and they get a license plate of the van, Benson tells them to run the plates and put out an Amber alert. Dana recognizes the man as Javier, Fabiana’s boyfriend, she recommended him to her. Fabiana is now a part time nanny for her, she had to cut her hours and she has another job. She has no address, they only text, and Benson asks her to text her now and find out where she is.
Afterwards, Fin and Carisi runs into a playground with additional police but Owen is not there. They speak with Fabiana and when she seems like she doesn’t know what is going on, they tell her they will take her to the police station. They tell her to tell them where Javier is now.
Later, Benson, Amaro, and Carisi arrive at a building where Javier is supposed to be. His name is not on the lease but they heard he was staying in the basement unit. They race inside and Javier is not there but they find lots of beds and many men. One man states he saw Javier there yesterday and he said he quit his job, now he has money.
Back at SVU and not of her own choice, Benson, Amaro and Carisi press Fabiana on Javier’s whereabouts. Dana races up and asks her if she knows where is Owen, but she swears she does not know anything. Benson decides to hold her as a material witness and she needs to tell them everything she knows about Javier. She tells Carisi to keep her talking. Dana’s phone rings and finds it is an incoming call for Dana for a video request. They race Dana to the interview room and sit her in an area with child’s toys so the caller will not know she is with the police. It is Javier and he asks where he has been. She says she did not have her phone and says she did not talk to police. Benson holds up a sign for Dana to asks to see Owen. She does and Javier asks for $37K in cash. When she doesn’t have that, he says Sam has money and she should ask him. She says she will, and asks to see Owen. Owen gets on screen and he is being restrained and he begs Dana to do what Javier says. Dana is sobbing as Javier states he will text her when and where and that Sam should bring the money and if he sees any police he will kill the boy. When the call ends, Benson asks Amaro if they still have a unit with Farhidi, and Amaro says yes. Benson tells him to bring Sam in here. Dana sobs.
Later, with Sam in SVU, he tells them he can get the money but wants to go alone. They want him to wear a wire and when he protests, they tell him it is not an option. Carisi has information on the block for the drop but the building shares an alleyway with other buildings and there are a lot of places to hide. Benson tells them to keep a low profile and tells Fin and Amaro to be on the street, Carisi to go with ESU, and wants Sam to come with her to be prepped.
In the surveillance van at 209 West 140th Street on Tuesday, May 5, Sam is being wired and Benson gives him instructions on what to do when he gets into the basement and sees his son – to put down the money and get out. He says he understands. Dana waits with Benson. Sam enters the basement and says he is in. He calls out to Javier and then the signal breaks up and is lost. Fin has no visual or audio so Benson says they have to go and to move now. As they race in, Sam comes up the stairs with Owen. He thinks Javier ran. Benson radios all units to go, that the hostage is secure and the suspect is in flight. As Dana races to Owen, the police and detectives search and eventually Javier is cornered in the alley next door. He claims he did not kidnap Owen, that Dana paid him to take Owen and they should ask her - she planned everything.
At the child advocacy center, Benson hears from Amaro and Fin that Javier claims Dana set this up and then he lawyered up. She instructs them to keep Javier in holding. She tells them Owen seems okay, he slept for a few hours and they are doing a full work up on him and that Carisi is keeping the parents apart and there is to be no access to Owen without a third party. She explains it is a messy divorce and there are custody issues and they need to play it safe. A doctor says that Owen is in shock and showing signs of psychological trauma. There are abrasions but no sign of sexual assault but she wants to run more tests. Benson asks to speak with Owen first and the doctor agrees and tells her to tread lightly. When Amaro asks if they can tell the parents that much, Benson says yes but that’s it. Fin says they don’t need to tell them about Javier’s accusation, either.
Benson speaks with Owen. She assures him he is not in trouble. He said he should have waited for his mom but she assures him it is not his fault. He did not really know Javier, he was at the house once or twice to fix the sink. He thinks Fabiana knows him. First he said his name was Carlos, then he said it was Javier. He didn’t really know English and Owen talked about school and Javier was nice until he told him to get into the van. They drove around and he had to call him mom on her phone. Javier dialed the number but she did not pick up. Benson explains Dana did not have her phone with her, and Owen says she loses it a lot. Javier jot mad when Dana didn’t pick up and yelled that she was supposed to answer, and then yelled in Spanish, he thinks they were bad words.
Meanwhile, Fin and Carisi speak with a frantic Dana and they ask her a few questions about why Javier asked her for money and why Javier seemed confident Sam would have the cash. She does not know why he would do that and insists Fabiana loved Owen. She did discuss the divorce with Fabiana as she didn’t want her to think cutting back on her hours was her idea.
Amaro speaks with Sam and says Dana seems surprised to find Sam had that cash. He blows it off but Amaro presses as to why Javier thought he had that kind of dough. Sam blows it off again and paints Dana as a poor manager of money.
Later, Benson confers with the detectives and explain Fabiana knew Sam had money. Fabiana has not lawyered up and Benson tells them to get her talking.
Fabiana insists she does not need a lawyer and she doesn’t know how this happened. She denies knowing anything. When Fin implies she is made because they cut her hours, but she counters no, saying she got a better job. She was happy to get out of the house, the problem was Dana. Dana called Javier for everything. She was not there when Javier was there, she has other jobs and goes to school. Javier needs money and does whatever Dana says.
As Benson observes from her office, Carisi enters and says the $37 ransom is too specific. Carisi looked it up and finds Dana accused Sam of hiding cash - $37K, Benson tells Carisi that he and Fin should find out where Javier got that number.
With a lawyer present, Fin and Carisi press Javier who says Fabiana had nothing to do with this. He insists Dana gave him that number. When the lawyer says this was an activity sanctioned by the mother, Carisi asks if he is calling it a play date, the lawyer says not to get caught up on semantics. He claims Dana gave Javier permission to take her son and guaranteed payment through her husband. He claims Dana paid him two installments of $500 last Monday and then gave instructions on how to sign her son out of school and that she would be late picking him up. Javier says the texts are on his old phone, and the lawyer tries to make a deal for the phone number. Javier gives them that number when Carisi tells them they have no leverage.
Observing, Benson and the detectives discuss this information and Benson tells them to bring Dana in and if she doesn’t come in willingly, arrest her.
Later, Benson discusses Javier’s accusations with Dana and she denies it all. She did owe Javier $1,000 for the work that he did. Amaro shows her the texts which came from her phone and insists she never saw them. Benson and Amaro continue to press her and she says she misplaces her phone often, she is not good with things.
The detectives discuss this and they wonder about the nanny, she would have access to the phone and needs money. Benson thinks Owen is the parent in the house and maybe they should ask him?
Benson and Carisi are at the center to see Owen and Sam stops them and says he wants to take his son home. He saw the officers put Dana in the squad car and Benson explains they are still investigating. She states they are there to see Owen and when Sam seems concerned, Carisi says Dana already gave them consent. Benson moves off to speak with Owen and leaves Carisi with Sam, who comments that they caught Javier red handed and then asks Carisi if he needs to get a lawyer for Owen or Dana. Carisi says that is his right but if Dana had nothing to do with this, there is nothing to worry about. Carisi adds they are only asking for his patience, suggesting he go out and have a smoke and when they are done he will give him a call.
Inside the room, Carisi plays with Owen and Benson continues to ask him questions. Owen states that his dad comes over when he is technically not supposed to. He talks with him and plays. They talk about his mom and her friends and sometimes he checks the smoke detector batteries. Sometimes he takes his mom’s phone away from him when she leaves it home. Sometimes she forgets it or doesn’t know he took it to play on it. He says his dad goes through Dana’s emails and photos and that Fabiana is there but when his dad is there, she will go out and get him something from McDonalds and he is not supposed to tell him mom about that either.
Back at SVU, Benson and Carisi take Javier out of holding and he wonders why they are still talking to Fabiana. They bring him into another interrogation room with his lawyer and question him about Fabiana and state her fingerprints are all over Dana’s cell phone. She adds that Fabiana also had Owen’s scheduled knew exactly how much cash Sam Farhidi had. When he insists it was Dana, Benson counters that “A mother would never do that to her own son.” Carisi adds that lying to the police is also a crime and he continues to press what Fabiana asked him to do. The lawyer steps in and says Javier would like to revise his statement, asking what is in it for his client. Carisi counters how about not taking the weight of a felony kidnapping charge all on his own. Javier folds like it is laundry day and the says it was Sam. He told him to say it was all Dana.
Amaro puts Javier back in holding and then they all discuss the situation. Benson gets a call from Barba who is checking in from St. Barts. Barba told her they can charge Javier with kidnapping but when it comes to anyone else, Javier’s word is no good. Fin thinks he is the fall guy, but Benson asks for whom? Fin comments that Dana says she is innocent to let her prove it.
Later, they wire up Dana and suggest that she tell Sam she is a suspect and ask for help. She doesn’t think Sam did this.
Dana meets with Sam in the restaurant and after some discussion and argument about the situation and Dana’s bad parenting, Sam implicates himself. He said it was supposed to only be a half hour and it was just supposed to scare them so Owen wouldn’t go with strangers and so she would be there for Owen. She asks what has he done, and then she tells him to not say another word, and she shows him the wire. In the surveillance van, Fin wonders if Dana just showed Sam the wire, and Benson tells Amaro and Carisi to move in. Dana tells Sam the police said it would exonerate him and she didn’t think he did it. Amaro and Carisi enters and Carisi asks if she is already and she says she is fine. She tells Sam this is not what she wanted. He replies, “Me neither.” Amaro tells Sam he needs to come with them,
Back in Benson’s office, Carisi enters with Dana and she sees Owen in the interview room and asks if she can take him now. Benson explains that the court gave her custody but the question is, can she take care of him? Dana says she loves Owen but is afraid to do this by herself. She adds Sam is a good father an Owen needs him. Dana asks if she can tell the DA, and Benson says that is not her decision. She states the DA will bring this down to unlawful imprisonment which is a misdemeanor but Sam could get 6 months. Dana is shocked, asking how will she support herself? Benson replies Dana will have to figure it out and get a job and there are a lot of working mothers. Dana comments is has been so long she does not know where to start. Benson tells her to learn, reminding her she has a child and it is not about her anymore, she needs to be the parent, not Owen.
Afterwards, Benson leads Owen out of the room with Dana, and Dana thanks her and the others. Carisi bends down to Owen and tells him to take good care and Owen tells him goodbye. As Dana leaves the squad room, Fin asks Benson if it is a good idea letting the kid go with her, and Amaro comments that social services is going to check in, for whatever that is worth. Benson thinks Dana is pretty shaken up and she will get her act together. Benson comments she has to leave early and asks them to hold down the fort. Carisi says he is on it, and Benson says, “Not you. Fin.” Fin gets a smug look on his face as Benson adds, “It will be good practice.” Carisi asks Fin what she means by that, and Fin explains she is worried about them bumping her up to Lieutenant and she is going to need a new Sergeant and she wants Fin to take the exam. Carisi looks over at Amaro who smiles and says “Wow, congratulations.” Fin says he is not interested, it’s not gonna happen, he doesn’t need the headaches. Carisi replies he has that right. As Fin and Carisi walks off, Amaro looks towards Benson’s office and gets a serious look as we fade to black.
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