SVU broke out of the sexual assault monotony with an episode about a child abduction. This was another good story which was written with a perfect balance of detective work and personal issues. The two main guest stars – Zoe McLellan and Rachelle LeFevre – performed their roles believably and with the right amount of emotion. The episode was directed by Jean de Segonzac, who never disappoints. The story had the usual detective work, but action scenes peppered in helped bring energy and supported the pace of a quick investigation.
While the nanny who kidnapped Theo felt she had good intentions, she was part of the problem. She mentioned that they went to a party and Theo almost drowned in a pool because no one was watching when he fell in and she had to save him. As it was HER job to watch Theo, she was the one who put Theo in danger at that party. While Nadine clearly had issues with too much partying, the nanny had an abnormal attachment to Theo. I hope they don’t go too easy on her and her brother. Regardless if Theo wanted to go with her or not, it was still kidnapping.
The case also brought personal issues to the forefront for Rollins and Benson. Rollins, after hearing Nadine complain about how hard it is being a single mother, wonders if she herself is doing a good job as a mother. Despite Rollins’ past problems with gambling, I can see where she may have cause to worry if she will end up like Nadine at some point. It's good that Carisi is there to provide support and the reassurance that Rollins is a good mother. Based on what we’ve seen of Rollins, she appears to have cleared up her act and got her priorities straight.
The case also helped Benson realize, more than ever, that Noah has to be her first priority. In my opinion, he’s really an equal priority to her job. There is nothing wrong with a person’s child AND job having equal importance. Clearly Tucker has been the odd man out lately and Benson finally concludes that she can’t commit in the manner that Tucker may expect. His talk of retirement was the last straw and maybe Benson didn’t like what she may have perceived as Tucker becoming too clingy. Interestingly, it’s Tucker who long ago noticed her inner conflict and brings the relationship issue to the forefront, with Benson finally admitting it is over. Even though we assumed this was coming, the ending was somewhat abrupt, with Tucker giving her a kiss on the forehead (!) and then exiting without any resistance. Maybe Tucker is the one who was more ready to move on than Benson? Hopefully, this is not the end of Ed Tucker for SVU, because I always enjoy Robert John Burke in this role. But, I am glad this relationship is over. Will Benson ever find true love? Unless Stabler walks back into her life as a single man, I seriously doubt she will.
Here is the recap:
Mariska Hargitay - Lieutenant Olivia Benson
Ice-T - Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Raúl Esparza - ADA Rafael Barba
Peter Scanavino - Detective Dominick “Sonny” Carisi, Jr.
Robert John Burke - Captain. Ed Tucker
Rachelle LeFevre - Nadine Lachere
Zoe McLellan - Dr. Fran Conway
Adriana DeGirolami - Gloria Ramirez
Iain Armitage - Theo Lachere
Rafael Benoit - Oscar Ramirez
Sebastian Beacon - Gabriel Norton
Bjorn Thornstad - Attorney Mitch Jackson
Nat Cassidy - Kevin Dorsey
Erica Camarano – Officer Rachel Ortiz
Mina Joo – Kat Simms
Timbrooke Ford Filbert – Jeremy
Dorian Michale Cobb – Gregor
Nehal Joshi – Manager
Dewey Wynn – CSU Tech
Robert G. Siverls – Attendant
Nina Yvette Coleman – DCS Social Worker
Louise Donegan – Female Model
Jack Nawada-Braunwart - Noah Benson.
At her apartment, Benson is on the phone with Tucker, saying she is just about to put Noah to bed. Noah is running around with a lot of energy, taking a large plastic container into the kitchen. She tells Tucker there is never enough time but she could do lunch. Meanwhile, Noah finds his way up onto the kitchen counter and is reaching to the top of the refrigerator for a cookie. Noah calls out to Benson, telling her to look. Benson, seeing him standing on the counter, tells Noah not to move and explains to Tucker she has to call him back, and she hangs up. She races into the kitchen and asks what he is doing up there. He politely asks if he can have a cookie and she explains what he did was so dangerous and he has to ask her first, adding he could have hurt himself. She hugs him and tells him it is time for bed.
Meanwhile, Theo Lachere’s nanny Gloria puts him to bed then tells his mother Nadine she is leaving. Nadine is focused on a party she is having that night but finishes putting Theo to bed, putting on noise canceling headphones on him so he doesn’t hear the party. Later, she invites her guests in.
The next day, Gloria arrives at the apartment and finds the door open and Theo missing. Nadine, realizing he is gone, freaks out.
Later, Rollins and Carisi arrive at the scene and an officer explains the situation, adding there is no father in the picture. She shows them the drug paraphernalia left around from Nadine’s party.
In Theo’s bedroom, Rollins speaks with Nadine who says Theo was right there sleeping; she came to check on him about every hour or so. She comments that his floor rug is missing and it was there last night. Rollins comments that is helpful, then asks when was the last time she saw Theo. Nadine states at about 2:00 or 2:30 and Kat was still there but she didn’t do this, she was in bed with her.
Meanwhile, Carisi speaks with Kat who explains she was with Nadine all night; they looked in on Theo together around 2 and he was sound asleep. She adds they are friends and says she knows all this looks bad but Nadine is a good mother.
Nadine continues to explain to Rollins that Theo always sleeps through the night when she has people over and she may have had 15-16 people over. Rollins asks if she is sure none of them were in the loft when she went to sleep, and Nadine is not sure, saying there were friends bringing friends. Rollins states they will make a list of everyone she did know and asks if Nadine can think of anyone that would want to take Theo. Nadine insists no, no one. The CSU tech calls over to Rollins, highlighting a spot of blood on a table with his black light. Nadine freaks out and asks what is that, and Rollins moves Nadine to step out, suggesting they let the detectives work.
Carisi speaks with Gloria who states she offered to stay over last night but Nadine said she should go home. This was 9:00. She tucked Theo in bed and when she came back this morning the front door was open; that was about 7:30. She explains she has been his nanny since Theo was born and he is shy and he must be scared.
Later, Benson, arriving with Fin, asks what do they have, and Rollins informs her that the mother had a wild party and the son disappeared sometime between 2:00 and 7:30 AM. There is no ransom note or call and they are monitoring Nadine’s house phone and her cell. Fin asks if Theo could have wandered off, and Rollins notes there were signs of a struggle and they found blood on the table. Benson walks into Theo’s room and comments that is not enough for an Amber alert unless they have a suspect or a vehicle. Fin states he will check the security cams and canvass the neighborhood. As Fin leaves, Rollins explains to Benson that the mom is a mess and hung over is just the half of it. When Benson asks if there is any way she is involved, Rollins replies she is not mother of the year, anything is possible.
Benson and Rollins step into the other room to speak with Nadine and Nadine frantically says they have to find Theo. Benson assures her they are doing everything they can and that Nadine needs to provide them with the most recent photo of Theo, and something that has his DNA on it. When Nadine doesn’t understand, Rollins explains they found blood in his room and they need to see if it is Theo’s. Nadine freaks out and Rollins adds that it’s just a small amount and it could be nothing. Nadine sobs that she knows what this must look like but she would never put her little boy in danger. Benson looks at the drugs and paraphernalia sitting around and says they will need her to come down to the station and give them a full statement. Nadine, looking at what Benson saw, worries that she is in trouble because those aren’t hers. Benson explains right now, their only concern is to find her son, suggesting she get dressed and come with them. As Nadine moves off, Rollins and Benson give each other a look.
At SVU, Benson and Rollins bring in Nadine to get info on those involved in Theo’s life. Nadine mentions her ex-wife Fran Conway. Theo is a sperm donor baby and they raised him together until they got divorced two years ago. Fran is a top surgeon who doesn’t officially have custody and is at the hospital all the time. It is hard to work around her schedule. She was not at the party and Nadine has been calling her and she is not answering. Nadine is worried Fran will blame her. She says the night is a blur but said some man that she didn’t know was taking a lot of pictures on his phone and asked if her son was home. Kat made sure he was gone and took a Quick Ride
Carisi later explains that Kat confirms this story and finds the Quick Ride passenger was Kevin Dorsey. They have a drop off address and Carisi and Fin head there. Rollins tells Benson CSU is still processing the room but they did confirm the blood on the table is Theo’s. The nanny, Gloria, is a Mexican national, green card, no record, and has worked for the family for the last six years. She used her metro card last night at 9:45 and swiped again at 6:30 this morning. Benson asks about street cams and surveillance, and Rollins explains there were a lot of people going in and out of Nadine’s loft and no sign of Theo. There are a couple blind spots at the service entrance and two side streets; TARU is going through the footage. The neighbors didn’t hear or see anything but complained of the noise from the party. Benson phone buzzes and she sees it is Tucker and ignores it. Rollins has nothing solid from the tip line. Rollins states she can’t imagine what Nadine is going through, having her kid out there and you don’t know anything. Benson agrees.
At the apartment of Kevin Dorsey at 457 West 44th Street on Saturday, January 14, Fin and Carisi speak with Kevin and find he is a licensed private detective and was hired to follow Nadine and her son. Fin questions who hired him.
Afterward, Fin and Carisi speak with Fran Conway at the hospital. They explain the situation with Theo and that she hired the PI. She explains she needed evidence and is suing Nadine for custody as Theo is her son too.
Later, Fran arrives at SVU with Fin and Carisi and while getting an update from Benson, she is confronted by Nadine who asks if she took Theo. They begin to argue and the detectives separate them and move them to separate rooms. Fin tells Benson they’ve found nothing at Fran’s apartment.
In Benson’s office, Fran explains why she hired the PI and Benson says they don’t know if Theo’s disappearance had anything to do with the party. Benson explains these sometimes happen from non-custodial parents and they will be going through al her records and the photos and says if there is anything Fran wants to tell her, now would be the time. Fran is appalled and says she didn’t take him, she is going to fight for him in court. Telling Benson not to judge her, she last saw Theo two weeks ago as that is all Nadine would allow. She says after she and Nadine separated she tried to get visitation but was told that New York law. A non-adoptive and non- biologic caretaker is not define as a parent. The laws have now changed and her lawyer thinks she has a good shot and why would she ruin that by kidnapping Theo. She was going to tell Nadine after she had enough evidence to convince a judge that she should have joint custody. Theo told her they were moving to Ibiza. When Benson comments Nadine did not mention that, Fran says Nadine doesn’t mention a lot of things. She barely lets her see Theo as it is and if Nadine takes him out of the country she will never see him again.
Meanwhile, Rollins and Carisi speak with Fran said that she didn’t mean what she said and that Fran would never do this. They continue to question Nadine who is still freaking out.
Benson continues to speak with Fran doesn’t know anyone form the school as she is not on the pickup list. She says her PI was investigating Nadine’s girlfriends and boyfriends and she started dating bad boys. Benson asks if there is anyone in particular.
Later, in the interview room, Benson and Rollins show Nadine a photo of a man named Gabriel who she hasn’t dated in two months. Rollins challenges Nadine as to why she didn’t say she dated a man with a criminal record but Nadine counters he was not at the party and she broke up with him 2 months ago. He is an angry, failed, British musician who would drink and do coke all day. He gave her a black eye and she had enough. She broke up to keep him away from Theo. She did not tell them about it as she was afraid they would think she is a bad mother and when they did find Theo they would take him away from her. Fin knocks on the door and Benson asks for a second.
Outside the room. Fin explains that Gabriel Norton has had drug charges and disorderly conduct. There was a DNA match from hairs for him in Theo’s room. They are headed to his last address on the lower east side. As the others race off, Tucker approaches and apologizes to Benson for just dropping by but he got worried as he did not hear back from her. She explains Noah is fine, he just climbed up on the kitchen counter. They want into her office and she apologizes that she didn’t get back to him today as they have a missing 6 year old. Tucker comments he saw the news and asks if she is alright. She says she has a lot to deal with, and Tucker reminds her it has only been a week since she shot and killed a man. She looks at him with mild surprise as Tucker adds he knows it was a clean shoot but it can still take a toll. She insists she is fine. He suggests they go out for a walk and a cup of coffee but Benson explains she can’t leave now, she is right in the middle of everything. She apologized. He says alright, and leaves her office, leaving Benson, who has a conflicted look.
At the apartment of Gabriel Norton at 252 Brooke Street on Saturday, January 14, Fin bangs on the door, with Carisi and Rollins standing next to him. The door opens and a woman says Gabriel is not there but Rollins shows a warrant. There is another woman in the room. Fin comments they have kids toys and clothes there and Rollins says Gabriel is out the window. Carisi and Rollins chase him down the fire escape but he is stopped by Fin who is at the stop of the stairs to the street. Gabriel says doesn’t have Theo, adding he bought the toys and clothes for Christmas and Nadine threw them in his face. Rollins asks why he ran, and Carisi finds Gabriel has a gun. When Fin asks if it is registered, Gabriel says maybe he could call a lawyer. Rollins comments she will take that as a no.
Later, Gabriel is in SVU interrogation with his lawyer and the detectives explain with the unregistered gun and the coke in his apartment, Gabriel is looking at 7 to 15. He knows nothing about Theo and the hairs in Theo’s room could be from months ago. They continue to question him and says he was at home last night watching football – real football. The lawyer ends the questioning.
Benson is observing the interrogation and Carisi thinks Gabriel is just an angry British douche and not a child abductor. Fin still wants a search warrant for his car and computer. Benson agrees and tells them to hold Gabriel on the gun charge. Fin goes to tell Gabriel as Benson worries to Carisi that it has been 12 hours. Carisi adds that facial recognition got nothing off the pictures from the party and none of Nadine’s friend have a record. Benson says there is nothing on Fran. Carisi says this kid did not just vanish and Benson says sometimes they do. Rollins races into the office with an image from a security camera 3 blocks from Nadine’s and it is someone loading a rug into a van. Carisi will call the company who has access to that van and Benson asks Rollins to see if Nadine recognizes the rug. Benson asks her to send her the picture and she will show it to Fran. Rollins comments she saw Tucker there and asks if everything is okay. Benson says it’s fine but they are not connecting right now, they are just missing each other. Rollins comments that is too bad and Benson thanks her, reflecting on the situation as Rollins exits.
Rollins shows the photo to Nadine and is not sure that is the rug and doesn’t recognize the man. Nadine worries that they this is her fault and Rollins reminds her this is not about her, they are trying to find her child. Nadine asks if Rollins knows how hard it is to be a single mother, and Rollins clearly understands but says nothing as Nadine complains she can’t be there every second. Rollins asks why did Nadine shut out Fran, and Nadine explains she was worried Theo would like Fran more than her.
Meanwhile, Benson is on the phone with her nanny saying she does not know what time she will be home. She tells Fran about the photo on the footage and when Fran sees the rug, she worries. Fran goes over the situation with her and Nadine and she says sometimes you take care of someone and you become their mother and it’s not sexy any more, they get bored and they resent you. She sees Benson has no wedding ring and asks if she is in a relationship and then apologizes for the question. Benson explains she is seeing someone and Fran asks if anybody ever gets it right. Benson comments that is a good question. Fran says she thought she and Nadine would be together forever which is why she did not rush to adoption. She was also working so much and was busy and thinks she lost her chance. Carisi races up and says they got a list of employees from the van company and Nadine had recognized one of the names as Gloria’s brother, Oscar. Rollins says Gloria and Oscar’s cell phones are going to voice mail and his employer says he and his sister live together. Nadine does not have the address but Fran does.
At the residence of Gloria Ramirez at 22-31 41st Street in Astoria, Queens on Saturday, January 14, Carisi, Fin, and Rollins are there with police support and when there is no answer, the door is forced open. No one is home. Rollins has found a shrine of photos of Theo.
Back at SVU, Benson explains the situation to Fran and Nadine and Fran worries that with the shrine, Gloria seems obsessed. Nadine explains they both hired her and saw how good she was. They found her on Craigslist and paid her cash and Fran says this makes no sense, and, with an accusatory tone, comments to Nadine unless things have changed in the last few years. Nadine says nothing has changed, and the two argue and discuss the possibilities. Rollins comments that Oscar just showed up at work to drop off the van but Theo is not with him.
Later, Fin and Carisi have Oscar in interrogation and show him the photo of the van and rug. They press him and he says he just does what Gloria says to do. Gloria gave him a key and said when the party was over to come into the room and make a mess and take Theo. Fin mentions the blood and Oscar says he did not hurt him, it was just a pinprick on Theo’s finger. He implies that the problem is Nadine and when Fin turns up the heat, Oscar says Gloria gave him money to buy a used car and caves and gives them the info on the car.
Carisi races out of the room with the car details and Rollins goes on Craigslist to check ads. She finds the car with the license number. Benson tells them to put out an Amber alert and get Gloria picture to the media and check the license plate readers for that car.
At White Gate Motel at 238 Ward Avenue in Bordentown, new Jersey on Sunday, January 15, Benson, Rollins, Fin and Carisi are there and speak with the motel manager who saw Nadine and Theo. He notices the car is now gone. They enter the motel room and no one is there. Rollins finds a piece of paper which has the directions to Juarez, Mexico. Benson worries Gloria is headed to the border.
Later, Carisi says the manager spoke to a motel guest who saw a Hispanic woman put a boy in the back seat of a Toyota around 10 AM. Fin adds the guest said the kid seemed okay. Rollins adds that a license plate reader on a tow truck just tagged the car, a breakdown at a gas station about 15 miles from there. As they race to their cars, Benson says they need to get to that gas station before Nadine does something desperate. They race off, sirens blaring.
They get to the gas station and find the car but no Nadine or Theo. They spot Gloria outside with Theo and they both race off and the dectives chase, but, after running into traffic, Gloria and Theo are quickly stopped. The detectives try to take Theo away but he cries for Gloria as Gloria screams.
Later, Theo is being checked out at the hospital and Nadine and Fran are thrilled to see him but Rollins pulls them aside so Theo can be questioned. Theo recoils from Nadine but she and Fran do exit the room.
Meanwhile, Gloria is being questioned by Carisi and Fin at SVU. She worries that Theo would die in Ibiza because Nadine would not pay attention and he would wander off. She mentions a party they went to in the Hamptons where no one was watching and Theo fell in the pool and he could have drowned. She jumped in the pool to save him. She says she is the one who cooks his dinner and how he likes his food and how he likes to get tucked into bed at night. She sobs that Theo wanted to be with her and go to Mexico and he would have been happy at her family ranch. Carisi says what she did was a crime. She sobs that she is so sorry.
Theo tells Benson that Gloria was going to take her to a farm. She said Oscar took him and said it was like a game. He was supposed to pretend to be a mummy and he rolled him into the rug and it was fun. They got in the van and met Gloria at the hotel and they would wait there a few days and then go to Mexico where they would live. He asks where is Gloria and if she is okay. Benson tells him she will check but he should stay there and talk to Rollins.
Benson explains this to Nadine and Fran. Benson says Nadine will be charged with kidnapping but given the circumstances, the ADA will probably make a deal. Nadine thinks she will hire another nanny and all is okay, but Fran says nothing is okay. Nadine says she is still his mother, and Benson agrees she is but with everything that has happened, child services is now involved and Nadine cannot take him now. Fran suggest she take him but Benson says that is not possible either.
Back at SVU in the interview room. Nadine and Fran visit with Theo before Child Services takes him. He asks how long will he be there and Benson explains there will be a hearing in the morning. Fran and Nadine say goodbye to Theo and they tell him they love him. After he leaves. Benson says social services will interview Nadine and Theo and inspect the home. Benson says family court judges tend to rule in favor of the custodial parent and Fran says she will help her and testify in court that Nadine is a good person and mother, but Theo needs both of them in their life. Nadine admits he needs two moms and apologizes to Fran. They hug and Fran comments they almost lost him forever.
Afterwards, Benson is leaving her office and is surprised the detectives are still there. She tells them to go home, telling Rollins the paperwork can wait until tomorrow. Carisi comments to Rollins he knows what she is thinking and she is wrong; she is a great mother. She is not so sure but he says she is. She says it gets so lonely sometimes. He suggests he come over and make them spaghetti and watch some terrible reality TV, it will be so bad. She asks if he has nothing else better to do, and he does not.
Back at Benson’s apartment, Tucker is there and Benson is getting Noah ready for bed, telling him not to forget to bush his teeth, top and bottom and she will be right in. Noah says, “Bye Tucka” and Tucker tells him night-night. After Noah leaves, Tucker sighs and says, “So, can I ask…what’s going on with me and you? Is it that dinner when I told you I was thinking about retiring?” Benson, not looking at him, says “No…yes…I, I don’t know.” Tucker comments then he is not imagining it, and she says no, he’s not. She looks at him and says, “You know, maybe we’re, we're, uh, in different places right now. I did get a little scared about the retirement thing. And Ed, you know this job, this is…this is who I am. “ Tucker comments that he knows. He adds that when he was at IAB he learned to listen, to know when people are telling him who they are and what they are really thinking. A few months ago, she said she was happy, but she was crying; she was afraid it wasn’t going to last. Benson remembers. Tucker says she was telling him the truth, that they weren’t going to last. She said she tried and she knows he tried too, but if they have both been trying this hard…adding she has a little boy who needs her and needs his mother. She has to give him all the attention and all the time and all the love that she has. Tucker says Noah has to be her priority right now and he gets that. She says she is sorry, and he kisses her on the forehead. He turns and grabs his coat, and, as he gets to the door, he turns and says, “Take care of yourself, Olivia Benson.” She nods and smiles and he exits the apartment. Benson stands there, no tears, and hears Noah call. As she moves off to tend to him, we fade to black.
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