Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 1 Episode 2

A Single Life

Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 27, 1999 on NBC
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Episode Summary

When the body of Gretchen Quinn is found wearing only a red slip after having gone through an upper-story window, Benson and Stabler soon find out that 'Gretchen Quinn' has never existed. While trying to piece together her life, the detectives are led to Gretchen's psychiatrist and a well-known television newscaster, both of whom were sleeping with her, and through an overdue library book finally trace Gretchen back to a young woman who changed her name and identity after graduating high school to get away from her sexually abusive father. Cragen and Benson find it easy to identify with the young woman, as they both have ghosts of their own from which they must escape. Detectives manage to contact the victim's sister, who experienced the same trauma growing up.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

Laila Robins

Laila Robins

Ellen Travis

Guest Star

Paul Hecht

Paul Hecht

Robert Sidarsky

Guest Star

Michael Gaston

Michael Gaston

New York Ledger Columnist

Guest Star

Michelle Hurd

Michelle Hurd

Det. Monique Jeffries

Recurring Role

Isabel Gillies

Isabel Gillies

Kathy Stabler

Recurring Role

Erin Broderick

Erin Broderick

Maureen Stabler

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Continuity: Det. Jeffries reads from a Rolodex card still in the Rolodex. In the next scene, as Stabler and Benson are collecting items from the victim's apartment, Stabler runs through the cards in the same Rolodex and Benson holds an armful of files that likely contain the clippings from which everyone read in the previous scene.

    • Goof: During the coroner scene, a boom mike can clearly be seen during the whole scene.

    • This is one of the few episodes that narrows down an actual timeframe for the happenings. Gretchen Quinn was born in the spring of 1967, and is stated by her sister to have been 32 at her death. The show gives September dates for certain events, establishing that this episode takes place the week of September 20, 1999.

    • Goof: The address for Dr. Mark Daniels is given as 911 E 72nd St. This would actually place him in the middle of the East River.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • (Elliot turns on the disposal after fixing it}
      Dickie Stabler: (runs in) Mommy, Mommy have you seen the turtle? I left him in the sink.
      (Elliot looks down at the smoothly grinding disposal)

    • (Discussing how the victim was thrown from the window.)
      Olivia Benson: How about plain old testosterone-driven rage?
      Monique Jeffries: Boyfriend?
      John Munch: Or a girl. You could toss a hundred pounds without breaking a sweat.
      Monique Jeffries: Toss you, you skinny-ass geek.

    • Olivia Benson: "Biology of the Amazons" by Gretchen Quinn. "There's a tiny catfish feared more than the piranha. It's called a--"
      Donald Cragen: Candiru.
      Elliot Stabler: Say what?
      Donald Cragen: This is beautiful. Tell him.
      Olivia Benson: "It will swim right into a man's penis and lodge itself there by erecting sharp spines." Ow.
      Elliot Stabler: "Erecting sharp spines." That's a fish with a sense of irony. (to Cragen) How'd you know that?
      Donald Cragen: In the jungle they always taught us, "Don't hold your nose. Hold your stones."

    • (Debating whether the victim was raped.)
      Detective Mourad: Plus, she wasn't exactly dressed in her refusal outfit.
      Elliot Stabler: I didn't hear you say that.
      Detective Mourad: You know, I didn't catch your shield. You with the political correctness squad, or what?

    • John Munch: The whole thing's a pyramid scheme.
      Brian Cassidy: What whole thing?
      John Munch: Laptops. We've become a nation of "laptoppers", writing up orders on our laptops. More laptops. Whatever happened to pens?

    • (Talking about Dallas Warner.)
      Elliot Stabler: You want me to bust him in the grill? I mean we're not getting anywhere in there.
      Olivia Benson: It's not we. It's me.
      Elliot Stabler: What's that mean?
      Olivia Benson: That pompous jerk will never condescend to deal with a woman. You go in there.
      Elliot Stabler: We good?
      Olivia Benson: We're good.

    • Elliot Stabler: She musta had fun naming her computer files. This is "penis.quotes". You wanna read it, or should I?
      Olivia Benson: Knock yourself out.
      Elliot Stabler: (opens the folder and quickly closes it) No. That's yours.

    • Olivia Benson: Half of them admitted they couldn't tell their neighbors from the perp.
      Elliot Stabler: Could you?
      Olivia Benson: Could I what?
      Elliot Stabler: Tell your neighbors apart.
      Olivia Benson: Why? 'Cause I live here? What? I'm never home. I'm always with you.
      Elliot Stabler: And people say the suburbs are anonymous.
      Olivia Benson: Oh. Now, Queens is a suburb. Since when?
      Elliot Stabler: Since we got a little space, some trees, grass to mow.
      Olivia Benson: Yeah. I got a regular eight-by-ten of you out there mowing the lawn.
      Elliot Stabler: Well. I do. Sometimes.
      Olivia Benson: Admit it. Kathy does all the housework. 'Cause you're never there.
      Elliot Stabler: Okay. I admit it. Kathy's the man of the house.
      Olivia Benson: Exactly.
      Elliot Stabler: Until Dickie's old enough ... You're lucky. You've got nothing to worry about. Definitely got no lawn to mow.
      Olivia Benson: Yeah. I'm a regular monk.
      Elliot Stabler: Monkette. (staring at her)

    • Olivia Benson: Anybody notify SVU?
      Policeman #2: 'Cause she's not wearing panties, you mean?
      Olivia Benson: Just cover her up!

    • Donald Cragen: My wife was on an Orlando turnaround as a flight attendant, and I was home, scrubbing algae off the tiles around the swimming pool we never used. The one that got me into hot water with Internal Affairs, because "what's a cop doing with an in-ground pool," right? And then the phone rang, the call she always expected... always dreaded.

    • Detective Mourad: Looks like maybe they did more than kiss.
      Olivia Benson: Yeah, he read her a little Walt Whitman, they made hot passionate love, then right before he rolled over and fell asleep, he heaved her out the window -- excuse me -- through the window.

  • NOTES (2)


    • Donald Cragen: …I was home, scrubbing algae off the tiles around the swimming pool that we never used. The one that got me into hot water with Internal Affairs, because "what's a cop doing with an in-ground pool," right?

      This is a reference to the Law & Order episode "The Blue Wall" where Donald Cragen comes under suspicion for laundering drug money. Cragen also reveals in this same conversation that Marge died, and it took everything in him not to turn back to the bottle.

    • Elliot Stabler: What's his face, Warner -- the 'Peter Jennings' look-a-like?

      Peter Jennings was a well-known media personality. Originally from Canada, Jennings joined ABC in 1964, and over the years, won numerous Emmys.