Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 9 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 25, 2007 on NBC

Episode Recap

As Benson gets off the elevator, Tutuola welcomes her back from her suspension before commenting on her new short hair. She explains that she had too much time on her hands before asking if Cragen is there. He tells her she needs to catch him while she can. After giving him a confused look, she approaches Cragen's door.

As she watches him pack a box of personal items from his desk, Benson thanks Cragen for pulling the strings he had to for the Brass to allow her to stay at SVU after her suspension hoping it did not cost him too much. Cragen explains he has been temporarily reassigned to the Chief of Detectives office because he failed to supervise: (1) her while she aided her fugitive brother, (2) Stabler while he covered up Kathleen's DUI, and (3) Tutuola while his step-son got away with a double murder.

When they join Tutuola, Munch, and Stabler in the bullpen, Stabler informs her the Brass put Munch in charge. Munch tells them he will not do it. Tutuola calls his bluff stating that Munch had taken the Sergeant's Exam without telling anyone. Munch claims he took the exam on a bar bet. Cragen drops the keys to the office on Munch's desk with a warning not to let the power go to his head. When he turns to leave, Lake comments on serving under Cragen and is reminded that Cragen is not dead yet. Stabler assures Cragen they will get him back. Cragen asks that they all try to behave themselves. Before they can spend too much time sulking, Dr. Anna Young arrives to report a possible case of child abuse. As Benson shows her to a seat on her side of the desk, Stabler gets up from his chair telling Sgt. Munch that they have it. Dr. Young explains she is Janis Donovan's psychiatrist. Janis called her while giving her daughter April a bath stating that she scrubbed as hard as she could and still could not get "the filthy slut clean." She gives them Janis's address and her card with a request to call her when they know something.

At Janis's apartment, Benson and Stabler search for Janis and April. Benson finds an empty crib, but Stabler finds a doll face down in a tub of water. Janis's neighbor Bev, carrying her son, interrupts their search to find out what is going on. After they introduce themselves, Bev explains Janis moved in after her son was born, but she does not do play dates. Benson finds a picture of Dr. Young and April. Bev informs her the woman in the picture is Janis, not Dr. Young.

In the squad room on a speaker phone with them, Munch, Lake, and Tutuola inform Benson and Stabler the woman's license is issued to Janis Donovan. When Munch tries to claim he knew something was not right about her, Tutuola asks if superpowers came with his promotion. Munch explains "Anna" came from "Anna Freud" and "Young" came from "Carl Young". Lake notes that according to Janis's license, she does not wear glasses. Benson wonders why Janis sent them directly to her apartment. Munch dismisses it as Janis trying to get their attention and tries to close the case, but Benson reminds him about April. Stabler warns Munch they are searching the apartment, but Munch tells him not to without a warrant. Stabler reminds him there is no sign of foul play so they would not be able to get a warrant. Benson believes the fact Janis reporting herself should be enough probable cause to allow them to search the apartment. As Benson explains the only thing the neighbors know about Janis is that she is painfully shy, she remembers Janis gave her a business card. When she asks them to check it, the apartment phone rings. Lake runs the address off of the card and locates Dr. Henry Carlisle, a psychoanalyst.

When Benson and Stabler ask Dr. Carlisle if Janis is a patient, he verifies it by claiming doctor-patient privilege. They explain they fear for the safety of April asking for his help in finding her. He does not feel she is a danger to herself or others so he cannot talk. Benson tells him Dr. Young told them he is treating Janis for post-partum depression. Stabler points out Janis was wearing glasses like Carlisle's when she came to the office. Carlisle dismisses her visit to their office claiming it does not make her violent. When Stabler asks about scrubbing April raw and calling her a "filthy slut", Dr. Carlisle states, "That's not good." Benson threatens him if the baby is harmed and he does not help them. He tells them she works at a museum and he has an emergency contact of Penny Taylor.

Penny informs Benson and Stabler that she was fired for unknown reasons and Janis made sure she would never get another babysitting job. Janis would drop April off at 8 and was suppose to return by 6 to pick her up, but would not show until 10 and claim she was on time and Penny was trying to play tricks on her. When Benson asks if she thinks Janis would hurt April, Penny explains Janis threw April's bottle at her when April spit up and claimed Penny fed her hot sauce.

In the squad room, Tutuola is informed April's most recent babysitter never heard Janis raise her voice in the 3 weeks she had been working for her. She does not know why Janis did not show up with April that morning, but she called to check on her. A Russian woman named Petra answered claiming Janis was not there. The only place she thinks Janis would be is at work at the Museum of Natural History.

At the Museum of Natural History, Benson and Stabler are informed that Janis is an arachnologist. She keeps to herself. When Benson asks about Janis's absence from work, they are told she milks spiders for the venom so she is out in the field looking for more spiders. When the explanation begins on how and why spiders are milked, Benson interrupts stating they just need to find Janis. They are given a list of Janis's hot spots.

At the Prince of Peace Church, Benson and Stabler are told Janis has been coming once a week since Reverend Ferguson returned from a trip to Africa where the spiders had gotten into his suitcase. She was there the day prior. When they ask if she knows where Janis is, they are told Janis had a heated discussion with herself about it. One side stating she was running away from home and the other trying to talk her out of it. Benson excuses herself to answer her cell while Stabler is told Janis sounded like she was possessed, but she was sane when she was last seen. Benson informs Stabler Munch was on the phone to tell them Janis's car has Lojack and is heading north on the Westside Highway.

When Lake and Tutuola locate the car at Inwood Hill Park, Tutuola informs Sgt. Munch. Lake notices a woman with a hoodie covering her face walking with a stroller, but Tutuola approaches her and finds it is not her. He asks Benson and Stabler if they found anything inside the park. While Benson tells him they have not, Stabler locates a cave for them to search. Inside the cave, they find several jars containing spiders sitting beside a lantern proving she has been there. As they make their way in a little farther, they see Janis sitting on the ground and a car seat close by her. Benson has her put her hands up while Stabler checks the empty car seat. After Benson asks Janis about the baby, she is told her name is not Janis and she is not big enough to have a baby.

In the interrogation room, Stabler informs Janis she is not going home until she tells them April's current location. Janis claims she is 6-year-old Tammy. Benson tries to remind her if April is outside she is probably hungry, cold, and scared so she needs to Janis's help to find her. She agrees to help, but is scared Burt will hurt her if she tells, but Benson assures her she will not let anyone hurt her. Once she feels safe, she tells them Burt took April, but she does not know where. Stabler has had enough and shows her the picture of Janis and April. He believes she could not handle motherhood so she abandoned her leaving her to die, but adds if she dies Janis will go to prison for murder. Janis gets angry and slaps Stabler. Stabler reminds her she is suppose to be 6, but she does not slap like one. He holds her from the front while Benson holds her hands behind her back. Janis tells him to get out of her face and demands a lawyer in a Russian accent. As they cuff her, Stabler informs her she is being charged with assaulting a police officer. Janis tells him to grow some balls if he cannot take a slap.

Watching the scene play out, Tutuola informs Munch the Russian must be Petra, the lady that answered the babysitter's phone call. Munch tells him he has to get Benson and Stabler out of the room and get Janis a lawyer. Tutuola offers to call Huang to bring the butterfly net.

In the squad room, Huang believes Janis has Dissociative Identity Disorder, or multiple personalities. Stabler does not believe in the disorder. Huang informs them psychiatrists cannot agree on its existence. He believes it is over diagnosed, but the cases he has seen are the result of prolonged child sexual abuse. Stabler tells him they do not know if she was abused, but wonders if it will help find April. Huang thinks it may so he needs to know about the alternate personalities. Benson tells him they have seen a shrink, a little girl, and a tough Russian. Stabler believes she is acting. Huang explains that when a child is being repeatedly abused she can escape and believe it is happening to someone else. The personalities are formed as needed to help deal with the trauma. Stabler wants him to trick Janis into telling them where April is, but Huang explains the host personality rarely knows about the alternates or their actions. Benson tells him Tammy was about to tell her where Burt took April when Petra showed up and slapped Stabler. Stabler adds he would like 5 minutes with Burt and asks how to get to him. Huang informs them the alternates are brought out with stress so they need to find the right trigger. Munch shows up dressed in uniform stating a press conference is their last option, but Stabler corrects him stating Huang has an idea to get her to talk. Huang wants to hypnotize her, but Munch tells him he cannot talk to her. Stabler informs Munch that he is not taking orders from him even if they crown him Chief of Detectives. Munch explains they cannot talk to Janis because her lawyer is already there. Benson reminds him they can talk to the lawyer. As they walk away, Munch tells them to tune it at 11 because everyone that has ever seen April will be calling.

When Benson returns to the Interrogation Room, Heshy Horowitz is advising Janis to reconsider discontinuing his service. Janis asks Benson to identify herself. After she does, Janis introduces herself as Dori and asks that she tell Horowitz that she does not need him because she did nothing wrong. Benson believes she has changed her mind, but Horowitz does not believe she is competent. When Janis tries to fire him, Horowitz explains that since she invoked her right to counsel he is her lawyer until she legally waives the right. Benson excuses herself to obtain the proper form, Huang, and Stabler in the next room. When she signs it "Dori Johnson," Horowitz tells her that she signed it with the wrong name. She insists it is her name. Stabler leans in and tells her if she wants to get rid of the lawyer she has to sign the form "Janis Donovan" before he winks at her. She willingly signs it. When Stabler shows Horowitz the form, he tells Janis to call him when she changes one of her minds. When Huang introduces himself, she tells him she already has a shrink before turning to ask Stabler where his gun is. Stabler tells her it is in his locker. She asks to see it, but he wants to know where April is first. She tells him that if she knew she would tell him. She turns her attention to Huang to inform him she does not know why she is in therapy. She has been hypnotized, but refuses to allow him to do so for fear that Dr. Carlisle will not like it. Stabler tries to get her to do it for him, but she refuses saying she does not want to go away because she feels safe here. Huang tells Benson to get her shrink here while he keeps trying because he would know how to reach Burt.

As Benson escorts Dr. Carlisle to Janis, he claims Janis's alters are not violent. She tells him Petra slapped Stabler, but he thinks Janis felt extremely threatened since Petra is her protector. Tutuola interrupts them stating he hopes April is not out in the storm because they have come up empty. Lake informs her the choppers used infrared on the park and they have not found anything. Benson informs them they are still working on Janis and asks them to catch Munch.

Tutuola and Lake join Novak in the squad room to view Munch's press conference. Munch informs the press they are looking for a one-year-old that was last seen with her mother Janis Donovan. He announces a $10,000 reward for information and asks they call a hotline number to Special Victims. While he is talking, Lake comments that he looks good earning himself a dirty look from Tutuola. As soon as Munch finishes talking, the phones start ringing. Tutuola answers the first one only to have to explain April is Caucasian. Novak announces "The circus begins."

In the Interrogation Room, Dr. Carlisle has hypnotized Janis with Benson and Stabler observing through the window. Dr. Carlisle raises her hand and tells her when he taps her shoulder she will be wide awake, refreshed, and perfectly calm. Janis tells him April is at the babysitters, but she does not remember taking her there. She remembers giving April a bath and then searching the cave for spiders. Stabler thinks Janis killed April. Dr. Carlisle has Janis allow them to talk to Burt. When he comes through, Janis picks up the chair and throws it at the window causing Huang to call for assistance. While Benson and Stabler cuff her, Burt tells them they will never see April again. Dr. Carlisle touches her shoulder bringing Janis back trying to figure out what is going on.

In the squad room, Lake informs everyone a gas station attendant outside Philly saw Janis with April using cash that morning. Tutuola tells them a waitress at an IHOP in Reno is serving her pancakes now. Stabler tells Lake to have Philly follow up with the gas station attendant since Janis worked at Penn last year. When Munch arrives, Benson informs him Dr. Carlisle has had Janis bouncing around personalities for hours and Burt is not talking. They are interrupted when Cass Magnall walks in informing them April is fine and has been with her all day. She adds she is April's mother.

In the interview room, Cass informs Lake and Stabler that she is Janis's sister. Janis had been watching April for her. They do not understand why no one knew Janis was not April's real mother or that she had a sister. Cass explains Janis moved there after April was born and she had went to prison.

In the interrogation room, Janis tells Benson that she does not have a sister. When she mentions she believes it would have come up during therapy, Benson realizes she is talking to Dr. Young. When Benson tells her she needs to talk to Janis, she is told she does not know where she is.

In the interview room, Cass asks to speak with Janis so she can vouch for who she is. Stabler doubts that considering Janis does not even know who she is herself. When she claims she does not know what is wrong with Janis considering she was fine that morning, Stabler asks about her incarceration. She admits she bought heroin from a narc when she was 8 months pregnant and got out the day prior. Lake implies the reward would come in handy right now causing Cass suggests he call her landlady to verify April is with her.

Munch joins Benson and Janis in the interrogation room with a copy of Janis's license. After briefly searching for her glasses, she states it looks like Janis's driver's license. Benson asks her to step around the table to the mirror and asks who is there. Janis admits it is Benson and Janis, but believes they are playing tricks instead of allowing her image in the mirror. When that does not work, Munch shows her a picture of Cass. She denies knowing who it is causing him to suggest a stroll down memory lane.

Stabler asks Cass if there is any truth to Huang's thought that Janis was abused as a child. Cass grabs her purse and holds it while claiming not to know anything about Janis's abuse. Janis left home when Cass was 6. She admits being abused, but denies telling Janis because she was not there to protect her. The night Janis left, her father pulled her around the house by her hair wanting to know where Janis went. When she did not know, he forced her to drink hot sauce until she threw up. Her mother was in the room watching, but did not say a word, even when he began raping her. She begged her mother to help her, but no one ever did. While watching from the window in Cragen's office, Janis tells Munch to turn off the speaker. He does and pulls the blinds. She questions how Janis could do something like that when she knew it would happen. She claims it happened to Janis stating she would never have left Cass because she would have told someone. Munch offers to get her a tissue leaving her alone.

As Munch gets the tissue, Benson informs him Tutuola just called stating April was where Cass said safe and sound. Munch realizes his press conference was unnecessary so he announces the calls are no longer needed. Munch tells Benson to ask Carlisle what to do about Janis.

Upon returning to the office, Munch catches Janis looking at a file. She claims she was trying to figure out where she was. Benson realizes they are talking to Janis and introduces herself again. Janis believes she is there collecting specimens. When Munch tries to correct her she points out he has a "Daddy Long Legs" on his file cabinet. He comments on Cragen leaving him 3 months of paperwork and spiders. Janis takes the opportunity to inform him that he is never more than 6 feet from a spider. Cass interrupts them stating they need to talk. When Cass asks if she can take Janis home, Benson informs her that she needs to check with someone first.

Upstairs, Huang tells Dr. Carlisle that sending Janis home is a crap shoot. Dr. Carlisle believes she had an extremely stressful day and is not violent. When Benson reminds him he has been treating her 5 personalities for a year, Carlisle informs her they are all functional so they have no grounds to commit her. He believes she is on the road to recovery, especially since she is developing a relationship with her sister. He believes Cass can help her face the abuse and integrate her personalities. He tells them to let Janis go home with Cass.

At the Stabler residence, Kathleen comes into her parents' bedroom yelling for Stabler while he is trying to sleep. When he asks her what time it is, she calls him lazy before telling him it is 9. Carrying a basket of laundry into the room, Kathy urges her to let Stabler sleep since he worked all night. Stabler notices the basket and tells her he will take care of it since she should not be lifting things. Kathleen states she should not be pregnant because she is too old and people will think it is hers. Returning to the task at hand, she informs Stabler her classmates saw her picking up trash in her orange vest. He reminds her she cannot go against the judge's orders. Kathy reminds her she could have gotten jail time. Kathleen insists she is not trying to get out of the punishment, she just wants it moved indoors so no one will see her. She is interrupted by his cell phone.

Benson and Stabler arrive at the Donovan residence to Warner wondering why they were called since there is no evidence of a sex crime. Francis and Molly Donovan are the victims. They explain they met their daughters the day before. Both victims were shot in the chest and the murder weapon was left. Stabler notes Molly was killed in her sleep, but Francis woke up to see the killer before being killed. Warner informs them they have a bloody fingerprint on the door. Benson informs her the perp is Janis Donovan before telling Stabler they should have had Janis committed. They are interrupted by Stabler's phone ringing. He tells Kathy it is not a good time, but she tells him Janis is at their house with a knife. He tells her to get out of the house.

At the Stabler residence, a uniform officer tells Stabler Kathy is still inside adding Dori insisted on speaking with both of them. Looking through the window, he sees Dori sitting in his living room holding a knife across from Kathy.

Janis tells Kathy that it was love at first sight for she and Stabler. He knelt down, whispered to her, and winked. There was electricity. She pauses when Stabler enters. Kathy calmly greets him stating "Dori" was just talking about him. Stabler asks "Dori" what is going on. She tells him she wanted to see him again. Kathy tells him "Dori" was upset and wanted to hurt herself. When "Dori" tries to verify Kathy is his wife, Stabler asks how she found out where he lives. "Dori" explains she read his file when Munch left her alone in the office. Stabler calmly tells Kathy to leave. She tells "Dori" to take care of herself before telling Stabler to do the same and leaving. "Dori" comments on Kathy's weight. He tells her to put the knife down on the coffee table, but she stands up wondering why he wants it. He tells her he does not want her to hurt herself as Benson sneaks up behind her. She claims she needs it in case Burt comes after her. He assures her he will protect her, but she does not believe him. When she explains he killed Janis's parents, Benson grabs her from behind. While "Dori" screams for Stabler saying Burt has her, Benson and Stabler disarm her safely.

At Grellman Psychiatric Hospital, Benson informs Novak she does not believe Janis is competent to stand trial. Novak reminds her that Janis confessed to killing her parents in cold blood. Stabler reminds her that Burt is the one that killed her parents. Benson adds that Dori was the one that flipped on Burt. Novak reminds them they are all the same person and she does not care how many names she goes by she is putting her body in jail. When Dr. Carlisle joins them, Benson comments on how bumpy her road to recovery got. He admits he should have spent more time drawing out Burt, but he did not believe any of her personalities were violent. He does not believe her psyche could handle a trial right now because he has never had to medicate her to bring her back. Novak does not have confidence in his professional opinion so she is ordering a 7-30 exam.

In the squad room, Lake tells Tutuola that even though he saw crazies in Brooklyn, but Manhattan SVU is a cuckoo magnet. Tutuola tells him he should have been there for the case when the white supremacist shot Munch adding he still has to sit on a special pillow. Lake draws attention to Cragen approaching with his box. He verifies he is back stating it helped when Sgt. Munch released a maniac that promptly killed her parents. Tutuola informs him the judge ruled she was competent to stand trial.

When Cragen enters his office he asks Munch if he missed him. Munch tells him he is glad he is back adding he does not want the job. Cragen happily informs him he is relieved of his CO duties. Munch updates him stating Stabler and Benson searched the Donovan residence and found photos confirming the abuse. Nova tried to plead her out since the jury would have sympathy on her, but Janis refused claiming she is innocent. Cragen states it is up to whatever bogus defense her lawyer can dream up.

Horowitz tells The judge that Janis was not at the scene of the crime. Novak disputes this stating her bloody fingerprint was found at the scene. Horowitz clarifies that her body was there, but her mind was not. He explains that she suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and has 5 documented identities. She cannot be held responsible for what her alters did. The judge asks if they should swear in each identity separately. Novak argues they cannot take Janis at her word that she did not know what was going on because then everyone would claim their imaginary friend did things. Horowitz reminds them in US v. Denny-Shaffer, the Appeals Court tore the trial court a new one for not allowing the defense. The judge grants Horowitz's motion.

In court, Horowitz has Dr. Carlisle testify to the fact he diagnosed Janis with DID 11 months before the crime and at no time did she know about the alters. Dr. Carlisle claims that when an alter is present, Janis is nonexistent. He claims he brought them out in deep hypnosis, which he had a vested interest in for a book he is writing. He claims the book is because of Janis and not the other way around. The only proof he has that the alters exist is that they have different voices, handwriting, and behavior. Novak claims that since the alters were created to protect Janis then they would lie to protect her for this. Novak wonders what was different that night than over the year he had been treating Janis without any signs of violence. Cass informs Novak that she told Janis about her abuse that night. Janis got a blank look on her face then left. Cass tried calling her name, but she did not respond. Janis claims she does not know Burt. She claims she did not kill her parents. Novak asks what is the last thing she remembers from the night her parents were murdered. She remembers talking to her sister that night, then waking up in the hospital. When she claims it is horrible missing chunks of time, Novak shows her the shotgun used to kill her parents with her fingerprints on it. Janis claims she remembers the gun from her childhood. When she denies remembering shooting her parents, Novak shows her the picture of their bodies lying in bed. When Novak gets in her face, Janis jumps up grabbing her by the throat saying "leave her alone" repeatedly causing The judge to call the court officers to get her out of there.

Novak arrives at the squad room to Stabler reading the New York Ledger with the headline "DA FLOPS KILLER WALKS". She tells him that is one for her scrapbook. Stabler reminds her that it was not an acquittal. Novak adds that she is only in there until she convinces them she is sane. Novak notices a book in the picture as the same one she read while preparing for the case. Using a magnifying glass, she sees the book is from when Cass was in jail deducing Cass was helping Janis with her defense while she was still in jail.

Benson and Stabler speak with an ex-cell mate of Cass's at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility about the book. She tells them Janis faked the whole thing and she cannot believe the courts fell for it. Cass allowed her to read all of her letters where they planned the entire thing. She adds Cass read the book Cybil like it was the Bible.

At Grellman, Benson and Stabler interrupt Cass's visit with Janis to congratulate her on her performance portraying Tammy, Dr. Young, Petra, Stabler's favorite Dori, and the unforgettable Burt. When she claims she does not know what they are talking about, they inform her their techs were able to restore the research she did on her computer on multiple personalities. She admits she was good catching them in her web. She feels she is integrated now and can be released soon. When Cass tries to shut her up, Janis reminds her double jeopardy prohibits them from coming after her again. Stabler agrees with her before placing Cass under arrest for the murders. Janis tells them she was not there, but they inform her that since they planned it together they might as well have pulled the trigger together. Janis tries blaming the abuse stating they will never recover from it. They ignore her and leave as she yells to Cass that she is suffering from Better Child Syndrome and it is not her fault.