Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Sep 20, 1999 on NBC

Episode Recap

When Benson and Stabler arrive at the crime scene, they are greeted by Detective Frank Bremmer. He gives them a run down of the details as they walk over to the taxi cab that contains the body of a white male in his mid-30s. Bremmer tells them the victim has multiple stab wounds. They found $40 in a cigar box, $12 in his wallet, and a hack license made out to 'Victor Spicer', but no other I.D. When they ask what makes it a case for Special Victims, Bremmer informs them the victim's 'cigar' was cut off and the perpetrator took it.
Cassidy comes into work late. Cragen informs them Van Buren wants everything they have on the case. Stabler tells Cragen the autopsy will be in the afternoon. Benson tells him Rodgers is the one performing it. Jeffries observes the lack of doubt in as to the cause of death. Munch tells them of a case he worked in Baltimore where the cause of death was not what they originally thought it was. When Briscoe informs Cragen they just received a call needing someone to cover a case about a dead body being molested, he sends Cassidy telling him to investigate, interrogate, and write up a DD-5. Cragen tells Munch to help Stabler and Benson. Benson tells him to follow up with the cab company. Benson says she will cover the Hack Bureau. Stabler informs them he has to go to court about a case involving a councilman.
In court, the defense attorney makes it known that Stabler did not personally see the defendant expose himself. Stabler informs them he was pulled over by two of his neighbors reporting the incident and he arrested him because of their complaint. He explains he requested the Special Victims Unit because it is a major law enforcement problem. He also tells them he is the father of four and does not want them exposed to Mr. Kloster's 'shortcomings'. Kloster gets upset by this statement and in an effort to defend himself he unzips his pants and pulls out his 'shortcomings' for the entire courtroom to see.
Stabler returns to the squad room with Benson's coffee and informs her Kloster is at Bellevue because he waved his flag and nobody saluted. Benson informs him the Hack Bureau suspended Spicer's license when he was put in Rikers Island for assault. When they tell Cragen this information, Benson also tells him she had the Watch Captain personally check to make sure he was there. When Stabler tells Cragen the case is there because the perpetrator sliced off the victim's 'unit', Cragen spits out the licorice he just bit off. Benson shows Cragen the hack license and tells him there was no other ID found. He looks at it with a magnifying glass while Stabler makes fun of him. Cragen takes out a knife and slices the laminate and removes the top picture making both Benson and Stabler look like idiots. He returns the license to them and tells them to go to Rikers and talk to the real Victor Spicer.
Stabler informs him someone killed him in his cab. Benson asks who would want to cut his penis off. He tells her to take a number. When asked who had his license, he tells them he sold it to someone with a kid on Broadway for $100 that a foreign guy at Cabbie's Place set up. When he asks if Stabler is doing anything Saturday night, Stabler tells him he would hurt him.
Benson informs Stabler patrol will check every apartment for ten blocks of Sara Beth's. She also suspects the guy's wife must be going nuts when Missing Persons will not take a report for another two days. Stabler wonders who was supposed to be sliced and diced. Benson thinks it was Spicer. At Cabbie's, they ask the waitress about the two Victors. She tells them she last saw the victim the night before. When they leave, they are stopped by Sikh. He tells them he saw the guy leave and saw two women hail his cab. The last thing he talked to him about was his wife and the fact they just found out his wife was expecting again.
While Benson and Stabler discuss the case with Cragen, Munch tells them the cab dispatcher says they received a call inquiring about Spicer's working hours, but could not tell if it was a man or woman. Benson believes it was the real Victor Spicer that was supposed to be the one killed. Cragen asks who wanted him dead. Munch responds 'whoever called the dispatcher'. Benson and Stabler thank him for his insight as they leave to check on the residence of Steven Panacek.
When they arrive, no one is home. Benson see the boy from a picture they recovered from the cab walking up the sidewalk with his mother. She asks about him but before they can say anything she figures out what is wrong from the looks on their faces and breaks down crying.
While Stabler sits with the boy and listens to him read a book, Benson sits with Mrs. Panacek. She tells them he was C. He was illegal because when he spoke with an immigration lawyer, he was told he would still be deported. The little boy leaves Stabler and goes to hug his crying mother. Stabler gives his condolences before they leave.
Stabler tells Cragen the ME found 37 stab wounds during the autopsy. The fingerprints came up clean in the US but Cragen wants them run through Interpol since he was illegal. Forensics found a fingernail with red fingernail polish on it. Cragen wants them to question the wives of Spicer's johns that were arrested. Cassidy and Munch are sent to question Mr. Dupree, but find out his wife is in a wheelchair. Benson and Stabler are sent to question an artist, but find that he and his wife have an open relationship and they were at Elaine's with some friends. He states his wife is bisexual and Benson should give her a call. When Munch finishes ranting about his latest conspiracy theory about JFK's coffin, Cragen tells them they got a fax from the FBI requesting anything they get about Internet crimes get sent to them in Baltimore. Munch goes off about going to Baltimore and the reason he hates Baltimore is he lost one of his wives to an affair she had with a co-worker of his. Stabler walks in and shows Cragen a report from Interpol. After reading it, Cragen tells Stabler his partner may have a problem with this victim, but to remind her they 'don't get to pick the vic'. Munch and Cassidy try to figure out what they missed while Stabler assures him it won't be a problem.
Stabler tells Benson the victim was Stefan Tanzic, a Serb indicted for ethnic cleansing after raping 67 women. He tells her fifteen of them are still alive of which five live in the New York area.
Rodgers brings Stabler and Benson back to the morgue to explain there were two weapons and two killers.
Stabler and Benson return to the victim's wife and talk to her about their new found information after making sure their son was gone. When Benson asks her what it was like sleeping with someone who raped dozens of women, she threw them out. Once back outside Stabler informs her that was a dumb move considering if Mrs. Panacek says anything about what happened, Benson will lose her job. Stabler informs her Cragen is worried about her objectivity and if she gets removed from this case, she will be removed from the unit. She tells him she is a good cop.
They go to visit Ileana Jashari. When they see she is blind and her face is horribly scarred, they ask if she knows Stefan Tanzic. She begins to cry and tells them he is the one that caused her looks. Benson tells her he is dead.
When Benson finishes vomiting in the trash can, Stabler refers to a line from a Tom Hanks movie: 'There's no cryin' in baseball.' She reminds him Ileana could not have killed Tanzic and asks who is next. When they arrive at the next apartment, they are told Marta Stevens is at work and will return later. Before they leave, a little boy runs into the room. After inquiring, they deduce he is the product of Marta's rape. Stabler leaves Benson for a parent-teacher conference.
As Benson walks, she calls for an address and goes to talk to Marta at work. She checks her hands for the missing nail. She informs her she has figured out Tanzic is her son's father. Marta gives her work as her alibi. She tells her Tanzic was murdered. Marta tells her about being raped for 23 days.
While Stabler and Kathy are talking with Lizzie's teacher, Benson calls him. She tells him what happened. He tells her they will talk about it in the morning.
At dinner with her mother, Benson tells her about the case. Benson tells her mother she does not have a doubt in her mind that Marta killed Tanzic. When Benson tells her mother she wished she would have killed her rapist, her mother reminds her that if she had not been raped then she would not be here. She also reminds her the little boy needs his mother.
Stabler tries to figure out how Benson believes Marta is innocent when she does not have an alibi. Benson slips by asking how they are going to find the 'other' killer.
The next victim they check out was in Europe. The fourth victim, Anya Rugova, is blunt about knowing Tanzic and says she was at her restaurant, but her hand is hurt. When they leave, they agree the woman was lying about her alibi and not knowing Marta. Stabler points out that she was left-handed because when she wrote with her right hand it looked like a 5-year-old's writing. He believes they will get a DNA match on the nail. Benson tries to say the nail could have been in the cab for a month. Stabler explains his theory of what happened placing Marta and Rugova as the killers. Benson does not deny it.
They take pictures of the women to the Sikh at Cabbie's. He cannot tell if it is the women who hailed Tanzic's cab. He is sure the women saw him though. Stabler wants to arrest them. They arrest Marta at work and call for another car to meet them at Rugova's restaurant saying they have a positive ID. At the restaurant while Benson stays outside with Marta telling her not to talk without a lawyer, Cassidy and Munch pull up ready to transport her to the station. Stabler tells Rugova about the fingernail, tells her she is under arrest, and begins telling her of her rights when she asks to call her lawyer. When she heads for the phone, she grabs a knife and stabs herself. Stabler tries to stop the bleeding while Benson leaps over the rail and calls for an ambulance. She whispers something in Elliot's ear after telling him not to help her.
Marta tells ADA Abbie Carmichael, Benson, and Stabler what happened. She explains she was the first to recognize his voice, but Rugova was the first to stab him. They kept stabbing him while their minds relived the rapes.
When they come out of the interrogation room, Carmichael tells them she will plead out to Manslaughter 2 and will get 18-months in a psychiatric facility. When Cragen asks if they are okay with that, Benson and Stabler say they are. He orders them to his office when Carmichael leaves. Cragen explains he does not believe it was a manslaughter case saying the evidence was stronger than that. Benson says they did the one thing that will allow her to sleep. Cragen tells her she used her 'get out of jail free card' on this case. When they return to their desks, Benson asks Stabler what Rugova told him. He says, 'I just want to be with my family'.