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"Complicated"
SVU, Episode 19.05
Production number: 19005
First aired: 25 October 2017
  th of 432 produced in SVU  
th of 432 released in SVU
  th of 1185 released in all  
Svu1905
Written By
Céline C. Robinson

Directed By
Tricia Brock


Summary

The Special Victims Unit reopen a 10-year-old kidnapping case when a young woman is found wandering Central Park alone.

Plot

Benson is sitting in a hearing where her fitness as a parent is in question and Noah’s maternal grandmother is there demanding that she at least be a part of Noah’s life. Meanwhile, we see as a young woman is running through Central Park looking for help. She is brought into the hospital to get looked at and when Rollins and Carisi get there, they are told that there are clear signs of abuse, but the young woman doesn’t know her name, where she is from or even how old she is. When they go in to talk to her, she cowers.

When Benson gets to the station, Fin fills her in on what’s going on and how they have no DNA or anything because she refused medical treatment and the rape kit. Meanwhile, Rollins and Carisi are talking to the young woman and they are trying to get information from her about where she was, but she doesn’t remember much. The last thing she remembers was her first day of kindergarten and playing with her brother after school.

Carisi, Rollins and Benson are talking about some of the details that the young woman has given them, matches the details from a 10 year old kidnapping case. Carisi and Rollins go to talk to Emma’s parents and brother. They tell them that they believe that they have found her daughter. They bring the parents and her brother Glenn to the precinct to see her and talk to her. Her mother, Karen, bring a picture with them of her last Christmas at home. After talking for a little while, Emma starts to remember some things.

Meanwhile, Fin brings Benson video footage from the area where Emma was found and they see her get off the subway, but she told them that she escaped from a white van. She also doesn’t seem so hysterical when she gets off the subway. Benson calls Barba into her office to tell him that the surveillance video doesn’t match her story, but there is obviously signs of abuse and she knows there is something going on there.

Benson breaks down in her talk with Barba and tells him about what’s going on with Noah and his grandmother showing up. She tells him that the adoption can’t be vacated, but she filed for visitation. Meanwhile, Emma and her family are doing a press conference with Isaiah Thomas as a guest speaker. Carisi and Rollins go to talk to Emma about why she was seen getting on the subway in the Bronx and then getting off near Central Park. She seems to be making the story up as she goes.

Back at the station, Carisi thinks he found grounds to reopen the Emma Lawrence case. The young woman who they found is wanted in Florida for credit card fraud and her name is Brittany. Benson says this could just be someone who looks like Emma, but Carisi said he called the arresting officer and he was able to describe the chemical burns and cigarette burns on her arm.

While watching an interview with the Lawrence family on television, Carisi tells them that the story the brother is telling is off. He claimed back then that he heard his sister scream and then found her underwear. Now he is saying he didn’t hear anything. He is tailoring his story to match hers. Rollins goes in to a bar where Glenn is sitting and she starts talking to him and he starts to sound like he knows more about the real Emma than he is leading on.

The father comes over and tells Glenn it’s time to go and Rollins has a bad feeling and they go to get “Emma” out of the Lawrence’s house. They bring “Emma” in and talk to her, she is still trying to convince them that she is Emma. They took a DNA swab from her and tell her that they are going to find she isn’t Emma. She then gives up the charade and tells them the truth. She is from Florida, she is 21 and she ran away from her home because her mother was a meth addict and used to put cigarettes out on her arm.

She then tells them that Glenn knows she isn’t Emma, he told her that. She then tells them that the only other thing he told her was that Emma wasn’t coming back. Benson, Carisi and Rollins decide to use Brittany to get Glenn to confess to knowing what happened to Emma. She is able to get him to admit that what happened to Emma was an accident and that he didn’t mean it. He confesses to killing Emma.

Rollins and Fin bring him in and question him and he tells them that Emma knew not to dance in front of the TV and he asked her twice to get out of the way, but she wouldn’t. He then tells them that he used a couch cushion and smothered her. Rollins asks him what he did with Emma’s body? He was just a kid and couldn’t have done that alone. She asks him who helped him, and it is revealed to be Bill Lawrence, Glenn and Emma's father.

Carisi and Rollins arrest Bill for hiding Emma’s body, and he admits to helping cover up Glenn’s crime to protect his son. He then watches as the CSU team finds Emma’s body buried in the woods. Bill tells the court that he did it because he couldn’t stand to lose both of his children. Karen leaves the courtroom and Benson goes after her. She apologizes for what she is going through and Karen tells her that she wishes that she never found her, at least she had hope before, now she has nothing.

Benson meets with Noah’s grandmother, Sheila, and she tells her that she doesn’t think that they should be dealing with each other in a courtroom. They have a conversation about Ellie and what happened with her and why they weren’t in contact. She tells her it was her husband’s idea of tough love when she started using drugs. A year later, she lost her husband. Benson tells her that she just wants what’s best for her son. Sheila asks her what they should do now, and Benson agrees to have her come meet Noah.

Cast

Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast

References

references

Quotes

quotes

Background Information and Notes

  • This episode shares many similarities to the Season 10 episode "Stranger"
    • Both episodes revolve around a storyline of an imposter presenting herself as a girl who’d gone missing years prior.
    • It is revealed at the end of both episodes that the missing victim was actually murdered by their sibling.
    • In both episodes, it is also revealed that one of the victim's relatives was in fact aware that the sibling murdered the victim, but chose to conceal the act in order to shield the sibling from any consequences of her/his actions.
  • The episode may have been based on the story of Frédéric Bourdin, a French identity thief who impersonated a missing child called Nicholas Barclay and moved in with his family, and who, in his 2012 documentary The Imposter, theorized that the reason the family was so accepting of his reappearance so suddenly was because they had secretly killed Nicholas all those years ago.

Episode scene cards

1 2

Family Court
Part 7
Thursday, October 19

Lawrence Residence
85-59 105th Street
Richmond Hill, Queens
Thursday, October 19

3 4 5

Two Top Diner
106-85 Jamaica Avenue
Richmond Hill, Queens
Sunday, October 22

Supreme Court
Part 23
Tuesday, October 24

Trestle on Tenth
242 10th Avenue
Wednesday, October 25


Previous episode:
"No Good Reason"
"Complicated"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 19
Next episode:
"Unintended Consequences"
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