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Wanderlust

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"Wanderlust"
SVU, Episode 1.05
Production number: E0905
First aired: 20 September 1999
  {{{nNthProducedInSeries}}}th of 366 produced in SVU  
{{{nNthReleasedInSeries}}}th of 366 released in SVU
  {{{nNthReleasedInAll}}}th of 1106 released in all  
StablerWanderlust
Written By
Wendy West

Directed By
David Jones

A travel writer is found tied up with a woman's undergarments, which leads Detectives Benson and Stabler to a strange love affair.

Plot Edit

After a travel writer is found tied up with a woman's undergarments choking off his air supply, Benson and Stabler initially suspect his landlord's boyfriend, but suspicion soon turns to the landlord and her daughter. Both seem far too interested in what their tenant is doing with his time. After learning the daughter had a sexual relationship with the tenant, things take an even stranger turn.

Full Summary Edit

Travel writer, Richard Schiller, is found dead in his room, bound, mouth taped up and underwear stuffed in his mouth. Benson and Stabler investigate and find out the landlady, Mrs. Hayes, and her 16 year-old daughter, Virginia, both took a fancy to Schiller. It's clear when Mrs. Hayes and Virginia meet face to face after the news of Schiller's death that they have a strained relationship because Virginia blames her mom for "Schilly's" death. Eventually the detetectives come across Mrs. Hayes' boyfriend of six/seven months, Thomas Dayton, who works in a department store in the juniors section. At first, they suspect him because both Dayton and Mrs. Hayes admit that they had a fight recently over Schiller. When questioned outside his work, Dayton admits he overreacted and had no evidence anything was going on between Schiller and Mrs. Hayes.

Benson and Stabler do a background check on Thomas Dayton. It turns out that his real name was not Thomas, but in fact Scott Dayton. Scott Dayton was actually a convicted pedophile who stole his deceased brother's social security number to get a fresh start. Scott is arrested and interrogated, swearing he has his impulses under control and wouldn't have gotten a chance to harass Virginia anyway, even if he was interested, because Virginia and Mrs. Hayes were always vying for Schiller's attention...and that Virginia won. He defends himself and says it wasn't him who was the pedophile but that it was Schiller. In Cragen's office, Olivia, Elliot, Cassidy and Cragen argue over whether Scott Dayton is innocent or not.

Virginia is interviewed at a community pool. She claims Dayton would come in at night when he stayed over and would sexually harass her. She also claims Schiller heard them one night and shoved Dayton off her, threatening to kill Dayton if he ever touched Virginia again. Olivia asks one last question, if Virginia remembered the position the body was in but she can't remember, which makes Olivia suspicious. Virginia admits she borrows her mom's underwear but put them in the hamper after swimming and that she found Schiller around 6pm, after she was done swimming. Olivia believes Virginia is lying and had an affair with Schiller but lied about being molested by Dayton.

The next day, Stabler and Benson visit the Hayes household again. Mrs. Hayes answers, denying the detectives the opportunity to question her daughter again. Virginia walks up the hallway near the door with a smug smile on her face. Olivia asks her if it makes her feel all grown up having killed a man.

Virginia attempted suicide and was in the hospital. However, she only cut one wrist, telling Olivia and the doctor in charge that Virginia may have just done it for attention, although Elliot still finds it serious. Mrs. Hayes comes walking down the hospital hallway saying thanks to the detectives, she's lost the most important thing in her life. Olivia assures Mrs. Hayes that Virginia will be fine. Mrs. Hayes then re-iterates that she meant her boyfriend, Dayton, claiming the detectives turned him against her. Back at the police station, Mrs. Hayes is planning to sue the entire department for lost wages, emotional distress, etc. The DA is asking for the detectives' verdict on the case. Elliot is firmly for Virginia's defense while Olivia doesn't believe Virginia is innocent one bit. Olivia tells Elliot she thinks he's trying to defend Virginia since he can't defend his daughter but Elliot denies this is true.

The detectives visit the Hayes household one more time. Virginia buzzes them in and tells them she's upstairs, in Schiller's old room. It's in his room that she admits she was in love with him and that only Schiller made it bearable in the household when he was around, but that she almost couldn't stand it when he was away on business, traveling. Virginina had never felt this way before about anyone. She said Schiller promised to take her away with him one day, but that he kept leaving, even when he said he wouldn't anymore. One night, she packed her bags and went into his room. They had sex and she said he had to take her with him because he promised. He refused because he had to "travel light." Enraged, Virginia confesses she choked him with her knee on his throat, describing the noises he was making. Once he had stopped moving and had died, she picked up her underwear from the floor and stuffed it in his throat. After confessing to the detectives, she started sobbing, saying that she missed him and that she only wanted to travel with him. Stabler looks noticeable distressed after the confession.

In Cragen's office, Cragen asks if Elliot's alright. Elliot admits he was blinded by trying to protect his daughter by protecting Virginia instead and that he didn't realize Olivia was right all along, that girls are capable of actually doing things on their own, and not just being the victims. Cragen advises Elliot that it's alright that he felt the need to protect and not to worry, but instead to worry only when he doesn't feel anything anymore.


Meanwhile, throughout the case, at the Stabler household, Elliot deals with family issues. In a previous episode, Elliot's daughter Kathleen told the family at the dinner table that one of her friends on the soccer team got pregnant. Visibly upset, Kathleen promptly left the dinner table. Eventually Elliot has an awkward talk with her while she's practicing playing goalie by the side of their house about how she has to always "guard her goal" with her life because lots of players have tricks and will try to get her. Kathleen mutters, "Oh boy" before proclaiming to her dad that she's a virgin, then walking away. Stabler and his wife, Kathy, are having some alone time on the couch at night when Stabler expresses his worries about Maureen and her boyfriend to his wife. They wonder how and if they'll ever know when their daughters have finally lost their virginity. Eventually, a worried-looking Stabler watched his daughter and her date go off to homecoming, with his wife proudly taking some pictures.

Cast Edit

Main cast Edit

Recurring cast cast Edit

Guest cast Edit

References Edit

Northwest Newsstand; Durst Publishing; Scott Dayton; Belize; Berlin, Germany;

Quotes Edit

(on the late Richard Schiller)
Annabel Hayes: It was a business relationship. He had a fantastic credit rating.


Monique Jeffries: Is there anything you just accept?
John Munch: Yes. Compliments.
Monique Jefferies: Oh, no wonder you're so skeptical.



Olivia Benson: Virginia, Detectives Munch and Cassidy are going to take you home.
Virginia Hayes: (to Munch) Can I drive?
John Munch: Since you're probably as old as my partner, I don't see why not.


Brian Cassidy: What?
Virginia Hayes: Cool.


Olivia Benson: Did she leave after he left?
Waitress: No. She stuck around for a while. I told her she's much better off without him. Women are always much better off left to their own mechanical devices.



John Munch: Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia.


John Munch: Think you can still make direct deposit from the great beyond?


Virginia Hayes: I asked him to take me away - "You promised."
Elliot Stabler: What did he say?
Virginia Hayes: He said he needed to travel light.



Donald Cragen: Your feelings will always be part of your police work--
Elliot Stabler: But--
Donald Cragen: The more you try to deny it, the more they will control you.


Background information and notes Edit

  • Wanderlust is a loanword from German to English that designates a strong desire for, or impulse to wander.
  • This episode is inspired by elements of the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita, including plot points and character names. The novel is internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the book's narrator and protagonist, Humbert Humbert, becoming sexually obsessed with a pre-teen girl.
  • The landlady's name, Annabel Hayes, combines Poe's poem Annabelle Leigh and Nabokov's landlady/mother character, Charlotte Haze. Like Nabokov's Charlotte, the landlady drinks heavily, fancies her well-mannered literary tenant, and has an antagonistic relationship with her teenage daughter.
  • The teenage girl's name, Virginia Hayes, combines the surname "Haze" with the first name of Poe's child-bride Virginia.
  • The victim, Richard Schiller, has the same name as the man that Lolita marries (when Humbert finds the grown-up Lolita, she is Mrs. Dick Schiller).
  • One of the peripheral characters is a doctor with the last name Ramsdale. Ramsdale is the name of Lolita's hometown.
  • Olivia mentions having an affair with an older man when she was almost 17. In the episode "Intoxicated", we learn that the man was one of her mother's students, and that she was almost arrested after assaulting her mother during a fight about her relationship.

Episode scene cards Edit

1 2 3 4 5

Durst Publishing
2000 Avenue of the Americas
Tuesday, October 12

Teas of the World
765 West 42nd Street
Tuesday, October 12

As the Vinyl Turns
239 Bleecker Street
Tuesday, October 12

Home of
Annabel & Virginia Hayes
2001 East 9th Street
Tuesday, October 12

Home of
Annabel & Virginia Hayes
2001 East 9th Street
Friday, October 15


Previous episode:
"None"
"Wanderlust"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 1
Next episode:
"Sophomore Jinx"
Seasons 123456789101112131415161718

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