SVU, Episode 9.07
Production number: 9009
First aired: 13 November 2007
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
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Stabler Blinded
Written By
Jonathan Greene

Directed By
David Platt


Stabler suffers temporary blindness from an injury caused by a sexual predator afflicted with schizophrenia. Benson's special interest in the case puts her at odds with ADA Novak, who has a personal agenda of her own.


The episode begins with an elderly woman talking to a young patrolman about hearing a voice coming from a car parked in the bus stop. She heard the words, "Help me, and then a name. Savannah, Samantha..." The officer suggests the name Sabrina and the woman confirms it was the name. He approaches a nearby hot dog vendor, who says that while he hasn't seen a girl, he saw a car parked at the bus stop that was towed. The SVU squad receive the tip and go to a police impound lot, where they begin searching cars, as they don't know which exact car it was due to the traffic division's computer system being down. Using an infrared camera, O'Halloran finds something in a gray Impala. Fin breaks the window and pops the trunk, and Stabler opens it to find Sabrina Farmer, bloodied and barely breathing.

At the hospital, the doctor informs Stabler and Benson that Sabrina was raped and hit with a rock. The detectives are then met by Lake, who informs them that they have information on the Impala in which they found Sabrina. The driver's name is Saul Picard from Mandeville, Louisiana; he picked it up from Escape Rent-a-Car three days ago. Saul is still in the city, as he signed a month-long lease on an executive apartment. Benson and Stabler go there and find Saul disheveled and his hair unkempt. He provides an alibi: he was in the apartment working and he went to the deli on the corner a few times for coffee and burgers. Saul also tells Stabler he lives on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, but he is looking to relocate because Katrina destroyed his house two years ago and it's not the same anymore.

Down at the deli, Stabler explains to Benson that Saul's story about the car checks out. When he returned it, the clerk didn't have enough room for it in the garage, so he left it on the street with the keys in it. When someone stole it, he was afraid he would lose his job, so he went back into the computer and changed the records to make it look like Saul had not returned it yet. Benson tells Stabler that the clerk in the deli recognized Saul and that he had been in a couple of dozen times over the past couple of days, adding that Saul's shower was dry as if it had never been used and the bedroom was messy but there was no sign that Sabrina had been there.

At the crime lab, O'Halloran informs the detectives that the only trace evidence they have been able to find is some pollen from a Louisiana flat sedge, which could only have been transferred by close physical contact like sitting in the seat where it was found, or raping Sabrina while she was sitting there. Stabler asks if that grows anywhere near Lake Ponchartrain and O'Halloran confirms it. Benson and Stabler return to Saul's apartment, but find the place cleared out completely. They realize that Saul was the one who saw the keys in his rental car when he left the rental agency and stole the car right back.

Back in the squad room, the SVU begins setting up strategies to find and apprehend Saul. Lake says Sabrina could be his first victim, but Fin argues that serial rapists usually start out closer to home. Cragen asks if they checked with the Louisiana police and Benson says Saul only has two unpaid speeding tickets. Munch arrives with information that Saul rented a blue Ford Explorer from the same agency where he got the Impala the previous afternoon, right after Stabler and Benson visited him, and just before they put the alert out on him. Munch also reports that Saul did not check out of his apartment or purchase any airline tickets. Cragen orders for the description of the Explorer to be circulated.

At the hospital, Benson interviews a now-conscious Sabrina, who says she was looking at some books when Saul arrived and told her she was in danger and her mother was waiting for her outside. Sabrina says her mother wasn't outside, but Saul said she was hurt and he would take her home if she told him where she lived. She got into his car, but when he went the wrong way, she tried to get out but the doors were locked. At Benson's prompting, Sabrina remembers that he said he was taking her "someplace safe", that he talked "funny", and he said, "Hearken to the ark." She admits she didn't understand most of what Saul said. Benson shows Sabrina a photo lineup, and she easily identifies Saul. However, she tells Olivia that "[h]e said his name was William" and he took her to a park. She tried to run away, but he said, "Stop, Francine."

As they leave the hospital, Benson is informed by Stabler that another girl, Eve Holland, has been taken. At the library, Lake tells Stabler it fits Saul's M.O. as Fin shows an assistant a picture and asks if he knows the girl. The assistant confirms that she was sitting at a nearby table picking out some books. A browsing Stabler picks up a random book, "Button's Quest, by William S Falstaff", which he read to his children. While reading it, he curses and when Fin asks, he tells the group that he knew he recognized Saul. Opening the book to reveal the picture on the back flap, he tells them that Saul is Falstaff. Fin holds up a book titled "Secret of the Arch" and comments on the pen name. Stabler and Benson recall what Sabrina said about "hearkening the ark", and then discuss where he might have taken her in the city. There's not enough cover at the Arch in Washington Square Park, but ultimately, they settle on the Arch at Grand Army Plaza in Central Park.

Benson and Stabler arrive at the park and are met by a uniformed lieutenant as he organizes a manhunt. An officer on the radio announces that the chopper spotted something in the trees on Lookout Hill. Benson and Stabler go in first and find the Explorer. They rescue Eve, who has been drugged to make her sleep, and apprehend Saul, who is also sleeping in the driver's seat, without incident. As they are taking him back to the waiting officers, Saul rants about various things, including Alice in Wonderland, the car that was towed, his lawyer who is an expert on pralines, and George W. Bush's determination to keep the U.S. troops in Iraq. As they arrive at Grand Army Plaza, Saul notices a rolling billboard that says, "Winter's coming...Time to escape." However, he is non-responsive and insists on escaping. He struggles a little, and when Stabler tries to restrain him, he headbutts him with enough force that Stabler falls backwards into the side of the car and shatters the window with his head. Benson runs to his aid and orders the other officers to call a bus and get Saul as he is fleeing.

Stabler wakes up in a hospital with his wife at his bedside. Kathy tells Benson and the nurse that he's awake. However, the two of them find his vision has been affected by his injury, and all he can see are blurry shadows. Out in the hall, the doctor explains his injury and that his brain bounced off the front and the back of his skull. Temporary blindness is not uncommon, but it's a good thing that he can see bright colors, light, and shadows. Fin arrives to report that there is trouble in Saul's room and Cragen leaves. In Saul's room, he finds that the FBI has come to take him away. Cragen tells the lead agent that the federal government does not have jurisdiction because Saul did not cross state lines during his crime spree. Nelson informs him that he kidnapped a nine-year-old girl in Mississippi and took her to Louisiana, where he raped her and left her to die.

Back in the squad room, Munch tells them about Tiffany LeMarsh, who was kidnapped from a bookstore in a shopping mall in Gulfport, Mississippi. She was raped by Saul and left in his Louisiana house for four days without food and water. She was found barely alive when the neighbor's dog got her scent and led them to her. Novak arrives, wanting to know who notified the feds. Lake replies they just picked him up that morning and didn't even get him into the system before the feds showed up. Benson asks if she can do anything about it, but Casey informs her that the State of New York doesn't even get an extradition hearing. Munch says the indictment is a crock, as Saul kidnapped Tiffany in Mississippi, but they indicted him in Louisiana. Benson tells him he raped her in Louisiana, which makes it part of the same crime and they can try him in either state. Munch states that once the FBI gets Saul, they are going to drop the kidnapping charges and let Louisiana try him for the rape. Novak explains that raping a child under the age of twelve in Louisiana is punishable by death.

Novak goes to Barry Moredock, who can't understand why she is upset about the situation, since the FBI is saving her a lot of work. She explains that the feds are pushing their own agenda by taking Saul to Louisiana because they have the death penalty for Tiffany's rape and New York doesn't. She then asks Moredock to take Saul's case pro bono because she doesn't have any legal standing to request a hearing. She reasons that the feds are trying to get Saul under the table, which is a violation of due process. Since Moredock is a self-proclaimed constitutional lawyer, he gleefully accepts. As they part, she explains that Saul has some psychiatric issues and gets Moredock's permission to have Huang evaluate him.

Saul explains to Huang that the sign in the park that said "It's time to escape" was a message to him. There was another one on a billboard said, "You really need to get away", and that was when he abandoned the Impala at the bus stop, with Sabrina still inside the trunk. He tells Huang that Francine, his sister, is sending the messages "because those boys raped her". As the interview progresses, Saul starts hearing voices. Huang learns that when Saul was seventeen and Francine was eleven, he arrived home from school to find several boys taking turns raping his sister. Saul froze and couldn't do anything to help her. The stress of that moment triggered his first psychotic break. His first medication, Haldol, worked for many years. However, when Francine died, its effects ceased. The only medication that worked after that was Risperidone, but he stated that it left him feeling like he was "swimming through wet cement", so he quit taking it. That was when the messages started. Saul goes on to describe a hallucination in which he saw Francine and the boys who raped her at the bookstore in Gulfport. As a result, he tried to get her to someplace safe, but the boys found them. Two of them held him down and the third raped Francine. As a result, he decided to set a trap: he took Francine to New York and lured the boys to the Arch, where he beat them with rocks when they came back to rape her.

When Huang and Novak discuss the case, Huang tells her that Saul is not a pedophile, but a schizophrenic who kidnapped the girls because he thought they were his sister and he was saving them. Novak asks if he will remember what he did, and Huang says it's possible once his medicine takes effect. He explains that it's possible nothing will help him in times of great stress. Novak asks if that means he might not make it through a trial. Huang, surprised that she is thinking of putting him through one, insists that Saul is sick and putting him in prison is "no less cruel and unusual than the feds trying to execute him". Casey says she will take his opinion under advisement, and at that moment gets a text message that Moredock has won the hearing and the feds cannot take Saul. After holding a press conference, Novak is approached by Moredock. She tells him she plans to try him in New York, and Moredock gives her a motion for extradition and tells her Saul wants to talk to her.

In the Rikers Island Mental Health Wing, Saul's medication is working now, and he knows what he has done. Saul invites Novak to call him by his first name and asks her to tell the victims that he is sorry. To her surprise, he then requests to be sent back to Louisiana, willing to face the death penalty because he thinks he does not deserve to live. Out in the hall, she and Moredock debate Saul's sanity. She tells him to file for a hearing to have Saul declared incompetent, but Saul will not let him. Moredock asks Novak to file for the hearing, because if he's declared incompetent, he can't waive extradition. However, he can't be tried in New York either. Moredock suggests a deal: he pleads guilty and she sends him to a mental institution. However, Novak argues that the district attorney will not allow that, and Moredock accuses her of being "a team player instead of doing the right thing."

Back in the squad room, the detectives debate the wisdom of forcing the mentally ill to take medication and the efficiency of executing child molesters. Novak requests Benson's paperwork on the case, and Benson asks when she will be needed in court. Casey says she won't need her and will use just Sabrina and Elliot. Benson tries volunteering her testimony in Stabler's place, but Casey argues that she didn't hear what Saul said and she needs Stabler there to show the jury the kind of damage Saul can inflict. Benson warns that Stabler can't leave his house until his vision is back and implies that the stress could hinder his recovery. Both women get rather testy, and Novak decides that Elliot should make the decision for himself. Novak goes to Stabler's house and finds that he still has two black eyes from his injury. She asks if he feels up to testifying against Saul. He talks about how he's going to be a father again soon and how frightened he was that he might never see that child. Stabler then agrees.

In court, Stabler testifies about how Saul headbutted him and how he was injured. He tells the jury that he was temporarily blinded, and when asked to identify Saul, he puts on a pair of strong glasses and points him out. Novak asks if he would consider Saul dangerous, and Elliot says he is extremely dangerous. Then, Casey asks Saul was saying anything when he attacked Stabler, and he replies that he was saying over and over, "It's time to escape." However, Novak gets a little more assertive as she tells Stabler about the sign that Saul thought was a message for him and asks if Stabler saw it. He becomes slightly confused about where Novak was going with her questions, but he says that he did. She asks if Saul was distraught and he says yes. She asks if Saul qualifies as an EDP, which surprises Moredock and causes Stabler to realize what Novak is doing. Though he doesn't like it, he answers honestly, "Yes." At Casey's direction tells the jury that an EDP is an acronym standing for "emotionally disturbed person". When Novak becomes increasingly aggressive, a distraught Saul goes into a rant, believing that Novak is Francine and she is testing him. As a result, he is forcibly removed from the courtroom. The judge declares a mistrial and orders the hearing.

As the courtroom clears, Stabler confronts Novak about her questioning. He then accuses her of never wanting to try Saul and instead trying to institutionalize him. He turns to storm off, but stumbles over something he didn't see. In her office, Novak is confronted by a furious Benson, who asks if she is proud of herself. Benson then challenges Novak and asks about Charlie, her schizophrenic ex-boyfriend. She asks if he is locked up now, and says he's the reason Novak tanked the case. She then accuses her of manipulating the detectives to satisfy her own agenda. Novak then confronts her about informing the FBI that they had Saul in custody, asking if she went straight to the FBI or if she went through the Louisiana authorities. Benson responds that the girls were entitled to some justice, but Novak says that what she attempted to do is not justice, but revenge.

In Jack McCoy's office, Novak gets a lecture about how she handled the case and McCoy shows her a police incident report from her past. She explains that Charlie was off his meds and hurt her. When the police came, she identified herself as an ADA and asked them not to charge him. She thought she could help him, but she could not. She and McCoy argue again about how she handled the case and why, and he orders her to stay on the case through the hearing and behave herself. He threatens that if she does not do as she is told, he will not only dismiss her but have the bar pull her license.

Novak confronts Benson about ratting her out to McCoy, and Benson admits she is as guilty as her of acting on personal motives and admits she was seeking revenge. Novak asks about Stabler and Benson says he'll be back to work next week. When asked about Saul, Novak says the judge ruled him incompetent and she couldn't legally touch him now. When asked if she thinks Saul will ever recover, Novak says she does not know and that she thought Charlie would recover. Benson asks what happened to him, and Novak explains that about six months ago, the morgue called her about a John Doe with her business card in his pocket. The man had been hit and killed by a taxicab. It turned out that the man was Charlie. She expresses her guilt that Charlie would have been alive if she hadn't made him leave. Benson assures her that she had to take care of herself. Before the conversation can continue, Novak gets a text message informing her that Saul made his shirt into a noose and tried to hang himself.

Novak goes to visit Saul, and she invites him to call her by her first name. He tells her he isn't crazy; he wants to die. He explains that he gets a little better every day and the better he gets, the worse he'll feel about what he did. She suggests that someday he might be able to forgive himself when he realizes it was not his fault. "Wasn't it ?", he replies unsure.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast



Alice swallowed one of the cakes, and was dee-lighted to find she began shrinkin' directly.

–Saul Picard

Did you see the President's speech last night? That man will say anything to keep us in Iraq. Oh terrible war! I see now why arms are so rarely used!

–Saul Picard

Casey Novak: Mr. Picard does have some psychiatric issues. Is it okay if our Dr. Huang evaluates him?
Barry Moredock: Can't hurt. I go to war with the Feds, I'm gonna need all the ammunition I can get.

I don't deserve to live. Don't you understand? If the state thinks that killin' me will stop one pervert from doing what I did to those poor little girls, then it's worth it. Please. Let me go home to die.

–Saul Picard, asking to be extradited to Louisiana despite facing the death penalty there

You know, I'm gonna have a child in a month. That's scary enough. But the thought that I was never gonna be able to see that child, that terrified me. So Picard? Bring him on.

–Elliot Stabler

Olivia Benson: Happy with yourself?
Casey Novak: I don’t need a lecture from you.
Olivia Benson: I know why you sandbagged Elliot in court.
(pulls a picture out of Casey's desk drawer)
Casey Novak: Stay out of my desk!
Olivia Benson: Where is he now, Casey? Your schizo ex-boyfriend. Is he locked up somewhere?
Casey Novak: Get out of my office.

Olivia Benson: Oh you're damn right I told the Feds! They have a right to know!
Casey Novak: No, you want Picard dead! Louisiana kills him, your hands are clean.
Olivia Benson: Those little girls are entitled to some justice.
Casey Novak: But what you're talking about isn't justice! It's revenge!

Olivia Benson: He's my partner, Casey.
Casey Novak: And it's my case! And how I handle it is none of your damn business. (leans into Benson's ear) Because I don't answer to you. (walks out)
Olivia Benson: (under her breath) We'll see.

Background Information and Notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3 4

Apartment of
Saul Picard
177 West 73rd Street
Tuesday, October 9

Mercy General Hospital
365 West 32nd Street
Tuesday, October 10

Correctional Center
Mental Health Unit
Thursday, October 11

Rikers Island
Mental Health Wing
Friday, October 12

5 6 7

Trial Part 38
Thursday, November 8

Office of
District Attorney
Jack McCoy
Thursday, November 8

New York State
Mental Hospital
Saratoga Springs, NY
Friday, November 9

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