SVU, Episode 12.18
Production number: 12018
First aired: 23 February 2011
  {{{nNthProducedInSeries}}}th of 476 produced in SVU  
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Benson and Stabler Bully
Written By
Ken Storer

Directed By
Helen Shaver


Episode summary


At an art gallery, two people notice blood from a dead body from the floor above. The victim’s name is Ellen Sazelin, the CFO of a wine company called Luscious Grape. She bled to death from a severed carotid and there are signs of anal trauma, but no DNA. One of the tenants in Ellen’s building says that Andreas, the artist that owns the gallery tried to assault her. Andreas is cleared as a suspect and the detectives talk to the CEO of Luscious Grape, Annette Cole.

It is discovered that Ellen had a drinking problem and one of her co-workers, Bruce says that she was drinking the night she was murdered and last week, he heard her on a call screaming at somebody. When the detectives go over Ellen’s phone logs, they find a threatening voice mail to Ellen which came from a business called “My Leather Fantasy” and the phone calls came from a man named Juan Alvarez. Fin and Elliot arrive at the “My Leather Fantasy” warehouse and spot Alvarez, who bolts, but Fin catches him. As they arrest him and walk him out, a man shoots Alvarez point-blank, saying that Alvarez killed his wife.

The shooter, Mr. Gilchrest says that Alvarez left his wife threatening messages which caused her to die from the stress. Alvarez claims that he told Mrs. Gilchrest that if she was unhappy, she should post negative stuff about him online because the more comments he gets on his web site, either good or bad, the higher his Google ranking will become and it translates to more sales. When Elliot questions him about Ellen’s death, he denies killing her and says that he was scaring someone else the night Ellen was killed.

Alvarez’s alibi checks out and Dr. Warner tells the detectives that she’s ruling Ellen’s death as undetermined because she may have not been murdered due to the lack of DNA or fingerprints. She thinks that Ellen was possibly drunk and fell onto the vase which cut her neck, pleasured herself with the wine bottle, and she has bald spots due to trichotillomania, in which people pull out their hair due to a reaction from stress. Olivia wonders what is really going on at Luscious Grape.

The detectives speak to the employees at Luscious Grape, who all say that everything at the company is fine. They think that the responses from the employees sound as if someone told them what to say. Olivia gets a phone call from Andreas, who says that he heard loud noises from Ellen’s loft. When the detectives arrive to Ellen’s loft, they discover the crime tape seal is broken and the loft is a mess. The patrol officer says that she saw a figure escaping from the loft by using the fire escape. Elliot discovers a flash drive on Ellen’s desk.

Back at the precinct, Morales is able to open the files on the flash drive which are video files from a web cam. One of the video files shows Annette enraged and loudly berating her employees along with Ellen looking terrified. Annette rants at Ellen, saying that she’s been carrying her for years and wants her to come into her office. Ellen refuses to until Annette calms down and Annette slaps her.

Olivia and Elliot interrogate Annette, showing her the video of her yeling and slapping Ellen. Annette claims that they were having a disagreement and someone’s trying to make her look bad. She also says that she pushes everyone just like she pushes herself, but Elliot calls her a bully. Annette blames Ellen, who was trying to buy her out. The detectives tell Annette that a waiter told them that she threw a coffee cup at Ellen, but Annette says that’s not true. Annette tells the detectives that she went home after dinner and didn’t hurt Ellen. Elliot calls Annette a “pissy tyrant” and that Ellen was the perfect victim for Annette because she never fought back. Annette leaves when the detectives say they aren’t charging her with anything yet.

After Annette leaves, the detectives work on another plan. Elliot says that he’ll ask Hardwicke to get Luscious Grape’s financial records along with Ellen’s disability and medical claims. Later on, Elliot asks Bruce about Annette’s behavior and his expensive car which Bruce says was a “bonus.” Fin talks to one of the employees, Corinne Stafford, who says that Annette is a great boss while Elliot talks to another employee, Justin Jennings (who is caring for his disabled mother) who says that Annette’s generosity is a “godsend.” Fin talks to another employee, David Watson, who says that working for Annette is a dream job and no one will ever say a bad word about her. Fin wonders what’s going on.

Dr. Huang tells the detectives the reason for the employees’ behavior is a form of Stockholm Syndrome, where they are emotionally bonded to Annette so they can survive. Elliot discovers that another company named Globacol is prepared to buy Luscious Grape for $500 million and next month, Luscious Grape is coming out with a new type of premium vodka. Dr. Huang says that Annette’s hold over her employees will only get stronger and subpoenaing them as hostile witnesses will not get them anywhere. Fin tells everyone that the videos of Annette’s behavior have already hit the news and according to MSNBC, the information came from a package sent by Ellen herself before her death. The story has also hit the Internet as well, and Annette is receiving withdrawn orders and hateful messages. Dr. Huang declares that Annette has been convicted by a "court of public opinion."

Meanwhile as Annette heads to work, she is mobbed by news crews, as well as several workers, who angrily yell out hateful names on her for her bullying nature against her workers. As Elliot and Olivia arrive, Annette accuses them of leaking the video to the press and that she’s going to sue the NYPD for emotional distress. As the press continues to hound Annette, she demands the detectives to help, but Elliot and Olivia, knowing that she deserves such a consequence, refuse and instead tell Annette to do it herself. Angered, Annette screams at the press to get out of her way as she goes to work.

Later, Annette is all over the newspapers and television, plus Globocal has withdrawn their offer to buy Luscious Grape, citing their morals clause. Olivia says that Annette’s lawyer set up a press conference tomorrow and wants her & Elliot to be there. The next day at the press conference, Annette says that she never meant to cause any harm, but then berates her business partners, customers, employees, the press, and the NYPD, as she believes they're all turning against her. She ends the conference by pulling out a gun, placing it under her chin, and killing herself to the shock of everyone because they “made her do this.”

At the precinct, Dr. Huang says it was Annette’s final act as a bully by feigning contrition to draw her victims in and traumatizing them by saying, “You made me do this.” Olivia says that it worked. Elliot says that Hardwicke will take Annette’s rant about Ellen’s murder as an admission of murder. Also, Annette’s attorney has petitioned a judge on behalf of her estate and leaving her money to her dog, and leaving her former employees with nothing. Fin tells the detectives that Bruce got involved in a hit and run.

At the hospital, Bruce tells the detectives about his accident and that he didn’t look when he crossed the street, claiming it was an accident. A witness says that the car that hit Bruce never stopped, but Bruce said it was his fault. Later, the detectives look at the surveillance footage and see Bruce talking to the driver of the car that hit him, then the car backs up & hits Bruce. When Olivia and Elliot talk to the driver of the car, the man tells them he doesn’t drive anymore. He says his granddaughter borrowed the car and someone backed into it.

The man’s granddaughter turns out to be Corinne, who denies running Bruce over, but Elliot shows her pictures from the surveillance camera. Olivia brings in Bruce to listen to the interrogation and Bruce tries to prevent Corinne from talking. Corinne claims that Bruce killed Ellen, but Bruce denies it, saying that Ellen was already dead when he arrived at her loft. Corinne says that Bruce ruined their plan which was to prevent Ellen from revealing their secret at work. Bruce says the bullying, bonuses, and payouts were to keep them quiet about Annette because they had a lot to lose if Ellen told everyone about her Annette's bullying nature. Corinne told Bruce, David, and Justin that Ellen was losing it, plus Annette never knew about the tapes.

Disgusted, Olivia tells Corinne and Bruce that they all killed Ellen with their greed. Corinne says that David broke into Ellen’s loft to find the flash drive, but Ellen had already sent it to the TV station. Corinne says that all they wanted was to be rich.

Dr. Warner tells Elliot and Olivia that Ellen’s death was not accidental. Ellen was drunk, but someone else got her that way. There wasn’t alcohol in Ellen’s stomach, but Dr. Warner found cells only found on the anus on the rim of the bottle which means that someone intoxicated Ellen by putting the bottle of wine through her anus. Dr. Warner says that taking the alcohol that way got into Ellen’s system easier.

In the end, it is revealed that Justin tried to seduce Ellen. She rejected him and, in his anger, accidentally pushed her, which caused her to fall against the coffee table, and then a vase broke. He saw the broken glass in her neck and panicked. Justin tried to make Ellen’s death look like an accident so he shoved the wine bottle into her anus to have the alcohol applied directly to her bloodstream. Justin is arrested for Ellen’s death and the detectives escort him out as Justin’s mother calls for him endlessly.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast


Episode references


Old man: I haven't been out in two days.

Olivia: So who banged up your car? A dent ferry?

Old man: Some old geezer backed into it.

Elliot: Here on the street?

Old man: No, at the parking garage, at the store.

Olivia: OK, I'm now officially confused.

Olivia: And you think your boss is bad.

Huang: Looks like Annette was just found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Annette Cole (her last words): I just want to say that, um, I---I never meant to harm anybody. I'm mortified by how I must look on that tape. But to my business partners, let me say this: screw you for abandoning me in my time of need! To my customers who canceled orders and left hateful messages, you can all go to hell, too! To the press who turned on me, and to the NYPD who hounded me mercilessly, you're scum---all of you! And to my family at Luscious Grape, my lying, backstabbing, ungrateful family; you're all fired, each and every one of you! You're as lazy and as useless as that bitch Ellen was, dragging me down so far the company I built with my own two hands! I just want you to remember one thing: you made me do this!

Finn: (reading newspaper headlines) Annette of the Huns, Bitchy Boss Pops, Lucious Grape Or Bully and Rape.
Stabler: She really is ruined.
Finn: And took down her own company and all its employees with her.
Huang: What do you get when you mix a sociopath and a narcissist: a ticking time bomb.
Olivia: You all killed Ellen, with your greed! Your friend needed you and you turned your back on her!
Warner: (about the alcohol) I'm saying she didn't ram it down her throat.
Stabler: (realizes what she means) You gotta be kidding me!
Olivia: (after learning how far girls will go to get drunk) File under Things I Never Want To Know.

Background information and notes

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

Office of
Luscious Grape Distributors
906 West 22nd Street
Monday, February 14

Warehouse of
My Leather Fantasy
567 West 38th Street
Monday, February 14

Mercy General Hospital
Emergency Room
Friday, February 18

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Season 12
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