|SVU, Episode 1.01||→|
|Production number: E0901|
First aired (US): 20 September 1999
First aired (UK): 20 September 1999
First aired (CAN): 20 September 1999
First aired (AUS): 31 January 2000
| Written By|
Jean de Segonzac
Detectives Benson and Stabler investigate the stabbing and genital-mutilation of a cab driver.
The grisly murder and dismemberment of a New York cabbie draws the elite Special Victims Unit of the NYPD, including veteran Detective Elliot Stabler and his partner, Olivia Benson, who soon discover that the victim had assumed the identity of another man, mainly because he himself was a wanted war criminal.
On a rainy New York night, a cab driver is found stabbed and dismembered in his cab. Benson and Stabler wonder where they come into the picture in this case until a fellow officer tells them the victim's "cigar" was cut off and taken.
Cassidy is sent to investigate a man molesting a dead body. Cragen assigns Munch to help Benson because Stabler's needed in court. Stabler testifies to arresting a flasher named Kloster in the park. Defense lawyer Jerry Kleinert asks why Stabler volunteered for the sex crimes unit. Stabler says that sex should be one of the best parts of life, not the worst, and that he doesn't want any of his 4 children exposed to Kloster's "shortcomings". His pride injured, Kloster lashes out and whips out his manhood for the court to see, and is taken to Bellevue Hospital.
Benson informs Stabler that the dead cabbie had a false cabbie license under the name of Victor Spicer. The real Spicer is at Rikers serving 11 months in prison for assault.
Benson and Stabler question Spicer at Rikers. Spicer admits he sold his cabbie license to a man with a young boy, the deal being set up by "foreign gentleman" he knew at a coffee shop but doesn't know the man's name. Next, they question a waitress at the coffee shop, that Spicer told them about, but doesn't know too much. Another cabbie listening in tells the detectives that the victim's real name is Steven and that Steven has a son and pregnant wife. The cabbie claims he saw Steven leave the coffee shop as he was arriving, picking up two women as cab fares.
Munch informs Benson, Stabler and Cragen, in Cragen's office, that the cab company Victor Spicer worked for received a call asking for the work times of Spicer but were unable to distinguish whether it was a man or woman who called. Cragen gets a call and receives the address for the victim's home. His full name is Steven Panachek.
At Panachek's residence, the detectives inform his wife that he has been murdered. Mrs. Panachek informs them that they married five years ago and that Steven was from Czechoslovakia.
Munch and Cassidy question two men who had been previously caught in incriminating positions with Spicer. The detectives suspect that the wives may be behind Panachek's murder. One man's wife turns out to be a paraplegic, and the other's wife is aware and accepting of her husband's sexual preferences, as is he of hers.
It's discovered that Steven Panachek's real name is Stefan Tanzic, and that he is actually a Serb under indictment for war crimes, specifically ethnic cleansing and raping 67 women. The results of the autopsy tell Benson and Stabler that there are two killers, not just one.
Benson and Stabler have a small argument after visiting the widow Panachek/Tanzic a second time. Benson had laid it on thick to the widow that her dead husband was a rapist before the widow told them to get out. Benson believes that the widow is useless and guilty of obstruction while Stabler thought she went too far and tells her that she's on thin ice with Cragen.
Benson and Stabler track down the women in the New York area who were victims of Tanzic. The first woman has long since been blinded by Tanzic. The second woman they visit, Marta Stevens, isn't at home but her husband is. Benson immediately notices that her son resembles Tanzic, and must be his son.
Benson goes to check on Marta Stevens at her work without Stabler. She questions her whereabouts on the night of the murder. However, it's obvious the woman is nervous and hiding something. She eventually recounts how Tanzic killed all the men in the village she was in and raped her and admits she isn't sorry Tanzic is dead.
Stabler is called by Benson at a parent teacher conference and becomes upset when he learns that she questioned Marta Stevens on her own. Benson has dinner with her mother Serena and talks about her feelings about the case. Their conversation reveals that Serena was raped, and that the rapist is Olivia's biological father.
Eventually, Benson and Stabler seek out the third woman, Anya Ragova. They note that she has a cut on her hand, which she claims is from a kitchen accident.
Marta is arrested and is standing outside Anya's restaurant as Anya is about to be arrested. Anya sees Marta in handcuffs and asks to call her lawyer before Stabler can take her in. She heads to the phone but hesitates before grabbing a knife off a nearby table and stabbing herself. Anya whispers something to Stabler as she lays dying.
Marta confesses they knew it was Tanzic once they heard his voice in the cab. The detectives and ADA Abbie Carmichael discuss how Marta will most likely only get 18 months at a psychiatric ward if she's sentenced by a good judge.
Cragen is angry that Marta will basically walk and that Anya wasn't punished. He tells Benson that she has used her one "get out of jail free card".
Back at their desks, Benson asks Stabler what Anya had whispered to him. He tells her that Anya said that she just wanted to be with her family.
- Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler
- Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson
- Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch
- Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen
- Dean Winters as Detective Brian Cassidy
- Michelle Hurd as Detective Monique Jeffries
- Isabel Gillies as Kathy Stabler
- Angie Harmon as A.D.A. Abbie Carmichael
- Leslie Hendrix as M.E. Elizabeth Rodgers
- Judy Del Giudice as Judge Elizabeth Masullo
- Chris Orbach as Detective Ken Briscoe
- Gordana Rashovich as Anya Ragova
- Elizabeth Ashley as Serena Benson
- Ned Eisenberg as Jerry Kleinert
- Tina Benko as Mrs. Panachek
- Ronald Guttman as Gallery Owner
- Mark Zimmerman as Mr. Dupree
- Mili Avital as Marta Stevens
- P.J. Brown as CSU Frank Bremmer
- Ramsey Faragallah as Taxi Driver
- Rebecca Creskoff as Becky
- Angela Bullock as Prosecutor
- Mark Nelson as Robert Stevens
- Jeremy Bergman as Nicholas Stevens
- Matt Skollar as Victor Spicer
- Irma St. Paule as Aunt Jashari
- Sevanne Martin as Ileana Jashari
- Daniel Bess as Policeman
- Bill Driscoll as Mr. Kloster
- Vivian Nesbitt as Farley
- 27th Precinct
- Anita Van Buren is mentioned by Cragen as wanting updates.
- 23rd Precinct
- Rikers Island
- Dupree Investment Group
- Sarajevo Restaurant
- Steven Panacek
- Gallery Owner: Victor's a nasty little piece of street meat, but he happens to have an extremely gifted orifice in the middle of his face.
- (Gallery Owner has given Benson and Stabler his wife's number)
- Gallery Owner: Her name is Clarissa. (looks Olivia over) You should give her a call.
- Captain Cragen: You just used your Get Out of Jail Free card, Olivia. There's only one in the pack.
- [After Elliot testified in court, the defendant flashed the jury and was forcibly removed]
- Olivia Benson: Hey. How'd it go?
- Elliot Stabler: He's in Bellevue.
- Olivia Benson: Jury came back that fast?
- Elliot Stabler: He waved his flag at them before they had a chance. Nobody saluted.
- Brian Cassidy: Sir, if the body's dead, is that considered a sex crime?
- Captain Cragen: Just go. Investigate, interrogate, write up a DD5.
- Elliot Stabler: I think sex should be one of the best parts of life, not the worst.
- [About a murdered taxi driver]
- Elliot Stabler: Okay, so it's not a robbery, but stabbings aren't necessarily sexual. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Is there a specific reason you called us out?
- Detective Frank Bremmer: Whoever did this sliced off his "cigar" and took it with him. Is that specific enough?
- [Olivia and Elliot look at the victim and then look at each other.]
- Olivia Benson: Works for me.
- Captain Cragen and Elliot Stabler [to Munch]: Shut up, John.
- Olivia Benson: Question. Who'd want to cut your penis off?
- Victor Spicer: Take a number.
- Victor Spicer: Hey, you doing anything Saturday night? (blows Elliot a kiss)
- Elliot Stabler: (smiles) Oh, I'd hurt you.
- Olivia Benson: Our dead guy, Victor Spicer, had his hack license revoked when he got assault and 11 months in Rikers.
- Elliot Stabler: Okay, what's the problem?
- Olivia Benson: He's still in Rikers.
- Captain Cragen: You can't trust the computers, they get backed up and don't input the releases.
- Olivia Benson: That's why I spoke to the watch captain and had him check personally. Spicer's still there.
- Don Cragen: Why is this ours?
- Elliot Stabler: Doer sliced off the vic's unit.
- (Captain Cragen spits out part of the Twizzler he just took)
- (Munch is talking to Cragen and Cassidy while they eat and Jeffries walks in.)
- Monique Jeffries: Ooh! Hey, you gonna eat all this? (takes some food)
- John Munch: Suppose we say yes.
- Monique Jeffries: Suppose I'm just being polite.
- John Munch: That would be a first.
- Brian Cassidy: That's cool, John doesn't eat vegetables.
- Monique Jeffries: Yeah? I way I heard that's not the only thing John never gets to uh… eat.
- John Munch: A military plane drops JFK's coffin into 9,000 feet of water three years after the assassination. You don't find that suggestive, perhaps even a tad disquieting?
- Brian Cassidy: No.
- John Munch: No? The Justice Department waits 33 years before they impart this tidbit on the American people, and then they say they did it because it wasn't evidence? What are you, sheep? Will you believe anything?
- Brian Cassidy: [in a sheep-like tone] Naaaah.
- John Munch: I'm never setting foot in the city of Baltimore again, as long as I'm on this mortal sphere.
- Brian Cassidy: Why? You're rich. Did your 20, got your pension, and you're on the job here.
- John Munch: I earned that pension with the sweat of my mind, while surrounded by intellectual insects. Not to mention the fact that I lost a wife after less than one night of connubial bliss to someone who was not only another detective, but a member of my own squad.
- Elliot Stabler: See, being in Europe? That's an alibi.
Background information and notes
- A.D.A. Abbie Carmichael (played by Angie Harmon) was a member of Law & Order's regular cast during seasons 9, 10 and 11. She appeared in five other SVU episodes, until the second season, when Alexandra Cabot was introduced as a regular character.
- Captain Donald Cragen (played by Dann Florek) previously appeared in the first three seasons from Law & Order as the commanding officer of the 27th Precinct. He was replaced by Lieutenant Anita Van Buren who he also mentions in the episode.
- In this episode we see Detective Olivia Benson's mother Serena (played by Elizabeth Ashley) for the first and only time in the series. She is mentioned in several other episodes.
- Ned Eisenberg reprises his role as Defense Attorney Jerry Kleinert from the franchise's only movie Exiled: A Law & Order Movie. He later appears as another defense attorney named Roger Kressler.
- This pilot episode was directed by Jean de Segonzac. He also directed the pilot episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent ("One") and Law & Order: Trial by Jury ("The Abominable Showman").
- The episode name "Payback" is also used for the Law & Order season 14 episode, "Payback (L&O)".
- Another episode featuring a group of women who castrate a man who sexually abused them is the season 19 episode of SVU "Contrapasso".
Episode scene cards
Dupree Investment Group
Office of Medical Examiner
Fellowes & Kinsolving
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
"A Single Life"