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Law and Order
"Serendipity"
SVU, Episode 5.05
Production number: E4408
First aired: 21 October 2003
  {{{nNthProducedInSeries}}}th of 476 produced in SVU  
{{{nNthReleasedInSeries}}}th of 476 released in SVU
  {{{nNthReleasedInAll}}}th of 1229 released in all  
Novak Serendipity.jpg
Written By
Dawn DeNoon & Lisa Marie Petersen

Directed By
Constantine Makris

Summary[]

The discovery of the bodies of a newborn and her mother leads to a doctor coming under suspicion.

Plot[]

The body of a deceased newborn female is found in a sewer, dead from fatal bleeding. As the detectives investigate, they soon discover that the mother, Brianna Morris, was brutally murdered in her home with the baby cut out of her body. The investigation leads toward a dermatologist, Dr. Archibald Newlands, whom Brianna claimed was the father of her child.

Meanwhile, Olivia and Elliot butt heads with the new A.D.A., Casey Novak who is interfering with their methods.

While a paternity test proves that Newlands isn't the father of Brianna's child, Munch discovers that his DNA matches a pair of rape cases involving young girls and a culprit known as the "Honey Rapist". Newlands is subsequently arrested but denies the allegations. He later disappears before his hearing and is later found murdered during his trial. Cragen also reveals another girl was kidnapped, with an empty honey stirrer being found nearby and coinciding with Newlands' supposed MO of using honey as a turn-on to rape his alleged victims.

An autopsy reveals a tube containing blood that he had implanted in his arm, which Agent Huang recognizes as a way to "beat" a paternity test. Benson realizes that Newlands was the father of Brianna's child, while Warner informs the confused Stabler that the scar would've been hidden when he gave his blood so that's how he was able to avoid suspicion. The detectives come to the assumption that whoever's blood it is, they are the true culprit of the cold cases Newlands was wrongfully accused of. They conclude that Newlands faked the blood sample by using that of one of his clinic's patients to cover up his role in the murders of Brianna and their child, but the false blood implicated him in the crimes of said patient. They note on how he was guilty either way even if he did tell the truth, so he figured to tell his attorney the truth and then flee the country, but the real rapist tracked him down and killed him before he could in order to close the case.

Huang informs the detectives that the rapist is likely basking in victory, and snatched another kid to rape with the intention of killing her afterward to conceal the fact that he's still alive and active. Wanting to avoid this, they go to Newlands' widow, who also works as a dermatologist, for help in identifying the rapist/her husband's killer. Sure enough, with her help, they learn the man's identity: one of her patients, Peter Nestler. They subsequently raid Nestler's apartment, where they find child porn and numerous bottles of honey, thus confirming his identity as the real "Honey Rapist". Novak, who tagged along to see if she could handle this sort of thing, notices clues that Nestler is a fisherman and Benson finds the location and name of a boat owned by him. They catch him at the docks and Stabler chases him down before knocking him off the docks. As Olivia searches Nestler's boat, Stabler, enraged over his crimes, repeatedly shoves the man under the water in an attempt to force him to reveal the location of the victim while Nestler begs for help. However, Novak finds and rescues the little girl herself: she checks a cooler Nestler was carrying with him when they caught him and finds the little girl inside it, still alive and apparently unharmed. Novak carries the girl to safety as Benson and Stabler arrest Nestler for the rapes, kidnapping, and Newlands' murder. Later, Novak approaches Branch, believing she can't handle this job. However, he believes otherwise and tells her that she will understand eventually, revealing that how the case affected her showed him that she's exactly the right person for the job.

Cast[]

Main cast[]

Recurring cast[]

Guest cast[]

References[]

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Baltimore
  • Brianna Morris (victim)
  • Emily Rose (infant victim)
  • Scotland

Quotes[]

John Munch: Last call for bets on Dr. Newland's paternity test.
Donald Cragen: Just give us the results, John.
John Munch: What do you want, the good news or the bad news first?
Donald Cragen: John...
John Munch: He's not the father.
Casey Novak: So what's the good news?
John Munch: We cleared a cold case.

Trevor Langan: Casey and I go way back.
Casey Novak: To Wall Street. Most of his clients just screw employees out of pension plans.
Trevor Langan: Well, this one didn't screw anyone. If he's not charged, I'll be collecting him. Detective Benson, my client has nothing more to say to you.

Casey Novak: I wanted straight homicide. You know, all the glory, no living victims.
Olivia Benson: Lesson number one, nobody can handle the children.

Casey Novak: Got a minute?
Arthur Branch: When you rescue a little girl, you get two. Have a seat.
Casey Novak: I can't do it.
Arthur Branch: Sure you can. Just bend your knees and let gravity take over.

Background information and notes[]

  • This episode marks the first appearance of ADA Casey Novak, who replaces Alexandra Cabot after the latter's apparent death. It is not, however, the first appearance of Diane Neal - she previously appeared in the episode Ridicule.
  • In the episode Detective Stabler asks ADA Casey Novak if they've met before, probably a reference to her previous character in Ridicule.
    • They talk about how they played on opposing teams in what sounded like softball. Novak can be seen at a batting cage in the next episode "Coerced".
  • This episode also marks the first appearance by Paulina Gerzon, who would later return as Katie Nicholson in the Season 9 episode Savant.
  • The episode was based on Dr. John Schneeberger.
  • Goof: When Dr. Warner first extracts the tube, the sutures are in the middle. When she holds it up for the detectives in the next frame, the sutures are at one end.

Episode scene cards[]

1 2 3

Frith Apartments
173 East 89th Street
Monday, October 6

Offices of
Metro Help Line
1160 Second Avenue
Tuesday, October 7

Wolcott Residence
42 East 78th Street
Wednesday, October 8

4 5 6

Apartment Building of
Brianna Morris
173 East 89th Street
Wednesday, October 8

Manhattan
Public Library
1303 Lexington Avenue
Thursday, October 9

Dermatology Practice of
Dr. Archibald Newlands
77 East 86th Street
Thursday, October 9

7 8 9 10

Stratton Residence
Springfield, New Jersey
Friday, October 10

Newlands Residence
63 East 81st Street
Friday, October 10

Trial Part 22
Tuesday, October 14

Office of
District Attorney
Arthur Branch
Wednesday, October 15


Previous episode:
"Loss"
"Serendipity"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 5
Next episode:
"Coerced"
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