SVU, Episode 5.05
Production number: E4408
First aired: 21 October 2003
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Novak Serendipity
Written By
Dawn DeNoon & Lisa Marie Petersen

Directed By
Constantine Makris


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


The body of a deceased newborn female is found in a sewer. 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. When a paternity test proves that Newlands isn't the father of Brianna's child, it is discovered that his DNA matched a cold rape case involving a young girl. Newlands is later found murdered during his trial and an autopsy shows that he implanted someone else's blood in his arm, which Agent Huang recognizes as a way to "beat" a paternity test. The detectives come to the assumption that whoever's blood it is may be responsible for the cold case Newlands was wrongfully accused of. Newlands faked the blood sample to cover up his role in Brianna's murder, but the false blood implicated him in the crimes of his patient.

Meanwhile, Olivia and Elliot butt heads with the new A.D.A., Casey Novak. After the detectives learn the identity of the real killer from the blood in Newlands' arm is revealed to be one of his patients, Peter Nestler, they investigate his apartment to try to find another victim that was kidnapped, but find no sign of him or the girl. Novak, who tagged along to see if she could handle this sort of thing, notices clues that the rapist is a fisherman and Benson finds the location and name of a boat owned by the rapist. They catch him and Stabler repeatedly shoves him under the water in an attempt to force him to reveal the location of the victim. He fails, but Novak finds and rescues the little girl herself: she checks a cooler the man 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 the rapist 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.


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast



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.
  • 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

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

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