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"Svengali"
SVU, Episode 9.06
Production number: 9006
First aired: 6 November 2007
  {{{nNthProducedInSeries}}}th of 502 produced in SVU  
{{{nNthReleasedInSeries}}}th of 502 released in SVU
  {{{nNthReleasedInAll}}}th of 1271 released in all  
Lake Stabler Svengali.jpg
Written By
Kam Miller

Directed By
David Platt

Summary[]

A college student, Tina Snow, is found murdered in an attack that bears the hallmarks of infamous serial killer Robert Morten. Detectives Benson and Stabler investigate Morten and discover his loyal following, which includes a man whose comic books glorify Morten's murders. When Cecilia, who was the last person to have seen the victim alive, goes missing, the detectives are pressed to save her life. Benson also finds herself in danger when the investigation angers Morten's followers.

Plot[]

A woman is discovered dead in an elevator shaft. She has been mutilated; someone cut off her breasts postmortem. They investigate around to find out how she got killed. They find a friend of hers, Cecelia, working in a bar. She tells them that Lucy left with a guy the previous night. They talk Cecelia into sitting down with a sketch artist. Later that night, Cecelia calls Benson and says that the guy came back. He's outside the bar. She's closing the bar and no one else is there. Cecilia screams and the call is cut off.

Benson and Stabler go to investigate the bar and find a Venus de Milo painted out in blood and Cecelia missing. They only have twelve hours to find Cecelia before she is murdered like Morten's other victims.

Back at the precinct, a search discovers that mutilated Venus de Milo artwork were available online that were created by a man named Robert Morten. He's doing eight life sentences in Sing-Sing prison, so the crimes are being committed by a copycat. Stabler points out that Tina Snow was positioned with her arms tied together behind her, also resembling the Venus de Milo.

Benson and Stabler go to speak with Robert Morten, trying to find out who is partner is. He insists that he worked alone. Morten claims that there's beauty in all women, you just have to dig deep to find it. Benson questions how he finds women with no arms and no breasts beautiful. Benson tells him someone has been copying his work and asks who it is. He states that if she shows him the crime scene photos, he'll critique them. They find a bunch of fan mail in his cell.

They arrest a convict that used to be his cell mate because he's been writing to Morten, which goes against his parole. The man tells them about a comic called le Morte, which is based off of Morten's murders. Every issue reflects the crime scene of the murders he committed. However there are five issues that continue the series, despite the fact that Morten was captured. The ninth issue depicts Tina Snow's murder. The tenth shows a Venus de Milo panted in blood, just like they found at the bar. They only have two hours left, so they go to visit the writer of the graphic novel Harrison Thomas.

At Thomas's place they find the full tenth graphic novel. In it the character takes his victim somewhere. Benson and Stabler question the artist about the location and he tells them it's Robert's childhood home. They go rushing there and find Cecelia tied up and bleeding, but alive.

Benson discusses the case with Cragen about Cecelia being scarred while Fin comes in with a pizza addressed to Benson. Hearing this, Benson denies ever ordering a pizza while Fin gives the pizza to a hungry Lake. After Lake drops the pizza box on the desk, an explosion goes off blowing Lake and others away. Startled by what she sees, Benson immediately orders for other officers to call the bomb squad and call an ambulance for the wounded.

A protesting Lake is transported to the hospital to look for a concussion. Cragen sees that Benson has been compromised and orders her off the case, despite her protest. Fin is all right only suffering bleeding from the ear while revealing the bomb squad found a pipe bomb in the box. Stabler comes by and revealed that the squad is doing a sweep by sweep on the floors. Fin then walks off to find who caused the chaos, promising pain on them. Forensics appears and reveals that Cecelia actually wounded herself making her suspect. Cragen says he will have Novak do a warrant to check out the apartment of Cecilia.

At the apartment, Stabler and Benson discover the Cecelia has been penpals with Morten for years even working at his law firm to visit him. They also discovered evidence that she was the culprit in the murder of Tina and she staged her own attack to avoid suspicion.

Benson interviews Cecelia while Stabler interviews Morten and both confirmed knowing each other from Cecelia sending letters to inquire about her father who she learned was a prisoner. Morton had persuaded Cecelia to get a job internship at his law firm to visit him without monitor. He also implies a sexual relationship between them during the visits, which is confirmed by Cecelia stating he loves her. However, Benson can tell that Morten took advantage of her because he cut her off not long after they had sex a few times. After further questioning, Cecelia breaks down at her actions and wishes she died from her overdose from when she staged her kidnapping. Morten also reveals that Cecelia told him where she buried Tina Snow's breast's.

Surely enough, Morten helps with a search on a certain area where Cecilia put the breasts of Tina Snow at. Novak announces do you have enough evidence to charge Cecelia with murder while Benson nearly loses her cool when trying to attack a smug Morten.

At the precinct, Stabler reports to his captain that Cecelia has been charged. Fin reveals Benson isat home and gladly takes the opportunity to go himself once advised. Stabler finds Lake has been released from the hospital and is going over surveillance on who brought the pipe bomb in the precinct but they cannot make out his face. Before going out, Stabler asks for him to call Benson and notify her. Lake then calls Benson to tell her of his research, soon announcing that he has found a tattoo on the perpetrator. After he described it, Benson recalls that the artist Thomas had the same one.

After opening her apartment door, Benson is subsequently attacked by Thomas and a fight breaks out in her home. However, Benson is still on her phone and is able to alert Lake of the situation. Lake immediately calls for back up to Benson's apartment. Thomas is able to cut Benson but Benson is able to grab a book to defend herself from his furious strikes. Soon Benson is able to get the upper-hand and proceeds to beat Thomas with the book until he's unconscious.

Thomas is being detained by being tied up to a chair and is brought into the precinct but still smug about his situation. Stabler compliments Benson on handling herself with the burglar.

After Cecelia goes on trial, she says that Morten told her to kill someone. Novak, not liking the way the jury is buying her story, goes to visit Morten and asks him if he instructed Cecelia to kill. He states he didn't. When Novak tells him she's going to call him as a witness, he refuses to cooperate. They make a deal that he'll testify if she gets him moved to the federal prison system. She agrees because she doesn't want Cecelia to get away with the murder.

However, in court, Morten testifies that not only had he instructed Cecelia to kill for him, but upon viewing her artwork, that he also had no belief in her abilities as an artist. These words caused Cecelia to become upset and she runs over to him, voicing her love for him while he shows no emotion. Her breakdown causes other followers to have outbursts before guards have Cecelia removed from the courtroom.

After the hearing, Morten is being led out and a crowd of his fans are waving signs and cheering him on. Novak speaks to Morten telling him that because of her reaction Cecelia has earned an acquittal and a stay in a psych ward. Morten remarks that it all worked out and is feeling jubilant with his actions. He gets upset when he discovers that Novak had arranged for him to be transferred to a federal prison, but it's to ADX Florence, a super-maximum-security federal prison in Colorado that has a twenty-three hour lockdown. He won't be able to receive mail, phone calls, or visitors; he will be cut off from human contact for the rest of his life. Novak tells him to say goodbye to all his devoted fans. Morten is outraged at being used, while Novak asked how does he like her masterpiece while officers take the protesting Morten away.

Cast[]

Main cast[]

Recurring cast[]

Guest cast[]

References[]

Quotes[]

Tutuola: Okay, well, there's got to be hundreds of miles of tunnels. Any idea which ones are full of schist?
O'Halloran: They're all full of schist.
Olivia Benson: Why get her drunk, slip her a roofie, and not rape her?
Fin Tutuola: Maybe he couldn't rise to the occasion.
Olivia Benson: You mutilated women.
Robert Morten: There's beauty in everyone. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find it.
Odafin Tutuola. Lake tosses the pizza box on a desk, which explodes: It's double pepperoni. It's gonna kill ya.


Donald Cragen: How're your ear?
Odafin Tutuola: I got two. Bomb squad it was a pipe bomb made out of PVC and black powder.
Donald Cragen: Lightweight but deadly.
Odafin Tutuola: Yeah, except the dumbass didn't seat the blasting cap just right.
Elliot Stabler: Captain of the Bomb Squad's gonna do a floor-by-floor. Gonna take at least an hour.
Donald Cragen: That's great. Where are you going?
Odafin Tutuola: Somebody try to bust my eardrums, I'm gonna bust they ass!
Elliot Stabler: Hey, do me a favor. Call Liv. Give her an update. I have to go home. My pregnant wife is looking for peanut butter and tacos.
Chester Lake: Dude, say no more.
At first blush, you might think this is unique. But it--it lacks understanding...Depth...With the human canvas, you have the opportunity to do true action painting. Where's the energy? Where's the spatter? This is lifeless dreck. A cheap knock-off of my work. Who did this...is a talentless hack.

–Robert Morten on Cecilia's work


Casey Novak: Well, you were great.
Robert Morten: Did you like it? Bet you didn't know what was gonna happen next.
Casey Novak: You put on quite a show. You got her off, she's going to a psych ward.
Robert Morten: Is that a frown on your pretty face?
Casey Novak: Actually, I think Cecilia is going exactly where she belongs. So are you.
Robert Morten: Heh. You're backing out on the deal.
Casey Novak: No, you're being transferred to a federal prison.
Robert Morten: I thought you'd be a sore loser.
Casey Novak: You're gonna love Florence Super Max. 23-hour lockdown, no visitors, no mail, no phone calls. No human contact for the rest of your life.
Robert Morten: You can't do that to me.
Casey Novak: Why don't you wave bye to all of your fans?
Robert Morten: But you made a deal.
Casey Novak: And it's a masterpiece. How do you like my work?

Background information and notes[]

Episode scene cards[]

1 2 3 4

Apartment of
Tina Snow
412 East 53rd Street
Monday, October 15

Waldorf-Astoria
Platform
New York Subway Tunnels
Monday, October 15

Mata Hari Bar
187 East 47th Street
Monday, October 15

Sing Sing
Correctional Facility
Ossining, New York Tuesday, October 16

5 6 7 8

Apartment of
Harrison Thomas
580 West 44th Street
Tuesday, October 16

Apartment of
Cecilia Strayer
216 East 40th Street
Tuesday, October 16

Trial Part 38
Tuesday, October 23

Trial Part 38
Wednesday, October 24


Previous episode:
"Harm"
"Svengali"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 9
Next episode:
"Blinded"
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