"Undercover Mother"
SVU, Episode 16.15
Production number: 16015
First aired: 18 February 2015
  th of 476 produced in SVU  
th of 476 released in SVU
  th of 1229 released in all  
Written By
Warren Leight & Julie Martin

Directed By
Steve Shill

A mother risks everything to rescue her daughter from an underground sex ring.


Working undercover to bust a sex trafficking ring, Detective Carisi stumbles upon Martha Thornhill, a mother who has embedded herself as a Madame in the organization for three years in hopes of finding and saving her daughter, Ariel. Martha joins forces with the SVU and they work together to bust the pimp and his cohorts, but Ariel is still missing. Meanwhile, Sergeant Benson is confronted with a harsh revelation that will change her life forever.


As the episode begins, Olivia, Fin, Rollins & Amaro are shown sitting outside of a party while Carisi is inside, wearing a wire.

As a van full of women arrive at the house, Olivia notices that the prostitutes' handler is Selena (from the episode Girls Disappeared) and the detectives are able to arrest her & the women that arrived at the party.

One of the women at the party, Martha tells Olivia that she is undercover searching for her daughter, Ariel who was abducted when she was 13 years old by sex traffickers while they were vacationing in Toronto and the police in Canada didn't believe her.

When Olivia asks for proof that Martha's not lying, Martha shows her & Fin her apartment that has a wall dedicated to tracking down Ariel & the places that she was spotted in.

Martha reveals that she has a contact, but refuses to give Olivia the contact's name. Barba explains that Martha broke the law & is facing 20 years in prison. Olivia wants to send Martha back undercover, but Barba refuses to let her do that.

When Rollins sits down with one of the girls picked up at the party & shows her photos of Ariel, it is revealed that Ariel mouthed off to their pimp, Timmer, he "stomped her out" and didn't put her in the van.

When Amaro & Fin interrogate Selena, she refuses to cooperate even after she is warned that her son is in foster care & she'll never see him again.

After interrogating the girls, the detectives are able to get an address to a party house that Martha is familiar with & says it is run by a madame named Tracy. As Fin & Carisi sit outside of the house, they take photos of Timmer arriving at the house with a van full of girls & notice Tracy yelling at Timmer.

Timmer takes off in his car and Carisi & Fin follow him. Rollins & Amaro notice a truck pull up to the house where it appears that alcohol is being delivered. They follow the delivery guy & pull him over.

When Olivia shows Martha photos of the girls who were with Timmer, Martha is upset that Ariel isn't in them & fears that she's hurt.

Amaro goes undercover as a beer delivery guy. Once inside, he pulls his badge & gun on Tracy & the other girls in the house. Rollins and the rest of the squad arrive inside the house through the back door & take everyone into custody.

When Olivia shows Tracy a picture of Ariel, Tracy says that she hasn't been seen in a week & the detectives tell her to call Timmer for a special request.

As Olivia sets up a sting operation, Martha wants to go with, but Olivia tells her to go home & get some sleep. Martha refuses to until Ariel is found & begs Olivia to let her come with.

Olivia poses undercover as a madam while Fin poses as her handler as Amaro & Rollins do surveillance with Martha. Timmer swears that Ariel is coming to the party, but she hasn't arrived yet.

A car pulls up to the house and a mysterious guy gets out of it. Tracy reveals that the man is Timmer's boss, Bishop. When Bishop arrives, he demands to know who the trespassers are. Bishop ends up pistol-wipping Carisi (who is also undercover), forcing Olivia to pull her gun on him. The party is broken up and everyone (including Olivia) are arrested.

After the bust, Olivia talks to Barba & reveals that she & her squad went undercover and they arrested Bishop, who is actually Declan Murphy. When Fin & Olivia interrogate him, Declan is furious at them for messing up his organization, but after Olivia shows him a photo of Ariel, Declan recognizes her and says that Timmer sold her to a man named Johnny D. for $800.

Declan is put back in a holding cell so his cover isn't blown & agrees to help the SVU squad find Ariel.

Rollins talks to Ariel's friend Nina who reveals that Timmer caught her on the phone talking to her mother & she was beaten until she blacked out. Martha sits with Nina & begs her to tell her where Ariel is. At first, Nina doesn't believe her, but when Martha shows her a picture of herself & Ariel, she reveals that after Timmer assaulted Ariel, he took her to Johnny D's house and says that he chains up his girls for a week to "break them."

When Fin and Rollins interrogate Timmer, they are able to get an address to Johnny D's place. Olivia & the SVU squad head to the abandoned building where they discover girls lying on mattresses in rooms, badly beaten.

They hear a scream upstairs & find Johnny D with a piece of glass to Ariel's neck. Olivia is able to convince him to let Ariel go & Johnny D. is arrested. At the hospital, Martha & Ariel are reunited.

Meanwhile, back at the station house, Rollins talks to Declan in the interrogation room and Declan tells her "what doesn't kill her makes her a better detective."

Olivia tells Declan about Johnny D and how he is going away on federal charges. Declan says that he is in charge now that Johnny D is going away. He tells Rollins to cuff him & take him to Rikers. Before he leaves, he tells Olivia to take care of herself.

As Olivia is home with Noah, Warner knocks at the door and reveals to her that Johnny D is Noah's biological father.


Main cast

Recurring cast

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Episode references


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Episode scene cards

1 2

Apartment of
Martha Thornhill
147-35 Beech Avenue
Flushing, Queens
Thursday, January 29

Parisian Suites Motel
220-14 Jamaica Avenue
Queens Village, Queens
Friday, January 30

3 4 5

Party House
9414 Hollis Court Boulevard
Jamaica, Queens
Saturday, January 31

Basement of
Abandoned Hospital
70-33 113th Street
Forest Hills, Queens
Sunday, February 1

Federal Arraignment Court
Part 14
Tuesday, February 3

Previous episode:
"Intimidation Game"
"Undercover Mother"
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Season 16
Next episode:
"December Solstice"
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