Toodles, Tucker: Law & Order SVU

“Chasing Theo” was the real title of the January 11th episode of SVU. Before we proceed to recap the episode, allow us to observe that sometimes they just telegraph stuff. This one opened up with Olivia Benson on the phone with her current man, Ed Tucker, while her son, Noah, climbed up on the kitchen counter and was trying to get in the cookie jar on top of the refrigerator. In the middle of planning a lunch date, Benson told Tucker she would call him back. She rescued Noah from his perch, told him to ask Mommy for a cookie next time. It was bedtime so he didn’t get one anyway and she didn’t call Tucker back.

Cut to a woman tucking another child named Theo in bed. He laughs and giggles and gets tucked in “like a mummy.” The woman is his nanny, Gloria Ramirez. His mother, Nadine Lachere, pops in to kiss him goodnight and put his “quiet headphones” on. Mommy is about to have company. The next morning, Gloria arrives for work and the door is open. She goes to check on Theo and he’s not in bed. Gloria runs around and frantically checking rooms and yelling “Theo” but the boy is gone and the police are called.

Rollins and Carisi arrive and scope out the scene. They see evidence of drug use at Nadine’s get-together. Nadine realizes that Theo’s floor rug is gone, too. Nadine and her friend, Kat, who slept over, both say they checked in on Theo at about 2 a.m. Carisi questions Gloria. She only tells him everything we saw her do. A little bit of blood is found on a table in Theo’s room. Nadine is taken down to the station for a full statement while they check to find out if it’s Theo’s blood.

At the station, they learn that Theo is a sperm donor baby and his unofficial other parent is Dr. Fran Conway, who Nadine was married to at the time. She is always at the hospital because she’s a top orthopedic surgeon and neglected to officially adopt the boy. She only gets to see Theo a few times a month. They get their first lead that some guy in his 30s was taking pictures and asking questions, but Kat booted him out.

He turns out to be Kevin Dorsey, a private investigator hired by Fran to help her get evidence for her custody suit. Next stop, the hospital. Fin and Carisi apparently weren’t briefed on Fran’s relationship to Theo. They looked thoroughly confused when she said “Theo is my son, too.” Their suspicions of Fran’s involvement fall flat but they get a lead from her about a shady ex-boyfriend Nadine had named Gabriel Norton.

Gabriel is an angry failed British musician who drank and did coke all day. He’s also the comic relief. Nadine didn’t say anything about him because he has a criminal record. She’s afraid Theo will be taken away from her when he’s found. Some of the hairs in Theo’s bedroom are found to be Gabriel’s.

At this point, Benson has ignored one call from Ed Tucker. He pops up at the station house to find out what the deal is. He knows about the missing boy from the news but suggests a break for coffee or something. Benson can’t. She’s right in the middle of everything and stands there looking ever so troubled. No normal boyfriend feedback like we’ll do it later or I’ll call ya the second I’m free. Hee hee hee.

Carisi, Fin and Rollins bang on Gabriel’s door but some blonde says he’s not home. Sort of true– he’s taking off down the fire escape. Gabriel had a gun on him so off he went to interrogation. All they’ve got on him in connection to Theo is some toys and clothes he bought for Theo that Nadine rejected and an angry text message: “Go to hell, Nadine. You and your snot-nosed kid.” They hold Gabriel on the gun charge until they can find some real evidence against him. Rollins shows up with a photo of some guy loading a rug into a van at 4:37 a.m.

Nadine identifies a man on the van company’s employee list as Gloria’s brother, Oscar. Fran knows Gloria’s address. At Gloria’s house they find a disturbing shrine to Theo in Gloria’s bedroom but no sign of the boy or the nanny. They corral Oscar and get him to admit he bought Gloria a used car and she is taking Theo to Mexico to save the boy from his neglectful mother. Rollins find a photo of the car, complete with plates, online. They track Gloria to Bordentown, NJ, about an hour an a half from NYC. Gloria just left but her car broke down 15 miles away.

When they nail her, far from being traumatized, Theo wants to go with Gloria to Juarez to live on a farm with goats so he won’t have to go to Ibiza with Nadine. Nobody told Theo that they have goats in Ibiza, too.

Theo got taken by Child Services until a hearing could be held. Benson told Nadine not to worry. Judges usually rule in favor of the custodial parent. Fran said she would testify that Nadine is a good mother, but Theo needs them both in his life and Nadine agrees. Gloria and Oscar were going to get charged with kidnapping but “given the circumstances,” Benson said, they would probably get a plea deal.

In the final scene, Tucker was over at Benson’s helping her put Noah to bed. “Bye, Tucker,” Noah said. Not “good night.” LOL. Then Tucker asked what was going on with them. Olivia went into a spiel about how his retirement talk scared her and how demanding her job is, then she pulled the Noah card. Tucker got the message, kissed her on the forehead, said “Take care of yourself, Olivia Benson” and walked out the door. Right on cue, Noah called out “Mom-meee” from his room.

Our epilogues:

Nadine and Fran remarried, moved to Ibiza and bought Theo a herd of goats.

Oscar and Gloria both got charged with second degree kidnapping. The judge was not impressed with Gloria’s devotion to Theo. She could have reported Nadine to Child Services rather than entice the kid with her goats. He also thought she was unbalanced as hell because of that shrine in her bedroom. She got 10 years, with 5 of them suspended on the condition that she never work with children again. Oscar got 5 years.

Cast of Chasing Theo:
Mariska Hargitay – Olivia Benson
Kelli Giddish – Amanda Rollins
Ice T – Odafin Tutuola
Peter Scanavino – Dominick Carisi Jr.
Robert John Burke – Ed Tucker

Guest Stars:
Iain Armitage – Theo Lachere
Rachelle Lefevre – Nadine Lachere
Zoe McLellan – Dr. Fran Conway
Adriana DeGirolami – Gloria Ramirez
Rafael Benoit – Oscar Ramirez
Sebastian Beacon – Gabriel Norton
Nat Cassidy – Kevin Dorsey
Nina Yvette Coleman – DCS Social Worker
Mina Joo – Kat Simms
Lynn Marocola – Police Officer
Bjorn Thorstad – Attorney Mitch Jackson
Timbrooke Ford filbert – Jeremy
Dorian Michaelscobb – Gregor
Nehal Joshi – Manager

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