Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Episode 13.22 : Strange Beauty

  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
    • Next Show Eps 19.04: No Good Reason
      October 18, 2017
    • Episode Premiere : May 16, 2012
    • Distributor : NBC
    • Genre : Drama, Crime
    • Seasons : 13
    • Show Period : 1999 - Now
    • Production Company: NBC, Studios USA Television, Universal Network TV
    • Official Site :

Cast and Crew

The Story

Detective Rollins witnesses a kidnapping when she sees a woman screaming for help from the back of a passing cab. After some investigation, Rollins discovers that the cab was stolen and the woman, a 19-year-old girl named Nina, has been reported missing. While interviewing Nina's mother, Benson and Rollins learn that Nina had recently become immersed in the world of body modification and tattoos, and that she'd gotten a number of tattoos and body modifications herself, including a distinctive octopus tattoo on her ankle.

Fin and Amaro hit the streets in search of clues that might lead to Nina's whereabouts. One of Amaro's informers, a teenager named Joaquin, tells the detectives that Nina had been romantically involved with a local tough named Pablo. Fin and Amaro question Pablo and discover that he and Nina broke up three months prior, but Pablo says that Nina had visited the night before and that he turned her away. Pablo points the detectives to a nearby car service that Nina frequently used.

Fin and Amaro visit the car service depot where Nina was last seen to question Nikos, the attendant who was on duty the night that Nina disappeared. Nikos tells Fin and Amaro that he remembers seeing Nina getting into a cab, but he wasn't really paying attention. Detective Fin asks to see the tapes from the building's security camera system.

Back in the squad room, the detectives watch the security camera footage from the car service depot. The footage shows Nina approaching a taxi cab, then attempting to flee as the driver gets out and forces Nina into the cab. Detective Rollins confirms that the cab number is the same as the cab she saw the night before, but the tape offers no clues as to the identity of the attacker.

Back in the squad room, the detectives watch the security camera footage from the car service depot. The footage shows Nina approaching a taxi cab, then attempting to flee as the driver gets out and forces Nina into the cab. Detective Rollins confirms that the cab number is the same as the cab she saw the night before, but the tape offers no clues as to the identity of the attacker.

Rollins and Fin head to the canal to question the fisherman who found Nina's severed leg. The fisherman tells the detectives it's the second severed leg he's found in the canal. The first one was found 11 years ago, but no investigation was ever conducted. Benson and Amaro track down the old severed leg and learn that it was removed using the same methods as Nina's leg, but this time there's good news: they've got a DNA match for the old leg, and the owner is still alive.

Benson and Amaro locate Lisa, the DNA match for the severed leg. She informs the detectives that someone paid her $25,000 to cut her leg off 11 years ago. Unfortunately, the anesthetics left Lisa too groggy to remember many details about the experience. The detectives regroup at the station to examine their clues, but they're interrupted when Nina's body is discovered.

Rollins and Benson meet with the medical examiner to examine Nina's body. They discover that Nina had her ears pinned so that they come to a point to resemble elf ears. It appears that Nina was slipping into the body mod subculture and that her leg amputation may have been a radical form of body modification. They also discover a distinctive tattoo on Nina's shoulder and set out in search of the tattoo's artist.

Nina's tattoo artist tells the detectives that Nina may have received some of her body mods from Seth Moretz, an ex-employee who was running a business on the side. Rollins and Fin easily track Seth down and find a nitrous oxide tank in his garage. The tank's serial number leads the detectives to a dentist, Dr. Gene Brightman.

Benson and Amaro visit Dr. Gene's office to question him about the stolen tank. Dr. Gene explains that Seth used to date his receptionist, Jess. When Benson and Amaro attempt to question Jess, they discover that she has gone missing. While the police are looking for Jess, Benson and Amaro question Seth Moretz.

In the interrogation room, Benson and Amaro ask Seth about the nitrous tank and the modifications they found on Nina's body. Seth insists that he couldn't have performed the body modifications, and that Jess, Dr. Gene's assistant who's gone missing, performed some of the body modifications that the detectives found on Nina's body. Seth tells Benson and Amaro that they can find Jess at a "Freak Night" event, where she'll be doing body modifications for paying customers.

Fin and Rollins go undercover to "Freak Night," a warehouse party featuring contortionists, acrobats and partygoers with various tattoos, body piercings and other body modifications. Rollins questions one body mod enthusiast and learns that Jess is working out of a truck behind the party. Fin and Rollins find Jess in a makeshift surgical room and take her into custody, but not before discovering that she has an amputated leg.

In the interrogation room, Jess tells the detectives that she lost her leg to bone cancer when she was 15 years old. She claims that she had nothing to do with Nina's leg amputation, but she admits to stealing from her boss, Dr. Gene. The detectives search the Controlled Substance Database and learn that surgical equipment was ordered by Hal Brightman, Dr. Gene's brother. Hal is a psychiatrist with no practical use for surgical equipment.

Benson and Amaro head to Hal Brightman's office to question him about the surgical equipment that was ordered in his name. Hal denies ordering the supplies and suspects that one of his patients may be ordering the equipment with his prescription pad. He acknowledges that he knows Jess, his brother Gene's assistant, but can't offer any solid leads. Benson and Amaro turn their attention back to the dentist, Dr. Gene.

In the interrogation room, Dr. Gene denies having anything to do with Nina's death and tells detectives that his mother lost her leg in a car accident when he was younger. The detectives wonder if this youthful trauma might have motivated an amputation fascination later in life. Dr. Gene goes on to reveal that Jess, his assistant, was a patient of his brother, Hal. Meanwhile, Jess tells Rollins and Fin that she stopped seeing Hal because he became fixated on her amputated leg. When questioned about a link between Hal and Nina, Jess remembers that Hal met Nina once and that he seemed fixated on Nina's body modifications.

In the squad room, the detectives begin to put the pieces together. Hal's mother lost her leg when Hal was a teenager. Jess was a patient of Hal's when her leg was amputated due to bone cancer, and the event actually triggered Hal's fixation on amputated legs. We discover that several months later, Hal paid a drug addict, Lisa, to let him amputate her leg. Then, Hal became fixated on Nina and forcibly amputated her leg, accidentally killing her in the process. Rollins suggests that Hal may actually think he's helping his patients by amputating their limbs.

Rollins and Benson visit Hal, pretending to suspect his brother Gene of Nina's murder. After Hal guides the detectives through a psychiatric evaluation to explain his brother's fixation on amputated legs, Rollins and Benson turn the tables on Hal and explain that his diagnosis of his brother is actually a diagnosis of himself. Hal confesses to the murder and explains that he was simply trying to help Nina discover her true beauty.

Hal reveals that he had five other "patients," but Nina was the only one who didn't survive the procedure. He escorts Benson and Rollins to his surgery room, decorated with before-and-after photos of his previous patients, and tells Benson and Rollins that he could improve any woman, even the two of them. Disgusted, Benson arrests Hal Brightman for the murder of Nina.






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