In the bullpen, Nick is on the phone with his ex-wife, Maria, loudly arguing about their daughter Zara visiting for Thanksgiving. In his anger, he punches a locker, and when Rollins tries to calm him down, he lashes out at her as well.
Meanwhile, Fin is combing through leaked celebrity nude photos, looking for any underage stars, when he comes across suspicious security footage. It features retired football star turned sportscaster A.J. Martin and his girlfriend, Paula Byrant, fighting in a stairwell after the Met's Black and White Gala. We see him hit her, but then the footage jumps to him dragging her unconscious body to their car. There is no video of what happened in between. Benson sends the team to figure out what actually went down before it becomes tabloid news.
When Amaro and Rollins head to the local precinct to investigate, they learn that Paula declined medical attention - it was just a small incident after a few too many drinks. The officer on the scene's sergeant says the couple was polite, and Paula took responsibility for the whole thing.
That's when Amaro notices the sergeant has signed memorabilia from A.J. - it's clear he's swayed by the fact that A.J. is an NFL legend. No charges were filed, and the ADA offered A.J. adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, which means he would just do some community service. However, his lawyer turned it down, calling the ADA's bluff. But since A.J. didn't take the offer, the case is technically still open. Now SVU has to either find the missing surveillance footage or get Paula to change her story.
Benson and Fin take a trip to A.J. and Paula's stunning mansion to re-interview the couple. A.J. is quite controlling of Paula and their son, A.J., Jr., and gets angry when she interrupts him. They both stick to the story that Paula got a little drunk and aggressive and he was just defending himself. When Benson tries to get Paula alone to get the real story, A.J. follows them, reminding them that they're under his roof and anything they say to Paula, they can say to him. SVU is going to have to work harder to find out what really happened.
Back at the station, the team is planning their next move when the phone rings. It's Barba telling them to turn on the TV to LMZ, where security footage of AJ hitting Paula and knocking her down is playing. So that's where the missing footage went - the tabloids bought it.
The next day, Paula and AJ come in to be interviewed, but stick to the story that Paula was drunk and got jealous of women flirting with A.J. at the gala. She started in with him, and he defended himself. She was certainly not a victim. Nevertheless, Barba charges him with reckless endangerment.
After A.J.'s arraignment, Olivia runs into Paula in the ladies' room. She's upset with Benson for what she's done to her family - their son is getting harassed at school; A.J.'s broadcast career is over, and the media has been ripping him to shreds. Olivia tries to get her to see that she's a victim and in danger of future attacks, but she still doesn't see it that way.
Now it's damage control time, so let the apology tour begin! The couple holds a press conference and goes on Hoda! to announce that after 10 years together, A.J. has proposed - with a massive 15-carat ring. Not only that, they're getting married later that day.
But there's no honeymoon for these two - A.J.'s trial is up and running. During the proceedings, the defense questions Benson about her stance on anger management, which A.J. has offered to attend. A.J.'s lawyer grills her on why she thought the program wouldn't be sufficient punishment for her client, while she considered it sufficient for Detective Amaro to get his gun back. Benson responds that Amaro lost his temper on a horrific child abuser, not his wife, but her credibility with the jury is compromised.
That night, Amaro heads to the bar to meet Rollins, who's already two bourbons deep. She's upset that A.J.'s lawyer went after Amaro, but thinks the DA is overreaching with this case. Deciding what's best for Paula is infantilizing and makes her a victim all over again. Nick disagrees - A.J. hit her, end of story. No man has a right to hit a woman.
Spurred on by the alcohol and their earlier confrontation, Rollins starts poking him, asking about whether he ever wanted to hit his ex-wife, and trying to get him to fight back. She keeps pushing him harder until he snaps, knocking over a stool and back-swiping his drink off the bar. That's when Amaro decides to do what A.J. should have - walk away.
The next day, Fin tries to give his partner advice. He tells Rollins he's learned two things in his 15 years at SVU. The first is you can't take the job home with you. The second is you can't take anyone from the job home with you.
As the trial continues, both A.J. and Paula take the stand to express their solidarity and that, while they are working on their relationship issues, there was no incident of domestic violence. While this united front is difficult to penetrate, Barba does have one crucial angle. Through his questioning of Paula, the jury learns that Paula began dating A.J. when she was 21 and has since cut off contact with all her friends. A.J. and their son are her world, and she cannot even answer simple questions on the stand without looking at A.J. for approval. Barba notes this and tells her she needs to answer for herself.
During closing statements, the defense lawyer argues that convicting A.J. would be tearing a family apart due to a private matter. When it's Barba's turn, he poses the question, "How is it our business to interfere in another couple's marriage?" He says the answer is that physical violence against another human being is a crime, even if she's "just your wife." It is unacceptable to look the other way when one partner is controlling or intimidating the other in their own home.
The jury agrees with Barba and finds the defendant guilty of reckless endangerment. As A.J. is remanded to Rikers, Benson passes Paula in the hall. She is furious with Benson for taking away her husband and her son's father.
"You think he was beating me up," she says. "What do you think you did?"