SVU is called in when released sex offender Victor Paul Gitano kidnaps two children named Ryan and Rebecca Clifford after murdering their mother, stepfather, and older sister.
After speaking with the birth father and the incarcerated older brother regarding the murders, they then learn from Rebecca's teacher about Gitano, who was smart enough to use Ryan at an ATM to withdraw money as Ryan would be too short to be captured on the ATM surveillance camera.
After the NYPD Emergency Service Unit SWAT team breach Gitano's room and find nothing, they do discover they just missed Gitano as he and the kidnapped Clifford children were there, finding hair from Rebecca.
Huang speaks to a psychological counselor who dealt with Gitano to find reason behind Gitano's criminal actions, and she provides the journals of his discussions to help the SVU team out. They also speak with other victims to better understand Gitano and his Modus Operandi.
Soon, the chase leads them to try and capture Gitano at the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, as he was spotted there with both kidnapped Clifford children. Gitano soon becomes wary when he notices Elliot and the nervous ticket clerk, and bolts once he knows the NYPD are there. Elliot soon spots Ryan after they lose sight of Gitano, who had been acting as bait for Gitano to lure the SVU squad in, when Gitano appears with Rebecca, only to be confronted by Benson. Gitano slashes at her throat, forcing Elliot to make a difficult decision to either pursue Gitano or tend to his wounded partner. He chooses Olivia, but this costs the SVU team as, by the time Elliot gets outside, Fin reveals that Gitano is long gone with Rebecca, and Ryan lies in a pool of his own blood, his throat slit by Gitano.
With Rebecca the only one left they could save from Gitano, Ryan is taken to be analyzed by Dr. Warner, who finds that Ryan had a cellphone on him, which Olivia guesses is Gitano's. Using it to track Gitano's whereabouts over the past month, after Stabler visits Huang for some counseling regarding Stabler's decision that cost Ryan his life, it is not long before Elliot and Olivia track Gitano to an old U.S. Air Force warehouse in New Jersey, but as they wait for the New Jersey State Police SWAT team, they search the building for Gitano, only for the psychopath to get the drop on them, ambush Stabler, and take him hostage, threatening to blow his head off point-blank with a sawed-off shotgun.
This leads to a tense moment as Olivia is hesitant to shoot Gitano without risking hitting Stabler as well, while Gitano purposefully stalls with continuing to threaten to blow off Elliot's head, screaming for Olivia to shut up, Elliot telling Olivia to just shoot, then trying to weasel his way out of being arrested by lying about Rebecca's whereabouts or having killed her.
However, hearing the SWAT team approaching, Gitano screams for them to back off or he'll kill Elliot, but when he then tries to save his own neck by saying where he hid Rebecca, Olivia can tell he's lying and will never tell them where she is. Elliot knows it as well, and pretty much tells Olivia to go ahead and shoot him, if it means stopping Gitano. However, before Olivia can pull the trigger, a noise draws Gitano's attention, and he only has a split-second to find himself staring down the barrel of a SWAT sharpshooter's sniper rifle, before the SWAT marksman fires, and fatally shoots Gitano in the face, the force of the impact sending Gitano flying backwards, releasing Stabler, unharmed. As the rest of the SWAT team arrives, it is clear Gitano is already deceased from the single shot he took point-blank to the kisser from the SWAT sharpshooter. One SWAT member can only voice his disgust at how the marksman blew half of Gitano's face off with his shot, but commends Olivia and Elliot for stalling until they could take him out. As the SWAT team cuff Gitano's corpse and call for an ambulance with the intent to say they at least tried to save the psychopath, Olivia has them quiet down, before they find Rebecca, alive and unharmed, hidden in a crate.
Rebecca is taken to the hospital, where she will be placed in the care of relatives, and Benson and Stabler question their partnership because of what happened during the case.
Back at the precinct, Benson goes before Captain Cragen to request a new partner.
This episode provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: At the climax of the episode, Gitano is killed by a police sniper. The character was played by Lou Diamond Phillips, whose credits involve a recurring role on another show as an FBI sniper.
- Bittersweet Ending: Gitano is dead, and Rebecca Clifford is safe and sound, but four members of her family are dead, and now Benson wants a new partner.
- Depraved Bisexual: Gitano loves to rape and kill little children regardless of their gender.
- I Love the Dead: Invoked with Gitano. Stabler accuses him of this, and Gitano replies, possibly sarcastically:Elliott: You like them dead, you sick like that, too, Gitano? You like to play with corpses ?Gitano: Yeah, I love that. The deader, the better. They don't fight as much.
- The Sociopath: Gitano is described as such by his psychiatrist.
- Tempting Fate: Gitano telling Olivia to be good on her shot and making sure to kill him in one shot or he'll take Elliot with him. The SWAT marksman pretty much makes Gitano eat his words by putting him down with a perfect, single, face shot from his sniper rifle.
- Wham Line: The closing request from Olivia to Cragen.Benson: I want a new partner.
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Gitano while holding Elliott at gunpoint very disturbingly boasts to Olivia how he killed the little Rebecca. He's actually lying—she's still alive—but it's still a very cruel move.Benson: Victor, tell us where Rebecca is and we can end this right now.Gitano: Dead. I used her up and I bled her dry. You want to hear how she screamed? How she begged for her mommy? She was a slut, that one. A real little whore.