Noah is running around while Benson is on the phone, trying to clean up his toys, etc. Noah climbs on a counter to get a cookie and scares her. She gets him down.
Meanwhile, a woman is putting six-year-old Theo to bed. The woman is a nanny or something and the mother comes in and puts headphones on the boy because she's having company.
Mother lets a bunch of people in and tells someone that Theo is asleep
Later the nanny returns and Theo is missing. She wakes up the mother who seems to be hungover or something. The nanny says the front door was open. Mother can't find her number.
SVU comes. Cops says that there's no father and the mother had friends over. They find a ton of drugs in the mother's bedroom.
Mother says she checked on Theo every hour til about 2:30 AM. His floor rug is missing. Her friend Kat says she was with her all night. Kat claims Nadine is a good mother.
Nadine isn't sure who all was in the house.
The nanny says she offered to stay over but Nadine wouldn't let her. She came first thing in the morning because she knew he'd need her. She says he's very shy and must be scared.
Rollins says there are signs of a struggle, blood, etc but Benson says not enough for an Amber alert. Rollins is judgmental of the mother.
Nadine has a panic attack and tells Benson to find Theo. They want a DNA sample. Nadine freaks out and says she would never put Theo in danger. She goes down to the station where she says her ex wife is going to blame her. Some new guy came to the party and was drunk. The night is a blur to her. She remembers a guy taking photos on her phone and asking about Theo.
Kat confirms this. QuickRide confirms passenger's name. Blood on the table is Theo's. Lots of footage from surveillance etc to go through.
The man, Kevin Dorsey, is defensive. He says he's a private detective hired by Nadine's ex-wife to trail Nadine and her son.
Sonny and Fin go to talk to the ex-wife. She says she's suing for custody and needed evidence that Nadine was unfit.
Fran comes in and Nadine and Fran argue.
Fran says she hired a private eye to keep Theo safe and obviously the party was to blame. Benson tells her she is under investigation. Fran says she is fighting in court. She could not get visitation six years ago because of laws discriminating against gay parents. She claims Nadine is taking Theo out of the country.
Nadine denies all of this and retracts her accusations.
Fran says that she wasn't even allowed to pick up Theo at school. Fran says Nadine was dating bad boys as well as girls. Two months ago Nadine broke up with a violent guy. She broke up with him to keep him away from Theo. She didn't tell the cops because she thought it would prove she's a bad mother. Sonny says the man's prints were in Theo's bedroom.
Ed shows up all worried because Olivia didn't call him back about Noah. He thinks Olivia is not okay because she shot a man last week. He wants her to take a walk with him. Olivia says she can't leave in the middle of this case. She looks sad as Ed leaves.
Rollins and Fin go to Gabriel's apartment. There are two British women there and kids' toys. Gabriel has gone out the window and is running down a fire escape and through an alley . He is caught. He claims the toys were Christmas presents that Nadine threw in his fae. He is found with a gun on him and wants a lawyer.
Gabriel claims not to know anything about Theo and that he hasn't gone there since the breakup. Gabriel says he was trying and Nadine dared say the boy was afraid of him. He has a weak alibi and Benson says to hold him on the gun charge so they can ivnestigate.
Facial recognition got nowhere. No motive or evidence about Fran.
Rollins has surveillance photos of a rug that was missing from Theo's room. She asks about Ed. Benson says they keep missing each other.
Nadine recognizes nothing and asks if Theo was rolled up in the rug. She thinks Rollins is blaming her and goes on a rant about how hard it is to be a single mother. She cut off Fran because she thought Theo would like her better.
Benson calls Ed. She still doesn't know when she'll be home. She shows Fran the photo. Fran and Benson talk. Fran says that she took care of Nadine and became more of a mother than a girlfriend. She asks if Benson is seeing anyone. She didn't adopt Theo because she was too busy. She asks Benson if she lost her chance.
The man with the rug is, disappointingly, the nanny's brother. SVU rushes to the house but it is empty. However, Rollins finds a shrine to Theo.
Nadine insists Gloria would never hurt Theo. Fran and Nadine think this makes no sense. Nadine and Fran start arguing about how Nadine treats Gloria.
Oscar is brought in and told that they are going to search his van. He says Gloria told him to kidnap Theo. He won't talk and Fin wants to call Barba. Oscar cracks and tells them about a car Gloria had.
A hotel manager recognizes Theo/Gloria from the Amber Alert but Gloria has run away from the hotel. She appears to be headed to the border. Car appears to have broken down so the cops rush to the gas station. Car is empty but Gloria and Theo are around the corner. They run into the street and are almost hit by a car. Gloria is arrested and Theo starts screaming he doesn't want to go home, he wants Gloria.
Nadine doesn't want to leave the room or allow Theo to be questioned but Fran talks her into it.
Gloria says she took Theo to save his life because Nadine doesn't pay attention to what's going on. Theo once fell in a pool and almost drowned during a party. She says she is the one who knows him. Theo wanted to be with her. She was going to take him to Mexico where he would have been happy. She cries.
Theo says that Gloria was going to take him to Mexico. He wanted to live in Mexico with her and is worried about whether she's okay.
Fran thinks it's wrong that Gloria will be out of Theo's life. Nadine says she just wants to take Theo home. Benson tells her Child Services has been called. Fran is not allowed to take Theo because she is not considered Theo's parent. Theo is taken by social services. There will be a family court hearing. Fran says she will help. She will testify on Nadine's behalf but Theo needs both of them. They hug.
Benson tells everyone to go home. Sonny tells Rollins she's a great mother. Rollins isn't sure. Sonny says he will get groceries with her and make spaghetti for her and her baby.
Benson puts Noah to bed. Ed is there. He asks what's going on with them -- is it about him retiring? Benson says she doesn't know. She thinks they're in different places. The job is who she is and she's scared about him retiring. He says a few months ago she was crying and afraid it wouldn't last. But she was telling him the truth -- they weren't. Benson says Noah has to be her first priority. Ed agrees. He tells her to take care of herself and then he leaves. Noah calls Benson in.