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Vanity's Bonfire - Recap

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The episode begins with the scene of a park where little children are playing. A mother play’s around with her daughter Tessa, while being filmed by the father. The mother leaves for some office work and leaves Tessa with her father. The father gets busy with his phone and leaves the girl to play with the other kids. Later, both parents discover that Tessa is missing. They look around the park and call out to her, but do not find her anywhere. Later, Olivia and Nick talk to both the parents. The father shows Nick the pictures of Tessa he took at the park in the morning. In one of the pictures a suspicious looking guy is seen in the background, looking Tessa’s way.

They discover that the suspicious looking person is a man named Alan Clive, who has been seen at the park before and was reported to the cops earlier by another parent. Later, Rollins and Finn barge into Alan’s home and question him about Tessa. Turns out, Alan is a sex offender. “Where is she?” Rollins asks Alan. He maintains that he doesn’t know, and had simply helped Tessa get down the stairs at the park. Alan says Tessa left with her mom. Finn and Rollins don’t believe him, and say that Tessa’s mother doesn’t even know where she is. Alan even describes to Finn, the woman he thought was Tessa’s mom. While going over Tessa’s pictures at the park, Nick and Rollins come across a blonde woman who fits the description Alan gave them, of Tessa’s mother. Olivia later shows Tessa’s mom the photo of the blonde woman.

She says she has never seen the blonde woman before. She tells Olivia about Tessa’s nanny, a Guatemalan woman named Carmen Silva. Carmen recognizes the blond woman as the one who takes the “pictures of the babies at the park”. The find out that the woman’s name is Dia and she website called lifemomentsbydia.com. Olivia and Nick later enter her apartment. Inside they find Dia sitting on a chair with Tessa on her lap. Olivia tells her, they need to get Tessa back to her mom. “It’s ok I am her mom” Dia says. Olivia and Nick play along and tell her that they simply need to sort things out and for the time being ask Dia to hand over Tessa to them. Dia believing Olivia, hands Tessa over to her. Nick then places Dia under arrest. While she is being arrested Dia says she is Tessa’s mother and has documents to prove it.

She says the documents including her birth certificate are in a file, on the dresser. Nick sees the file and checks the documents. Later, Tessa’s parents inform Olivia and nick that Tessa was born through a surrogate. Tessa’s mother says, it was a private surrogacy and adds “our lawyer found the birth mother”. “Wonderful woman Aaron, she was studying to be a vet” she adds. Her college bills were paid by the couple in return for the surrogacy. The team decides to talk to the couple’s lawyer, Wendell Feeney, as things look suspicious. Olivia and Nick arrive at his office and find out from his partner that, Wendell died of sepsis a month ago. She is surprised to find Wendell’s signature on the birth certificate, as their firm doesn’t handle adoption cases.

She informs the two after checking her firm’s records that Tessa’s parents Braden and Josie Liddy don’t show up as Wendell’s clients and neither does Dia. Aaron as it turns out was a client, but that was for a slip and fall accident. Olivia and Nick ask for Braden’s DNA, in order to confirm if he is Tessa’s father. Dia too gives her DNA. Dia also tells Rollins and Finn and that it was Kent Webster Tessa’s father, who had asked her to give up Tessa for a few months, saying it, was for his wife who was dying of cancer. Turns out, Webster is the Dean at a law school. Nick informs the Captain that all the documents the Liddys have concerning Tessa’s adoption are fakes, and part of a scam. When Kent is questioned, he denies everything that Dia has claimed. Dia lands up at Kent’s doorstep just when Kent along with Rollins and Finn is approaching his house.

Kent pushes her onto the street, but while at it, Dia manages to scratch Kent. Dia later tells Rollins about scratching Kent and asks “can you get DNA from it?” She maintains that Tessa is Kent’s daughter. Olivia discovers that Kent’s daughter Hanna knows Dia, as she and Dia are in the same class. Hanna tells Olivia how she had coffee with Dia a few times and each time she asked about her mother a lot, inquiring about her health and how she was doing. “I felt like she wanted to be my big sister” Hanna tells Olivia. Olivia and Rollins are later informed that according to a DNA test result, Dia is Tessa’s biological mother. Also, Braden Liddy is not Tessa’s biological father. Kent’s DNA report is yet to come. Olivia and Finn instead lie to Webster that he is Tessa’s father, just to see how he reacts. “There is one possibility” Kent says, when informed he is the biological father.

He admits that he and Dia were alone after a photo shoot and that is when Dia gave him a hand job, but nothing more. Olivia asks Kent if Dia then collected his semen to impregnate herself. Kent says he doesn’t know as he left the room, right after the act. Olivia tells Kent about Wendell and the fake documents. “I had nothing to do with this. Dia didn’t even tell me she was pregnant” Kent in turn says. Nick tells the Liddys, the facts. They are shocked to hear the truth and are devastated when informed that the courts will now decide as to who Tessa will be with. “I advise getting the best lawyer you can afford” Nick says. Olivia and Nick find out from Braden that, he had heard Wendell speak to someone over the phone for a few seconds and call him “your honor”.

Turns out, Kent’s father is a judge; therefore Nick and Olivia question Kent, and ask if his father knew Wendell even if he didn’t. They inform Kent that at one point his father had cleared up “Finney’s mess”, and suggest that probably Wendell returned the favor. While Kent is having a conversation with Olivia and Nick, Hanna walks up to him and shows him a picture, of Dia and him kissing, on her computer. Turns out, the picture was taken by someone earlier “today”. Kent’s wife is livid upon seeing the photo and is now convinced that Dia is telling the truth. The team finds out that, the picture was leaked because “Dia called the paparazzi on herself”. Just then they get a report of domestic disturbance in Dia’s loft. Finn and Rollins arrive at the loft to check it out.

They find Kent in the apartment. He sees the two and says “Dia has been murdered”. They see Dia lying dead on the floor. At the precinct Kent tells Finn and Rollins “she was dead when I got there”. “I was upset about her harassment. I went to talk to her” he adds. Kent’s wife reveals to Nick and Olivia that, Dia had called and had threatened to leak sex tapes; she allegedly had of Kent and her. She claims Dia had called at 3, but Kent at the precinct says that she is confused and Dia had actually called at 6, as that is when his wife called him and informed him that Dia had called. “She was dead when I got there. Someone set me up” Kent says.

The coroner informs Nick that, Dia was killed between 3 and 5. Also, Kent’s alibi that he was somewhere else between 3 and 5, checks out. Nick and Olivia then again have a talk with Gillian, Kent’s wife. Gillian admits to the two that she went to Dia’s apartment and murdered her, in a fit of anger. Olivia and Nick don’t believe her, as Gillian thanks to her cancer is too weak to lift heavy crystal, which was the murder weapon.

The two figure out that it was Hanna, who actually killed Dia it was she who went to Dia’s apartment and not Gillian. Gillian begs with the two to let her protect Hanna. Nick and Olivia give into Gillian’s heartfelt plea and hand in Gillian’s confession, in the process protecting Hanna. Later in court, Gillian pleads guilty to the charges of manslaughter. The episode ends at this point.

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Warning: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit season 14 episode 7 guide may contain spoilers
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