Olivia’s driving in the rain on her way to receive her award in the opening moments of Law & Order: SVU when Fin calls her. She tells him that something has come up, and she’ll be there as soon as she can. When she gets to the crime scene, she sees a car that’s been burned to bits. The victim? Kathy Stabler.
“Liv,” Olivia hears from a distance. When she turns around, she knows exactly who it is. “Elliot,” she says. They walk toward each other and are both equally stunned after seeing each other for the first time in 10 years. “They tried to kill Kathy,” he tells her.
Kathy and Elliot had come back to New York to see Liv get her award. They had been living in Italy. Elliot has been working as an international liaison in Rome. Kathy was getting the rental car when the bomb went off. Two of his kids are in town with him.
After the explosion, Stabler stops by the squad room. He sees Fin and Rollins interviewing a suspect in the bombing. Stabler wants to go in and talk with him. At first, Benson says no. “Liv, I give you my word I’ll behave,” Stabler promises. They go into the room together, just like the old days. The suspect says he could hear Kathy moaning. He continues to antagonize Stabler. Before Stabler can throw a punch, Benson steps in.
Afterward, Benson and Stabler fight over what just happened. Nothing has changed. They’re always brutally honest with each other. Stabler soon finds out that Kathy is awake. Kathy doesn’t remember anything about what happened. “It’s just like the old days… you two together,” Kathy tells Benson and Stabler. “Always so in sync.” She later says what we’ve all been thinking, “You really didn’t talk for 10 years?”
Stabler finally apologizes for what happened earlier. He also apologizes to Benson for leaving and not telling her. “Elliot, you were the most, single most important person in my life and you just disappeared,” Olivia tells him. Stabler reveals why he couldn’t tell her. “I was afraid. If I heard your voice, I wouldn’t have been able to leave.”
Kathy goes into cardiac arrest. She stabilizes but Benson later gets a call that Kathy died. Benson rushes to the hospital to see Stabler. She hugs and comforts him in his time of need. Stabler, never one to show his emotions, cries in Benson’s arms.