Benson takes another visit to Baby Boy Doe, now on his fourth foster home. She pulls some strings and receives the opportunity to hold him for the first time... it's clear she harbors feelings for the baby, maybe a sense of responsibility. Will he ever find a good home?
Meanwhile, Amaro is arrested, booked and arraigned, with the DA eyeing assault charges (and more if Simon Wilkes doesn't make it through). Due to Amaro's prior run-in earlier this year, the judge grants him no mercy and sets his bail at $500,000. Murphy insists that the squad not meddle in the investigation, and a new case helps distracts them - a tourist claims a pimp sodomized him and beat a sex worker he found off a Craigslist ad. Some digging clarifies the scenario - the pimp and the prostitute work together to rip-off unwitting clients. Reprising his Irish persona from when he first met Rollins, Murphy goes undercover and the squad arrests the pimp, Tino, and the girl, Ellie.
Tino lawyers up fast and Ellie - who started working with Tino when she was 16 - refuses to testify against him. Once the tourist misidentifies his assailant in a lineup, the case appears dead... until Baby Boy Doe's caseworker shows up at SVU with a surprising claim. His DNA matches Ellie's. She's his mother.
This new wrinkle gives SVU some leverage, and Ellie gives up intel on a fake daycare Tino's mom runs. The squad hits the apartment and arrests Tino again, but it's unclear if any of the underage sex workers will testify against him. Benson nonetheless reunites Ellie with Baby Boy Doe, aka Noah, and hides her sadness as the boy's mother glows in his presence.
Another glowing reunion occurs when an unlikely friend bails out Amaro - Special Investigator John Munch. Amaro's mentor gives him a pep talk and encourages him not to give up yet. As Amaro gathers his confidence, Rollins drops by Wilkes' studio and confronts his wife with new online evidence of Wilkes' interest in torturing young boys. The day after Rollins pressures Wilkes' wife, Wilkes issues a change to his story and cops to instigating the fight with Amaro. Internal Affairs warns Amaro not to get too comfortable; but the DA drops the charges, and Amaro manages to keep his shield.
A sigh of relief washes over the squad - until SVU learns that Ellie disappeared. SVU leads the search and finds her body beaten, gang raped and burned to a crisp by an underpass. Although Tino confesses to ordering her murder, everyone on the squad knows he's lying. Either way, Murphy makes an announcement that shakes up the squad again - he received an undercover assignment and will no longer operate as CO. Looks like Benson will move back into the office.
Before that takes effect, Benson visits family court again. With Noah's mother deceased and no other living relatives, the judge declares him an orphan... unless Benson would like to become a foster mother? Benson does a double take at the judge's suggestion, then realizes it's a serious offer. The judge clarifies that she would order Noah into Benson's custody for one year, with an option to adopt permanently afterwards. Stunned, Benson hesitates...
Is she ready to become a mother?
In the season finale, the fallout from Amaro's assault threatens to end his career.