It took 12 seasons to finally find out how Elliot and Kathy met. It's unclear what exactly where they were: the episode was based in college so it's naturally assumed that they met while in college. However, previous episodes indicated that Elliot and Kathy knew each other as high school teenagers. So, the best theory is that high schoolers Elliot and Kathy went to a college party- maybe a mutual friend, a sibling in college, or crashing or maybe a regular party- they were instantly attracted to one another but were nervous enough to use alcohol as a confidence boost… one thing led to another and wa-la (possible to conceive Maureen that night, but there was no mention of it in this episode). I wish more details on Elliot and Kathy's love story have more detail but it is what it is. Well, either way, Elliot thought that his meeting Kathy was a romantic memory. I can live with that! It did have Elliot thinking more closely about it, maybe comparing his case to his own experience. Kathy told him that although drunk, she knew exactly what she was doing and didn't appear to have any regrets of what happened. After all, they’ve been married for 26 years and have 5 children!
I especially love when Elliot got up from his chair and went over to Kathy to kiss her during their personal revelations: Kathy wanted to go to Elliot to kiss him but was too scared… apparently Elliot would've welcomed a kiss from a stranger. Meanwhile, it took Elliot three beers to work up a nerve to say hello. Twenty-six plus years later, Elliot, this time sober (he hadn't yet drank the glass of wine Kathy poured him a few minutes before), went over to Kathy to say hello before kissing her. I genuinely think that the kiss (or make-out) would've lasted much longer if that darn Kathleen hadn't come in to interrupt them! I love the way Elliot looked at Kathy during this particular scene- his eyes were full of love and happiness to be with her.
Later, while trying to get ADA Sonya Paxton to not let Kathleen to testify on how she got their suspect’s disciplinary file due to aftermath consequences, Elliot had no intentions of protecting this guy for the risk of his job. He needs to feed his wife and family.
This episode has been my number 1 favorite for a long time until Gray aired (Countdown in season 2, Gray in season 12- 10 years). For me, it had all the sweet affectionate points:
1) I love yous
2) endearment nick name
3) happy to see and be with another despite the 2 seconds
4) kiss (on the cheek, twice of hello and goodbye)
5) a hug
It was the twins’ birthday and Elliot wasn't able to buy them a present because of a case. To enable for Elliot to at least see the twins on their birthday, Kathy took them to the precinct. Elliot was tired, grumpy, and snipping at Olivia; when he saw Kathy, Dickie, and Elizabeth, his face brighten. At the vending machines, Elliot sent the twins to see Munch while he spent a few moments alone with Kathy. There was also a moment where after they hugged, they looked at each other in silence after sighing, staring into each other's eyes lovingly with small smiles. One of those little sunshine moments in Elliot's dark day.
Kathy appeared in three scenes and they were all stand-outs.
In the very first scene Elliot comes in the kitchen while Dickie (who is almost late for school) was drinking milk, Kathy was with Eli munching on breakfast treats. While passing by to the refrigerator for orange juice (the Stabler guys really like drinking from the carton), Elliot touched Kathy's back with smiles to her and Eli. Then he and Dickie got into it over his troubled best friend Shane- Kathy was in her own little world with Eli with her ears listening in. Sadly, this is the only time Eli shared a scene with one of his older siblings and there was barely any interaction (but that doesn't mean anything serious) other than Eli watching his dad and brother talk. The only other close call was in Alternate when Kathy was pregnant with him and with Kathleen… Anyway, Dickie had to go to school and Elliot had to go to Court.
After court, Elliot and Olivia went to work but Cragen was there to tell Elliot that since his phone was off at court, Kathy called him with news that his son was missing. Elliot's first thought was Eli but it was Dickie. He rushed home. Kathy already had a detective waiting and was frantically worried. I did like how Elliot touched Kathy's shoulders. Elliot thought that Dickie and Shane were skipping school and joyriding so he wasn't as worried about it. Surely, Kathy must've skipped school in her day, especially sneaking out of the house in the wee hours as it was somewhat admitted in Sophomore Jinx. Or maybe Kathy panicked because of her mother instincts told her something was wrong with her son? She was right though: Dickie, or Richard as he thankfully wanted to be called, was worried about Shane and was out looking for him. As the story unfolded (lasted 2 days), Richard and Shane planned to sign up for the Buddy system in the Army- they thought it would help Shane's reputation from a druggie to a responsible young man. Shane instead encountered with his friend who was homeless and desperately looking for drugs. When Shane failed to get the money out, he was killed. Richard found the homeless man the following morning, beating him up and demanding to know what happened to Shane. Richard was angry at his dad; in previous episodes, he looked at Elliot as his hero, they had a close relationship. But then Shane showed up and Elliot was very vocal of his disapproval. Also, Richard found that having a father as a cop was not easy and it was difficult to make friends. There was a moment where you would have to look at Elliot's face really closely: Richard made a dig about not being the first Stabler to have lost their mind, it provoked Elliot to shove Richard to the wall. You could see anger, and then once he realized what he had done, Elliot's face quickly changed to instant regret, an “Oh my God, what have I done?” It wouldn't surprise me if his own father had done that to him. Kathy came rushing in. She was concerned, not mad at all that Elliot shoved Richard to the wall- maybe it was the look on his face? Or maybe she knew the complicated relationship between Elliot's father and him? As well with Elliot and Dickie? Regardless, Kathy subtly calmed down Elliot and had a protective arm around Richard, who was literally carrying her off to leave. Later, on the phone, Elliot wanted Kathy to put Richard on the phone but no go. Richard refused.
At the end, Richard spent another night away from home (where did he go? To Maureen's? Kathleen's dorm?) and came home, obviously devastated by his best friend's death. He wanted to go ahead and join the Army, have Elliot sign him in so they wouldn't see each other again. But Elliot said no. Richard can hate Elliot all he wanted but Elliot wasn't going to let Richard go. It was painfully lovely.
The monumental episode where Elliot and Kathy welcomed their fifth child, Elliot, Jr. The birth itself wasn't just that big ta-da, it also featured the car accident that triggered the birth with Olivia there. I suppose it cemented the roles of Elliot's women in his life at the time: Kathy his wife and Olivia his partner, aka office wife. The accident created a strong bond between the two women. There was never really a problem between them before the accident, no cross words or insults, although Kathy was admittedly worried that Elliot would fall in love with Olivia and maybe was slightly envious over their bond. But Olivia always respected Elliot's marriage and she did seem to like Kathy. She was genuinely surprised and shocked by the news of separation and divorce. Anyway, in the first half of the episode, there's a scene in Elliot and Kathy's bedroom where his mind was elsewhere while settling in while Kathy was talking to him. He was wondering if Kathy was carrying his child… or not? Honestly, Elliot's timing sucked. I can totally understand his questioning, after all, when the baby was conceived they were still technically separated; we also have no idea what Kathy was doing while separated. But if I had been in Elliot's position, I would've asked the biological father possibility around the time when Kathy told Elliot she was pregnant. Not when she's about to pop! In fact, he had several chances of questioning the paternity several times since his job faced a number of infidelity and paternity DNA cases. Not the best husband moment for Elliot, in my opinion. Another not-so-great husband move Elliot made was that he forgot about Kathy's OB/GYN appointment when he went after a suicidal murderer until Olivia reminded him. Olivia volunteered and off he went. Kathy didn't seem to mind, of course a recurring job hazard in their marriage, but still… Elliot was way too dedicated to his job. At least, after hearing about the accident, Elliot immediately rushed over. He called Kathy through Cragen’s phone (I guess both Olivia and Kathy's phones were unreachable) who was in labor that he will be with her soon and that he loved her. Kathy gave birth in the ambulance and for the grand drama effect, she went unconscious with her heart stopping. At the hospital, Kathy was fine, sitting up in bed, and holding her baby when Elliot arrived. He went straight to her room, practically ignoring Olivia's presence other than quietly noticing the blood on her shirt. Elliot and Kathy shared a tender moment with their foreheads touching, eyes closed… why? Why not a kiss? I could accept no hugging- she was holding the baby and could've been in slight pain due to the car accident, giving birth, and almost dying. They were a kissy-kind of couple but this time around, no kiss to celebrate a birth of a baby, Kathy surviving an accident, and Elliot's arrival. Although I did thought the heads touch was sweet but it would've been more special with a kiss included. Then Elliot met the baby, holding him for the first time with a big touching smile on his face. Kathy then told Elliot that he was the father, answering his question from the previous night- he knew. Probably had a good thought process over it during his travel back to Kathy. While leaving, Elliot hugged Olivia as a thank you. Isabel did an excellent acting performance in this episode- she was on longer than previous walk on-and-off appearance here and there and got to truly show her acting chops. She held her own with Chris and Mariska, bravo!
A non Kathy episode, but she was mentioned. From season 6 during the beginning of the separation between Elliot and Kathy. Olivia tried to get Elliot to go home to get some rest, but he refused because the house was empty. Kathy and their children were living with her mother. I consider this a favorite because the episode showed Elliot's pain and anger over Kathy. He was furious at Kathy for leaving him, wondering how she could walk away after 20 years of marriage. Obviously, he did not want the separation in the first place and later divorce. But the problem he had with Kathy were communication skills- he rarely spoke about his cases. He reasoned that one of them had to sleep while the other stayed up and tried to protect his family from that dark side. I think he let certain cases get to him personal enough to withdraw away from Kathy.
Kathy appeared in three scenes, one included a nice few seconds making out on the couch while watching television. Not surprisingly that the other two scenes (before and after the kissing) became forgettable blah… something to do with Maureen having a boyfriend and going to a homecoming school dance. I love the way Elliot had his arms around Kathy, and they both looked relaxed in each other's company. It got slightly spoiled by Elliot's concerns over Maureen and sex, while Kathy seemed to be okay with it, maybe getting a good kick out of it.
Well, let's face it: Kathy was with her children a hell lot more than Elliot, as being a housewife and it appeared that whenever Kathy interacted with her children, they were close and open with each other. The children never had any direct anger towards Kathy as they have with Elliot (Maureen in Sophomore Jinx, Kathleen in Trials and Swing, Dickie in Turmoil) and there was also some underlined tension whenever Elliot interacted with his children. Even Elliot pointed out in Popular that Kathy is the Parent and he is the Paycheck. Hmm, this is becoming too psychological analyzing babble- maybe save for a future post! Moving on!
When this episode originally aired, little did the audience knew (and Isabel), this would be the last that we see of Elliot and Kathy together. Here's a little trivia based from “Twitter math” from the cast and crew: the pillow talk between Elliot and Kathy was not only a last minute added scene because the episode ran short but it turned out to be the final scene Chris would tape for SVU. Soon afterwards after the finale aired, he went in for his annual contract negotiations and left the show. Well, let’s focus on why this episode is on the favorite list: Elliot and Kathy were asleep in bed in the early hours of the morning (sun was starting to come up) and Elliot's cell rang. Elliot had his arm on top of Kathy and had no intentions to answer his phone, he wanted to keep sleeping on his personal day off. He didn't want Kathy to answer it either but she insisted. Kathy referred Olivia as his office wife and while talking to her, Elliot wanted to hold his wife's hand. Awww… some insist that Elliot was actually wanted the phone but Kathy pushed his hand away but I saw none of that; Elliot wanted his wife, not his partner on the phone. Apparently Elliot didn't tell Kathy about him being accused of sexual harassment a teenage boy made on him while being held for breaking and entering a stranger's home. Kathy then snuggled next to Elliot. Not a bad way to say “goodbye” to Elliot and Kathy together- in bed, affectionate, loving, wanting to be together…. Very nice.
A non Kathy episode. This is very brief, blink or you’ll miss moment: Elliot was with a victim’s devastated family member when a call from Kathy came in. Elliot gently sent the victim’s relative away to pull herself together and takes Kathy's call, he was happy to hear her voice. A bit of sunshine in his dark day.
This wasn't the best Elliot and Kathy episode. It was about their pending divorce. Elliot, after several months of being served, hadn't signed the divorce papers. Kathy tried confronting Elliot about it in an earlier episode and got nowhere. This time around, she turned to Olivia to help convince Elliot to sign the papers. It didn't seem like Olivia did at all-- she wasn't too thrilled with Elliot at that moment, they weren't seeing eye to eye on a case and temperament insults were flying around. Eventually it was the case about two warring parents going through a nasty divorce battle that went as far as accusing rape and setting the other one on fire that prompted Elliot to sign the divorce papers and deliver them to Kathy. Why is this episode on my favorite list? Pretty much the last scene where it showed that Elliot was still in love with Kathy while sitting outside with Olivia in the early hours of morning and neither could sleep. Elliot only signed the divorce papers because he didn't want his love with Kathy turn into hate. He didn't want her to ever regret him. To me, that's love and that's why it's on the list. Elliot obviously doesn't regret Kathy.
A non Kathy episode, yet she was mentioned. Again, like Contagious, Elliot displayed his personal feelings over his pain and anger of his separation with Kathy. He did opened up a little bit more: Kathy left him without any signs or clues- she just up and left with their children. Prior to her departure, Elliot did try to seek help with the Priest for counseling but it may have done nothing for Kathy to pack up and leave. Yet his marriage problems were just a scratch on the surface; as it turned out, the deeper problem was his troubled relationship with his deceased father.
Kathy appeared so briefly that it may as well have been a “blink or miss” trivia. Short yet sweet. Let's try to slightly prolong the scene: Kathy hadn't seen her husband for God knows how long and was concerned over how much sleep Elliot was getting and bought along dinner (a sandwich). Elliot was being his typical dedicated to the job detective mode wanting to see his case be solved and through despite being put on desk duty for his regularly run in with the IAB. Elliot overheard Munch give Olivia an update and wanted to get in on it, hands on. Here comes my favorite part: He grabbed Kathy's head with his hands and kissed her on the lips! He told her to hug the kids, he loves her, and thanks for dinner. And then he was off. It was close to the end of the episode.
A short family scene with Elliot and Dickie playing a board game with Kathy looking on. It lasted a less minutes than before but sweet nonetheless. Elliot got called away for a little boy that Kathy knew about and told him to go. They pecked each other on the lips. There were no indication of trouble for the marriage- they looked happy- the following year Kathy left Elliot embarking a 2 year separation with pending divorce. The separation did come as a shock but not totally surprised due to Elliot's obsessive dedication to his job and not so great communication skills other than 'fluff’ cases.
Honestly, the reunion between Elliot and Kathy could've been done a little better. Maybe it was bad timing? The writers could've originally planned for Elliot's marriage to end in divorce but instead, Isabel got divorced, moved back near where SVU was filmed, and the crew were so impressed with Isabel's performance in the beginning of the season that the writers scrapped their original plan to rewrite Isabel as Kathy back into the show. Everything was done quickly that no thought out ideas were given time to plan out. In this episode, despite wanting to move back home, Elliot was dawdling yet after finding a dead wife and three young children, he got rattled and went to see Kathy to check on their sleepy children. This is the infamous episode where Elliot's butt crack made it's television debut and he and Kathy conceived Eli. Many, including Christopher, consider it as a booty call. Some even accused Kathy of seducing a vulnerable man- that I doubt. Elliot may have been shaken, but he was definitely in the right frame of mind and knew exactly what he was doing. Take it as you want. This episode had (1) Elliot and Kathy's first kiss in 3 seasons, (2) the first love-making scene from a regular character in the 'Law & Order’ franchise, and (3) a fifth child in the making for the Stablers.
Another non Kathy episode but their son Dickie makes an appearance to meet the man he was named after. Apparently, Elliot's idol was an astronaut named Colonial Dick Finley. As a young adult teenager, Elliot wanted to be a jet pilot despite his many insistence that he wanted to be a cop all his childhood and teen years. Maybe it was a temporary change of mind until his girlfriend became pregnant and in order to support her, their new marriage and their baby, Elliot needed the money right then and there to become his original dream job as a cop. The only thing Elliot got to do to follow in his hero’s footsteps was to join the Marines. As it turned out, Dick was the guilty killer. I bet at that very moment and afterwards that Elliot was very happy to do right by his family rather than following his hero’s womanizing ways. There was a rather cute moment between father and son where Elliot confided in Dickie about him butting heads with his father and he realized he already had what he wanted in life that was more important: Kathy with Maureen on the way. Dickie realized that Elliot had knocked up Kathy before going into the Marines than after, as he originally believed. Elliot had that “Oh shit!” facial expression.