A pregnant woman, Paula Carvahal, reads a magazine as her husband Nick comes in with a bowl of food. The time is about 10:30 PM. Paula accepts the bowl, sees Nick grab his keys, and asks where he's going. Nick says that he heard a noise downstairs, from the boarding-room below theirs. Paula argues that their downstairs neighbor is moving out, but Nick thinks that no one would come pick up boxes at such a late hour. He kisses her and says he'll just peak in the window. He then grabs a gun from a closet, as well as a police badge on a necklace. He trots outside and sees the downstairs door cracked open with the lights off. He radios to a police dispatcher that he needs backup, then opens the door. He sees a figure searching through the place, raises his gun, and yells for the figure to freeze. The burglar, however, shoots him, and Nick collapses. The burglar flees, despite Nick trying to grab onto him. He loses consciousness as Paula looks out the window and begins to scream. Van Buren arrives on the scene and is conducted, by a uniformed cop, to Earl Woodlief. Woodlief is a neighbor who saw the shooting. He says that the shooter was white, young, and looked vaguely familiar. He agrees to look at mug shots. Van Buren goes into the apartment and finds Green, who says that the burglar left behind over a thousand dollars worth of cameras and equipment, indicating that the burglar wasn't just after money. Van Buren asks who lived in the boarding-room, and Green says that it's a guy named Gary Blanchard. Van Buren groans that the press will be all over the killing, and on top of that they have a new squad member.
"Yeah. Detective Beauty Queen."A woman in a leather jacket approaches Van Buren as the lieutenant says that the new detective's previous commander was cagy and uncomplimentary when asked about her. The woman introduces herself as the new detective.
"Well, you know what they say. The better you are, the more trash they talk. Detective Nina Cassidy."Cassidy will be Green's new partner. Exiting the room, Van Buren says that she doesn't know much about Cassidy since Cassidy was promoted and transferred so fast. All Van Buren knows is what she read in the tabloids, which reported on an incident in which Cassidy was at a beauty parlor during a shooting and performed some heroic act. That act got her press and caused her to be promoted and transferred to homicide. Cassidy, calling Van Buren 'Lou' (short for Lieutenant), says that a lot of the tabloid information was inaccurate. Van Buren establishes that Cassidy hasn't taken the relevant detective courses, and Green verifies that Cassidy does know what some criminal databases are but hasn't ever used them. Van Buren gives Cassidy her first orders.
"Well your assignment, until I tell you different, is 'watch and learn.'"Paula, crying, says she wants to be helpful but doesn't know anything. She knows nothing at all about Blanchard. Cassidy says that her brother, another cop, always spoke highly of Nick. Paula says that she read about Cassidy in the papers, after the shooting at the beauty salon. Paula compliments Cassidy, calling her brave. Cassidy promises that they will crack the case. Van Buren, angry, gestures for Green and Cassidy to follow her outside. Once there, Van Buren complains that Cassidy has already violated her orders.
—Anita Van Buren and Nina Cassidy
"I told you to watch and learn. You just promised to close this case."Van Buren leaves, and Green points out that, if the case falls apart, Cassidy will have just lied to Paula. He calls this lesson one, then tells her to go back inside the Carvahal place. She hesitates, then does so. The detectives go to Blanchard's new apartment, a large room with a nice view of the city. Blanchard has a TV and various blown-up photos scattered about. He doesn't know why someone would rob his place. When asked what he does, Blanchard says that he takes pictures at dance clubs and posts them on his website, where subscribers support him. Green asks why anyone would pay for this, and Blanchard says that the kids at the dance clubs want fame. He also recognizes Cassidy from the papers.
"I was only offering condolences—"
"Watch. And learn!"
—Anita Van Buren and Nina Cassidy
"I shoot, they see their photos on my website, and it's like their fifteen minutes of FAME! Yes, you, are the Beauty Queen!"He runs over and grabs an old tabloid paper, which has a front page article about Cassidy's sudden promotion. Green shoves Blanchard and throws him into his sofa. He demands that Blanchard take the case more seriously, since a cop was killed. Blanchard insists that he is sorry about it.
"Stop being a smarts."Blanchard complains that he thought he was the victim, and the two cops turn to leave. As soon as their backs are turned, Blanchard grabs a large camera, spins around, and begins taking pictures of the police officers.
"Hey, smile babe! You're a star!"Cassidy makes a rude gesture, and the two leave. Van Buren is looking at her laptop when the detectives come in. Green says that the slugs used to kill Nick match an open nightclub shooting from the previous year. There were over forty suspects, but one stood out — Jay Sitrick, a bouncer. There was too little evidence to charge him, and they never found the gun, but he was still the top suspect. As for Blanchard, he doesn't have a record. Van Buren asks about Blanchard's attitude and Green says that Blanchard was a 'cocky little snot.' Van Buren reveals that Blanchard emailed a photo of Cassidy gesturing rudely at him to the squad contact address. Green tries to defend Cassidy, but Van Buren doesn't care.
"…handle it better."She tells them to talk to Sitrick. Green leaves, but has to call Cassidy before she does. At a locksmith shop, Sitrick says that he has an alibi for the previous night. He was bouncing at a club from 10 PM to 4 AM. Green points out that Sitrick could still have provided the gun, but Sitrick says that no one ever proved that gun was his. Green says that there was a test showing that Sitrick had gunpowder residue on his hands, but Sitrick clarifies that the test was inconclusive. He turns on a machine to cut a key and says that he knows the police are upset because one of their own was killed. Then Cassidy unplugs his machine.
—Anita Van Buren
"Well, do I need to explain the importance of that to you?"Sweet reveals that her baby, Sophia, was with her in the park. Sweet set Sophia down for a moment to pick something up, and Sophia slipped and fell. Blanchard took a photo of that scene, which made Sweet look like she was dropping Sophia. He gives Sophia to an assistant to change her diaper while Sweet continues to talk to the cops. Green pointedly asks if there have been other embarrassing photos of Sweet in the papers, and Sweet says that someone got a photo of her leaving Sophia in her car for five minutes while she got a coffee.
"It was, like, sixty degrees, and the windows were cracked."Green points out that the photo led to questioning from child services, and that this new photo might lead to another interrogation from them. Sweet agrees, saying that was why she wanted the photos. Blanchard was willing to sell the photos back to Sweet, but Sweet doesn't want to discuss it more. She asks if Green is accusing her of something. Green says that she and her current boyfriend have been hanging out with hard-core rappers in town. Some of them are real criminals and could have been hired to steal the photos. Sweet says that Blanchard wanted $400,000, which was less than her annual clothing budget, so the money wasn't a problem. She then says that she's exhausted, sits down, opens a magazine, and lights a cigarette.
"…the baby's kept me up every night this week."Cassidy puts out the cigarette, citing concern for Sophia's health. Green looks annoyed, and the cops leave. In the station, Woodlief can't identify the robber from the mugshots he's looking at. Green comes in just as Woodlief goes to the bathroom, saying that the canvas of the Carvahal's neighborhood turned up nothing. Cassidy tells him that Woodlief was no help either. Green grimaces. Cassidy then acknowledges that she lost her temper with Sweet. Green says it was justified, but Cassidy says she understands if Green has to tell Van Buren. Green looks annoyed.
"Page six has you partying all over the city this week."
"I liked it better when you didn't talk."
—Sky Sweet and Nina Cassidy
"If you knew me a day longer than you do, I'd pop you in the mouth for saying that. If I have a disagreement with you I'm gonna say it to your face; you're not going to hear about it from the Lieutenant. That's lesson number two."Woodlief comes back in, flustered, saying he found a magazine in the bathroom. Green is confounded.
"How may lessons are there, exactly?"
"There's seven hundred and forty, exactly."
—Ed Green and Nina Cassidy
"We didn't leave it there."Woodlief clarifies that the man on the magazine's cover was the robber. It's Smolka, Sweet's estranged (until recently) husband. Van Buren, reading the article, says that Sweet and Smolka were estranged but not very much; Smolka is still welcome at Sweet's mansion. Cassidy says that there's talk of a reconciliation.
"Fabulous. I was getting a little worried."Green laughs. Chastened, Cassidy says that she mentions it because Smolka was spotted with her in town, so he's around. Van Buren is still amused that her information is coming from the tabloids. Green says that Woodlief identified Smolka as the robber, and Cassidy points out that this could just be a husband standing up for his wife. Van Buren asks for information on Smolka, and Cassidy says that he has a reputation as a hothead and thug. Green says that Smolka has no significant crimes on his record, but Cassidy says that Blanchard got emails from him. Van Buren says they should talk to Smolka, but need to watch out for the press, which is interested in the case now that the detectives were seen talking to Sweet.
—Anita Van Buren
"Cassidy. Do me a favor. Keep your face out of the press."Cassidy pauses, then leaves. Smolka is recording when the cops come in. He admits writing Blanchard a threatening email.
—Anita Van Buren
"That's just talk, you know what I'm saying?"Cassidy says that the thefts might have bolstered Smolka's reputation as a gangster, but Smolka says that his reputation is a publicist's invention. He's from Orlando and not a criminal. Green cites a time when Smolka smashed a hotel room, but Smolka says that it was staged. Cassidy asks why he got an injunction against Blanchard to stop him from selling the photo of Sweet dropping their baby, and Smolka says that the photo wasn't staged and was out of context.
"No. Not when a police officer's been murdered, no. I don't know what you're saying."
—Justin Smolka and Ed Green
"But we get it. He was just looking to earn. Everybody knows it's a game."Green asks why, if he wasn't there, Woodlief saw him leaving the apartment, but Smolka says that Woodlief must be wrong. He says he has an alibi, namely that he was working with Beth Swailes, a woman who runs Smolka's fan site. Some other people come in wearing street clothes, and Smolka says that the cops can talk to his lawyer if they want more information. He backs up, then yells at them.
"But I'm sorry about your homie, yo!"Van Buren catches the detectives just as they return to the station, saying that they have someone new to talk to. Smolka texted a Michael Wayland several times. Cassidy recognizes Wayland as a dealer she knew from her foot patrol. Van Buren says that Wayland was also at the nightclub shooting and could be the source of the gun. Green says that Swailes backed up Smolka's alibi, so Wayland could have been the shooter. Van Buren thinks that a long-time employee makes for an easily swayed witness, and guesses that she is just covering for him. Outside, Van Buren sends Green to talk to Wayland, along with backup. She tells Cassidy to stay back. Cassidy argues that she knows Wayland and his big rottweiler dog, but Van Buren thinks it's too dangerous — Cassidy is too new to be handling arrests. Cassidy argues, but Van Buren is adamant.
"How's that fit in with watch and learn?"Van Buren just tells Green to watch out for the dog. He leaves. Cassidy tells Van Buren that she's sure that Van Buren had someone in mind to replace Fontana when he retired, and Van Buren acknowledges this. Cassidy accuses Van Buren of disliking her because she was assigned to Van Buren's squadron for political reasons, but Van Buren says that her issue with Cassidy is that Cassidy is so new at the job. Cassidy argues that she did well in the salon shooting and that she's a good officer, but Van Buren says that working homicide cases is completely different from anything else Cassidy has done.
"Homicide is not about writing summonses or keeping the peace. It's a skill."Van Buren says that Cassidy needs experience, and Cassidy protests that she wants to become experienced too. She asks Van Buren about her record before joining the homicide division, but Van Buren, amused, says that she spent five years on patrol, then seven years undercover in narcotics.
—Anita Van Buren
"That's where you got your street chops. I'm getting mine here."Van Buren says that, until Cassidy has been with the squad longer, she won't be arresting suspects.
"You're a liability to yourself and your partner. You don't go through doors."Green pounds on Wayland's door and knocks it open. He demands that Wayland come out. Wayland's dog barks at them, and Wayland threatens to sic his dog on the cops, but Green threatens to shoot the dog. Wayland breaks and calls off the dog. The cops cautiously enter, and Green demands that Wayland come out with his hands out, but he won't — he's petting his dog.
—Anita Van Buren
"Can I just say goodbye to him, please?"He finally surrenders. The cops, searching under Wayland's mattress, find a gun. Wayland looks defeated. Later, Green says that the gun was the one that killed Nick. Van Buren asks what Cassidy knows about Wayland, and Cassidy says that Wayland's dad abused him until he hung himself at the age of ten. Wayland's sister took care of him until she died two years prior, and Wayland's mom is in an insane asylum. Van Buren authorizes Cassidy to handle the interrogation. In the interrogation room, Cassidy says that she'll call a friend of Wayland's to look after his dog, but only if he stops acting like a baby. Wayland, in tears, says that his mom called saying that she's proud of Cassidy, having seen her picture in the papers. Cassidy says that Wayland's mom wouldn't be proud of Michael if she knew what he'd done, and then says that his sister Lorraine wouldn't be proud either. Wayland claims ignorance, but Cassidy says that a cop like her is dead and the gun was in Wayland's apartment. Cassidy says that she spent a lot of time with Wayland, giving him food and helping him live, and says that Wayland has to do the right thing or else he'll go to jail and never see his dog Bubba again. Wayland admits that he worked for someone, namely Smolka. He admits to being at the robbery, driving the getaway car. He also lent Smolka the gun. Green asks how he even knows Smolka, and Wayland says that he meant Smolka at a club, where Smolka was dealing meth. Smolka then contacted Wayland, offering him $50 for a gun and a wheelman.
"Please don't tell my mom!"Van Buren knocks and the cops exit the room. She tells them that CSI found Smolka's fingerprints on the gun Wayland had. She tells the detectives to arrest him. Green leaves, but Cassidy doesn't. Van Buren tells her to go. Cassidy grins and hurries after Green. Smolka is then arrested at his recording studio. The detectives have to make their way through a hoard of reporters on the way out, and Smolka yells that he's being framed. In court, Smolka pleads not guilty. The arrangement judge asks the new assistant district attorney, Connie Rubirosa, for a bail recommendation. Rubirosa wants Smolka remanded. Paula Turco, Wayland's lawyer, says that there is no physical evidence, and the judge seems swayed, until Rubirosa mentions that Paula Carvahal just gave birth. Smolka is remanded. McCoy, Rubirosa, and Branch watch one of Smolka's videos, where Smolka raps in a prison environment as scantily clab women dance around him.
"Maybe it's generational, Connie, but this is incomprehensible to me."Rubirosa only knows of Smolka from the tabloids. Smolka met Sweet when he was doing a bit part in one of her films. McCoy observes that Sweet could easily buy the photos, so there was no reason to steal them. Rubirosa then points out that, were the photos released, it would result in a lot of press for Sweet, which she has a history of liking even if the press is bad. Branch asks about Wayland, but McCoy says he has no credibility. Branch sighs that they don't have an airtight case. McCoy asks Rubirosa if she's tried any high profile cases before in community court, but Rubirosa hasn't. Still, she's not afraid of the press.
"It's incomprehensible to anyone without a lobotomy."
—Jack McCoy and Connie Rubirosa
"No skeletons in my closet. No arrests. No drugs. Straight A's since first grade."McCoy is amused. In prison, Smolka protests his innocence. He and Turco say that Wayland killed Nick. Smolka claims that Wayland recently approached him, handed him the gun, and asked him to hide it. Smolka refused, but that, he claims, is how his fingerprints were found on the gun. McCoy thinks this is unrealistic, since Smolka is famous and Wayland is not. Smolka says that they knew each other from when they were both addicted to meth. He has to admit that no one saw the alleged meeting. He says, though, that Wayland thought Blanchard had photos worth five million dollars. The alleged photos were of a celebrity named Katie Holmes giving birth. Then Blanchard recently got drunk and boasted that he was moving up to the 'big time.'
"I dismissed it, like you. But Mike's not so smart."McCoy tells Branch that Blanchard confirmed that the conversation took place, but said that he lied about the photos. Branch says that five million dollars is a solid motive for Wayland, and that Wayland's testimony will be worthless if it looks like McCoy is favoring Wayland to go after Smolka. McCoy says that they can try the two defendants together. Branch says that they have to crack Swailes. Then a bunch of reporters flock around them.
"Smile Jack, say 'cheese!'"Rubirosa interviews Swailes. She says that Smolka was at her place from 7:30 PM until midnight. They were working on the fan site for Sky Sweet. No one else was around. Rubirosa finds a bunch of photos of someone with Sweet, and Swailes confirms that the other person in the photos is her from a few years ago. She's clearly a big Sky Sweet fan. Swailes then says that she wants to get back to work. Rubirosa asks if Swailes is lying for Sweet and Smolka, and threatens her with a charge of perjury if she lies to Rubirosa. Swailes says that she's telling the truth.
"Forgive me, but I don't believe a word that you're saying."Swailes asks Rubirosa to leave. Rubirosa watches a video of Sweet sobbing and complaining about the tabloids following her around.
"No one gets it that we're people too."McCoy comes in, and Rubirosa tells him that she has proof that Swailes had several plastic surgeries to look like Sky Sweet — she's a pathologically obsessed fan. She then shows McCoy a new gossip column by a man named Adam Stein. McCoy reads the article, which says that the lawyers don't have a clue as to the actual motive in the case. Near the end, it gets personal for McCoy.
"…What's worse, a short stay alone in Mom's car, or nine years of neglect, which is how long it's been since Jack McCoy has spoken to his only daughter?"Rubirosa says that this is a low blow, and an attempt to poison the jury pool. McCoy says that, if they don't know the actual motive, maybe Stein can tell them. Stein, waiting in midtown with several other reporters for Sweet to exit a building, says that a New York Times reporter wouldn't be obligated to give up his sources, and neither is he. McCoy says that Stein isn't a reporter.
"I write facts, they write facts. What's the diff?"McCoy threatens Stein with a contempt citation and jail time. Stein says that there's a press shield law, but Rubirosa says that he's a gossip columnist and not a real reporter. Stein tells Rubirosa that she's nasty, and complains about Latino women in general. McCoy threatens him again, and Stein says that this is revenge for the mention of McCoy's daughter. Sweet exits the building, and all the reporters rush to take pictures and demand answers. Stein, stopped by McCoy vows not to divulge his source. McCoy says that he'll go to court to get Stein to reveal his source, then leaves. Stein asks Rubirosa if she likes sangria, and Rubirosa calls his tie stupid. In court, Stein's lawyer, John Kristof, says that gossip is news. It's a matter of public concern. McCoy summarizes a couple of gossip columns about Lindsey Lohan and the Olsen twins, and asks if that's really news.
"…if it's so unimportant, what brought you to midtown?"
—Adam Stein and Jack McCoy
"Judging by the column inches devoted, it's presently more relevant to this country than a war we're fighting."McCoy says that this information was not intended to be protected by the shield law, but Kristof disagrees. On McCoy's questioning, Kristof has to admit that the conversation took place in a nightclub lavatory. McCoy says that this conversation can't be considered to be confidential. Kristof says that the source explicitly asked to be anonymous, but McCoy says that the conversation should then have been held somewhere more private.
"We stand by Mr. Stein's first amendment rights to trample the privacy of celebrities. But. Conversation in a nightclub toilet is not Deep Throat's parking garage."Judge ___ says that Stein has to divulge the source. Stein refuses, and is sent to prison. Later, McCoy and Rubirosa meet Stein in prison.
"I bet you'd hold out six hours, yet here we are in four."After some bickering, Stein says that Blanchard told him that McCoy had the wrong motive. Stein advanced Blanchard $20,000 for fifty photos that he guaranteed would be printed. McCoy is surprised that this happened during a murder case.
"He struck while the iron was hot. That's the way the game is played."Rubirosa asks what the real motive was, and Stein says that the lawyers will want to see it for themselves. Rubirosa finds McCoy in his office and shows him pictures from Blanchard's computer. The pictures are of Sweet doing drugs at a nightclub. Decorations in the photo's background indicate that the photos were taken on one particular night. That night was during Sweet's pregnancy. If the photos were released to the public, Sweet could lose the baby. Sweet says that she's never seen the photos, but McCoy doesn't believe her. He points out that the other photos would have been a mild embarrassment, but these photos would have destroyed her career. Sweet doesn't think Smolka knew about the photos either, and Blanchard has said that he told no one but Adam Stein about them. Sweet insists that both she and Smolka were ignorant of the photos, but McCoy says the jury won't agree. The lawyers tell her that the photos will be used in the trial as evidence against Smolka. Sweet is horrified, and complains that her career will be destroyed and she'll lose her child. She says that Sophia has been tested for every possible birth defect and is healthy. She begs them not to take away Sophia, then asks them to leave. In court, Turco asks Smolka why he uses the name 'J-Train' when he raps. Smolka says that he's a boring guy, but his alter-ego, J-Train, is a flashy gangster who parties all the time and has women throwing themselves at him. Turco asks if a gangster would want revenge against Blanchard.
"Except the J-Train persona is complete fiction."He says he doesn't have time in real life to be a criminal, and says there was no reason to break into Blanchard's old apartment. He then cites his alibi for the night of the murder. McCoy asks if Smolka needed a gun, then says that Smolka recruited Wayland, but Smolka continues to deny all involvement. He shows the photos of Sky Sweet doing drugs. Smolka still denies involvement. He says he didn't know the photos existed. He does have to concede that he knew about other, less incriminating photos, but when asked why Blanchard would have tried to sell him those but not this one, all Smolka can say is that Blanchard wanted to save something for a rainy day. He begins to rant that he's not a killer even though he used drugs. He yells that Wayland's money supply dried up and he became desperate for drugs, and that Wayland had previously stolen from his sister's health insurance money. He finishes by saying that this lack of money is what killed Wayland's sister. Wayland screams that that Smolka is lying, and is dragged from the courtroom. The judge puts the court into recess. Outside, Cassidy says that she knows Wayland and that he didn't steal from his sister's health insurance money. Rubirosa doesn't believe her, but she insists.
"I'm a thousand percent positive. It's not in his nature."Later, McCoy says that Cassidy's feelings are irrelevant without proof, and she doesn't have any. Branch comes in, saying that Sweet's photos are all over the Internet. People are talking about boycotting her films. Branch asks if the photos were just used for motive, or if McCoy was taking revenge on Sweet and Smolka because Stein mentioned his daughter when promoting their case in the press. McCoy asks if the news magazines say that, and Branch is noncommittal. Rubirosa reenters and says that Swailes is no longer willing to testify. Later, Swailes is hurrying to catch a cab. She says that Smolka was there that night, but is no longer certain about the times. Rubirosa is this has anything to do with the photos.
"They made me sick to my stomach. It's awful, Sky having to endure that."She's horrified that Sweet's name has been smeared. She then says that Smolka was responsible; he introduced her to drugs. She then tells Rubirosa that only a few people knew that Sweet would even be there, and says that it's very strange how Blanchard just happened to be there to get the pictures. She thinks he was tipped off by Smolka. Swailes run offs before confirming anything. In a conference room, McCoy says that obstruction of justice is worth two years in jail, but extortion and blackmail are more. Blanchard plays dumb, but Rubirosa says that security was bulletproof at the club — someone had to let Blanchard in. McCoy threatens Blanchard with ten years in jail. He cracks and agrees to testify if he doesn't have to go to jail at all. He then says that he'll give McCoy a gift. Stein told him that there was a lot of response to the mention of McCoy's daughter. In response, Blanchard got some photos of McCoy's daughter, and he's willing to give them to McCoy. McCoy says that he doesn't want them, and demands to know what Blanchard knows about Smolka. In court, Blanchard testifies that Smolka hired him to hide in the nightclub bathroom to get photographs of Sweet doing drugs. He planned to give her drugs, knowing that she was trying to quit and hadn't done any in a while. Sweet, in the audience, looks horrified. Blanchard says that Smolka agreed to pay him $100,000 for the photos. He needed them for insurance, since he signed a prenuptial agreement which gave him no money if they divorced. Blanchard says, however, that once he got the photos he multiplied the price by ten. He told Smolka this just before his apartment was burglarized and Nick Carvahal was shot. Sweet stands up, then leaves the courtroom, along with her attendants and bodyguards. Smolka looks nervous. In a conference room, McCoy says that Smolka has one bargaining chip — the truth about Wayland's involvement. He offers five years off his sentence, for a total of twenty years, if Smolka tells them what exactly Wayland did. Smolka turns down the deal, but Sweet disagrees.
"Sit."Smolka is shocked.
"You too?"He says that he gave Sky everything, but she says that he only was good for sex. She admits that he gave her drugs the night the photos were taken. Smolka protests that she asked for them, but she says that she asked him to watch out for her. She yells that he set her up and destroyed her career. Smolka protests his innocence, but Sweet says that he admitted killing Nick to her. She then says that she won't pay for Turco anymore, and leaves. Later, McCoy says that Wayland took eight years, and Rubirosa adds that Sweet went into rehab and her fans have forgiven her. Rubirosa then gives McCoy an envelope. It's the photos Blanchard took of his daughter. He takes the envelope, still sealed, to his office. He then puts them in his desk drawer, next to a bottle of liquor.