The aftermath of a quiet dinner party with reclusive artist Simon Thane throws suspicions on single mother Irene Rutledge when Simon's wife discovers him dead in his studio and one of Irene's dresses turns up stained with his blood. Jessica believes wholeheartedly that the young woman didn't kill Simon. However, she suspects Irene has been hiding a secret and that such taciturnity could result in a conviction if she cannot find the truth about Irene's mysterious past.
This episode includes examples of the following tropes:
- Big Secret: Irene's reluctance to bring her discovery of the body to law enforcement suggests to Jessica that she's hiding something. The "something" turns out to be the fact that she isn't biologically or legally Tommy's mother. She had become close to his birth mother, Irene Rutledge, who died bringing him into the world. She told the nurses she was Tommy's aunt, allowing her to take him, and has been on the run using Irene's identity ever since.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- When Sheriff Tupper suggests Irene and Simon may have been having an affair which led to the murder, Jessica brushes it off with the statement that Simon would simply have seen a woman as an interesting subject to paint. While Irene wasn't involved, the discrepancy between the sexual expectations of a nude painting and the reality from Simon's point of view does turn out to have played a large role in the tragedy.
- Jessica goes home in George's car and subsequently discovers a paint stain on her jacket's elbow. It turns out to be from the slashed painting, which Carol had stolen the night of the party.
- The knife with which Simon was stabbed had paint underneath the blood. Carol was slashing up the picture she posed for when Simon happened in and tried to stop her, resulting in his death.
- Death by Childbirth: Irene Rutledge died giving birth to Tommy, her and Cash Logan's son.
- Happily Adopted: The "Irene" in the episode did not give birth to Tommy, though she had developed a very close friendship with his mother. Tommy may not know this and adores Irene as the only mother he's ever known.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Cash Logan scares Irene by turning up suddenly, was found in possession of one of Simon's paintings, and his rap sheet claims that he knifed a man in a bar brawl. However, he turns out to have loved Irene (the guy he stabbed had been insulting her) and come to Cabot Cove to make things up to their child.
- Parental Substitute: Sheriff Tupper tries to take care of Tommy during his mother's imprisonment and show him various things like throwing a football. He even suggests to Jessica that he might take him in permanently if Irene gets convicted. Of course, thanks to Jessica's detective savvy, it never comes to that.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Jessica confronts Cash Logan about his being jailed right before Tommy's birth and coming to Cabot Cove directly after his release, he says if he had fought a man for insulting the woman carrying his child and found out that she had died during his term, he wouldn't want the boy to suffer.