Cagney & Lacey

Season 2 Episode 4

High Steel

Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Nov 15, 1982 on CBS

Episode Recap

It appears to be a normal day at a steel construction site where a high rise is being built in downtown Manhattan that early morning in November. A wind is blowing. It appears to be the wind where the accident worker Dan Lucas tragically falls off a high beam and plummets over 300 feet to his death.

Meanwhile, Christine is trying to exercise more to keep her blood pressure and heart healthy. Plus, she enjoys the physical activity. So, most mornings, she has taken to jogging and running down the busy New York City streets and ending her jog at a small fountain park near her loft.

She paces herself next to a fellow jogger and times herself accordingly. He passes her, however, when she stops for oncoming traffic. By the time she reaches the fountain, he's gone. But she's feeling a small thrill at her activity and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

She comes into work, still on the runners' high, washes up and blow-dries her straight silvery-blond hair. A still-sleepy Mary Beth meanders in a few minutes later and wonders out loud how Chris can be so chipper and alert this early in the morning.

Chris tells her about her jogging and mentions the health benefits that she is already feeling. Her legs are already feeling stronger and tougher from the workout and she can see that her blood pressure is getting even healthier.

Mary Beth muses out loud if she can do this also, but knows she probably won't. Mary Beth has never been athletic like Chris nor is she as well-organized; in addition, she has her kids and husband all getting ready in the morning for work and school and knows well enough how crazy, messy, and hectic week mornings are at the Lacey house.

Meanwhile, the police have been called about the fall and precinct 14 is also notified, although it is classed as an accident. Mary Beth and Chris suspect otherwise, but have no proof or evidence.

Worried Mary Beth calls Harvey to see how he\'s taking the news and it turns out that he\'d gotten the news and feels awful.

Mary Beth gives him words of comfort, although she is also in shock. Both she and Harvey used to know Dan Lucas and Mary Beth has also met his wife Charlene. Harvey, like Mary Beth, also doubts that Dan\'s fall was accidental.

Chris and Mary Beth manage to persuade Lt. Samuels to at least investigate the matter, although Samuels is reluctant and wants to classify it as an accident and forget about it. Samuels then gives the bulk of the case to Isbecki, who is sniffing around for attention and assigns Chris and Mary Beth to assist. They agree. Isbecki is ecstatic and as usual brags about it to everyone within earshot, annoying Chris as usual also.

Mary Beth and Harvey attend Dan\'s funeral where Mary Beth comforts a still-stunned, weeping Charlene and Harvey re-meets some of Dan\'s old friends where they reminisce and make plans to get together later on that night at Dan\'s favorite bar to remember him. Harvey and Mary Beth touch base, exchange whispers on their fears about what they suspect really happened, then Mary Beth and Harvey part with a kiss.

Mary Beth looks after Harvey as he departs with his former co-workers with a worried expression on her face and a small knot of anxiety in her stomach. Something tells her that things won\'t stop at Dan\'s death.

Harvey goes out with his buddies to drink and remember. Mary Beth and the kids are in bed by the time Harvey stumbles in at three in the morning, so drunk he can barely stand.

Mary Beth, asleep on her stomach under the covers with just her dark hair sticking out, awakens to hear him attempting to open the bathroom door with the key. Mary Beth whispers that it\'s just the bathroom, then gets up to push open the door.

Harvey\'s eyes are red-rimmed; he\'s pale as he falls over the toilet, where he pukes. Mary Beth quietly strokes his back, then whispers soft sympathetic words to him, her heart going out to her husband.

Micheal is also awake and comes into their bedroom and asks what\'s wrong. A distracted Mary Beth absently tells Micheal that everything will be all right. Micheal asks if his dad has an upset stomach or is he drunk. Mary Beth, not wanting to burden her young son about the construction site\'s hazards and possible foul play at Harvey\'s work, tells Micheal that it\'s an upset stomach.

Micheal sees his mom\'s distress and looks at her in worry, clinging to her for a moment. Mary Beth, worried about what her son might have overheard in their small apartment, gently kisses her son, strokes his hair and softly sends him back to bed.

Harvey, his bout of vomiting over, leans back against the wall. Mary Beth gives him a hug. Harvey repeats his conviction that Dan\'s death was definitely no accident. Mary Beth, also convinced, promises Harvey that she will push for an investigation.

Chris and Mary Beth then regroup and pay a condolence call to Charlene a few days later. Charlene appears to be a tad better; her tears have stopped and she is cordial and welcoming. She congratulates Mary Beth on making detective, as she and Mary Beth have not seen each other since Mary Beth had been in uniform.

As they talk, they see that Charlene\'s two boys are playing with a video game that looks rather expensive. Mary Beth also remembers that Charlene had been wearing some designer items at the funeral, but at the time, had figured that maybe it was borrowed.

Chris and Mary Beth also notice that the Lucas house has new furniture, something that they could never afford before since Dan usually did not make a lot of money and Charlene herself was a homemaker with no job.

They ask about any changes in Dan before his death. Charlene avoids their gaze and hedges that Dan never talked about work, which she didn\'t know of any problems he ever had with any co-workers. Charlene also lets it out that Dan had indeed been bringing home more money than usual.

Mary Beth and Chris question her on this and ask if she\'d ever thought to question her husband about where he was getting the extra money. Charlene immediately is on the defensive and snaps at them that it didn\'t matter to her where the money was coming from, just that she was grateful to have it.

It\'s definitely clear that Charlene knows more about her late husband\'s activities than she was letting on. Mary Beth and Chris decide not to push her, however and head back to the squad car and report back to Samuels what they were able to ferret out. Samuels offers to try to get a search warrant for the site after hours from Judge Tanner.

They also see that Isbecki is more interested in bragging to LaGuardia and Petrie about how many more miles he\'s jogged than Christine and mocks Chris\'s rather outdated running shoes. Chris, going by then, overhears and challenges Isbecki to spot her as she runs since he appears to know all there is to know about running.

Meanwhile, Samuels is more open to an investigation, based on what Chris and Mary Beth have ferreted out. He also decides that since Mary Beth is more intimately involved with the construction business and knows that her husband is in that field, that it would be better if Mary Beth and Chris head up this investigation rather than Isbecki.

So, Chris and Mary Beth head to the construction site to ask their questions, especially about Dan\'s relationship with his co-workers.

As they walk in, there are several guys there and they whistle at the women and make stupid remarks. Chris and Mary Beth feel a tad embarrassed and rather indignant, but go about their business and show their badges.

Sammy McCaslin, one of the workers, recognizes the name Lacey and remembers Harvey and realizes that this is Harvey\'s wife he\'s dealing with. He alerts the others and immediately, the fresh attitude toward the women is toned down.

Through their questions, Chris and Mary Beth find out that indeed, Dan had been having some trouble with some of his co-workers and there\'s a hint that blackmail or fraud was involved, possibly extortion.

Chris and Mary Beth attempt to get details, but are met with an icy response. Sammy, especially glares at them coldly and warns them to back off.

Another male voice singsongs if the women need any help. Mary Beth and Chris look up to see Isbecki strutting toward them, enjoying the looks of the workers. They also wonder why Isbecki is here now since before, he actually showed little interest in this case and had left the bulk of the work to Chris and Mary Beth.

Isbecki brags that as a man, he could get more out of the construction workers. Chris retorts back that they'd already gotten more.

They are walking out of the site and Mary Beth has an eerie feeling that someone is watching them. She looks nervously at Chris to see if she\'s feeling the same way even as she\'s arguing with Isbecki.

Suddenly, as they're clearing the site, a huge metal, heavy wrench, about four feet long, smashes down right in front of them, very nearly missing Mary Beth, who jumps back into Christine\'s arms in a fright, her heart hammering and her hands shaking. All three of them look up, but nothing is there and the workers seem to be very busy at their jobs.

Hansen, the head of the site, comes over and jovially jokes that they technically should not be here without a hard hat. He smirks at the still-shaken Mary Beth as they leave the site.

Chris is continuing her early morning jogs, but Isbecki never shows up to spot her as he promised. She shrugs, then continues her jog. She doesn't see the other guy out either.

It's at her jogs that she also does some of her best thinking and she decides to suggest to Mary Beth that they get an order to check Dan Lucas' safe, which they know he has at a nearby bank. She also had the strange feeling of being watched earlier at the site and she also remembers that she had also felt a frightened chill race down her back when Mary Beth was nearly struck with that wrench back at the site.

Christine and Mary Beth make it to the safe, have it opened and see a large printout of the construction site hidden in it. There are several markings on it in different colors and they know it means something, but what?

Mary Beth decides to ask Harvey about it since it is his field. They do and Harvey tells them a lot, including that it could mean that someone had been bribing Dan to build those sections shoddily to "save money" and keep more money for the heads of construction.

It makes them uncomfortable to think that Dan had been up to shady business dealings. They are silent a minute as they contemplate the enormity of the task before them. Mary Beth especially dreads having to tell Charlene about this; she has a feeling that Charlene will react very badly to all this.

On the way to the elevator, Chris suggests Harvey since he is trustworthy and since his livelihood is not solely dependent on the steel industry. "You sleep with him..." Chris teases Mary Beth when at first, Mary Beth doesn't see just who the person is that Chris is hinting at.

Harvey is determined to help out and offers to go with them to the site when they get the order.

Mary Beth, feeling very frightened for her husband's safety, objects nervously. But Chris and Harvey insist. Harvey doesn\'t want any more "accidents" like what happened to Dan and besides, there may be more workers being bribed or blackmailed.

Chris then calls Judge Tanner, but unfortunately, Judge Tanner denies there being a suspected crime and denies the order. It looks as if they will have to go against the rule and search anyway after hours, which makes Mary Beth extremely fearful. Harvey and Chris assure her that it will take just a few minutes and Harvey knows his way about the site.

At the precinct, Samuels has decided to have Chris and Mary Beth do this case and to take Isbecki off since he has not done much and in addition, Isbecki is back up with about ten other cases that he's barely started since he\'s been mostly busy bragging about his new designer bike and still boasting about outrunning Chris.

Chris, is especially relieved, since Isbecki gets on her nerves most of the time, although she doesn't say this out loud.

But Isbecki is NOT happy about this; in fact, he's furious and gives both Chris and Mary Beth loads of grief about it. He also complains bitterly behind their backs to the rest of the precinct. He spends much of that week, glaring at both of them.

As Mary Beth feared, Charlene does NOT take kindly to their safe being searched; she furiously tells both women that they had "no business" going though Dan's "private" things. Mary Beth tells her about the printout, but it still doesn't calm Charlene down; she angrily slams the refrigerator door shut and orders them out of her house. Chris and Mary Beth sadly leave, sorry that Charlene had to find out this way.

Isbecki's new bike does not last long; the next morning, while Chris had been taking her jog, Isbecki had been riding through traffic, showing off as he often does, had nearly crashed into a car and ended up landing in a muddy ditch.

So, Isbecki is even madder, especially since his expensive bike is now bent and ruined, one tire is completely bent in half, the handlebars are twisted, and the paint is ruined. Marcus slyly hints that Isbecki will have to save more money for a new bike. Marcus and Isbecki are partners, but are frequently covertly competitive and although Marcus has never been open about it, he often finds Isbecki annoying also.

Isbecki hints that Chris owes him money for that bike as if it's her "fault" that he was so careless and makes more nasty remarks about Chris and Mary Beth "stealing" his case. Chris angrily tells him that detectives are taken off cases all the time; that she and Mary Beth had been moved off cases also, but that they didn\'t throw tantrums like Isbecki is doing.

The women go back to the site with the printout, but meet with a hostile Hansen, who tells them that the site is closed to visitors. They ask about Sammy, who appears to know the most about Dan.

Hansen, with a cold sneer tells them, "I'd like to talk to McCaslin myself...since he didn\'t come in to work today and I haven\'t heard from him."

This gives Christine and Mary Beth the creeps; they know that Sammy is not simply out sick or taking a leave day.

They know that Sammy lives near Queens, so they head out there, where he lives in a small flat. They find the door unlocked, much to their surprise, but no one is there. But someone apparently was there shortly before because the entire flat is overturned, the television smashed and the window open.

Mary Beth is first to spot the small blood stains on the carpet and gasps softly, then whispers Chris over. Mary Beth calls the precinct for backup searching. Sammy's dead body is found in the trunk of his car; he appears to have been stabbed. They also have a bad feeling about Hansen, but have no proof of his hand in any of this.

They still have had no luck getting the after hours search warrant. Now they know it will have to be late-night search since they now cannot get in during the day with Hansen eyeing the entire place like a cat all day.

Chris is doing sit-ups, grunting out her eightieth one when the phone rings that night. It's Mary Beth and she tells Chris that they are going over at ten tonight; can she meet them there? Chris agrees and starts out.

The Lacey kids have gone to bed for the night, but Mary Beth and Harvey still have their elderly neighbor, Ms. Rivers watch them while they are on this site. Mary Beth pulls on thick gloves and they don on low hats in case there is guard watching the site. They hope that it will not be someone who would recognize them.

The Laceys arrive at ten exactly, but are very surprised that Chris is not there. She is always, always very punctual and reliable; she is never late to anything. This worries them.

"Maybe she had car trouble..." Harvey tries to reassure a nervous Mary Beth. They decide to wait a few minutes. Still no Chris.

Chris, it turns out, has left as planned, but ran into a huge snarl of traffic, much to her frustration. She HATES being late to anything.

She swears, her frustration mounting as the traffic barely moves. Everyone is blowing horns and yelling out windows, but it makes Chris even madder. She tries putting on her siren, but it does little good.

Swearing again, she inches her way to a parking space and parks, then decides that the only way she will get there is to jog there.

She silently thanks the great badges of New York City that she is in good physical shape and is very strong, so she sets of in a jog down the crowded streets toward the site. By then she is growing frantic and fears that Harvey and Mary Beth may even be in danger.

Meanwhile, Harvey and Mary Beth decide to go on since they know they have very limited time. They are now very concerned about Chris and hope that is is only car trouble that she had.

They lie low and crawl in under a loose fence since they do not want to alert security by opening anything. They keep low as they scoot past the front cubicle, where there is indeed a guard. But the guard is half-asleep, snoring and doesn't hear them or see them.

Mary Beth and Harvey tiptoe several floors upward and they take out the blueprint, briefly shining the flashlight on it to make sure that they are at the highlit place. They are.

Harvey has a small can of a special paint with him to test the quality of the screw and beam put in, so he sprays it.

Mary Beth is growing increasingly nervous and keeps checking over her shoulder. She has a bad feeling that the guard is not the only person there. She nervously whispers pleas for her husband to hurry, but he tells her that they have to wait a few minutes for the paint to dry, then to spray it with a cleaning potion.

They wait a few minutes, with Mary Beth's anxiety growing and her glancing more and more over her shoulder. She begins to shake, feeling frightened, although she can\'t pinpoint why she is so scared.

Harvey sprays the potion on. The paint "bleeds" through, proving their theory...that the section is second-rate and quite dangerous.

Mary Beth's fears solidify when they hear a gun click behind them and turn to see Hansen sneering coldly at them and aiming his gun right at them.

Hansen threatens them and tells them to go up several more floors and get in the elevator.

Mary Beth is TERRIFIED and knows Hansen is merciless. And as she often does when she is very frightened or nervous, she begins chattering compulsively as they are herded at gunpoint further up.

"You know, the penalty for killing a police officer in the state of New York carries the death penalty..." Mary Beth's voice is growing higher and higher, nearly shrilling as her terror grows.

As they enter the elevator, Mary Beth is keenly aware of her fear of great heights and this cold, windy night aggravates her fear. She shrills that fear out, then as Hansen has them way up hundreds of feet high in the building, he orders them out onto the unfinished platform.

Mary Beth, her voice absolutely on uber-high-pitched mode by now, squeaks out that Hansen could work out a deal with a lawyer, that he doesn't have to do this, that lawyers can get people out of anything. Her gloved hands are also shaking like little motors and she tries to stop the shaking but to no avail.

"You have a big mouth lady," Hansen purrs icily at Mary Beth, his face growing more and more dangerous, his blue eyes especially menacing.

"'ve been told that lots of times..." Mary Beth squeaks.

Harvey, on the other hand, is also frightened, but has been very quiet the whole time.

Hansen edges the couple closer to the edge, adding more threats and taunts them.

Meanwhile, Chris has finally made it to the site. She sees the empty car and her heart begins to pound in fear, afraid that something awful may have happened to Mary Beth and Harvey.

She crawls under the fence, tearing the right leg of her thick jeans, sneaks in, and looks up fearfully, but cannot see either of them.

Up high, Mary Beth makes the drastic move of attempting to disarm Hansen with a leg sweep. Hansen is taken by surprise and Harvey does manage to knock the gun away from him, but Mary Beth is pushed over, tumbles backward with a yelp and goes right over the edge of the floor. Several beams break loose and one hits Mary Beth's mouth, knocking out one of her side teeth.

She has the presence of mind, however to stop her fall by grabbing the beam at the edge of the floor, where she hangs on. Hansen runs over and pokes downward, trying to break Mary Beth's hold. Mary Beth screams in terror, squeezing her eyes shut and feeling dizzy. She\'s dangling by just her two hands and fears that she will lose her grip and die.

Chris, down on the ground, hears Mary Beth's scared high-pitched screams and her heart skips a beat. She can sense where the screaming is coming from and knows that her friend is in trouble!

Chris struggles to keep her calm and grabs the phone off the guard\'s desk. By then the guard is awake and Chris shows her badge while calling for backup. The guard tells her which elevator to take.

Meanwhile, Harvey is battling Hansen and in the process, falls down the steps. Mary Beth screams again, knowing that her husband is also in danger.

Her dizziness and terror grow and her ears are whistling and the wind is getting stronger. Her eyes are clamped shut tightly in fear, but knows she must find a more stable position.

Groping blindly, inching her now-numbing fingers to the right, she senses that there is a vertical beam she can hang onto until help arrives and that she will be in less danger of losing her grip.

Bit by bit, she makes it there and clamps on to that vertical beam for her life. She leans on it, fearful for not only her husband, but for Chris and for her kids. Tears brim in her closed eyes as her active imagination envisions what may be happening to Harvey and Chris.

Hansen, meanwhile, doesn't hear Mary Beth's screams and figures Mary Beth had fallen finally. He also figures that Harvey has been disarmed also at the bottom of the stairs. He also no longer has his gun, so he decides to make a run for it.

Chris is frightened, but knows it is important not to panic so she can help Mary Beth. Just as she is heading toward the elevator, back up arrives.

She also sees Hansen streaking away and calls for the backup to stop him. She takes the elevator up, hoping that she is not too late.

Chris can make it just below the beam that Mary Beth is clamped onto, but still cannot reach her. Harvey also goes over, but decides he has to climb across the horizontal beam to reach Mary Beth.

Harvey is very relieved to see Chris. Chris is also relieved, but is also frightened to see Mary Beth hanging onto the side beam, her eyes shut in terror, tears shimmering on Mary Beth\'s long dark lashes.

Harvey climbs slowly across, whispering soothing things in an attempt to calm the petrified Mary Beth. Chris watches this, tears welling up in her eyes, her brows slanting in fear. Like Mary Beth, she also begins to tremble. She also feels a load of guilt although it is not her fault she hit bad traffic.

Harvey makes it to Mary Beth, but discovers that Mary Beth is so frightened that she has what is commonly called a "death grip" on the beam and physically cannot let go without assistance.

It takes several attempts and lots of tears of Mary Beth's part, but Harvey strikes Mary Beth's rigid hands to get her loose and frees her from that beam.

The next task is for them to get across, which is not easy. Harvey tries to get Mary Beth to look at his feet to control her anxiety, but Mary Beth cannot seem to open her eyes.

Chris can see that they will need assistance, she hoists herself up on the wall close to the horizontal beam and adds her encouraging words for both Mary Beth and Harvey's benefit.

Chris waits until Harvey is able to inch closer with Mary Beth in his arms, then reaches out and gently and slowly takes Mary Beth, still talking softly to Mary Beth in an attempt to calm her.

Chris and Mary Beth plop onto the floor and Harvey joins them, and holds Mary Beth in her lap, rocking her while Chris holds Mary Beth's hand.

Mary Beth realizes that she and Harvey and Chris are now out of danger and goes limp. She is finally able to open her eyes and begins to sob with relief. Harvey strokes her and wipes away her tears, also feeling relieved.

Chris, also relieved, begins to cry also. She whimpers apologies about not arriving sooner, still feeling guilty, but also relieved that Mary Beth and Harvey are now safe again.

It takes Mary Beth and Chris a while to stem their crying; Chris\'s whimpers seem to blend fittingly with Mary Beth's sobs through the windy night high up there in this defective building that had seen death, crime, and threats.

The episode closes the next morning with Chris going on her usual jog, having mostly recovered from last night, her tears now dry.

She sees her fellow jogger, who smiles at her and they jog at the same speed across the intersection. Chris is thrilled when she pulls ahead and gets across the street first.

She smiles for the first time in several days and pumps her strong hands up in a victory symbol, feeling quite proud. She knows that her body is growing stronger and tougher each day, despite her dated jogging shoes. She also knows that Isbecki is all talk and little action unlike her also.

She notices that the other jogger seems to have disappeared and frowns in puzzlement, looking around. She sees him past the fountain and he grins at her confused frown as the episode closes.