September 7, 1997: A man named Pete introduces himself to a meeting of other convicts as an alcoholic. He claimed to be the best stick-up man he ever knew. Pete used to talk to his victims quiet and that attitude was more important than a gun during robberies. He had been in jail for twelve years and been sober. Pete became remorseful when he wrote to his five-year-old son, who caught his first ball. His son had grown older since. He thanks God for a second chance when he heard he was being released. He finally stepped out into the civilian life, but is found murdered weeks later with a revolver by the side of his body.
Present Day: Detectives Lilly Rush and Kat Miller arrive at a crime scene and run into a narcotics officer. He took a snapshot of Lilly on his phone before walking away. Lilly asks Lt. John Stillman about the narc, who he identifies as Eddie Saccardo. Kat knows him by name and reputation, often anticipating and preventing crimes before the crook does. Stillman found the hand of Pete Doyle, found in the freezer of the house Saccardo's team took down.
Lilly interviews Manny "The Man With The Hand" about Pete. Eddie observes the interrogation with Detectives Scotty Valens and Will Jeffries. Eddie anticipates Manny's answers to the point of clairvoyancy, impressing Scotty and Will. She believes that Manny killed Pete, but Manny claimed to have found his body on fifth street. He used to run a corner there. Manny admitted to sawing off Pete's hand and keeping it for himself. He sold the gun found by his body.
The detectives review the case file on Pete Doyle. He was the premier stick-up man in Philadelphia. "Pistol" Pete had a solid reputation in his neighborhood. He was always hired to help rob whatever needed to be robbed. Pete was finally arrested for armed robbery in 1985 at a check-cashing joint in North Kensington. He had the cash and a Smith and Wesson on him, his weapon of choice. Pete was sentenced to 20 years, but got out in 12 for good behavior. Lilly wondered if he memorized his rap sheet. Eddie sarcastically responded "We used to date." They list possible contacts. He had an ex-partner, Tommy Connell, who can be found at the tap house. He also had an ex named Jules Murphy, who was knocked up, and got put away after.
Scotty interviews Jules about Pete. Jules loved him. Pete loved his family, but he felt that family would get in the way of his work.
1997: Pete arrives at Jules' home fresh off his release. Petey Jr. recognizes Pete as his biological father. He brought a football for him, but Petey told him he plays soccer now. Jules excused Petey Jr. into the house. She still held a grudge against him for being away. He got a GED in prison and wanted to do right by Jules and Petey Jr. She told Pete to stay away for Petey's sake.
Present Day: Jules claimed that Petey continued with his life, pursuing college and a real job. He never looked for his biological father.
Will and Nick Vera interview Tommy Connell. Tommy always regarded Pete as a great friend and saw him as a brother. Pete refused to rat out Tommy for the North Kensington robbery for a reduced sentence. Tommy claimed that when Pete was released, he didn't recognize Pete anymore.
1997: Tommy spots Pete asking for a job as a salesman. The manager at Gil's Quality Appliances rejected him, citing he was burned too many times for hiring ex-convicts. Pete assured him he was straight up, but the manager told him not to come back anymore. Tommy happily reunites with Pete after being burned. He offers Pete a drink, but Pete tells him he's looking for legitimate work. Tommy laughs at the prospect, but Pete assures him he's changed. Tommy told Pete that Petey comes around Tommy's hangout, talking about Pete's past jobs. Pete warned him to stay away from his son and walks away.
Present Day: Tommy believed that Pete went straight as an arrow. Pete was killed anyway.
Will learns that Pete checked in with his parole officer weekly, never missed curfew, and tested clean from drugs. Nick found a report showing Petey Jr. being arrested in September 1997 for a weapons charge. He was caught bringing a .44 Smith and Wesson to St. Alvin's Preparatory School, his father's weapon of choice. John believes the type of gun used to kill Pistol Pete.
Nick is cynical about Pistol Pete turning over a new leaf. He also believes its possible for "the good son" to become a criminal like his father. At the time of his father's death, Pete brought the gun to school, was arrested, and was expelled from school. He was labeled as "Pistol Pete's son." Petey wrote letters to his father, hoping he would take him away from his home. Despite Jules' earlier claims, Petey went looking for his father.
1997: Petey found his father mopping the floors of a bar. Pete told him not to disobey his mother, but Petey wanted to see him. Petey was fascinated with the stories Tommy used to tell him. While the father and son talk, Officer Daniel O'Leary intentionally dropped his glass on the floor and Pete cleaned it up. O'Leary recognized Pistol Pete and humiliated him in front of Petey. He continually provoked Pete to fight him but Pete refused. O'Leary said he's watching out for him the next time he slips up.
Present Day: Petey expressed disappointment in his father, Pistol Pete. He discarded the stories he was told as nothing more than lies. Petey considered his father as nothing more than a coward. He believed that Pete leaving his life was the best thing he ever did for him.
John and Kat interview a retired Daniel O'Leary, who is also divorced. He wished that he was there to see Pete's hand get chopped off. When Kat responded that his resentment was harsh, Daniel explained the origin of Pistol Pete. Pete's first job was a liquor store holdup. He pistol whipped the salesman when he was fifteen. Kat pressed him for threatening Pete at the bar. Daniel explained he was waiting for Pete to slip up. He thought of Pete as being personal for him as well as part of his job.
1997: Daniel was on duty, walking into one of Pete's recovery meetings. Pete gave a melancholy speech about finding a higher power and the need to change himself. Problem is that nothing else changed with him. He lives everyday with people looking at him suspiciously. He does express regret at the sight of his son watching him be humiliated. Tommy was there to watch him speak. He finishes his speech and leaves behind the token he was given as an award. As Tommy embraces Pete, he accidentally lifts the back of his jacket, revealing a .44 Smith and Wesson, which Daniel notices.
Present Day: Kat told Daniel he should have locked him up for weapons possession, violating his parole. Daniel wanted to take him down for a big score Tommy and Pete would try to take down. The job never took place because Pete disappeared, but Daniel knew that Pete finally cracked and went back to his old ways.
Lilly, Nick, and Scotty have been working the case for nearly eight hours straight now. Will left the interrogation room with Tommy lawyering up. Eddie returns with Bunk's BBQ for the team. The team thanks him, with Scotty joking about writing him in his will. Eddie recognizes Tommy in the interrogation room. He remembers Tommy's sister working as a cocktail waitress and finding her way to the bottom of a bottle again. He tries to goad Tommy by playing bad cop, even going as far as to mentioning Phil the Pill (accidents happen) and taking off his watch so he can work him. Lilly figures out Eddie's play and shoves him out as the good cop. Tommy wants to make a deal for Pete's murder. He wanted full immunity, but Lilly told him to take it up with Tommy. Tommy understands and confesses that he was looking for the right job to bring Pete back into the fold. He had an "ace in the hole" that finally convinced Pete to come back.
1997: Tommy buys beers for Pete. He warns Pete the job is high risk. Pete accepts the job, but only if the guards get to live. The "ace in the hole" is revealed to be Pete's son, Petey, who planned the operation from the get go. Petey is happy to see his father back with Tommy. However, he is disappointed again when Pete tells him not to go through with the heist. Petey told Pistol Pete he will do the job with or without him. Tommy and Petey toast and Pete takes his first beer since he went sober.
Present Day: Tommy begins to wonder if Petey had killed his own father. By the time Lilly was about to figure out what Tommy was robbing, Will interrupted the interrogation and told them Tommy's lawyer arrived.
Lilly berated Eddie for talking to her suspect without her permission. She asked about Phil the Pill, who was famous for his bad luck. Eddie chased him on a rooftop and Phil fell and got crippled. He said "that's how the story goes."
Kat and Nick interrogate Petey for lying about not seeing his father again. They confront him about the planned armed robbery. Petey figured out that Tommy ratted him out as the trigger man. Petey found it humiliating that his father cleaned up after drunks and getting pushed around. He came up with the job to witness his father as the legendary Pistol Pete. He wanted to believe in the legend.
1997: Pete and Petey Jr. talk to each other in the car. He asks Petey if he's ready to use it. Pete wanted to make sure he was ready to rob an armored car. He intimidated Petey to leave the job. Pete lies to Petey about why he never wrote him back. It was because he was not worth the effort and he had nothing to offer. After Petey walked away, Tommy took the front passenger seat and begin robbing the armored car, whose driver was actually Petey's stepfather, Bernie Murphy.
Present Day: Petey expressed regret not getting to rob the truck. He cased the whole job and felt screwed. The heist fell apart and Bernie called the police. Bernie never mentioned that Pistol Pete was involved in the heist.
Lilly and Scotty interrogate Bernie, who actually saw Pistol Pete last. Bernie was commended by his company for holding off two masked gunmen attempting to rob them. They even offered him a reward, which he turned down. He quit his job two weeks later. Lilly wonders if it was fear of life or guilt of something unknown. Bernie wanted the police to lay all the blame on him and keep Petey Jr. out of it. When Pistol Pete was released, Petey was excited to hear his hero come back to work. He romanticized about Pistol Pete and wanted to be him. Bernie tried to steer Petey Jr. in the right direction. He tried to cover up the fact that Petey Jr. planned out the robbery, but the detectives figured it out. Bernie recounts what happened the day of the heist.
1997: Bernie arrived at the facility where they were supposed to offload the money. When the other guards begin offloading, Tommy ambushes the guards by holding his gun to them. Pistol Pete sticks his gun to Bernie's face. Pete says "I think we hit the jackpot" repeatedly, but Tommy doesn't listen and proceeds to beat the guards to death. He instructs Bernie to hit the panic button. Bernie thinks the assailant would shoot him, but Pete reveals himself and tells him to do it and live to guide Petey in the right direction.
Present Day: The police pinned the robbery on professional robbers who were killed weeks later. Bernie never disclosed Petey's involvement in the planning of the robbery. Scotty remembers Pete saying "We hit the jackpot!" Bernie remembers him repeating that phrase and remembers him looking around thinking someone was supposed to come down on the heist.
The detectives review Pete's phrase and realize that it's a code to signal the police to bust the car robbery. Nick pulled up an equipment log showing a mic and recorder being checked out on the day of the robbery. The last person who signed out for the equipment was Officer Daniel O'Leary. John knew Daniel as being a rule bender, but not a dirty cop. Lilly decides to bring in Daniel for questioning.
John and Will question Daniel with the wire he used to wire Pete on the day of the robbery. Lilly observes. Daniel held a personal vendetta against Pete. In his final days with the department, Daniel tried to pass Pete's case up to robbery, but no one would investigate it. Meanwhile, Daniel was facing forced retirement because his style no longer meshed with the changing times in the department. Daniel doesn't believe the mic and recorder will hold up in court, but John is convinced that the jury will believe the evidence. John gives Daniel one last opportunity to confess.
Daniel was a good cop with honor. It meant nothing to him. Pete came to Daniel to help him sting the armored car robbery in exchange for Petey's protection. Daniel agreed to it, but he was on his way to retirement. He was frustrated that while cops got screwed, crooks got rich. He would have been left with just his pension and a lifetime of debt. Daniel changed his mind and decided to rip off the armored car's money instead, knowing Pete would be unable to report him to the police.
1997: Pete flees the scene to meet Daniel. Pete was trying to figure out why Daniel didn't come to stop the heist. Daniel told him he was supposed to see the heist through. Pete told him that Bernie was there. Daniel realized that Pete was identified at the heist and was worried the police would ask questions. He told Pete to go down on his knees. Pete expressed disappointment in Daniel as he held his Smith and Wesson to him. Pete told him he felt sorry for him, saying that he had more honor in him than Daniel had. He took his second chance and did it right this time. Daniel shoots Pete in the chest and kills him. He opened his shirt and pulled the recording equipment off of him.
Present Day: Daniel is arrested for Pete's murder. He is walked to jail past Tommy's jail cell. Tommy is serving time for his participation in the armored car heist. Lilly throws away the recording equipment. Eddie buys beers for the Cold Case division while Lilly finishes up paperwork on the case. John places Pete Doyle's box back in the closet, marked "CLOSED." Jules and Bernie finally give Petey Jr. boxes of letters Pete wrote to him while he was in prison. Petey Jr. sees Pete's apparition smiling down on him.