Cold Case

Season 4 Episode 7

The Key

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Nov 05, 2006 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
133 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Key
When new evidence of a murder case from 1979 is found, Det. Jeffries – who then worked on the case as a rookie cop – sets out to find the killer, fulfilling the promise he made to the victim's daughter 27 years ago.

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • Love it

    One of my favorite episodes love the end song
  • A jacket that belonged to a woman who was murdered in 1979 is found in the woods, giving Jefferies the chance to keep the promise he made to her daughter to find the killer.moreless

    Libby Bradley was a house wife who was content with the life she led until she participates in a key party. She's had enough of her husband's affairs so she begins to have one of her own. She's stabbed to death in the woods in 1979.

    It was sad though. The woman was clearly suffering from depression. The story was quite interesting as well. Very orignal.

    All of the junk with Scotty's brother is really getting old fast. This isn't an episode of Special Victims Unit, none of this has anything to do with the case and is not evem remotely interesting.moreless
  • "The Key" is a classic episode that I would watch again just to catch the nostalgia of the wild and wooly 70s. The murder victim, a bored suburban school teacher, finds new love in all the wrong places and eventually pays for it with her lifemoreless

    “The Key” was the episode that hooked me on Cold Case as a TV show. The 1970’s were the first era where women did not look the other way when their husbands played around. As Libby Bradley, played by the well cast Annie Wersching, saw her hubby as an active player in the key game, she too wanted to even the score! Libby ended up picking the keys of Bill Huxley, her neighbor, smarmily played by George Newbern. Several of the reviewers have noted that this was more late 60’s and early 70’s behavior. However, I know growing up in the 70s that many adult women felt more empowered to carry on affairs of their own. Annie Wersching played her role so well that I had a hard time feeling sorry for her husband Carl. I loved the Anne Murray Broken Hearted Me song to wrap up the show. How clever of the writers to find just the right music to sum up a sad ending.moreless
  • The music is the back drop for this series and they really nailed it on this episode. To hear Dr. Hook and Anne Murray brought back the feeling of the era they were trying to capture.moreless

    The story was powerful and it kept me guessing and guessing wrong throughout the entire episode. The whole premise behind The Key captured the uninhibited lifestyle of the 70s. The characters all seemed very real and were like people we have known in our lives. I found myself feeling for the victim and wanting to find the guilty party. When you get so wrapped up in a character it leads to a powerful association. Instead of merely becoming an observer, I found myself wrapped up in th story and rooting for the good guysd to solve this crime. Simply genius and why this has become my favorite show.moreless
  • Great episode

    I enjoyed the episode a lot. Tired of what's his name and his brother but the murder investigation was good. I don't think they aged the daughter enough though. Either that or the actress playing the adult daughter looked great for her age. Loved how they aged the detective down and showed one of his first murder cases.
Danny Pino

Danny Pino

Scotty Valens

Jeremy Ratchford

Jeremy Ratchford

Det. Nick Vera

John Finn

John Finn

Lt. John Stillman

Kathryn Morris

Kathryn Morris

Det. Lilly Rush

Thom Barry

Thom Barry

Det. Will Jeffries

Tracie Thoms

Tracie Thoms

Kat Miller (Episodes 3.13+; recurring previously)

Annie Wersching

Annie Wersching

Libby Bradley (1979)

Guest Star

Allison Dunbar

Allison Dunbar

Alison Huxley (1979)

Guest Star

Angela Little

Angela Little

Julie Livingston (1979)

Guest Star

Bonnie Root

Bonnie Root

A.D.A. Alexandra Thomas

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Nitpick: The "key party" featured in this episode is a bit anachronistic for the late 70's disco period that was depicted. Key parties were popular in the late 60's and early 70's as many of the sixties "free love" generation actually settled down into real jobs and suburban family life as was depicted in Ang Lee's 1997 movie The Ice Storm. It certainly was not a "new" fad brought back from California as one of the characters suggests in this episode.

    • Libby Bradley was killed on February 26, 1979.

    • Nitpick: On February 26, 1979, there really was a total solar eclipse – the last total solar eclipse of the 20th century that was visible in the continental U.S. However, a total eclipse was only visible in some of the northwestern states (Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota), not in the Philadelphia area. Other parts of the country had only a partial eclipse.

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Libby: All my life I've been somebody's daughter or wife. Always someone else's somebody. I never had the chance to just be me.

  • NOTES (3)


    • Libby: I just finished reading The Feminine Mystique and I just don't get it, Alison. I'm not some kind of man hater.
      Alison: (sarcastically) 'Cause there's so much to love. (sees their husbands horsing around) Ugh.
      Libby: I'm proud of being a housewife, a mother. I don't hate my life.
      Alison: Well, hating your life isn't Betty's point.

      Libby and Alison are discussing Betty Friedan's 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, which can be viewed as the starting point for the contemporary women's movement. The book attacked the notion that women can only find fulfillment in life through childbearing and homemaking.

    • Det. Jeffries: Kids camping out, having some sort of Blair Witch scarefest.

      The Blair Witch Project is a low-budget horror film made in 1999. Promotion for the movie suggested that the story was real, and this fact was further emphasized by the movie's storytelling: it is presented as a (fake) documentary of three film students being lost in the woods while making a within-movie documentary of the Blair Witch, a mysterious creature that supposedly lived in the woods.

    • Bill Huxley: I thought you were in bed.
      Jed: It's hard to sleep in Studio 54.

      Studio 54 was a legendary New Your City disco during 1977–1986. It was known for being frequented by hand-picked celebrities, sexual encounters, and flagrant drug use.

    • Alison: I was popping mother's little helpers by the fistful.

      Mother's Little Helper is a 1966 song by The Rolling Stones. It talks about housewives putting on a shiny facade while (ab)using prescription drugs to get through their lives.

    • Joe: We've decided to have an open marriage.

      An open marriage, popular between 1970–1975 is a marriage in which the partners agree that each is free to have sexual relationships with other partners.

    • The song heard in Helena's birthday party is the theme song from a short-lived ABC sitcom called Makin' It, performed by David Naughton who also starred in the show. The show had just started airing in February 1979, and although it lasted only for eight episodes, the Makin' It theme song became a minor hit. It reached #5 on the charts in July 1979.

    • Title: The Key
      The episode title refers to the infamous "key parties" (or swingers' parties) made famous in the 1970s. This is when guests at a party would exchange their keys as a way to find sexual partners. Usually the husbands would place their house or car keys in a bowl. The wives would then pick a key from the bowl and go home with the owner of the keys.