It's nighttime in Los Angeles on the strip and young hookers are cruising Hollywood Blvd. for clients. A BMW pulls up in front of Dakota and Jersey. Dakota leans in the window, negotiates, and hops in. She waves to Jersey, who mouths "Call me." Jersey takes note of the license plate - 1TAH266.
At dawn, Jersey is in a police station talking to Officer John Kirk, 55, who tells her that Dakota will show up. Jersey senses something is wrong, as she hasn't heard from her.
Jersey walks down the street and pulls out her cell phone and hesitates as the other end picks up. "Hello, Dad..." In his office, Captain Jim Brass holds his cell phone to his ear, "Ellie. You okay?"
Brass walks up to Sheriff Burdick and requests emergency leave due to a family issue. Burdick replies that it isn't a good time to leave as he is still "learning the ropes," but Brass insists and Burdick tells him to be back as soon as he can.
Outside of Barstow, Brass enters a diner and orders coffee. He sees a kitty cat coffee mug filled with jellybeans and wrapped in cellophane. He buys it.
At the Wilcox Division of the LAPD, Brass embraces Captain Annie Kramer, 40s, an attractive, former colleague from New Jersey. Brass informs her that his daughter Ellie was able to get a partial license number. Annie responds that Dakota has a rap sheet and works "the stretch on Hollywood Blvd. between Vine and Highland."
Brass tells Annie that it has been three years since he last saw Ellie. She was hanging with a bad crowd in Las Vegas. Annie hands him Ellie's last known address, as she has a file on his daughter as well.
Brass pulls into the alley outside of the run-down Valentino Apartments and calls Ellie's telephone number. He sees her through the window of the second floor apartment answering the phone. She doesn't realize that he's watching her as she tells him that she's doing great, "Livin' at the beach. Temping. Waiting tables. Got some really good friends." Brass sees a strung-out African American man come up behind her and give her a pipe. He tells her he will let her know when he knows something.
In Koreatown that night, Captain Kramer has two fourteen-year-old Asian kids in custody who were trying to hot wire a stripped, graffitti-ridden, smashed up BMW. The car is the one that picked up Dakota and there is a partially scraped-off decal on the broken windshield with the logo, "BHGC." Nothing is found in the trunk but bullet holes.
Captain Kramer calls in Matt Glazer from the LAPD Crime Lab to the scene and he arrives with Warrick. They were both at the HIDTA conference. Warrick realizes Brass must be in town because of Ellie. The CSIs find blood and tow in the car. When Annie asks Brass if he is still a "scotch man," he takes a rain check.
Brass is on Hollywood Boulevard in his rented car and see Ellie on the corner. He pulls up and rolls down his window. Ellie doesn't realize it's her father and she asks, "Baby, you want to party?" When she sees who it is she becomes angry. Brass orders his daughter to get in the car.
Brass asks Ellie if she has Dakota's DNA and she tells him that they went to the Free Clinic on Ivar last week. They may have her blood. He asks her what they were being tested for and she responds, "What do you think?" Ellie tells him that men pay extra for "bare back." She leaves him, telling him that all he ever did was walk out on her and now it's too late.
At the Ivar Free Clinic, Dr. Norma Sepulveda, 30s, tell Brass and Annie that they keep records confidential. They tell the doctor they need the blood for DNA analysis, not to see whether it is positive or negative. They get a sample.
Brass and Annie approach a beautiful modern house in the Hollywood Hills. Todd Piccone, 40s, answers the door and tells the CSIs that his car was stolen, but he didn't report it. He admits he picked up a hooker and got car-jacked in the process.
Piccone claims he didn't report the car missing because he is the Assistant City Attorney and his reputation needs protecting. When Kramer asks if they can take a look around, Piccone responds that he is expecting company.
Kramer takes Brass to Musso & Frank's. As they make their way to the back of the restaurant, Annie's name is called out by Judge Silvio Peters, Presiding Judge of the Criminal Court, who sits at a crowded table. She introduces Brass to the Judge, Councilman Joe Cohen, Comptroller Daniel Reichmann, and Vic Patterson, a former actor running for Mayor. Brass notices a "BHGC" logo on Patterson's tie pin.
While Vic discusses his acting career with Brass, Annie Kramer talks to Judge Peters and tells him that she found Piccone's car filled with bullet holes and blood in the trunk. She asks for a warrant to search his house, but he denies her.
Brass and Annie knock on Ellie's apartment door and she answers. They enter and she tells Annie that Dakota was only her roommate, not anything more. Dakota has a boyfriend who lives on the floor above them.
Annie tells Brass that they can't go into the boyfriend's apartment without a warrant, but Brass breaks down the door anyway. Inside they find a toxic mess: lithium batteries, cold medicine, matches, coffee filters, camping fuel, hot plate, microwave and two-liter bottles of water. It's a meth lab.
Warrick takes out a can of starch and sprays a wall, which turns blue. Starch reacts to free iodine, which is formed when hydroiodic acid is used to make methamphetamine.
Ronnie, wild-eyed, enters with his gun drawn, thinking he's being ripped off by the police. There is a stand off as Brass and Annie pull their guns. Ronnie drops his gun and they are on him.
At Echo Park, Dakota's bloated body has floated to the surface of a lake, gases from bacterial decay bubbling her insides until she swells like a ballpark hotdog on a grill.
Dakota appears to have been beaten badly. Ellie is there to identify her friend. She is shocked and almost becomes sick. Brass' cell phone rings and Sheriff Burdick orders him to get back to the Las Vegas office now. Burdick found out what Brass was up to from the LA Police Chief who got a call from Judge Peters. Brass tells Burdick to write him up for insubordination and hangs up.
In the Interrogation Room, Ronnie, the meth-head, is in withdrawal as Annie Kramer questions him about Dakota. Ronnie claims he didn't kill her and tells Annie that Dakota "knew when to open her mouth and when to keep it closed." That was the type of relationship they had. He also says Jersey was the best "mouth" he ever had, but it never stopped. Brass is disgusted and enraged as he listens and watches through the viewing room.
Annie tells Ronnie that she thinks he car-jacked the BMW and became jealous that Dakota was with Todd Piccone. He beat Dakota, killing her with two bullet shots to the head and then dumped her in the lake. Ronnie won't admit to a murder he didn't commit.
Ellie intercepts her dad as he walks down the hall. He tells his daughter that he shouldn't have come to LA and that "It's just luck it wasn't you" in the lake. She has become "nothing but plumbing." Brass admits he messed up as a father, but he is trying to do the best that he can.
Matt Glazer and Warrick examine the beat up BMW and confirm the holes in the trunk are bullet holes by the presence of lead. The blood in the car is Dakota's, but the autopsy report states that she wasn't shot. The holes were for letting blood flow out of the trunk. Warrick goes under the car and finds a hole in the gas tank.
They remove the gas tank and empty it, finding that it is three quarters blood, the rest gasoline. They also find a .45 bullet. Ronnie only had a 9-millimeter gun.
Brass talks to Dr. Robbins on the phone as Robbins examines a faxed autopsy report on Dakota. The cause of death was exsanguination, she was beaten and left for dead. There were repeated patterned contusions on her face and a green waxy substance under her nails.
Captain Annie Kramer, Brass, Warrick and Matt give Todd Piccone a warrant to search his house. The house's interior is very nice and Matt's "gaydar" goes off, even though Piccone is against gay marriage and a member of the Parent's Council.
Warrick notices the living room carpet is wet and they pull it back to reveal a huge blood stain. Dakota must have died in that room. Carpet solvents may have compromised the DNA, but they find spatter on the TV's plasma screen.
In the kitchen, Warrick finds empty bottles of vodka, tequila, gin and absinthe in the trash. The absinth bottle has green wax on the top with nail impressions.
In the Interrogation Room, Todd Piccone admits he solicited Sasha Reynolds, aka Dakota, but didn't have sex with her. He paid her sixty dollars and drove her to the house. When Annie Kramer asks for the name of the accomplice, Piccone asks her to turn off the mic.
Brass can't hear what is going on in the Interrogation Room, but after a while Annie turns on the mic and comes out. She tells Brass that Piccone "invoked."
Warrick drives up to Brass as he heads for his car. Warrick tells him that he got a look at the print on the liquor bottles they collected, but then was escorted out. There has been a deal cut with Piccone and now the Las Vegas CSIs have been pushed out of the investigation.
Brass calls his daughter and leaves a message, asking her to not go out that night. He's worried about her safety, as she is the only person who could ID Todd Piccone as the driver of the BMW.
In Brass's hotel room, the CSIs realize that the wax under Dakota's fingers must have come from holding the absinthe bottle in self defense. The prints off of the bottles were from Judge Silvio Peters, Joe Cohen, Daniel Reichmann, Vic Patterson, Todd Piccone, and Parker Smythe. Warrick calls Nick back in Las Vegas.
Nick finds that Vic Patterson, the former actor running for Mayor, has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He uses a .45 that he bought from the Beverly Hills Gun Club. Brass realizes that the initials are BHGC, the same as the decal on the BMW and the tie pin on Patterson's shirt at Musso & Frank's.
At the Beverly Hills Gun Club, Brass asks for a courtesy day pass and asks what Vic Patterson shoots. Warrick and Brass look at a cheesy photo of Vic Patterson above a plaque engraved with "The Eagle," the name of his old TV show, and a mounted pearl-handled gun with a brass eagle on the handle.
Nick calls Brass and tells him that he got a match to the .45 caliber fired bullet from Vic's gun. It matches the bullet entered by Matt Glazer who recovered it from a BMW gas tank two days ago.
Warrick enters Brass' hotel room and shows him a publicity photo of Vic Patterson he got in Hollywood. It shows Vic holding his gun and they notice the pattern contusions on Dakota's autopsy photo match the pattern on the gun's handle. Brass says, "The gun is the murder weapon."
Vic Patterson held the barrel end of his gun and used the handle to beat Dakota in the face.
Brass hands Annie photos and paperwork in an unmarked envelope. She realizes that all the proof is there to put Vic Patterson away. She also knows that if she pursues the case her career will be over. The politics will force her early retirement.
Brass reveals to Annie that a dirty cop, Mike O'Toole, back in New Jersey broke up his marriage. Annie thought she was the one who did that. Brass responds that his wife used their affair for a way out of the marriage. Brass thought that any marriage was better than no marriage. Annie asks if that is why he had a child and Brass responds that he didn't have a child. Annie realizes that Ellie is actually Mike O'Toole's daughter.
At the Valentino Apartments, Brass walks up to Ellie's door and places the kitty mug filled with jellybeans outside her door. He puts a "Promises Rehab Facility" business card on the gift, a message scrawled on the back, "When you're ready, I'll make it happen." He walks away from his daughter's door.