When a note connected to a supposed suicide is found, the team re-opens the 1994 case of a high-school kid who fell from the roof of the school building after having served detention. In 1994 the death was deemed a suicide, but the newly-found note indicates that the victim might have been fearing for his life.
May 13, 1994. Dawn is caught smoking in the bathroom by a teacher. She is given detention. Boris is given detention for a bad attitude. Raquel in a car is given detention for smoking in a car. Trevor is given detention for gluing a picture in his locker. The year is 1994, the year Kurt Cobain died of an apparent suicide and left a generation in mourning. Flash to Trevor lying dead on the pavement, a crumpled note in his hand.
Fast-forward 12 years. Stillman, Vera and Rush are discussing new info on a case. The other half of that suicide note is found in which Trevor said he was in danger. Why would a kid with no record want to kill himself?
Vera discusses a phone message for Stillman with Valens. The message mentions Veronica and something about Wednesday night.
A look back over the investigation revealed that, the day of his death, Trevor had been in detention with three other students: Raquel Montero, Boris Litvack and Dawn Hill, and that the time of death had been a few minutes before the end of detention, around 6 p.m. They all said he slipped out before detention ended. The teacher that was supposed to have been keeping an eye on the class has since died. The day of the detention, he slipped out of the room and fell asleep in the teacher's lounge,
The tape of the detention room that had been submitted as evidence 12 years ago clearly shows the students sitting quietly, minding their own business. Valens and Rush go to speak to Trevor's parents. They aren't aware of any dangers. They said he didn't have a lot of friends, didn't fit in. He was upset about Kurt Cobain's death.
Flashback Trevor, his parents and the principal are in the office. Trevor's spray painting has caused an issue along with a fire. Trevor says he didn't set a fire, he accidentally knocked over a candle. He mentions Cobain's death and pulls his hoodie over his face. His mother asks why he's acting out. His father says Cobain is no hero. Trevor says they don't understand, it wasn't Cobain's lifestyle he associates with, it's the music.
Present His parents show Lilly his yearbook, where he referenced Kurt Cobain. His mother says after he died, the phone bill came in. There was pages and pages of him calling some teen hotline. That's the one thing that made his parents think he had been having dark thoughts. But it was too late by then.
Jeffries said the hotline was for any kind of crisis. They cannot give out the transcripts. They find that one of the counselors was listed as Dawn H, like Dawn Hill, the same girl in detention with him that day.
Jeffries and Miller go to speak to Dawn. She confirms that was her that took Trevor's call, once. She tells them the only time she ever got detention was the day Trevor died. But they didn't really know each. She had figured out he was the one calling, but doesn't think Trevor pieced together that she was on the other end. She doesn't remember Trevor mentioning anything about feeling in danger. She said nobody really talked that day in detention.
Flashback Dawn is looking through a college book. Trevor asks to see it. He wants to know what is needed to get into college. Trevor takes an interest in a college that offers a class in Japanese poetry. It's way too much, though. The teacher tells them not to talk. Raquel and Dawn make crude remarks to each other. Boris jumps in. The teacher loses his cool and storms out for an aspirin. The teacher sends Trevor to sit in the far corner of the class and reminds them that they are being recorded, so behave.
Present Miller confirms that the teacher made Trevor sit in the corner and Dawn second guesses the story she just told.
Miller says that the Trevor on the tape is not where Dawn said he was. Looking over the tape with an audio-visual specialist, they realize that what had always been considered as an alibi for all 3 teens was in fact a very clever cover-up. It's running on a loop of the first ten minutes. Jeffries wants to know why this was missed in 94. Lilly asks if the kids sat still on purpose. The specialist said that's why the tape works. They all realize all the teens were working together.
Stillman, Miller, Vera and Valens discuss how the video was a conspiracy amongst the other kids. But why? They find Boris has a record.
Valens and Vera go to speak to Boris. Boris says Trevor threw himself off the roof. He only knew him from detention. But he was the only one who knew how to mess with the tape. He said he did to cover his ass. He says him and Trevor snuck out of class to take sulfuric acid from chemistry so Boris could make ecstasy. Says he didn't end up making it, but that was the reason. He said the girls just went along.
Flashback The four are going through the room. Dawn is worried the teacher will find them. Raquel lights a cigarette, but puts in out when the others complain about getting caught. Raquel tells Trevor about a conspiracy theory regarding Cobain about his "hero". She asks if Trevor has moved on from her. He answers there's nothing to move on from. She talks about a moment they shared when Kurt died. She gets mad and destroys some test tubes.
Present Boris states Raquel was a bitch. He says he left campus to hide what he stole and when he came back, Trevor was already dead. But you know what they say about Courtney...
Rush and Jeffries speak to Raquel, now a real estate agent. They ask her about Trevor. She thought he committed suicide. Lilly tells her they know about the doctored tape. They hear she was obsessed with Trevor. She was afraid of Dawn Hill pulverizing his heart. She was his secret girlfriend in 1994.
Flashback The four are in the hallway. Boris is trying to Jimmy open a locker. The principal made Trevor take down Cobain's picture, so he replaced it with Dawn's. She tells him to take it down. It has to be just them. But he doesn't want to live a lie anymore. He's happy with her. But she insists it has to remain a secret. Boris open the locker and finds a gun. Dawn took the gun and put it in her purse. She says their relationship has to remain a secret or he's dead.
Present Raquel says Dawn was all about reputation. She excuses herself to help some clients.
Miller and Rush question Dawn about the gun. She gets angered when they downplay her relationship with Trevor. She loved him. But he's the one who thought she should have a gun. She told him something that would put Trevor in danger, but that wasn't her intent. She told him what was happening to her.
Flashback They met on the teen hotline in March. He called once, they talked, then he continued to call every day at the same time. They talk about how Cobain's lines parallel their lives. When she tries to tell him she knows what he means, he tells her she doesn't know him, she wouldn't want to. She finally reveals who she is by referencing a poem he had written and was read aloud in English calls years earlier. He was surprised to find out the voice on the other end was a classmate, but she tells him how great she thinks he is. He threatens to hang up, but she begs him not to. She feels the same things he does. He becomes her counselor in that moment. She's scared to go home because her stepfather is sexually abusing her. He wants to see her in person.
Present Dawn's stepfather was very possessive. Trevor thought he could reason with him. Trevor's parents never knew about his relationship with Dawn, that somebody loved him.
Dawn's stepfather owns half the commercial real estate in the area. But nothing was ever reported about the abuse. Vera find that Trevor, Raquel and Boris had jibberish quotes in the yearbook, but together, it made a concealed poem about death.
Vera questions Boris about the pact. He said they put it in the yearbook so they wouldn't back out. Jeffries questions Raquel. She says they made the pact in the winter. By the time spring came, Trevor had met Dawn. She said those two had made a pact and brought her and Boris in on it. It wasn't to kill herself...it was to kill him.
Flashback The four are together. Raquel says she feels sick. Dawn pulls the gun out her purse. Trevor tells her it's ok, her stepfather be gone after tonight. Dawn says none of this is necessary. She just has to make it another year. Trevor gives her the letter he wrote, the one torn in half, in case things go wrong and he's arrested. Boris tells of his own pain. Yeah, his mom's cool in some ways, but he doesn't think she'd care of he was dead. He's willing to take the consequences. Trevor talks about burning off his fingerprints. Raquel is freaking out, needing her inhaler. She can't go. Trevor tells her to stay with Dawn. Boris and Trevor go to carry out the plan. Dawn tells Trevor she loves him and they kiss.
Present Raquel faked her asthma attack. She wanted to live. She said Boris and Trevor took the gun to kill Philip, but Philip is alive, reminds Valens. And that's the last time I saw Trevor, says Raquel.
Jeffries talks to Philip. He says, no, Dawn didn't have a boyfriend. She was focused on school. Jeffries tells him he knows what Philip was doing to his stepdaughter. He lawyers up. Dawn walks in with Lilly. She wants to know what happened that night. She tells Philip she gave them the alarm code. He says he never called the police for his family. He didn't want his family to hear the lies those boys were saying.
Flashback Masked Boris and Trevor have Philip tied up. Boris is going off on Philip, seemingly inserting some of his own hurt into the situation. Trevor pulls up his mask, revealing his face. Boris points the weapon at Philip before Trevor steps in and stops him. He doesn't want to, but Boris wants to continue on. Trevor tells Philip he loves Dawn more than anything. That's why he's taking her away from him, to get her away from the pain. Trevor walks out. Boris clocks Philip with the gun then follows.
Present Philip tells Dawn that she did the right thing by staying with him, because they're family. But he didn't follow them to the school. He was tied up until the housekeeper came. Dawn says she only saw Boris after that. He told her that Trevor had jumped. Philip continues to abuse Dawn with his words, undermining her story. She stands up to him, finally. Jeffries promises him this won't be the last time they see each other.
Lilly goes back into the room with Boris and Valens. He tells Lilly they didn't hurt Philip Hill. That's not her concern. They want to know what happened with Trevor. He tells them Trevor got quiet after that, thinking about the rage he had for his own parents. But Lilly reminds him, that wasn't Trevor, that was you. Trevor had Dawn, Boris had no one. Just a suicide pact with a kid that was going to leave him for happiness.
Flashback Boris wants to go back to the pact. But Trevor tells him they have nothing to run from. Trevor's not the same kid who made that pact. He's changed since then. He rips up the letter he had written. He just wants to live, to love. Boris rips half the letter out of Trevor's hand. He wallows in his sorrow over his mother's lack of affection for him. Trevor reminds him he has to get past this, it will be better, Boris walks to the edge of the roof. Trevor runs to try to stop him and the two scuffle. Trevor falls from the roof to his death. Boris looks at his body. He drops the half the letter he had grabbed.
Present Boris confessed and it is ruled involuntary manslaughter while Phillip is also arrested for abusing Dawn. Dawn sets up a memorial for Trevor at the school. Raquel walks up and leaves flowers. She turns to see Trevor's parents. They both embrace Dawn. Lilly sees Trevor running his fingers along the fence.
This was the year Kurt Cobain died. The year Trevor Dawson saved his best friend's life and lost his.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- Danny Pino as Scotty Valens
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- Tracie Thoms as Kat Miller
- Michael Weaver as Boris Litvak (2006)
- Kristen Ariza as Dawn Hill (2006)
- Nicole Dalton as Raquel Montero (2006)
- Meagen Fay as Julie Dawson (1994/2006)
- Joe O'Connor as Chuck Dawson (1994/2006)
- Jake Richardson as Trevor Dawson
- Shannon Woodward as Raquel Montero (1994)
- Oddly enough, despite numerous references to Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, no Nirvana songs are heard throughout the episode. The fifth season episode Thrill Kill, also set in 1994, would later feature an all-Nirvana soundtrack.
- Reportedly, the working title of the episode was "All Apologies", the name of a Nirvana song.
- The reason for the working title was because the episode was originally going to open with 'Smells like Teen Spirit', and end with 'All Apologies', in reference to how much the characters liked Nirvana and Cobain. However, the production team couldn't get permission to use the songs, so they had to change the episode title. Eventually, the label/rights holders changed their minds, leading to Thrill Kill.
- The closing song is "Landslide", originally by Fleetwood Mac, but covered here by the Smashing Pumpkins. The original Fleetwood Mac version would later be featured as the closing song for the fourth season episode Fireflies.
- During the closing song montage, Lilly returns Trevor's box to the files; the word 'homicide' written on the box has been crossed out, and replaced by 'accident'.
- This episode is loosely inspired by The Breakfast Club.
- The Offspring "Come Out and Play"
- 8 mm "Opener"
- Stone Temple Pilots "Vasoline"
- AM Vibe "Tantrum"
- Alice in Chains "No Excuses"
- Counting Crows "Anna Begins"
- The Smashing Pumpkins "Today"
- Closing Song: The Smashing Pumpkins "Landslide"