Construction workers discover a skull with a bullet hole under the ruins of a disco club that burned down in 1978. 22 people died in the fire. Rush and Valens come to the conclusion that the burning of the club was arson, meant to cover up a murder leaving them with not one, but 23 cold cases.
The episode opens at a disco, ”The Bell”, on February 10, 1978. A dance contest is being announced, with a 1000-dollar prize. People are dancing and enjoying. In the VIP room, there’s a guy getting ready... he gets shot between the eyes. A fire starts at The Bell.
In the present, Lilly and Scotty are talking to a lab worker. She has a skull on her hand, found under what remained of The Bell. The skull has a bullet hole in it. Lilly and Scotty quickly realize that the guy was shot and the fire was used to cover it up. ”We don’t have a cold one here”, says Scotty. ”We’ve got 23 of them”. Lilly and Stillman pick up Benny Rosen’s box — the skull belongs to him. At the office, Jeffries talks about The Bell, where he went once. Everyone wants him to dance, but he won’t do it. They talk about The Bell. Benny’s remains were found on the ”White Room”, where people bought and used drugs. They wonder if Neil Chaney, the owner, was the one responsible for the fire, to get the insurance payoff. Stillman sends Jeffries and Vera to look for him, while Scotty and Lilly will go see Benny’s parents.
Lilly and Scotty talk to the Rosens. It’s clear that Mr. Rosen didn’t approve of Benny’s disco life. Mrs. Rosen asks Lilly and Scotty to go see Benny’s bedroom. There, she shows them pictures of Benny. ”Is there something you want to tell us, Myra? Something you didn’t want your husband to hear?” Lilly goes straight to the point. Mrs. Rosen denies, but Lilly insists, ”Because I got the feeling there was.” ”It doesn’t have to leave this room”, Scotty adds. Myra then opens up. She closes the door and confesses that a week before the fire, she came home early from the temple and saw Benny with a ”shiksa” (a non-Jewish girl).
In a flashback of 1978, Benny and the girl, who’s called Sonya, are dancing. They’re rehearsing for the dance contest. She asks when he’s going to tell his parents they’re engaged. He says ”Soon.” They’re very much in love. The present day Mrs. Rosen talks a little bit about Sonya. She never told Mr. Rosen about Benny’s fiance because she felt it would only bring him more heartache. Lilly and Scotty interview Sonya at her workplace. She has burn scars on her right side. They ask her about Benny, if there was anything unusual going on in his life, or if he was involved with drugs. Sonya says no. She can’t believe he was really murdered. Lilly says that anything could help them. ”A couple of days before the dance contest, I got there earlier to practice”, Sonya begins.
In a flashback, we see Sonya practicing alone on the dance floor. She notices that Benny is having an argument with Neil Chaney and gets a little disturbed. When Benny comes to the dance floor, Sonya asks about the argument, but he says it’s nothing. She gets angry and asks if he’s dealing drugs for Chaney. Benny swears he isn’t. They dance and talk about eloping if they win the contest. In the present, Lilly and Scotty ask Sonya if Benny was dealing drugs; she says no. They ask if she thinks Chaney would be the kind of guy to kill someone. Sonya remembers that Chaney had a gun and liked to show it off. At the office, Vera says that they’re still trying to find Neil Chaney, but that they already know he had a gun permit in 1978, and that he shot a guy at The Bell in 1977. They want to find the guy Chaney shot and try to make a match between the two bullets; so they can be sure Benny was shot with Chaney’s gun. Stillman thinks this won’t happen. ”We like a challenge”, says Lilly. Later, Jeffries says that they found the guy who was shot by Chaney. He is called Mark Rigley and is doing custodial work at an ice rink in Penn’s Landing. He was shot because he tried to rob The Bell. Then, Vera comes in and explains why they can’t find Neil Chaney: - he has died three months ago, from cirrhosis. Everyone is disappointed. Lilly and Scotty go out to talk to Neil’s son Paul, who owns a shop in Center City. Lilly and Scotty arrive at Paul’s shop. They ask him about the fire at The Bell; Paul is annoyed that more people are trying to blame his father for what happened. Lilly and Scotty ask about the gun, Paul says he got rid of it a long time ago, afraid his dad would turn it to himself. Lilly and Scotty ask Paul about Benny, and tell him Benny was shot on the night of the fire. Paul says he was by his dad’s side the whole night. They ask Paul if Benny was in trouble with anyone. Paul says no, everyone worshipped Benny, but that he had a fight with his girlfriend that night.
In a flashback of 1978, Paul is hidden, spying on the ladies’ room. Sonya runs in there, and Benny follows her. They fight. Apparently Benny is afraid to elope, because of his dad. Sonya says he’ll have to choose between her and his dad. She slaps him on the face and says, ”I should kill you for making a slut out of me. I was a virgin when I met you.” She goes away, leaving Benny alone. In the present, Jeffries and Vera find Mark Rigley at the ice rink. Rigley tells them that the slug is still in his ass. He wants 2000 dollars to take it out now. Jeffries says that won’t happen. At the office, Lilly and Scotty are interrogating Sonya about threatening Benny when they broke up. Sonya says they would have worked that out; and asks if Doreen Denova was the one who told them about that. According to Sonya, Doreen would have done anything to win the contest.
In a flashback of 1978, we see Benny and Sonya on the dance floor. Doreen, who is with her partner Ken, comes and asks Benny to dance with her. He says that won’t happen, and Sonya and Doreen have an argument. Doreen says to Benny, ”You won’t be the king forever. A lot could happen between now and the contest.” Lilly and Scotty go look for Doreen, who now works as a hairdresser. They ask her about that threat she made to Benny on the dance floor. Doreen says maybe she said it, just to annoy them. She starts talking about how everyone used cocaine at the time. At The Bell in 1978, Doreen’s partner Ken is using drugs; she wants some but he has run out of it. And apparently, Ken used everything he was supposed to deal for Chaney, so he’s in trouble. Benny comes in and says Doreen shouldn’t use those things. Doreen says he should worry about Sonya.
In the present, Lilly and Scotty ask Doreen if she thinks Ken could’ve done something to Benny to win the contest. Doreen says she doesn’t know, but that she wasn’t the one who owned Chaney thousands of dollars. Later, at the office, they talk about Mark Rigley and Doreen’s partner, Ken Mazzacone, who’s now a taxi driver. Stillman sends Scotty and Jeffries to talk to Ken, Vera to check Sonya and Doreen’s alibi, and Lilly to talk to ADA Kite about getting a search warrant for the slug in Rigley’s behind. Scotty and Jeffries talk to Ken. They ask him about Benny and about Ken not liking him and needing money. He denies he eliminated Benny and says that he was on the dance floor with Doreen when the fire started. In another flashback, we see Doreen and Ken dancing. They see Benny’s father arrive and they take him to the White Room, where Benny is. Before, they tell Mr. Rosen that the White Room is the place where people use drugs, which leaves Mr. Rosen very annoyed. The present day Ken recalls that Mr. Rosen was very angry, and that he wouldn’t have wanted to be Benny that night. Jeffries and Scotty are thoughtful.
Lilly is at ADA Kite’s office. He’s telling her that a search warrant for the slug in Rigley’s behind is impossible. ”Just like the exhumation”, Lilly observes (in episode 1-13: The Letter). Kite can’t believe she’s still thinking about that. ”We’re supposed to be on the same team here”, Lilly says. ”We are”, Kite answers. ”And my job, as your team mate, is to tell what’s legally plausible. And this isn’t.” Lilly doesn’t like it. Kite asks what this case is about, and Lilly says it’s a ”disco murder”. ”Disco?” Kite asks. Lilly nods, and then Kite gets up and stars dancing and singing ”Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees. Lilly tells him to stop and Kite says they should go dancing. Lilly laughs and says, ”Kite, honestly, this could be a deal breaker.” Kite stops and sits by Lilly’s side on the couch. He asks if Rigley is in any trouble with the law. Lilly says he’s on parole; and Kite say’s he’ll talk with Rigley’s parole officer to see if Rigley will exchange the slug for a reduced parole. ”Do I have to do anything in return?” Lilly asks. ”Dance”, Kite says. She smiles at him. Elsewhere, Scotty and Jeffries talk to Mr. Rosen about that night. He says he didn’t tell anyone he had gone to the disco because he didn’t think it mattered. Mr. Rosen is offended because Scotty and Jeffries insinuate he killed Benny. Mr. Rosen starts recalling what happened after he went into the White Room.
In a flashback of 1978, Mr. Rosen enters the White Room. Benny is praying and Mr. Rosen interrupts him. He asks Benny to go the temple with him, Benny says no. Benny gets angry and tells his dad that disco is his life, and tells him he’s marrying a ”shiksa”. Mr. Rosen is disturbed. He says Benny isn’t his son anymore if this happens. Benny says that it’s going to happen. Mr. Rosen then says, ”I renounce you”, and leaves. In the present, Mr. Rosen tells Scotty and Jeffries that that’s why he didn’t tell anyone he had gone to the disco, because his last words to his son were ”I renounce you.” He also says he never told his wife about this meeting. Later, Lilly and Vera are at the lab. Rigley accepted the deal and the lab worker tells them they have a match. The bullet that killed Benny came from Neil Chaney’s gun. At the office, they all wonder who would’ve killed Benny, since even Neil Chaney has an alibi. Lilly brings up Paul; he’s the only one without an alibi. One thing they can’t figure out is why Paul would kill Benny. Later, Lilly and Scotty go talk to Sonya again, and they ask her about Paul. Sonya says Paul worshipped Benny and wanted to be like him. She starts recalling the day of the contest.
In a flashback of the disco, Benny and Sonya are dancing. Paul interrupts to show Benny a move. Benny says he’s good and should keep practicing. Paul then goes and asks Doreen, who’s also there, to dance with him. Doreen agrees and they start dancing. Paul’s hands are all over Doreen, and she takes Paul into the White Room. Lilly and Scotty talk to Doreen about the time she took Paul to the White Room. Doreen swears that she didn’t kill Benny, and that she only wanted to win. In a flashback of 1978, we see Doreen and Paul in the White Room. He’s all over Doreen. She asks him to come into the White Room before the contest and hurt Benny, so he won’t be able to dance. She says that if Paul does that, she’ll let him do anything with her. In the present, Doreen tells Lilly and Scotty that Paul was only supposed to hurt Benny, not kill him. And that she couldn’t let Sonya win that contest. Later, Lilly and Scotty talk to Paul about the fire. Paul says that wasn’t his fault. It was Benny’s fault.
In a flashback of that night in 1978, right after Mr. Rosen leaves the White Room, Paul goes in wearing a face mask and carrying a piece of wood to hurt Benny. They get into a fight and Benny sees that it’s Paul. Benny says Paul is crazy and that he’s the worst disco dancer there. Paul gets angry and points his gun at Benny. They start fighting again and Paul fires the gun. He seems shocked with what he has done. He leaves the place and sets The Bell on fire. In the present, we see Paul getting arrested. Doreen is there and sees him. They show Mr. Rosen in Benny’s room. Mrs. Rosen arrives and they look at some old pictures of Benny. Lilly and Kite are dancing at a nightclub. Lilly looks very beautiful and they seem to be having a lot of fun. Lilly looks and ”sees” Benny, who starts dancing with Sonyas from 2004 and 1978. The scenes go back and forth from Lilly and Kite to Benny and Sonya. They also show Jeffries dancing in the office. The episode ends as Benny and Sonya finish dancing to the song.
- 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
- Josh Hopkins as ADA Jason Kite
- Conor Dubin as Benny Rosen
- Amanda Wyss as Sonya Witkowski (2004)
- Robin Riker as Doreen Denova (2004)
- Robert Cicchini as Paul Chaney (2004)
- Michael Fairman as David Rosen (2004)
- Nichole Hiltz as Doreen Denova (1978)
- Ciara Hughes as Sonya Witkowski (1978)
- Lorna Raver as Myra Rosen (2004)
- Justin Meloni as Paul Chaney (1978)
- Robert Maffia as David Rosen (1978)
- Rick Foster as Mark Rigley
- Johnny Palermo as Ken Mazzacone (1978)
- Ameenah Kaplan as Leticia Castillo
- Mala Wright as Market Shopper
- Joey Diaz as Ken Mazzacone (2004)
- Unknown Actress as Myra Rosen (1978)
- This episode was partly inspired by the events surrounding the Station nightclub fire in 2003.
- This case features 23 homicides, the most for a single case in the series.
- The Trammps "Disco Inferno"
- Earth Wind and Fire "After the Love is Gone"
- ABBA "Dancing Queen"
- Gloria Gaynor "I Will Survive"
- Alicia Bridges "I Love the Nightlife"
- Chic "Le Freak"
- Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive"
- Closing Song: Donna Summer "Last Dance"