The team re-opens the 1991 death of a talented 14-year-old female rapper who was placed into foster care with her sister. Meanwhile, Lilly gets an unusual gift from Saccardo to help protect her from Moe.
In 1991, a woman named Alice tells her husband Kenneth not to smoke since their new foster daughters Donalyn and Meesha are in the back seat. Kenneth tells them they have a curfew in their new house. As they drive by a street corner, Donalyn is impressed to hear a woman who is rapping by the curb. Kenneth tells Donalyn he doesn’t want to see her on the corner. Later, Donalyn’s body is wrapped in a rug and dumped in the streets.
A convict named Sticky tells Valens and Rush he would like to go to his daughter’s funeral in exchange for information about Donalyn. He explains he found the body in the basement of his club after his birthday party, then dumped the body. He explains his gang, the 26 Street Villains, would have looked down on him if he spoke to the cops about her. Rush asks him for the name of people who went to his party. Rush and Valens examine the scene. They see dried blood on one of the pipes and wonder if it was used to kill Donalyn.
Stillman and Vera learn that the sisters were moved from house to house. They learn Alice reported Donalyn missing three weeks before her body was found. They welcome back Miller to the team. They confirm that the pipe found at the club was the instrument of death. The detectives tell Alice and Kenneth about Donalyn’s death in the club. Kenneth says he was out fishing when Donalyn died. He thought Donalyn needed some discipline. He explains that after Alice lost a baby, they divorced in ’92. Alice remembers seeing Donalyn and Meesha singing a Queen Latifah song. She told them they should have a girls day to go shopping and get their nails done. Donalyn is hesitant to go, but agrees. Alice says Meesha is a doctor at a hospital now.
Miller and Vera meet with Meesha and ask her if she recognizes anyone from Sticky’s birthday party. She says she remembers a kid named Zen. She remembers when she went to the street with Donalyn and saw Zen try to make fun of Donalyn using freestyle rap lyrics. Donalyn took the microphone and schooled Zen with clever insults. Zen became upset, grabbed Donalyn and told her the street belongs to him and his gang, the 26 Street Villains. She says Zen’s real name is Zeb Edwards.
Rush and Valens meet with Zeb while he takes a break as a bus driver. Zeb explains he changed and now is a family man. They ask him if he went to Sticky’s party. He explains that that he and Donalyn, who he called Sugar Dawn, were cool before she died. He explains he recognized her talent and helped her with her image before introducing her to a music producer named Huxtable. After she impressed Huxtable with her lyrics, a female rapper named Big Soph got jealous of her. Zeb explains that Big Soph got a big record contract. Valens tries to track down Kenneth’s alibi, but has trouble getting ahold of his friend he went fishing with. Miller plays the team rap lyrics that Donalyn recorded.
Rush and Stillman meet with Big Soph. They tell her they know she assaulted someone with a razor. She says she was cool with Donalyn. They tell her that they know she got her big break after she performed for a record company during Sticky’s birthday party, where Donalyn was also supposed to perform. Soph says she gave Donalyn some pointers. She remembers helping her sell her rap tapes. She remembers when Huxtable pulled up, asked Donalyn for the money for her recording session, then put her in the car. She says that was the last time she saw Donalyn. In his apartment, Eddie gives Rush an anniversary present. She opens it and sees it is a revolver. Rush says most men give out flowers or diamonds. Eddie explains the gun is completely untraceable. He advises she be careful since there is a scumbag out there who wants her dead. Rush says she doesn’t need protecting. Eddie says the gun is there if she needs it.
Miller and Vera meet with Huxtable at his work which is a funeral home. Huxtable says he had to put out a tough image. He remembers telling Donalyn that she shouldn’t be out on the streets selling her tapes. He gave her a book called Go tell it to the Mountain, but she said she already read it. Huxtable told Donalyn that she has talent and is smart. He suggested she just be a kid. She asked Huxtable to pull over so she could fire Zen. Huxtable says when he prepared Donalyn for burial, she was unrecognizable. Valens and Rush bring in Zeb and suggest he hurt Donalyn. He says after Donalyn fired him, she took him back. Before she died, he told her he got her on the radio. He asked her to perform her single that everyone knew at Sticky’s party. Donalyn demanded to be able to perform a new song. Zeb told her she didn’t know anything about life. Donalyn performed a song about the pain she felt. Zeb tells the detectives Donalyn was like a sister to him. He gives the detectives names of people who were at the party.
Rush meets with Eddie at his apartment. She tells him he didn’t have to give her a gun since her problems are her own. Eddie figures Rush wants him to back off. Rush says she is going to dispose the gun. Vera tells Miller that instead of fishing, Kenneth was at a D.C. hotel with teenage girlfriend who he met the day Donalyn died. Miller suspects that Donalyn was referring to Kenneth in her latest rap song when she talked about the Phantom. They go to his apartment and knock on his door. He opens his door, sees that the police are there, says he needs to unhook his security chain, closes the door, but doesn’t reopen it. Moments later, Vera and Miller are suspicious of Kenneth and kick down the door. They see Kenneth on the floor after he shot himself in the head. Stillman arrives at the scene and learns that Kenneth was a nincomphile.
The detectives bring in Meesha and ask her about the Phantom. They play her the song and hear that Donalyn didn’t want to leave Meesha alone with Kenneth and Alice. Meesha remembers when Donalyn wanted to runaway after Alice found her rap tape and figured it was about her home life. Rush and Valens meet with Alice and ask her if she knew about Kenneth being a predator. Alice tries to defend Kenneth, but Rush assures her that he can’t hurt her now. Alice admits that Kenneth followed Donalyn to the club. Alice says Kenneth told her he hit Donalyn in the head with a pipe. Rush says Kenneth couldn’t have been at the club since he was with his 17 year old girlfriend in Maryland. Valens tells Alice the only person who would have known Donalyn died from a pipe would be the killer.
Alice confesses she didn’t want Donalyn and Meesha to leave. She remembers when she found Donalyn at Sticky’s club. Alice told Donalyn she couldn’t continue running away with Meesha. Donalyn realized Alice only cared about Meesha’s well being. Alice pushed Donalyn down where she grabbed a pipe. After Donalyn threatened to call a social worker, Alice pushed her down, took the pipe and whacked her on the head. Alice is arrested. After the case, Rush hides Eddie’s gun in her fireplace.
- 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
- Danièle Watts as Donalyn 'Sugar Dawn' Sullivan
- Lanai Chapman as Alice Watson (1991)
- Craig "muMs" Grant as Zeb "Zen" Edwards (2009)
- Iona Morris as Alice Watson (2009)
- Sam Sarpong as Zeb "Zen" Edwards (1991)
- Yara Shahidi as Meesha Sullivan (1991)
- Lester Speight as Virgil "Sticky" Jones
- Lisa B. Tharps as "Big Soph" (2009)
- Tracey Heggins as Meesha Sullivan (2009)
- Larry Herron as Andrew "Huxtable" Garrett (1991)
- Kelli Jackson as "Big Soph" (1991)
- Ronald William Lawrence as Kenneth Watson (2009)
- Thom Barry does not appear in this episode.
- Tracie Thoms returns after a three-episode absence.
- This episode featured two original songs performed by Danièle Watts as Donalyn "Sugar Dawn" Sullivan: "Goin' Off" and "Read Between the Lines."
- This is the fourth time an original music is used during the closing sequence. (Best Friends, Beautiful Little Fool, Static)
- Third time that the ending song is performed by a cast member. The first time was in Beautiful Little Fool, the closing song ("300 Flowers") was performed by Allison Miller (Violet Polley). The second time was in Wednesday's Women, the closing song was "This Little Light of Mine" and was performed by Tracie Thoms.
- Andrew Garrett's nickname "Huxtable" is a reference to the family featured on the sitcom The Cosby Show. Kadeem Hardison, who plays the older "Huxtable", was a regular on the sitcom A Different World, which was a spin-off from The Cosby Show.
- Linda Johnson's case box is visible when Donalyn's case box was put away.
- Earth, Wind & Fire "Singasong"
- Schoolly D "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?"
- Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love "Ladies First"
- MC Lyte "Act Like You Know"
- Queen Latifah "Bad As a Mutha"
- Soul Hooligan "Soul Searching"
- 'Sugar Dawn' "Goin' Off"
- Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock "It Takes Two"
- 'Sugar Dawn' "Read Between the Lines"