The 1953 murder of a white school teacher, who was involved in civil-rights issues, is reopened after the victim's youngest son asks for it to be reinvestigated. The probe reveals that the slain man was killed on the same day that the Rosenbergs were executed and was set to testify the next day before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, after being accused of being a communist sympathizer. Meanwhile, Lilly gets an unwelcome visit from her troubled sister.
April 4, 1953. Elliot Garvey introduces a new student to his class, Robert, who is African-American. The other students stare at him but when they find out that Robert’s dad is the drummer for a band called the Gene Dillion Trio and brought one of their albums for Show and Tell, everybody crowds around Robert, wanting to be his study buddy. The principal enters the classroom and everybody scrambles to their seats. There’s been a ”mix up” and Robert is in the wrong school. It doesn’t matter to Elliot, but it matters to the principal, and he doesn’t want to have to lose his best teacher. Late at night beside a park, Elliot’s car is found scrawled with the words ”You’re Next.” His battered body is lying amongst the trees. A detective dumps the cold case file in the vault.
Present Day. Stillman is telling Lilly about Howard Garvey, who has been seeing a court-ordered shrink. Howard had been told that his father was a drunk that abandoned the family, but the truth was that he was killed in 1953 in Fairmont Park. As Lilly goes to grab Scotty, she sees that he is talking to her sister, Christina. Lilly rushes over to tell Christina to go away; she says she just wants to talk, but eventually leaves. Howard’s doctor wanted to check the family’s medical history, wondering if his depression was hereditary. While handing over the medical examiner’s report, Lilly notices bandages over Howard’s wrists. Howard tried to contact his mother and ask about her cover-up story, but she didn’t answer. Lilly tells Howard that if they work on this case, they’re going to need him around. Howard insists that he’s not going anywhere.
Scotty and Stillman go over Elliot’s case file. He was a fourth grade teacher who was found beaten to death but there was no weapon, no suspects. His car was found less than a mile away with slashed tires and a broken blade was recovered in one of the tires. There was some kind of logo on the blade, part of a bird and the letter B—maybe a military logo. Garvey also has a police record. He was arrested on marijuana possession charges in a house in Manswell. Back in those days, Manswell as on the ”other side of the tracks.” Scotty notes that there wasn’t much of an investigation, just a couple of interviews. ”Case didn’t go cold, it started that way” Lilly finds Christina waiting outside of the building; she tells Lilly she’s going through a bad break-up and needs a place to think things out because it’s not safe for her in New York anymore. Scotty appears, says a quick hello to Christina and leaves with Lilly to go to Manswell. At the given address, Lilly and Scotty look for a Renaldo Copely, only to find out that he’s dead. But his daughter remembers the police raids and none of them were legit. Her dad was an activist and got locked up every other weekend. Chances were Garvey was probably there for a meeting.
Flashback Renaldo’s house is filled with people, black and white, all telling how unfair their life is and how other countries have integrated years ago. Elliot and a woman named Reina exchange greetings. He is here because of his friend, Harland. Reina asks what Elliot thinks of all of this. He announces that the only thing he knows is that a nice boy got kicked out of his class last week and it didn’t seem right. Renaldo’s daughter looks out the window and sees a couple of cops writing down license plates. Flashback to Present: Renaldo’s daughter notes that the police never ran out of excuses to break up the meetings. The ”drug raids” were only one of them. Her family was even threatened with a burning cross on their porch. But white folk would have been labelled as sympathizer, also making them a target. Jeffries and Vera find Howard’s brother, Dean, but he doesn’t want to talk about his dad. The detectives are making him out to be some kind of hero, but he thinks that integration was just a front. Flashback A baby Howard is running around in the sprinklers while Elliot is barbecuing. Everybody is happy as they sit down to eat. Heather (Dean’s girlfriend) is going to work at her dad’s soda counter for the summer, and Dean’s got baseball and his trip to Washington, DC. Two men in dark coats from the FBI walk up to Elliot and hand him a letter.
Flashback to Present: Dean tells Vera and Jeffries that his dad was a communist. Back in the office, the team notice that Elliot was killed on June 19 and was set to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee the next day. There are no military matches on the blade logo, and Lilly offers to try and talk to the wife. In the retirement home, Mrs. Lang tell Scotty and Lilly that she doesn’t want to talk to them, until Lilly mentions Howard’s suicide attempt. That is why they are working on this case. Mrs. Lang admits she remarried and tried to make Howard forget about his father. After the FBI came to the house, things took a steep dive. Flashback Elliot is drinking when Kay returns with the groceries. Elliot tells Kay that he’s been suspended from his job, and they both know their bills are past due. Kay goes to return the groceries, but Elliot insists that it’s going to be okay, it’s only temporary.
Flashback to Present By that time, the neighbors shunned them and the market wouldn’t sell to the Garveys. Mrs. Lang said that was the beginning of the end, and a wall went up between the two of them. The only person Elliot might have talked to was his friend Harland Sealy. Lilly and Scotty visit Harland, who says it was ironic since he was the Communist and Elliot just thought integration was okay. The Feds were ruthless—it took Harland 12 years before he could get another teaching job. However, there was one incident at a baseball game. Motioning to his cane, Harland says that polio took his chance at sport, but he always loved to watch. Flashback Two baseball teams are warming up before the big game. Harland and Elliot show up to support Dean. A man named Wade gets up from the bleachers and tells Elliot to go away, Reds aren’t welcome. They don’t want Dean on the field with all the other boys either. Elliot tries to protest, but Wade tells him to look around: nobody’s going to support him.
Flashback to Present Harland says Elliot took Dean and left after that. He figured there was no point in reporting the incident to the police, since Wade WAS the police. Next morning, everyone looks into Wade’s police file and find that Elliot and his lawyer filed a restraining order against him. They bring Mrs. Lang back in, figuring she wouldn’t have forgotten something so important. She admits that she knew about the whole thing, but the night Elliot died, Wade had an alibi. He was in Harrisburg, at the State Baseball Championships. All Elliot had to do was say ”yes” to the list of people the committee had written up and say that those 10 people were communists. But Mrs. Lang said Elliot didn’t want to ruin lives, but in doing so he ruined theirs. Only one name stuck out in her mind, a name that Mrs. Lang has tried to forget.
Flashback Kay is sweeping the floor when the phone rings. Elliot answers in a hushed voice, and then tells the person on the other end that he’ll have to call them back. But Kate knows that Elliot’s been talking to the woman with the accent. Noticing the hair on the floor, Elliot asks if the barbershop is closed. No, they just wouldn’t take Howard. Just then, Dean storms into the house. He’s not going to Washington, and he’s not an Eagle Scout anymore. Guess what the reason is. Dean storms off and Kay tells Elliot that all of this will stop if he just tells them the names on the list. But Elliot doesn’t give into bullies. Kay knows that Elliot is protecting the woman with the accent because she’s on the list. If she’s not more important than the family, then name her!
Flashback to Present: The name was Reina Krauss. She was always at those meetings, as well as being Elliot’s mistress. Kay just knew she was with Elliot, because Reina was a worldly, exotic woman and Kay was a simple housewife. How could she compete? At that moment Howard shows up and after an emotional confrontation, Kay sees the bandages and gives her son a hug. Lilly talks to Reina, who had moved to the states in 1944, ironically, to escape oppression. She tells Lilly that there was no affair. The two of them took walks, talked, that was all. She could have never hurt Elliot.
Flashback Walking together in a park, Reina invites Elliot to go with her and a few friends for drinks. But Elliot declines since it’s complicated. Kay wants him to co-operate. Elliot doesn’t know what he wants to do, but he wants to do the right thing. To Reina, that means saying no. He tells her that Kay thinks there is something going on between them, and Reina agrees. But Elliot tells her that he believes in marriage. Flashback to Present: The fact that Elliot was true to Kay made Reina love him even more. She had hoped Elliot would do what was right for him when he testified. Lilly asks Reina for the other names on that list. Walking home, Lilly finds Christina waiting outside of her apartment. She can’t go back to New York. Lilly tells her that she can’t stay. Christina points out to Lilly that it’s been nine years, she’s got to forgive her some time. Lilly asks Christina if she would forgive her if the roles were reversed. No, Christina wouldn’t. Before Lilly closes the door, Christina tells her that she’ll be back in Philly, she likes it here.
Vera has the list of the 10 people, but Scotty says they don’t need it. Mrs. Lang had mentioned something about the Scouts, which got him thinking. He found the rest of the logo that was on the blade. BSA—Boy Scouts of America. Or maybe in this case, Eagle Scout. When asked, Dean maintains that he didn’t kill his father. He only trashed the car in order to scare him, since Elliot was supposed to testify the next day.
Flashback Dean runs and slashes the tires to Elliot’s car. Elliot approaches and in surprise, Dean stands up, snapping the blade. He just wanted to scare his dad, he didn’t really want him dead. Dean tells his father that it’s not okay, even Heather deserted him. He doesn’t want his father to be sorry; he wants him to fix it. Running around the corner and down the street, Dean sees Harland and Reina holding hands. Flashback to Present Lilly talks to Reina again. She had failed to mention that she’d be deported if Elliot named her, so maybe that’s why she didn’t want him to testify. Reina insists that she would have gone to Siberia if Elliot had asked her to. If she was so cared of deportation, she would have married Harland when he proposed to her. But she wanted Elliot. Scotty interrogates Harland who admits to being a young man in love. The two detectives point out that it must have hurt, Elliot being the hero, standing up to the feds, and getting the girl. A girl that Elliot probably would have had deported. Harland laughs because Elliot hadn’t decided on anything that night. So...Harland WAS with Elliot that night. Harland is confident that they’re not going to put him away; he only has a few years left. Scotty tells him that only he can decide how to spend those last few years. It wasn’t just Elliot that died that day, it was a whole family.
Flashback Harland and Reina are walking down the street when Harland notices Dean walk quickly away. Reina tells Harland that Elliot has a lot on his mind, and goes home. Harland finds Elliot still with his car, and offers to walk him home. As the two are walking through Fairmont Park, Elliot tells his friend that he has a lot to think over, but don’t worry, Harland’s not on the list. But Harland is concerned because Reina is. He begs Elliot not to give her up. Elliot tells Harland he never said he would give up Reina and starts to walk away. But Harland cannot take that chance, and starts hitting Elliot over the head with his cane. He continues the beating until Elliot is dead. Flashback to Present: Harland is handcuffed and escorted into a jail cell. Vera and Stillman file away Elliot’s closed case box down in the vault. Mrs. Lang and Howard exit the building to meet Dean and the two brothers give each other a hug. As the three drive away, Lilly looks across the street and ”sees” Elliot.
- 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
- Nicki Aycox as Christina Rush
- Josh Randall as Elliot Garvey
- Johnny Sneed as Harland Sealey (1953)
- Dion Anderson as Dean Garvey (2004)
- Ellen Geer as Kay Lang (2004)
- Randy Oglesby as Howard Garvey
- Kimberly Quinn as Kay Garvey (1953)
- Rita Zohar as Reina Kraus (2004)
- Patrick J. Adams as Dean Garvey (1953)
- Bob Papenbrook as Wade Ribble
- Patricia Forte as Claire Copely (2004)
- Iva Hasperger as Reina Kraus (1953)
- Kendre Berry as Robert
- Gilbert Glenn Brown as Renaldo Copely
- Bucky Dominick as Norman
- Emily Montague as Heather
- Stephanie Patton as Girl
- Alan Pietruszewski as FBI Agent #1
- Wyatt Smith as Boy
- David Grant Wright as Mr. Jenkins (1953)
- Unknown child actor as Howard Garvey (1953)
- Unknown child actor as Claire Copely (1953)
- Buddy Marrow "Your Mouth's Got A Hole In It"
- The Spaniels "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight"
- James Crawford "Iko Iko / Jockomo"
- Billie Holiday "Yesterdays"
- Tony Bennett "Rags to Riches"
- Johnnie Ray "Cry"
- Patti Page "You Belong To Me"
- Michael Levine "The Raft & The River"
- APM Music Library "Moonlight Promanade"
- Closing Song: Frankie Laine "I Believe (For Every Drop of Rain That Falls)"