The team re-investigates the 1999 “accidental“ death of Nash Cavanaugh, a 35-year-old swim coach at a strict, all-male military school. The death was originally declared “accidental” drowning, as Nash was found dead in the school’s pool. But as the group delves deeper into their victim’s background, they uncover something very twisted in this so-called “caring, all-American“ coach/teacher’s life. He was actually murdered and appearances are not always what they seem to be.
The episode opens with a flashback of an indoor pool at Wilkes Military Academy on May 15, 1999. Nash Cavanaugh is coaching a group of young boys in a swimming class. The exercise they have to complete requires them to keep their arms above their heads for 60 seconds. One of the boys, Private Jerry Kasher, is having difficulty completing the exercise and appears to be drowning. Suddenly, the shot changes and it's Nash Cavanaugh in the pool drowning. The next shot is of him floating face down in the pool and there is blood behind him.
At police headquarters in present day, Scotty keeps checking his cell phone. Elisa was supposed to call him at 9:00 a.m. this morning and Lilly points out that it's only 9:07 but Scotty is still worried. Lilly wonders if Elisa checking in is a regular thing, but Scotty tells her that it's just because she hasn't been doing well lately. Scotty finally gets his call from Elisa. Jeffries walks up with a letter for Lilly that was sent to homicide. He says it doesn't match any current cases. The letterhead is from Wilkes Military Academy − a boot camp boarding school for troubled boys. The letter has the name Nash and the date May 15, 1999, and something called “The Plan”:
Jeffries, Lilly, and Scotty decide that it must relate to a homicide, and Nash must be the victim.
Lilly and Scotty are down in the case vault, but they can't find any murders from Wilkes or any victims with the name Nash. Stillman tells them that it was listed as an accidental death, drowning. According to the file, Nash had a blood alcohol level of 0.30. They still aren't sure who sent “The Plan”. Lilly says that a handwriting analysis found that a kid wrote it. She looks in the file and finds that a night duty Sergeant named James Creighton found the body.
Lilly and Scotty head to Wilkes Academy to speak with Creighton. First, they speak with the Colonel who tells them that he has never seen “The Plan” before, and he says that Nash was respected, had fought in Iraq, and knew how to deal with “slop” − the troubled boys who go to Wilkes. The sergeant enters and tells them that he has never seen “The Plan” before, and he found the body unresponsive at 0600 hours. In the flashback, Nash is yelling at one of the boys in the pool who can't complete the 60 second exercise. The boy's name is Private Jerry Kasher. The Colonel is looking on as Nash yells, and tells Nash to carry on. Jerry fails, but Nash passes him anyway telling him that he will never complete it. Jerry looks defeated. Back in the present, the Colonel tells Lilly and Scotty that “from the child comes forth the soldier”. He says that Jerry is a bad seed.
Lilly and Scotty go talk to Jerry, now 18-years old and he tells them that he really wanted another chance to prove himself to Nash. In the flashback, Jerry jumps back into the pool, raises his arms above his head, and completes the task. Nash is impressed and promises him a prize. Back in the present, Jerry tells Lilly and Scotty that the prize was Nash's respect.
Lilly and Scotty meet with Stillman in his office. Lilly believes that Jerry has “gone to the dark side”. She got the sense that he used to worship Nash, but now he seems troubled. Jeffries and Vera bring copies of Jerry's medical records from Wilkes. According to the records, Jerry made multiple trips to the infirmary in the weeks leading up to Nash's death. He was vomiting drunk, but the place is on 24-hour lockdown and the kids can't get alcohol. Stillman points out that Nash was a drinker.
Lilly and Scotty interrogate Jerry about the alcohol and he confesses that Nash gave it to him − it was the prize. In the flashback, Nash comes up to Jerry in the locker room. There is no one else around, and Nash hands him a beer. He tells Jerry that he made him proud, and the beer is his reward. He says that Jerry is special, and he tells him to keep the beer a secret. Back in present, Scotty notices the word secret. Lilly recites the first three parts of “The Plan”: ignore, reward, secret. Nash ignored Jerry in the pool, rewarded him with booze, and told him to keep it a secret. Scotty realizes that Nash was a pedophile, and Jerry gets upset. He says Nash deserved to die, and that he killed him. But he says that he ripped up “The Plan”, and threw it away. Lilly holds it up in her hand.
Lilly and Scotty tell Stillman that it doesn't add up because they have “The Plan” and Jerry was just an “80-pound weakling” at the time of Nash's death. Stillman points out that pedophiles usually have multiple victims. Vera comes in with the medical records from Wilkes from 1999. He says that Private R.J. Holden had an episode of bedwetting. Stillman points out that this is a sign of sexual abuse. The night duty Sergeant who reported the incident was Creighton. Meanwhile, Scotty gets a call from Elisa. He tells Stillman that he has to go, and Stillman tells him not to worry about work and just go.
Lilly and Stillman go to Wilkes to question Creighton again. On their way into the Academy, Stillman asks Lilly how long Elisa has been out of the hospital, and she says about a month. They find Creighton, and he tells them that he didn't know about Nash's abuse. In the flashback, Creighton is telling R.J. to walk for wetting the bed. R.J. tries to tell Creighton that Nash grabbed him sexually, but Creighton keeps asking him if he is “a faggot”. R.J. says he's not. Back in the present, Creighton says that he was just disciplining R.J.
Meanwhile, Scotty goes to an apartment looking for Elisa. The apartment has Cheerios all over the floor, the TV is on, and the words “The giants came back” are written on a mirror on the bedroom door. Elisa is nowhere to be found.
Lilly and Stillman talk to Private R.J. Holden. He denies the bedwetting and the ensuing conversation with Creighton. He says that someone must have made up the report. Lilly says that she doesn't think so, and R.J. snaps back “so blondes think now”. Lilly calls R.J. on his attempt to take the attention off of himself. Lilly and Stillman want to know about number 4 − Test. R.J. says he'll talk, but only to Stillman. Lilly walks away, and R.J. begins by saying that he is “not a gay”. In the flashback, Nash tells R.J. that “this is our secret just like the beer”. He says that because R.J. hasn't told anyone, he passes the test. In the present, Stillman wants to know about #5 − Escalate. R.J. explains that Nash showed him porn magazines and told him it was okay to touch himself and he wouldn't tell. R.J. says that Nash showed the magazines to other boys too, but he denies knowing Jerry. He then confesses to murdering Nash.
Back at the police station, Lilly points out that both boys deny knowing each other, but they both confessed to the murder. Vera tells them that handwriting says that neither of the boys wrote the letter. Lilly goes to talk to Jerry again; he is now in a jail cell. She tells him that R.J. told her about #5 Escalate, and she lies and says R.J. said Jerry was the ringleader. Jerry gets upset and says that it was all Dominic's idea. Lilly wants to know how they found each other. Jerry says that he stole one of Nash's magazines to show around so the other kids would like him. In the flashback, a group of boys is looking at the magazine. R.J. and Jerry are watching from a distance, and there is a third boy watching as well. The third boy, Dominic, walks up and takes the magazine and throws it out. Jerry explains that's when they knew it was happening to Dominic as well. Back in the present, Jerry says that's when they came up with “The Plan” to do to Nash what he did to them − ignore, reward, secret, test, escalate, and destroy.
Private Dominic LaSalle enters the police station with the Colonel as his guardian. He was also in Nash's swim class. Stillman has Lilly take Dominic, Jeffries takes R.J., and Vera takes Jerry. Lilly is reluctant to take down another kid ”when the guy deserved to die”. Vera and Stillman wish they had called in sick today. Scotty walks in distraught. He has looked in all the usual places, but can't find Elisa. Stillman suggests that he call it in, but Scotty says he can't because they'll send her back to the hospital. Scotty tells Stillman that he met Elisa playing stickball on their block when they were 14. He says it's the only place Elisa ever felt normal. He heads back out to look for her again.
Meanwhile, Lilly, Vera, and Jeffries are separately interrogating Dominic, R.J., and Jerry. Dominic confesses to Lilly that he killed Nash and sent “The Plan”. R.J. tells Jeffries that Dominic figured out Nash's plan.
In the flashback, the three boys outline Nash's plan: Ignore = Nash ignored them all in different ways. Reward = the beer. Secret = He made them promise not to tell. Test = He then ensured they didn't tell. Escalate = the adult magazines. Destroy: They agree to do it all back to Nash
1. Ignore: The boys didn't show up for swim class
2. Reward: The first person to see Nash, Dominic, would be responsible for the reward.
3. Secret: Dominic intended to get Nash into the pool by seducing him.
4. Test: Nash had no interest in Dominic's offer, so Dominic took off his shirt and begged Nash to stay.
5. Escalate: Dominic had sex with Nash in the pool
6. Destroy: The boys assaulted Nash with paddles until they heard someone coming and ran away.
Back in the present at the police station, Lilly believes that the boys shouldn't go down for the murder. Meanwhile, an officer is putting his gun in a locker right past where Lilly, Stillman, Vera, and Jeffries are located. At the same moment, Dominic is led away by another officer. Jerry starts fighting with officers, and Dominic grabs the gun out of the officer's locker. A standoff ensues, and Dominic, distraught with grief over allowing himself to be molested in order to carry out "The Plan" shoots himself, but not before admitting that he wrote "The Plan," but he didn't send it.
Stillman tells Lilly that the hospital can't tell for sure right now, but it's looking bad. Lilly seems pretty broken up about the whole thing, and she wants to know who sent “The Plan”. Stillman tells her it's over and leaves. Lilly slams her locker closed.
Meanwhile, Scotty finds Elisa sitting on a stoop in their old neighborhood at night. She says she's sorry, but the giants came back. She's been taking her medicine, but it's not working. Scotty wants to go to the doctor and get stronger medicine, but she says that's what they always do. Elisa wants to go and live with her sister. She remembers the time when they were kids and Scotty scored and won their neighborhood game. He doesn't remember. He is upset and cries on Elisa's lap.
Lilly goes to Jerry's and R.J.'s cells. She tells them that Dominic is still in I.C.U. She wants to know who sent “The Plan”. They tell her that Dominic lost it the night of the murder because he kept it in his pocket. In the flashback, the boys are running through the locker room and realize they don't have it anymore. They make a pact to never tell anyone about everything that had happened. If they are caught, then they are to go down for the whole thing alone like a soldier. Back in the present, R.J. explains that Dominic went back for “The Plan” that night, but they don't know if he found it.
At the hospital, Creighton is sitting by Dominic's side. Lilly comes in and seems surprised to see Creighton. He says that Dominic should have the Bronze Star that he was given because he deserves it more. He says, “from the child comes forth the soldier”. Lilly points out that Nash always said that phrase. Creighton says, “after”. Lilly realizes that he was a lifeguard during Nash's swim classes and he found the body; its also hinted that he was also a past victim of Nash's. Creighton admits sending “The Plan” to the police because the world needed to know what Nash did. Since this was the last class affected by Nash, Creighton didn't want the secret to go away with them. Creighton wants Lilly to let the boys go and arrest him instead. He then admits with much disdain and guilt, he's become the very monster Nash was. Stating he wished to be locked away before he hurt anyone the same way Nash had and that the boys shouldn't have to pay for Nash's death. Lilly can't let the boys go because they murdered someone, but Creighton says they didn't. In the flashback, the boys run off and Creighton enters the pool area. At first, he starts to help Nash, but then he pushes him under and drowns him. As he's leaving the pool area, he finds “The Plan,” picks it up, and tidies the area.
The closing scenes start with Creighton placing his Bronze Star on Dominic's chest, and then Lilly leads him away. Jeffries and Vera release Jerry and R.J. Scotty cleans the words Elisa wrote on the mirror, Lilly takes Dominic's hand as he lies in the hospital bed in a coma. Lilly and Henderson watch the current swim class at Wilkes, and they see Nash's reflection in the pool. As the boys start swimming it fades away.
- 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
- Marisol Nichols as Elisa
- Robert Rusler as Nash Cavanaugh
- Spencer Daniels as Jerry Kasher (1999)
- Jason Dohring as Dominic LaSalle (2004)
- Noel Fisher as Jerry Kasher (2004)
- John Mahon as Colonel Henderson
- Nate Parker as RJ Holden (2004)
- Sam Witwer as Sgt. James Creighton
- Derek Kai as Company Commander #2
- Sean Michael as Boy #1
- Jordan Moser as Boy #6
- Christian Shipley as Boy #7
- J.R. Villarreal as Boy #2
- David Zepeda as Company Commander #1
- Bush "Machinehead”
- Travis "Writing to Reach You"
- Dave Matthews Band "Don't Drink the Water"
- Peg "Long Way Down"
- Limp Bizkit "Save Me Before I Drown"
- Staind "Outside"
- Papa Roach "Last Resort"
- Cursive "Gentleman Caller"
- Closing Song: Aimee Mann "Wise Up"