|Air Date:||August 1, 2010|
|Written By:||Lois Johnson|
|Directed By:||Randall Zisk|
|Previous Episode:||A Perfect Storm|
|Next Episode:||The Girlfriend Experience|
A group of boys are running rabbits (an exercise and tradition that makes them faster sprinters for football season) deep in the sugar cane fields just outside of Pahokee, Florida off Muck City Road, when the youngest of them, Declan, spots a dead man's hand sticking up out of the dirt, fingers clenched in anguish. As police arrive on the scene, we see the deceased is a middle-aged African American man. Longworth questions Declan, who doesn't know the witness but gives him an earful about the Mud Bowl, the most important football event of the year for locals, and sells him a rabbit, which Longworth promptly sets free.
Carlos, just in from a Bar Mitzvah in North Dade County, analyzes the victim, who is dressed in an expensive suit now covered in mud and missing a wedding ring (strangely on his right hand), and concludes he died of blunt force trauma. He also spots ligature marks on the man's neck and abrasions that indicate the body was obviously dragged. Manus joins to let the men know the suits from the Okeechobee Sugar Company, also known as "Big Sugar," are on their way over.
Intern Daniel Green provides evidence which reveals that the victim's name is Curtis Taylor, a 38-year-old real estate developer from Dallas, Texas. The killer clearly hoped Curtis' body could be buried undiscovered in the muck. Longworth suspects that the killer could be an outsider who wouldn't know the muck would quickly unbury anything placed there, and Manus confirms that there have been many of them in town lately, all competing to buy the 1.3 billion dollar land Okeechobee Sugar is currently in the process of selling.
At the sugar cane harvesting plant, Longworth meets Shannon Simpson, a young VP of PR for OK Sugar. Simpson asks that the police department be discreet in alerting the media (who are all in town for the Mud Bowl) about the body for fear of affecting the sale of their land. She also provides Longworth with a list of all employees of Big Sugar who have ever complained or been reprimanded, explaining that when the company leaves, so do many jobs and since the public is unaware of who was bidding on the land, any well-dressed outsider could've been a potential target for angry employees.
As Longworth looks through the files, one employee's record sticks out from the bunch. He is Ron Anderson, an Ignition Specialist caught vandalizing the cars of three executives, along with a host of other indiscretions. As it turns out, Anderson's most recent job was supposed to be starting a fire in the cane fields (part of the cane harvesting process) where the body was found, until the winds shifted and the Department of Forestry pulled the permit. Fitting too because if Anderson had started the fire, all the evidence from the murder case would've been destroyed.
Longworth goes down to the cane fields to speak to Anderson, who tells him he's seen the victim before, hanging out around the football field where he volunteers for the King Snakes, the team-to-beat in the Pahokee Mud Bowl.
On the other side of town, staggering home from another long day and mired in bills, Callie Cargill collides with her mother-in-law Jody, who offers to take Callie's son Jeff shooting as a birthday present since his father isn't able to. Jeff is less than thrilled.
In the autopsy room, Green compares various types of rope to ascertain the kind used to strangle the murder victim. Longworth and Sanchez postulate that the victim may have been a former football player, given the tears in his muscles, which offers up a reason for his interest in the King Snakes. Sanchez also explains that he's found lye on the victim's hands and face, perhaps a way for the killer to accelerate destruction of the body. But the strangest thing, he tells Longworth, is how the man ultimately died Ã¢â‚¬â€œ by drowning in a pool of soapy water...
At Palm Grove High School, Longworth walks in on a football field of bands, cheerleaders and players practicing for the big Mud Bowl. Legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is there giving sound bites to the press about the game. Longworth goes to make conversation and is harshly dismissed by Bowden. He also spots OK Sugar troublemaker Ron Anderson doing his volunteer duties for the King Snakes and gives him a mocking thumbs up.
Longworth, Green and Sanchez discuss the case on the field. Sanchez explains Curtis' motel room is filled with thousands of fluids and fingerprints, making it impossible to process, and that the dead man's wedding ring still has not been located. Longworth asks Green to pull phone records from Curtis' home, cell and the motel room, but he is too busy looking at the cheerleaders, specifically an attractive 16-year old, Crystal Richmond, who steals a kiss from DeAndre Matthews, one of Muck City's star players.
As camera crews moves in to shoot the couple's kiss, Longworth suggests Green also check the b-roll footage from the week prior to see if there is any footage of Curtis Taylor, the dead man.
On another part of the field, King Snake football coach Richard Ward argues with poised and attractive Rita Matthews, DeAndre Matthews' mother. Longworth approaches Coach Ward, but not before noting the way the man tenderly touches Ms. Matthews hand before she takes off. As it turns out, Ward tells Longworth, Matthews has been giving him a hard time about his coaching. Longworth asks Coach Ward about Curtis Taylor and he immediately tenses, noting while he's seen the man from news of the killing, he never remembered him at practice, as his head is always in the game.Longworth, Green and Sanchez review video footage from the previous week and spot Curtis Taylor arguing with DeAndre Matthews in a scene from an earlier practice. Studying the body language in the footage, Longworth deduces that both the men were hiding something.</p>
At DeAndre Matthew's apartment complex, Longworth runs into Declan (the boy who sold him a rabbit at the cane fields) who gives him his rabbit's foot for good luck. He also meets three local women: sassy Vivian, church lady Remelle, and salon owner Minnie. They all praise DeAndre, telling Longworth the boy has recently been approached by Florida State, Oklahoma and Austin recruiters. As they continue to talk football, it's clear that for these women (and everyone else in town) football is more serious than Longworth ever could've imagined. The women prattle on until Longworth asks them about the relationship between Rita Matthews and Coach Ward, which quickly shuts them up. Longworth knows he's on to something.
Longworth and Jeff bond while practicing the boy's shooting in the swamp. Later, at the station, Manus confronts Sanchez about using company money to pay for his wife's transportation home after he was called away from a Bar Mitzvah to take care of the Muck City crime scene. Longworth joins them and Manus mentions that she's been talking to a Ranger friend of hers from Texas and has confirmed that Curtis Taylor was married. Longworth believes it's time to interrogate Coach Ward a little harder, but Manus stops him, cautioning that while Longworth can investigate, he should go easy so as not to disrupt the very serious Mud Bowl about to take place.
Longworth and a team of police arrest DeAndre at his football practice, a pointed move to get Coach Ward to talk. Longworth takes the boy to the ice cream shop so they can speak somewhere private, but DeAndre is too agitated to eat, especially when Longworth starts asking about his father. DeAndre tells the detective that it has always just been him and his mother, but Longworth plays the footage of Curtis and DeAndre on the field and the two watch as Curtis hands DeAndre his ring - not a wedding ring at all but a championship football ring - and DeAndre tosses it to the ground.Longworth insinuates that the boy knew the dead man as the father he claims has been "out of his life" for so long. As proof of his theory, Longworth takes out an order of protection against Curtis filed by a woman named Rita Taylor, and explains to DeAndre what he already knows: that his mother filed the order, moved herself and her son to Pahokee and starting using her maiden name, Matthews, to avoid detection by her husband.</p>
DeAndre breaks down and admits his dad tracked him after seeing a YouTube clip of one of his games. Although his father tried to give him his ring as a peace offering to get him to come home, he would never go back a man who beat his mother. He adds that he was so mad he could have killed him, though he quickly claims to have no part in Curtis' death. Longworth gets a text message and tells DeAndre not to worry, his mother has just confessed to the murder.
In the interrogation room, Rita Matthews tells detectives that once she discovered her husband had come to Pahokee to find her and DeAndre, she tracked down Curtis and smashed his head in with a tire iron. Longworth questions how Rita could have moved the body herself once Curtis was dead. He also asks if she is dating Coach Ward, who he reasons may have taken part in the crime. Rita insists she moved the body on her own, but Longworth doesn't buy it. He tells Rita she's a terrible liar, that she is not the one who killed Curtis. He then leaves the interrogation room and re-arrests her son.
Longworth goes to Minnie's hair salon to try and get the local ladies, Vivian, Remelle and Minnie, to solidify the facts of the crime. When he hits a dead end, he asks for a haircut, refusing to leave until they answer his questions. He discusses their alibis on the night Curtis was killed. Then, trying a new strategy, he brings up his own relationship with Callie, subtly comparing the situation of wanting to date a married woman to Coach Ward's relationship with Rita Matthews, who was still legally married to Curtis. Unaware, they indulge in his drama, making it quite clear that a woman can date whoever she wants if her man is out of the picture and offering their full support of Rita Matthews, until Longworth lets it drop that Rita has confessed to murder. This bombshell ends Longworth's haircut and interview with the ladies.
At the hospital, Longworth questions Callie about domestic abuse. Callie offers that for her and many women, if a man ever abused them he would definitely end up in a body bag - unless of course, the woman in question had a good support system to get her out of the bad relationship. After his visit with Callie, Longworth discovers his car has been covered in egg, shaving cream and toilet paper - revenge, Manus tells him, for messing with the big game in Muck City. Manus also gives Longworth another file, more information about the case from her friend in Texas.
Daniel tells Longworth he has had no luck yet finding the rope type that killed Curtis or Curtis Taylor's missing wedding ring. They ponder the reason Rita and her son would want to kill Curtis now, as opposed to three years ago when they were all still living together and he was abusing her. Longworth searches the file from Manus and finds an answer - Curtis had legal rights to bring DeAndre back to Texas with him - and Longworth decides someone was prepared to help him do the job.
Still putting the pieces together, Longworth uses DeAndre's phone to send a text message to DeAndre's girlfriend, Crystal. The ploy works; Crystal goes to her locker and grabs Curtis Taylor's missing ring, delivering it, and herself, right into the hands of Longworth, who is waiting for her around the corner.
Crystal is brought into interrogation where she tells Longworth Curtis gave the ring to her to give to DeAndre with instructions that if DeAndre came home he would help his son get into Austin University. Longworth suggests that Curtis taking DeAndre away from her would have given Crystal motive to kill him, but Crystal says DeAndre didn't need his dad to get into AU. When Longworth persists, she tells him Coach Ward could've gotten DeAndre into AU as easily as his own father and had in fact been helping the boy all along, including moving him and his mother away from their father in Texas to Florida. This comment piques Longworth's interest and he rushes out of the room to make a call.
Longworth's instincts are correct and he discovers that Coach Ward and Curtis Taylor both played football together at AU. He and Sanchez head to Coach Ward's home where Longworth confronts him about being on the team with Curtis in college (where Curtis was the star player), falling in love with Rita, and taking her and her son away from Curtis to get back at him out of jealousy. Then the men send in the FDLE to search the coach's home.
Detectives find an OK Sugar parking pass and a winch, the perfect device for moving a large load, in Coach Ward's truck, only to discover it's not his truck at all. It's Ron Anderson's, OK Sugar employee and intern for the King Snakes, the perfect man to help Coach Ward dispose of Curtis' body. Longworth and Sanchez find lye and skin traces on Anderson's winch and match the tool's distinctive markings to those found on Curtis' neck. Still something troubles Longworth - while the winch has clearly been used in connection with Curtis' death, no skin or lye traces have been detected in Anderson's truck.
At the station, Longworth questions Sanchez about his excessive communication with Ben Feldman, the man whose daughter's Bat Mitzvah Sanchez has come from earlier in the episode and who Sanchez seems somehow indebted to. As it turns out, Feldman is the judge for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Advancement Committee and Sanchez says he's looking for a promotion.
Ron Anderson is interrogated by Longworth once again who questions where he was the night of the murder. Anderson tells Longworth he was having sex with his ex-wife, who has specifically instructed him to keep the liaison a secret. Suddenly, everything clicks for Longworth and he knows exactly who the woman Anderson is talking about is.
Longworth heads back to Minnie's salon, finally putting the pieces together. There, he encounters Vivian, Remelle and Minnie, realizing that they are the ones who killed Curtis after hearing that he was going to take DeAndre, their beloved football star, back to Texas. These women, he reasons are not just the most ardent football fans in town, but also what Callie described to him as an abuse victim's support system, the ones who help the abused get out of a bad relationship.
Longworth sets the scene for the women - Remelle told Curtis that Crystal, DeAndre's girlfriend and her granddaughter, wanted to see him. When Curtis came into the saloon looking for Crystal, the women whacked him over the head with a baseball bat, wheeled him to the sink and drowned him in the soapy water (which contained traces of lye). Vivian then slept with ex-husband, Ron Anderson, in order to borrow his winch and the three dumped Curtis in the cane fields. To solidify his theory, Longworth sprays luminol on the baseball bat the women keep in the salon for protection. The bat reveals traces of blood and skin, no doubt belonging to Curtis Taylor.
The case now closed, Longworth watches crowds pouring into the stadium for the big game, which has obviously taken on more significance for him now. As he observes, Longworth is approached by Declan. Longworth asks Declan if he knew who the dead man was all along (already knowing the answer) and Declan tells him Curtis had come round asking about DeAndre, even gave the boy his business card, but that he knew Longworth would figure the case out because he is the police after all. Longworth tosses Declan back his rabbit's foot, proudly telling Declan that he didn't even need it.
At Jeff's thirteenth birthday party, Longworth buys the boy an Xbox. When he arrives at the party, Callie awkwardly explains that her mother-in-law (who doesn't like Jim) is over, but Longworth insists that Jeff has asked him to come. Then, taking the high road, Longworth tells Jeff he has to take a rain check gets up to leave just as the boy's father calls from prison, the man who should really be there to wish Jeff a happy birthday. Longworth's kindness and maturity impresses both Callie and her mother-in-law, proving his sincerity and once again securing his place in their life for a moment longer.