I don’t ever get tired of Motive, but it’s always nice when a show shakes things up a little. This episode begins at a crime scene where a man is impaled on an anchor. Guest star Corbin Bernsen is the medical examiner coming to check him out, accompanied by Officer Sung. It doesn’t take long for the ominous music to play: he’s THE VICTIM. A moment later, we meet THE KILLER: a young construction worker who seems unhappy with her job, but ironically comments that life is too short.
Dr. Stan Matthews was found dead in a parking garage, at the bottom of the ramp leading to the roof. Dr. Rogers is there, crying, because Dr. Matthews was a mentor of hers. Meanwhile, our killer shows up late for her shift because “her kid was sick.”
At the crime scene, Vega speaks to the woman who found Matthews’s body. She says she saw a black van speeding by as she approached. Dr. Rogers identifies the weapon that stabbed Dr. Matthews multiple times as something like an ice pick. He has only been dead for a half hour.
Flashback to Dr. Matthews doing an examination. As he covers the victim, a child, he rubs her hand for a moment, as if he knew her.
Diane, our killer, is on shift at a construction site. Another worker tells her he’s misplaced his awl, and that she should have no trouble recognizing it if she sees it, because he carves his initials on all his tools. This appears to disturb her. In other words, I think we’ve identified the murder weapon.
Not much information can be gathered from the crime scene, lucky for Diane. There’s too much traffic in the garage for forensics to find anything, and the security camera got nothing useful from the black van. Detective Lucas has his work cut out for him.
At Diane’s home, she argues with her preteen daughter, Jackie. She tells Jackie that what happened to their family is nothing to be ashamed of, but Jackie is ashamed and seems to think Diane is too. She refuses to go along with Diane to see her father. Flash forward to Diane locating the awl in a dumpster and tucking it into her coat.
Dr. Rogers and Detective Flynn go to deliver the bad news to Stan’s wife, Maggie. She can’t think of anyone who would want to hurt him except a stranger at the grocery store who shouted at him the day before. Maggie didn’t hear what he said, but she thought it was very odd.
We learn that Stan was stabbed while taking a lunch break from a trial he was to testify in, which seems important. Initially, that appears to be Diane’s connection to him, because her husband John is in prison for something Diane believes he didn’t do. She talks to him over the phone at the jail and he tells her they aren’t going to win. She needs to just move on.
That apparent connection dissolves as Flynn discusses the trial with Dr. Rogers. The defendant is named Brad Hitchens, and he’s charged with shooting a four-year-old boy at a meth party. Dr. Rogers has been asked to testify in Stan’s absence, which Flynn thinks he would like, but she’s also understandably concerned for Dr. Rogers’s safety.
Diane frantically scrubs the awl clean at her kitchen sink as the scene changes to an earlier date. She’s receiving a certified letter at her front door. It’s divorce papers. Her husband meant what he said.
Lucas uncovers a black van that has been cited four times for driving with obscured plates. The owner’s name is Daniel Hitchens, so naturally the detectives want to explore his possible connection to Brad. They like Daniel for Stan’s murder almost immediately because he has an arrest record. Also, security cameras confirm he was the man shouting at Stan at the grocery store.
In her car, Diane searches for the key card that gets her into her work site. The fact that she can’t find it and is so panicked suggests that it could turn up as a piece of evidence. She asks Jackie about it, and Jackie says she didn’t take it. She says she’s not the criminal in this family. Diane slaps her. It’s pretty clear that things are unraveling fast for Diane, sooner than they generally do for the killer.
Flynn and Vega locate Daniel Hitchens. There are a number of parking tickets on the windshield of his black van. The front porch is filthy. He’s an unsavory character, but he insists he didn’t kill Stan. He was yelling at him because he’s part of the “disease,” all the people that are going after Brad, who is Daniel’s brother. Also, he saw who did kill Stan. Whoa!
He can’t offer much of a description, though. She looked “like a chick.” She wasn’t his type. She was running toward the stairwell, panicked. He figured she was the killer after he saw on the news that Stan was dead, but he didn’t come forward because he isn’t going to do the police’s job for them!
There’s no proof of Daniel’s story on the security cameras, because the pedestrian exit is behind one of them. Flynn notices that there are two cameras pointed at the cashier’s booth. They rewind the tape, and someone moves one camera toward the booth 13 hours before the murder. Now we know it was premeditated.
Flynn and Cross have their weekly confrontation after that. Cross tells Vega that Flynn has a “tell”–her eye twitches. She storms into his office and tells him that they had an agreement not to make professional conversations personal. He wants to know if she’s told Vega about them, and she says yes, but not everything. He’s satisfied with that.
At the parking garage, Diane looks for her key card. It’s not at the scene, not in the lost and found. She has a brief flashback of stabbing poor Stan. Moral arguments against murder notwithstanding, that’s motivation enough for me to not kill anyone. Too many disturbing flashbacks.
Things are about to get more complicated with Stan. Dr. Rogers learns that he was planning to testify that Brad Hitchens fired the bullet based on the pathological evidence found at the scene. But Dr. Rogers has examined that evidence herself, and Stan’s conclusions are impossible. The gun was fired from the floor, as Brad testified, because there was another child present who was playing with it. Stan was planning to lie on the stand.
Flynn goes back to Maggie Matthews to see what she knows. All she can say is that Stan’s current case was troubling him, but that they didn’t talk about it. They lost their granddaughter to drowning a few years ago, so talking about the death of a child is too hard.
Vega and Lucas are checking out the parking garage again, and they see a partial footprint where someone would have had to climb to turn the security camera. Lucas notices a wide gap between the railing and the wall and decides to go down to the lower levels to see if the perpetrator dropped anything. BAM! There’s Diane’s key card.
Forensics identifies the print as being from a workboot, but not in Daniel Hitchens’s size, so he’s looking less and less guilty. They identify the key card as being registered to a construction site and, heading there, find out that it belongs to Diane Torrance. Your days are numbered, Diane.
As Diane and Jackie pack up their house and argue because Jackie doesn’t want to move, Flynn and Vega walk up the driveway. They question Diane about her relationship to Stan and her whereabouts the day before. She’s cagey and nervous, but doesn’t give herself away. Still, they know it was her now. They just need to prove it.
Back at the station, they look into the sale of Jackie’s house. It was listed less than a week before the murder. The listing shows a little boy’s room, but to their knowledge, it’s just Diane and Jackie living there. A little more research turns up the fact that John and Diane had a four-year-old son who died.
That’s enough for them to head back to Diane’s. She doesn’t say much. They tell her they know about her son Brian and they know that Stan testified against her husband in his manslaughter trial. Turns out, Brian was the victim. John fell asleep while watching Brian, and when he woke up, Brian wasn’t breathing. Vega reminds her that older bruises were found on Brian’s body. Diane says they came from falling off a bike. Regardless, we also get a flashback in which John is stabbed in prison for being a “baby killer.” Diane wanted Stan to die the way her innocent husband did.
Here’s the bad news on Stan: he tried to prosecute the parents of the child whose home his granddaughter was swimming at when she drowned. He was unsuccessful. Dr. Rogers finds five separate cases in which he testified negligence by the parents when the evidence showed otherwise. Stan was trying to get his own kind of revenge, or at least justice. In the end, it looks like that’s what he got.