The world of competitive dance turns deadly when the mother of a star performer is stabbed to death at a competition. Jane and the team search for clues, but they soon realize something is off about the woman's history. Korsak has his hands full when his stepson is accused of shooting a cop.
The scene opens with young women dancing on a stage doing an R & B routine. A woman stumbles from offstage. She has a pair of scissors sticking out of her chest. She collapses and one of the young dancers runs to her, her mother. Back at Jane's, she and Maura practice self-defense boxing moves. Jane thinks her dad is still in Florida and now has a girlfriend. They get called to the scene. Korsak ignores his ringing cell phone. The victim, Denise Ryan, has defensive wounds on her hands. The scissors have a ribbon on them from Sapphire Dance Studio. Jane and Korsak follow the blood trail to the dressing room. Korsak ignores his phone again. It's Melody, wanting him to co-sign a loan for her yoga studio.
Korsak still hasn't seen his son, who thinks Korsak abandoned them. Frost interviews the victim's husband Skip and daughter, Dakota. The husband says he was at a meeting. Jane talks to coach J.J., the head of the studio. She says Dakota is her best dancer but her mom would only let her compete locally, citing money problems. Jane gets a call from Cavanaugh, trying to reach Korsak. Melody was calling him, but not about yoga. Josh was just arrested for shooting Jerry Kincaid, a cop. Korsak raised Josh from the time he was two until he was nine, until Melody took him away. Korsak had no parental rights and no recourse to see him. Josh was caught coming out of a sporting goods store. Kincaid come up on him walking a foot beat and Josh shot him with his own gun. Kincaid is in surgery and not doing well. Josh refuses to speak with Korsak, who says he's hiring Josh a lawyer.
Melody yells at Korsak for not answering his phone but he points out she ignored him for five years and turned Josh against him and is no position to point fingers. She claims they have the wrong kid, but they caught Josh running from the scene with blood on him and the gun in his hand. Jane and Frost review the dance video. They check Skip's phone GPS. He wasn't at a meeting, but near the studio. They confront him and he says he was at the hotel bar next door. His business isn't doing well. He's been with Denise since Dakota was three, after her dad died. In the morgue, Maura says Denise was a natural blonde who dyed her hair brunette. Her feet are mangled from years dancing in ballet toe shoes. She's had extensive plastic surgery, including cheek and chin implants and a nose job. Jane gets a text that Kincaid is back in surgery.
Frost confirms that Skip was in the bar the whole time. Frost found a police report about crazy dance moms Yvonne and Kim, vandalizing Denise's car because Dakota kept beating their daughters. Rizzoli knows the dance world, having danced as a child. She shows off a move for Frost. Frost finds a video of Yvonne and Kim verbally accosting Denise over their daughters. They head back to the studio. J.J. confirms Yvonne and Kim hated Denise. J.J. stands up for Dakota and says she's a hard worker. Skip brings Dakota in. The other girls hug her. Jane and Frost talk to mean mom Yvonne, who claims Dakota dropped her daughter Summer in a dance competition. She claims she was in the balcony filming. They find footage confirming her story. An officer takes collection for Kincaid and initially shuns Korsak's offering. They talk to Kim, who admits she keyed Denise's car. She says Denise lied about Dakota's age.
She's the team mom and is in charge of registration. She thinks Denise lied about Dakota's age because she gave her a copy of her birth certificate instead of the original. Kim has a time stamped receipt during the time of the murder, proving she was buying dance videos. Korsak talks to Josh in interview. He's beat up. Korsak tells Josh he called and sent cards and presents. Josh says he's fine and doesn't need his help. Korsak asks him if shot Kincaid. Josh throws him out and refuses his lawyer. Frost looks into Denise and finds she didn't have a credit history. Korsak says he didn't realize how needy Melody was and he wasn't around enough. She reached out to Josh's biological father in Florida and he led her on and they moved down there. Cavanaugh gave him the police report. Josh's prints are on the gun, the blood was Kincaid's. Cavanaugh comes in with more info, there was a second set of prints for Gavin Thompson, a friend of Josh's that Korsak never liked.
They're picking him up. Maura calls with news. She found evidence of repeated spiral fractures in her wrists. They're at least a decade old. She fractured both her wrists three times and was set by a doctor. Frost can't find any hospital records of the injuries. He also can't find a record of Dakota's birth. They check the name of the father on her birth certificate and find nothing. They think she was in witness protection. Back in the morgue, Jane asks Maura if she can recreate what Denise looked like before surgery. They picked up Gavin Thompson on a skate board from the sporting goods store. He says he did the break in, and they ran into the cop. Gavin says Josh got the gun from him and pointed it at the cop and he grabbed it and tried to stop Josh, which is how his prints got on the gun.
Gavin says Josh hated cops because his mom married one. Watching in the observation room, Korsak gets fired up and resolves to make Josh tell him the truth. Jane and Korsak talk to Josh. Korsak shows him a picture of the wounded cop and tells him about his family. Josh doesn't believe Gavin gave him up, so they show him the footage. He tells Korsak to go to hell. Korsak tries to make him understand that if the cop dies, he's going to prison for the rest of his life. Korsak gets angry and jumps across the table to try to throttle Josh. Jane pulls him off. Angela brings Melody tea. She feels bad for taking Josh away from Vince. Korsak finds her. She says when they left, Josh asked about "dad" every day and she told him Korsak was in love with his job, not them. She says Josh loves him, no matter what he says. Maura has a reconstruction of Denise's face and they're comparing it to witnesses from high profile trials.
They find one. She's Debbie Brown; her husband was a drug trafficker, Robert Gusano. He was convicted, but still fought for custody. That's why she forged Dakota's birth certificate. Jane calls Wit Sec. The agent is less than forthcoming. Jane deduces that Gusano is a government witness. The agent assures them Gusano didn't order a hit. Denise grew up in Florida and danced with several professional companies. She had a sister named Gabrielle Radford. Jane notes past tense and realizes she's also in Wit Sec. Korsak tries talking to Josh again and tells him he's his son and loves him. He says even if he did this, he won't abandon him. Josh finally says Gavin is lying. Gavin shot him and Josh tried to stop him.
He tried to wrestle the gun away and tried to give Kincaid CPR until he heard sirens. Then he ran. Maura looks at the paramedic form and finds they didn't perform CPR, but Kincaid's x-rays show broken ribs, which can be the result of CPR. Korsak doesn't think it's enough, they need Kincaid's testimony. Maura pulls Josh's clothes. There's a lot of blood on his knees and at the toes of his shoes, like he was kneeling over Kincaid. Frost and Jane try to figure out how the sisters were in touch. They go through Denise's email and find unsent messages in her account. All she'd have to do is give her sister her password to read them. They find one with the date and time of the recital, asking her to come. Gabrielle also lives in Boston. Frost and Jane go to her house.
They find her tied up dead inside, having been tortured. All of a sudden, men with guns jump out. It's the US Marshals. The agent they talked to says he found out after talking to Jane that Gabrielle left Wit Sec. And they've lost track of Gusano. They think he's going to grab his daughter and head for Mexico. They head to the dance recital. Dakota doesn't come out on stage when they start. Jane runs back stage and hears screaming. They follow her outside and see Gusano dragging her away. He won't let her go. Skip runs outside to all the commotion and gets shot by Gusano. Gusano turns his gun on the cops and they open fire.
Dakota runs to Skip, who is hit through his gut but seems like he'll make it. Later, Jane chows down on a burger in the bar because life is too short. Skip is OK and will be out of the hospital in a few days. Korsak comes in and announces Kincaid came to in the hospital. Josh is only being charged with breaking and entering, but won't be prosecuted because he's testifying against Gavin. Korsak is off to meet Melody as Jane orders French fries.
- Angie Harmon as Detective Jane Rizzoli
- Sasha Alexander as Dr. Maura Isles
- Jordan Bridges as Officer Frankie Rizzoli, Jr.
- Lee Thompson Young as Detective Barry Frost
- with Bruce McGill as Detective Vince Korsak
- and Lorraine Bracco as Angela Rizzoli
- Brian Goodman as Lieutenant Sean Cavanaugh
- Lolita Davidovich as Melody Patterson
- Matthew Fahey as Josh Patterson
- Colby French as Skip Ryan
- Sarah McElligott as Denise Ryan
- Kelly Lazarus as Dakota Ryan
- Allison Dunbar as Kim Marks
- Lisa LoCicero as Yvonne Smith
- Lisa Ann Walter as Coach J.J.
- Reiley McClendon as Gavin
- Jaime Gomez as Roberto Gusano
- Mykelti Williamson as U.S. Marshal Whitmore
- Tabitha Kern as Garielle Redford
- Kati Kunne as Mackenzie Marks
- Tory Kurt as Summer Smith
- Liza Kurtis as Unnamed Mom
- Jeeas Locia as Unnamed Dance Kid Girl
- Sasha Pieterse as Unnamed Mother
- Natalie Carter as Unnamed Mother 2
- Jada Platt as Unnamed Kid
- Shana Danburt as Unnamed kid of Sasha
- Kelana Nette as Kid
- Denyce Lawton as Mother 1
- Tina Manger-Rangle as Kid
- Navlata Rawat as Mother 2
- Angelique Cinelu as Dahlia
- Tali Klankestein as Kid 3
- Reatha Grey as Dana Peyton
- Dania Ramirez as Kate Lopez
- Rani Vitt as Lis Lopez (uncredited)
- Phillis Lemarshall as Phina Morris