Title Penalty Phase
Series Major Crimes
Season 4
Episode 18
Airdate December 21, 2015
Viewers million
Written by Adam Belanoff
Directed by Michael Robin
Previous episode "#FindKaylaWeber"
Next episode Hindsight, Part 1
Episode list Season 4

Sharon and the team track an unhinged killer making his own film, with his victims as the stars as a new romance takes wing.

The VictimEdit

  • Jeff Ashby
    • Film professor.
    • Shot twice in the back of the head.
    • Former professor and thesis advisor of Brad Powell.
    • Flunked him for "contradicting the language of cinema."
  • Lisa Green
    • 52-year old relator and former literary manager for screenwriters.
    • Shot in a mansion she was showing to Brad Powell.
    • Brad's former literary manager who stopped taking his phone calls.
  • Ryan Powell
    • Younger brother of Brad Powell.
    • Former film student who quit school.
    • Kidnapped and beaten by his brother.
    • Eventually manages to escape.
  • Sarah Powell
    • Works as a caterer.
    • Sister-in-law of Brad Powell.
    • Separated from her husband Ryan.
    • Blamed by Brad for taking his brother away from him.

The SuspectsEdit

  • Brad Powell
    • Former film student.
    • Flunked by Jeff Ashby, phone calls rejected by Lisa Green his former literary manager.
    • Has clearly gone insane and displays very erratic behavior.
    • Intends to turn his murders into his great film masterpiece.


Closing the CaseEdit

Holly Riggs is able to identify one of the people in the video of the crime scene as the killer and Tao begins running the picture through the California, Nevada, Utah and Oregon criminal databases in an effort to identify him. Sharon orders that the picture be circulated amongst the university staff, the victims' families and local law enforcement in an effort to identify the man. The detectives are also unable to find any sort of common overlap between Lisa Green and Jeff Ashby.

Sykes and Julio question Lisa's husband who doesn't recognize either the killer or Jeff Ashby. He insists that Lisa was well-liked and didn't have any enemies and states that after fifteen years in the business, she is used to dealing with high-maintenance types. After Julio points out that he had told them that Lisa had only been in real estate for five years, her husband explains that Lisa used to be a literary manager for screenwriters before she switched careers due to the annoyance that came with dealing with screenwriters.

After hearing about Lisa's former career, Sharon questions Tao about the possibility of talent representatives sifting through students for prospective clients which he confirms is possible. At Sykes' request, Lisa's husband provides the detectives with Lisa's old client list.

At the same time, the killer shows his brother Ryan the video he's made of the murders. Ashby used to be their professor before Ryan dropped out while the killer was flunked by Ashby for "contradicting the language of cinema." The killer, Brad, is clearly insane, planning to turn his murders into a film masterpiece and acting extremely erratically. When Ryan attempts to steal a lighter to escape his bonds, Brad goes so far as to angrily threaten his brother at gunpoint.

By cross-referencing Lisa's old client list with a list of undergraduate and MFA candidates attending the film school since 1995, Tao and Buzz are able to locate five people who Lisa represented from the school's film program, three of whom are men. Two have current pictures on social media that confirm they aren't the killer, but the last is Brad Powell who could match the killer's picture if he has lost weight and grown a beard since his photo ID was taken at the time of Brad's admission to the school.

Tao and Julio visit Brad's last known address, a house owned by Brad's mother. Not getting any response at the door, Tao and Julio decide to search the house on a welfare check and find a lot of electronics equipment, a film collection and a sealed room. In the room, the detectives find the desiccated corpse of Brad's mother. "I think we're in the right place," comments Julio upon seeing the corpse. During autopsy, after examining Mrs. Powell's medical records, Doctor Morales determines that her most likely cause of death is metastatic breast cancer. Due to the amount of decay, Morales can't be sure, but has found no obvious signs of murder.

Flynn tells Sharon that they are trying to find Brad's younger brother Ryan who has recently separated from his wife. However, Ryan is not at the address his wife has for him, his phone is offline and he drives an older model jeep that doesn't have remote tracking such as OnStar. The detectives realize that the fact that both brothers are missing and their mother has been dead for months indicates that something is very wrong.

Sharon has Ryan's wife, Sarah, brought in to see what she knows. Sarah is surprised to find out that they are searching for both brothers, telling them that Ryan and Brad haven't spoken since before she and Ryan got together four years ago. While Ryan has told her a lot of lies, she believes him about not speaking to his brother for years. Sarah tells Sykes and Provenza that she last saw Ryan at divorce mediation two weeks before, but he hadn't shown up for their most recent appointment three days before. She mentions that she believes that Ryan is angry about them swapping cars at the mediator's suggestion due to her need for a bigger vehicle for her catering business. After learning that Ryan has his wife's 2014 Lexus, the detectives quickly realize that he was last known to be driving a car with remote tracking capabilities. Deputy Chief Howard quickly dispatches his airships to track down the car.

At the house where he has been hiding out, Brad loads Ryan into Sarah's car and blindfolds him with duct-taped sunglasses. Brad makes it clear that he intends for the ending of his movie to be both shocking and horrific as they leave. As they drive, Ryan claims that he recognizes the genius of Brad's movie and that he wants to be apart of it. After the two reminisce, Brad agrees to let Ryan in on it and tells his brother that they have one more errand to run before returning to the house for the ending.

Unknown to Brad, an LAPD airship is able to detect the car once he leaves the house in it. The police are able to follow Brad to a gas station with the help of the airship where Brad begins filling a gas can. Brad notices the airship circling the gas station and as he watches it in confusion, Ryan takes the opportunity to drive off in the car. Believing that its Brad attempting to escape, the LAPD follows the car until it pulls over and are shocked to find Ryan Powell tied up in the driver's seat. Witnessing this, Brad angrily steals an SVU from the gas station and escapes.

After the incident at the gas station, the detectives review the security camera footage and Sharon is disturbed by the fact that Brad escaped with a gas can. Julio lets Sharon know that he has alerted the fire department to direct all arson calls to them and placed a want out on the stolen car. At the same time, Tao has shown pictures of all the houses Lisa Green was showing to clients within a ten mile radius of the gas station to Ryan, but he stated that none were the correct one. Sharon has Tao look into pocket listings, houses that Lisa was showing for clients that they didn't want on the market publically.

Ryan explains to Sharon that Brad wanted to be a director and was talented, but would lose it if anyone criticized him. As a result, by the time that Ryan reached film school, Brad was hated so much that the idea that they could be the next great team of director brothers was impossible. This caused the split between Ryan and Brad who had wanted to team up with Ryan as the Powell Brothers. As a result, Ryan dropped out of film school and got married which angered Brad. Sharon realizes that Brad's killing spree is part of his filmmaker dream which Ryan confirms.

Ryan warns that while Brad called it their breakout project, its really just his brother's way of getting even with everyone he feels has ruined his life: Lisa Green as she was his literary manager that stopped returning his phone calls, Jeff Ashby who was Brad's thesis advisor and Ryan. Ryan states that Brad feels that everyone has ruined his life and Ryan has no idea of any specific targets Brad might be after. Tao is able to learn from Lisa's office of a single property that she was showing that isn't in the system. After being shown a picture of the living room, Ryan identifies it as the house where he was held.

At the house, Brad prepares for his final murder: Sarah Powell, Ryan's estranged wife. Under the guise of getting a consult from Sarah, who is a caterer for a party, Brad lures her to the house and films everything under the guise of doing it so his wife can see it later. As Brad sets up for the murder, the police arrive and Sykes and Provenza recognize the jeep in the driveway as belonging to Sarah. The detectives quickly realize that Brad blames Sarah, who has never met him and thus doesn't know what he looks like, for breaking up his planned team with his brother. Sharon sends SWAT teams to help, but with Sarah in danger, Sykes, Provenza, Tao and Julio are forced to proceed alone with body cameras sending footage back to Sharon in the Major Crimes electronics room.

As an oblivious Sarah continues to outline the planned dinner party for Brad, Sharon calls her. After ignoring Sharon's first call, Sarah finally answers on the second and Sharon questions her about her situation. Realizing that something is up, Sarah discreetly tells Sharon that she's not alone and is unsure if the man with her has a gun. As Brad goes for his gun as he prepares to kill Sarah, Sharon has her make an excuse about bad reception to escape the situation. As Sarah makes her escape, Provenza rings the doorbell to distract Brad. Sarah is able to reach the outside safely where Sykes escorts her out of danger. Sarah is able to tell the detectives that Brad is in the house filming without any sign of another hostage.

Brad spots the detectives surrounding the house and decides to improvise, stating that the best plan is "one you can burn down." After learning that Brad is alone, Sharon orders the detectives not to engage unless Brad attempts to escape. Brad emerges onto the patio drenched in gasoline and announces his plan to have his big finish by demonstrating what commitment to one's vision really looks like. Filming himself still, Brad sets himself on fire in an act of attempted suicide. However, he does so at the edge of the house's pool and Julio tackles Brad in, foiling his suicide attempt. As Tao puts out the fire that sprang up at the edge of the pool, Julio subdues Brad who is taken into custody for his crimes. As a result of Julio tackling Brad into the pool, his phone sinks to the bottom and is ruined, destroying Brad's movie.

Later, at the squad Christmas party, Sykes expresses regret at the fact that Julio saving Brad's life means that the state will now have to pay to put Brad on trial and execute him when Brad was willing to take care of it for them.

Guest CastEdit


  • Leslie Thurston as Bailiff
  • Jennifer Jalene as Court Clerk
  • Rey Borge as Mazda Owner
  • Jacinta Robert as Foreman
  • Steve Roussell as Tactical Flight Officer



Episode NotesEdit

The Other Side of the CoinEdit

  • The jury sentences Slider to death and he glares at Rusty afterwards. Judge Grove decides to have a hearing in a week to determine whether or not he will uphold the death sentence though Bobby Munroe tries to waive the hearing.
  • Afterwards, Rusty tells Gus he looked it up and Judge Grove never throws out death penalties, but it still will not end as Bobby Munroe will just keep filing appeals. Gus is willing to wait it out for Mariana's sake.
  • Rusty has a nightmare where Slider appears in his room and accuses Rusty of telling his story because he thought that when Slider got out of jail, Slider would "give him a thrill." Rusty insists that's not what he wanted and Slider suggests Rusty just hustles people and drops them after he gets what he needs and suggests he did that to Gus. Rusty insists he didn't do that to Gus while Slider tells Rusty he did it to Slider himself. Rusty then wakes up.

Rusty and GusEdit

  • After explaining what's going to happen next to Gus, Rusty offers to get lunch with Gus who turns him down as he's got somewhere to be. Rusty then tries inviting Gus to a Christmas party Sharon is throwing, but after Rusty tells him that everyone will be happy to see Gus again, Gus turns him down, stating he's not in the Christmas spirit though he doesn't want to disappoint "everyone". Rusty is left disappointed by this.
  • Gus comes to the holiday party afterall where he asks Rusty if he's there as Rusty's date. Rusty tells Gus he thought it out and there's too many hurdles, namely that Gus lives in Las Vegas while Rusty lives in Los Angeles. Gus informs a surprised Rusty he's moving to LA. He hadn't been able to have lunch with Rusty because he was getting a job. When Rusty asks if its for him, Gus explains its so he can be close to Paloma in case her foster family allows him to be in her life. Rusty tells him he has to focus on college, but Gus has no problem with that, even saying maybe he'll go to college too one day. Rusty admits he has no idea how to date someone, but Gus feels that as they already know each other they have a big edge in that. Rusty finally expresses his true fears to Gus: that once Gus gets to know him better, Gus won't like him anymore. Gus doesn't believe that to be possible.
  • After his conversation with Gus, the two enter the squad room together smiling and Rusty, telling Sharon he's putting himself all in, asks for Gus to spend Christmas Day with them as he'll be in LA with nowhere to go. Sharon and Andy are both delighted at the idea, especially as Gus has been through some difficult times. Rusty tells them that "maybe something good's about to happen" and beaming, goes to talk to Gus. The two are later shown talking and laughing with Sharon.

Andy's HealthEdit

  • Andy is still unable to go out into the field as shown when Sharon tells him no on doctor's orders when he tries to go into the field. Andy is left annoyed while Buzz is amused.

Sharon BeckEdit

  • At the squad's Christmas party, Provenza gets a phone call and informs Sharon that it was about Sharon Beck. Provenza tells Sharon that Sharon Beck changed her address from a rehab center and halfway house to an apartment building. Tao shows Sharon a report that on drug tests, Rusty's mother has been testing clean every week for the past three months and has a cell phone, job and an address. However, Sharon Beck hasn't contacted Rusty. Sharon suggests that Sharon Beck wants to be sure of her recovery before contacting Rusty which she can agree with. Sharon decides to stop interfering in Sharon Beck's life, giving her the space she needs to make her own way and see what the New Year brings. Sharon throws out the report on Sharon, but Provenza takes it from the trash after she leaves and puts it in his filing cabinet.


Episode MediaEdit

The Other Side of the Coin Pt

The Other Side of the Coin Pt. 8

Identity by Rusty Beck

  • Rusty informs his audience about Slider's death sentence and then measures the amount of money the state expended with Slider versus Mariana.