|Airdate||November 16, 2015|
|Written by||Michael Alaimo|
|Directed by||Sheelin Choksey|
|Next episode||“Taking the Fall”|
|Episode list||Season 4|
Sharon and the team investigate a murder during the taping of a reality competition show pitting married couples against each other. The case has a profound effect on Sanchez, bringing back memories of his late wife. Meanwhile, Rusty meets Slider's lawyer.
- Donna Cochran
- Star of American Scavenger Hunt.
- Married to Chip Cochran with constant arguing and fighting.
- Was driven over a cliff in her car.
- Suffered a broken neck and skull fracture, died of the broken neck.
- Chip Cochran
- Professional stuntman.
- Star of American Scavenger Hunt.
- Married to Donna Cochran.
- Constantly argues and fight with Donna.
- Claims is part of their "brand".
- Claims that he and Donna purposefully make people hate them as part of their strategy.
- Jumped out of the car before it went over the cliff.
- Suffered a head injury and an apparently broken leg.
- Chip Cochran
- Husband of Donna Cochran.
- Jumped out of the car before it crashed.
- Briefly suspected of causing his wife's death.
- Colleen Dickerhoof
- Contestant on American Scavenger Hunt.
- Wife of Les Dickerhoof.
- Flirts with other contestants to get ahead in the game.
- Got Chip Cochran to get Reggie Fluke kicked out of the show.
- Les Dickerhoof
- Contestant on American Scavenger Hunt.
- Husband of Colleen Dickerhoof.
- Visibly uncomfortable with his wife's method of getting ahead in the game show.
- Reggie Fluke
- Computer engineer who designs code for video games.
- Former contestant on American Scavenger Hunt.
- Humiliated by Chip Cochran on national TV.
- Lost his wife as a result.
- Posted threatening messages on Twitter under the handle "The Exterminator."
- Created the program used to crash the Cochran's car.
- Agreed to a deal for vehicular manslaughter.
- Nate Olin
- Creator and producer of American Scavenger Hunt.
- Has a six-year contract for the show he can't get out of.
- Holds a great deal of resentment towards the Cochran's for twisting his show.
- Hired Doctor Reggie Fluke to create a hacking program for the Cochran's car.
- Killed Donna Cochran and has no remorse for it at all.
Closing the CaseEdit
After tracking down Mitzy Cochran, she reveals that Chip is talking about the death of Donna on the Mario Lopez Show. Chip gives scripted answers until Mario Lopez reveals that they have video of before the crash, something that not even Buzz Watson was able to get. In the video, Donna accuses Chip of having an affair before both start fighting with the steering wheels, claiming that the other is making them drive crazy. Just before they go over the cliff, Chip tells Donna "karma's a bitch" and jumps out of the car.
When confronted with the footage, Chip claims that the arguing is part of their brand and that he really did love Donna. Despite being a stuntman and thus knowing how to safely jump out of a car, Chip maintains his innocence in the crash, telling the detectives that he originally thought Donna was putting on a show since the American Scavenger Hunt producers sometimes have them do things like that. He also claims that without Donna, he won't be able to do their planned spin-off so he has no reason to have killed her.
Analyzing the video obtained by Buzz from the Mario Lopez Show, Tao determines that after weaving all over the road, the car suddenly made headed straight for the cliff. As a result, the detectives become sure that the car was hacked and someone deliberately sent it over the cliff in an attempt to kill Chip and Donna. Tao is having SID examine the car for information on how it was hacked while Sharon assigns Flynn, relegated to her condo as he recovers from his injuries, to watch American Scavenger Hunt from the beginning for possible clues.
After going through the show, Flynn contacts the rest of the squad via Skype to fill them in on an episode where Colleen Dickerhoof. She was known for flirting with the male contestants on camera in front of her husband. Flynn refers to Colleen as "a snake" and a "black widow" that makes passes at all of the men and gets each guy to play off against the other. In one particular episode, Colleen flirted with both Chip and another contestant named Doctor Reggie Fluke. Colleen got Chip to admit to sabotaging Reggie to the point that he could never catch up on camera. Shortly afterwards, Chip and Donna had their accident. After having watched the show, Flynn is convinced that the Dickerhoofs are behind Chip and Donna's accident.
Julio and Tao question Chip who freely admits to flirting with Colleen. Chip explains that the viewers love to hate him and Donna and he was simply giving them hope by flirting with Colleen but would have never actually thrown the game for her. When Donna argued with Chip about having an affair, it was with Colleen and Chip never told them as he thought that they would have tried to pin the murder on him.
Julio asks if Chip can think of anyone else who would want to kill Chip and Donna and Chip acts like a jerk while not believing them. This causes Julio to snap, causing Provenza and Sykes to note that Julio has been acting weird since the crime scene. After Chip is done gloating about how his behavior is what makes him so good for reality TV, Tao asks if Chip has ever recently been concerned for his safety "other than right this second" with a glance at a glaring Julio. Chip tells them about someone in "the Twitterverse" called "The Exterminator" who has intense hatred for him. Buzz begins searching social media for "the Exterminator".
Tao and Julio question Chip more about Colleen and he tells them that Colleen loves to play the contestants off of each other which is why Chip had sabotaged Doctor Reggie Fluke the week before. "Colleen, she came to play," notes Chip. Sykes suggests that since Colleen found a way to use Chip to get rid of the Flukes the week before, she might've found a way to get rid of Chip this week.
In interrogation, Colleen tells Sharon and Provenza that what happened wasn't her idea, it was in the script. Colleen flirts with Provenza who is clearly enamored by her while her husband Les appears to be disturbed by it. Les explains that the writer guides them into situations to stir up drama. The Dickerhoofs claim that they have no choice but to follow the script if they want a chance to win. As Colleen continues to flirt with Provenza, Sharon asks a very uncomfortable Les if the flirtations really weren't Colleen's idea. Les tells them that they weren't though Colleen does admit to going after Reggie on her own.
Les is clearly unhappy with Colleen's actions, but she justifies it by telling him that because of her, the Flukes were sent home, they won a million dollars and will be able to come back in the next season. Colleen explains that Chip sabotaged the Flukes by urinating on the wood that they were supposed to build a fire with and that they wouldn't have even known, except Chip bragged about it.
SID determines that the Cochran's car was definitely hacked. It was likely done through the Infotainment system and with the right computer program, can be done from anywhere in the world. However, the killer would still need to know when and where the Cochran's were racing. Sharon remembers that the last guy that was eliminated, Doctor Reggie Fluke was a computer engineer. Sykes adds that Reggie writes code for video games, meaning that he would definitely have the skills to hack the car. Buzz has also discovered that the Twitter handle, "the Exterminator" belongs to Reggie. His last post on Twitter is very directly threatening to the Cochran's lives.
The squad brings in Reggie who, after being humiliated on national TV, had his wife leave him. Sykes tells Reggie that they know that Chip Cochran sabotaged Reggie and they also know about his threats posted on Twitter. Reggie's lawyer calls the Twitter threats meaningless jests for entertainment purposes protected under the Constitution, something Reggie quickly agrees with. Sykes asks if Reggie hacking into the Cochran's car and driving it over a cliff was also for entertainment purposes and Reggie quickly and nervously denies it. Tao informs Reggie that their IT specialists are going through the program responsible for hacking the car. If it can be proven to come from Reggie's computer "there will be no more dots left to connect." Sykes offers Reggie a chance to explain his side of the story before they send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Reggie finally agrees to give them a hypothetical version of what happened. Reggie tells Sykes and Tao that the program was designed to be operated through Bluetooth which means that the person using it had be within 100 yards of the car. Reggie was too far away to have done it himself. At the same time, Julio enters with the news that the show wants to use their murder room to shoot some interviews for a memorial episode. Sharon agrees, suggesting to Provenza that they create a script of their own for it. In interrogation, Reggie agrees to tell them more about the program and how it was used in exchange for assurances from the DA in writing. DDA Hobbs agrees to offer Reggie a deal for vehicular manslaughter in exchange for the name of the person operating the hacking program.
As the Dickerhoofs and the producer Nate Olin shoot an interview, Reggie is led from the interrogation room. The detectives reveal that Reggie has been connected to the events of the day before and suggest that Nate's cameras stay to "get some really great material for the show." The Dickerhoofs and Nate are made to sign releases showing that they understand their rights under the guise of it being a formality with Provenza signing one as well to maintain the illusion.
Provenza explains that Reggie claims that the show approached him to design a Bluetooth program for safety purposes. Sharon reveals that Reggie has identified Nate Olin as the one to approach him to create the hacking program. He was also in the follow van behind Chip and Donna's car during the time of the accident, meaning that he was within range to take control of the car and crash it. Recorded by Buzz, Julio angrily confronts Nate about hiring Reggie Fluke to create a program that would allow him to take control of the Cochran's car and drive it off a cliff with the couple inside of it. After they tell him about the program being controlled through Bluetooth and a cell phone, Nate tries to place the blame on the Dickerhoofs who were closer to the Cochran's car. However, the contestants weren't allowed cell phones during the race while Nate had one.
Sharon produces a warrant for Nate's cell phone to check it for the program. As Julio looks through the phone, Sharon asks why Nate wanted to get rid of the Cochran's when he called them "gold" for his show. Nate angrily explains that while he came up with the idea and produced it, the Cochran's twisted what he originally intended to be a metaphor for marriage "into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre." While Nate gets paid $25,000 an episode, Chip Cochran has already won two million dollars and was well on his way to winning another million. Nate has a six-year contract which prevents him from leaving the show, even with a great pilot he has developed for a crime show. Nate turns on the Dickerhoofs and shows a great deal of resentment towards the contestants he works with given his great education.
On Nate's phone, Julio locates the program used to send the Cochran's car over a cliff. Nate Olin is arrested and Sharon assures him that he will now get out of his network contract but will probably enter into a deal with the state negotiated by his lawyer instead of his agent. "You know the real irony here? My killing Donna Cochran is gonna end up making the show more popular than ever," Nate laments. Buzz asks Nate to repeat what he just said to Buzz's camera. "Not only did I kill Donna Cochran, I'm just sorry I didn't get her horrible husband too. There, how's that?" Nate is led away to face punishment for his actions.
That night, Sharon tells Flynn through Skype that Nate Olin rejected a deal of second degree murder. Nate is convinced that once the jury watches all the episodes of the show, they will find him justified in his actions. Sharon has Julio explain Donna's death to Chip who is shown to be truly upset over losing his wife despite his attitude towards her. As an emotional Julio begins to leave, Chip calls himself lucky for surviving. His voice breaking, Julio tells Chip "if you had been lucky sir, your wife would've gotten out of the car instead of you and you wouldn't have the rest of your life to wonder what... you could have done to save her." Stating that the LAPD sympathizes with Chip's loss, Julio excuses himself in tears. Afterwards, Julio tells Provenza that he finally understands what's been bothering him and expresses hope that by talking to Chip he's helped himself.
- Bryce Johnson (Chip Cochran)
- Marnette Patterson (Donna Cochran)
- Johnathan McClain (Nate Olin)
- Michael McMillian (Les Dickerhoof)
- Brittany Ishibashi (Colleen Dickerhoof)
- Andy continues to reside in Sharon's condo under the supervised care of Sharon, Rusty and Patrice Perry when they aren't around.
Sharon and RustyEdit
- At the end of the episode, Rusty is seen calling Sharon "Mom" for the first time when not joking around. He continuously refers to Sharon as "Mom" following this episode.
- During the episode, Chip Cochran accuses the Major Crimes detectives of not knowing what a spin-off is. Julio Sanchez assures him that "everyone here knows what a spin-off is." This may be an example of breaking the fourth wall since Major Crimes is a spin-off of The Closer.