Multiple shots are fired in a grocery store parking lot. Incident commander, Lt. Provenza, is on the scene with Sykes, an undercover cop involved in the shooting. According to Sykes, the operation went awry when someone tripped the silent alarm in the store. Sykes won’t leave the scene to go back to the station; she’s following Raydor’s new rules about officer-involved shootings. There are two missing suspects that ran off, another armed man dead on the ground, and the fourth was put into a squad car.
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Flynn convinces the suspect in the car, Corporal Martin, to make a deal with the District Attorney and give up the names of his fellow robbers. When Flynn exits the police cruiser, hoping that one of the other detectives will pose as a D.A., multiple shots are fired at the officers. The cops take cover, and none of them are hurt, but their suspect is now a murder victim.
The armed gang of four are all veterans, and according to Detective Miller, who’d been working this case for some time, says that they always seem to be one step behind the crew.
Captain Raydor finally arrives on the scene and relies on Provenza to catch up. He’s not interested in taking the time to explain anything to her, even after Assistant Chief Taylor informs him that Raydor is the new head of Major Crimes.
Back at the station, Sykes spends her time praising Raydor’s efforts to stick to procedure. Rusty is back, too, looking for Brenda after he’s run away from his current foster home. Raydor insists that she is looking for his mother and leaves Buzz to babysit Rusty in the meantime.
The detectives are reluctant to cooperate with their new boss, but Taylor urges them to band together for the sake of public safety. Sykes jumps right in, gathering the belongings of the victims. They were all in the military but served at different times. They did, however, all have gaming systems that allowed them to chat while playing Win or Die.
The man who shot and killed Corporal Martin is found dead, leaving the squad with a third body, and the fourth robber is still at large.
Provenza meets with Taylor to put in a request for a transfer to another division, as he doesn’t like the way Raydor operates. Taylor refuses the request; Provenza can either stay put or retire.
One of the victims, Private Randall Johnson, went to a firing range called Gun Heaven along with 22,000 other people. They need something else to tie the four together.
Flynn blames Raydor for the death of Corporal Martin; he was willing to talk and would’ve saved them all this trouble. Because of the new rules in place, the two suspects were able to not only evade the police but return, half an hour later, to kill their comrade. Instead of becoming defensive, Raydor thinks about the actions of the robbers. They’ve been one step ahead of the police for quite a while, and the only people that knew about the rule to stay at the crime scene are the police. Earlier, Detective Miller mentioned that most of his family had served in the military. One of them, his son Greg, still lives at home.
Detective Sanchez and Miller bring boxes of case files to Miller’s home and encourage Greg to help them carry them into the house. Once outside, Greg is detained. They find the game Win or Die among his belongings. Miller, in complete disbelief over his son’s involvement in the crimes, thought Greg was improving when he took an interest in his father’s work.
ADA Michaels, assigned to work with Major Crimes, doesn’t think they have much to arrange for a plea but makes an attempt at Raydor’s urging.
Rusty interrupts the proceedings again, and this time, Raydor isn’t so sympathetic; she threatens to send him to a juvenile detention center if he doesn’t pipe down.
They’re able to connect Greg to the three dead vets, as they all spent time at a rehab center some time ago. Michaels proposes to drop the charges of premeditated murder if Greg confesses to the robberies and felony murder. Greg and his lawyer aren’t keen on having him confess to anything and present a “hypothetical” version of events. Greg says that Larry, one of the robbers, was shot accidentally by Randall Johnson, and because of this, Johnson shot himself. That all sounds very convenient for Greg, but it’s also a lie. Sanchez demonstrates the use of a 40 caliber handgun; the kickback produced after firing the gun means that each shot was aimed at a target, intending to kill Larry. Even after this revelation, Greg is reluctant to confess. Raydor presents his options very plainly: by signing the statement of facts, he chooses life; if not, he chooses death by lethal injection. Greg chooses life…in prison.
After Greg is hauled off, Sykes comes back to the station with a box of her stuff and places it next to Provenza. Raydor requested her transfer to Major Crimes.
Provenza complains to Raydor about the undeserved deal given to Greg. She, however, sees things a different way. They eliminated the cost of a trial, future trials for appeal, and put a murderer away for life, in less than two days.
Raydor takes Rusty home with her for the time being. He’s not all too happy with the arrangement, especially when she tells him that he can call her Sharon—the name of the mother that abandoned him. She hasn’t as of yet started looking for her, and she’s gotten off to a rotten start with Rusty.
It’s very hard to judge this as a new, stand-alone show since we know and love 90% of the characters, but I’ll try. The setup is quite similar to the start of its predecessor, The Closer: a new, female boss, changing the way the detectives handle their cases. Detective Sykes is our new antagonist. (I can’t stand her already!) I like Captain Raydor and Rusty, and the other detectives seem to have more screen-time, talking to suspects, out investigating, as Raydor seems to want to stay indoors. I can’t say I don’t miss Brenda, but I hope that will lessen as Major Crimes finds its footing.