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There is no Next Episode of Homicide: Life on the Street planned.
Detectives Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson) and Steve Crosetti (Jon Polito) investigate an elderly woman named Calpurnia Church, whom they believe has murdered her husbands to collect their insurance money. Detective Stanley Bolander (Ned Beatty) pushes his reluctant partner, John Munch (Richard Belzer), to follow up on a cold case in which a woman was run over by a car. Munch eventually elicits a confession from a drunk driver who hit her. Detective Kay Howard (Melissa Leo) continues a recent lucky streak by easily solving a murder immediately after taking it on, much to the bewilderment of her partner, Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin). Eccentric loner Detective Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) is forced to partner with rookie Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor), who disagrees with Pembleton's methods when he tricks a suspect (Alexander Chaplin) into confessing to murder. For his first case as primary investigator, Bayliss is assigned to the murder of 11-year-old Adena Watson.
Unable to find evidence against a brutal murder suspect, Howard tries to seek help from the victim's ghost. She is frustrated when her partner, Felton, mocks her superstitious beliefs, but Felton later helps her solve the murder with help from a tarot card reader. Munch and Bolander respond to the supposed death of an elderly man, only to find him still alive, much to the disappointment of the man's wife (Gwen Verdon), who is extremely unhappy with their marriage. When that same man turns up dead later, Bolander and medical examiner Carol Blythe (Wendy Hughes) debate whether it should be considered a homicide. Meanwhile, Bayliss continues his investigation into the murder of 11-year-old Adena Watson. A rookie detective on his first case, Bayliss has trouble emotionally detaching from her death, and Al "Gee" Giardello (Yaphet Kotto) demands he show more confidence. When later pressured by his superiors to take Bayliss off the case, Giardello refuses and defends the rookie detective.
When fellow officer Chris Thormann (Lee Tergesen) is shot in the line of duty, his friend Crosetti takes it personally and presses a reluctant Giardello to assign him the case. A man (Larry E. Hull) claims to have witnessed the shooting and says he will testify in court. Meanwhile, Bayliss and Pembleton continue their investigation into the murder of Adena Watson, and the two become frustrated with each other when nothing new develops. Pembleton requests a new partner, but Giardello refuses. Elsewhere, as Bolander prepares for a date with Blythe, he strikes up an unusual friendship with his neighbor (Luis Guzmán), a lonely Latino cabinetmaker who has built a coffin in his apartment. Meanwhile, Howard, Felton and Lewis uncover information that helps advance several outstanding homicide cases, including that of Calpunia Church, the elderly woman suspected of killing her husbands for insurance money.
Officer Thormann has a miraculous recovery and will live, but doctors say he will be blind. Crosetti is convinced they have found the shooter, but an unconvinced Lewis keeps investigating, much to Crosetti's frustration. Lewis' suspicions are later confirmed when he discovers the real shooter, and Crosetti feels guilt over letting his personal friendship with Thormann cloud his judgment. Meanwhile, Bayliss suspects Adena Watson was murdered by a local arabber, but Pembleton disagrees. Pembleton is later impressed to find the physical evidence substantiates Bayliss' theory. Bayliss' investigation is nearly thwarted when his superior, Captain George Barnfather (Clayton LeBouef), tells the press about secret evidence. Bayliss lashes out and insults Barnfather, and is later forced by Giardello to apologize. Bolander and Munch investigate a double shooting that has left a drug dealer dead, and eventually discover the shooter was the dealer's own bodyguard.
Bayliss and Pembleton bring in arabber Risley Tucker (Moses Gunn), the prime suspect for the murder of Adena Watson. Since Tucker has already been interviewed by police multiple times, the detectives have only one more chance to get a confession before Tucker goes free. The three men spend 12 hours in the interrogation room, nicknamed "The Box", and the detectives try multiple tactics to get him to confess, from intimidation to emphathy to lying. Tucker remains adamant that he did not kill the girl, and eventually turns the table on the police by identifying their hidden insecurities. Although Tucker admits to harboring pedophilicfeelings for Adena, the interview ends without a murder confession and Tucker goes free. Bayliss now questions whether Tucker was the killer at all, but Pembleton believes he was, and expresses a new respect for his partner Bayliss.
Giardello orders Bayliss and Pembleton to move on from the Adena Watson murder and take on new cases. They are assigned to solve the murder of a police dog, which Bayliss finds a waste of time, but Pembleton decides to take seriously. Meanwhile, Howard and Felton are determined to bust drug dealer "Pony" Johnson (Geoffrey Ewing) for the torture and murder of a young woman, and eventually elicit a confession from another drug pusher (Larry Gilliard, Jr.) whose mother was also murdered by Johnson. Crosetti provides encouragement to a recovering Thormann, who feels he should have died in the hospital and is discouraged to learn his wife (Edie Falco) is pregnant. Bolander meets his girlfriend Blythe's outrageous teenage son (Stivi Paskoski) and, despite his best efforts, cannot bond with him. Giardello attends a retirement party of a retired fellow shift commander (Michael Constantine), who tells Giardello he was forced out of the job.
When a Chinese college student and political refugee is murdered, Lewis and Crosetti go to Washington, D.C. to question embassy officials, but find them completely uncooperative. Howard and Felton spend the day in court testifying against "Pony" Johnson. A nervous Howard nearly jeopardizes the case with procedural missteps, but she later recovers and helps state prosecutor Ed Danvers(Željko Ivanek) secure a guilty verdict. Afterward, Howard accepts a date offer from Danvers. Pembleton is offered a promotion to the vacant shift commander position, but is asked not to tell Giardello about it. Pembleton ultimately decides not to take it and Giardello, who learns about it on his own, is disappointed Pembleton did not confide in him. As Munch and Bolander investigate a drug-related murder, Munch argues for marijuana legalization, claiming it would reduce violent crime.
Howard and Bayliss both attempt to give up smoking, which makes Felton and Pembleton fear their partners' edginess could endanger their own safety. The four nearly miss a murder suspect during a stakeout because they are consumed by a discussion about smoking. Meanwhile, Giardello uncovers a secret construction job ongoing within the police department building, which the detectives were not alerted about. Giardello is furious that it may be hazardous to his squad, and he threatens to go to the media if his superiors do not implement safeguards. Bolander and Munch investigate the death of a 14-year-old boy who has been beaten with a baseball bat. They eventually learn he was killed by a teenage gang leader (Joe Fersedi) who loved the victim like a brother, but beat him as part of an initiation. Bolander is deeply disturbed by the teen's cold casualness in discussing the murder.
This episode recounts a hot summer night in September, recalling events that occurred earlier in the chronology of the season. The squad works the night shift, but no homicides are reported, leaving the detectives to brood over their personal matters. Bayliss is still investigating the Adena Watson murder but makes no progress, prompting Pembleton to encourage him to approach it from the mind-frame of a criminal. This advice leads Bayliss to a breakthrough discovery. Meanwhile, Howard learns her brother-in-law has been cheating on her sister, and Felton surprises Howard by offering her genuine words of comfort. Bolander contemplates asking Blythe on a date and, when he finally builds up the courage, she accepts. Throughout the night, the detectives encounter several odd characters, including a criminal who dresses like Santa Claus (Cleve Wall) and a cleaning woman (N'Bushe Wright) who keeps her baby in an animal carrier while she works.