Patrick Jane and the CBI have to solve the death of a young woman, whose corpse is found washed up on an island near the California coast. Meanwhile Rigsby thinks that Van Pelt may be sad because of his relationship to a prosecutor.
The body of a young woman, whose name is revealed to be Talia Suarez, is found at the beach. William Gardner, the man that alerted the authorities, says he saw the body from the top of the bluff when on his way to check the monarchs, the butterflies he looks after on his sanctuary. A ranch owner named Stack gets mad and accuses Gardner of trespassing on his land, as the bluff belonged to him. From what Lisbon and Grace can see, the body wasn’t in the water for too long.
Meanwhile Jane takes a walk along the shore, picks up a dry branch and throws it into the water.
A theory he proves to be correct once Lisbon goes to the office and finds out that the victim was a 19-year-old girl. She had been raised on the foster care system and Jane joins Lisbon, again at the beach. They find the branch back at the shore, which means that the currents wouldn’t drag objects out but in, which means the crime had to have happened on the island.
Then they talk to some locals and try to figure out if anyone knows anything.
While on the search for the locals, Lisbon receives the call that confirms that the victim didn’t drown, as there was no water in her lungs. Instead it was found that she was crushed by a blow or heavy pressure and was sexually assaulted. DNA was collected but there wasn’t a match on the database. Another reason to talk to the locals.
The problem is that apparently everyone is missing. As Jane says, it appears to be a case of mass vanishment. Jane goes on with a thousand ridiculous theories, before showing Lisbon the paper on the notice board that tells them exactly where everyone is: town meeting.
While they remain on the island, Grace and Wayne are searching for information about the victim. They end up finding out that the girl’s mother died of an overdose and her father was murdered. The woman from the family services also informs them that the girl had no foster parents, for she seemed to have quite an attitude and kept running away.
Back at the island, Jane and Lisbon walk into the town meeting and announce they are there to figure out what happened and to find out who killed the young woman. When asked if anyone remembers her, no one seems to want to share or have any information. One of the people present actually suggested that the crime didn’t happen there so it was none of their business. Mouths dropped open when Jane explained that the currents and wind would never take a body from the mainland to that side of the island. The crime had to have happened there and one of the people present was the murderer. Heads suddenly begin to turn as everyone starts looking at their neighbors.
According to the amount of clothes found at the motel, Talia seemed to be only visiting. But amongst the things found at her room there was also a notebook, inside which there was a note with an address. It led to San's Fish Co.
At Jack LaFleur, the owner of San's Fish's, office Jane finds plans for a new pier to welcome cruises with tourists. When he said he was expanding is business, he was not exactly speaking of his fishing business. Still, as the men were all out on the sea during the time of the murder, they're not suspects in Talia's murder.
And so they visit Stack's ranch. To be on that side of the island, the body had to be carried across the property. When asked about it, Stack says that the ranch is way too big to keep an eye on every inch at every hour. Before Lisbon had time to say that they needed to speak with the staff, Jane was already outside talking to them. There were three men outside, one disappeared into the background, another one was taking care of a horse and the other one was standing nearby, his arm in a sling. Apparently one of the horses had decided to bring him down a few days before, causing him to break his arm. It was so bad that Whit Naylor had to attend the doctor’s on the mainland, a place he truly disliked.
A clue comes from the office. Someone has been calling Talia. Grace and Wayne go after him. The guy punches Grace and she goes back on him. They try to interview him but he keeps asking for a lawyer, a lawyer that seems to be dating Wayne. The man ends up confessing that Talia was looking for her father’s killer and that she had found a name, Eddie Fish. When Talia went looking for him, he killed her too.
Still on the island, Jane finds himself a cup of tea and quite a company, Lydia Bibb, the mayor's wife. They basically speak of death and she tells him that she threw a flower to the water as it was apparently a tradition on the island in respect to the dead. She said that it made her feel she gave Talia some peace. Lisbon calls and interrupts the conversation, informing Jane that they found what the girl was looking for. She also tells him he better come back but he says that he has a plan. To start, he pays a visit to William Gardner and begins to spread the news that LaFleur is planning on building a pier to attract visitors. Seeing his butterflies at risk from the tourism, Gardner leaves, saying that he needs to go make a few calls.
Back at the office, Lisbon finds the file belonging to Talia’s father's case and learns that he was stabbed 18 times by a drug addict that ended up running away with a very large amount of money that he used to change his appearance. That drug addict being Eddie Fish. Having that information in her possession, Lisbon leaves for the island again, where she later meets Jane that has already spread the news about the pier across town, causing an emergency meeting to be set up.
Once they are all there drinking their coffee while getting ready to discuss the urgent matter, Jane takes the lead and starts by asking them all to put their already used mugs on a table at the back. After having them all do that and return to their seats, Jane explains why he made such a weird request: fingerprints.
Everyone starts talking at the same time, abandoning their seats, asking for their mugs to be returned. From between all that confusion, one intervention stands out. William Gardner gets mad and abandons the room, saying that he is going to grab a camera to film it all because what they had just done was illegal. Jane just says that that's the last they'll be seeing of him, as anyone who's innocent wouldn't worry. They're in no danger. Gardner is guilty for the murder of Talia's father and is arrested.
The people start abandoning the meeting after Jane’s speech, but Stack and his staff remain behind. The older man says that he always knew that Gardner was trouble but Jane disagrees, saying that only after everyone knew that Gardner was a killer then they could imagine someone like him could have stabbed someone else 14 times and have killed a girl so cruelly. That’s when the shy Whit Naylor corrects him by saying that he had been stabbed 18 times, not 14, revealing that he is Talia's murderer. His face was scratched when the girl fought back.
In the last scene, Jane is at the beach. He throws a flower, presumably for his wife and daughter.
- Simon Baker as Patrick Jane
- Robin Tunney as Teresa Lisbon
- Tim Kang as Kimball Cho
- Owain Yeoman as Wayne Rigsby
- Amanda Righetti as Grace Van Pelt
- Steve Rankin as Jed Stack
- Alex Hyde-White as Peter Upchurch
- Zack Ward as Whit Naylor
- Wade Williams as Jack LaFleur
- Dwain Murphy as Dennis Kagan
- Debra Mooney as Lydia Bibb
- Jonathan Schmock as William Gardner/Eddie Fish
- Mary-Pat Green as Bureaucrat
- Ryan Peck as Cowhand
- Marmee Cosico as Press Reporter
- Place of filming (judging by the map) appears to be Santa Cruz island.