Retired star quarterback, Doc Dugan, is hanging out with his fans at his bar in Sacramento, having a great time telling stories. Everyone seems to love him. Until it’s time to leave. He gets into his SUV, his manager comes out the door looking for him, and the SUV blows sky-high. Someone wanted him dead, and it’s up to the team to find out who. Or at least part of the team to start – just Jane , Cho and Van Pelt . Rigsby ’s away for a trial and Lisbon ’s not there yet. Wainwright is though – to fend off the press.
Jane sees something amiss with the body of a “sports star” and wants to know where he stayed locally – to see if they can find his championship ring.
They find more than just the ring at this apartment though. They find the whole football player – alive and well. The victim, his assistant Jake, was the one in the SUV. He was pulling a smokescreen for Doc, who was trying to avoid a subpoena from his ex-wife. A reporter calls his agent, Alex Sudko, as they’re standing around going over what happened and Jane grabs the phone, telling the reporter that yes, Doc is dead. Only Lisbon, who’s caught up, Jane, Doc, his agent and his manager, Steve Penn, are there to know he’s actually alive. They even plan on keeping it from Wainwright. Lisbon will only do it with Jake’s mother’s permission though. And she does get it, but only for two days. She says that her son was one of only two people who loved Doc Dugan – the other was Doc himself.
Jane, meanwhile, is sitting down with the manager and the agent. The manager, Steve, is a former player himself who‘s been with Doc since the beginning, the more hands on and personal one. The agent, Alex, is the mercenary. He’s out getting him endorsements. They try to tell Jane that everyone loved Doc. Jane calls them liars, but it goes with the job, and tells them to close their eyes and name the first person they think would want to hurt Doc. Almost in unison, they come up with one name. Marie St. Clair, Doc’s girlfriend. His other clear enemy, as shown by the hate mail the agent sent to Wainwright, is from someone going by the handle “Megafan8”. And Doc’s own list – he left off his ex-wife. He also insists that they won’t get much out of his girlfriend – she worships him. He offers to show Van Pelt why. She tells him she “shot and killed” her last boyfriend and isn’t “ready” yet. He wisely moves on and sits to listen to Jane interview Marie. Jane makes up a story about a diamond pendant that Doc bought and gets her to let out her real feelings. She knew he was cheating on her. She’s looking forward to finding a man now who loves her as much as Doc loves himself. She’s passed Jane’s test, she’s not the killer.
Meanwhile, Rigsby’s identified the bomb as a routine IED, Cho’s trying to track down Megafan8 and Lisbon’s interviewing the ex-wife. She says she ought to thank Marie from taking Doc away from her, that he’s changed since he retired. “He spent his whole life becoming a star and never thought about what came after.” She was sick of the bar, the drugs, the women. Jane and Doc are watching that too. He thought that listening to everyone talk about him would be “fun” but apparently it’s not. Jane leaves him to it and heads to the game now being dedicated to Doc.
Jane, after discussing the value of Doc’s memorabilia now that he’s passed, starts flaming Megafan’s tweets to attract him to them so they can catch him when he rises to the bait, which of course he does. They tackle him just before he jumps the merchant whose description Jane had given. He’s not a killer either though. He’s a disgruntled fan who’d been dissed my him at his bar. And he’s been stalking Doc. One of his pictures is interesting though. It shows Doc with Arnold Green, a “local luminary of organized crime”. At first Doc claims he didn’t know him, then that he only knew him casually, then that he made a few bets, then that he bet on a few games, some of his own. He’s a lousy liar, but how much is his autograph and the “roomful” of stuff his manager has been worth if people found out. He gave it up, but Green and his cronies, especially one named Martin, had other ideas.
Green is a liquor distributor and they tried to extort Doc into buying the overpriced stock for the bar. It didn’t work out, but even Green thinks that Doc is still worth more to him alive than dead. Jane does manage to spot Martin though and they bring him in for questioning. The plan is underway. First Jane puts some touches on the “arts and crafts” that become important later, then has his “seance” with Martin. With Doc listening in and coaching him, Jane convinces Martin that Doc’s ghost is there with them, and very angry. Martin wimps out and agrees to tell them everything if Jane will just make Doc go away.
When Lisbon fills Doc, Alex and Steve in, she tells them that Martin confessed to everything and gave them a lead on a bomber that goes by “Louie Boom”. Alex tries to look at the file, but Lisbon pulls it away. She says they’re bringing Louie in for a lineup – if they see his picture first, it’ll taint the ID. Meanwhile, Rigsby, who’s back and has been photographed by Jane as part of the “arts and crafts” walks in on Cho settling down on “Jane’s” couch. He pulled his back tackling Megafan. Rigsby goes on and on about his argument earlier with Harrigan. He’d asked her to prep him for his cross and, being a defense attorney herself she went for the jugular, the fact that his father was a biker, and a felon. He feels better and thanks Cho, who slept through most of it, for listening.
Then Rigsby joins Lisbon on the raid at Green’s club. They haul in everyone, including the bartender, while Jane sneaks Doc off to “solve the case”. Actually he’s going to listen to another interview with his ex-wife, and to Jane’s explanation of why the truth hurts, which makes sense, but is to convoluted for me to try to repeat here. Jane accuses Anna of lying and gets her to admit that she still loves Doc. Cho brings Van Pelt the file on the bomber and pulls Alex out of the room to go over his statement. Doc rushes to his ex-wife and Van Pelt drops the file on the table to go after him. Leaving Steve alone in the room. Lisbon meets up with Van Pelt outside the interview room where they’re talking about how the plan went, when Wainwright comes along and discovers Doc’s alive. He’s not happy about being out of the loop and there’s an implication that things won’t go well if this doesn’t work.
It will though, the trap is set and ready for to be sprung when Lisbon brings Steve and Alex in for a lineup, to see if they can pick “Louie Boom” out as the man they saw running away. But “Louie Boom” is actually Rigsby and his file was a fake – left for Steve to take a peek at. Martin confessed to a lot of things, but even he said that Green wouldn’t have killed Doc. In fact, Steve, with all his signed memorabilia, was the only one who stood to gain from Doc’s death. Turns out he’s been jealous of Doc’s fame all along. It should have been him that made the big time and got the championship ring.
In the end, Rigsby and Harrigan make up, in an odd sort of way, and Doc seems “like a changed man”, apologizing to Jake’s mother and offering to pay for his funeral, even suggesting she call him Trevor instead of Doc. In fact, he had an experience much like Ebeneezer Scrooge or George Bailey. He got to step back and see what people really thought of him and how he’d really affected the lives of those around him.
As for Jane, he’d rather not know what people will say about him when he dies. He tells Lisbon that it’s “childish vanity” to want to be remembered because “when you’re dead, you’re dead, and until then, there’s ice cream”.