Cause of Death episode
Hanging by a Thread
Volume 15, Episode 5
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Air date November 25, 2013
Volume 15 guide [v]
September 10, 2013 - February 6, 2014

1. Across the Pond
2. The Harrowing Truth
3. Mixed Messages
Int. The Days We Remember
4. Pretenders
5. Hanging by a Thread
6. The End of the Rope
7. High Crimes
8. Capital Punishment

Volume 14: The Firstborn
Volume 16
Hanging by a Thread is the sixth episode of Volume 15. It aired on November 25, 2013.
Alarm Spoiler warning! Plot details follow.


Blaise must confront her dark past when an old nemesis rises again...


Blaise is sitting by Ken's grave one morning, just before she starts her shift, drinking from a bottle of bourbon. She takes a swig and pours some next to his grave, mentioning that it was a good call that he turned her on to that brand. As she takes another sip and the wind blows, she is reminded of the time she killed Kolo Zargoza. She smiles and tells Ken that he should have been there and seen his face when he went over. She asks if he is glad she did that, when Ken's sister, Kesha Greene, comes up with an arrangement of flowers in her arms. Kesha asks Blaise if she is okay, and she replies with a yes then asks how she and the family are. Kesha tells her that her mother is still a wreck, never getting out of bed. Ken's mother thought that Ken was finally safe once he returned from the Marines, and begged him not to join the police, but Ken was a stubborn guy. Agreeing, Blaise refrains from taking another drink, screwing on the cap instead. Kesha asks if she's sure she's all right, knowing that they took Ken's death pretty hard, too, and adds that she looks like a mess. Blaise says she just has to hang onto the good memories, and just get a grip on everything. After Ken's death, Kesha learned that there's so little in life you can control—all you can do is control yourself. She tells Blaise that though Ken would be really happy that she still stops by, he'd hate to see her like this. Blaise gets up to leave, telling Kesha it was nice to see her again. Kesha replies with, "You too, Detective Corso," prompting the detective to tell her, "'Blaise' is fine." Then she walks away, her own words repeating inside her head.

Blaise checks her email on her phone: a quick hello from Mal; a funny video from Kai; and, from Jeremy, "Everything okay back home? You aren't answering your phone. Nobody's heard from you." She calls her therapist, Dr. Cole, who asks how she got this number. Blaise tells him she's a detective, then says that she's left a bunch of messages at all of his numbers, but he hasn't answered. Although he claims to be away on business, Blaise looked up that symposium, and it's over. Dr. Cole admits he's on vacation, and asks if it's an emergency. She says that she's still not sleeping, asking if he can prescribe her something. The memories about Kolo Zargoza are keeping her up. Dr. Cole tells her that she can't afford to be at constant war with her past; there's no winning against it. This angers Blaise, not understanding how that's advice, and tells him she wants closure. He replies that she needs to accept her past, not bury it. What happened and what she did will always be a part of her; she is the sum total of everything she's done and she can't erase anything. It's who she is. When Blaise asks how she can change who she is, he tells her the only way to adjust that sum is to make more actions, as our actions define us. He then has to leave, letting her know that he'll have his assistant reach her when he's back in town, and tells her not to call him on his personal line again.

Later that day, Blaise is riding shotgun with her new partner, Detective Joe Bartaugh. They briefly discuss their case, and then Blaise notices that Joe is nervous. She tells him that he will screw up (like she did on her first case as a detective, when she drank too much coffee and had to use the toilet, and when she flushed all the forensic evidence went down the drain), but it's part of the learning process. She, and everyone else, knows he's a good man and a good cop who deserved to be a detective. Joe, smiling, stops at a red light, and pedestrians cross the street. One man pulls a gun out of his jacket, and Blaise tries to warn Joe, but she is too late. The man shoots Joe, and Blaise rushes out of the car and trains her pistol on the shooter, telling him to get down. He doesn't react, and she looks back at Joe, who is slumped and motionless, and a rage consumes her. She knocks the man down and steps on his throat, all the while being recorded by camera phones around her. The urge to shoot the man comes up, but Joe yells out to her, and stumbles out of the car. He begins reading the shooter's Miranda Rights, but he falls forward, unconscious. Blaise hastily cuffs the shooter to a storm drain and rushes to Joe's side, grabbing the radio and demanding an ambulance. She discovers that Joe has no pulse and performs CPR, when the paramedics arrive. The shooter says he did this, and Blaise uncuffs him from the storm drain and roughly cuffs his wrists. He begs her to save her, confusing Blaise, who says, "What did you just say!?"

In the police department, Blaise and Charles Anders are answering questions from the media. A woman asks Blaise what case her and Joe were investigating, and if the shooting is related. She relays that they were investigating a murder at a computer data recovery company, and they currently have no reason to believe it was more than a random act of violence against a public servant. Charles politely guides Blaise away from the camera, and receives more questions. One man says that there is footage of the shooter claiming that he was forced to shoot the detective in exchange for the life of his kidnapped fiancee. Anders says they're investigating his claims, but it doesn't absolve him of his crime. The man, Alan Song, agrees and asks if the SFPD suspects it's the work of the Puppet Master. Blaise remembers the case, but Anders is at a loss, and tells him that they are investigating all possibilities. And with that, he leaves the podium and tells Blaise to leave. She refuses, asking if they looked into Mathers' (the shooter) story and found his fiancee. Anders says no, but he is not eager to believe a cop killer, as for all they knew he killed his fiancee. Blaise tells him to give her the case because she's had it before—long before Anders arrived in San Francisco, when Blaise was still a patrol cop, there was a man called the Puppet Master who would kidnap a person's loved ones and tell him to kill a stranger or that loved one will die. It was a test, as the Puppet Master thought of love as a weak point, to see how easily they could be controlled, and it worked for everyone he picked. It was six years ago that she was involved. Her and her partner were assigned backup to the lead detectives chasing the Puppet Master. Blaise noticed that her partner was more tense than usual, and she tells him that if he needs to talk, he's got her—and Pete, his little brother. Her partner, Michael Hayes, flinched at the mention of him. He is still tense, so she drove up to a coffee shop and made him go get the coffee, as she bought last time. Hayes was reluctant, but Blaise insisted, so he went in. Not long after, Blaise heard a gunshot and ran inside, looking for her partner. She discovered that he shot someone, and arrests him.

Back in present time, Blase tells Anders that she had to testify in court. Hayes got life, no pension for his family. The Puppet Master terrorized the city for a month more, then vanished, never to be heard from again. But Blaise studied him, and if he's back, she's their best chance at stopping him for good. Anders tells her that they're not in the business of revenge—Blaise tells him they're in the business of justice. Anders relents, and Blaise says they should go to Mathers' apartment, as the blackmailer said that if he shot a cop he'd find his fiancee there. Anders joins her as her partner. They go up to the rooftop nightclub, which is deserted but still loudly playing music. Anders comments that he hates places like this. They find a woman gagged and bound to a chair on the dance floor—Carly, Mathers' fiancee. They slowly creep up and remove the gag from her mouth. Carly asks if David really did kill someone, and the police are silent. As Blaise goes to remove the woman's restraints, they are pelted by submachine gun fire at their feet. They hide, figuring out that it was a trap and the Puppet Master was waiting for them. Anders leaves the cover and him and the man shoot back and forth for a while until the man escapes. Anders suggests they go after him, but Blaise tells him to get the hostage to safety while she goes after the man. Even though Anders protests, Blaise is already chasing after him. 

The man jumps across to another building, and Blaise follows him. The man tries to shoot at her, but his gun is out of ammo, so he tosses it and runs. Blaise grabs him by the jacket and yanks him back. As she prepares to cuff him, she tosses the man's hood back and discovers it is a woman, claiming that 'he' told her that if she didn't kill whoever came to get the girl, he'd kill her baby boy. As she sobs, her phone rings, and Blaise answers the call from a blocked number. The person on the other end says it is nice to see her again, and Blaise angrily tells him they need to meet up one on one, to which the man responds, "In due time." Blaise can't wait, hoping that he gives her an excuse to kill him. The man is glad she decided to join his experiment, sure that she will test quite well.

Later that night, Blaise and Anders escort a six year old boy into the police department. The woman from before breaks away from the officers processing her and runs to her child. She kneels beside the weeping  boy, unable to hug him with handcuffs clasping her wrists behind her back. As officers separate the two, Blaise says they should get the woman a good attorney and maybe talk to Oscar about reducing charges. Anders begins to angrily protest, but she cuts him off, knowing what he's going to say—she tried to kill two cops, but Blaise says they have to consider the circumstances. Anders says she wasn't forced to do anything, she made a choice, but he'll ring D.A. Santos. Thanking him, Blaise tells him she'll do it, as he likes her. They need to get a statement from the boy, but Blaise excuses herself for a moment, slipping out to the back alley. She calls her sister, Kelly, but it goes to voicemail. She urges her to take their mother and go out of town for a while. As she hangs up, a black limousine pulls up and the rear window rolls down. Blaise inches closer, and Alan Song reclines inside, gesturing for her to come closer. Blaise asks who he is, and Alan tells her he is the enemy of her enemy, thus, a friend. She demands his name, and when he tells it to her, she recognizes the name—not from his company, Song Armament Technologies, but it was his brother that was  murdered by her old partner, Michael Hayes. He knows they both have a bone to pick with the Puppet Master, and though Blaise assures him he'll be behind bars soon enough, Song tells her he doesn't want him behind bars, and neither does she. He knows that they both have no faith in the system, and wouldn't be able to stomach seeing the Puppet Master released on a technicality, or put into a cushy mental asylum. He hands her a wooden box containing a prototype his company has perfected, an untraceable firearm, cast from a polymer that takes no fingerprints, an unrifled barrel that no ballistics could identify, and a magizine that carries sixteen bullets that disntegrate within an hour of firing—in short, no murder committed with that gun could ever be proven. Even though Blaise insists he's got the wrong girl, Song read her file and knows she wants what's just, and should kill the man who's really responsible for Bartaugh's shooting. Song takes off, leaving Blaise feeling the gun in her hands.

Bonus Scene

Blaise enters the empty locker room and unlocks her locker, shoving Song's gun case inside and covering it with her jacket. She tears the detective badge from the chain on her neck and hurls it inside. She looks at a photograph of her, Mal, Natara, Jeremy, and Amy at the Drunk Tank, smiling happily, and puts her jacket in the locker. Noticing Bartaugh's dried blood on her undershirt, Blaise goes to the bathroom. As she washes her shirt, she thinks of the time when she was just a cop, chasing after the Puppet Master in an alley. He reached a dead end, and Blaise cornered him. She ordered him to get on the ground, and when he didn't, she aimed her pistol at him. The man calmly told her to stop, prompting Blaise to obey involuntarily. He said that she wouldn't want anything to happen to Madeline, her mother, and recited her address. Blaise was speechless, and the man slipped past her, satisfied that he was able to control her.

In the present, Blaise continues to try to wash out the stain, and when it doesn't come out, she punches the mirror above the sink, shattering it. Officer Anna Willis appears and asks her if she is okay, and Blaise replies simply, "It won't come out."

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