The disappearance of a young woman on board a magnificent ocean liner in 1966 had long been assumed a suicide. However, now that the woman's bones have turned up, the Cold Case team goes to work, determined to solve a 43-year-old murder.
On August 4, 1966, travellers wave good-bye to their friends and family just before a cruise ship casts off for a tour through Europe. A man named Henry stops his girlfriend Darcy before she boards. He gives her a necklace with their names engraved on it. She says that she is done waiting for him, then gets on the boat. Later, Darcy dies in the engine room.
In the present time, a lawyer questions Rush about the time she was run off the road by Kitchener. After she testifies, ADA Curtis Bell tells her that she did a good job. Stillman brings Rush and Valens to a cruise ship. He says that a body was found during the salvaging of the boat. The locket found on the body with the initials D.C. leads them to believe that the woman was named Darcy Curtis. Stillman says the boat was known as a suicide ship where the passengers would take off their shoes and jump off. Darcy was thought to have killed herself. Rush looks at the body and figures that she was murdered. The team finds the woman died from a broken neck.
They learn that Henry, Darcy’s boyfriend, received a telegram that said, "I can’t." They figure she turned down Henry’s marriage proposal. Valens and Rush go to the house of Darcy’s travelling companion, Grace Stearns. She says Darcy met another man on the boat. She remembers that Darcy showed her the marriage proposal Henry sent her via telegram. Darcy saw an attractive man enter the Captain’s Ballroom. She told Grace she thought she could do better than Henry. Grace told Darcy that Henry is a good man like Chester, her husband and Henry’s cousin. Darcy and Grace entered their room and found a man digging through her stuff. The man grabbed Darcy’s locket and left. Grace says that the man wore a crew uniform. Darcy came back to the room and told Grace the man gave her locket back when she caught up to him and demanded it back. The judge for the Kitchener case informs the team he is going to return to make an announcement.
The team enters the courtroom and sees Kitchener dressed in plain clothes. The judges says that because of his record, Major Kitchener will be allowed to be released on bail. They bring Doyle, the man who stole Darcy’s locket, to the the station. Doyle remembers when Darcy caught up to him after he stole her locket. He gave her locket back when she asked for it. He offered to give her special access if she didn’t tell anyone what he did. Darcy asked him to get her into the Captain’s Ballroom. Doyle told her that the right kind of outfit would get her in the room.
Curtis asks Kat to defend him in front of her team. Curtis asks Kat if they can take their relationship further. Kat says that their lives are complicated since they both have kids. Curtis gives her a kiss. Rush learns that Darcy was wearing expensive designer shoes. Vera visits Jeffrey Manning, the head stewart that worked on the ship. Vera tells him that witnesses told him he booted Darcy out of the Captain’s Ballroom. Jeffrey says he remembers Darcy, but he wasn’t the one who kicked her out. He remembers that Darcy posed as royalty and got in the Ballroom. He saw a woman approach Darcy and told her she knew who she really was. A man named Duke grabbed Darcy and pulled her away from the woman. Duke saw Jeffrey approaching them to kick Darcy out of the Ballroom. To buy them time, Duke decided to sing a duet with Darcy on the piano. After they performed, Darcy saw Grace, who was drinking with another man, stumble on the ground. Darcy grabbed Grace and helped her out of the Ballroom.
Valens and Kat bring Grace to the station. They tell her although she was married, they know she was flirting with men on the ship. Grace blames the alcohol. They ask her who Duke was. Grace says she doesn’t know who the man was, but knew he was trouble. She remembers the time when she was recovering in bed after drinking. A porter brought in a rack of clothes and a note that said it was a gift from the Duke. Grace remembers that she went into Darcy’s drawer and found birth control pills. Grace says Darcy put on a dress and met with the Duke later that night. The team learns that the Duke was actually a man named Tucker Benton. They learn that Tucker was engaged to the daughter of the boat owner, Gibbs.
Rush meets with Curtis in the bathroom. He tells Rush that Kitchener is going to be out on bail for eight months. Stillman and Valens meet with Tucker at a dock. They tell him that Darcy’s body was found in the cruise ship. He says that he thought that Darcy jumped off the ship. The detectives ask Tucker about his engagement with the Gibb’s daughter. He says he broke it off. Tucker says that his true love was the ship. He remembers when he took Darcy to the engine room where they kissed. Tucker told Darcy he was engaged to another woman and he should have told her earlier. He said he thought he was in love, but isn’t sure now. Tucker told Darcy that his fiancée hates boats. Tucker told Darcy he would like to marry her on the ship while it is still at sea and she agreed. Tucker tells the detectives that he didn’t have money and was supported by Gibb’s family at the time. He tells the detectives that he told the captain and the head stewart, Geoffrey about his plans. He says that he talked to Jeffrey about Darcy. Jeffrey told Tucker that he saw Darcy the day she disappeared wearing a red dress. Tucker says that he never saw her in the dress before. He was supposed to marry her that night, but she never showed up.
Geoffrey is brought to the station. They tell him they know he saw Darcy while she wore the dress she was found dead in. They ask him why he didn’t tell them. Geoffrey says that he was paid to keep his discretion. He tells the detectives that he grew up and worked for the Gibb’s family. Geoffrey says he did what he had to do with Darcy. He remembers meeting with Darcy in her room. He told Darcy that she should not marry Tucker. He said her marriage would only result in pain. Vera asks Geoffrey if he killed Darcy. He says that he found Darcy’s shoes at the deck and thought she jumped. The detectives tell Jeffrey the Master at Arms reported finding the shoes. Geoffrey says that he found them first, but didn’t report it. The team figures that Darcy died before the telegram was sent out.
Valens and Rush question Grace. They tell her that the telegram operator told them that Grace was the one who sent the telegram to Henry. They tell her that they know her husband left her. Grace says that she thought Darcy’s marriage to Chester would remind Chester about their marriage and lead him back to her. Rush tells Grace that she knows she wrote Darcy’s suicide note. Grace says that she never meant to hurt Darcy. Grace followed Darcy to the engine room just before she died. Grace tried to convince Darcy to marry Henry after they returned to port. Darcy told Grace she wanted to marry Tucker. She asked Grace to be her maid of honor. Grace told Darcy that her relationship with Tucker is a fantasy and that she belongs at home with Henry, Chester and her. Darcy told Grace that Chester left her and she shouldn’t wait for him any longer. Grace got angry and pushed Darcy off the railing. She fell and broke her neck on the floor below. Rush arrests Grace for Darcy’s murder. After the case, Rush follows Kitchener as he gets in his car after drinking at a bar.
- Kathryn Morris as Lilly Rush
- Danny Pino as Scotty Valens
- John Finn as John Stillman
- Jeremy Ratchford as Nick Vera
- Thom Barry as Will Jeffries
- Tracie Thoms as Kat Miller
- Ashley Johnson as Grace Stearns (1966)
- Daniel Baldwin as Moe Kitchener
- Erin Chambers as Darcy Curtis
- Anita Gillette as Grace Stearns (2009)
- Jonathan LaPaglia as ADA Curtis Bell
- Stephen Mendillo as Geoffrey Manning (2009)
- Michael Nader as Tucker "Duke" Benton (2009)
- Peter Porte as Tucker "Duke" Benton (1966)
- Tracey Walter as Cotter Doyle (2009)
- John Churchill as Geoffrey Manning (1966)
- Ryan Carr as Cotter Doyle (1966)
- Nick Warnock as Henry Speck
- Dougald Park as Judge J. Wyatt
- Loren Lester as A.J. Pritchard
- Jolene Andersen as Socialite
- Cooper Barnes as Chester (uncredited)
- Unknown actress as Millie Gibbs (1966)
- Unknown child actor as Geoffrey Manning (c. 1940's)
- Unknown child actress as Millie Gibbs (c. 1940's)
All songs performed by Ray Charles:
- I've Got A Woman
- We Don't See Eye to Eye
- What'd I Say
- People Will Say We're In Love
- Hide 'Nor Hair
- Careless Love
- Drown In My Own Tears
- Finale: What Would I Do Without You?