A kitchen is set on fire. Intentionally. With someone trapped in the basement.
Maxine goes to an AA meeting. She’s been having a rough week because of the suicide in the last episode.
Wallace invites Hayes to his office. They banter about Naomi before he pitches a case to her. She agrees to it and then he mentions that there is a documentary being made about the incarcerated man and that the filmmakers will have full access. She is not interested but he pushes her.
They start to discuss the case. A man, Leo Scarlata (Jason Furlani), was accused of burning down his parent’s restaurant. Someone died in the fire. His brother proved an alibi but it was not enough. They decide to conduct interviews and research the fire. Documentary maker Paul Slatkin (Christian Campbell) needs them to keep in mind he only has one cameraman but Hayes doesn’t care.
She feels that he is exploiting Leo. They argue and when she leaves to head to the prison he tries to follow. It seems as though his privileges there have been revoked though. Vince and Rita Scarlata (Carlo Rota and Nola Martin) are present when Hayes talks to Leo. It turns out the other brother Anthony (Jason Cerbone) and Vince aren’t exactly in touch anymore.
Sam tries to talk to the judge but she is pretty convinced that Leo is where he belongs. Frankie and Maxine meet with Anthony. He is keeping the family business up and running. Frankie walks through the scene of the fire and pieces together what happened. It was deliberate, arson. He and Maxine hypothesize that the man that acted as a hero, the one who ran into the fire after hearing screams, is actually the arsonist.
The team meets to discuss Karl Wimer () as a suspect. Hayes continues to blow an airhorn so that Paul can’t film them and he eventually leaves. Then they move on to actually discussing Karl. He doesn’t have a criminal record but does have a “hero record.” This wouldn’t have been his first saved life. So “either he’s Batman or there’s no such thing as heroes.”
Paul catches up with Sam and starts asking about Hayes and then moves on to Maxine and how she handled the suicide. Sam sees quickly that Paul is manipulating his words but it’s too late. He can’t rephrase or back down.
Frankie and Tess talk to Karl. He appreciates what they are doing for Leo but says that he started the fire, and admitted to doing so in the letters he wrote to him. Hayes goes to talk to Leo again and Paul is present this time. She asks him several times and makes him swear that he didn’t start the fire. He offers to pinkie swear it.
Paul is talking to Frankie in the lab about forensics. The conversation movies to his own time in prison and he admits that Ray “saved his life.” Sam sneaks into the office that Paul has been using and goes on his computer to delete the files of his interview. While he’s doing that he finds an interview with Vince that shows a prior identical act. Paul and the brothers have been holding out on Hayes.
Hayes takes this new information to Wallace and he points out that they are trying to accomplish the same thing. Hayes says that doesn’t matter because she wants justice based on the truth. She calls both Paul and Wallace whores before leaving the office, breaking Paul’s camera in the process.
The team has another meeting and Hayes tells Tess to keep digging on Vince while she looks into the insurance payout.
Paul talks to Maxine about her time on the force and then turns to the suicide. She won’t let him turn a man’s death into entertainment and walks out.
Hayes talks to the insurance company that handles things for Vince and finds out it was laundered alright. He was in deep with gambling debts. The payout saved his life.
Vince and his wife come to the office. They deny any involvement in the fire and storm out of the office. Maxine and Sam argue about how the suicide was handled, Maxine takes a prescription pill.
Sam says that Vince’s alibi checks out but Frankie suggests a delayed trigger. He and Hayes hide out in the elevator to discuss it without Paul filming it. They have to get samples of Karl’s skin and blood from the time of the fire to see if there are chemicals present.
Wallace talks to Paul about Hayes, and running for office.
Frankie and Tess run tests on the blood samples. They clear Vince but find evidence suggesting Anthony set up his brother for monetary gain.
Maxine and Sam talk to Anthony and he reveals that Leo must have unknowingly started the fire when he was cleaning up after his cat at the restaurant.
Tess has her turn for a one on one with Paul. They talk about her work at the CIU and her testimony that got someone wrongfully convicted.
Hayes goes to visit Leo and explains that if he admits his mistake, they can argue that the fire was an accident and he can get his sentence reduced. He won’t do it though. He follows the rules and won’t say otherwise. Paul thanks her for trying to help Leo but she still thinks that she could have done more.
She is back in her office when she gets an idea. Leo follows the rules, his “chore chart” to the letter. So she checks the chart. The accident was orchestrated by the person that made the rules, Vince’s wife Rita.
Maxine questions Rita and she admits to it, though she didn’t know someone would die. Vince is done with her and the NYPD is waiting to take her into custody.
Vince goes to pick Leo up and Antony shows up as well. The brothers share a tearful reunion, with Paul filming the whole thing.
Back at the office, Hayes finds behind the scenes footage Paul left for her. It’s from Wallace’s interview. In the segment he says that he’s never met anyone like her, and he probably never will.
I’m glad they got Leo out. Was Karl actually a hero all the time though? He didn’t have any skeltons in his closet? And this documentary, what is going to come of it or will it not even be mentioned again?
Conviction is new Mondays at 10 p.m.