Smulders plays Dex Parios, a PTSD-riddled veteran with a complicated love life, a gambling addiction and a brother with Down syndrome for whom she provides. We also meet Dex’s best friend/inevitable love interest Gray McConnell (New Girl‘s Jake Johnson), a bartender who helps out with Ansel, the aforementioned brother.
In the pilot, an indebted Dex is enlisted by casino owner Sue Lynn to track down her granddaughter Nina, who is subsequently kidnapped while in Dex’s custody. This abduction is especially personal for Dex, who was romantically involved with Nina’s father Benny. He left his wife and daughter to be with her, then got killed by an IED in Afghanistan on his way to propose to her 12 years ago.
In the present day, Detective Miles Hoffman (Secrets and Lies‘ Michael Ealy) gets involved in the abduction case. Dex refuses to answer his questions at the scene, so he arrests her for unpaid parking tickets and brings her down to the station, where he and Lieutenant Cosgrove (The Practice‘s Camryn Manheim) confirm her connection to Benny’s daughter. (Dex and Hoffman continue to connect throughout the case and eventually hook up, which sets up a potential triangle with Grey.)
After she gets bailed out, Dex continues to try and find Nina on her own. She turns to the teenager’s boyfriend for any information he might be able to provide, and he gives her reason to believe that a local gangster might be responsible. We soon discover it’s a bogus lead, and the boyfriend is in cahoots with the kidnappers, who are attempting to squeeze Sue Lynn for $2 million. All three of them are eventually apprehended by PPD, but not before Dex gets snatched by Nina’s abductors and thrown in the trunk of her car. She manages to escape and do some serious damage from the backseat, at which point they swerve to avoid oncoming traffic and drive off the side of the highway. It sails through the air as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” blasts from the speakers, then crash-lands in a junk yard where the boyfriend is holding Sue Lynn and Nina at gunpoint. Dex chases him down in her somehow-still-functioning automobile, then Hoffman and Cosgrove arrive with backup.
At the end of the hour, Hoffman shows up at Grey’s bar and tells Dex that he might have another case that needs her help, thus setting the stage for many a Case of the Week moving forward.
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