Annie Flynn Ray Bello aka Rebel is mad as hell and she’s not gonna take it anymore.
The ABC drama from Krista Vernoff (and loosely based on activist/exec producer Erin Brockovich) kicks off with the title character (played by Sons of Anarchy‘s Katey Sagal) crashing a corporate party to interrogate Mr. Duncan, a CEO whom she has been emailing about his company’s faulty heart valves.
Rebel gives him one last chance to address the issue and he tries throw her out of the party, prompting the legal clerk to call in the cavalry: an army of protestors. Of course, the cops are summoned and Rebel goes through the familiar process of removing her jewelry before being taken away in handcuffs — but not before falling off the stage while calling out the corporation for their harmful product.
While in jail, Rebel talks to a woman who was arrested for stabbing her abusive boyfriend. She tell Naomi to call her daughter, Cassidy (Lex Scott Davis), who’s a lawyer. We also learn that Rebel has several ex-husbands due to her line of work, including police officer Flynn (Matthew Glave).
Rebel makes bail and argues with Cassidy, who’s upset with her mom for “getting drunk and assaulting a CEO.” She doesn’t think anyone will touch the heart valve case but Rebel is determined to pursue it. Borrowing her current husband Grady’s (John Corbett) car, she heads to high-powered attorney Cruz’s (Andy Garcia) house to try and get him on board. Cruz, however, isn’t interested in taking on the case and closes the door on her.
The next morning, Rebel steals Grady’s wallet and asks her friend Lana (Tamala Jones), a private investigator, to look into it because she suspects him of cheating. At the hospital, Rebel makes another pro bono referral for her daughter before trying to convince her son Nate (Kevin Zegers), a gynecologist, to get involved with the heart valve case. She wants him to start a study, and he won’t do it since the evidence she has is circumstantial at best. Their relationship is strained, mostly due to the fact that Nate was raised by “nannies on motorcycles” while she was off saving the world.
Elsewhere, Cassidy meets with Naomi about her domestic violence case. When Naomi has trouble recalling certain details, Cassidy concludes that she might still be in shock. In a hearing, Cassidy delivers a passionate testimony on behalf of her client and impresses her father Benji (James Lesure), who offers to hire her as an associate. But Cassidy doesn’t want to work for the dark side aka corporate law.
Meanwhile, Rebel visits her friend Helen, who received one of the faulty heart valves, is not doing well and wants to give up. Rebel, however, makes it clear that she’ll get that valve out of her friend if it’s the last thing she does. She even suggests taking out a second mortgage on her house, which Lana promptly shoots down because there’s a better way to do this without jeopardizing her finances. It’s time to go back to Cruz.
Rebel stages a sit-in with a group of protestors in Cruz’s office, forcing him to finally listen to their stories. One by one, they share their harrowing experiences with the heart valve, including a woman whose baby is extremely ill after having it installed while pregnant. When Cruz still refuses to take the case, Rebel presses him further, reminding him that his wife also died because of that valve. Cruz snaps and angrily reveals why he’s so against it: he doesn’t want to be reminded of what happened with his wife. Rebel counters that she would be pissed at him for letting innocent people suffer when he can do something to stop it. This only enrages Cruz even more, and he fires his consultant.
In Rebel’s Children Are Struggling news, Cassidy tells her father that she is exhausted by her mom, who feels the need to address every injustice in the world. It’s overwhelming, which makes her dad’s offer tempting. Plus, Rebel’s daughter Ziggie (Ariela Barer), who’s just out of rehab, attends a support group and meets a cute guy named Sean. When he asks her out, she turns him down because it’s a better idea to focus on her recovery.
Lana has not met with Naomi, and escorts her to her apartment to pack up her abusive boyfriend’s things. They find drugs and an unlicensed gun in his drum set, meaning he’ll probably get an increased sentence — especially since Lana called Flynn to ensure he receives the evidence. The celebratory mood shift want Naomi’s boyfriend shows up and tries to attack her, but is taken down by Lana. Not only did his stitches tear, but he’s likely facing even more time for headbutting a police offer.
At the bar, Rebel is drinking away her sorrows when Lana calls her with a present: the abusive boyfriend has been arrested. Rebel heads over to jail and threatens to rain hellfire over the abusive musician if he doesn’t agree to stay away from Naomi, and set the record straight in court. Guess what he chose to do?
It’s time to celebrate Rebel and Grady’s 10th anniversary. The family has gathered for the surprise party, and it’s one of the few times that they look happy together. Lana receives a call which explains what’s going on with Grady: He’s been in contact with a high-end divorce attorney. Upset, Rebel confronts Grady who lies and claims it was a work thing.
When Ziggie reveals that she found divorce papers in his belongings, Grady finally comes clean. He tells everyone he’s tired of his wife always working and not being home “to cook me dinner” — a sexist statement that deeply offends the whole family and results in Nate punching him. Nate promptly leaves to visit Helen and start the heart valve study for his mom.
In the final scene, Rebel tosses some of Grady’s clothes in a fire. Cruz shows up — Cassidy filled him in on what happened — and offers to take her out to drink. But Rebel declines, because she wants to remember how she feels in this moment. Getting to the heart of his visit, Cruz hands over his wife’s autopsy results. He was afraid to look at it before because of what it might say — that she may have killed herself due to the pain. However, it’s been concluded that she died of a heart attack. Glancing at the documents, Rebel rallies Cruz: “Let’s go crush those bastards.”