The bodies of four Asian women wash up on an LA beach. The FBI is called in by the Coast Guard to investigate a crime on the high seas. While the FBI is at the beach a fifth woman is seen in the water; she is pulled out alive. Charlie watches the water and seeing the effect of a riptide on nearby surfers thinks the women were dropped in the water somewhere south of the beach. He and Amita set up an experiment with a series of buoys to see if the current did shift to the south as a result of a recent storm.
During this experiment, Charlie tries getting more serious with Amita only to discover she’s been offered an assistant professorship at Harvard. Charlie admits it’s a wonderful offer.
David and Colby talk to the LA coroner about the four dead women, and find that while three are probably from China, the fourth is older and from the United States. This woman also has a strange tattoo on the sole of her foot that is new. Colby stops at the university to drop off some data for Charlie when the morgue pictures of the women fall out of the file. Larry sees the picture of the tattoo and identifies it as characters from the I Ching, each symbol refers to a number. Thinking the numbers could be a code of some sort, Charlie and Larry work for several hours to try and figure out the pattern; however their methodology is false as Amita points out the numbers are a series of ten digits that could be a phone number. Charlie calls the number and hears a message to call an area reporter and fill him in on her death.
Megan follows up with the reporter’s partner and discovers they were investigating a sex trade ring based in LA and the dead woman had gone to China specifically to see who was behind the operation. Megan learns there could be as many as twenty women in one of the containers on the ship and the FBI starts a search for the women; a search with a high priority as one of the dead Chinese women had the H5N1 bird flu.
David is trying to figure out what ship the women could have been dumped off of, and narrows the possibilities to a few ships that sailed from Shanghai, China. After threatening to audit the unions books, David and Colby get some information that leads them to a young man who worked on the ship the girls were on. He tells Don that five farm girls boarded the cargo ship together, when one of them got sick, the captain called someone who told the captain to throw all of them overboard. Soon after they learn this, the FBI hears that the Coast Guard has found another body, that of the cargo ship’s captain.
David a and Colby find out that the ship’s worker they’d picked up has made a call to a club while in custody. The owner of that club is suspected of ordering the deaths of the five women, the one pulled from the water by the FBI also died, and the ship’s captain. He refuses to cooperate, but an investigation of his warehouse holdings finds one warehouse rented just before the bodies wash up on the beach. The FBI raids the warehouse and discovers the other women, alive.
Charlie and Amita talk a few times about her offer to teach back east, Charlie even mentions that there is an opening for the same position at Cal-Sci as a result of a professor going on sabbatical. Amita tells Charlie she’s unsure what she wants to do, but Harvard needs an answer “by next week”.
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