As Holmes practices defusing a dummy bomb, Lestrade yells for help with Romulus. Realizing that Holmes is frustrated that Lestrade has overstayed his welcome, Watson sees to Lestrade who is having difficulty deciding which job offer to take. Gordon Cushing takes a cab home to find a package waiting which contains two severed ears. At the 11th Precinct, as Gordon walks in, Captain Gregson briefs Holmes and Watson. Gordon's wife Sarah disappeared in 2010 and he alleged to have received a ransom demand in 2011 which he paid without involving the police, but Sarah wasn't freed. He then called the police and when the media released the story, many thought he made up the events and had killed Sarah. Gordon's received another ransom demand with the ears but as he's questioned, he gathers that they think he's the killer. He reveals the reason he wants Sarah to be found is so people will stop regarding him as a murderer.
You still think I killed her, don't you?
Examining the ears in the Morgue, Holmes confirms they look exactly like Sarah's ears from pictures Gordon's provided. Lestrade texts Holmes that he's locked out of The Brownstone so Watson leaves to help him. (♫ Daniel Powter - Bad Day ♫) Lestrade's been mugged and after Watson lets him in, he finds Romulus on his bed and tells Watson that earlier, Holmes was covered in feathers from balancing Romulus on his shoulder. Watson discovers that Lestrade has booze stashed outside despite a ban on alcohol in the Brownstone. He breaks down and admits without Holmes, he's not a special detective, which is what those offering him a job expect. The next morning, Watson's surprised to find Holmes defusing another practice bomb instead of working on the Cushing kidnapping. The ears are a DNA match for Sarah so with the police assisting Gordon, he feels his services aren't required. Holmes notes a file on local muggings from Detective Bell arrived for her.
They do bear an uncanny resemblance.
Wired and being monitored by the police, Gordon is approached in the subway by the kidnapper who takes his money and says he'll call with Sarah's location. Unexpectedly, the kidnapper runs down the subway tunnel so Gordon goes after him. Gregson and officers find that Gordon has killed the kidnapper with a rebar. In "the box" at the precinct, Gordon recounts how he killed the kidnapper and realizes that Sarah may be alone with no one to care for her. Bell posits that Gordon might have hired the kidnapper but it doesn't make sense to Watson. Lestrade arrives to see her so Holmes goes to the Morgue to examine the kidnapper. Watson gives Lestrade a deadline to leave the Brownstone and provides him with the mugging file. She tries to build his confidence by pointing out that Holmes picked him to work with at Scotland Yard. Watson hopes that if Lestrade finds his mugger, he'll realize he's good enough to move on without Holmes.
I was just trying to stop him.
Examining the kidnapper's body, Holmes discovers he has sobriety tattoos and a keychain from a store in Hempstead. Holmes and Watson canvass members of a support group in Hempstead to see if they recognize the kidnapper. This makes Holmes uncomfortable as he believes that anonymity of the members should be preserved. He also tells Watson that she shouldn't have given Lestrade the mugging case file but should let him decide his next career step on his own. Holmes sees a woman enter and despite her having ears, recognizes her as Sarah Cushing. Speaking to Sarah after the meeting, she says she left Gordon and didn't want him to find her. She changed her name and re-married. She recognizes the kidnapper, Jim Browner, and indicates he discovered her identity, blackmailed her and figures he decided to blackmail Gordon for more money. As far as the severed ears matching her DNA from a hair brush she left at Gordon's, the brush wasn't hers and the hair belonged to another woman Gordon was sleeping with.
It felt like he was going to hurt me.
On the phone, Lestrade questions two other men that were mugged. One sends a video he made just before he was attacked and the other mentions seeing a yellow bicycle, which Lestrade sees in the video. At the precinct, Gordon can't believe Sarah is alive and admits to seeing another woman. However, the woman was a prostitute, Kendra, who disappeared after Sarah did. He realizes Sarah had to be in on the ransom demand in 2011 and part of the current one. At the Brownstone, as a news report discusses Sarah's discovery, Holmes posits that Sarah knew about Kendra and sent her ears to Gordon. Bell calls that Kendra died in a car crash three years previously and was cremated, eliminating her as the source of the ears. That evening, Holmes ponders where the ears came from. Watson proposes that Sarah found her "ear twin" and sent those ears to Gordon but knowing that everyone's ears are unique, it still wouldn't explain how the DNA from the hairbrush matched the ears.
No two ears are alike.
Remembering the news report mentioned Sarah's new husband was a plastic surgeon, Holmes smiles. Lestrade has tracked down his mugger, Shawn Menck, and is waiting inside Menck's as he arrives home. Confronting Menck with loads of evidence, including finding his wallet in Menck's home, Lestrade is disappointed how easy it was to find him. Menck attacks Lestrade with a bat but Lestrade is able to knock him out with one punch, reinforcing how easy the whole case was. About to help himself to a drink, he notices a feather on Menck's floor. Sarah is called into the precinct where she refuses to show Holmes her back. Holmes tells her that the DNA from the hair brush was hers and that the ears were hers too. However, her plastic surgeon husband grew the ears on her back using a surgical scaffold and she recruited Browner to collect the ransom. Gregson produces a court order to collect a DNA sample from her.
Really? Come on.
At the Brownstone, Lestrade calls Holmes and Watson to the library. He confidently tells them that he captured Menck and there's no hard feelings for trying to fool him. He believes that Holmes looked at the mugging file, deduced Menck was the mugger from the bicycle and then changed the other victim's contact info so when Lestrade called, he was actually talking to Holmes. He couldn't believe how easy it was to find Menck until he found a rooster feather at Menck's. Convinced Holmes doctored the case to boost his confidence, seeing through Holmes' "ruse" has done the trick and he's accepted one of his job offers. (♫ The Dodos - Confidence ♫) He threatens to stay unless Holmes admits to the charade. Holmes shakes his hand, congratulates Lestrade and heads to the kitchen. Confused, Watson follows and asks Holmes why he didn't let her in on his plan. Holmes honestly says he's never heard of Menck nor seen the mugging file but wanted Lestrade to move on. He works on defusing a real bomb and Watson confidently stays to watch.
Holmes uses a mug shot of Alphonse Bertillon to explain to Bertillon's contributions to criminology to Watson including inventing mug shots. Bertillon is also mentioned in Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.