Kearran Giovanni, G.W. Bailey

When we began breaking stories around the theme of identity this season, no one ever thought we would be plumbing such dark and disturbing places inside the collective unconscious. Yet our next episode of MAJOR CRIMES dives further into the bottomless waters of the human psyche than we have ever gone before, sinking quickly past the (relatively) more common sins of murder, racial prejudice and drunken rage to plunge headfirst into the most unfathomable reaches of our all-too-mortal hearts. It turns out misusing your identity to subsume someone else's gives us all — well — the creeps. Though I'm pretty comfortable saying vampires and zombies are the stuff of legends, beyond doubt there are real monsters abroad in the land. Sadly, true evil almost always has human fingerprints.  

Our tale begins an hour after a world-renowned, white swimming coach living in L.A.'s Palisades (one of the priciest zip codes in the world) has a deadly confrontation with two Latino boys, one of whom was armed. Someone dies.  And that's all you get, because the way this story unfolds is part of the mystery.  

So instead of dwelling on the plot, I'd like to remind people that we wrote and shot this episode before the Zimmerman trial, so please keep that in mind when you hear a reference to the case.

Also leaping into "The Deep End?" Our teenage, material witness, Rusty Beck, finds himself in an unexpected riptide. Mom-in-Absentia, Sharon Raydor, once again offers him a lifeline; Rusty rejects it, even as he seems to sink beneath the surface of his own anxiety, lost in a sea of unmanageable emotions.

Lori Laughlin makes a surprise appearance, and (as one would expect) adds a layer of genuine grace wherever she goes.  Drew Walters from Friday Night Lights joins a riveting Chase Austin, and more guest stars than I can list here, as we detail a devastating tragedy even the hardened detectives of Major Crimes struggle to understand. Like most episodes where we begin by jumping off a cliff, "The Deep End" was written by the endlessly inventive Michael Alaimo, and directed by the sagacious Rick Wallace, both venerable company veterans collaborating on their fifth or sixth episode together.

"The Deep End" begins and ends with the media, and I'd like to pay special compliments to the folks at L.A.'s KTLA for their amazing support. KTLA's reporters and anchors (and helicopters!) did a superb job of helping us capture authentic aspects of the way our Los Angeles press corps responds to news. Even in the midst of sensationalism, our city's best reporters strive to stay responsible.  

Next week, we lighten up when guest stars Tim Conway, Marion Ross, Doris Roberts, Ron Glass and Paul Dooley — each and every one of them a legend - help Major Crimes investigate guest star Paul McCrane (of E.R. and, appropriately enough, the storied Cop Rock), who portrays an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent with a horrifying hobby.

Until then — James Duff