Pilot is the series premiere of NBC's hit drama Shades of Blue. It premiered on January 7, 2016.


Harlee Santos has dedicated her life to being a single mom and a New York City police officer. Her squad of detectives at the NYPD is her family, but when their questionable practices attract the attention of the FBI, Harlee is recruited to work undercover for the FBI's anti-corruption task force must choose between ratting out her team or losing her daughter.


This section is a detailed recap of this episode. There are major spoilers. Click to expand.

Harlee Santos is taping a confession in a darkened room, blood and bruises smearing her beautiful face: “I always told myself the end would justify the means,” she says. “But now that I’m at the end … I can’t justify anything.”

Flash back to two weeks earlier, Harlee and Loman arrive at a seedy apartment building after getting tipped that a drug crime may be going down. As they approach the apartment in question, shots ring out. Loman busts through the door, guns blazing, and shoots their would-be attacker square in the chest. Harlee rushes in after him and spots an accomplice escaping out an open window. She turns to her partner, only to discover what Loman has just realized: The shots they heard were from a video game, and he’s just killed an innocent man for the crime of blasting his Nintendo too loudly.

Loman looks like he’s ready to pass out, so Harlee swings into action. At least their tip-off was solid: There was a drug deal in progress when the detectives busted in. Harlee snags a glock from the huge duffel bag stuffed with heroin that’s chilling on the coffee table. She uses the deceased’s gun to first put one bullet in the door, then another one in Loman all evidence to sure up their new story — the dealer shot first. By the time other officers arrive on the scene, Harlee’s back to her serene self, and Loman’s picking lead out of his vest.

Harlee brushes off the medics and drives Loman back to the station, coaching him on their story the whole way. She drops him off, then, after a sparring session/tryst with her boxing coach, she cleans herself up and heads to her unit’s favorite after-hours hangout. Clearly, Harlee is not fazed by her afternoon of wrongful killings, evidence tampering, and police misconduct. But as she exits the bar, she runs into Loman, who is not taking to corruption as well as his mentor.

Loman wants to confess, but Harlee is having none of it. She reminds him that she has a daughter, Cristina, and, now that they’re partners, they’re also family, and that means Cristina is Loman’s daughter as well as her own. It’s a good speech, and a good reminder that Lopez is capable of eloquent performances when she’s working with quality material.

The next morning, before her debrief with Internal Affairs about the shooting, Harlee meets with her unit’s lieutenant, Matt Wozniak. Clearly, they have a long history and a deep bond, and she allows herself a moment of vulnerability in his presence, explaining how her money troubles are only worsening and she can’t keep up with Cristina’s high school tuition. Woz brushes off her concerns, saying he’s working on something big enough that soon she won’t have to worry about money at all. With that comforting thought, Harlee white-knuckles it through her IA meeting, which clears her and Loman of any wrongdoing in the shooting.

Wozniak identifies the suspect who escaped out the window as Earl Barlow, a member of a gang run by a Raul Mendez. Woz and Mendez have an understanding: The gang leader keeps drugs and crime out of Woz’s district, and the police leave his operation alone in return. Earl broke that promise by dealing in the building Harlee and Loman were called to the day before. Woz meets Mendez at the gang’s front, a funeral home. To remind him of their agreement, Woz pins him down and pours human cremains all over his face.

Cut to Harlee making some illegal deals of her own. She’s in the middle of negotiating with a pot grower to cut her in on his business, in exchange for looking the other way. He hands her a sack of cash just as several squad cars pull up. She makes pretend like it was all a sting and tells the grower to get on the ground.

Harlee is taken in for questioning by a member of the FBI Anti-Corruption Task Force. His name is Special Agent Robert Stahl. Stahl doesn’t know about yesterday’s cover up, but he is very aware that there’s serious corruption happening in Harlee’s department. He presents her with a list of her recent misdeeds and proposes a deal — she can stay out of prison if she turns informant on her squad. Harlee would rather do the time than betray her people, but Stahl knows her weakness: Cristina. Harlee can’t abandon her daughter to the system while she rots in jail. It takes some convincing, but by the end of the day she’s been persuaded to become a mole.

Later that night, she and Woz get a tip that Earl (the window jumper) has been located. Woz puts Earl in his squad car, but doesn’t take him to booking or acquiesce to his requests for a lawyer. Instead, he gets Earl to reveal that he witnessed Loman’s unprovoked shooting. Earl is the last loose end. Woz can’t have that, so he delivers him directly to the gang leader, Mendez, who performs his own form of street justice on the disloyal dealer. It’s safe to say Earl is no longer a problem. The next morning, Harlee finds a $10,000 check from Woz in her desk drawer.

That afternoon, Woz meets up with the Internal Affairs officer, Donnie Pomp at a deserted marina. Donnie and Woz are colluding to keep the department’s record clean. “It’s all about protecting Harlee,” says Woz.

That night, Harlee and Cristina attend a barbecue at Woz’s house. Woz corners Harlee in his garage. He starts rambling about betrayal and breach of trust. He’s discovered there’s a rat on their team, and he “needs to kill it.” Harlee fears he’s caught on to her partnership with Stahl and reaches for her gun. But then Woz ends his speech with a plea, asking for her help to catch the traitor. After all, she’s the only one he can trust.



Guest Starring


  • Zarif Kabier as Haim


  • Dean Geyer as Nick Davis
  • Robbie Tann as Earl



Title Artist Scene
"No Church in the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean)" Kanye & Jay Z Harlee has none-date at a boxing gym where she boxes with Nick then they get busy; Harlee dresses and head out of the gym; Harlee meets up with the rest of the cop crew.

Harlee meets with the new bookie and takes his bribe when FBI swarms in on them, she tries to turn the tables on them but they turn them on her as the bookie reveals him to be FBI.

"The Day the Radio Died" Prophet Omega Tess gets advice from the boys about her husbands new attitude change; Harlee settles her tab at the bar when a guy (Robert Stahl) begin to chat her up, she rebuff him when Michael arrives.
"The Beautiful People" Marilyn Manson The crew cases their drug dealer, Earl, ten blocks through the city until Bill hits him with his squad car and when he gets up Harlee chases him down and arrests him.
"Chandelier" Sia Harlee drives Cristina's car through the city then crashes it several times to give evidence to the lie she told Woz to cover her time with Stahl.
"Old Dream" Paul Bergmann Harlee & Cristina arrive at the Wozniak home for the barbecue, their greeted by Woz; Harlee heads into the house to talk with Linda as they do Woz receives a text and calls Harlee outside.