Jake embarks on an all-night long interrogation in order to elicit a confession out of a suspect. But when Captain Holt skips the opera in order to stay back and help, the two cops clash over how to get him to talk.
As Philip Davidson, a dentist and suspect in a murder case, is entering the precinct for a scheduled interrogation, Jake intends to break him by making his visit as unpleasant as possible, having Gina greet him, turning up the thermostat, spilling soda on the desk in the interrogation room and making the chair uneven. He has a clear motive, clean means and a nonexistent alibi, yet the DA won't press charges, considering the evidence to be all circumstantial, which is why Jake intends to make him confess.
Intrigued by the high stakes interrogation with a ticking clock, Holt joins Jake and cancels his opera night with Kevin. Philip manages to dodge every question they throw at him and has explanations for every missing link, so Holt spontaneously decides to implement the smart cop / dumb cop strategy, belittling Jake so Philip would dismiss him as a threat. Jake agrees and they strategy proves successful. When Holt pretends to have to leave, Jake stays with the suspect, and asks a series of seemingly trivial questions. Philip, having let his guard down, accidentally reveals that he knew the location where the body was found, even though the information hasn't been made public, yet. They quickly lose their advantage again, however, when Philip explains that the victim's wife mentioned it when he was comforting her and his uncle confirms that Philip hasn't been in the town where he was murdered in over 20 years.
They try to get into his personal space, asking him the most detailed questions about his night out, which he all answers flawlessly. Failing at that, Holt tries to get him to get angry, but ends up riled up himself, discovering that people not considering PhD laureates "real doctors" is his trigger. Even Jake's attempt to break him by playing his guitar whilst screaming at the top of his lungs fails - not that it ever worked before.
Philip quickly gains the upper hand when playing Jake and Holt against each other, accusing him of wanting to micromanage Jake and letting him play the dumb cop and not decide on any strategy, as he supposedly doesn't trust him and thinks he's smarter than him. Seeing through his attempts, Jake gets angry at Philip to the point of throwing a chair against the mirrored glass, knocking himself out in the process. Despite Holt trying to stop him, Jake starts to lie about Vermon PD having called in about his uncle's neighbor having identified him. This, however, backfires as Holt predicted, since the neighbor had been dead for three years. As a result, he calls for a lawyer and having held him for 10 hours and 45 minutes, they have 15 minutes left to get a confession out of him.
Refusing to release him until that time has passed, Jake figures out that Philip is addicted to the sedative Diazepam and that his boss, Robert, had found out. He confronts Philip, claiming Robert had to threaten to turn him in, which could result in him losing his license, so Philip snapped and killed his boss with the nearest object he could grab, a heavy glass reward from the Brooklyn Periodentic Society, which was visible on earlier photographs of the suite, and drove off with the corpse in panic. Jake's portrayal of this sloppily executed murder, pushes Philip to the edge and causes him to blurt out how he really did it, with a professional precision, moments before he realizes what he just did.
A stunned Holt celebrates with three "oh damn"s and, outside the precinct, Jake reveals that he knew the award wasn't the murder weapon. He had noticed it missing weeks ago and asked around, finding out that the cleaning lady had moved it. It was all a ruse to get Philip to snap, not bearing to be thought of as sloppy and impulsive.
|Andy Samberg||...||Jake Peralta|
|Joe Lo Truglio||...||Charles Boyle|
|Andre Braugher||...||Captain Ray Holt|
|Chelsea Peretti||...||Gina Linetti|
|Joel McKinnon Miller||...||Norm Scully|
|Sterling K. Brown||...||Philip Davidson|
|Romy Rosemont||...||Elaine Nixon|
- Amy, Terry, Rosa, and Hitchcock do not appear in this episode.
- A promotional image revealed that Scully appears in a deleted scene.
- This episode is considered a bottle episode, due to it being centralized in one place and having a smaller budget.
- "The Box", the title of this episode is also what the detectives of the homicide unit of the Baltimore police department called their interrogation room in the NBC TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street", also starring Andre Braugher.
- Jake: Jacked up the thermostat, got the table all sticky, made one of the chair legs too short, and worst of all, I had Gina greet him.
- Holt: What did you have her do?
- Jake: Be herself.
- Holt: Poor son of a bitch.