A student agitator, Billy Walsh, meets with a group of his fellow agitators. He advises violence and confrontation and says they’ll discuss it more next week. Once the meeting breaks up, Billy calls Charles Peck, the deputy mayor, and demands his money. Peck says that he’ll get his money when he delivers, but Billy wants a down payment for the special service that he’s providing. Once Billy hangs up, Peck tells Mayor Steve Tallman that they’ll have to pay Billy his $5,000 the next day. Tallman worries that the situation is dangerous, but Peck assures him that it’s his best chance of becoming governor despite the risks. The mayor agrees to go ahead with the deal and pours himself another drink. When Peck warns him to lay off the booze, Tallman storms out and the deputy mayor tells his assistant, crooked cop Lt. Ross, to keep an eye on Tallman because he figures he’ll fold under the pressure.
Jim goes to a fortune-teller’s shop that is closed for lunch and picks up his briefing. He’s informed that Peck is elevating puppet Tallman by creating an image of the mayor as a strong man who can deal with dissent. Peck is having Billy start riots and set up Tallman to stop him, proving himself a more effective leader than the incumbent governor, Frank Harper. The rioting is destroying the prestige of the U.S. throughout the world so the IMF must stop Peck and put an end to the violence.
At the briefing, Jim explains that Peck’s organization is involved in organized crime. Since the public knows that even if it’s not proven, Peck has been forced to elevate Tallman and bring in Billy. Since they don’t know what Billy’s plan is, Dana will be getting close to him to find out. With the exception of Ross, the police are honest and will take orders. Barney has spoken to the governor’s office and set things up, and Doug has things set up at the hospital. Jim gives Dana a photo of her “mother” and she says that if she does her hair right she can pull it off. When she wonders if Tallman will fall for it, Jim says that they only need to make Peck think that Tallman will fall for it. Doug assures the team that the weapons are ready and Jim warns the team that they have to make sure that any violence is directed at them, not the civilians.
Doug is driving an expensive car through town and runs a light. Two officers pull him over and demand to see his license, and Doug says he doesn’t have it. They order him out and realize he has a gun, and arrest him and search the car. They find dozens of guns and grenades in the trunk.
That night at the college administration building, Dana breaks in and starts to burn the files. A security guard hears the noise and comes in, catching her in the act. He draws his gun and captures her, and Dana dares him to shoot.
Doug tells Ross that he isn’t going to tell him anything and asks to make a long-distance call to his boss. He says his boss is Jim and finally tells Ross that his boss will make a sizable contribution to avoid any publicity. Ross agrees to let him make the call, and then glances over to where a matron is locking Dana up.
Barney comes to see Tallman, posing as the governor’s special representative to make sure there’s no trouble in town. Tallman insists that they don’t need him and that Chief Danby can handle any problems during Protest Week. However, Danby is grateful to have an expert. While Barney shows them recommended equipment, he secretly takes photos of the office.
Jim comes to see Peck and pays $50,000 to buy his silence. However, he tells the deputy mayor that he would have donated in any case and knows that Peck is the power behind the throne. Jim explains that the weapons are going to people who share their political philosophy and he offers to put them at Peck’s disposal. Peck doesn’t commit to anything and Jim says that they’re available when he wants them, and leaves with his guns. The deputy mayor then calls Ross and has him do a rundown on Jim’s background.
Paris calls Tallman from a phone booth and says that he’s calling on behalf of Elizabeth Wilson. When Tallman takes the call, Paris says that he has to meet with him in person and gives him an address. As Paris hangs up, Peck and Ross come in and the deputy mayor suggests that the governor should act more and worry less. Barney shows Danby a list of known provocateurs, including Dana using the name Katherine Wilson, and Ross remembers her from earlier. Ross then frees Dana and tells her that she’s been bailed out. When Dana goes outside, Billy picks her up and explains that he bailed her out. Dana gets in the car with him and he drives off.
At his apartment, Billy shows Dana his collection of guns and explosives. When he realizes that she knows how to handle a gun, Billy wonders where she learned and Dana takes offense. He kisses her but Dana figures him for a cop and tries to walk out. Billy explains that the protestors need people like the two of them to do more than just carry signs and explains that he plans to shoot a cop.
Tallman goes to the address Paris provided, unaware that one of Ross’ men is following him. Inside, Paris tells the mayor that he has a daughter by way of Elizabeth Wilson.
Dana tells the team what she’s learned. Billy plans to get into the dean’s office with the other protestors and booby-trap it. When the shooting breaks out, Billy and Dana will sneak out, leaving the gun and the dead cop behind. When the police break in, the explosives will go off, killing everyone. Jim says that they have to rule out the entire campus to keep anyone from being hurt.
Paris shows Tallman his daughter’s birth certificate and explains that he arranged for the mayor to believe that Elizabeth and her daughter had died during birth. He explains that he met Elizabeth in Canada after Tallman tossed the pregnant woman out. They fell in love and Paris brought up her girl, Katherine. Paris came to town and Katherine looked him up and enrolled in the college. Tallman says that he doesn’t want to see his daughter and asks how much it’s going to cost him to keep the information secret. Paris asks for $10,000.
Jim returns to see Peck and offers to donate $1 million to Tallman’s campaign. He asks for a personal meeting and Peck says that they ran a financial check on him. Peck wonders why he wants to meet Tallman and Jim says that he want to make sure the mayor is worthy of his organization. Once he leaves, Ross arrives and reports to Peck about Tallman’s meeting with Paris. Peck tells him to put tails on Tallman and Paris.
Billy holds another meeting and one of the protesters, Alec, objects to booby trapping the dean’s office. Dana and Billy both insist that they need to demonstrate their strength to get the authorities to listen to them. However, Dana suggests that since the public is bored with campus riots, they should take over the mayor’s office and demonstrate real power. Billy hesitates but Alec and the others agree so he gives in.
Tallman returns to Paris’ apartment and waits for Dana to arrive.
Barney breaks into City Hall and then enters a utility closet next to Tallman’s office.
Dana arrives at Paris’ apartment and Ross’ man follows her into the building. Tallman stares at her daughter for a moment and awkwardly greets her. Dana snaps at him and then demands money to keep quiet, but Tallman remembers that he saw her photo in Barney’s files of activists. She wants the money for their revolutionary activities or threatens to go to the papers with her story. Tallman asks what happens if he pays and Dana says that she’ll get out of town for good. The mayor hands over the money and Dana takes it and storms out. Tallman tells Paris to make sure he doesn’t hear from them again and leaves.
Barney measures the dividing wall between the closet and Tallman’s office, using the photos he took earlier to determine a precise spot.
Ross breaks into Paris’ apartment with a gun and takes him to the police station. When Tallman arrives at his office, he finds Peck and Ross waiting with Paris. Paris admits that he talked when they threatened him with trumped-up charges. Ross takes him out and Peck warns Tallman that he would have been into them forever. The deputy mayor points out that Dana is the one who set up the protestors to take over Tallman’s office, and explains that he’s given Billy instructions to make sure that Dana dies with the others. Tallman stares in shock and starts to leave, and Peck sarcastically asks him if he has any more kids he should know about.
Ross locks Paris up and tells him that he’ll let him out after the election.
Barney cuts through the wall, carefully removing the panel to prevent any visual disturbance. He then leaves.
Ross meets with Billy and tells him that his target is Barney.
The next morning, Paris removes a lockpick from a hidden compartment in his boot heel and escapes from his jail cell. Doug picks him up outside and they drive away.
Peck brings Jim in to meet with Tallman.
Doug and Paris go to the utility closet in City Hall and Paris prepares a Tallman mask. Meanwhile, Jim promises Tallman a big donation and Peck leaves so they can get better acquainted. After coffee, Jim says that he has to be on his way and hints that Peck might make a suitable candidate in the future. Once Tallman is alone, Doug comes in and holds the mayor at gunpoint, and Paris comes in disguised as Tallman. They knock Tallman out and Doug hauls him into the closet where Jim is waiting. They smuggle him out in a hollow file cabinet while Paris settles in at Tallman’s desk.
The next day on Saturday, Jim invites Peck to his apartment and tells the deputy mayor that he’s deeply disturbed by Tallman’s incompetence.
Billy and the protestors pull up outside of City Hall and go inside. The provocateur rigs the doors with explosives and then goes up to Tallman’s office.
Jim suggests that Peck pull Tallman out of the race for governor and put himself up as a candidate. He promises full media saturation. Peck gets a call from his office about the revolutionaries taking over the office and Jim offers to go with him.
Dana catches up to the others and explains that she had to duck the cops. Billy accuses her of being a spy and threatens to shoot her, but realizes that the students are on Dana’s side. He apologizes but tells Dana to stay in the office with the others while he goes outside to check on things. Once outside he rigs the door with an explosive charge.
Barney and Chief Danby arrive outside as the police contain the crowd. Jim and Peck pull up and Ross tells the deputy mayor that he’s waiting to hear from Billy. Billy contacts them by walkie-talkie and assures them that everything is fine and that Dana is there with the others. Ross tells him to let the coverage build up a bit before he shoots Barney. Barney goes around the side to find a way in while the disguised Paris drives up and tells Peck and Jim that his daughter is in there.
Dana addresses the crowd by bullhorn and says that she just wants to negotiate. She asks for Tallman to come in so they negotiate for a new dean. Meanwhile, Barney enters the building through a window and disarms the explosives on the door.
Paris loudly announces that he loves his daughter and wants to protect her, and tells Peck that he’s his own man from now on. He calls up to Dana and tells him that he’ll revoke the dean’s appointment. Jim warns Peck that he predicted that Tallman would fold and now he’s ruining his chances and Peck’s of becoming governor. Peck tells Ross to order Billy to shoot the mayor. The provocateur takes aim and prepares to fire, but Barney finds him and wrestles the rifle away. Paris triggers a squib set to make it look like he’s been shot in the shoulder. Meanwhile, Barney subdues Billy, disarms the charge on the office door, and leads the provocateur out.
On the street, Paris tells everyone that he’s fine and then denounces Peck to the news cameras. Among those watching are Doug and a bound and gagged Tallman. When Barney brings Billy out, the provocateur tells everyone that Peck hired him, and Danby arrests Peck and Ross.
In the hospital van, Doug tells Tallman that everyone will believe that Paris was Tallman. Paris comes in and removes his mask, and Doug frees Tallman after giving him a scratch to match the one on Paris’ left arm. Barney comes in and explains that the governor doesn’t want to prosecute Tallman despite all the evidence of conspiracy that they have on him. Harper wants Tallman to testify against Peck in return for his freedom, and Tallman agrees. He asks about his daughter and the IMF agents tell him she was a fake as well. Doug asks if that bothers him and Tallman shakes his head negatively. The ambulance drives off as the police brings out the student protestors and Dana.