Julian Gale is introduced when an ice rink with 86 bodies is revealed. The Attorney General fast-tracked an investigation and the man placed in charge is “as wild as a peach orchard hog”. Despite his brusque manner, when the other cops speak disparagingly of the victims, Gale reminds them that every body there had loved ones who missed them. When he gets a brief moment to be alone with the bodies, he apologizes.
He calls Donald Ressler, nicknaming him “Donnie” and asking if he could be reassigned from his current task. Ressler points out that Gale had stepped away from the Bureau, but Gale explains the FBI asked for him back. They want him to investigate the bodies' connection to Raymond Reddington. He invites Ressler to join him in the investigation, and when Ressler hesitates, reminds him that it was a way of finishing things. Unbeknownst to Gale, Ressler is with the Reddington Task Force, and after he hangs up Ressler reports the conversation. Harold Cooper is of the opinion that Ressler should join, so that they could stay a step ahead of the investigation.
Ressler arrives to the ice rink, where Gale warmly welcomes him. He shows Ressler the bodies of people who they had once tried to turn, people who had vanished, including Tiger Branson, Lou Capote, and Junior Wallace. Ressler states that nobody is going to care about Red’s murders of criminals. Gale then presents Diane Fowler, former head of the United States Justice Department.
Such a high-profile missing person meant that the evidence was carefully cataloged and stored, and Gale is able to retrieve the furniture and re-create Fowler’s living room. As he did so, he point-blank asked Ressler if he is working on a Reddington-related case, but before Ressler could answer he continues by saying that the Reddington Task Force was suddenly disbanded. No one is working on Reddington anymore, and no one knows why. Ressler says Reddington flipped and turned himself in, but Gale only starts laughing, and Ressler joins him.
Considering how everything had been thoroughly cleaned, Gale is able to accurately deduce what happened that night. He gets into it enough to imagine seeing Fowler sitting there and starts pointing the gun at Ressler, unnerving the other agent enough for Ressler to describe the cleaner as a she. Although Ressler lies convincingly enough, it also gives Gale enough to find another lead.
The lead are fingerprints that may not have been cleaned. Ressler runs them, but there is no match, certainly not Reddington’s. Accurately suspecting that Reddington has someone in law enforcement, Gale decides to talk to Elizabeth Keen. Ressler will eventually tell the Task Force about it, because later Keen asks Reddington how he managed to erase his fingerprint file, only to learn he did not. Samar Navabi also asks if Ressler only claimed to run the prints, but Ressler says he actually did. He also calls Gale an ”inspiration” because no way would Gale give up on the case.
Gale informs Ressler he identified three more bodies: Milos Kirchoff, Alistair Pitt, and Geoff Perl. When Ressler says he doesn't recognize the names, Gale decides to speak to the cases lead detectives in the hopes that it would be connected to Keen. Although Ressler tries to protect Keen, Gale points out how she shot the Attorney General and went on the run with Reddington.
Gale also learns from another agent that the files of those three blacklisters are designated SCI7. Those three are also not the only files, there are hundreds of classified case files related to many of the bodies.
Despite dodging his calls, Keen eventually visits the ice rink. Gale shows up seemingly to coerce her into a confession, asking about her time on the run with Reddington. He also starts throwing out dates from 2013, September was when Keen went from rookie profiler to classified assignment, and October was when the Reddington Task Force started to fall apart. When it becomes clear Keen wouldn't answer, he asks her about SCI7, again she denies any knowledge. Gale knows by now its the designation used to reserve certain high-profile cases, so high-profile Gale is unable to get the names of the agents involved. He was also able to deduce, based on the earliest date the designation started, that Reddington is feeding intel in exchange for law enforcement protection. Disgusted, he tells Keen to look at the bodies, of the people who died so Reddington could expand his empire while the FBI looked the other way.
After Ressler is suspended from active duty, he fully joins Gale in his investigation. Gale seems personally affected by the bodies, reminding Ressler that all of them were people who tried to defy Reddington and got killed for it. The cleaner is now their only hope of linking the bodies to Reddington. He also asks where Ressler has been, although Ressler admits to getting brainwashed and nearly shooting the president’s national security adviser, he laughs it off.
The two later visit Marvin Gerard. Gale introduces them both, but Gerard is clearly familiar with Ressler. He claims it was because Ressler was the public face of the manhunt for Reddington and Keen when they were on the run. According to Gerard, he watched Ressler’s press briefings and decided that the agent was smug, arrogant, and professional; but he cannot see any of the latter trait in Gale. As a result, he would only make a deal with Ressler. Gale gracefully decides to step out of the room, allowing Gerard and Ressler to secretly discuss the Reddington case.
Eventually, Ressler reports that Gerard refused to talk. Gale is starting to become suspicious of Ressler, rhetorically asking if he was just blind to what was in front of him. Ressler tries to leave but Gale continues trying to corner him, questioning him again about his disappearance. Ressler finally fights back, slamming Gale against the wall and admitting he shot a Secret Service agent. He tells Gale to stop questioning him, and while Gale still seems flippant, Gale allows the other agent to leave.
Back at the morgue, Ressler tries for an olive branch and congratulates Gale for identifying all but six of the victims. Gale claims that being a monomaniacal prick has its benefits, and Ressler tries to assure him otherwise but is interrupted by a phone call. Samar tells him that Keen has been kidnapped, telling him to forget the suspension and to go to the address she texted him. After hanging up, Ressler starts to tell Gale it is another case, and Gale stops him. Assuring Ressler he did not mean what he said and that he knows Ressler worked harder than all of them to find Reddington, he apologizes. Ressler forgives him, but as soon as he runs off, Gale secretly follows.
In the woods, Kaplan’s and Reddington’s men are at a standoff. Keen is present, and when the FBI shows up, Gale finally sees that they are working together. He assembles a sniper rifle and takes a shot at Reddington, and although he misses, it triggers a gunfight. Both Gale and Kaplan manages to escape. Ballistics later proves that it was not Kaplan who fired the first shot, and Reddington realizes there is a new actor in the mix. Keen questions how the unknown party knows that Reddington was at the cabin, but Reddington has no answers, and can only call it intriguing.
Ressler returns to the morgue, where Gale casually asks about his case. Ressler tells him it was “2 steps forward and 3 back”, earning another laugh. Gale smiles, telling him he knows exactly how that feels.
Ressler arrives to the morgue and finds Gale with the corpse of a decapitated body. Although Ressler suggests that it was a warning, Gale corrects him and says it was a gift. He identifies the body of Mako Tanida, confessing that he saw Ressler and Keen with Reddington, and that this was how Reddington “got” to Ressler. He accuses Ressler of cutting a deal, and Ressler finally admits that Main Justice did, revealing how sick it made him. Gale is unconvinced, pointing out that Tanida’s body implies that Ressler is accepting of having “an assassin on payroll”. In their argument, Gale threatens to bring down everyone who allowed Reddington to get away with murder.
Later, Gale is told his “mother” delivered his lunch, a paper bag with a phone inside. Kathryn Nemec is on the other end, identifying herself as the “cleaner” when she lists all the ways the victims were killed. After a deal is made, Kate meets up with Reddington in an empty theatre to talk, only for Gale to show up. A gunfight starts and Reddington escapes. Gale finally starts to despair, telling Kate that without the promised immunity agreement he cannot prove that Keen, Ressler, and whoever else in the FBI allowed Reddington to expand his criminal empire. Kate agrees, and offers to testify in court.
Gale escorts Kate to the Department of Justice, where she explains to District Attorney Alvin Stanton that Harold Cooper's Task Force worked with Reddington and turned a blind eye to his criminal activities. However, before she will properly testify, she demands a day to settle her affairs without a protective detail.
Kate isn't the only one about to testify in front of a Grand Jury, Aram Mojtabai is too, and Gale welcomes him inside the room. When Aram gets hysterical, Gale is called back in to remove him from the stand.
Laurel Hitchin later shows up at the Grand Jury, demanding to know what is going on. After Gale introduces himself as the agent in charge, Hitchin tells him that is no longer the case, citing Reddington's supposed deal as a matter of national security. All the testimony taken are considered highly sensitive, and the investigation is over by executive authority. When she orders all records to be expunged, Gale correctly guesses that Reddington has something on her. Hitchin tells him if he keeps talking, she was going to ruin his career.
Gale calls Kate to let her know the whole case has been withdrawn, and the immunity deal is no longer an option. When he gets inside his car, Dembe Zuma surprises him with a gun, and Reddington joins them. As per usual, Reddington addresses him by his first name, retrieving his gun and complimenting Gale on how well he looks, especially since the last time they saw each other was in Ho Chi Minh City when Reddington got away aboard a catfish trawler on the Saigon River. Reddington casually confirms that he got to Hitchin, and steals the burner phone Kate gave Gale.